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Looking back, and forward

April 6, 2009

by Aaron Schultz

’Wow, what a couple of crazy weeks, courtesy of the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Lakers boys’ and girls’ basketball teams.

It is Wednesday as I am writing this column, and it feels weird not getting ready to head down to Williams Arena to cover state tournament action.

Just sitting here knowing that I will get to head right home after high school baseball practice, make supper, find a nice groove on my couch, and catch a night full of the show “Ghost Hunters.”

I really can’t remember the last time I got to do that.

Looking back, it truly was a fantastic March, even though it just flew by.

However, the biggest reason March was so enjoyable was due to the HLWW basketball teams.

Now, even though those two basketball teams took up most of my time, sports or otherwise, during March, I am a fan of other things.

On the top of that list is the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher men’s hockey team.

I guess it was good that I was distracted by the Lakers to pay much, if any, attention to Gopher hockey, considering the brutal season they had.

The Gophers fell to the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the play-in game during the WCHA Final Five, and failed to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in forever.

Ouch, what a very yucky year for Gopher hockey.

Typically, after the Gopher season is over, I usually start getting pumped for next season, already.

But not this year. I just don’t have a lot of confidence in my favorite team right now.

I don’t know what it is, but I have a sick feeling that the Gophers just might be becoming another St. Cloud State University.

(Laughing, to myself) Yeah, right. It won’t ever get that bad.

I do have to give the Huskies credit, since if it was not for them, the Gopher may not have won a playoff series in the WCHA playoffs.

The Gophers swept St. Cloud in the playoffs, and were the only team in the second half of the season that they really dominated.

For that, “thanks St. Cloud,” at least you allowed the Gophers to salvage something this year.

Oh yeah, I wouldn’t be much of a hockey fan if I didn’t congratulate the Bemidji State University hockey team on making the NCAA Frozen Four, which will take place next week.

The Beavers won two games in NCAA regional play, to advance on to the Frozen Four, and now have two more NCAA tournament wins than the Huskies.

Still, looking for that first NCAA win, the Huskies just may get it in 2020. Or, they could always look at going back down to Division II, where I am sure they would win a tournament game, if they are able to get in.

And yes, making fun of St. Cloud hockey does make me feel better about my Gophers, even if it is short-lived.

Moving on to the Wild, they are hovering right outside of the playoff picture, and don’t seem to be able to make that great final push to put themselves into the playoffs.

If it was up to me, I’d just have the Wild lose out, get a higher draft pick, and build for next season.

I have been very disappointed with the Wild this season, on and off the ice.

They haven’t played well, are going to lose Marian Gaborik in free agency after the year, and don’t have much young talent in the minors.

I will always be a big Wild fan, but they need to make some better decisions with players, and build the kind of team we, here in Minnesota, expect.

Then there are the Timberwolves. They just need to stop winning any more games, and get lucky in the lottery.

I just can’t get myself to spend any more space in this column on the joke that is the Wolves.

Alright, I now want to look ahead to April, which promises to be a very fun, and busy month, as was March. Especially if it would stop snowing and get over 45 degrees at some point.

The Minnesota Twins open their season tonight (Monday), and I couldn’t be more excited.

They look to have a very strong line-up, even without Joe Mauer early in the year, and the pitching staff will be strong.

Should every one stay, or get healthy, and the bullpen holds up, it is going to be one heck of a great summer of Twins’ baseball.

And the best part it, this will be their final season in the Metrodome, as they will open Target Field in a year’s time.

I love my Twins!

Let’s now dive into amateur baseball action, which will start Saturday, April 18 for the Winsted Wildcats when they travel to Stark for a non-league game.

Having been distracted by the Laker basketball teams this past month, I haven’t really had the time to start getting excited for Wildcat baseball, but that is all changing.

Each passing moment that I think about Wildcat baseball, I grow more excited for it to get here already.

Sorry Orphans, I don’t want to leave you out, but your season doesn’t start until Saturday, May 2 when you travel to Kimball, and I am only going to be talking about April items.

Look for a Wildcat preview in next week’s paper, a Crow River Valley League preview in the following paper (April 20), and an Orphan/North Star League preview in the week after that (April 27).

This brings me to my final April item to look at – high school sports.

The Lakers and Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity scrimmaged each other in baseball last week, and HLWW looked very good.

HLWW has some very talented kids, and should do some very good things this spring.

As for LP/HT, my team, the Bulldogs didn’t fare as well in the scrimmage, but I did see some very good things, and lots of potential.

Now, as the head coach for LP/HT, it will be my job to get all that potential out of this team, and if I do my job, the Bulldogs should have a strong spring.

Then, there are the softball teams, both of whom have some very talented players, but I haven’t seen either of them play, or scrimmage yet, that comes this week.

Spring sports are rounded out by track and field teams for both LP/HT and HLWW, along with golf teams from HLWW.

Yep, March was busy, but April isn’t going to be a walk in the park, either.

Really, when you are busy with sports, you are a good kind of busy, which is why I love this job.