Archive for January, 2012

Atlantic Hockey Wrap

Monday, January 16th, 2012

What a weekend it was in Atlantic Hockey. The standings keep getting tighter and tighter, with eight teams within five points of first. You can even expand that to nine teams with a shot at at the top, if you include Canisius just eight points out.

Air Force – The Falcons have struggled since the start of the New Year. They are winless in four games and culminated with the Falcons first home loss of the season to Bentley on Saturday. Jason Torf received his first start since Oct. 8 and played well, surrendering just two goals. But the Falcons couldn’t muster any offense. Brad McBride recorded his first career assist on one of the Falcons three goals. Kyle De Laurell scored his conference leading 14th goal of the year while Cole Gunner added his 16th assist to also lead the conference.

AIC – The Yellow Jackets returned from a month off and went 1-2 in their three games. Their lone win, though, came against Atlantic Hockey leaders Mercyhurst. Adam Pleskach had three goals and an assist in the three games to extend his point streak to eight games. Nielsson Arcibal goes one better than Pleskach, extending his point streak to nine games with a goal and four assists. Blake Peake had the best week of his AIC career. The sophomore had a goal and four assists in the three games. He had just three points on the season entering the week. (more…)

Three Things I Think, January 16

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Some don’t think too highly of outdoor hockey games. The points made by these members of the media and fans are never wrong, and their opinions are certainly valid. For players, outdoor games typically mean bad ice, odd adjustments and a whole mess of distractions that can pull the focus from the win. For fans, it means inflated ticket prices, three hours in the freezing cold, bad sightlines and potential for a truly mediocre experience.

I’ve never found myself on the side of those who generally hate these games, even as they’ve become more common and lost some of their appeal. While it usually just means more work for us and forced, often contrived storylines, the players almost always speak highly of their experience. They genuinely seem to enjoy it, so I’m all for it as long as college hockey players say they want to do it.

With all of that said, I’m glad this season’s glut of outdoor hockey is over. In Hockey East, it was Frozen Fenway, which concluded with Boston College’s 2-1 win over Northeastern Saturday afternoon. There were three Hockey East games played on Yawkey Way this season, and they were all pretty good games. But, like I said, I’m glad it’s over. We have seven weekends of league games remaining, with a few midweek matches and the Beanpot mixed in there, before the postseason begins. And now that all of the games will take place indoors for the remainder of the year, we’re in for a truly fantastic finish in Hockey East.

Non-conference wins are good, but Northeastern has some work to do in Hockey East

Northeastern pieced together a 7-0-1 run that included a win at Michigan, a sweep of Notre Dame and a tournament championship in Minneapolis after losing to Massachusetts on Nov. 12. The Huskies positioned themselves on the bubble for an at-large bid, and helped other clubs in Hockey East out with the wins. (more…)

The Takeaway: Moses, Defense Propel UNH to 4-1 Victory

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Manchester, NH. –  Dartmouth got off to a quick start against UNH at the Verizon Wireless Arena, scoring first, but the Wildcats responded 7 minutes later on a 5 on 3 goal, by Stevie Moses, and never looked back winning 4-1. Stevie Moses scored four goals on the night as the UNH first line ran laps around Dartmouth defenders, who didn’t seem to have an answer for it. The win was the second in a row for UNH improving their season record to 8-11-2 heading into a huge two weeks of Hockey East Play, arguably their most difficult and important two week stretch of the season.

The powerplay and defense, which both have been awful at times this season proved to be the strong points in the game for the Wildcats. The powerplay, which had not scored in a seven game stretch going all the way back to November 28 recorded two crucial goals in the middle stages of the game. Casey Desmith hardly got tested in the first two periods as the New Hampshire defense did a great job stifling Dartmouth’s offense usually before it hit the attacking zone. Active sticks, physical play, and blocking shots became the norm in the game as the Wildcats held the Dartmouth offense to just eight shots in the first two periods. Casey Desmith made 22 saves in the game and has only given up one goal in his last six periods of play.

What I Saw                 

-Defense was the name of the game for Wildcats and when they play well defensively they usually win the game. In their eight wins this season, New Hampshire has given up just ten goals in those eight games. Tonight’s effort was furious and spirited from the start as the Wildcats have put together two solid, defensive performances in a row.

-Casey Desmith stopped everything that he should have and did a great job with rebound control. He smothers the puck and has great ice vision. He wasn’t tested much on the night but when he was he was impressive. Although he was only tested 8 times in the first two periods, he was solid and was only beaten on a pretty 3 on 1 where Doug Jones sent a pretty pass to a wide open Matt Lindblad, where he buried it past Desmith on a play that Desmith had no chance on. Desmith made a few great sprawling saves in the third period but Dartmouth could not beat him.

-Dartmouth could hardly get into any type of offensive rhythm all night. With New Hampshire possessing the puck throughout the first two periods, the offense did not have chance to connect. The only goal came after a New Hampshire powerplay on an odd man rush. Although they scored first in the game, it seemed as though Dartmouth never gained the momentum in the first period and thus UNH responded and pulled away. (more…)

Friday the 13th review

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

A look at who in the CCHA had an unlucky — or at least, a particularly unfortunate — Friday the 13th last night:

  • Obviously, the list starts with Notre Dame: The Irish seemed to fall asleep for just a short stretch of time in the third period last night against Western Michigan. In a game filled with controversial penalty calls, Notre Dame led the Broncos 2-1 before taking a bench minor penalty… which led to the tying goal by WMU sophomore Chase Balisy. Just 14 seconds later, senior Kyle O’Kane put Western Michigan ahead for good. It’s a tough loss for Notre Dame, as the Irish had been on the heels of first-place Ohio State, coming into the game with momentum after holiday-break wins against Boston University and Minnesota. Still, the Irish sit in 4th place in the Pairwise as of Saturday morning.
  • Ohio State: Two days before their outdoor showdown with Michigan in Cleveland’s Progressive Field, the Buckeyes and Wolverines played in front of almost 10,000 indoors in Columbus. Unfortunately, Ohio State couldn’t give them much to cheer about, as 46 shots on goal were turned aside by Michigan senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick, who earned his eighth career shutout. (more…)

The Takeaway: Northeastern sputters, falls, 4-3, to BU

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

BOSTON — Northeastern blew a 2-0 first period lead and watched Boston University score four consecutive goals, falling, 4-3, to the Terriers in the teams’ first meeting of the season. In front of a sold out Matthews Arena, the Huskies scored twice in the final 1 minute, 22 seconds of the first period, with goals from Alex Tuckerman and Ludwig Karlsson.

Karlsson added a second later in the game to cut BU’s lead to 4-3 with 3:07 remaining in regulation. The Terriers held on, though, shutting the Huskies down in the final few minutes. The win lifts BU into first place in Hockey East, two points ahead of second-place Boston College, which lost to Massachusetts Friday night, and three points clear of third-place Merrimack, which defeated Maine, 6-2. Northeastern falls to ninth place in the league, one point back of eighth-place New Hampshire and two points short of seventh-place UMass.

What I Saw

  • Northeastern really struggled on the breakout in the final two periods. Pressuring the Huskies with one forward high in the zone and the other two waiting on the half-wall, BU prevented the Huskies from generating any offense outside of its transition game. In the first period, stoppages were sparse, as the teams traded chance after chance, with Kieran Millan and Chris Rawlings keeping both clubs scoreless until the Huskies struck in the final minutes. When the second period began, the Terriers began pressuring Northeastern more aggressively and essentially eliminated anything resembling an effective breakout. The second BU goal, which tied the game, 2-2, came after terrible decision-making by NU forward Justin Daniels, and relentless pressure from Ryan Santana caused a turnover and left Wade Megan open in the slot for an easy goal. The problems persisted on the power play, too, as the Huskies’ struggles continued. The one for five on the man advantage Friday lifted the Huskies to a robust 10.3 percent on the season. (more…)

The Takeaway: BU Overcomes Two-Goal Deficit, Beats Northeastern

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

BOSTON – Boston University took over sole possession of first place in Hockey East with a 4-3 win over Northeastern at Matthews Arena on Friday night. It was BU’s fourth straight win in league play and its ninth victory in the last 11 games overall. The Terriers trailed 2-0 at the end of one, but responded with goals from Adam Clendening, Wade Megan and Evan Rodrigues in the middle frame. Megan added his second of the game and 10th of the season early in the third to make it 4-2, and BU (12-6-1, 10-4-1 HE) managed to hang on for the win. Kieran Millan made 31 saves.

What I saw

-Wade Megan continued to show why he belongs on the top line. He played on the third line for most of the first half, but got bumped up to the top unit following the departures of Corey Trivino and Charlie Coyle over break. He has three goals in three games since the promotion, and his 10 goals on the season are the most among players still on the team (Trivino had 13 before his dismissal). Megan’s two goals Friday night were both one-timers set up by nice plays from his teammates — Ryan Santana on the first and Alex Chiasson on the second — but they showcased his ability to finish when he gets the puck in scoring areas.

-Chiasson continued to be a revelation on faceoffs. Trivino and Coyle were BU’s top two faceoff men in the first half, and the Terriers lost 40 of 59 draws in their first game without those two, leaving plenty of questions about who was going to step up in the faceoff circle. Well, Chiasson has certainly done his part to answer those questions. He won 13 of the 19 draws he took Friday night after going 7-for-13 last Friday in his first game taking faceoffs full-time. Coach Jack Parker used Chiasson in every situation, including penalty kills and key defensive-zone draws late in the game. Simply put, Chiasson has quickly become BU’s most reliable faceoff man. (more…)

WCHA Week 11 Power Rankings

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Just under a month removed from our last WCHA Power Rankings, the true second half of the college hockey season kicks off tonight with the rare weekend where all six WCHA teams are in action against each other. This will only happen two more times the rest of the season.

There are an intriguing array of games set for this weekend, so enjoy!

1 — Minnesota Duluth (Dec. 16 — 1)

The Bulldogs enter the weekend unbeaten in 16 straight games. That includes their last six, which have all been on the road. UMD hasn’t played at AMSOIL Arena since before Thanksgiving, and it will spend one more weekend on the road tonight and Saturday at Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks have done their best to try and sell out tonight’s game at the CenturyLink Center, and at last check, are within 1,000 tickers of doing so. Regardless, it will be the largest crowd to ever see a UNO game in Omaha. In talking with Scott Sandelin earlier this week, the Bulldogs are looking forward to the challenge.

2 — Minnesota (Dec. 16 — 2)

Don Lucia’s bunch has been thoroughly underwhelming for the better part of six weeks now, and since sweeping North Dakota during the first weekend in November, Minnesota is just 6-6-1. They were unable to win their own holiday tournament, again, something that used to be routine for this team. They were asleep for much of their game against Notre Dame last Saturday night before finally waking up with under three minutes to play in a 4-3 loss. With North Dakota heating up and Minnesota cooling down, this could be a crossroads weekend for these two squads. The Gophers need at least 2 points to regain some momentum.

(more…)

The Week Ahead Hockey East

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

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Hockey East Power Rankings: 1/11/12

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Last week’s power rankings saw no movement in the top four, but plenty in the bottom six. This week is the opposite. There are some changes near the top, but everything after that is the same.

1. Boston College (13-7-1, 9-4-1 HE) — Last week: 1

It’s hard to think of a team that’s 5-6-1 in its last 12 as the league’s best, but no one has done enough to dethrone BC yet. The Eagles tied Merrimack 2-2 on Sunday in their only game of the weekend. Brian Dumoulin assisted on both goals, moving him up to second among Hockey East defensemen with 17 points on the season. Freshman Brian Billett stopped 22 of 24 shots and hasn’t allowed more than three goals in any of his six starts.

2. Boston University (11-6-1, 9-4-1 HE) — Last week: 4

Like BC, BU’s only non-exhibition game of the weekend was against Merrimack. Led by a 42-save performance from Kieran Millan, the Terriers beat the Warriors 4-2 on Friday night. They’ve now won eight of their last 10, beaten BC twice during that stretch, and moved into a first-place tie with BC in the standings. So it’s safe to say they’re knocking on the Eagles’ door. Senior captain Chris Connolly still hasn’t scored a goal this season. (more…)

Three Things I Think, January 9

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

While four Hockey East teams took part in the first two Frozen Fenway games of the season, another four played regular league action that kicked off the official start of Hockey East’s second half. We saw Massachusetts pick up three points in its two games to sneak back into a playoff spot, while Boston University’s win over Merrimack pushed it into first place — for the time being.

Both of these teams enter the final two months of league play among the most interesting stories. Aside from UMass Lowell’s chance to turn its strong first half into a strong season and New Hampshire’s decline, the Minutemen and Terriers both still have much to prove in Hockey East play — though their aims are very different at this point.

Their fans are pleased with their performances over the weekend, but neither side is satisfied — knowing they have far more ahead of them.

Three points are big, but UMass is still looking likely for ninth place

Prior to Saturday’s game with Vermont, UMass left Schneider Arena disappointed and relieved with its tie at Providence on Thursday. It’ll take the point, but UMass wasted a pair of leads and eventually saw the Friars take a 4-3 lead before Danny Hobbs‘ extra-man goal sent the game to overtime. The extra period proved kinder to the Minutemen Saturday afternoon, as Michael Marcou scored with 22.9 seconds remaining to pick up two points. (more…)