Archive for October, 2011

The Takeaway: Denver splits opening weekend in Boston

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Denver opened its season with a big 4-2 win at Boston College on Friday night, but followed that up with a 4-3 loss to Boston University on Saturday. Adam Murray looked pretty good in his first weekend as Denver’s No. 1 goalie, while the defense in front of him suffered a letdown against BU after playing very well against BC. Offensively, Drew Shore and Jason Zucker — who registered 46 and 45 points, respectively, last season — picked up right where they left off with three goals and two assists combined.

What I saw

-Denver’s defense, which features three freshmen, did a great job minimizing its mistakes against BC. The Pioneer blue-liners didn’t get caught up ice and they managed to keep the Eagles’ dangerous forwards on the perimeter for the most part. Saturday was a different story, though. The Terriers repeatedly spread the Pioneers out and got them running around. Two of their goals came on breakaways resulting from Pioneer defenders getting caught out of position in the neutral zone. If Friday night showed what the Pioneers can be defensively, Saturday served as a reminder that they still have some work to do on the back end.

-The power play struggled all weekend. The Pioneers finished the weekend 0-for-10 on the man advantage with just nine shots on goal. They frequently struggled to set up, and once they did, it was a case of too much passing, too much looking for the perfect play, and not enough just getting the puck to the net. Coach George Gwozdecky said he still expects the power play to be a strength for his team, but he acknowledged that it didn’t look good at all this weekend. (more…)

The Takeaway: Northeastern gets lucky with return of Quailer, shaky UNH defense

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Northeastern surprised Friday night, shutting down New Hampshire, 4-0 — a score not many were expecting from the matchup.

The Huskies opened their scoring with a goal by Braden Pimm followed by two more quick ones from Zak Stone and Justin Daniels, all three goals within three minutes of each other. Mike McLaughlin sealed it for Northeastern when he put the team up by four in the final period. This offensive success only further aggravated an already frustrated UNH, and the tension started to show with a few scuffles late in the game.

What I saw

The defensive pairing of Luke Eibler and Josh Manson was crucial for Northeastern. The defensemen were plus-3 and plus-2, respectively, making several of the blocks that helped Chris Rawlings in goal and boosted the Northeastern’s offense.

You can depend on UNH to be fast, you can’t really say the same for Northeastern. But the Huskies kept up with the Wildcats’ speed, looking like a quicker and more determined team than the one who barely tied Massachusetts in their home opener last week.

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The Takeaway: BC Falls to Denver, 4-2

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Boston College coach Jerry York knew to expect a closer contest this time around. His Eagles fell, 4-2, to Denver Friday after steamrolling the Pioneers twice in Denver last year. Despite the loss, the Eagles are good shape heading into Saturday’s game in Durham against New Hampshire.

What I Saw

Ice conditions were a major challenge for both teams Friday night. There was no slush or fog to speak of, but humid conditions in greater Boston led to a less-than-ideal surface.

“The conditions on the ice definitely slowed things down a bit,” York said. “Neither team benefited from it.”

In addition, Friday night’s game was one of the best crowds at the Conte Forum for hockey in recent memory. With attendance of 7,884 (officially a sellout), the arena was mostly filled with students who boisterously cheered on their team, especially through a competitive, back-and-forth third period.

“The atmosphere in the building was as loud and [as much as] a college hockey atmosphere that we’ve had here in a long time,” York said.

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The Midwest Coast Bias: Saturday morning, October 15

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

First of all, check out the recently-published CCHA Preview and CCHA Watch List here on CHN for a comprehensive preview of all-things CCHA.

Alhough I’ll be at Agganis Arena (Boston, MA) tonight for Denver’s visit to Boston University (with no CCHA teams in sight), here are some quick thoughts about last night’s action involving CCHA teams:

Maybe Ferris Should Move to the ECAC

Named the CCHA offensive player of the week after a three-goal weekend against St. Lawrence a week ago, Ferris State forward Kyle Bonis showed no signs of slowing down in last night’s 4-0 victory against another ECAC foe, Rensselaer. Bonis, a junior, added another two goals — one of which was an empty-netter, giving him a total of five tallies for the young season.

The only CCHA player averaging more points per game so far is Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick and Notre Dame sophomore T.J. Tynan, whose seven points through three games trail only Minnesota sophomore Erik Haula, who has eight. Tynan’s second-period tally against Ohio State last night tied the Irish/Buckeyes contest 2-2, before classmate Anders Lee scored to put the Irish ahead for good.

But back to Ferris State for a moment: coach Bob Daniels said before the season began that he was “looking forward to increased goal production.” Though the sample size is small, perhaps the Bulldogs are already hoping to take a big step forward after finishing over .500 for the last two years. It’s been a decade since Ferris went to the NCAA tournament, winning 31 games behind then Hobey finalist and current NHL star Chris Kunitz.

The Bulldogs have also been helped in the early going by a power play converting on over 26 percent of its opportunities. And of note, Travis Oullete — after starting slowly last season — already has five goals this season as well.

Short Suspension: Smith Returns for Miami

After violating team rules and punished by sitting out Miami’s season opening split against Bemidji State last weekend, sophomore Reilly Smith returned to the ice last night for the RedHawks’ visit to Hamilton to take on Colgate.

One has to wonder if Smith’s offensive numbers from a season ago would carry over to this year — after all, recall that, as a sophomore, the Mimico, Ont., native led the RedHawks in scoring with 28 goals, overshadowed though by a combined 128 points from Hobey winner Andy Miele and All-American Carter Camper.

Well, through one game, Smith showed that maybe he doesn’t need Miele and Camper after all. With a hat trick last night, Smith led the RedHawks to a 4-3 win at Colgate. Smith was efficient too, scoring on three of his four shots on goal, and helping senior netminder Cody Reichard earn his first win of the season.

Still, Miami managed only 15 shots on goal for the entire game.

Greenham’s Streak Ends, Alaska Wins Anyway

After starting 79 consecutive games for Alaska, senior netminder Scott Greenham sat out last night’s Nanooks win against Mercyhurst. Junior Steve Thompson — an Anchorage native — earned the victory for Dallas Ferguson’s squad.

Greenham was a CCHA Second Team selection last year after compiling a .921 save percentage and a 2.19 goals-against-average.

 

UNH looking to rebound

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

by Joshua Seguin

With the first game in the past, UNH is prepping for a big Hockey East weekend beginning on Friday.

The return to action couldn’t come soon enough for Dick Umile’s team, after BU knocked the Wildcats around to start the season.

Despite the 5-0 loss, Umile and his saw it as a 3-0 game — the fourth g0al coming with an empty-net and the fifth in garbage time.

“Statwise the game was pretty even, we just have to play a full 60-minute game,” UNH coach Dick Umile said.

Umile looking for some finish

After the rough loss against Boston University last Saturday, the word used most around the UNH locker room this week was “finish.”

With multiple grade-A opportunities stopped by BU goaltender Kieran Millan in the early going, the young New Hampshire team has to find ways to score and play better defense, if this season is going to be as successful as the past 10 years for New Hampshire.

As much of the country and region continue to have doubts about the Wildcats, nobody in the dressing room is panicking or looking ahead of Friday.

Players such as John Henrion know that UNH played well enough at times to score goals but cannot get frustrated.

“Millan played well, but we had plenty of chances,” he said.  ”We have plenty of guys that know how to score and no one is concerned. We just have to finish. We have a very deep team up front which was very evident from scoring opportunities that were spread across multiple lines and everyone needs to contribute, not just one line.”

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Hockey East Power Rankings Week 1

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

by Cara Spilsbury

1. Boston College

The Eagles are 2-0 on the season so far, the only Hockey East team with two wins, although they have yet to play a conference opponent. The team amassed 11 goals as it won the Ice Breaker tournament, defeating both Michigan State and North Dakota. Sophomore Bill Arnold recorded a team-high five points during the two games. Junior Chris Kreider was named tournament MVP.

2. Boston University

The Terriers opened the season strong by defeating UNH, 5-0. Senior goaltender Kieran Millan recorded his sixth career shutout in the win. The win was the team’s most decisive shutout victory since the 5-0 win against UNH in January 2009.

3. Merrimack

The Warriors faced a tough challenge to open their season, traveling to Orono to face Maine. However, the team rose to the occasion, defeating the Black Bears 2-1. This W marks the first time Merrimack has won at the Alfond Arena since 1997. Jesse Todd scored the game-winning goal short-handed in the second period and goalie Joe Cannata earned his 43rd career win.

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WCHA Power Rankings: Week 1

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

With week one in the WCHA in the rear-view mirror and conference play getting underway this weekend, here is a look at where the WCHA stands — at least in one man’s point of view.

1 — Colorado College (Last week: 1)
• The Tigers are tops on my list until someone beats them. They were just one of two teams to not play a game that counted last weekend, although they routed the U.S. Under 18 Team in exhibition action.

2 — Denver (Last week: 3)
• Like in-state rival CC, Denver also shutout the U-18 team in an exhibition game last weekend. Much will be known about the Pioneers after this weekend’s trip to Bean Town to face both BC and BU.

3 — Minnesota (Last week: 5)
• Kent Patterson held Sacred Heart without a single goal in 120 minutes of hockey last weekend and the Gophers’ freshmen showed up in a big way. If those two trends continue, Minnesota will surprise this season.

4 — North Dakota (Last week: 2)
• The Sioux struggled at home last weekend, needing a third period comeback to beat Air Force before dropping a 6-2 decision to the nation’s new No. 1 team, Boston College. Aaron Dell needs to be better, or Brad Eidsness might do to him what Dell did to Eidsness a year ago.

5 — Minnesota Duluth (Last week: 6)
• The national champs split at home, but split with one of the country’s best teams. A rivalry series against the Gophers this weekend at AMSOIL Arena will say a lot about where the Bulldogs stand early in the season.

6 — Nebraska-Omaha (Last week: 4)
• A bad loss on Saturday to Colgate highlighted the inconsistencies in goaltender John Faulkner’s game. And with Alex Hudson still out because of a suspension, the Mavericks will need Faulkner to be better than that.

7 — Minnesota State (Last week: 8 )
• The purple Mavericks salvaged a split at nationally ranked RPI last weekend, but scored just two goals in the process. Austin Lee leads the early battle in goal, although coach Troy Jutting will probably let that battle continue for the next couple of weeks.

8 — Alaska-Anchorage (Last week: 10)
• UAA came from behind to grab a tie Friday against Clarkson before coming from behind again in a nonconference win over St. Cloud State. Mickey Spencer had a monster weekend, including a hat trick against the Huskies.

9 — Bemidji State (Last week: 11)
• BSU beat top-ranked Miami Friday and led after two periods on Saturday but couldn’t quite hold onto the sweep. Had they won twice, they’d be much higher on this list.

10 — Wisconsin (Last week: 7)
• The Badgers are extremely young and they will struggle early on. They lost to Northern Michigan Friday before salvaging a split Saturday, but finding goal scoring will be a season-long problem in Madison.

11 — St. Cloud State (Last week: 9)
• SCSU struggled in third periods last season and that issue surfaced again Saturday against Anchorage. If the opening weekend is any indication, Mike Lee is going to keep the Huskies in every game this season.

12 — Michigan Tech (Last week: 12)
• It was a great first act for Mel Pearson in Houghton, but a sweep of American International only closes the gap between Tech and the No. 11 spot in this poll. More success against Wisconsin this weekend could change that however.

THIS WEEKEND AROUND THE WCHA

Wisconsin at Michigan Tech
• Between Brett Olson, Blake Pietilla, Jordan Baker and Steve Seigo, it’s possible the Huskies have the better goal scorers in this series. With the Badgers better on the blue line, the difference in this series comes down to goaltending. Whoever figures it out this weekend will have the edge in this one.

Minnesota at Minnesota Duluth
• The Gophers have a chance to prove last weekend’s 15 goal outburst wasn’t a fluke. Minnesota needs production from freshmen like Kyle Rau and Seth Ambroz, but if they also get production from guys like Jake Hansen, they’re going to win a lot of games. Look for the UMD power play to make a difference here. They were 2 of 8 Friday in a win and just 1 of 6 Saturday in a loss. That one goal will make a difference in what should be a pair of close games.

Bemidji State at Colorado College
• This is a series the Tigers should control, especially at home. But the Beavers have a way of slowing down teams to play at their pace. If BSU can do that at Colorado Springs, they could steal a point or two from this one. But if the Tigers control the pace, BSU likely can’t keep up.

Denver in Boston to take on BC, BU
• An early season trip to Boston will be a definite measuring stick for preseason conference favorite Denver. Without the luxury of playing a series last weekend, the Pios head east to face the nation’s top-ranked team first in what could be a wake up call for netminder Adam Murray, who has struggled in his two years in Denver thus far.

UNO, UAA in Alaska Goal Rush
• Like last weekend, the Seawolves will play a conference for in a nonconference contest as UAA and UNO face off Saturday in Fairbanks. Another win would go a long ways towards cementing the Seawolves among the “improved,” as many have predicted early on. The Mavericks, meanwhile are looking to get the bad taste out of their mouths after a bad loss to Colgate at home last Saturday. UNO faces Alaska Saturday while UAA takes on Mercyhurst.

St. Cloud State at Northern Michigan
• The Huskies hit the road again, as they will for much of the first few weeks of the season. At one point, it was thought SCSU’s arena renovations would hinder its ability to play at home, but hang ups in that process have unnecessarily put St. Cloud on the road for 10 of its first 15 games. A win in game one would go along ways towards helping SCSU secure a road sweep against a team they’re certainly capable of beating twice.

Massachusetts-Lowell at Minnesota State
• The Mavericks swept three series a year ago, including one against Lowell back east. Early on, the Mavs are already battling injuries, as their captain Tyler Elbrecht will miss several weeks with a broken arm. Freshman forward Max Gaede also missed a game with injury last weekend and will be out. This is a series, at home, the Mavericks need before jumping into conference play and it’s one, injuries or not, they should be able to get.

Maine at North Dakota
• In another return match-up from last season, the Fighting Sioux will look for some payback after getting swept in Bangor last October. It was the only time all season UND was swept, and was the only time UND lost consecutive games all season. A 7-3 loss in game one was really the end of Brad Eidsness’ run as starting goaltender, (he allowed three goals on five shots before being pulled for Aaron Dell) so it’s somewhat ironic that Dell may be in a similar position this time around.

Thoughts on Opening Weekend in the WCHA

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

After a one weekend of play, there were some clear winners and losers in the WCHA. Here are some thoughts on who those may be:

WINNERS

• Michigan Tech. The Huskies didn’t open with a power house like a couple other teams in the league did. In fact, they may have opened with the worst team in Division I hockey. But Tech hasn’t been that far from the bottom either in recent seasons, and sweeping their season opening games will definitely help get new coach Mel Pearson’s message across early. Afterall, this is a team that won just four games all of last season. The Huskies should now be able to equal and pass that pretty easily. At least that’s the hope.

• Bemidji State. Any time you can roll into the home arena and beat the No. 1 team in the country, you’re doing something right. The Beavers were down 1-0 after one Friday and 2-1 after two, but a stellar third period was enough to nab the victory. Kudos to BSU for responding after the Red Hawks tied the game at three late in the third period. Bemidji stemmed the tide and was able to, not only score the game winner, but add an insurance marker too. BSU led in the second period of game two as well, but Miami isn’t the top team for nothing. A great two points for the Beavers.

• Minnesota State. Same thing on a smaller scale. Not much is expected of the Mavericks this season, but they came out of York, N.Y. with a split against RPI. The Engineers entered the weekend ranked No. 18 and coming off an NCAA Tournament bid last season. But the Mavs used stellar goaltending from senior Austin Lee Friday to win a low-scoring affair. Mankato was also able to overcome a pair of injuries — one to captain Tyler Elbrecht — in the win. Elbrecht will miss several weeks with a broken arm, a big loss for a MSU D-core already short on experience and size. Freshman Brett Stern must step in now and play a much more important role. Another concern: The Mavs scored just two goals on the weekend. While getting a win was nice, they’ll need more offense to sustain themselves in conference play.

• Minnesota. Yeah, it was against Sacred Heart. But the Gophers left no doubt this weekend. Kent Patterson became the first Gopher to secure consecutive shutouts in the same weekend against the same team since Adam Hauser did it over a decade ago. Another positive: Minnesota had 10 different players score at least one goal and 16 different players score points this weekend. This from a team that struggled to score in stretches last year. The opponents will most definitely get better, but you can’t argue with the results for the Gophers.

• Alaska-Anchorage. If the Seawolves nonconference game against St. Cloud State is any indication of what we’re going to see in conference play this year, it’s gonna be an awesome season. The Huskies led 2-0 then 2-1 in the third period before UAA junior Mickey Spencer scored goals two minutes apart to pull Anchorage even and in front with under six minutes to play. A goal by Jared Festler with the SCSU net empty and under a minute to play  made it 3-3 before Spencer struck again in overtime to cap the comeback win. The OT goal capped a six-point weekend for Spencer who had 13 points in the two years prior. It also capped a weekend of comebacks for UAA, as they tied Clarkson Friday after trailing on two different occasions in that one as well.

• Minnesota Duluth. A split at home against Notre Dame puts them in the winners category, if only because the Irish are one of the top teams in the nation.

LOSERS

• North Dakota. The Fighting Sioux had to come from behind to beat Air Force Friday before getting hammered by Boston College Saturday. Aaron Dell allowed five goals on just 10 shots against BC, a far cry from his all-league showing last season. The one positive: Early season struggles aren’t exactly new to UND. And it wasn’t exactly unexpected this season. North Dakota is young and will take some lumps through the holidays. This weekend will help them in the long run.

• Nebraska-Omaha. In what should have been an easy couple of wins at home, UNO was impressive in a 5-1 win Friday over Mercyhurst before a disappointing loss to Colgate the next night. The Mavericks badly outshot the Raiders, but an inconsistent effort in goal by John Faulkner doomed UNO. Faulkner’s inconsistency last year was a problem for Omaha, and he must get it corrected if they hope to have another top-6 finish in league play.

• St. Cloud State. The Huskies defeated Alaska Friday and looked to be headed to a win again Saturday. But a problem that plagued SCSU last season surfaced again — third period malaise. The Huskies must get this straightened out. If they don’t, another disappointing season will ensue.

• Wisconsin. Northern Michigan at home needs to be at least three points. It wasn’t. Joel Rumpel was impressive Saturday in a 3-2 win to salvage the split. But Landon Peterson allowed three goals on just 19 shots in a 3-2 OT loss Friday. That battle in goal will be the defining one for the Badgers, at least early on.

There will definitely be some movement in my WCHA Power Rankings, which I will post Thursday. My conference preview is also posted on the College Hockey News main page. It is in two parts, which I will link here and here.

As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@CHNDanMyers). Let’s try and get to 500 followers by the end of the week! Spread the word!

The weekend that was in the AHA

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Several Atlantic Hockey teams put up strong showings in the weekend of play, but no AHA teams earned a victory.

Air Force had a lead on North Dakota entering the third period before the Fighting Sioux scored twice to steal a win. While the Falcons didn’t get the win, the fact that they stayed with and were beating the No. 3-ranked team for most of the game must give them some confidence. And, without Jacques Lamoureaux and Derrick Burnett this season, this should make Falcon fans very happy.

One of the more surprising teams this weekend was American International. The Yellow Jackets were swept by Michigan Tech, but they were very competitive and even had a lead entering the third period of the first game. And while they couldn’t hold the lead, it’s definitely a good sign for the future of the Yellow Jackets.

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Colgate Wins A Title…Wait What?

Monday, October 10th, 2011

After Week One of the College Hockey season, I have to say I am anxious to get to some games. On tap for the ECAC this weekend were a few early tests for the non-Ivy teams. One team clearly stood above all the rest with its first weekend of games.

The ECAC team that was most surprising in the first weekend of play is Colgate. The Raiders outright won the  Mutual of Omaha Stampede Championship, beating Robert Morris, 3-1, and coming from behind to beat Nebraska-Omaha 4-3. With the title, head coach Don Vaughan has to be ecstatic with the way his team played this weekend.

Freshman forward Joe Wilson had an outstanding weekend for the Raiders, scoring two goals in his collegiate  debut. With the success of Wilson, it seems that the positive ratings of the Colgate freshman class by much of the media were apt.

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