Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/27

Posted: January 27th, 2015 / by Josh Seguin

Another week of conference action and the standings are as close as they have been in a while. Quinnipiac continues to lead the league, while St. Lawrence and Harvard are tied two points back. All in all the top six are separated by just six points, while the top ten are separated by ten. The North Country was again a tough place to play over the weekend, as Clarkson and St Lawrence swept Yale and Brown respectively. St. Lawrence has been hard charging this half, I explained why in last week’s edition of this blog. The Saints have now won four games in a row and five of its last six, its lone loss being to Colgate. Clarkson meanwhile has won three games in a row, which followed a three game losing streak. Both those schools have more home games upcoming than they do road tilts, so one should expect the good play to continue in the North Country.

The national picture is again on the bleak side for the conference, but it is not horrible as many of the league teams are lurking on the outside looking in. Harvard continues to sit in the top five of the Pairwise, as it has pretty much from the outset of its season. Yale and Colgate are in 16th and 17th in the Pairwise, while five others are in the top 33. The Crimson have the Beanpot upcoming, which could help the conference with two big non-conference games. All in all, having one team in would be bad, but in the end the league will have tons of opportunities to pick up big victories against each other. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think: WCHA, Jan. 26

Posted: January 26th, 2015 / by Ryan Evans

Both Michigan Tech and Bowling Green had chances to make up ground on first place Minnesota State this weekend, but only the Huskies took full advantage. Tech took all four points from a hard-fought series with Alaska to cut the Mavericks lead in half. The Falcons managed just two points at home against Lake Superior State and now sit three points back of the Huskies and seven back of MSU, albeit with two games in hand on both of them.

We got an all-WCHA final at the North Start College Cup in St. Paul, Minn., with Bemidji State prevailing over Minnesota State for the Beavers’ first NSCC title in their first appearance in the tournament. BSU freshman goaltender Michael Bitzer was fantastic in the two games. More on the Beavers NSCC triumph later.

In other news today, The Mining Journal sports reporter Ryan Stieg is reporting that Northern Michigan head coach Walt Kyle is no longer on administrative leave and is allowed to return to his position behind the bench. Kyle and NMU Associate Athletic Director Bridget Berube were placed on leave last week for mysterious reasons. In Kyle’s absence, the Wildcats lost to and tied Penn State on the road.

Rapid Recap: In league play, Michigan Tech pulled off a pair of one-goal victories at home against Alaska, 4-3 (OT) and 3-2. Senior forward Blake Pietila scored the OT-winner for the Huskies on Friday as part of a three-point weekend. Bowling Green stumbled a bit, splitting with Lake Superior State at home, losing, and winning, 3-1. Friday’s loss was BGSU’s first at home since mid-November. In non-conference action, Bemidji State won the North Star College Cup with a pair of wins over top-10 teams. The Beavers knocked off No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth, 4-0, in the semifinals before stymieing then-No. 1 Minnesota State, 3-1, in the final. The runner-up Mavericks defeated then-No. 17 Minnesota, 4-2, to reach the title game. Without the services of head coach Walt Kyle, Northern Michigan lost, 5-4, and tied, 5-5, Penn State on the road. The Wildcats did win the exhibition shootout on Saturday, though. Finally, Alabama-Huntsville was swept, 2-1 (OT) and 4-2, by the USA U-18 Team at home in a pair of exhibition games.

In the Polls: Minnesota State’s loss to Bemidji State ended the Mavericks’ two-week reign at the top of the poll. MSU checks in at No. 3 this week. Bowling Green held steady at No. 6 and Michigan Tech moved up two spots to No. 8. The Beavers’ tournament win was enough to garner them three votes in the poll.

Minnesota State remains the No. 1 team in the Pairwise, while Bowling Green and Michigan Tech are No. 6 and No. 10, respectively.

(After the jump: My three thoughts on what went down this past weekend in the WCHA)

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Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Jan. 26

Posted: January 26th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

After throwing up 13 goals on the weekend in a sweep over Wisconsin, Michigan is now first in the Big Ten. The Wolverines have scored 34 goals in their past five games, and average 4.36 goals per game.

Eventually Michigan will face a strong defensive team (Ohio State and Wisconsin aren’t exactly defensive stalwarts), and their offensive numbers will go down. Next weekend will be telling, as the Wolverines will host the Spartans.

Speaking of the Spartans, they unsurprisingly stymied Ohio State’s offense, surrendering just one goal over the weekend. Matt Berry returned to the team after a force leave, and had a goal and an assist on Friday. He added an assist on Saturday. Berry now leads Michigan State with 16 points, and averages a point per game. Also, Matthew Weis was given a 10-minute misconduct for this hit on Michael Ferrantino. It definitely looked like contact to the head.

Until they get healthy, the Buckeyes have little chance of defeating any of their Big Ten opponents (except for Wisconsin). They’re missing some of their offensive power, and don’t have the defense to stop teams with poor defenses (like Michigan).

The Gophers lost both their games at the North Star College Cup, and have lost five of their nine games against Minnesota teams, and haven’t won since Nov. 1. I was actually expecting Minnesota to lose to Minnesota State. At the end of this game, Maverick goalie Stephon Williams knocked his net off so the referees would blow the whistle as his teammate late injured on the ice. Seth Ambroz took the penalty shot, and Williams made the save (not surprising considering the Gophers are terrible at shootouts).

This was my first time watching the Mavericks, and they looked excellent against the Gophers – like a true No. 1 team. But I was even more impressed with Bemidji State, which took down both Minnesota-Duluth and the Mavericks. I was pretty impressed with some of the skill, especially this goal from Kyle Bauman.

While we’re on the highlight reel, some of my favorite tallies from the weekend were this goal from Bryce Gervais (and a great pass from Matt Leitner), Evan Rodrigues’ end-to-end rush, Eric Scheid’s shorthanded goal on Saturday, another breakaway from Scheid, this hit on Travis Boyd from Minnesota-Duluth, and especially this huge hit from P.J. Musico, Penn State’s goalkeeper.

Michigan moved up to No. 12 in the PairWise, now Big Ten’s highest-ranked team. Minnesota is No. 20, while Penn State is No. 24. Michigan State is very low at No. 38, but I think they have a chance at winning the Big Ten tournament – especially with the offensive boost Matt Berry brings.

(After the jump: Penn State’s problem, quite the comeback(s), and why Michigan isn’t built for a tournament run)   Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week 15

Posted: January 26th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

Over the week, College Hockey News released in-depth metrics for each game. This allows for a better breakdown of who the shots are coming from. But I still calculated total Corsi the way I normally do – by going through the play-by-play sheets for the games so I can have numbers for each individual period as well as 5-on-5 and special teams.

After looking at the Corsi stats for this weekend, Wisconsin still has the worst in the league. Michigan is nearing the best, and I don’t think it’s a strategy to take more shots (like Penn State has) and just a bi-product of their high-powered offense. The Wolverines also convert more of their attempted shots than Penn State.

The Corsi stats are listed below: Read the rest of this entry »

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Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Jan. 23

Posted: January 24th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

In conference play this weekend, Michigan and Wisconsin square off while Michigan State hosts Ohio State. Minnesota participates in the second annual North Star College Cup, and Penn State hosts Northern Michigan.

Michigan’s high-powered offense will be a difficult challenge for Wisconsin, which was dominated by the Gophers last weekend. Ohio State was impressive last weekend despite its numerous injuries, but should have a tougher time against a much better Michigan State defense.

The North Star College Cup features Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota State and Bemidji State. The Mavericks are ranked No. 1 in the PairWise, and have been strong all season. They’ll be Minnesota’s first matchup of the tournament, but don’t forget – Minnesota-Duluth gave the Gophers trouble earlier in the season.

Senior CLASS Award candidates were announced this week, featuring Ohio State’s Tanner Fritz, Michigan’s Zach Hyman and Minnesota’s Kyle Rau. Hyman was also named a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, along with Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel.

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NCHC Weekend Preview, Jan. 23-24

Posted: January 23rd, 2015 / by Avash Kalra

Three conference series highlight the weekend schedule in the NCHC, and at this point of the season, many of the matchups are rematches of meetings from earlier in the season. Meanwhile, in nonconference action, the second inaugural North Star College Cup is already underway in Minneapolis (there, Minnesota-Duluth currently trails Bemidji State 2-0 at the end of the second period).

CHN’s Kara Hille is in Minneapolis covering the NSCC, and we’ll have more on UMD and all the teams over the next few days. So for now, here’s a quick look at the conference series that are set to start within the hour.

St. Cloud State (9-12-1, 4-7-1 NCHC) hosts Western Michigan (10-9-3, 3-6-3-3 NCHC): The Huskies return home after suffering a sweep at Denver last weekend, a disappointing result after earning an impressive home sweep over Miami just a week earlier. St. Cloud struggled offensively a week ago against a talented and physical Pioneer defense; the Huskies scored just twice all weekend and went 0-for-6 on the power play. St. Cloud has actually played fairly well in man-advantage situations this year (scoring over 20 percent of the time), and that should be a key factor against a Western Michigan team that is rolling in front of goaltender Lukas Hafner. We featured the Broncos’ one-two punch of Nolan LaPorte and Colton Hargrove earlier in the week, but beyond the improved offense (led by WMU’s top line), Hafner has been integral.

“I think it all started with him working hard to take over the lead role from Frank [Slubowski],” LaPorte told me while discussing the Broncos’ current 6-1-2 stretch. “That’s the great thing about having two really good goalies, is that they push one another. He’s been great for us since he took over that leading role.” Hafner’s last performance against St. Cloud came in a 21-save shootout win in mid-November. Prediction: St. Cloud wins Friday, Western Michigan wins Saturday.

Miami (14-8-0, 7-5-0 NCHC) hosts Denver (13-7-1, 6-5-0 NCHC): Tonight is Miami’s first game in Oxford since a December 6 loss to Nebraska-Omaha and their first game overall since being swept against St. Cloud two weeks ago. More notably, this is the first meeting between the RedHawks and Pioneers since the inaugural NCHC tournament championship game last March, which sent Denver to the NCAA tournament. The stakes may not be quite as high this weekend, but each team needs a strong weekend to try and provide some separation in the top half of the NCHC standings. The series figures to be low-scoring, with both teams boasting strong goaltending lately — Jay Williams (Miami) and Tanner Jaillet (Denver), both of whom have been involved in goalie rotations this season, will start the weekend in the crease for their respective teams. They’ll have their hands full with plenty of offensive ability on the ice, from Denver’s Danton Heinen (the NCHC scoring leader) to Miami’s duo of Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik. Prediction: Miami wins Friday, Denver wins Saturday.

North Dakota (16-5-2, 7-4-1 NCHC) hosts Colorado College (5-14-1, 1-9-1 NCHC): UND and CC met in October, and North Dakota swept the weekend after outscoring the Tigers by a 10-3 margin. UND’s offense has continued to roll (outscoring Niagara 12-1 in a pair of games just a week ago), but expect the Tigers to be more sound defensively this weekend than they were in October. CC upset Nebraska-Omaha last Friday night behind strong performances from Jaccob Slavin and Hunter Fejes, and the next night, the Tigers held UNO to just 14 shots on goal. I’d expect Tyler Marble (who was in goal for the win last Friday) to return to the goal for CC tonight, to be matched up with UND’s Zane McIntyre, who continues to be stellar (16-5-2 this season). Both games of this series are on CBS College Sports. Prediction: Tie on Friday, UND wins Saturday

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ECAC Weekend Preview

Posted: January 23rd, 2015 / by Josh Seguin

Will the real favorite please stand up

The standings are close and so has the play been in recent weeks. My perceived top three of Harvard, Yale and Quinnipiac aren’t exactly looking as strong as they once were, while upstarts St. Lawrence and Rensselaer are hanging around in the top five of the league looking to pounce. One of the things I have been asking myself in recent weeks is who exactly is the favorite right now? The casual person will look at the standings and see the Bobcats up by four points, followed by Harvard and the rest of the mess in the top eight or so. So I guess Quinnipiac?

I will caution and let you watch the highlights of the Merrimack-Quinnipiac game on Friday. Teams that make mistakes so glaring aren’t usually contenders but Quinnipiac will be there and be better. When it is good, it is really good and when it is ugly, it is very ugly. Harvard was the most consistent team in the first half, while Yale was right with them. The Bulldogs have been constantly consistent this half as well, but Harvard is just 2-2 with a second loss to Yale and a blowout loss to SLU. Based on what I have seen this half I almost want to say Yale is the team to beat. The Elis have two huge weekends upcoming, which can change that.

Rensselaer is an interesting case study and I talked about them earlier in the week. What they do have, is a great defensive core and goaltender in Jason Kasdorf. It is also getting healthy, which is always something that needs to be taken into account. Teams like Colgate, Clarkson and Cornell are also lurking. I have no idea right now beyond what I presented, kind of a weird feeling at this point in the season. I think Yale? What do you guys think? Read the rest of this entry »

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Jan. 23-25

Posted: January 23rd, 2015 / by Ryan Evans

With Minnesota State at the North Star College Cup, both Michigan Tech and Bowling Green have a chance to close the eight-point lead the Mavericks have opened up at the top of the WCHA standings. The Falcons will also be looking to jump into second place. They come into the weekend just one point behind the Huskies.

Northern Michigan, coming off being swept by Alabama-Huntsville, will have to re-group without its head coach, Walt Kyle, who was placed on indefinite administrative leave by NMU athletic director Forrest Karr on Monday. No time frame was given for the leave and the reason for it has yet to be identified. NMU’s associate athletic director, Bridget Berube Carter, was also placed on leave. In Kyle’s stead, assistant coaches Rob Lehtinen and John Kyle will share the coaching duties this weekend at Penn State.

In other league news, three WCHA teams had recruits ranked among the top North American skaters and goaltenders in NHL Central Scouting’s 2015 midterm rankings: Forward Jacob Jaremko (No. 107, Minnesota State), forward Collin Peters (No. 128, Northern Michigan), and goaltender Ryan Bednard (No. 15 goalie, Bowling Green).

Also, be sure to check out CHN’s Jen Dobias’s feature, “A Reason to Play,” which looks at how Alaska is approaching this season in wake of the program’s NCAA-imposed postseason ban.

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Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Penn State

Posted: January 23rd, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

Each week this season I’ve looked into Big Ten Corsi stats. A few days ago, College Hockey News introduced metrics for each game – which accounts for all shots taken by each player on each team.

The stats are lifted off shot charts, so it displays attempts that were blocked, wide, hit the post, saved or were goals. This allows us to calculate the Corsi For total for each players. Unfortunately we have no way of knowing (yet) how many shots were taken against these players while they were on the ice. But looking at the Corsi For totals for each player can give us a better idea who’s shooting the most, where their shots are going, and how many of their attempted shots are goals.

Penn State is a team known for puck possession. They average 40.29 shots on goal per game, most in the country. And they average 73.38 attempts per game. Of all their attempts, Penn State has recorded 71 goals – converting on 4.61 percent of their total shots attempted.

Casey Bailey leads Penn State with 26 goals, and he leads the team in shot attempts at 212. Almost half of Bailey’s shots have been on target, and he’s converted on 10.85 percent of his total attempted shot. In close situations, Bailey isn’t converting as much. But the forward still leads Penn State players with 142 attempts. So in close situations, Bailey averages 6.76 shots per game, and in total he averages 10.10 shots per game.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think ECAC 1/21

Posted: January 21st, 2015 / by Josh Seguin

Some interesting results in the past week, included a statement by St. Lawrence over Harvard. Quinnipiac continues to lead the ECAC by four points, over Harvard, while SLU and RPI sit six points back in third place. The standings as a whole are really close as second to seventh are separated by just four points. This weekend Yale and St. Lawrence play a huge game on Friday, while Rensselaer and Union play in their poorly named Mayors Cup (Should be Mayors’ Cup but I guess it is the Albany Mayor’s trophy despite the schools being in Troy and Schenectady). For now, here is what I think now that is out of the way.

The old Harvard is Back

I have seen two out of four Crimson games this semester and what I see is troubling. The thing that can be seen not only on box scores but from the press box is how Harvard seems disinterested with first periods. Since returning from the break, the Crimson are 2-2 but its first period statistics are downright ugly. The Crimson have been outscored 9-2 in first stanza, in four games. On Saturday, the Crimson looked awful and were outscored 3-0 by St. Lawrence. SLU was the aggressor, while it seemed the Crimson just wanted an easy night quite frankly. Read the rest of this entry »

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