Archive for January, 2013

Atlantic Hockey Power Rankings

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The season is starting to wind down but things are as close as ever in Atlantic Hockey. Just six points separate second place from tenth place. One bad weekend and you could go from a first round bye to playing on the road in the first round of the playoffs. Every point is crucial at this point.

1. Niagara – It’s hard to pick against the Purple Eagles these days. Their only blemishes in Atlantic Hockey play were a loss at Holy Cross and a tie at RIT. They haven’t lost an Atlantic Hockey game at home this season.

2. Air Force – The Falcons have found their grove since the calendars turned to 2013, going 5-1-1. They currently ride a four game winning streak and a six game unbeaten streak. This stretch has vaulted the Falcons all the way up to second place.

3. Holy Cross – The Crusaders look like they’ve lost their way. They went 3-5 in January and scored more than two goals just once on those eight games. But they’re still in third place but have lots of company around them vying for the first round bye. (more…)

ECAC Power Rankings 1/30/13

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

While Quinnipiac was idle, the gap between them and the rest of the league in many experts minds only grew. On Saturday night, second place Yale lost to a very talented Colgate team 4-1 at home. This weekend will bring the much anticipated in-state battle of Yale and Quinnipiac, the matchup most ECAC fans have been waiting for.It should be one of the top games in the country as it will pit the first (Quinnipiac) and the fifth rated (Yale) pairwise teams in the country. Regardless of the result, the atmosphere will be a playoff type environment that is very important for both squads going forward.

Quinnipiac remains six points ahead of the Bulldogs in the standings, despite not playing a conference game in the last 18 days. Behind the Bobcats is a mess of worldly proportions as 10 teams are within eight points of eachother. The pairwise rankings don’t look good for the ECAC as Quinnipiac and Yale are the only two teams that are comfortably in, and Dartmouth sits in position 15 on the bubble. But if there is a silver lining to them, Union and Colgate are just on the outside looking in, in positions 18 and 19. Getting one or both of those teams in and keeping Dartmouth on the inside would be the best case scenario for the conference. This weekend, as every weekend is down the stretch, will have a huge impact on the Pairwise.

1. Quinnipiac (18-3-3, 11-0-1) – Last Week 1

Is there any doubt these days? The Q has not lost a game since Election Day, November 6 2012, a span of 17 games without a defeat. Once again Quinnipiac was idle last weekend, as they have played just once in the past three weeks. Are they the top team in the country? This will be the test that may prove it. (more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: 1/29/13

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Looking at the Pairwise, it’s hard to figure out if this is a strong year for the WCHA or a down year. They have seven teams in the top 23 in the Pairwise, but just one in the top eight. Their 44-31-5 inter-conference record is the best in the country, but their 28-31-3 record against the other “Big Four” conferences is the worst among that group.

Looking ahead, we have a great race for the MacNaughton Cup, with St. Cloud State, Minnesota and Nebraska-Omaha gaining a little bit of separation from the rest of the pack. We also have a bunch of teams on the Pairwise bubble. Denver is 13th, Minnesota State 16th, UNO 21st and Wisconsin 23rd.

1. Minnesota (18-4-4, 10-4-4 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers stay in first after splitting with Minnesota State. They had their 10-game unbeaten streak snapped in Friday’s 2-1 loss, but they bounced back to win 4-1 the next night. Adam Wilcox stopped 57 of 60 shots on the weekend, while Nate Schmidt scored a pair of goals. Erik Haula and Zach Budish each had a goal and an assist on Saturday. The Gophers lead the WCHA in offense, defense, power play and penalty kill.

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Three Things I Think: Hockey East, Jan. 28

Monday, January 28th, 2013

The Hockey East playoff picture became increasingly muddled over the weekend. With Maine heading to Conte Forum, most, including myself, expected at least one team, Maine, to end the weekend more or less eliminated from playoff content. The Black Bears unexpected sweep of BC changed all of that.

Last week, I wrote a piece discussing the term “upset” and it’s validity for regular-season games in Hockey East. Now, it was certainly strange to see Maine take two wins from BC, and this result satisfies every criteria for an “upset.” But the real point is that a 27-game schedule is going to produce some unlikely results that, while interesting, don’t change too much. Personally, I like to save the term and the general idea of meaningful wins from lesser teams for the postseason. Any championship team is going to lose games. No team has ever made it through a Hockey East schedule undefeated, and I’d have no problem suggesting it will never happen; especially given the general improvement of the bottom half of the league in the last decade.

Maine’s wins were important for the club in its battle for a playoff spot. They weren’t, however, as damaging for BC as they were important for Maine. The Eagles are still in first place in the league. Even if they lose out on the top spot by the end of the regular season, there’s little difference between being a first seed and a fourth seed once the quarterfinals end. Last weekend’s losses to Maine hurt BC most in the Eagles’ race for a favorable seed in the NCAA tournament, but they still have time to fix that as well.

BC has a litany of problems to correct in these next few weeks. History suggests they’ll figure out in time to amaze us all in the postseason. Maine, however, needed some wins to save its season. The Black Bears got them, and the next few weeks will be even better because of it.

Review whatever coaches want reviewed

Saturday night, Boston University and Providence played to a 3-3 tie at Agganis Arena. The draw gave BU three of four points from its weekend series with the Friars and five out of six total from the clubs’ three games this season. The third goal BU scored in the game was initially waved off due to a player in the crease. Now, officials reviewed the play and awarded BU a goal because the player was held in the crease by a Providence player. It was the right call, and PC coach Nate Leaman agreed with the decision after the game. However, Leaman was rightfully upset about a play in the first period. (more…)

Hockey East Power Rankings, and Some Thoughts on BC

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Well, there’s really only one place to start this week. In what has to be the most surprising result of the season, BC got swept by Maine at Conte Forum. The Eagles are now just 1-4-0 in their last five and 2-5-1 in their last eight. Some people have been quick to point out that the Eagles always have a tough stretch at some point in the season before turning it on down the stretch and steamrolling everyone in their path. In fact, just last year the Eagles were swept by Maine right around this same time. Then they didn’t lose another game the rest of the season.

It wouldn’t totally surprise me if the Eagles right the ship, go on one of their patented runs, and win a couple trophies. Considering they still have Jerry York at the helm, it would be foolish to rule that out. But I think they have a lot more question marks this year than they did last year or in any of their other national title seasons. Their top five forwards are as good as anyone’s, but the other seven can’t be counted on for any sort of consistent scoring. Most of BC’s national title teams have had three reliable scoring lines. This team has two, or more accurately, one and two-thirds.

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Atlantic Hockey Wrap

Monday, January 28th, 2013

With just a little over a month left of the regular season, the Atlantic Hockey standings are as tight as ever. Only six points separate second place and tenth place, which means every weekend there’s a chance for teams to make drastic jumps in the standings. Niagara still leads the pack, nine points clear of second place, and barring any sudden slump, look set to claim their first Atlantic Hockey regular season title. The Purple Eagles have lost just one Atlantic Hockey game all season and are the only team with double digit Atlantic Hockey wins, right now. (more…)

The Takeaway: St. Lawrence Takes Down Harvard 4-3 In Overtime

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

BOSTON— The Harvard Crimson, now losers of six straight, cannot catch a break. In a 3-3 tie they couldn’t convert on a two-minute, five-on-three man advantage with 2:48 remaining in regulation, and then lost in overtime on a George Hughes blast from the point as St. Lawrence (11-10-3 overall, 4-5-3 ECAC) defeated Harvard (5-13-1 overall, 3-11-0, ECAC) 4-3 in overtime Saturday night.

St. Lawrence was led by forward Jeremy Wick, who tallied a goal and an assist while being all over the ice all game long, logging a game-high 10 shots. Harvard got a good effort from freshman forward Jimmy Vesey who scored two goals — one late in the first and the other early in the second to tie the game at two at the time. Both goaltenders were impressive, especially Harvard’s Raphael Girard who finished with 39 saves, while St. Lawrence’s Matt Weninger had 27.

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The Takeaway: BU, Providence Tie in a Wild One at Agganis

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

BOSTON — The puck came to Matt Nieto with a shade fewer than 3 seconds left in overtime. The gifted winger quickly fired on Providence goaltender Jon Gillies as the final moments of overtime disappeared. The puck did the same, sailing into Gillies’ pads just as the buzzer sound. Boston University 3, Providence 3. After the game, Nieto expressed frustration with his inability to steal an extra point for his team. In the end, BU coach Jack Parker was pleased with the result. PC skipper Nate Leaman, similarly, seemed happy with the point.

The Terriers found themselves down, 3-2, early in the third period. Shane Luke scored 39 seconds into the final regulation period to give PC the lead. Danny O’Regan tied the game at 13:21 of the third period on a controversial goal that officials initially waived off. BU winger Ryan Santana was in the crease, however, a replay determined a Providence defender prevented Santana from exiting the crease when the puck first left. O’Regan picked up the puck to Gillies’ left and wrapped it around the net and into the goal. Santana and the PC defender prevented Gillies from making the save, which initially warranted the call on the ice.

O’Regan finished the night with a goal and an assist on Nieto’s second period goal. (more…)

The Takeaway: Lowell Wins OT Thriller in Front of Record Crowd

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

LOWELL, Mass. – For the second night in a row, Massachusetts-Lowell staged a third-period comeback to extend its unbeaten streak to 11 games. The River Hawks erased a 4-1 Northeastern lead and tied the game with 55.3 seconds remaining. Then with 1:53 left in overtime, Christian Folin blasted a one-timer into the top corner to send the largest crowd in Tsongas Center history into a frenzy.

Joseph Pendenza cut the lead to 4-2 with 11:07 left in the game when he raced down the left wing and beat Bryan Mountain (33 saves) glove-side. Five minutes later, Derek Arnold made it 4-3 with a power-play goal that came less than a minute after he had a goal waved off. The score remained that way until the final minute. With the extra attacker on, Riley Wetmore pulled the puck out of a scramble in front and fired it past Mountain.

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The Takeaway: Union defeats rival RPI, 3-2, wins first annual Mayor’s Cup

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

ALBANY, N.Y. — Extending their dominance of the Union-RPI rivalry to eight consecutive wins, the Dutchmen defeated the Engineers, 3-2, at the Times Union Center Saturday night in front of 5,959 fans. Matt Wilkins scored a power-play goal on an odd-man rush with 36 seconds remaining in the game. Freshman goaltender Jason Kasdorf offered a strong performance in net with 34 saves for RPI, but it was not enough to stymie the Dutchman power play which converted twice.

Given the non-conference nature of the game, Union earned the rights to the first annual Mayors’ Cup instead of the customary two ECAC points. The event was an opportunity for the fan bases of both schools to see their favorite teams compete in the region’s top venue.

What I Saw                                                                                         

For the third time in the game to begin the final frame, one of the Capital Region rivals scored within the first four minutes of the period. Senior defenseman Greg Colburn shot the puck from the point straight into the back of the net. Kasdorf seemed to have a clear view of the puck, but could not reach the powerful slap shot while sliding to his left. But the Engineers eventually answered — this time near the end of the period. C.J. Lee put the puck on net during an odd-man rush, which Union goalie Troy Grosenick saved with his right pad. But the forceful rebound lay in perfect position for Mark McGowan to level the score. To break the 2-2 tie, Wilkins scored after receiving a perfect pass on an odd-man rush opportunity from Josh Jooris, who was skating quickly along the right side-boards.

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