We're calling it Olson's 11.
Wednesday March 15, 2017
2:00 P.M. -- Bus ride.
While other students are off on spring break in Mexico, Florida, and California, we are just finishing up practice to prepare ourselves for the conference tournament this weekend. We get to spend five hours on a bus together as we head to Minneapolis for the conclusion of the NCHC playoffs. Nothing like a little bus ride for the guys to bond even more than we already do. A few movies later and we pull up to the Target Center to unload our gear.
8:00 P.M. -- Dinner and hotel.
After we unload the gear at the rink, we hop on the bus and head to the hotel where dinner awaits. A hungry group ate a great meal laid out by the staff. After dinner we were on our own for the night. Guys hung out and watched movies for a little bit, but then it was off to bed after the long road trip.
Thursday March 16, 2017
8:30 A.M. -- Breakfast.
An early morning today because we have the first practice scheduled at the Target Center, which starts at 10 am. After breakfast it was a quick ride to the rink to get ready for our Thursday practice.
10 A.M. -- Practice.
Thursday practice schedule remained the same today. Some early drills were meant to get our legs under us, and some shots on the goaltenders. We got into some neutral zone tracking and defensive zone coverage drills to stay sharp in those areas. We finished up with some 3 on 2 and 2 on 1 rushes.
For the most part, the boys looked sharp. We were the first team to skate on the ice laid down for the tournament so it was a little slow but I’m sure it will be ready by tomorrow’s game.
As always, we finished with the shootout. Cam Johnson and company were hot today between the pipes, stopping all but four shooters: Colton Poolman, Brock Boeser, Shane Gersich and Dane Jackson. Colton Poolman prevailed as the shootout winner.
11:30 A.M. – 4:30 P.M. -- On our own.
After practice, we had plenty of time to kill until the banquet at 5 pm, so guys walked to different places to grab a bite. Tucker, Colton, Austin, Matt and myself decided Chipotle was a good option. After our bite to eat, it was back to the hotel to do as we pleased. March Madness (NCAA Basketball Tournament) started today and I think a lot of the guys either took naps or watched that in our off time.
4:30 P.M. -- Video meeting.
Before we depart for the NCHC Awards banquet, we had a video session on our opponent (Denver). We looked at some of their tendencies and how we can defend and create opportunities against a very solid Denver team. We will go over special teams tomorrow before the game.
5 P.M. -- NCHC Awards Banquet.
The NCHC put on another great awards banquet and three of our own were honored. Matt Hrynkiw received the Sportsmanship Award and rightfully so! Tyson Jost received an award for being a part of the NCHC All-Rookie Team. Tucker Poolman received two awards for NCHC First Team and Defensive Defenseman of the Year. Three great guys who are very deserving of everything they have accomplished.
7 P.M. -- Dinner.
Another great dinner laid out by the staff. Entrees included steak, lamb, and walleye with asparagus, potatoes, and mac and cheese for sides. All of the guys really enjoyed their meal and we made sure to thank Patrick Swanson for setting up such a great meal. Now back to the hotel to cheer on the basketball team in its first ever NCAA tournament appearance!
Goodnight fans, tomorrow is game day!
Friday, March 17, 2017
9-10:30 A.M. -- Breakfast.
The hotel staff laid out a great buffet spread for us to enjoy. The French toast was a big hit for most of the guys and, of course, bacon was served. Because we have the late game tonight, we have the final morning skate spot at 12:15 pm, our latest morning skate of the year.
12:15 P.M. -- Morning skate.
We talked as a team and decided that we should skate as a team but that our skate wouldn't be for long. We only did two drills with the whole team and then we had the decision to leave the ice or shoot on the goaltenders. We were off the ice in less than 20 minutes. We were sharp and on a mission. Back to the hotel now until pregame meal at 2:30 pm.
2:30 P.M. -- Pregame meal.
After Coach Shaw’s power-play meeting, we enjoyed our pregame meal as a team. Coach Berry made it very clear that this was a must-win game, but we already knew that and had been thinking about it all week. After meal, it was back to our rooms to prepare for a huge rivalry game with a lot of implications.
7:30 P.M. -- Puck drop.
What an intense game. Playing Denver in a rivalry game in the NCHC semifinals, with our backs against the wall, we knew it was going to be a battle. Denver is a very skilled team but I thought the boys had one of our best defensive performances yet. Cam Johnson showed that he could be the best goaltender in the country.
The first two periods were a defensive battle on both sides. Neither team generated many grade A chances and if we did, the goaltenders were up to the task. It wasn’t until early in the third where the first and last goal would be scored. Austin Poganski buried a bouncing puck off of the end wall into a yawning cage. For the first time in the NCHC playoffs, we advance to the finals tomorrow against another very good Duluth team.
Goodnight fans! We will see you tomorrow!
Friday, March 18, 2017
9:30 – 10:30 A.M. -- Breakfast.
Good morning, fans!
I don’t know about you, but I slept pretty well last night. Not only did we win against the No. 1 team in the country, we also clinched a birth in the NCAA Tournament. Tonight we have another challenge against UMD to clinch our first ever NCHC Tournament championship. The hotel staff laid out another great meal and the guys enjoyed the French toast, just as they did yesterday. Now we head to the rink for our morning activities.
11:00 A.M. -- Bus to rink.
Again, we talked as a team, but this time we decided it was better to rest this morning instead of skating. So as a team, we did a walk and stretch around the concourse and then did our rehab exercises with the training staff.
Afterwards, we gathered in the locker room to go over some video on UMD. We looked through their offensive and defensive tendencies and where we can have success. We are 0-4 against UMD this year and need to come away with a big win tonight.
2:30 -- Pregame meal.
After a quick look into the UMD penalty kill, we grabbed our food. Seniors Gage Ausmus and Matt Hrynkiw had the floor. They talked about what it would mean to this program to come out and win a second game in a row against two top-end teams. They also talked about how we will need to win two games each weekend in the tournament or else our season will be over. We have to learn how to close out two games and we will do that tonight.
7:30 P.M. -- Puck drop.
Again, we knew this would be a tough game against a tough Minnesota Duluth team. It was chaos from the drop of the puck and that chaos lasted until the final whistle. Overall, there were 27 penalties called and we played less than 30 minutes of the game at even strength.
We got out to an early lead 1-0 on a power play goal from Brock Boeser. As a team we outshot the Bulldogs 16-4 in the first period, but we went into the intermission with only a 1-0 lead.
The second period was off to a rocky start when the Bulldogs scored three straight goals in 58 seconds. We called our timeout to regain our focus and get our minds back on track. We chipped away at the UMD lead by grabbing a 5 on 3 power play goal, thanks to Tyson Jost. We ended the second period down 3-2.
The third period was no different than the first and second. Penalties and power plays were the name of the game. We tied up the game with about 2:30 left in the third period on a 5 on 3 power play. The Bulldogs gained a 5 on 3 of their own, and with less than a minute left, they scored off of a defender’s skate and that was the game.
We continue to play great hockey and we continue to grow as a team. We couldn’t be more excited to play next weekend in Fargo, and we believe if we continue to play like this, we will surprise a lot of teams in the national tournament.
Goodnight fans! We will see you again in Fargo!