Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.
Phil Housley will coach the U.S. junior national team at the World Championships from Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Ufa, Russia.
Housley, coach of the Stillwater High School boys team for the past eight seasons, was a seven-time NHL All-Star defenseman.
USA Hockey made the announcement this afternoon.
Housley, 48, played for eight teams in the NHL as a defenseman and had 1,232 points, a record for an American-born player until Mike Modano broke it in 2007. Housley, who jumped from South St. Paul High School right to the NHL, played in nearly 1,500 NHL games.
The 46 players who are top candidates for the U.S. junior national team were announced earlier today. Those players will be in an evaluation camp in Lake Placid in August.
Housley's assistant coaches will be Gophers assistant Grant Potulny and Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki. Gophers coach Don Lucia will be on the evaluation staff in Lake Placid.
The USA Hockey news release on Housley:
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Phil Housley (South St. Paul, Minn.) has been named head coach of the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team it was announced today by USA Hockey. It is Housley's first stint as the head coach of a U.S. National Team after serving as an assistant coach for the 2007 (bronze) and 2011 (bronze) U.S. National Junior Teams and the 2011 U.S. Men's National Team.
"We're extremely pleased to have Phil coach our National Junior Team," said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director for hockey operations at USA Hockey, who will also serve as general manager of the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team. "Having both played and coached internationally, Phil understands what it takes to be successful in a short tournament. He's also used to relating to players of this age group, which will certainly be beneficial."
"I'm honored to be asked to coach this team and look forward to the challenge," said Housley. "The depth of our player pool is as good as it has ever been and I'm sure it will be a challenge to settle on which players will represent our country in Ufa."
The U.S. National Junior Team will take part in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship Dec. 26, 2012 - Jan. 5, 2013 in Ufa, Russia. The U.S. is seeking its third medal in four years, having won the gold medal in 2010 and the bronze medal in 2011.
In 2011-12 Housley completed his eighth season as the head coach of the Stillwater (Minn.) High School boys' ice hockey team.
As a player, Housley had a remarkable career with Team USA, representing his country at 11 international tournaments. He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004 and the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2000 he was honored with USA Hockey's Bob Johnson Award for excellence in international competition. Following his USA Hockey debut as a member of the 1982 U.S. Junior National Team, Housley went on to play for seven U.S. Men's National Teams (1982, 1986, 1989, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2003). In 2002 he received a silver medal with the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. Additionally, he won gold with Team USA at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
Housley spent 21 seasons in the National Hockey League. A first-round draft pick (sixth overall) by the Buffalo Sabres in 1982, he spent the first eight years (1982-90) of his career there and, in 2007, was inducted into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. Housley also spent time with the Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs. He concluded his career with 1,232 points (338-894), the most by an American-born defenseman.
Imagine a team winning the World Series or the Super Bowl and then folding in the offseason because of financial reasons. An unlikely scenario, you say.
Well, it has just happened in Spain. Ros Casares, which won its first EuroLeague women's basketball title this year, has announced it will not have a team in the Spanish league or EuroLeague next season.
The EuroLeague title is the most prestigious in international women's basketball most years, except in Olympic years and years the World Championships are held.
Ros Casares won its eighth Spanish title this year since being founded 13 years ago.
Among the key players on this year's team were Maya Moore of the Lynx, Lauren Jackson and Ann Wauters of Seattle, Sancho Lyttle of Atlanta and Shay Murphy of Chicago.
For more on the story, click here.
Candice Wiggins also has played for Ros Casares, which is based in Valencia, in past seasons.
EX-GOPHERS COACH FIRED
Linda Hill-MacDonald, the Gophers women's basketball coach from 1990-97, is out of a job. The State University of New York at Buffalo has announced she will not be back to coach the Bulls for an eighth season.
Her record there was 75-137. The Bulls were 9-22 this past season, 4-12 in the Mid-America Conference.
Mike Hastings has been named the new MSU Mankato men's hockey coach.
He has been coaching in the WCHA the past four seasons, serving as an assistant on Don Lucia's Gophers staff in 2008-09 and then as an associate head coach on Dean Blais' Nebraska Omaha staff the past three seasons.
Before that he was the coach and general manager of the Omaha Lancers. In 14 seasons, he had a record of 529-210-56, making him the winningest coach in USHL history.
The Mavericks will play the Gophers twice this coming season, probably in home-and-home series before the Gophers leave for the Big Ten Conference in 2013-14.
"I believe we can win here and we're thrilled to get started," Hastings was quoted as saying in a MSU news release.
Hastings is only the third coach in MSU history. Don Brose led the program from 1969 yo 2000 and Troy Jutting since then before being reassigned to other administrative duties on April 1.
He starts the job Monday and, according to AD Kevin Buisman, will have a four-year contract at a salary of $225,000, part of privately funded.
A GOOD HIRE
I talked with Hastings numerous times when he was a Gophers assistant. He seems like a good hire. He is obviously very knowledgeable about the game, and comes across as enthusiastic and passionate about his sport.
With the Gophers, he worked primarily with the forwards.
He should be a strong recruiter, especially if improvements are made to the Mavericks' rink. His friendship with Lucia should add another twist to the Mavericks-Gophers rivalry, too.
Mike Hastings, an associate head coach with Nebraska Omaha the past three seasons, will interview today for the head men's hockey coaching position at Minnesota State Mankato with the the school's search committee.
Hastings, a Gophers assistant coach in the 2008-09 season, will then meet with the media and the general public at 4 p.m. at the Taylor Center on campus. That seems a little odd for a candidate, unless the job is nearly his already.
I talked with Hastings numerous times when he was at the University of Minnesota. He comes across as an impressive coach: knowledgeable, passionate, experienced. He primarily worked with the Gophers' forwards and ran practices when head coach Don Lucia was absent.
MSU reassigned Troy Jutting, the Mavericks' coach for 12 years, on April 1 and school officials have worked quickly, it seems, to find a replacement.
Hastings replaced Mike Guentzel at Minnesota and, in turn, was replaced by Grant Potulny.
He has a lot of head coaching experience in the USHL. In 14 years with the Omaha Lancers, he compiled a career record of 529-210-56 and never had a losing season. He had more victories than any coach in UHSL history. His last team there in 2007-08 won the Clark Cup.
His Lancers previously won Clark Cups for playoff championships in 1998 and 2001. His teams also won three Anderson Cups for regular-season titles in 2002, '05 and '08.
Hastings was the USHL coach of the year after the 1996-97 and 2001-02 seasons. And five times he was named the UHSL's general manager of year in 1997, 2002, '05, '07 and '08.
He is a native of Crookston, Minn., and played at St. Cloud State for two season before his college playing career ended because of injuries. He has a bachelor's degree in secondary education.
Hastings is the first finalist to interview for the MSU Mankato job. Will there be others? School officials are not saying.
Maybe there is somebody better out there for the Mavericks' job, but Hastings has to be a strong candidate.
Gophers coach Don Lucia said after Saturday's tie the coaching staff complimented the players about what they have accomplished so far this season, rather than getting on them.
"Look at where we are sitting," he said on Monday during his weekly radio show on 1500ESPN. "We have got 11 wins. We are 8-2 in the league and we only have had three home games in the league. What we tried to do is take this weekend out of it and try to remind the guys about the big picture where we are."
The Gophers have a one-point lead over Minnesota Duluth a little more than a third of the way through their 28-game conference schedule.
"And we are fine [with] the way we played [in East Lansing, Mich.]," Lucia said, referring to a 4-3 loss to Michigan State and a 4-4 tie. "Our guys played their rear off on Saturday night. And really Friday, too, we outshot them almost two to one. Kent [goalie Kent Patterson] probably would like to have one or two of those [goals he gave up on Friday] back. He had been so good all year long. It is almost surprising when he let's one in he probably should have had.
"But we were right there. Both games were well-played, hard fought and it came right down to the end both nights."
DYNAMIC ONE-TWO SCORING PUNCH
Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau are setting quite a scoring pace for the Gophers.
Bjugstad, a 6-5 sophomore center, has 15 goals and 25 points already. He is tied for the national lead in goals and points.
Rau, his linemate and a 5-8 left winger, has 10 goals and 18 points. That's three more goals and four more points than any other freshmen playing Division I hockey.
"When you have 15 goals at Thanksgiving, [Nick] is on pace to have a terrific year," Lucia said. "And certainly Kyle Rau, with 10 already, that is pretty amazing as a freshman, too. They seem to work really well together. And that's one of the reasons we are winning games.
"We have some guys that are scoring on a pretty consistent basis. You have to defend, you have to goaltend, but you still have to get a timely goal. And, to me, that is the biggest difference this year, we are scoring more timely goals than we have had the past few years. And that has to continue."
Rau, by the way, has four game-winning goals, tying him for the national lead among all players in that category.
"We need everybody chipping in. We are at our best when we have that consistency throughout our lineup. Early on, it seemed like everybody was involved. Then for a while we are getting scoring off one line, which made it more difficult to win."
Bjugstad's line is the one that is scoring. Here is the breakdown:
First line, maroon: Rau-Bjugstad-Zach Budish ... top two goal-scorers, 29 goals, 29 assists -- 58 points
Second line, gold: Sam Warning-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen ... Haula started hot, has cooled, 16 goals, 26 assists -- 42 points
Third line, black: Nate Condon-Taylor Matson-Seth Ambroz ... Ambroz has struggled to score, 10-13 -- 23 points
Fourth line, blue: Tom Serratore-Travis Boyd-Nick Larson ... Serratore best hitter on team, 4-6 -- 10 points
"If we can get that scoring off all of our lines," Lucia said, "especially our top three, in a night in and night out basis that's when we are a dangerous team and that's when we are going to be at our best."
* Lucia said the Spartans scored three of their four goals on Saturday on rushes. "That is something we haven't been giving a lot of," he said. "A couple of them -- we just showed them on video -- a little confusion on who should be covering who. ... On their game-tying goal, we ended up with a defenseman getting outside the dots when he should have stayed in the middle. ... Again those are correctable mistakes."
RESULTS MIXED FROM LINE-UP CHANGES
Lucia had two freshman, second line left wing Sam Warning and third line right wing Seth Ambroz, sit and watch Saturday's game. "They hadn't scored in a while, they were getting a little bit frustrated," Lucia said. "They were still playing well and doing some good things."
But Lucia said he thought it would be good for them to watch a game. "Sometimes you see where the openings are, where you should go," he said. "It was good for both of them. [They went] back to the places they have been most of the year [Monday] in practice. That is where they need to be.
"That's our best line-up when Sam is playing with Erik [Haula] and [Jake] Hansen and when Seth is with [Nate] Condon and [Taylor] Matson. We [had] moved [Travis] Boyd up [from fourth to second line]. Part of it was good. He can make some plays. He got a lot of ice time and got tired a little bit. He is only 18 years old and needs to get stronger. And I also felt our blue line wasn't as strong as it had been over the previous month."
Lucia said it is not easy to find a group of three that work well together. He said he has several pairs that seem to fit. "And then you find out who you think will be the third guy to work well with that line," Lucia said.
He said he liked Haula and Hansen together as well as Condon and Matson. Both those pairs can play together killing penalties or on the power play, Lucia said.
"And now what is the best fit to go with them [on a line]?" Lucia asked. "We have to continue to grow some of the freshmen. ... And it's not about how are they playing in November, it is how we can get those guys playing in February and March."
Lucia said Minnesota State had eight players out with injuries at one time this season and only had 19 players available for one game in Denver.
"Until you can put your line-up on the ice, you don't know what kind of team you have," Lucia said. "And that has been the case with Minnesota State. They have a lot of veterans. They did turn over a couple of good defenseman last year."
He said the Mavericks, in a series at Duluth, had to use two forwards among their top six defensemen because of injuries.
"You pull seven or eight guys out of our lineup, and I guarantee you, our record would probably be reversed," Lucia said. "And that happened to us last year at times where we were down to 18 skaters in some of those games in November. And you are not the same team. So they are starting to get some guys back.
"As they get healthier, they are going to be a whole lot better."
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