SPORTS FEEVER – January 28, 2021

We are technically in the third week of high school winter sports and the cancelations and postponements have been limited with only a few being reported so that is great news.  The kids are playing and that is great to see!

One thing we have come to expect is some interesting scores.  This season will be interesting every night and now more than ever, we don’t know what to expect.  Enjoy this week’s Sports Feever column.  If you have any info that might be newsworthy, send it to me at

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Paul Bittner has signed to play professional hockey in Sweden. He has signed with Vasby IK of the HockeyAllsvenskan league. The second-highest league in Sweden and one of the top leagues in Europe.

Paul played the last four years with the Columbus Blue Jackets AHL team, the Cleveland Monsters, and his contract was up at the end of last season. The end of Paul’s first professional contract couldn’t have come at a worse time as COVID-19 hit canceling the end of the AHL season last spring and leaving all the free agents in flux as the NHL/AHL teams didn’t talk to free agents until after the NHL season was done this summer. “We were waiting for the AHL to start and see if there was something that could be worked out with an NHL or AHL club,” said Bittner. “It didn’t work out this year. A lot of guys like myself are finding their way overseas.”

Bittner played in 190 games for the Cleveland Monsters (from 2015 where he played in two games at the end of the season to 2020) and scored 25 goals while recording 43 assists. He was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the 38th pick of the 2015 NHL draft.

Bittner is leaving for Sweden on Tuesday and he will play in the final 16 games before relegation starts and he is excited for a chance to prove himself. “If I play well enough, it could lead to an AHL contract and possibly link up with a team,” said Bittner. “The league is so well respected among the hockey world so it’s a very good opportunity, not only to play in Sweden but also in Europe and it could open opportunities for me in the top leagues in Europe.”

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It will be Tampa Bay and Kansas City in the Super Bowl next weekend.  It just goes to show coaches get too much credit and too much blame.  Everybody thinks Bill Billicek is a great coach.  Well, with Tom Brady they were the top team in the NFL year-after-year.  This year, New England doesn’t have Tom Brady and they don’t make the playoffs, and Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the Super Bowl!
So is it the coaching, or is it the players?  No matter how good of a coach you are, you can’t win without good talent.  No matter what the crazy parents think!

When Tom Brady played and won his first Super Bowl in 2002, Patrick Mahomes was in kindergarten.

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There are several undefeated teams in northwest Minnesota in the third week of competition.  I have them listed below –

In Section 8AA Boys Basketball there are only four undefeated teams left.
Warroad 4-0
Barnesville 2-0
Breckenridge 2-0
Dilworth-G-F 1-0

In Section 8A Boys Basketball has three undefeated teams left –
Stephen-Argyle 3-0
Badger-Greenbush-Middle River 3-0
Red Lake County 2-0

In Section 8AA Girls Basketball there are three undefeated teams –
Hawley 5-0
Menahga 4-0
Pelican Rapids 4-0

In Section 8A there are three undefeated teams –
Fosston 5-0
Stephen-Argyle 5-0
Red Lake 3-0

In Section 8A Boys Hockey there is one undefeated team –
Warroad 4-0

In Section 8A Girls Hockey has one undefeated team left –
Warroad 3-0

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Crookston Pirate Boys Basketball Coach Greg Garmen got his 400th career victory in a win over Climax-Fisher on January 21.

Crookston Pirate Wrestler Ethan Bowman won the 75th match of his career on Monday, January 25.

Thief River Falls Wrestler Mason Iverson won the 100th match of his career on Tuesday, January 19.

Mahnomen-Waubun Wrestler Garrett Eiynck won the 100th match of his career on Monday, January 18.

East Grand Forks Green Wave Boys Hockey’s Landon Parker scored the 100th point of his career on January 21.

Climax-Fisher Boys Basketball’s Dylan Evitts scored the 1,000th point of his career this week.

Stephen-Argyle Storm Girls Basketball’s Riley Mooney scored the 1,000th point of her career on January 21.

Red Lake Falls Eagle Girls Basketball’s Clara Girdler scored the 1,000th point of her career on January 21.

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The University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagle Women’s Basketball team received a verbal commitment from Abby Leach a 6’0 sophomore from North Iowa Area Community College.  She graduated from Forest Lake High School.

As a freshman at NIACC, Leach averaged 7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist per game while shooting 37 percent from the field, 35 percent on three-point attempts, and 79 percent from the free-throw line in 27 games.
This year NIACC has played two games and Leach has averaged 15.5 minutes per game.  She is averaging two points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 4.5 turnovers per game.  She is shooting 12% from the field (2 of 17) and is 0 for 8 on three-pointers.

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The University of Minnesota Crookston had nine student-athletes earn the NSIC Myles Brand All-Academic with Distinction Award. The honor, named for the late NCAA President Dr. Myles Brand, is bestowed to senior NSIC student-athletes who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.75 or higher, are exhausting their eligibility and are on track to graduate (student-athletes can only earn the award once). Each student-athlete will be recognized by the NSIC with a certificate of achievement and a wristwatch. A record number 227 student-athletes from the NSIC’s 16 institutions will receive the award in its 12th year, 33 more than last year’s record of 194.
UMC Volleyball led the way with 3 student-athletes receiving the award, and Softball had two.

The Golden Eagles honored with the distinguished award were;
Kamryn Frisk (Softball, Anchorage, Alaska)
Deaira Gresham (Volleyball, Maplewood)
Anthony Kampa (Cross Country, St. Cloud)
Roseline Kanssole (Cross Country, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso)
Sydney Kruisselbrink (Volleyball, Rochester)
Jennifer Lax (Women’s Basketball and Cross Country, Sleepy Eye)
Katie Lienemann (Volleyball, Rosemount)
Ben Thoma (Baseball, Clearbrook)
Jessica Withrow (Softball, Gardnerville, Nev.)

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On Saturday, while broadcasting the University of Minnesota Crookston Men’s basketball game I was lamenting about the University not allowing fans, at least parents, to their home games after the Department of Health said you could have up to 150 fans in attendance.  Either somebody listened or they came to the conclusion themselves, and they will allow two ticket per player.

Below is the updated policy –

  1. If you are showing any symptoms related to COVID or have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID please do not attend the athletic event.

  2. Two tickets per player: A pass list is stationed at the ticket gate at the south entrance of Lysaker and the south entrance of the Crookston Sports Center. When fans enter please provide your name and what player you are listed under. Your name must be on this list to receive admission. There will be no admission charge.

  3. Fans must wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth at all times. If a fan has no mask or fails to properly wear the mask they will be asked to leave the arena.

  4. No concessions and no outside food and beverages are allowed.

  5. Bathrooms are available immediately outside of the gym in Lysaker and on the north concourse of the Crookston Sports Center.

  6. We will open the doors for fans 30 minutes prior to all home events. Please do not plan to arrive until 30 minutes prior to the games.

  7. Fans will be seated in the south bleachers of Lysaker Gymnasium and six feet of distance between guests will be enforced. Fans will be seated in the open areas of the bleachers at the Crookston Sports Center and six feet of distance will be enforced.

  8. Fans must exit the arena immediately following the conclusion of the game.

  9. Fans can not come within 12 ft. of the playing surface.

  10. Hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the arena.

  11. No game day, programs, roster sheets, or fan promotions.

  12. No walk-up admissions allowed.

  13. Due to a multi-team event no fans will be allowed at home equestrian events at this time.

  14. The same fan policies will be adhered at Choice Health and Fitness for home tennis matches.

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College Football players are looking to transfer in droves this year.  As of Wednesday morning, there were 1,827 Division I football players in the transfer portal. On average, that’s about seven players in the portal per every Division I (FBS and FCS) institution.
There are several reasons I will go through –

A kid tries to go to a team that he probably can’t make and realizes it and wants to go to a lower level (FCS or Division II)

A kid goes to a lower level (FCS or mid-major) and is doing well and wants to play in the big-time for a Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Big 12, etc.

Some cases are graduate transfers.  If you go to graduate school, you can play one year at the new institution.

Over the last decade, kids have become less loyal.

Those are some of the reasons along with not fitting in with the program/team and not getting along with the coach.

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An old man walked into the confessional at the cathedral and said to the priest, “Father, I’m 80 years old, married, have four kids and 11grandchildren. Last night I had an affair, and I made love to two 18year old girls. Both of them. Twice.”
The priest replied, “Well, my son, when was the last time you were in confession?”
“Never Father, I’m Jewish.”
The priest paused, and then asked, “So then, why are you telling me?”
“Hey, I’m telling everybody.”

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A guy walks into a supermarket and buys the following:
1 bar of soap
1 toothbrush
1 tube of toothpaste
1 loaf of bread
1 pint of milk
1 single serving of cereal
1 single frozen dinner
The checkout girl looks at him, smiles, and says, ‘Single, huh?’

The guy smiles sheepishly and replies, ‘How’d you guess?’

She says, ‘Because you’re ugly.’

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How are former Crookston Pirates athletes doing in college or elsewhere?

Aleece Durbin, is a Junior on the University of North Dakota Women’s Track and Field team.

Brady Butt is a freshman playing football at the University of Jamestown.

Brady Heppner, is playing hockey for the Roanoke Raildogs in the SPHL.

Brita Fagerlund, is a Senior on the University of Jamestown Jimmy Women’s Track team.

Ben Trostad, is a Junior member of the University of Minnesota Crookston golf team.

Rachel Hefta, a Sophmore, playing volleyball at Hastings College in Nebraska.

Cade Salentine is a redshirt-Sophomore playing football at the University of North Dakota

Nick Garmen is a sophomore, playing tennis at the University of Minnesota Morris.

Caden Osborn, is a freshman playing basketball at the University of Minnesota Morris.

Thea Oman, a sophomore, is swimming at St. Ben’s.

Crookston School District Coaches –
Emily Meyer is a girls hockey and softball assistant coach.
Carrie Clauson 
is a Junior High girls tennis coach.
Jeremy Lubinski
 is a Pirate 8th Grade Football coach.
Amy Boll 
is the head Pirate Girls Track head coach and assistant volleyball coach
Sarah Reese 
is the Pirate Head Girls Soccer coach
Cody Brekken
 is the Head Pirate Girls and Boys Tennis coach and Crookston Community Pool Supervisor
Marley Melbye is the Head Girls Swimming coach
Mitch Bakken is the head Pirate Baseball coach.
Brock Hanson
 is the Pirate Baseball volunteer assistant coach.
Jeff Perreault 
is the Pirate Girls Golf head coach
Wes Hanson is the Pirate Wrestling Head Coach and assistant boys golf coach
Kevin Weber is a Pirate Boys Basketball volunteer assistant coach
Connor Morgan is the Pirate Boys Hockey assistant coach
Sam Melbye is the Pirate Boys J.V. Hockey coach
Chris Dufault is a youth wrestling Coach
Colton Weiland is an assistant wrestling coach

Non-Crookston High School coaching –

Cody Weiland is an assistant wrestling coach at Proctor/Hermantown

Kaylee Desrosier is a softball coach for Fargo Davies Middle School.

Justin Johnson is an assistant softball coach at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

Josh Edlund  is an assistant football coach and phy ed teacher at Flandreau, South Dakota.

Allison Lindsey Axness is Assistant Varsity Volleyball Coach in Champlin Park

Jeff Olson is Head Wrestling coach and Head Baseball coach at Delano.

Jake Olson is an Assistant Football Coach and Head Boys Tennis coach at Delano.

Carmen (Kreibich) Johnson, is Head Volleyball coach at Little Falls High School.

Katy Westrom, is Head Girls Tennis Coach and Head Boys Tennis coach at Monticello High School.

Matt Harris, is a Director of Athletics at the British International School of Houston.

Marty Bratrud is the Superintendent and High School Principal at Westhope High School.

Gordie Haug is an assistant football coach at the University of Wyoming

Mike Hastings is the Minnesota State Mankato Men’s head Hockey coach

Mike Biermaier is the Athletic Director at Thief River Falls High School

Stephanie (Lindsay) Perreault works with the North Dakota State stats crew for Bison football and volleyball and basketball in the winter. Stephanie’s husband, Ryan, is the assistant director for the Bison media relations

Jason Bushie is the hockey athletic trainer at Colorado College

Chris Myrold is a Tennis Pro on Nevis Island in the West Indies

Kyle Buchmeier
 is a Tennis Pro at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis

Jarrett Butenhoff is serving our country with the U.S. Navy

Joshua Butenhoff is serving our country on a Submarine with the Pacific Fleet with the US Navy.

Peter Cournia is a 2002 Crookston High School Graduate and also a grad of West Point and is currently is serving in the U.S. Army.

Erik Ellingson is serving our country with the U.S. Air Force at Minot.

Philip Kujawa class of 2004 from Crookston High School.  He is an Army recruiter in Rochester.

Scott Riopelle is head of Crookston Parks and Recreation

Rob Sobolik is the General Manager of the Fargodome

That’s it for this week.  Thanks for the comments and if you have anything to add or share, please e-mail or call.  Thanks for reading and listening to KROX RADIO and