Well Sioux hockey is officially among us (the beauty of being an independent blogger is that I can still refer to them in a hostile and abusive manner)! As always, the exhibition game was sloppy. The NCAA only allows one official practice before the exhibition, so that is to be expected. However, it's still fun to see what the freshmen bring to the table as well as which returners took a step forward over the offseason. These are my first impressions for the season ahead of us.
- Parks looks great! After a solid freshman campaign, he struggled with injuries and consistency last year. He looks stronger, faster and ready to make some noise this year. He completely owned the boards as usual, but he also drove the net hard (which resulted in a goal on one play).
-Grimaldi looked even faster than a year ago. I know Manitoba isn't the quickest team, but it seriously looks like everybody is standing still when he gets going. He needs to shoot more instead of always looking for the pretty pass, but that will come. In the shootout he showed his crazy skill with a beauty move.
-Cagguila looks like he had a good offseason. He looks stronger and much more confident with the puck. He had a goal (with huge credit to Mark MacMillan for the slick set-up) and could have had another. Look for him to take a big step forward this year
Chyzyk - Looks like a guy that wants to stay in the line-up this season. He has gained a step or two from last season. He didn't generate a lot of offense this game, but showed he is capable of it if put in that type of a role.
Defense: Simpson looked solid as expected. Schmaltz looks like he took the necessary steps in the offseason and looks to be a big-time D for us this year. Mattson had some flashes, but still looked a bit shaky. He could be fighting for a spot this season if the freshman adjust quickly.
Goalies: Both looked solid. Gothberg was tested more with a few more shots and getting to participate in the shootout, but both looked capable.
- Johnson is a STUD...he looked like a veteran from the get-go. He wins face-offs, is defensively responsible, blocks shots, finishes checks, makes great passes and has an ultra-quick release. He had a beautiful short-handed goal.
- Tambellini has a knack for being in the right spots and, like Johnson, has a great, quick shot. He will need to get stronger to win the board battles, but when he gets the puck in open ice he will be dangerous.
- Ausmus looked very comfortable for the first game as a freshman. He plays a great shutdown game and isn't afraid to play physical.
- Stecher has good offensive skills and instincts which could make him a big factor on the power play. With only one practice before this game, the power play was out of sync, but when he gets comfortable out there he could be a big factor.
- Both Ladue and Thompson looked pretty poised for their first games. Ladue will see a lot of ice time this year. Thompson will have to compete hard against Stecher, Panzarella and Mattson for ice time.
- Muphy looked like he might need some time to adjust to the D1 level. Very apparent he has great offensive skill, but not as college ready as Johnson.
Uniforms: At home, the team will be wearing green breezers and helmets (pants and buckets for you Canadiens out there). If you haven't seen them yet, you are in for a treat this season. They have a throwback appeal to them and really pop with the white jerseys.
Shootouts- Since the NCHC will utilize shootouts, the exhibition featured a dress rehearsal at the end. I, like many conservative hockey fans, was hesitate about a game being decided in a shootout. However, I'm getting really excited about it now. We will no longer be leaving the rink with that strange feeling of no winner. Also, they are extremely entertaining to watch. Seeing Rocco's move has to get anybody excited for the new element to the games.
Well Sioux fans, here's to another great year of hockey! We will obviously all miss last year's senior class, but there is plenty to excited about this season!