Archive for February, 2012

Atlantic Hockey Power Rankings

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Playoff positioning for many teams is still up in the air as we hit the last two weeks of the regular season. Eight teams still have a chance at a first round bye in the playoffs.

1. Air Force – The Falcons took three points from Niagara this weekend to stay in first place for the second straight week. They are undefeated in their last eight games. The Falcons host Mercyhurst this weekend.

2. RIT – The Tigers rebounded from being swept by sweeping Canisius. The Tigers have taken points in eight of their last 10 games and sit just one point behind Air Force for first place. They host Robert Morris this weekend. (more…)

The Weekend Ahead Hockey East 2/16

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

The playoff races are getting closer, seemingly by the day and it is amazing to realize that we are in the home stretch with only three more weekends of Hockey East regular season play remaining. As we look at the standings we realize that there are only two points separating the top five teams, thus leaving five teams with a legitimate shot at winning the league regular season title. UMass-Lowell holds the top spot with 28 points, Boston College and Boston University are tied for second place with 27 points and Maine and Merrimack are tied for fourth with 26 points. (more…)

Oh Shoot: Taking a Look at Shots and Blocks in Hockey East

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

I’ve wanted to compile some stats on shots, blocks and faceoffs for a while now, because they aren’t stats you typically hear a lot about in college hockey. I finally had some time to look into it today and do a little bit of research. Because I didn’t feel like spending my whole night on this, I limited myself to Hockey East, the league I cover most.

Unfortunately, not every team keeps track of blocks and faceoffs on their team sites. In fact, only three of the 10 Hockey East teams have individual faceoff stats on their team page. I’m sure other teams have those stats somewhere, just not online. I wound up not even bothering with faceoffs because of the lack of available info, but here’s some stuff you’ll hopefully find interesting in regards to shots and blocks. (more…)

Hockey East Power Rankings: 2/15/12

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

With the Beanpot over, everyone is now focused on the last three weekends of the regular season. Only four teams are on the move in this week’s power rankings, and there is still very little separating the one through five spots. There is, however, a little bit more separation between the seven and eight spots.

1. Massachusetts-Lowell (19-8-0, 14-7-0 HE) — Last week: 1

The River Hawks extended their winning streak to five with a 3-0 win over Merrimack on Friday, but then had it snapped with a 2-1 loss to Maine on Saturday. The two points on the weekend were enough to move them into sole possession of first place in Hockey East. The line of Scott Wilson, Riley Wetmore and Derek Arnold has combined for nine goals and 17 assists in six games since being put together.

2. Boston College (19-10-1, 13-7-1 HE) — Last week: 4

The Eagles beat Vermont 6-1 on Friday and then won the Beanpot championship when Bill Arnold scored with 6.4 seconds left in overtime to give them a 3-2 win over BU. Chris Kreider notched three goals and two assists in the two games this week, while Pat Mullane and Beanpot MVP Johnny Gaudreau contributed four points apiece. Parker Milner is 5-0-0 with a .928 save percentage since reclaiming the starting job. (more…)

The Takeaway: BC defeats BU to win the Beanpot in OT thriller

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

BOSTON — True to form, Boston College and Boston University battled deep into overtime in tonight’s 60th Beanpot Championship. The game was ended by sophomore Bill Arnold with a slapshot goal to win the third Beanpot in a row for the Eagles with just 6.4 seconds left in the twenty minute OT period.

BC struck early at 8:54 in the first when junior Pat Mullane took a feed from junior Chris Kreider to put the Eagles on the board while shorthanded. The next three goals would be scored with either a power play or a 5 on 3 advantage, the first being a BU equalizer from sophomore Garrett Noonan.BC regained the lead when Kreider took a wrister off a pass from freshman Johnny Gaudreau on the power play, but the Terriers answered in the third period when Noonan notched his second goal of the night — just as BU was coming off a 5 on 3 advantage to the power play.

Goaltenders were huge for both BC and BU in tonight’s game, with each team’s goaltender facing 34 and 47 shots, respectively. Kieran Millan made 44 saves in almost 80 minutes of hockey, but it was Parker Milner’s 32 saves for BC that would prove to be victorious in the teams’ twenty second meeting in the Beanpot Championship.

What I saw 

Special teams were essential for both teams tonight. With four goals resulting from a penalty, special teams won and lost tonight’s game. The teams were really allowed to battle in the overtime period when calls were sparse.

The BC first line of Barry Almeida, Bill Arnold, and Steven Whitney played tonight like one of the best lines in Hockey East, and the way Whitney connected with Arnold at the last second for the game winner speaks to that. These three could be dangerous for contending Hockey East teams down the stretch.

Goaltending tonight on both ends of the ice was beyond superb. Even though he didn’t come out with the win, Kieran Millan was a rock for BU and allowed his team to play with the utmost confidence with him behind them in net. 44 saves is nothing to scoff at, especially not with two teams playing at this level.

What I thought

As much as BC and BU have dominated Beanpot Championship games, tonight’s game proves why both teams deserve to do so. Matchups like tonight’s make the Beanpot Tournament what it is. It’s a game everyone will be talking about, and it certainly gave a boost to college hockey in Boston tonight.

That being said, BU didn’t look like they were really in it until they scored the second period equalizer to tie the game at 1. Then, it looked like a fire had been lit and the Terrier offense looked just as hungry as that of the Eagles.

There was a level of competitiveness tonight that isn’t always seen, but in the 19th minute of overtime it looked as though the Terriers and the Eagles could have played another three periods before one began to crack and allowed the other victory.

What they said

“Over the last few years people talk about, has the Beanpot kind of lost its luster, how are the crowds, and where is college hockey in the Boston Area. Well I’ll tell you what’s a statement, is that place was jammed with fans of college hockey, whether they’re associated with BU or BC or Harvard or Northeastern. I think the Beanpot’s in good hands. It has been for a long time and it’s going to continue, especially with that kid of hockey game tonight.”

— Jerry York on the Beanpot in Boston

“It was awesome. There were penalties at the beginning of the game and heck, there were good calls and at the end they let them go and both teams got to play. I thought that was the way hockey is supposed to be played and it was certainly fun to be a part of.”

— Tommy Cross on the lack of penalties during overtime

“We definitely took a stride forward in our effort. That was playoff hockey at its best, those are the types of games you play in March and April, and we’ll be well prepared for them down the road, but hats off to BC. It was just a good, hard fought game between two good hockey teams.”

— Chris Connolly

“I’m hoping we’re in championship games later on and they’re probably hoping they will be, too. We both feel like we have two very, very strong teams, but neither one of us are even in first place in our league. We’ve got to go play Lowell next week and they’re in first place so it’s a real battle all the way from everything that’s going on here to down the stretch, from home ice to the top eight…It’s a long way to get to another championship, that’s for sure.”

— Jack Parker on seeing BC in the future

What they didn’t say

No one came right out and said it, but officiating determined so much of what happened in this game. The only goal to come for either team not resulting from a penalty was, fittingly, Bill Arnold’s game winner. By the end of the second period, 13 penalties had already been called, eight of them coming in that second period alone.

What else you should know

This was the twenty-second meeting of BC and BU in the Beanpot Championship game and BC’s third Beanpot win in a row.

BC and BU are tied for second in Hockey East as they look down the final stretch of the season.

Looking back to conference play, BU plays Hockey East first place Mass. –Lowell in a home and home series this Friday and Saturday. BC has a crucial home and home series of their own against Merrimack, a team tied for fourth in the conference with Maine and just one point behind both BC and BU.

The Takeaway: Harvard Tops Northeastern in Beanpot Consolation

Monday, February 13th, 2012

BOSTON — With 6:16 left in the third, Harvard’s Luke Greiner scored what proved to be the Beanpot consolation game-winner when he entered the offensive zone and beat Northeastern goalie Clay Witt (36 saves) five-hole for a shorthanded goal. Luke Eibler cut the lead to one just 23 seconds later, but the Crimson held on for the 3-2 win. With the loss, Northeastern has now finished fourth in 30 of the 60 Beanpots all-time.

What I saw

-The Crimson outplayed Northeastern in the first. The consolation game is always a tough game to get up for, especially when neither team is really in serious contention for an at-large NCAA bid, and the Huskies clearly struggled to find their skating legs. Harvard controlled play for much of the first period and took a 1-0 lead 11:44 in when Alex Killorn took in a pass at the right doorstep and waited out Witt before tucking the puck inside the right post. The Crimson outshot Northeastern 12-6 in the first and also hit two posts.

-The second period was more evenly-played and featured a lot more back-and-forth action. Robbie Vrolyk tied the game 4:07 into the period when his wrister from the high slot bounced off Steve Michalek’s (24 saves) arm and trickled over the line. The Crimson reclaimed the lead with a late goal when Alex Fallstrom stormed over the blue line fired a snap shot inside the left post. (more…)

Home Stretch: Things to Know

Monday, February 13th, 2012

With just four games remaining in the regular season (and just two remaining for Ohio State and Alaska), Ferris State holds a 5 point lead in the CCHA standings. But with every league win potentially worth three points, there are plenty of opportunities remaining for the teams chasing the Bulldogs for the regular season crown.

As the season winds down, here are some things to know:

  • Unbeaten now in 12 games (three shy of the program record), Ferris State is currently the No. 1 team in the nation according to the Pairwise Rankings and — as a result — would be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament if the tourney began today. I expect Ferris State to sweep Bowling Green (currently in an impressive 0-for-30 power play slump) this weekend to set up a final weekend home-and-home showdown with second-place Western Michigan. The Broncos swept the Bulldogs earlier this season, and the CCHA regular season crown could be decided on the final night of the season. Ferris State vs. Western Michigan — just like we all predicted months ago…
  • Six of the Pairwise’s Top 15 teams and 9 of the top 20 are CCHA members. But having seen how these things tend to play out year after year, I don’t expect more than five of the league’s teams to ultimately make the NCAA tournament. Ohio State and Miami are currently hanging on to the final two spots, and the Buckeyes and RedHawks play a pivotal final weekend home-and-home series as well. Ohio State finally won a game on Saturday, splitting their weekend series with Western Michigan and thereby ending an 11-game winless streak that saw the Buckeyes tumble from first-place in the league. Ohio State needs a strong finish perhaps more than anyone in the league. (more…)

Atlantic Hockey Wrap

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Air Force – The Falcons are undefeated in their last eight games and continue to sit atop the standings. Stephan Carew scored twice for the Falcons. Kyle De Laurell had an assist and is just one point shy of tying his career high. Tim Kirby also scored. He now has 23 points on the season, tying his career high.

AIC – The Yellow Jackets score just three times en route to being swept by Bentley. They have now lost four straight. Adam Peskach, Steve Mele, and Nick Grasso accounted for all the Yellow Jackets scoring. Pleskach leads the team with 12 goals on the season.

Army – The Black Knights saw their three game winning streak snapped while being swept by Holy Cross. The Black Knights surrendered 10 goals while scoring just three. Mike Hull was involved in a three Black Knight goals, scoring twice and assisting on another. Andy Starczewski scored the other Black Knight goal and picked up an assist as well. Starczewski leads the team with a career best 19 points and 11 goals. (more…)

Three Things I Think, February 13

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Strong weekends from Providence and New Hampshire have cemented the field for the 2012 Hockey East Tournament to an extent. The Wildcats’ three-point weekend has them in seventh place in Hockey East, one point back of Providence in sixth. More importantly, UNH has opened up a four-point lead over Northeastern and Massachusetts, currently deadlocked in eighth place.

For the Friars, a four-point weekend has essentially guaranteed them a playoff spot. However, fifth-place is likely unreachable with Maine and Merrimack five points clear of the Friars. Despite the certainty of the seven of the eight playoff teams, the races for seeding will be as contested as they’ve been in recent years, with just two points separating Merrimack and Maine from first-place UMass Lowell.

This weekend’s matchup between Boston University and UMass Lowell will be among the most important series of the season and have serious implications in conference and on the national scene. Currently, BU is No. 2 in the PairWise, with UML in a three-way tie for fourth.

Schedule gives Northeastern advantage over UMass

Both Northeastern and UMass have six games remaining in Hockey East, with Northeastern having a seventh to play in Monday’s Beanpot Consolation Game against Harvard. However, five of the Huskies’ six remaining conference games will come at Matthews Arena, traveling only to BU to open a regular season-ending, home-and-home pair with the Terriers. (more…)

The Takeaway: UMass Runs Out of Time in 5-4 Loss to PC

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

AMHERST, Mass. — Despite a valiant effort, Massachusetts ran out of time in trying to overcome stretches of woeful team defense, falling to Providence, 5-4, at the Mullins Center Saturday night. For the Friars, the win gave them a sweep of the weekend after they knocked off Maine at Schneider Arena Friday night.

A four-point weekend helped PC overcome a three-game losing streak that ended January and began February, moving ahead of New Hampshire into sixth place in Hockey East. Five different PC players scored in the win, including Tim Schaller who has goals in three of four games since returning from six games sidelined with mononucleosis. Senior goaltender Alex Beaudry made 15 third period saves, with UMass pressing heavily after cutting the Friar lead to at 14 minutes, 51 seconds of the third period.

Sitting in sixth in the Hockey East standings, PC leads UNH by a point, with one game in hand on the Wildcats. UNH tied at Merrimack on Saturday night. UMass, meanwhile, remains deadlocked with Northeastern in eighth place in Hockey East. The Huskies own the tiebreaker over the Minutemen with seven conference wins to UMass’ six at the moment. The clubs enter the final three weeks of the regular season in a dead heat for the last playoff spot.

What I Saw

  • Three of the four goals UMass scored were highlight reel goals. Mike Pereira’s marker to bring UMass within one, his third of the game, was the type of scrappy goal teams need to win games. Overall, however, the Minutemen failed to create chances on second and third opportunities with a lack of grit around the net. There were more than enough opportunities to bang rebounds past Beaudry late in the game, but PC won battles to loose pucks at the goalmouth throughout the game. At the other end, the Friars won the same battles in front of the UMass goal. The Friars can score the pretty ones, but they’ll take the ugly goals just as well. After all, those goals are among the many reasons they left Amherst with two points. (more…)