NCHC Weekend Preview, October 24-25

Posted: October 24th, 2014 / by Avash Kalra

There’s only one conference series this weekend, as Denver visits Minnesota-Duluth in the league openers for both teams… but every other NCHC team (except reigning CHN Team of the Week Nebraska-Omaha) is in action in nonconference competition.

DENVER AT MINNESOTA-DULUTH

The reigning NCHC tournament champ Pioneers visit Duluth after a weekend that saw Jim Montgomery’s crew outscore Rensselaer 7-1 in a weekend sweep. The story out of Magness Arena a week ago was the play of Zac Larazza and Quentin Shore, who combined for four goals while playing on a line with highly-touted rookie left-wing Danton Heinen. The trio led the offense, while the Pioneers enjoyed strong goaltending from Evan Cowley, who picked up both wins. On Saturday, he replaced an injured Tanner Jaillet just 2:20 into the Jaillet’s first career start. Cowley and Jaillet will likely split this weekend’s games.

Meanwhile, UMD has seen an inconsistent start to its season, with a pair of Friday night losses coupled with a pair of Saturday night wins. Last weekend, the Bulldogs beat Minnesota State 6-2 a night after falling to the WCHA’s Mavericks in overtime. The player to watch: sophomore Dominic Toninato. The Duluth native scored seven goals last year as a freshman … and already has five this season. The Bulldogs offense has been rolling and will face a tough test against a seasoned and responsible defensive unit in Denver.

Prediction: Denver wins Friday, Duluth wins Saturday

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Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Oct. 24

Posted: October 24th, 2014 / by Jashvina Shah

Four Big Ten teams will return to action this weekend after the conference collected a 2-7-1 record last weekend. Michigan and Michigan State were the only two teams who won, defeating UNH and Massachusetts, respectively.

Both Wisconsin and Ohio State were swept last week, and both teams will sit off for a bye this weekend. The Badgers dropped two games to Northern Michigan, falling to 0-4-0 on the season, while Ohio State lost to Miami.

The Spartans and the Wolverines continue the Big Ten-Hockey East challenge with a trip to Massachusetts. Both teams will face Boston University and UMass Lowell. 

Both Penn State and Minnesota will host matchups this weekend. The Nittany Lions return home after the Brice Alaska Goal Rush. The Gophers will host in-state rival Bemidji State.

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ECAC Game of the Week: St. Cloud State at Union

Posted: October 23rd, 2014 / by Josh Seguin

I figured I would start a pre-weekend blog to go along with the Three Things I Think and the Power Rankings, which will commence with the Ivy League season. I figured a preview format would be pretty boring, I have tried it before. It was always long and tedious. Instead, each week I will pick a game on the ECAC calendar to call the game of the week. I will also provide my predictions for the weekend for all the games, while also providing a blurb  into my thought process.Without further ado, here’s to the inaugural edition.

St. Cloud State (1-1-0, 0-0-0 NCHC)

at Union (4-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC)

All time series: 2-1-2 St. Cloud

Fri and Sat 7pm Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week Two

Posted: October 21st, 2014 / by Jashvina Shah

This week was a difficult one for the Big Ten. With Minnesota on a bye, the conference finished 2-7-1. Wisconsin and Ohio State were swept, with Michigan and Michigan State picking up the only conference wins.

I calculated Corsi statistics for Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State based on the statistics available. After looking at Ohio State’s stats, and the shot charts from various periods, it’s easy to see the Buckeyes had possession problems over the weekend.

Below is a list of the Corsi stats for those teams (I haven’t been able to put it into a table yet, so it’s still a long list). Below the stats, I provided a breakdown with context of each period. I hope this information will provide some more background to the stats. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think: ECAC Week 2

Posted: October 20th, 2014 / by Josh Seguin

Colgate and Union have steamrolled out of the gate. The two are a combined 6-1 on the young season and have done nothing but impress. The two were expected to be good, picked first and second in preseason, so the success is hardly a surprise.  Clarkson hit a rock over the weekend scoring just one goal in two games, while getting swept in a home and home by Vermont. St. Lawrence continues to surprise a bit, as the Saints were a goal away from sweeping the weekend against highly touted Ferris State. Instead, they picked up a win and a loss. Quinnipiac did little to impress me last weekend and I will discuss its struggles on Friday below.

The conference as a whole is looking good in terms of the inter-conference records, as the conference is 13-9-2 on the young season. It also has a winning record against Hockey East, which is always nice to see. With most of that action coming on the road against quality competition thus far it is so far so good in comparison to the other conferences.

The ECAC preview package was released late last week. Make sure to check out the team by team preview, the Watch List and my article on Union’s, Charlie Vasaturo. Without further ado here are the things I see as noteworthy for the week: Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think: Hockey East, Oct. 20

Posted: October 20th, 2014 / by Joe Meloni

Last season, following a 1-1 draw against Providence at Fenway Park, Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy remarked that Hockey East’s goaltending was the difference between very good teams and the rest of the league. It’s a comment he’s made a number of times over the years, but it always starts the same.

“You’ve heard it before. The name of this game should be changed to ‘goalie,'” he said. “You can go back and look. My senior year, Scott LaGrand led Hockey East with .900 save percentage. No one was over .900. Now, if you don’t have .920, we’re going ‘next?’ You need your goaltenders to be .920-.925 to have a chance to win games at this level.”

It’s no secret that very good goaltending is critical for teams to win hockey games. Last season, Hockey East continued the trend of making it nearly impossible for players to score goals. Nationally, the average save percentage for a team was .908. In Hockey East, that number rose to .916.

Teams don’t win in this league without consistently strong goaltending. It isn’t just enough to have good goaltending, of course. Teams need to score goals. They need to possess the puck. They need kill penalties. The list goes on, but the young man between the pipes is frequently the difference between winning and losing.

In the season’s first two weeks, goaltending statistics are especially polarized. It’s really not even worth looking at them just yet with no one playing more than four games thus far and some still with just one or two under their belts. But a couple clubs have put together some good starts and their goaltending has led the way. The usual names — Boston College’s Thatcher Demko and Providence’s Jon Gillies — will be among the leaders at the end. But BC and Providence expect to compete. Clubs looking to surprise this season will need their goalies to match their more well-known counterparts.

A year ago, it was Northeastern’s Clay Witt dominating the league to compete Northeastern in contention well into February. It’s difficult to tell who will be that guy this season, but one name has emerged in the season’s first couple weeks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Oct. 20

Posted: October 20th, 2014 / by Jashvina Shah

Well, things aren’t going well for Big Ten hockey. The conference went a combined 2-7-1 last weekend, with Michigan and Michigan State picking up the only wins. Both Wisconsin and Ohio State were swept, while Penn State lost and tied at the Brice Alaska Goal Rush.

Michigan started the weekend with a 5-1 loss to UNH at home. After starting Zach Nagelvoort on Friday, the Wolverines opted for Steve Racine on Saturday. Behind goals from Michael Downing and Cutler Martin, Michigan salvaged the weekend with a 2-1 win on Saturday. Even with the win, losing 5-1 at home for Michigan is a scary thought.

The Spartans split their series with Massachusetts, earning a 5-3 win and then falling 4-3. It’s early, but that puts Michigan State ahead of their 2.19 goals per game average from last season. It’s early, but the Spartans offense has really gotten a boost from a healthy Matt Berry, who recorded three points (2g, 1a) in each game over the weekend.

(After the jump: Ohio State’s possession problems, Penn State’s surprise start, Ohio State’s goalkeeping) Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week One

Posted: October 17th, 2014 / by Jashvina Shah

Since advanced stats like Corsi are becoming more and more important, I wanted to try calculating them for Big Ten hockey. This is my first attempt, and it’s what will become a weekly calculation and breakdown of Corsi stats within the conference.

Corsi essentially measures puck possession, accounting for all shots taken by both teams. I won’t go into a more in-depth explanation of how Corsi came about, but if you’re interested in that and more advanced stats, check out Scott McLaughlin’s piece on WEEI.

To calculate the Corsi stats for each team, I looked through the available play-by-play archives of five games from last weekend: Minnesota’s matches at the Icebreaker tournament, Ohio State’s contests against Providence and Penn State’s 7-1 win over UConn. I manually counted each shot and denoted when it was taken, so I could break up Corsi by period and by situation.

I ended up with several categories for each period and the game overall: 5-on-5 play, penalty kill, even strength and total Corsi. I chose to express the stats as percentages.

I’m a big fan of stats, but I know they’re only telling when you put them in context. So I wanted to compare these stats to what I saw in the games, but I only watched Minnesota last week. As far as the Gophers are concerned, their total Corsi of 62.79 percent against RPI last Sunday supports how much Minnesota dominated the Engineers. The Gophers also recorded a 5-on-5 first-period Corsi of 70.98 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

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Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Oct. 17

Posted: October 17th, 2014 / by Jashvina Shah

All of the Big Ten teams are in action this week except for Minnesota, which has a bye after the Icbreaker Tournament.

Michigan State will take the ice for its first game of the season, while Penn State heads to Alaska for the Brice Goal Rush. Ohio State has a home-and-home with Miami and Michigan hosts New Hampshire. Wisconsin and Northern Michigan will play two in Green Bay, Wisc.

It’s early, so there isn’t much to say about these matchups or what these teams look like, but hopefully this week will give us some more insight. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think: ECAC Week 1

Posted: October 15th, 2014 / by Josh Seguin

The college hockey season has commenced and we ECAC fans again have the privilege of fielding one of the deepest conferences in the country . One should expect the complete ECAC preview package to be released in the coming days. Fair warning, if you don’t like the opinions,  RPI coach Seth Appert said it right in his preseason conference call. Appert said, “generally speaking the coaches and media are wrong. That is pretty consistent and I don’t put a lot of stock in it.” He of course points out that preseason polls never pan out. There are always surprises and I am sure this year will prove to be another year where we aren’t even close, although we all strive to be as close as possible. Unlike teams, we get new chances every year to prove we are “experts.”

Colgate went out to St. Cloud, took a quick 2-0 lead in game 1 and were able to hold for the win against a solid Husky team. Colgate, though, is expected to win. Getting a big win on the road was exactly the start it needed and wanted. It dropped game 2 but winning one of two against SCSU is quite the start, also it could turn out to be a huge pairwise boost at the end of the season because of the way road games are weighted. Unlike Colgate, Rensselaer had no pressure to begin the season and it showed at the Icebreaker. RPI faced the host, Notre Dame, on opening night and came out with an impressive 3-2 victory in enemy territory. I will have more on the Engineers below, because I was quite impressed with what I saw. Both Rensselaer and Colgate have impressive, tough non-conference schedules, so be on the lookout when those big name teams come to your town. Without further ado, lets get to my thoughts of the week. Read the rest of this entry »

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