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Local Sports Archives for 2019-01

Wild acquire defense prospect Michael Kapla

Minnesota Wild General Manager Paul Fenton on Wednesday announced the NHL club has acquired defenseman Michael Kapla from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenseman Ryan Murphy.

Kapla, 24 (9/19/94), tallied 16 points (1-15=16) in 45 games with the Binghamton Devils in the American Hockey League (AHL) this season. He ranked third in scoring amongst team defensemen and T-4th on the team in assists. Kapla notched 21 points (5-16=21) and 22 penalty minutes (PIM) in 63 games with Binghamton during the 2017-18 season. He ranked second amongst team defensemen in scoring and T-2nd in goals and assists.

The 6-foot, 200-pound native of Eau Claire, Wis., signed as a free agent with New Jersey on March 28, 2017 and made his NHL debut on March 31, 2017 at the New York Islanders. He skated in five NHL games with the Devils in 2017-18. Kapla owns 37 points (6-31=37) and 32 PIM in 108 AHL games with Binghamton.


Wild resign backup goaltender Alex Stalock to three year extension

As he sat on the beach in Bonita Springs, Florida with his wife Felicia, 3-year-old son Simon and 1-year-old daughter Selena, life probably couldn't have gotten much better for Alex Stalock during the NHL All-Star break and the Wild's subsequent bye week.

Then he got a call from his agent confirming the South St. Paul native son will be staying in Minnesota for another three years.

At least that's the plan for a 31-year-old goaltender who's resurrected his career since signing with the Wild in 2016. After solidifying his role as Devan Dubnyk's backup, Stalock can keep putting down roots in the same place they began sprouting.

"Family-wise it's awesome," Stalock told Wild.com on Tuesday, shortly before boarding a flight back to the Twin Cities following his family's vacation. "[Simon] is just getting to that age where understands a little bit. We know this doesn't happen to everybody. Not everybody is as lucky as we are to get to play the sport I love. Someday, it'll sink in for him how special it was."

For Simon -- and later, likely, his sister -- staying home means more outdoor skating lessons with mom and dad and more mini-stick hockey in the Xcel Energy Center home dressing room after games. Alex will remain close to his side of the family, as will his wife, also a South St. Paul native. The offseason fishing journeys on the St. Croix river will persist. So will Stalock's love for horse racing and ownership at Canterbury Park.• January 15th, 2019

And from an occupational standpoint, Stalock has earned a continued opportunity to do what several Minnesota athletes have done throughout the state's history, yet it's so largely uncommon across the greater professional athletics landscape.

"You realize how lucky you are," Stalock said. "Just to make it to the top level of any sport is such an honor, and when Minnesota called and I realized I had a chance to go to this organization, it was a no-brainer. [Former General Manager Chuck Fletcher] brought me in and gave me a chance to establish my name again, get my game back where I wanted it to be and get back to the NHL, and it's worked out.

"I've enjoyed every second of it."

Stalock's three-year, $2.355 million, contract represents a vote of confidence from first-year General Manager Paul Fenton. After winning the backup job from 2018 free-agent signee Andrew Hammond during training camp, Stalock is 6-5-0 with a 2.92 goals-against average and .894 save percentage in 14 games this season. He's 17-16-4 with a 2.80 goals-against in 44 career games with the Wild, including a 10-3-2 mark at home. The extension's one-way nature means in order for the Wild to assign him to the minors, he'd first have to be placed on waivers.

All this after Stalock at one point wondered where his career was heading.

Drafted by San Jose in the fourth round out of Minnesota-Duluth in 2005, Stalock made his NHL debut in 2011. Shortly thereafter, he was reassigned to the American Hockey League, where a sliced nerve behind his knee cost him the remainder of the 2010-11 season and part of the following season.

Stalock spent 2013-15 as Antti Niemi's backup in San Jose. The Sharks traded him to Toronto at the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, and he was immediately placed on waivers and assigned back to the AHL.

That's also where Stalock spent his first campaign after signing with the Wild organization, appearing in just two games toward the end of the 2016-17 season. But in the years since, the 6-foot, 198-pound netminder has stuck by embracing his spot in the pecking order and adding a different dynamic with his puckhandling, which ranks among the best among NHL goaltenders today.

"At my age now, I know my role," Stalock said. "Obviously, we have a top goalie in the League that's an All-Star. ... It's my job help him if he sees things in his game that need correcting, and if he needs a night off, I'm here to give him a chance to rest. That's my goal every night: just give him a chance.

"It's a unique position, but I take pride in it. It's a job where have to have the right mentality, that's for sure."

That approach has made Stalock a favorite among fans, coaches, the front office and his teammates. Whether it's palling around and drawing a rare smile from always-stoic captain Mikko Koivu or springing a rush with one of his infamous long saucer passes from the defensive zone, Stalock has stuck in the NHL this time due to a willingness to avert narcissism.

And while there are no guarantees in the world of professional hockey -- especially with Fenton making recent trades and preparing for an expansion draft in 2021 -- Stalock and his family's immediate future is secured.

"It's obviously a huge confidence boost that they're willing to commit to someone that long," Stalock said. "It's an honor for me, but now it's time to go out and prove on the ice that it's worth it. I'm looking forward to the test."


SD media prep basketball poll week of Jan. 29

Boys
Class AA
1. Lincoln (23) 10-0 115 1
2. Brandon Valley 9-2 91 4
3. O’Gorman 8-5 59 2
4. Yankton 11-3 43 3
5. Roosevelt 7-4 22 RV
Receiving votes: Stevens 13, Harrisburg 1, Huron 1.
Class A
1. Tea Area (23) 13-1 115 1
2. St. Thomas More 11-1 82 3
3. SF Christian 12-1 77 2
4. Red Cloud 11-2 36 4
5. Pine Ridge 10-3 16 5
Receiving votes: Tiospa Zina 13, Dakota Valley 6.
Class B
1. White River (10) 12-1 99 1
2. Clark/Willow Lake (10) 10-1 95 2
3. Bridgewater-Emery (3) 11-2 82 3
4. Viborg-Hurley 11-1 32 RV
5. Sully Buttes 10-2 22 4
Receiving votes: Aberdeen Christian 6, Arlington 3, Timber Lake 3, Warner 3.
Girls 
Class AA
1. Harrisburg (15) 11-1 100 3
2. O’Gorman (6) 12-2 95 1
3. Brandon Valley 9-3 62 2
4. Lincoln (2) 9-4 45 RV
5. Stevens 10-3 29 4
Receiving votes: Brookings 14.
Class A
1. Lennox (21) 12-1 112 1
2. Winner (2) 13-0 91 2
3. West Central 11-0 67 T-5
4. Belle Fourche 13-1 31 T-5
5. McCook Central/Montrose 12-1 21 4
Receiving votes: Vermillion 14, St. Thomas More 8, Sioux Falls Christian 1.
Class B
1. Ethan (23) 12-0 115 1
2. Warner 12-2 79 2
3. De Smet 12-1 69 3
4. Corsica-Stickney 12-1 49 4
5. Faith 13-0 30 5
Receiving votes: Bridgewater-Emery 2, Avon 1.


Wild acquire defenseman Brad Hunt from the Golden Knights

Minnesota Wild General Manager Paul Fenton today announced the NHL club has acquired defenseman Brad Hunt and a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Minnesota's 2019 conditional fifth-round pick. In addition, the Wild reassigned defenseman Louie Belpedio to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League (AHL).

 

Hunt, 30 (8/24/88), has recorded seven points (2-5=7) in 13 games with Las Vegas this season. The 5-foot-9, 187-pound native of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, set a career-high with 18 points (3-15=18) in 45 games with the Golden Knights last season. He owns 34 points (7-27=34) in 91 career NHL contests over six seasons with Edmonton, St. Louis, Nashville and Vegas. The left-shot defenseman collected 209 points (57-152=209) in 287 career AHL games (2011-2017). He also skated in four seasons with Bemidji State University, totaling 112 points (24-88=112) in 150 games (2008-2012). The blueliner originally signed a two-year, entry-level contract with Edmonton in 2013 and made his NHL debut Jan. 3, 2014 at Anaheim.

 

Belpedio, 22 (5/4/96), skated in two games with Minnesota after being recalled from Iowa on Jan. 18. He has tallied 10 points (3-7=10) in 40 games with the Wild this season. He ranks first amongst team defensemen in shots (80) and T-2nd in goals and penalty minutes (PIM). The 5-foot-11, 196-pound native of Skokie, Ill., also ranks second amongst AHL rookie defensemen in PIM (42), fourth in shots and is one of 11 League rookie defensemen with at least one game-winning goal.

The Minnesota Wild visits the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 8:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North and KFAN 100.3 FM.


SD media prep basketball poll week of Jan. 21st

Boys
Class AA
1. Lincoln (22) 9-0 110 1
2. O’Gorman 8-4 74 5
3. Yankton 9-2 66 2
4. Brandon Valley 6-2 58 4
5. Stevens 8-5 10 3
Receiving votes: Huron 8, Roosevelt 4.
Class A
1. Tea Area (21) 11-1 109 1
2. SF Christian (1) 10-0 89 2
3. St. Thomas More 9-1 61 3
4. Red Cloud 9-2 36 4
5. Pine Ridge 8-2 20 5
Receiving votes: Tiospa Zina 10, Dakota Valley 5.
Class B
1. White River (12) 12-0 99 3
2. Clark/Willow Lake (10) 8-0 94 2
3. Bridgewater-Emery 9-2 71 1
4. Sully Buttes 8-1 36 RV
5. Aberdeen Christian 11-1 17 5
Receiving votes: Viborg-Hurley 8, Timber Lake 4, Hanson 1.

Girls 
Class AA
1. O’Gorman (22) 10-1 110 1
2. Brandon Valley 8-2 77 3
3. Harrisburg 9-1 67 2
4. Stevens 9-3 30 4
5. Brookings 7-2 25 RV
Receiving votes: Lincoln 21.
Class A
1. Lennox (20) 11-1 108 1
2. Winner (2) 10-0 85 2
3. Vermillion 9-1 50 3
4. McCook Central/Montrose 10-0 25 RV
T-5. West Central 10-0 23 RV
T-5. Belle Fourche 12-1 23 4
Receiving votes: St. Thomas More 14, Miller 1, Hamlin 1.
Class B
1. Ethan (22) 9-0 110 1
2. Warner 9-2 69 3
3. De Smet 10-1 62 4
4. Corsica-Stickney 10-1 51 2
5. Faith 11-0 34 5
Receiving votes: Irene-Wakonda 2, Avon 1, Bridgewater-Emery 1.


Northern Swim team will not travel to Moorhead due to weather

The Northern State University swim team will not travel to the MSU Moorhead Dragon Invite schedules for today and tomorrow. Due to poor weather conditions, Northern will forego traveling to the event.

 

Next up for the Wolves is the UMary Sprint Pentathlon next Saturday, January 26.


Games postponed tonight 1/18/19

Aberdeen Central boys @ huron
Aberdeen Girls vs. Huron
Northwestern @ Leola/Frederick DH 
Redfield/Doland @ Sisseton DH
 


Vikings hire Stefanski as next offensive coordinator

The Minnesota Vikings have named Kevin Stefanski offensive coordinator.

 

“Kevin is a smart young coach with a bright future,” said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. “I’m happy to have him take over the offensive coordinator job. His work ethic and teaching ability have been obvious to me behind the scenes since I came here five years ago. He’s well respected by coaches and players both and I know he’s up to the task.”

 

Stefanski, the longest-tenured coach on the Vikings staff, completed his 13th season with the club in 2018 and has coached quarterbacks, tight ends and running backs in his dozen-plus seasons with the team. Stefanski served as the quarterbacks coach in 2017 and 2018 before being elevated to interim offensive coordinator for the final three games of the 2018 season.

 

In Stefanski’s first season working with quarterback Kirk Cousins, the veteran had a career year setting season bests in completion percentage (70.1 percent) and passing touchdowns (30) and threw the fewest interceptions (10) since becoming a full-time starter in 2015. Cousins reached benchmarks under the tutelage of Stefanski that no other quarterback in NFL history had, becoming the first ever to throw for at least 4,000 yards, at least 30 passing touchdowns, 10 or fewer interceptions and complete at least 70.0 percent of his passes in a season.

 

In Week 15 vs. the Dolphins, Stefanski’s first game as interim offensive coordinator, he guided the Vikings offense to a season-high 41 points and 418 yards of offense in a win over Miami. In his second game calling plays, a 27-9 road win at Detroit, Stefanski led the offense to 340 yards of offense and 27 points, giving the Vikings consecutive games of at least 27 points and at least 100 rushing yards for only the second time in a single season since Mike Zimmer was hired as head coach in 2014.

 

From 2009-13, Stefanski served as the Vikings assistant quarterbacks coach prior to coaching tight ends (2014-15) and running backs (2016) in Minnesota.

 

Stefanski started his Vikings career working directly with then-Head Coach Brad Childress on administrative duties and special projects from 2006-08. Stefanski became acquainted with Childress during Philadelphia Eagles training camp in 2005 while working with the team’s operations department.

 

Stefanski spent the 2005 season at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, as assistant director of football operations. He coordinated all aspects of the Quaker football team’s day-to-day operations of the football team.

 

A team captain as a senior in 2004, Stefanski was part of one of the most successful stretches in the history of the Quakers football program. The team won Ivy League titles in 2000, 2002 and 2003, and the squad went undefeated in league play during 2002 and 2003.

 

Twice honored as an Honorable Mention All-Ivy choice in 2002 and 2004, he was named Penn’s Defensive Rookie of the Year as a freshman in 2000. During Stefanski’s tenure, the squad posted a 42-7 overall record and a 32-3 mark in Ivy League play. When Stefanski was a senior, the Quakers went 10-0 to become the 1st undefeated Penn team in a decade.

 

Stefanski holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Pennsylvania and attended St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia. The Stefanski family has made a name in athletics as Kevin’s father, Ed, was a standout in basketball at Penn and works in the Detroit Pistons front office. He has previously held executive positions with the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies.

 

Stefanski and wife, Michelle, reside in Edina with their children, Will, Gabe and Juliet.

 

 

Stefanski’s Background

Player

2000-04.................... Pennsylvania // DB

Coaching/Administration

2005.......................... Pennsylvania // Football Operations

2006-08.................... Minnesota Vikings // Assistant to the Head Coach

2009-13.................... Minnesota Vikings // Assistant Quarterbacks

2014-15.................... Minnesota Vikings // Tight Ends

2016.......................... Minnesota Vikings // Running Backs

2017-18.................... Minnesota Vikings // Quarterbacks (Interim Offensive Coordinator for the final three games of 2018)

2019.......................... Minnesota Vikings // Offensive Coordinator


Executive staff recommends delaying start of 6-man football in SD

The Executive Staff of the SDHSAA will recommend postponing the addition of Six-Man Football
for the 2019 & 2020 seasons at next week’s regularly-scheduled Board of Directors Meeting in Pierre.
“When surveyed in 2017, over 40 schools from our membership indicated an interest in the addition of six-man football beginning with the 2019 season,” noted John Krogstrand, Assistant Executive Director for the SDHSAA.

 

“Over twenty school districts had serious conversations about going the six-man route for this
coming fall. Despite that, only a handful have indicated a serious commitment to participating in six man for the upcoming two seasons. We feel it is best to suspend the addition of a six-man football class for the time being, and continue with our current classification structure and regulations.”

 

The SDHSAA Board of Directors voted in June of 2018 to begin offering six-man football as a sanctioned offering this coming fall.

A full agenda for the upcoming January meeting of the SDHSAA Board of Directors will be available later this week at SDHSAA.com.


South Dakota media prep basketball poll week of Jan. 7th

Boys
Class AA
1. Lincoln (23) 7-0 115 2
2. Yankton 7-1 91 1
3. Huron 6-1 63 3
4. Stevens 6-2 46 4
5. Brandon Valley 4-2 13 RV
Receiving votes: Sturgis 8, O’Gorman 6, Washington 3


Class A
1. Tea Area (19) 7-1 109 1
2. SF Christian (4) 6-0 96 2
3. St. Thomas More 6-0 69 3
4. Red Cloud 8-1 43 5
5. Pine Ridge 6-2 19 4
Receiving votes: Parker 4, Tiospa Zina 2, Aberdeen Roncalli 2, Dakota Valley 1


Class B
1. Bridgewater-Emery (17) 7-1 104 1
2. Clark/Willow Lake (6) 6-0 94 2
3. White River 7-0 76 3
4. Timber Lake 6-0 44 4
5. Aberdeen Christian 8-0 23 5
Receiving votes: Sully Buttes 4


Girls 
Class AA
1. O’Gorman (12) 5-1 99 2
2. Harrisburg (9) 6-0 92 3
3. Brandon Valley (2) 5-1 73 1
4. Stevens 7-1 38 4
5. Washington 6-1 22 5
Receiving votes: Brookings 19, Lincoln 2


Class A
1. Lennox (17) 7-1 107 2
2. Winner (3) 7-0 84 3
3. St. Thomas More (3) 6-1 76 1
4. Vermillion 6-0 37 5
5. Hamlin 6-0 21 RV
Receiving votes: Belle Fourche 8, Vermillion 8, Miller 2, Aberdeen Roncalli 2


Class B
1. Ethan (21) 5-0 113 1
2. Warner (2) 6-1 82 2
3. De Smet 7-0 68 3
4. Corsica-Stickney 6-0 55 4
5. Faith 6-0 24 5
Receiving votes: Tripp-Delmont/Armour 2, White River 1.


Timberwolves fire head coach Tom Thibodeau

 The Minnesota Timberwolves announced this afternoon that they have relieved Tom Thibodeau of his duties as President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach, effective immediately. Additionally, Andy Greer has been released of his duties as Assistant Coach.

 

“We would like to thank Tom for his efforts and wish him all the best,” said Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt them necessary to move our organization forward.”

 

Scott Layden will remain in his role as General Manager and will run the day-to-day operations of the basketball department and Assistant Coach Ryan Saunders will assume the role of interim head coach for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.


Vikings owner Zygi Wilf confirms Zimmer and Spielman returning despite disappointing season

Following the Minnesota Vikings season, several questions have already been answered about the future of administrative staff.  Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has already dispelled any notion that General Manager Rick Spielman or head coach Mike Zimmer would be let go, giving both men a vote of confidence in a public statement.  Zimmer himself also addressed rumors he had considered retiring following the 2018 season.  Zimmer responded “absolutely not” in a text message to members of the media. 


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