Archive for February, 2012

Three Things I Think: Saturday Night Edition

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Another college hockey weekend in the books, here are three things I think about the WCHA with just two weeks to go.

- What a colossal meltdown by Minnesota Duluth tonight down in Mankato. Here’s the setup: The Bulldogs led 4-2 late in the third period. Trailing first-place Minnesota by a single point in the standings, and the Gophers cruising to a win over Bemidji State, it appeared the Bulldogs were going to keep pace. Then two goals in 10 seconds happened. Two minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime went past and UMD gained just a single point against 11th-place Minnesota State. The deficit for the Bulldogs is now just two points, but if the Gophers and ‘Dogs finish tied in the league standings, remember tonight in Mankato. Minnesota owns the tiebreaker with UMD, so a tie would make Minnesota the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. And the difference between first and second right now could be a date with the hapless Seawolves or a rematch with the Mavericks, who have a winning record over the last six weeks.

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The Takeaway: UNH Overpowers Vermont and Wins 3-1

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Durham, NH. - On a night where New Hampshire was honoring its seniors on its annual senior night, it was one of the less heralded seniors that gave UNH a spark in the early stages of the second period that would propel them to victory over a struggling Vermont team. Kevin McCarey scored a goal 5:44 into the second period to the tie the game at one and Greg Burke responded 10 minutes later to give the Wildcats a lead, in which they would never relinquish. Brett Bruneteau scored the first goal of the game for Vermont and took a 1-0 lead after one period but Casey Desmith would stop the rest from that point for a total of 29 in the game.

The score of the game in some cases did not give the whole story of the game. In the second and third periods, New Hampshire sent 33 shots toward Vermont goaltender Rob Madore. Rob Madore sent aside 30 of those shots, with many of those being amazing saves. His performance kept Vermont in the game for long stretches but the result was never in doubt despite the close nature of the score. Connor Hardowa would give UNH an insurance goal midway through the third period to seal the victory.

With the win New Hampshire improves to 13-15-3 on the season and 10-12-2 in Hockey East play. The two points keeps them in seventh place in the standings, which is four clear of both UMass and Northeastern who are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot.  Next weekend UNH plays UMass in their biggest weekend of the season. With two wins they could lock up a playoff spot and with two losses they could be tied going into the last weekend of the season. Vermont falls to 6-23-1 on the season and has been eliminated from playoff contention. (more…)

The Takeaway: BC sweeps Merrimack, significant playoff implications

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — For Merrimack to retain a legitimate chance to win the Hockey East regular season title, it needed to defeat Boston College Saturday night at the Lawler Rink. Though giving maximum effort, the Warriors failed to earn a vital point, falling 2-1 to the first-place Eagles.

For BC coach Jerry York, wins No. 900 and 901 during the weekend propelled the team onto the top of Hockey East. The Eagles sit one point above second-place UMass Lowell and two above Boston University in third. Even with four games left in the regular season, the pair of wins places BC in a strong position to win their second-consecutive Hockey East title.

Forward Paul Carey scored with seven minutes remaining to give his team a 2-1 lead. The senior collected the rebound from Tommy Cross’ shot and launched a wrist shot above the blocker of Merrimack goalie Joe Cannata.

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The Takeaway: Northeastern takes one critical point from a draw with Providence

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

BOSTON – Northeastern took one much needed point from tonight’s 1-1 tie with Hockey East sixth place Providence College at Matthews Arena. The Friars struck early, less than thirty seconds in, with a goal from Tim Schaller. Northeastern answered less than ten minutes later when Garrett Vermeersch beat Alex Beaudry to tie it up.

The scoring would end there for the night, and neither team could connect throughout the next 2 periods and overtime, leaving the Huskies and the Friars to split two crucial Hockey East points at a time when Northeastern needs every point they can get.

What I saw

When PC’s Schaller scored just 29 seconds in, it looked like we might see a Chris Rawlings slide akin to that of the first round of the Beanpot against Boston College, but Northeastern’s starting goalie stayed strong after letting that one by. He made 22 saves and was able to handle odd angles from the Friar offense. Granted, the Husky defense looked stronger in front of Rawlings, which always makes the goaltender’s game come with more ease.

Coaches say it all the time, but what I saw tonight from Northeastern was a decent compete level. It seemed to be completely nonexistent the past two Mondays and Madigan had made it clear he was extremely unhappy with his team’s effort, or lack thereof. Some lineup changes, including the “coach’s decision” of sitting Rob Dongara and Dan Cornell, prove that Madigan is going to play those who put in the effort and want to play. While nothing can replace Northeastern’s injured top scorers, having players on the ice who are there to compete at their highest level looked like an improvement for the Huskies tonight.

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As the Pairwise Turns: Friday Edition

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

The WCHA has caught a bunch of grief for being a pretty weak conference nationally this season. And generally, it has been.

But as I write this, the WCHA would have four teams in the NCAA Tournament if it started tomorrow (Minnesota Duluth, Denver, Minnesota and North Dakota).  Four teams is the same number Hockey East would have in. Only the CCHA, with five, would have more. Obviously, there is a lot of hockey yet to be played. A whole bunch can change between now and Selection Sunday. Heck, a whole lot can, and will, change between now and this time tomorrow night.

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The Takeaway: Vermont Shocks UNH in Overtime, 4-3

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Durham, NH.- Vermont used a late goal by H.T Lenz with 13.3 seconds left to go in regulation to propel them into overtime and Drew Mackenzie scored 1:38 into overtime to give Vermont the 4-3 win over New Hampshire at the Whittemore Center. The win was their sixth of the season and had to be deflating for a UNH team that held the lead with just 14 seconds left in the game.

New Hampshire came out quick in the early going off a Scott Pavelski goal 7:18 into the game, but Vermont came right back 35 seconds later to tie the game at one, on the first goal of the night by H.T Lenz. With 50 seconds to go in the first New Hampshire would take a 2-1 lead into the dressing room off a power-play goal by Eric Knodel. The score would stay at 2-1 until midway through the third period, where Vermont would tie it up off a shot by Michael Paliotta. UNH would take the lead again 45 seconds later off a goal by Kevin Goumas, but the lead would not hold as Lenz would score his second in the last minute against UNH this season, the other earlier in the season up in Burlington.

With the loss New Hampshire drops to 12-15-3 overall and 9-12-2 in Hockey East. The loss puts any hopes of a home ice berth in the first round of Hockey East playoffs essentially out of the question and keeps them only four points ahead of UMass for the final playoff spot. Northeastern who tied with Providence tonight moves to within three points of UNH, with a game in hand, but the Wildcats stay in seventh place, despite the loss, two points behind Providence for sixth place. (more…)

The Takeaway: York reaches 900 wins, Eagles dominate MC

Friday, February 17th, 2012

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — On a night overshadowed by Boston College coach Jerry York’s 900th win, the Eagles defeated Merrimack, 4-2, in one of their most thorough and dominate performances to date.

BC maintained ground in its race for first place, while Merrimack slipped to fifth with the loss.

The Eagles controlled the game from the start of the first period and built a 4-2 lead by the end of the second. A hard-fought final frame was not enough for the Warriors to overcome the deficit.

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The Takeaway: BU Beats Lowell, Moves Into First-Place Tie

Friday, February 17th, 2012

LOWELL, Mass. – Boston University snapped a two-game losing streak and moved into a first-place tie by beating Massachusetts-Lowell 7-4 on Friday night. Michael Budd put the River Hawks (19-9-0, 14-8-0 HE) up 1-0 early in the first, but BU’s Wade Megan answered less than a minute later. Alex Chiasson (1g, 3a) and Yasin Cisse scored later in the first to give the Terriers (18-10-1, 14-7-1 HE) a 3-1 lead after one.

The onslaught continued in the second with goals from Chris Connolly (1g, 2a) and Adam Clendening before Lowell’s Malcolm Lyles managed to cut the lead to 5-2 in the final minute of the period. Riley Wetmore scored early in the third to make it 5-3, but Ross Gaudet (1g, 1a) answered less than two minutes later to restore the three-goal lead. Matt Ferreira scored Lowell’s fourth goal and Matt Nieto (1g, 2a) capped the night’s outpouring of goals.

With the win, BU is now tied with Boston College for first in the conference with 29 points. Lowell is now tied for third with Maine at 28 points. As of 10:25 p.m., BU was third in the PairWise, while UML was sixth. The Terriers and River Hawks meet again Saturday night at BU’s Agganis Arena to decide the season series. (more…)

The Takeaway: Schaller, Adams Hurt in Tie for Providence

Friday, February 17th, 2012

BOSTON — Northeastern and Providence played to a 1-1 tie on Friday night at Matthews Arena. Friar goaltender Alex Beaudry made 20 saves in the draw, brushing the few scoring chances NU created aside without much difficulty.

PC’s leading goal scorer Tim Schaller scored 29 seconds into the game, with a bad angle attempt from the right goal line extended. The puck kicked in off the skate of NU goaltender Chris Rawlings. The first couple shifts of the game, Schaller created three chances for PC, but left the game midway through the first with an undisclosed injury.

PC coach Nate Leaman said after the game that Schaller will be out for Saturday night’s matchup with Northeastern. This compounds some existing injury woes for the Friars, with defenseman Daniel New already out for the weekend. Moreover, defenseman Mark Adams suffered a concussion in the third period and will miss tomorrow’s game, Leaman said after the game.

What I Saw

  • Odd-angle shots were the plan for the Friars throughout the game. Rawlings’ 6-foot-5 frame allows to him to stop most shots he’s able to square himself, too. PC looked to exploit this by creating scoring chances on shots from the goal line and the half-wall. In the first period alone, PC attempted eight shots from half-wall. Eventually, Northeastern took this play away to an extent, and the Friars went back to more traditional attempts from the point, looking to create traffic in front of  Rawlings.  In the second, the odd-angle looks came from Rawlings’ left with seven shots come from beyond the faceoff circle. While the first attempt resulted in a goal for PC, Rawlings handled the later efforts without much worry. The NU defense recognized the effort as well, preventing many of these chances from getting through. (more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: Week 16

Friday, February 17th, 2012

**SELF-PROMOTION UPDATE: My Twitter handle has changed. It is now @MyersHockey. If you’re already following me, thank you, and you will not have to make any changes. But if you have told friends and family to follow me and they aren’t yet, well, you’ll have to let them know.**

A full slate of WCHA action this week, as things tighten up and only three weeks left until playoff time. I will be at Mariucci Arena tonight for Minnesota-Bemidji State. I will provide more commentary on the unusual situation the Gophers are in heading down the stretch.

For now, here are this week’s power rankings:

1 — Minnesota Duluth (Last week: 2)

The top of these power rankings are so close, you could really draw any team out of a hat for any spot and you wouldn’t be wrong. The Bulldogs are back on top thanks to a split with North Dakota. With a trip to Mankato this weekend and no J.T. Brown, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see UMD struggle, especially because the Mavericks have been flat out better in recent weeks.

2 — Denver (Last week: 4)

The Pioneers, courtesy of their sweep of Minnesota, move to No. 2. DU started slow and has flown under because of it. But the Pios, all alone in third place, are only two points back of first place Minnesota. And their sweep of the Gophers last weekend assured them of the tiebreaker advantage.

3 — Minnesota (Last week: 1)

The Gophers are still in good position. They are still in first place, they control their own destiny and they have 4 of their final 6 games at Mariucci Arena. This weekend’s contests against the Beavers should be interesting — BSU is one of the hottest teams in the league and just swept Colorado College last weekend.

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