Archive for March, 2012

The Takeaway: Merrimack improves NCAA profile

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Entering Saturday’s game against UMass, Merrimack was aware of its Hockey East playoff fate. By virtue of Maine’s 1-0 victory earlier in the afternoon over New Hampshire, the Black Bears clinched the final home ice position and Merrimack as their opponent. However, there was still much for the Warriors to play for, as concluding the regular season with a win and a run in the conference playoffs could yield an NCAA bid.

Saturday night, the Warriors accomplished one portion of their goal, defeating UMass, 5-3, at Lawler Arena behind a dominate third period. Merrimack scored three-consecutive goals to neutralize a 2-1 deficit entering the frame to earn the victory.

With the loss, the Minutemen settled for the eighth seed and will face Hockey East regular season champion Boston College in Chestnut Hill.

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A Little Badger Love

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Because I mentioned Wisconsin few times in the story that will be posted on CHN’s website here tonight, I did want to throw some props the way of the Badgers. What a performance tonight by the boys in Cardinal and White. Honestly, I haven’t seen much of the Badgers this season — a couple of games on television and that’s about it. But the team I saw tonight, if it plays like it did tonight, can beat anyone in the country.

That’s right. Anyone in the country. When I asked Mike Eaves after the game where this effort tonight ranked among his team’s games this season, he said it was at the top.

“We played Denver at home a couple of Saturdays ago and that was a pretty complete game,” Eaves said. “This ranks in that area.”

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The Takeaway: BC Moves One Step Closer to Top Seed

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Chestnut Hill, MA.- Boston College used two quick first period goals by Paul Carey and Pat Mullane to go up by two in the first eight minutes. From there they never looked back and defeated Vermont 5-1. Vermont played a strong game from start to finish and gave BC all the trouble that they could have asked for but it was not to be as Boston College used their speed to perfection.

Despite a good defensive effort by Vermont, Boston College was just too strong. HT Lenz scored late in the first period to give UVM hope at 2-1 going into the second period. It was there that Barry Almeida scored a goal midway through to make it 3-1. He scored his second of the night, one of the prettiest goals a hockey fan will ever see, midway through the third period to clinch the victory for BC, at 4-1. Steven Whitney added an empty net goal to make it 5-1, which would hold to the end of the game.

Boston College with the win moved one step closer to clinching the league regular season title but they will still need a win or a tie on Saturday night to do so. With Boston University’s win down the road at Agganis, Boston University still has a chance if Vermont were to take game two tomorrow night against the Eagles, as Boston University holds the tiebreaker. With the win Boston College stays in a tie for second place in the Pairwise rankings. These are ever changing so check out the Pairwise page for all the updates as games go final. (more…)

Hockey East Playoff Picture: The Final Night

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

With one night to go in the Hockey East regular season, we know the eight teams that will be in the playoffs. The league title, the last home ice spot, and seeding are still up for grabs, though. Here is a breakdown of where each team stands entering its final game of the season.

Boston College (37 points)
-hosts Vermont.
-had already clinched home ice for the quarterfinals before this weekend.
-clinched a share of the regular-season title with Friday’s 5-1 win over Vermont.
-can clinch the one seed with a win or tie, or a loss and a BU loss or tie.

Boston University (35 points)
-travels to Northeastern.
-had already clinched home ice before this weekend.
-can clinch one of the top two seeds with a win or tie, or a loss and a Lowell loss or tie.
-can clinch a share of the regular-season title and the one seed with a win and a BC loss. (more…)

CCHA First Round Predictions

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

For either Notre Dame or Ohio State, the 2011-12 season ends this weekend — an unimaginable thought a few months ago when, at one point, Ohio State was the No. 1 team in the country. And Notre Dame looked determined to return to the Frozen Four, where the Irish fell short just last April.
But none of that matters now, as the series between the Fighting Irish and Buckeyes highlights the first round of the CCHA playoffs, which begin tonight. Check in with the CHN blog for predictions and commentary about all the conference playoff action over the next several weeks, as we gear up for the NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, FL (April 5-7).

Ohio State at Notre Dame

Notre Dame didn’t score more than two goals in a game during the entire month of February — a span of eight games. But Ohio State has won just once in 2012 and seems unrecognizable from its late 2011 form, when Cal Heeter, Ryan Dzingel, and co. swept Michigan in late November and sat atop the CCHA standings. It’s tough to pick one of two severely slumping teams, but given Notre Dame’s flashes of brilliance this season (wins against Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, BU, BC, and more), I’d give the edge to Jeff Jackson’s group. Prediction: Notre Dame in 3. (more…)

Hockey East Playoff Picture: 3/2/12

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Before tonight’s games get underway, let’s take a look at what’s on the line for each Hockey East team. Please note that I am only looking at what can happen tonight. There will be another post tomorrow looking at what can happen on the final night of the regular season.

Boston College (35 points)
-hosts Vermont.
-has already clinched home ice for the quarterfinals.
-can clinch the regular-season title with a win and a BU loss or tie, or with a tie and a BU loss.
-can clinch a share of first with a win.
-can clinch one of the top two seeds with a tie.

Boston University (33 points)
-hosts Northeastern.
-has already clinched home ice.
-can clinch one of the top two seeds with a win and a Lowell loss or tie, or with a tie and a Lowell loss. (more…)

Talking Title: Minnesota and UMD are WCHA’s Last Men Standing

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

*NOTE: Eric Stromgren and I will be live blogging events from Minneapolis and St. Cloud all weekend long, with him at the National Hockey Center and I at Mariucci Arena. Two arenas, two writers, one blog — join us tomorrow and let’s talk some hockey. Click here to find the chat, which should get underway at 6:30 p.m. CST. There will also be a link on CHN’s main page.

** SECONDARY NOTE: I will be on AM 1500 ESPN Twin Cities for a segment tomorrow, talking Gopher hockey. If you’re not local and wish to listen anyway, you can listen online here. “This Week In Golden Gopher Athletics” starts at 8 a.m CST, and I will be on around 8:50. 

Heading into the season’s final weekend, only Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth have a shot at taking home the MacNaughton Cup. The Gophers lead the Bulldogs by two points, and also have the added edge of playing at home this weekend. UMD plays at St. Cloud. In order to take the MacNaughton outright, and the top-seed in the playoffs, the Bulldogs will need to net three points on Minnesota, as the Gophers’ sweep of Duluth back in October assured them of the tiebreaker.

Should both teams finished tied, both will get a chance to dance with the Cup as they will be considered co-champs.

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Atlantic Hockey Power Rankings

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

This is the last Power Rankings until the end of the playoffs. And if the playoffs are anything like the regular season in Atlantic Hockey, it should be a very fun and exciting couple of weeks.

1. Air Force – The Falcons clinched the regular season title and a first round bye this weekend. They face the winner of the Canisius/UConn matchup next weekend.

2. Niagara – The Purple Eagle’s second half surge culminated in the No. 2 seed in the AHA tournament and a first round bye. After a weekend off, they will face the winner of the AIC/Robert Morris series.

3. RIT – The Tigers took just one point from last weekend and settle for the three seed and a first round bye. They will face the winner of the Bentley/Sacred Heart series. (more…)

The Weekend Ahead Hockey East 3-1

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

We have finally, albeit regretfully, entered the final weekend of the regular season. After 23 weeks of Hockey East regular season contests and exhibitions, it comes down to one weekend to decide the conference regular season title, the final home ice position and the final playoff spot.

Boston College is seemingly in the driver’s seat to take home the regular season title, as they hold a two point lead on Boston University and host Vermont this weekend. Boston University will play a home and home against a desperate Northeastern team that is fighting for the last playoff spot tied with UMass. If Boston College were to fall against the Catamounts and Boston University sweeps Northeastern, the Terriers would hold the head to head tiebreaker thus giving them the regular season crown and the number one seed heading into the tournament. UMass-Lowell would need two losses by Boston College and one by Boston University to have any chance. They are currently four points out of first and would need a three way tie. (more…)