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Roseau vs. Warroad: A rivalry renewed

By Tim Kolehmainen, 01/11/10, 6:22AM CST


The Week Ahead spotlights one of nation's most storied prep rivalries

Warroad at Roseau (7:30 pm, Thursday, Jan. 14)

Many claim there isn’t a better high school rivalry in any sport anywhere in the country than the annual Roseau-Warroad clash.

Sure, some of the edge has been taken off in recent years because the two teams don’t compete for the same section title anymore. Some will say Moorhead is a bigger rival for Roseau now that those two annually compete for the Section 8AA title. Likewise, Warroad has to compete with Thief River Falls, East Grand Forks and others for the Section 8A crown.

But the history involved in the series can’t be beat. Even the New York Times featured the game back in January 2007.

It isn’t wise to compete with the eloquence of the Times, which compared the two towns that sit just 20 miles apart on Highway 11 by saying that, “like most great rivalries, this one is between two places that are more alike than not.”

Warroad boasts of Henry Boucha and the Christian family and its amazing run of Olympians. Roseau can claim Rube Bjorkman, the Broten family and a sizeable clan of NHL alumni.

The Roseau Rams hockey website even has a specially dedicated page breaking down the game’s history, on which they can brag of a 92-59-4 edge. But Warroad took both meetings last season en route to a runner-up finish at the state Class A tournament.

This year both programs are ranked among the best in their respective classes and feature two of the best offensive lines in the state. Roseau has raced to a 12-1-1 mark under first-year head coach Andy Lundbohm, nearly equaling its 15 victories from last winter.

The Rams’ top line of Shane Omdahl (19-22-41), Adam Knochenmus (14-17-31) and Cole Kostrzewski (11-19-30) is among the highest scoring in the state. Omdahl is a high-energy player who sees the ice very well, Knochenmus is the anchor of the line and a terrific goal-scorer, while Kostrzewski has a nose for the net. Knochenmus may not be back for the big game, however, as he separated his shoulder over the holidays and was expected to be out three or four weeks.

Senior Ethan Kvidt (12-1-1, 2.25 GAA, .910 save percentage) cleared up an early muddled goaltending situation last winter after the early departure of Mike Lee to the USHL, and Kvidt has extended his excellence into this season. Roseau also has an underrated defensive corps led by Tim Tesarek (3-6-9), big (6-foot-3) Lyle Norman (2-9-11) and Taylor Hedlund (2-7-9).

Warroad, off to an 11-2-0 start, also boasts of a terrific top line in talented Brock Nelson (20-14-34), Brett Hebel (12-18-30) and Nick Stoskopf (8-11-19). Nelson, a North Dakota recruit, and Hebel are both well on the way to repeating their All-State honors of a season ago.

Nelson is a powerful forward who also has great goal-scorer’s hands and touch. Hebel is a physical player with terrific intensity who can also find the net, while Stoskopf is a newcomer to the line this winter but has already mixed in well as a junior.

Defenseman Carson Gray (2-9-11), also an All-Stater last year, and Joey Olson (2-9-11) are the only other Warriors with double-digit points this winter, perhaps exposing the Warroad's scoring depth as its Achilles’ heel.

The Nelson-Hebel-Stoskopf line has tallied 40 of the team’s 49 goals through 13 games.

Shawn Storey (11-2-0, 1.69 GAA, .867 save percentage) has been solid in taking over from graduated All-State goaltender Jason Goldsmith.


Top games of the week

Time/Date Visiting Team Home Team Stats
3 pm, Saturday, Jan. 16   Eagan   Eden Prairie Stats and Play-by-Play
Are the Wildcats for real? It’s tough to argue that they are an early-season aberration, at least now that we’re deep into January. Eagan has been one of the toughest teams in the state to score against and has already defeated Apple Valley and Bloomington Jefferson. The only team more underrated than the Wildcats might just be Eden Prairie, the defending state champions who’ve only lost once but are being overlooked by many. This might also set up the favorite in the Lake Conference.
7:30 pm, Saturday, Jan. 16   Hibbing/Chisholm   Virginia/MIB Stats and Play-by-Play
A terrific battle for bragging rights in the Iron Range Conference between one of the league’s long-time powers (Hibbing) and one of its new up-and-comers (Virginia/MI-B). The Bluejackets haven’t gotten off to the start they had hoped (7-6-1), but will be up against the Blue Devils (9-5-2), the defending Section 7A champions. This game is always intense and physical.
7:30 pm, Saturday, Jan. 16   Centennial   Blaine Stats and Play-by-Play
If it seems as if the Section 5AA title has come down to these two teams almost every year recently, that’s because it has. Blaine has the edge with four straight state appearances and another great team this winter, but as it displayed in winning the inaugural St. Louis Park Rec Center Holiday Classic, Centennial has shown it can compete with anyone – or struggle with anyone. A key may be whether Blaine continues to get offensive firepower outside of Mr. Hockey candidate Nick Bjugstad and his junior linemate Jonny Brodzinski.
7:30 pm, Saturday, Jan. 16   St. Cloud Cathedral   Hermantown Stats and Play-by-Play
The Section 5A title is expected to go through these two top programs again this winter. Cathedral took the title last year, but has been off its game since losing much of its strong defensive corps from a year ago. Yet that’s the strength of Hermantown this year, as the Hawks run at least five deep with college prospects on the blue line. That just might make the difference in this winter’s preview to the likely Section 5A title game.
7:30 pm, Saturday, Jan. 16   Woodbury   Cretin-Derham Hall Stats and Play-by-Play
A tale of two teams going in opposite directions. Woodbury, arguably the preseason favorite in Section 3AA, struggled in the early going before rallying with two straight victories last week. Still, the Royals are just 6-6-1 and need some momentum heading into the second half of the season. On the other hand, Cretin-Derham Hall, the defending Section 3AA champs, came out of the gates on fire, winning its first seven games and gaining plenty of notice. But they hit a bump over the holidays and have been on a win-one, lose-one kick ever since. A huge game for both teams.
7 pm, Thursday, Jan. 14   Bloomington Jefferson   Burnsville Stats and Play-by-Play
Two of the state’s traditional powers and Lake Conference rivals should give fans an entertaining game. Jefferson has as much firepower as any team in the state (6.1 goals per game) and might be angry after losing to Lakeville North last Saturday. The Jaguars get offense from their blue liners Jeff Pauluk and Joe Faust, second and third on the team in scoring to UMD recruit Caleb Herbert. Burnsville, which has won four straight, is more of a grinding team, averaging just 3.1 goals per game. It should be a battle to see which team can impose its will on the other.
7:30 pm, Saturday, Jan. 16   Rochester Mayo   Rochester Century Stats and Play-by-Play
At first glance, this game appears to favor Century, but a look at the history of this Rochester rivalry makes this one interesting. Last year, Century knocked Mayo out of the Section 1AA playoffs after going 0-2-1 against the Spartans during the regular season. Two year ago, it was Century that had the upper hand in the regular season at 2-1-0, but Mayo prevailed in the Section 1AA tournament. Century has been led this winter by the Kautz brothers. Cory is the leading scorer (15-10-25) while Brock has taken over goaltending duties (6-4-0, 1.87 GAA, .927 save percentage).
7 pm, Friday, Jan. 15   Benilde-St. Margaret"s   Totino-Grace Stats and Play-by-Play
If anyone can stop Benilde-St. Margaret’s seemingly inevitable march to the North Suburban Conference crown, it might be Totino-Grace. Despite a disappointing overtime loss to St. Francis last Saturday, the Eagles are just one game off the Red Knights’ pace in the conference race with two head-to-head games remaining. Both teams have high-scoring freshmen in Totino’s T.J. Roo (9-8-17) and Benilde’s Grant Besse (18-8-26).
2 pm, Saturday, Jan 16   Moose Lake Area   North Branch Stats and Play-by-Play
Not many hockey fans will have their eyes on this game, but those with a well-developed taste for variety will give it a look. These are the two top Minnesota teams in the new Two Rivers Conference (along with Burnett, Wis.). Moose Lake is a perfect 5-0-0 through its first five conference games, while North Branch is 4-1-0 (Burnett is 4-2-0). North Branch has one of the state’s top goal scorers in Jerrett Sachs (17-12-29) while Moose Lake will counter with top goaltender Austin Lanoue (8-3-0, 2.36 GAA, .899 save percentage).


Breakdown editor Tim Kolehmainen may be reached at tim@mnsportspreview.com.

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