Dr. Peterson Garners Communications Award

Minnetonka Superintendent to be honored by state communications association with Leadership in District Communications Award

Originally published by Minnetonka Public Schools on April 10, 2014

peterson picA world-class school district needs world-class communications, and vice-versa, something that Minnetonka School District Superintendent Dr. Dennis Peterson understands.

Peterson has committed himself to high-quality communication with all community audiences in order to build support for Minnetonka’s mission, vision and goals.

That dedication has earned Dr. Peterson recognition from the Minnesota School Public Relations Association (MinnSPRA), which will honor him with its Leadership in District Communications Award during its spring conference on Friday, April 11.

“It’s a nice honor. I appreciate being nominated by our communications staff, Board members and others that were involved,” Dr. Peterson said of receiving the award. “It’s very humbling because I know there are many other superintendents are very good at communications and have good communications plans in their district.”

“Minnetonka is highly regarded in regards to communications.”

Since assuming the superintendency in 2001, Dr. Peterson has been a staunch supporter of a strong Minnetonka communications plan. But, he notes that a plan can only be as good as the programs and initiatives that it’s promoting. For that reason, he has strived to develop and implement a wide array of world-class programs throughout the District. During his time in Minnetonka, Dr. Peterson has increased student achievement by every academic measure, including the District’s average ACT score increasing from 23.1 to 26.3. He has also made Minnetonka a national leader in using classroom technology as an accelerator of learning, improved facilities, rebuilt community pride in schools and initiated open enrollment.

“There’s an old saying that you do a good job, do a good job, and then tell about it,” Dr. Peterson said. “We have to have good things happening that the Minnetonka community, staff and students can be proud of.”

“We have programs that garner a lot of interest and over 2,500 open-enrolled students,” he added. “That traffic alone tells us that people appreciate what we’re doing and how we do it. Communications allow us to spread the word about those programs, how they’re doing, how successful they are and get feedback.”

By opening that two-way communication with the community, Dr. Peterson has been able to build trust and a mutually beneficent relationship with Minnetonka constituents. In turn, the District has been able to move forward on accomplishing its goals for student learning with community support.

In today’s rapidly changing communications environment, he has also been a visionary leader in communications technologies in order to keep those two-way channels open and current. Under Dr. Peterson’s leadership, Minnetonka has prioritized its website as a primary source of information; launched social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and others; and rolled out a fully-integrated Minnetonka App this year.

“Communications technology over even the last 10 years has changed dramatically, and over the last 25 years it’s like day and night,” Dr. Peterson said. “It’s critical for a district to stay current in how people are communicating with each other and to have our message out there. Without staying on the cutting edge, we wouldn’t be resonating with our patrons.”

“We want them to know how things are going, how new programs are doing and how students are doing, as well as challenges we’re facing, so that they may help us overcome them,” he added of the importance of connecting with the community.

“It’s critical to make sure employees and constituents of the District know what we’re accomplishing, what we’re trying to accomplish and where we’re not being as successful as we might like,” he said, “so that they feel like the District is being open and honest with them and progressing towards its goals.”

The 2014 MinnSPRA Spring Conference will take place on Friday, April 10, at the TIES Event Center in St. Paul.

Leadership in communications is not the first award Dr. Peterson has received.  He has been recognized with AASA’s President’s Award for Vision and Leadership in Technology (2005), eSchoolNews Tech Savvy Superintendent Award (2006), an Educational Research and Development Institute’s Excellence in Educational Leadership Award (2007), and Minnesota Superintendent of the Year in 2009.

Buffalo Sabres Sign Wisconsin’s Jake McCabe

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Badgers’ blueliner will make his NHL debut later this week and has the polish to make an immediate impact.

Originally published by SB Nation College Hockey on April 2, 2014

Wisconsin suffered its first early departure of the offseason Wednesday as junior defenseman Jake McCabe inked a three-year entry level deal with the Buffalo Sabres, forgoing his senior year with the Badgers.

Buffalo GM Tim Murray hinted that a deal was close during a radio interview prior to the Sabres game versus New Jersey last night, but, perhaps more interestingly, said that McCabe will likely report directly to Buffalo, rather than its AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans.

Given the Sabres’ current position in the standings, it’s not hard to see why they’d want to give the Eau Claire, Wis., native a look. Since he was drafted the in the second round in 2012, McCabe has been viewed as a vital piece to the Sabres rebuild. Those expectations only increased when he captained Team USA to a Gold Medal in the 2013 IIHF World Juniors Tournament. McCabe was named to the All-Tournament team after recording three goals, six points and a team-high plus-nine rating in seven games.

McCabe, a First-Team All-Big Ten selection this season, has made great strides in his development throughout his college career. His defensive game has always been his strongest attribute. McCabe is rock solid in his own zone and possesses a great hockey mind and anticipate plays and reads and reacts well to whatever is in front of him. He’s also a very fluid skater that moves well with the puck and played well in all situations for the Badgers.

One area improvement as McCabe moves to the NHL level is his decision-making with the puck. Wisconsin fans saw this in the team’s 5-2 loss to North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when a McCabe turnover led to big goal for UND’s Rocco Grimaldi. However, that aspect of his game should come with time as he continues to develop, especially now that he’ll be facing NHL competition right away.

This season with the Badgers McCabe’s two-way play came a long way. Badger fans knew he had offensive potential from the blue line and he really broke through this year. He doubled his previous career-high in goals with eight tallies to go along with 17 assists and a career-best 25 points, which was good for fifth-best on the team. Overall, he had 14 goals and 58 points in 100 career games.

McCabe was set to be a leader, maybe the captain, for Wisconsin next season –– which reportedly gave him hesitation about leaving early – but he has the polish and ability to make an impact in Buffalo sooner rather than later.

We had McCabe ranked as the 7th best NHL prospect in our Top 100 NHL Prospects in the NCAA this year. Here’s what we wrote about McCabe:

7. Jake McCabe, Defense, Wisconsin (Buffalo Sabres)

McCabe was one of the stars of the 2013 gold medal-winning US World Junior team, where his steady play and leadership helped lead the US through the medal round. McCabe doesn’t project as a huge offensive contributor at the NHL level, but he should be a steady, reliable player that can eat a lot of minutes with good, honest defensive play.

SB Nation’s Andy Johnson reports that McCabe received the maximum rookie contract of $925,000 per year, and that he will make his NHL debut with the Sabres on Thursday against St. Louis, which will allow McCabe to burn the first year of his entry-level contract this season.

Michael Mersch signs with Los Angeles Kings

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The Kings’ 2011 fourth round picks was an elite goal-scorer in his four years for the Wisconsin Badgers.

Originally published by SB Nation College Hockey on April 1, 2014

Former Wisconsin winger and 2011 fourth round draft pick Michael Mersch has signed with the Los Angeles Kings, according to LA Kings PR:

After electing to return for his senior season, Mersch, a First-Team All-Big Ten selection, produced a stellar campaign for the Badgers, netting a Big Ten-leading 22 goals to go along with 35 points in 37 games. He played a big tole in Wisconsin winning the inaugural Big Ten Tournament championship, scoring both goals in the Badgers’ 2-0 win over Penn State in the Big Ten semifinals.

The 6-1, 225 lbs., forward had his second-straight 20-goal season in 2013-14, becoming the first UW two-time 20-goal scorer since the 2005-06 season.

The Park Ridge, Ill., native leaves Madison as one of Wisconsin’s most prodigious goal scorers as his 67 career goals rank No. 23 all-time at UW. He was at his most lethal on the power play, where he scored 10 times this year, which paced the Big Ten and tied for fifth in the country.

Mersch was a durable player for Wisconsin, appearing in every game over his four-year career after making the jump from the U.S. National Development Program. His college career came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when the No. 1-seeded Badgers were upended by North Dakota.

While he displayed elite goal-scoring ability at the NCAA level, Mersch needs to develop his skating, which was his primary weakness in college, to translate that to the pro game. His power play prowess and good size will afford him the opportunity to showcase himself at the pro level and he has the potential to develop into a solid power forward.

Mersch ranked No. 70 in our NCAA Top 100 NHL Prospects rankings.

Kloos and the Minnesota freshmen power Gophers to Frozen Four

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Justin Kloos’s regional-high three goals nets him Most Outstanding Player honors as Minnesota’s freshmen continue to shine.

Originally published by SB Nation College Hockey on March 30, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota’s talented group of freshmen certainly didn’t seem fazed by their first exposure to the bright lights of the NCAA Tournament.

The Gophers’ first-year group came into the West Regional as the nation’s highest-scoring rookie class, with 52 goals in 37 games this season. That trend continued in St. Paul as they accounted for five of Minnesota’s 11 goals.

“They grew up in a hurry (this weekend),” Gophers head coach Don Lucia said of his seven-member freshmen class. “They’ve performed all season long, but I think they learned this weekend the way that you have to play.”

Leading the way was forward Justin Kloos, who paced all players at the West Regional with three goals, including two in Sunday’s 4-0 regional clinching win over St. Cloud State to earn him Most Outstanding Player honors.

Forward Hudson Fasching may be the Minnesota frosh that garners the most hype, and he’s certainly deserving of that, but Kloos — a former Mr. Hockey winner from Lakeville South — has had every bit as impressive a season. After his three-goal regional performance he now leads Minnesota with 15 goals to go along with 31 points in 39 games this season.

Kloos’s line with senior Nate Condon and fellow freshman Taylor Cammarata was arguably the Gophers’ best this weekend, combining for five goals and ten points.

“I think that right now it’s probably the best we’re playing,” Condon said of his line. “Kloos and (Cammarata) are really working hard and anytime Kloos can put up two goals it’ll help our team.”

“They were really working hard and it’s paying off for us.”

Though, according to Kloos, he and his fellow freshmen wouldn’t have found success this year without veteran leaders like Condon to guide them.

“We’ve been blessed with a group in front of us that’s full of great leaders,” Kloos said. “We’ve been able to feed off of them all year and we’re just happy that we’ve been able to step in and help the team win.”

In total, the Gopher freshmen accounted for five goals and nine points in Minnesota’s two regional wins. Cammarata had three assists, Fasching scored a goal and Michael Brodzinski had a goal and an assist.

After last season’s mass exodus from its program to the pro ranks, Minnesota knew that it would have to rely on a number of freshmen straight out of high school to fill the gaps. So far they’ve done so admirably and their play has the Gophers two wins away from their first national championship since 2003.

“We knew going into this season that we’d have to bring in a number of (freshmen) and they’d have to play important roles for us,” Lucis said. “We put them in those roles right away in hopes that it’d prepare them to play at the end of the year.”

St. Cloud’s Offense Runs Out of Steam

Huskies Fall Short of Repeat Frozen Four Bid

Originally published by College Hockey News on March 30, 2014

stc-min-0331ST. PAUL, Minn. — For the second straight night, St. Cloud State was unable to get much of anything going offensively, but this time it proved costly as No. 1-seeded Minnesota rolled to a 4-0 victory — and a berth in the Frozen Four — Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Huskies were stifled by a Gopher defense that ranks among the best in the country. Coming into Sunday’s West Regional Final, Minnesota ranked third, giving up an average of just 2.03 goals per game. St. Cloud became the latest team unable to penetrate the Gophers’ blue line, something SCSU head coach Bob Motzko credited to Minnesota’s speed on defense.

“They’re very talented (on defense),” Motzko said. “They connected dozens of passes on their breakout. We were just a little flat-footed. A lot of our shots were on the perimeter and we had a hard time getting that second wave deep into the zone.

“They shut a lot of things down. It was a difficult night for us to get anything going.”

The result was that the Huskies, winners this year of the first-ever NCHC regular-season championship, fell short of a second consecutive Frozen Four berth.

By no means did the Huskies come in as a pushover on offense. St. Cloud led the NCHC and ranked third in the nation in scoring this season at 3.68 goals per game. The forecheck just dried up in St. Paul.

After averaging just over 31 shots per game, the Huskies managed to land just 52 on target in two games at the NCAA Tournament. Take away their 16-shot outburst in overtime against Notre Dame and the Huskies managed just 36 shots in 120 minutes of regulation time.

St. Cloud was able to get away with that against the Fighting Irish in its first round win, largely because they managed to never trail in the game, a luxury the Gophers never afforded them. After Minnesota freshman forward Justin Kloos opened the scoring midway through the first period, the Huskies were forced into catch-up mode and their suddenly snake bit offense was unable to compensate.

“They did a good job splitting their defense and they delayed our forcecheck quite a bit,” a highly-emotional Huskies senior forward Nic Dowd said. “We made it pretty easy for them to play and get pucks out. They’re obviously a good skating group as well.”

Minnesota’s defense proved near impenetrable, forcing the Huskies to take low percentage shots from the fringes of the offensive zone. Of St. Cloud’s 24 shots on goal, 17 came from beyond the circles. The Gophers defense was effective in forcing the Huskies to the outside, which made the night a relatively stress free one for Minnesota sophomore goaltender Adam Wilcox.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, junior goaltender Ryan Faragher was unable to bail the offense out for a second-straight night. After making a season-high 39 saves against Notre Dame, Faragher, who came into the regional battling a bug, was pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on 12 shots.

“Faragher was awful sick a couple days ago,” Motzko said. “He was in the hospital with a couple bags of fluid. He gutted it out yesterday and gave us everything he had this weekend.”

Despite the disappointing performance, St. Cloud has plenty to be proud of this season. A year after the program’s first-ever Frozen Four berth, the Huskies won the inaugural Penrose Cup as NCHC regular season champions — their second-straight conference title — won another NCAA tournament game to advance to their third regional final in the last five years and produced a second-straight Hobey Baker finalist in Dowd.

Maybe down the road the Huskies will be able to reflect on those accomplishments, but for now the wound of the loss to Minnesota is still too fresh.

“It’s hard to boast about your program when you lose, but we’re very proud of what we have going,” Motzko said. “There’s a belief in our program and a belief in each other.

“We’ve been building and we’re going in the right direction. We fell short this year with a team that we wish we had one more shot with in two weeks.”