Archive for February, 2012

Hockey East Power Rankings: 2/29/12

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Given that this upcoming weekend is the last of the regular season, this will be the final edition of Hockey East Power Rankings. From next week on, my focus will be on the postseason.

1. Boston College (23-10-1, 17-7-1 HE) — Last week: 1

The Eagles swept Providence with a 3-0 win Friday and 7-0 win Saturday, and have now won nine in a row. Barry Almeida led the way with a goal and four assists on the weekend, while Steven Whitney and Tommy Cross each registered a goal and three assists. Parker Milner stopped all 54 shots he faced to record his first two shutouts of the season. BC has clinched home ice in the quarterfinals and can clinch the regular-season title with three points against Vermont this weekend.

2. Boston University (20-11-1, 16-8-1 HE) — Last week: 3

After dealing with the fallout of Max Nicastro’s arrest all week, the Terriers went up to Vermont and swept the Catamounts. Sean Escobedo notched his first two goals of the season in Friday’s 5-0 win, while Alexx Privitera returned from a broken wrist to tally two points on the weekend, including the game-winning goal in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win. BU has clinched home ice. It needs BC to get two points or fewer in order to have a shot at the regular-season title. (more…)

Atlantic Hockey Wrap: Playoff Time Edition

Monday, February 27th, 2012

It came down to the final day but we finally know who will be playing where in the playoffs. Air Force, Niagara, RIT, and Mercyhurst all earned first round byes.

Air Force – Thanks to a 3-0 win over Robert Morris on Saturday, the Falcons were able to claim to AHA regular season title. Adam McKenzie was the only Falcon to record multiple points this weekend, picking up three assists. Jason Torf picked up his fourth shutout of the season, doubling last year’s total in less games.

AIC – The Yelloe Jackets finished the regular season in tenth place. They took one point against UConn to assured themselves that they wouldn’t finish in last place. Blake Peake scored twice and picked up an assist to give him career highs in goals (5), assists (8), and points (13).  Adam Pleskach also had a three point weekend, scoring once and adding two assists. (more…)

The Takeaway: Merrimack, Lowell Battle to 2-2 Tie

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

LOWELL, Mass. – Merrimack and Massachusetts-Lowell fought tooth and nail for 65 minutes Saturday night and walked away with a 2-2 tie. Merrimack’s Mike Collins opened the scoring 4:45 in when he tipped in a Kyle Bigos shot from the point. The River Hawks (20-10-1, 15-9-1 HE) answered midway through the second when Matt Ferreira found David Vallorani all alone in the slot. Collins struck again with 6:45 left in the game to give the Warriors (16-9-7, 12-8-5 HE) a 2-1 lead, but Josh Holmstrom tied it on a late power play when he slid home a Scott Wilson centering pass.

With the tie, the Warriors took three of four points on the weekend, following their 5-2 win Friday. The Merrimack River rivals concluded their season series at an even 1-1-1. The River Hawks now sit in third in the standings with 31 points. They can clinch home ice for the Hockey East quarterfinals with one point next weekend against Providence. The Warriors sit in fifth with 29 points, one behind Maine for the fourth and final home-ice spot. They have a game in hand on the Black Bears and can clinch home ice with three points next weekend against Massachusetts. As of 12:35 a.m., Lowell is tied for fourth in the PairWise and Merrimack is tied for 14th. (more…)

The Takeaway: Harvard Sweeps Weekend, Earns ECAC Bye

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Saturday’s game between Harvard and Clarkson marked an opportunity for both schools to secure a valuable bye in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. To begin the weekend, Clarkson sat in the pole position, one point ahead of Harvard and two clear of Quinnipiac.

But a cluster of teams near the middle of the standings meant that both needed three-point weekends to secure the next one off. Instead, Harvard took full control of its fate and won both games at the Bright Hockey Center. With a 3-2 win over Clarkson Saturday night, and a 4-1 win over St. Lawrence on Friday, Harvard passed Colgate and earned a third-place finish in the ECAC regular season.

Meanwhile Clarkson will host RPI in the first round of the conference playoffs, after losing both games this weekend.

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The Takeaway: Maine crushes Northeastern, 7-1

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

BOSTON – The Maine offense struck early when junior forward Adam Shemansky garnered his tenth goal of the year to put the Black Bears up 1-0. Senior forward Theo Andersson followed suit just over a minute later when he capitalized on the power play to give Maine the two-point advantage. Northeastern answered with a power play goal of its own from junior forward Vinny Saponari, but Maine answered less than a minute later with another power play goal from sophomore forward Mark Anthoine.

That was it for junior goaltender Chris Rawlings, as he was pulled in favor of sophomore Clay Witt. But the Maine offense continued to pressure, and junior forward Joey Diamond knocked one in at 3:25 in the second period to increase the Maine lead to 4-1. Success continued for Maine when the nation’s leading scorer, senior forward Spencer Abbott, got a tip off a wrister from freshman defenseman Jake Rutt to put Maine up 5-1.

The scoring continued for Maine as Abbott got his second of the night and Diamond made it 7-1. With the loss, the Huskies fell to 12-15-5, 8-13-4 in conference play, and Maine got their nineteenth win going 19-11-3 with 14-10-2 in Hockey East.

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The Takeaway: Eagles roll, 7-0, over Providence

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Boston College scored five goals in the first period and cruised the rest of the way, earning a 7-0 win over Providence on Saturday afternoon at Conte Forum. BC senior Barry Almeida scored one goal, picked up three assists and finished the win a plus-5.

Freshman Johnny Gaudreau and sophomore Bill Arnold each scored twice for the Eagles.

The win pushes BC’s lead in the race for the regular season championship to four, with second-place Boston University set to take on Vermont tonight. Meanwhile, Providence sits in seventh, three points clear of eighth-place Northeastern. (Note: BU defeated UVM to cut BC’s lead to two points.)

Nationally, the Eagles sit second in the PairWise, behind Minnesota-Duluth.

What I Saw

  • The first period ended horribly for the Friars, trailing the Eagles, 5-0. BC was obviously the better, more opportunistic team in the first 20. Still, the Friars were hardly horrible, even as the Eagles poured goal after goal past Alex Beaudry. The first BC goal came 51 seconds into the game, with Steven Whitney beating Beaudry with a wrist shot from the high slot off the rush. Like most of the BC chances in the first, it came immediately after a lengthy PC cycle or extended possession. The Friar defensemen failed to identify the proper time to hold their position or retreat, allowing BC breakaways and odd-man rushes. All five of the Eagles’ first period goals came off the rush. Some of which PC could have prevented with a little more caution at the blue line and in the neutral zone. The fourth and fifth BC goals came seconds after Providence power plays expired, and  Friar defenseman Myles Harvey manned the point in both of those instances. The 6-foot-5 junior has improved as a triggerman on the power play, but his puck management and poise are still major concerns. Playing a high-pressure club like BC, Harvey is especially susceptible to the dangerous turnover. (more…)

The Takeaway: Desmith Steals a Win from UMass

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Amherst, MA. –  The UNH defense gave up 51 shots to a hard charging UMass team, but Casey Desmith would come up huge stopping 48 of those 51 shots en route to a 4-3 New Hampshire victory over the Minutemen.  Trevor van Riemsdyk scored the first two goals for UNH giving them a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Conor Sheary scored midway through the second period and Joel Hanley scored early in the third period to knot the score at two apiece but New Hampshire’s first line would answer two and a half minutes later with goals by Nick Sorkin and Kevin Goumas 17 seconds apart to put the game away.

With the win New Hampshire improved their record to 14-15-3 on the season overall and 11-12-2 in Hockey East. The two points also clinched them a playoff berth and moved them into sixth place in the Hockey East standings, one point ahead of Providence. UMass falls to 11-15-5 overall and 7-13-4 in Hockey East. The loss put a serious damper on their playoff chances as Northeastern defeated Maine 4-2, which moved the Minutemen into ninth place in the standings, two points out of a playoff position. (more…)

The Takeaway: Northeastern takes two crucial points from Maine

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

BOSTON – Freshman Adam Reid gave the Huskies the 3-2 lead over Maine with less than two minutes to play, but junior Vinny Saponari clinched the 4-2 win for Northeastern with an empty netter in the game’s final seconds. With the win, Northeastern moves to 12-14-5 on the season, 8-12-4 in Hockey East.

A power play goal from junior Garrett Vermeersch gave the Huskies the first period lead, but after two goals from Maine’s Brian Flynn and Spencer Abbott put Northeastern down by one, it was junior Justin Daniels who had the equalizer in the second to tie it up 2-2.

It all came down to the third period, and that’s when Northeastern’s Joe Manno went on a breakaway, but couldn’t capitalize. Junior Steve Quailer tried to sink Manno’s rebound, but after falling short is was Reid who got it past Maine goaltender Dan Sullivan, giving Northeastern the edge.

What I saw

Tonight’s game featured gritty, rough hockey, the kind you’d expect from two teams fighting for a playoff spot and home ice advantage. Northeastern played like they wanted a playoff spot, and compete level, for once, wasn’t an issue. Across the board, the Northeastern players were finally all solid at the same time. Most notably, the Husky defense was able to keep Maine’s first line of the nation’s leading scorer Spencer Abbott, Brian Flynn, and Joey Diamond contained.

You can’t mention Northeastern’s defense without Chris Rawlings, and tonight with 29 saves the junior goaltender didn’t give much cause for concern. After a couple of rough outings against Providence where he gave up more than one soft goal, tonight Rawlings was what his team needed him to be, and that’s dependable. There’s no doubt that when Rawlings is going strong it allows his teammates in front of him to do a little more knowing he’s confident behind them.

Across the ice, Dan Sullivan really did the same thing for Maine. Despite not getting the win, the sophomore goaltender was steady, stopping 24 shots. He’s gone 17-7-3 in net for the Black Bears in 27 games with a .904 save percentage.

In front of Sullivan, Maine’s top line of Spencer Abbott, Brian Flynn, and Joey Diamond is really something to watch. They’ve combined for 137 points this season; 53 for Abbott, 44 for Flynn, and 37 for Diamond. Each of them came out of tonight with at least a point, Abbott and Flynn each notched a goal and Diamond had the assist on both.

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The Takeaway: Merrimack Grabs Two Big Points from Lowell

Friday, February 24th, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Led by a dominant first period, Merrimack picked up a much-needed two points with a 5-2 win over Massachusetts-Lowell on Friday. Elliott Sheen opened the scoring when UML (20-10-0, 15-9-0 HE) goalie Doug Carr misplayed a dump-in, allowing Sheen to tap the puck in before Carr could get back to his crease. Kyle Bigos scored 1:18 later and Jeff Velleca knotted another tally before the end of the period to give the Warriors (16-9-6, 12-8-4 HE) an insurmountable three-goal lead. Ryan Flanigan and Velleca scored in the third for Merrimack, while Chad Ruhwedel and Shayne Thompson scored for UML.

With the win, the Warriors are now tied with Maine for the fourth and final home-ice spot with a game in hand. They are 16th in the PairWise as of 10:25 p.m. The River Haws dropped to third with the loss, three points behind first-place Boston College and two points ahead of Merrimack and Maine. They are now sixth in the PairWise. (more…)

Final Weekend

Friday, February 24th, 2012

It has all come down to the final weekend of league play to determine anything in the ECAC. This season has certainly been down to the wire and some games this weekend will be hard fought in order to determine final seeding.

Look for another update on Saturday afternoon to see what the final night will look like.

Cleary Cup- Who is going to get it? Union will travel to face Cornell on Friday. The game could be a deciding factor on who will win the ECAC regular season title, otherwise known as the Cleary Cup. Union currently has a two point advantage in the league standings, but a loss to the Big Red could prove interesting with each team having one game remaining on Saturday.

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