Big weekend for the Ice Hawks
PHERSY:The Rochester (just an FYI to Hawks fans, Doc gave me the green light to call them the Rochester Ice Hawks from now on, so that's what I'm doing ... I was tired of calling them the Rochester-based Minnesota Ice Hawks, and since 90 percent of the league has Minnesota in their name, it only makes sense to go with Rochester ... and it makes me happier) Ice Hawks have a monster weekend ahead of them.
Tonight, they'll hit the road to play the lowly St. Paul Lakers. I say lowly, but the Lakers are improving. They've signed some new players, and they're playing much better than they did early in the season, when the Ice Hawks blew them out 20-5. I don't expect that type of score tonight, though the Ice Hawks should win handily.
But the BIG game is Saturday, when the Ice Hawks host the MnJHL-leading Granite City Lumberjacks. The Lumberjacks are 17-1-0-2 and have 36 points in the MnJHL standings. The Ice Hawks are 13-4-0-0 and have 26 points. The Lumberjacks already hold two wins over the Ice Hawks, beating them 6-4 on Sept. 12 and 4-2 on Oct. 3. Of course, the Ice Hawks have come a long way since Oct. 3. They're not the same team, and they've run off 10 straight wins since that loss to the Lumberjacks.
However, this is a game the Ice Hawks really can't afford to lose. Although the Lumberjacks have played three more games than the Ice Hawks, the Ice Hawks are still 10 points back in the standings. They can't afford to fall 12 points back. Even though it's not even December, it would be very tough for the Ice Hawks to catch the Lumberjacks without a win on Saturday ... definitely not impossible, but it will force them to be nearly perfect over the last few months of the season.
Though the Lumberjacks are a very good team, I just don't see the Ice Hawks losing this game. They're too talented, and if they play even remotely well (mainly, within the system), they should pick up a big win and move that much closer to first place in the MnJHL.
With the way Alex Bjerk is playing right now in net, that will make it tough on the Lumberjacks to light the lamp. He's been outstanding this season, and he deserves all the credit in the world. Also, how about the play of Ice Hawks d-man Robby Dahl. He has hat tricks in his last two games, including a hat trick against a good Northern Lights team.
A team to watch ... the Minnesota Owls. I checked them out last Friday, and there's a ton of talent there. Justin Neis is as good as any player in the MnJHL ... that kid can just fly. And the Owls have four or five other forwards who could skate for any team in the league! They're a good team, especially if they get their goal-tending figured out.
Anyway, it's unfortunate, but I won't be at the Rec Center this weekend. Sad! Mrs. Phersy's cousin plays football for Iowa, and he's a senior. Saturday is his last home game and senior day, so we're headed down South for the weekend. I can think of better things to do this weekend, but it's still cool to watch football outdoors at Kinnick.
Feldy will be filling in for me on Saturday. If the Ice Hawks lose, we won't let him go to another game this season! You better believe I'll be receiving text message updates from him throughout the game!
I will get to see a little hockey when I'm down in Iowa, though. I'm attending a Cedar Rapids RoughRiders game tonight, and they're playing the Green Bay Gamblers. That means I'll get to watch a former teammate of Brady Sand's ... Jefferson Dahl ... another kid I covered during my brief stint in Eau Claire. Excited to watch some USHL puck, but I'm certain the Rec Center will be much louder than the RoughRiders game!