Archive for March, 2012

Wrapping the First Round

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

With the conclusion of the Denver-Wisconsin series tonight in the Mile High City, next weekend’s WCHA Final Five is officially set: Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, Denver, North Dakota, St. Cloud State and Michigan Tech.

First, a few thoughts on this weekend: The number of series that lasted only two games was very surprising to me, especially considering how competitive these games were.

- Alaska-Anchorage had Minnesota on the ropes Saturday night, leading 3-1 in the second period. But a series of penalties allowed Minnesota to gain momentum and eventually the dam broke, as the Gophers rallied with six straight goals. That sweep wasn’t a surprise.

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The Takeaway: BU earns spot at the Garden in double OT

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

BOSTON – After over 86 minutes of hockey, 118 saves and 127 shots on goal, the Boston University and University of New Hampshire quarterfinal series came down to just one goal in double overtime.

It came from BU’s Alex Chiasson, who already had three assists on the night, six minutes and 42 seconds into that second overtime period to clinch tonight’s win, and a trip to the Garden, for the Terriers.

What I saw

UNH came out with full force and controlled puck possession early in the first period, dominating shots on goal 16 to 4.  After an early goal from BU’s Evan Rodrigues, the Wildcats countered with four unanswered goals, giving them a 4-1 advantage midway through the game. The Terrier response in the second half of the game wasn’t so much due to any fault of UNH, but more because BU elevated their own level of play to match that of the Wildcats.

It was impossible to ignore the two players at either end of the ice tonight, and with 68 saves from senior Kieran Millan and 50 saves from freshman Casey DeSmith, it’s easy to see why. Once again, Millan kept BU in this game in the first half when their production slipped, and again towards the end when he made a glove save on a Stevie Moses slapper in overtime. Millan’s 68 saves made for a personal record on his last night playing at Agganis Arena.

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The Takeaway: Providence Advances to Garden for First Time Since 2001

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

LOWELL, Mass. – Ross Mauermann scored the lone goal and Alex Beaudry stopped all 29 shots he faced to lead Providence to a 1-0 win over Massachusetts-Lowell in Sunday’s decisive Game 3. With the win, the Friars earned their first trip to the Hockey East semifinals since 2001. Mauermann scored seven minutes into the game when he deflected an Alex Velischek shot through Doug Carr’s five-hole. The River Hawks’ best chances to tie it came in the final 10 minutes, but Beaudry stood tall to help Providence finish off the upset.

What I saw

-A great goaltending duel. Beaudry obviously stopped everything that came his way, including the River Hawks’ onslaught in the final 10 minutes. At the other end, Carr stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced, including 16 from the grade-A area. He faced several odd-man rushes and was the only reason Lowell even had a chance to tie it late. In the third period alone, Carr made nine saves on shots from inside the faceoff dots.

-Riley Wetmore, who usually centers Lowell’s top line, played at far less than 100 percent. Before Sunday’s game, the UML fan blog The Ice Is Life tweeted that Wetmore had a broken hand, while UML coach Norm Bazin said after the game that it was a “lower body injury.” Wetmore didn’t take any faceoffs, missed shifts, and saw most of his ice time come with the fourth line. Bazin admitted after the game that Wetmore shouldn’t have played. (more…)

Merrimack, Maine brawl in a Game 2 Warrior win

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

ORONO, Maine — 184 penalty minutes, 50 penalties, nine misconducts.

Those are all new Hockey East tournament records, and they were all set in last night’s 5-2 Merrimack win over Maine in Game 2 of the Hockey East quarterfinals. Game 3, which will decide the series, will take place tonight.

Three of the four series in Hockey East are going the distance.

“I’m not smart enough to referee,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said after the game.

The Warriors were whistled for 98 penalty minutes and the Black Bears for 86. A brawl in the third period resulted in six misconducts between the two teams.

“These are obviously two teams that don’t like each other,” said sophomore forward Rhett Bly, who potted two goals for the Warriors.

144 of the penalty minutes were assessed in a wild third period. The game took nearly three hours to play (2:50), which is unofficially one of the longest non-overtime college hockey games in history.

“It’s the playoffs so you know they’re going to call it tight,” Bly said.

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The Takeaway: BC Sweeps UMass 2-0 With 3-2 Win

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Chestnut Hill, Mass. – UMass got off to a quick start against Boston College but couldn’t hold onto the lead. Conor Sheary scored 2:54 into the game but the Eagles would respond a mere 1:31 later on a goal by Pat Mullane. BC would score again about four minutes later to take a 2-1 lead going into the first intermission.

UMass again carried play for long stretches of the game in game two, as they did in game one. They would eventually tie the game late in the second period on a powerplay goal by Joel Hanley. This goal was followed up by another crucial Boston College goal one minute later off the stick of Brian Dumoulin to make the game 3-2. This score would hold to the end of the game and the Eagles proceeded to sweep the Minutemen.

Massachusetts’ season came to an end on the night at a disappointing 13-18-5, which saw them come up with many big victories against big name programs most notably this same Boston College team twice early in the season and Boston University. Boston College advanced to the Hockey East semifinals for the eighth straight season. Their record improves to 27-10-1 on the season and the win gives them a stranglehold on their number one Pairwise ranking, which even with a loss might be all but locked up. (more…)

The Takeaway: BU ties series with UNH in 4-2 victory

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Boston — Boston University was tied 2-2 with University of New Hampshire after Kevin Goumas passed back to Connor Hardowa for the game tying goal. But the Terriers didn’t let the score stay there for long, as Matt Nieto answered just 54 seconds later with the go-ahead goal.

Nieto’s goal would prove to be all BU needed to take the second game in the quarterfinal series, but Ryan Santana would seal it for the Terriers with a mid-third period goal to put BU up 4-2 and force a third game to determine which team will advance to the Hockey East semifinals.

What I saw

Kieran Millan kept the Terriers alive in the first period. He made two big saves in that period alone, later making a save on a breakaway from Mike Borisenok to keep BU up 1-0 at the close of the first. Kevin Goumas got an open chance on Millan in the second after BU mishandled the puck, but the goaltender was again there to keep his team in it. With three minutes to play, the Maine offense saw another opportunity to score, but Millan darted across the crease and blocked the shot with his elbow. This type of play characterized Millan’s skill throughout the entire game, in which he made 35 saves.

UNH was beating BU to the puck almost every chance they had to in the first period, which is why the Terriers depended on Millan so much early in the game. UNH’s forwards came out of the gate with hustle, and looked like a team that wanted to end this series tonight. They stay on top of the puck on every rebound, sometimes resulting in three consecutive shots. Despite the score, the Wildcats didn’t make it easy on Millan.

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The Takeaway: Maine takes the series lead on Merrimack in Orono

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

ORONO — Merrimack goaltender Joe Cannata made a season high 41 saves but it wasn’t enough for the Warriors, which fell to Maine 2-1 in Game 1 of a best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series at Alfond Arena on Friday night. Joey Diamond and Kyle Beattie tallied goals for the Black Bears after Mike Collins gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal in the first period

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The Takeaway: UNH Takes Series Lead with OT Win at BU

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

BOSTON — New Hampshire freshman Grayson Downing scored 2 minutes into the second overtime to give New Hampshire a 3-2 win over Boston University at Agganis Arena Friday night. The win gives UNH 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series.

Downing stuffed a shot past BU goaltender Kieran Millan after a turnover allowed him to move out in front of the senior netminder uncontested. The goal was his 10th of the season.

What I Saw

  • The Terriers were very sloppy in their own zone.  Ultimately, it didn’t hurt BU, with Millan bailing them out on more than occasion. Turnovers on breakouts or on other clearing attempts led to several UNH scoring chances, while a mishandle and some bad bounces led to Downing’s game-winning goal. Ryan Ruikka and Alexx Privitera were the worst offenders for the Terriers. Both players turned the puck over several times with either careless player or indecision. Most BU players looked legless, but the careless mistakes created chance after chance for the Wildcats. UNH’s aggressive two-man forecheck caused some of the BU mishaps, which is going to happen. Eliminating the mental errors that caused the turnovers is a necessity for the Terriers if they plan push this series to a third game.
  • Casey DeSmith played Friday’s game like it was an early October battle against an Atlantic Hockey team. The freshman’s play since taking the No. 1 job from Matt Di Girolamo in January has propelled UNH on its current run. When he seized the No. 1 job, UNH’s playoff status was in serious jeopardy. That changed quickly when DeSmith became UNH coach Dick Umile’s first choice. Offensive production picked up, as did the Wildcats’ execution defensively, but DeSmith was the one notable change. UNH outplayed BU for long stretches on Friday, but the Terriers created several quality scoring chances. DeSmith handled most of the opportunities with ease, offering very few rebounds to the Terriers. Entering the season, many credited the Wildcats with having an experienced goaltender — an asset that reveals itself this time of year. Experienced goaltenders play with poise. They’re calm. With a senior in net, they didn’t have that. They do now, and it’s a freshman doing the job. (more…)

The Takeaway: Kamrass, UML Force Game 3 with OT Win

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

LOWELL, Mass. – Freshman defenseman Zack Kamrass picked a great time to score his first collegiate goal. With 8:31 left in overtime, he collected a rebound off a Joseph Pendenza shot and buried it into an open net to give Massachusetts-Lowell a 3-2 win over Providence and push their quarterfinal series to a decisive Game 3 on Sunday afternoon.

After getting outplayed for much of the opening period, the River Hawks struck first at the 17:28 mark when Chad Ruhwedel kept a puck in at the right point and raced to the slot before flipping a backhander past Alex Beaudry (33 saves). Lowell upped the lead to 2-0 early in the second when Matt Ferreira banged home a loose puck in the crease for a power-play goal.

The Friars came storming back late in the second, though. Myles Harvey cut the lead to one when he ripped a slap shot past Doug Carr (34 saves) from the top of the left circle. Then Stefan Demopoulos tied the game 1:56 later when he knocked in a rebound off a Shane Luke shot. (more…)

The Takeaway: BC Takes 1-0 Series Lead over UMass

Friday, March 9th, 2012

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – On a night that the power delayed the game for nearly 20 minutes in the middle of the first period, the Boston College Eagles struggled to get any offense going for nearly 59 minutes of gameplay.  In the end it was two goals in 44 seconds that did the trick, as they defeated the Minutemen 2-1 at Conte Forum.

UMass needed nearly eight minutes to register their first shot in the first period but when they did they quickly found their legs and took the play on BC for the next 50 minutes of play. The big effort in the first two periods was wasted in just 44 seconds late in the second period as Boston College would score two quick goals. The first being a goal right off the faceoff by Pat Mullane and the second being a snipe shot from the high, left slot by Tommy Cross.  Johnny Gaudreau assisted on both goals for the Eagles and it was the third line of the Eagles that proved to be the difference in the game.

In the third period the Minutemen made it a game by scoring a goal seven minutes in to make it a 2-1 game but it was not to be as the Eagles proceeded to take a 1-0 series lead over UMass. Boston College improves their record to 26-10-1, while the Minutemen fall to 13-17-5. Tomorrow night UMass will need a win to stay alive and Boston College can clinch the series with a win. The win kept Boston College in first place in the Pairwise rankings. (more…)