Bozeman hockey still in the game

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Moore

Bozeman’s hockey community is one of the most dedicated and unique communities in the state. Despite games lasting well after midnight, the Bobcat hockey team has no problem filling the Haynes Pavilion at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds, which says a lot about their fan base and their interest in the sport.

Even the Icedogs, who have yet to notch a win this season, fill the stands, and though the Weasels haven’t started playing games, their black-and-white 2013 “booty” calendar will be released to incredible fanfare, and for good reason. Sales of the calendar benefit the Gallatin Ice Foundation and their efforts to build another rink.

MSU Club Team

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Moore.

President Cruzado’s visit to the Haynes Pavilion for Bobcat hockey last Friday, Nov. 2 may indicate the sport’s growing popularity. From tasteful, sexy calendars to “No Shave November” for cancer, Bozeman hockey players find creative ways to fund their sport, attract fans and promote goodwill in the community. This feature celebrates their hard work and dedication.

President Waded Cruzado was on the ice at Haynes Pavilion on Friday Nov. 2 to drop the puck and start a weekend of games between the Bobcats and the Boise State Broncos. The stands were packed for the game and Cruzado was issued an official Bobcat sweater for her continued support of MSU hockey.

“It was a great experience,” said Cruzado. “In addition to enjoying the game, I had an opportunity to meet some terrific individuals who are really passionate about hockey.”

Cruzado’s presence lifted the spirits of the players. “It was a big step for our hockey program,” said Austin Miller, a three-year veteran of the team, said of her appearance.

“It was nice to see some support from the university president,” added MSU sophomore defenseman Jeff Quay.

“I really like coaching these guys,” said first-year assistant coach John Gleason. “They all love playing hockey and are willing to make some sacrifices to keep playing, even when they don’t get anything back for it.”

MSU won both games against the Broncos last season and had similar success this weekend: Friday’s game was a riot. After goals by MSU’s Clancy O’Donnell and Quay kept the Cats in the game, Mike Allport tied it up at 3-3 with just four seconds left in regulation time to force a shootout. Though MSU lost the shootout, the game is still recorded as a tie in the books.

Saturday MSU dominated the ice, winning 5-0. Allport scored two early goals to give him three for the weekend. Quay also added to his weekend goal total, and both Jake Austin and Tyler Francis scored for the Cats.

Quay said he was not trying anything new over the weekend, but “just worked hard to get good shots on goal.” Nolan Albrecht made the most of his playing time filling in for goalie Will Thompson, earning his first shutout of the season.

“We have a lot of young guys that have been asked to step into some key situations and have done very well. The vets on the team have done a good job of bringing new guys into the fold and they are developing some chemistry together,” Gleason said. “We are 2-0-1 in our last three games, and I believe that if the guys keep working hard and keep doing the things they need to do, we will have a successful season.”

The Cats travel to Colorado this weekend to play the University of Colorado and the University of Denver, and also are trying to schedule a game with the Air Force Academy. They will play host to their archrival Grizzlies on Friday Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Haynes Pavilion at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds. Both games start at 10:30 p.m.

Bozeman Men’s Amateur Team

Bozeman Weasels. Photo courtesy of Karl Neumann.

After finishing with a 14-34 record during the 2011-2012 season, the Bozeman Icedogs hope to see a turnaround this season with their new head coach, Steve Harrison. Last season, the Icedogs allowed 207 goals in the 48 games they played — an average of just under four goals per game.

So far this season, the Icedogs are 0-10, have only scored nine goals and have allowed 97 goals — an average of almost 10 goals allowed per game. However, the new head coach has a vision for the Icedogs that focuses on teamwork.

One thing the team needs to work on, said Harrison, is their consistency. “They work hard for the most part. Most of them are learning what hard work really is,” he said. “I know I have good guys and when you have that, it’s a great base to start with because if you have no foundation, things fall apart.”

According to Harrison, his favorite game this season was in Yellowstone. The team was winning with six minutes left to play, but was unable to hold off Yellowstone and eventually lost.

“It showed us that if we do systems and work consistently, we are a pretty good team,” Harrison explained, “and I emphasize with the team because we worked very well together that night.”

With 38 games left to play in the season, there is still room for the Icedogs to turn it around. “We started out [the season] badly, to be honest, but I see improvement every day; not to the level I would like, but the consistent level of work is coming,” Harrison said.

One of Harrison’s favorite things about being the new head coach is the people, both on the team and in the community. “We really appreciate the support, not just at games but in the city. I have not been here long but the support and friendship people have shown is incredible, and we are working hard to represent the city of Bozeman in the manner it deserves.”

The next game for the Icedogs is in Helena Friday Nov. 9 against the undefeated Helena Bighorns. For more information about the team, visit their website http://bozemanicedogs.pointstreaksites.com.

Bozeman Women’s Amateur Team

It’s the time of year when Bozeman anxiously awaits a massive downfall of snow. With cold, snowy weather comes the start of winter sports.

Now is the time for hockey fans to pack Haynes Pavilion in anticipation of another season on the ice. The Bozeman Weasels women’s hockey team is set begin their season this weekend. According to team player Hannah Frantz, the team is made up of women who purely enjoy hockey.

“We all have very different backgrounds; some have played Division I college hockey and others are just getting their toes wet in the sport,” she said. This versatile environment allows for all skill levels to compete, travel and be a part of a team. BAHA, the Bozeman Amatuer Hockey Association, allows for clubs like the Weasels and other teams to practice in facilities such as the Haynes Pavillion.

In preparation for the games and tournaments, the team practices when it is convenient. Factors that affect when they practice include limited ice time available at the Haynes Pavillion and the numbers of players.

Helen Cornwell has been with the Weasels for four years, and explains how the team shifts their range in age, ability and availability in terms of traveling to tournaments. She says, “For these reasons, every time we go to a tournament, our team is a little bit different. Some might think that this would make team camaraderie challenging, but we make a great effort to connect with each other both on and off the ice.”

Cornwell describes their traveling experiences as a time to test their abilities and engage in competition, many times with teams from Idaho, Utah, Mont. and Wyo.

Frantz added, “We will also go to tournaments in Missoula and Jackson, Wyoming. Every year, we host a home tournament called the ‘Get Lucky Cup’ and it always falls on Saint Patrick’s Day weekend.” The “Get Lucky Cup” allows for families, students, and hockey fans alike to cheer on the Weasels in the Bozeman environment.

The team is well-known for their annual calendar, which is sold in an effort to fundraise for tournament fees as well as for a second rink at the state fairgrounds.

The calendars are sold for $20 each and can be found at the Haynes Pavillion, Play It Again Sports, Top Shelf, Madison River Brewery, Summit Bike and Ski and a few other local stores in Bozeman.

With practices not quite underway, the Weasels have their first tournament this weekend, Nov. 9 -11 in Helena. These tournaments allow the team to come together to travel Montana and surrounding states in order to compete with other hockey teams.

For more information on the Bozeman Weasels, check out their facebook page or at www.bozemanhockey.org.