Archive for December, 2011

The Takeaway: UNH Struggles Early, Loses 5-2 to Brown

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Durham, NH.- New Hampshire came out of a 23 day layoff flat offensively and continuing the defensive woes that plagued them in the first half to lose to Brown 5-2. The loss was the first on home ice for the Wildcats against the Bears in 81 years.

Brown raced out to a 3-0 lead midway through the second period but proceeded to let the Wildcats back into the game. Connor Hardowa scored on a point shot midway into the second period and Nick Sorkin scored early in the third to make the game 3-2 but Brown held on and got a huge goal at 15:29 of the third to ice the game thus skating away with the victory. Marco De Filippo was strong in the Brown net making 39 saves while Matt Di Girolamo was pulled in the third period for UNH after making 15 of 18 saves in lieu of freshman Casey Desmith, who made 5 of 6 saves including a penalty shot save on Brown captain, Jack Maclellan.

What I Saw

-UNH came out flat in the first two periods and Brown took advantage scoring three goals in the third period. UNH had a lot of sustained pressure in the early going of the third period but was only able to capitalize on one of those opportunities.

-Matt Di Girolamo again struggled at times against Brown and was pulled in lieu of Casey Desmith. Casey Desmith again wooed the crowd with his play. With about 6:30 left in the game Brown was awarded a penalty shot when UNH’s Brett Kostolansky covered the puck in the crease. Desmith made a huge pad save on Brown captain, Jack Maclellan. At this point of the third all the momentum was tilting towards UNH but they were unable to capitalize. (more…)

The Week Ahead Hockey East: Holiday Tournament Edition

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

After a tumultuous few weeks for many Hockey East teams, many teams will look forward to just getting back on the ice for game action. The slate is busy for many teams this weekend as holiday tournaments are abounded. Vermont hosts its annual Catamount Cup, UMass-Lowell is at the UConn Hockey Classic, UMass and Maine head to Florida for the annual Florida College Classic, Merrimack will make the short trip to Dartmouth for the Ledyard National Bank Classic in Hanover NH., Northeastern travels to the annual Mariucci Cup and Boston College is the fourth participant in the annual Great Lakes Invitational at the Joe Louis Arena.

This weekend of non-conference games will go a long way in determining the field of 16 at the end of the season. As the second half of the season begins the countdown to the multiple Frozen Fenway games begins and the long and grinding road to the Hockey East tournament also commences. The stage has been set for some teams to begin dropping and others to continue their ordinary runs to the league playoffs. Here’s to previewing the long weekend of games this New Year’s weekend. (more…)

Hockey East First Half Look Back, Part 2: Our Thoughts

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Last night, we rewarded the best performers in Hockey East in the first half. Chris Kreider and Joe Cannata were the big winners, as the former received our nod for Player of the First Half and Cannata was the unanimous choice for the league’s top netminder — both players were also named to our first team.

Aside from the various lists and all-conference teams we conducted our own little vote on, we thought more critically about the league. Looking back on some of the best and worst moments from the first half and turning our eyes ahead to the second half, below is a list of some of the most interesting things that have already happened and a few more we think you’ll be talking about throughout the second half.

Most Surprising Player

Chad Ruhwedel, Defenseman, Sophomore, UMass Lowell

Doug Carr, Goaltender, Sophomore, UMass Lowell

Between the five Hockey East writers included in this poll, two chose Ruhwedel and three chose Carr. While that clearly tilted the nod in favor of Carr, it’s only appropriate to credit both players for their remarkable performances guiding UMass Lowell to an unlikely 10-5-0 first half.

Carr has been nothing-short-of fantastic for the River Hawks, and his 1.82 goals-against average and .934 save percentage would typically be good enough for tops in the conference. Joe Cannata’s brilliance is the only thing keeping Carr down at this point, but it’s like UML coach Norm Bazin is more than satisfied with the goaltending he’s received since giving Carr the keys to the River Hawks. (more…)

Hockey East First Half Look Back, Part 1: The Awards

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

With the second half of the Hockey East and college hockey season beginning later this week, it’s time to look back on the first half of 2011-12.

While Hockey East as a whole was rocked by the arrest of now-former Boston University senior Corey Trivino, the first half did produce some fantastic performances and surprising results. We watched UMass Lowell become a national contender and Northeastern score nine goals on Notre Dame.

We saw Ludwig Karlsson, Doug Carr and Johnny Gaudreau emerge as stars in this league, while young players like Bill Arnold, Mike Pereira and Matt Nieto continued on their paths to becoming truly great players in Hockey East. We also received a healthy dose of the expected as Boston College ended the first half as the team top team in the conference, and Merrimack built on its success from last season to become a contender for a national championship.

In the first half of our look at the first half of the Hockey East season, we’ll focus on individuals in the league. In Part 2, we’ll focus on some of the players to keep an eye on and moments to remember. At the end we’ll look forward to the second half of the season, and what you can expect from around Hockey East. Hockey East writers Michel King, Scott McLaughlin, Jill Saftel, Josh Seguin and I collaborated on these lists, awards and predictions.  (more…)

Holiday Rankings

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Well it is holiday break time.  No games for a few days, so I guess all ECAC hockey fans can do is look back and ponder at the season thus far. Take these rankings with a grain of salt, as nothing is ever certain in this league.

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Atlantic Hockey Midseason Review

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

We’ve reached the unofficial halfway mark of the season. It’d been a fun and exciting first half of the season. Outside of conference play, the league as a whole as struggled. All 12 teams combined to go 11-46-7 in nonconference games. But there was one huge win and that belongs to Sacred Heart. Possibly the upset of the year, the winless Pioneers shocked Yale with a 7-6 win.

But once conference play started, the league changed and teams began to assert themselves. Traditional powers Air Force and RIT continued their run of success, the Falcons are in first in the standings while RIT sits in a three way tie for third with Mercyhurst and Robert Morris. (more…)

WCHA Midseason Awards

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

With the WCHA at it’s true midway point for the next couple weeks, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at how I would vote these awards at the halfway point of the season. Obviously, there is a ton of hockey left to be played, and this is just one man’s opinion… but here is how I’d vote if the ballots were due today. I’m sure I’ll have no trouble soliciting some opinions — especially from North Dakota fans.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everybody. Rip away!

First Team
F — Jack Connolly (UMD)
F — Nick Bjugstad (MIN)
F –  Rylan Schwartz (CC)
D — Justin Schultz (WIS)
D — Brad Hunt (BSU)
G — Kent Patterson (MIN)
Here’s why: Connolly, Bjugstad and Schultz are no-brainers. Schwartz is tied with Bjugstad for the league lead in goals (16) but has also been clutch: He is second in power play goals and fourth in game winning goals. I love what Hunt brings; he is underrated on both ends of the rink. Patterson has already tied the school record for shutouts in a season.

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RMU topples RIT

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

There was only a Atlantic Hockey game this week, but it was a huge game. RIT and Robert Morris faced off with a lot on the line.  A win for the Tigers would have moved them to first in the standings, while a Colonial win would tie them for second with RIT and Mercyhurst. (more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: Halfway home

Friday, December 16th, 2011

The WCHA season has will reach its midpoint this weekend, as four teams have played 12 of the 28 conference games. Those four teams face off this weekend and everyone will be at 28 heading into Christmas.

Others will be in nonconference action before the holiday tournaments start in a little over a week. Because there is little action after this weekend until those holiday tournaments, I will be taking a one week break from the power rankings next weekend to enjoy the Christmas holiday with friends and family.

Without further delay, here are the final power rankings of the first half:

1 — Minnesota Duluth (Last week: 1)

The team that ended last season on top of all the rankings ends the first half on top of these ones. The Bulldogs haven’t lost a game in TWO MONTHS! That statistic alone might be the most amazing one so far. What’s almost as shocking is they’re not running away with the league — not by a long shot. Their three losses this season all came consecutively, and at one point, UMD was 1-3-0. Hard to believe. Duluth plays four conference road series the rest of the way — including one in Mankato and one in Anchorage, so the schedule doesn’t look too overbearing the rest of the way.

2 — Minnesota (Last week: 2)

I’ll say it again: When Minnesota plays smart, determined and motivated, there isn’t a team that can run with them. Not even UMD, whom the Gophers swept to kick off the conference schedule. That team showed up in the third period last Saturday. But at times recently — especially on Fridays — Minnesota has not been that team. Yeah, they’re still a good team, but they’re not a great team. If Don Lucia can get this team focused for the stretch run, the Gophers have as good a shot as any to win a national championship.

3 — Nebraska-Omaha (Last week: 5)

Teams 3-5 in this week’s power rankings are so close, you could really pull them out of a hat. UNO gets the third spot because its win at Ralph Engelstad was the most impressive of the weekend. Maverick goaltenders held North Dakota to just two goals on the weekend and salvaged just two points — a statistic that always astonishes me when I see it. You usually see it happen once a year in the league. We’ll see how critical those points are in March. Things will also get a little more difficult for UNO now that Alex Hudson is gone. Since his return from an early season suspension, Omaha has been an outstanding team . They struggled early without him.

4 — Denver (Last week: 4)

The Pioneers split a pair of one goal games at Bemidji State last weekend to remain in neutral in the power rankings. At the halfway point, Denver isn’t nearly as high in the standings as some had predicted, but they’ve overcome a number of injuries to big-time players. As those guys start to work their way back into the line-up, we’ll see who the real Pioneers are.

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Atlantic Hockey Power Rankings

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Well, we’ve reached the halfway point of the season as teams get some time off for finals and winter break. It’ll be a couple weeks before we get a full slate of conference games again. We’ll see you in 2012 for the next Power Rankings. Here are this week’s rankings.

1. Air Force – The Falcons didn’t play this past weekend but have done enough this season to remain in first in the standings and No. 1 in the Power Rankings. Stephen Caple continues to play well in net and continues to get offensive support. Kyle De Laurell and Cole Gunner are proving to be a dynamic duo as the top two scorers in Atlantic Hockey.

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