Archive for February, 2013

The Takeaway: UMass Rebounds To Reclaim Playoff Spot Over Maine

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Amherst, Mass. – With the eighth and final Hockey East playoff spot on the line, Massachusetts used a three-goal third period to top Maine 5-2.

Joel Hanley led the Minutemen with three assists, two of which came in the third period on goals by Zack LaRue and Conor Sheary. Kevin Czepiel finished it with an empty-netter with 44 seconds remaining in the game.

Down 2-0 after the first period, the Black Bears scored twice in less than two minutes to even things up. First Jake Rutt put home a power play goal on a wrist shot 5 minutes, 36 seconds into the second period. Then Bill Norman put home the equalizer at 7:16.

Steve Mastalerz got the win in goal for UMass, making 23 saves. Martin Ouellette started for Maine coming off a big night on Friday, but wasn’t the same player between the pipes, making 22 saves in a losing effort.

What I Saw

  • This was not the same Martin Ouellette that was in goal for Maine the night before. The junior netminder single-handedly beat the Minutemen with his 30-save shutout performance that included a pair of stops on breakaway chances and one of the saves of the year on Friday. However, Ouellette found himself in trouble early when Adam Phillips buried home a rebound off a Rocco Carzo shot 5 minutes, 51 seconds into the first period. Branden Gracel added to that less than two minutes later when he scored on a scorching snapper from the left wing that beat Ouellette glove-side high. After settling down and making some more key saves to keep the game tied after the second period, Ouellette struggled again in the third. First one a goal by Zack LaRue after failing to cover Gracel’s initial shot, Then another on a one-timer from Hanley to Sheary. Ouellette was clearly not playing with the same confidence out there that he had on Friday, much of that can be credited to the fact that the Minutemen got to him early.  (more…)

The Takeaway: Minnesota wins 5-3 despite 2 goals from UMD’s Austin Farley

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS- The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs began the third period in great shape Friday night at Mariucci Arena. They were ahead in the shot department and scored 3 goals in the second period – including Austin Farley’s second of the game with 44 seconds left in the period – to tie the game at 3.

But as has been the norm lately for UMD, it wasn’t enough over the final 20 minutes.

Gopher sophomore Kyle Rau scored the game-winning goal with 6:35 remaining as Minnesota (21-6-4, 13-6-4 WCHA) defeated the Bulldogs 5-3 in the first of a two-game series. The loss left Minnesota-Duluth (10-7-4, 8-13-4 WCHA) winless in their last 8 games and looking to once again right the ship.

Nate Condon began the scoring for Minnesota 4:05 into the game when his shot trickled past Bulldogs goalie Matt McNeely and crossed the line on a second effort. That was followed by a shorthanded goal by Erik Haula 7:50 into the second before Justin Crandall evened things out 27 seconds later on the same power play. The two teams once again traded quick goals 5 minutes later as Farley tied the game at 2 and Sam Warning responded to give the Gophers back the lead before the UMD freshman’s second of the game near the end of the period.

Giving up a goal in the last minute of a period can be a rallying cry for the team who scores but Minnesota never allowed that. Instead, they out-shot Minnesota-Duluth 16-4 over the final 20 minutes and made McNeely, who made 29 saves, work. Their persistence was eventually rewarded with Rau’s 14th goal of the season and first in 8 games. Haula then added his second goal of the game on an empty-netter with 5.4 seconds remaining to seal the deal.

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The Takeaway: Lowell Shuts Out BU

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

BOSTON – Connor Hellebuyck earned his third shutout and improved to 9-0-0 in his last nine starts, as he stopped all 25 shots he faced in Massachusetts-Lowell’s 3-0 win over Boston University on Friday. Lowell and BU are now tied for fifth in Hockey East with 24 points apiece, putting them three points out of first. As of 10:45 p.m., the River Hawks were 13th in the Pairwise, while the Terriers had dropped to 18th.

Scott Wilson gave Lowell a 1-0 lead 5:35 into the second when he pulled up in the right circle and fired a slap shot into the top corner. Joseph Pendenza upped the lead to 2-0 two minutes later when he took a shot that pinballed off two BU defenders and past Matt O’Connor (24 saves). Riley Wetmore closed out the scoring with a power-play goal late in the third. With the loss, the Terriers dropped to 0-4-1 in their last five home games, marking their first five-game home winless streak since they started playing on campus in 1971.

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The Takeaway: Maine Defeats UMass, 2-0, Moves to Eighth Place in HEA

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

AMHERST, Mass. — In a series that will contribute significantly to the determination of the final Hockey East playoff spot, Maine defeated Massachusetts, 2-0, at the Mullins Center Friday night. Junior goaltender Martin Ouellette offered an excellent performance in net for the Black Bears, including saves on multiple above-average UMass scoring chances throughout the game. This was the goalie’s second career shut-out, the result of 30 saves.

The teams will skate again on the same ice tomorrow night. With the victory, Maine moves into eighth place while the Minutemen fall to ninth. Meanwhile, Northeastern lost to Providence, 6-2, staying in the tenth position.

What I Saw

Ouellette made one of the season’s best saves near the beginning of the second period, robbing K.J. Tiefenwerth from very close range. The save maintained a scoreless game. For the next few minutes, the teams traded quality scoring chances through rapid end-to-end action. Several pucks sailed through each crease, as the pair of goaltenders supported their struggling defensemen.

More significantly, the save preserved the complexion of the game in Maine’s favor. The Black Bears finally started the scoring near the end of the second frame as the team took advantage of a power play opportunity. Freshman defenseman Ben Hutton launched a shot past a screened Boyle. Four minutes later, Maine doubled its lead as senior Mark Anthoine sent a perfectly-placed snap shot into the top-right corner above goalie Kevin Boyle’s glove side. The goal prompted UMass coach John Micheletto to replace Boyle with Steve Mastalerz.

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Atlantic Hockey Power Rankings 2/21/13

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Last week saw only three teams sweep (Air Force, American International, RIT) and the standings just continue to get tighter and tighter. Just seven points separate second place from 9th place, including a three-way tie for fourth. So far, only Niagara has locked up their playoff spot and with just two weeks left in the regular season, every point is huge.

1. Niagara – The Purple Eagles have locked up the regular season title and might be taking it easy a little bit. They suffered their second league loss of the month last week. It’s the second straight week that the Purple Eagle have lost a game. By the time the playoffs start, the Purple Eagles should be fine. (more…)

Taking a Look at the Hockey East Awards Races

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

As we race toward the end of the season, there’s been lots of discussion about playoff spots and the ever-volatile Pairwise, and rightfully so. But we’re also starting to hear some talk about end-of-season awards. In fact, we here at CHN just published our first Hobey Watch earlier this week.

All this got me thinking about some of the Hockey East awards. There are always great debates over these, and I’m sure those debates will only get more heated as we get closer to awards night. So I figured I’d take a look at how some of these races are shaping up.

Keep in mind that every team still has six or seven games left, and that those games could not only impact some of these races, but possibly decide them. Also keep in mind that the Hockey East awards are based solely on conference play. Out-of-conference games aren’t taken into account, or at least they’re not supposed to be.

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ECAC Power Rankings 2/20/13

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

The news of the weekend had to be St. Lawrence ending Quinnipiac’s 21 game unbeaten streak. The Saints and Rensselaer are now the two hottest teams in the ECAC, as St.Lawrence is 7-2-2 in their last 11 games and RPI is on a six game winning streak. Quinnipiac got back in the win column on Saturday, as they defeated Clarkson 2-1.

Positions two through six in the standings are separated by just 2 points and Rensselaer with their four point weekend leapfrogged a few teams to jump into second place all their own. Clarkson and Princeton also have a chance at a bye as they sit four points behind second place and three points behind Union and St. Lawrence for an ever important top four position.  Top four teams get a first round bye in the ECAC tournament, while positions five through eight get home ice in the first round. Check out the standings to see where your favorite team sits in a close race for the byes and home ice.

If the tournament were to start today, Quinnipiac would be the top ranked team in the NCAA tournament, per the Pairwise rankings. The ECAC would also have Yale (12) in the tournament and that would be it. Union sits in 16th but Merrimack leads Hockey East so they would be the presumed winner of the auto-bid, as they sit outside the top 16. Rensselaer and Dartmouth also sit on the bubble, but on the outside looking in. (more…)

The Takeaway: Northeastern Rallies To Beat UMass in OT

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Amherst, Mass. – Josh Manson scored his first goal of the season 4 minutes, 4 seconds into overtime to complete a 5-4 comeback win for Northeastern over Massachusetts Tuesday night at the Mullins Center.

Robbie Vrolyk scored the game-tying goal 13:07 into the third, his second tally of the night, while his linemates Adam Reid and Cody Ferriero each had a goal of their own.

Michael Pereira led the Minutemen with two goals and an assist to push his point total to 25 for the year (12 goals, 13 assists).

Chris Rawlings got the start in goal for Northeastern, but was pulled after the second period after allowing four goals on 32 shots faced. Bryan Mountain took over for the third period and overtime and shut out UMass.

Steve Mastalerz made 40 saves for the Minutemen in a losing effort.

What I Saw

  • Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said after the game that his decision to bring Mountain in was because he believed that Mountain was a more aggressive goalie than Rawlings, and it would be more fitting going up against UMass’ fast-paced, aggressive style of play. That move paid dividends for Madigan and the Huskies as Mountain gave the Minutemen no room to operate in the offensive zone. This style of play instilled life into the entire Northeastern squad. Mountain may not provide as big a target as Rawlings, but he was aggressive in his crease as UMass continued to drive the net and wasn’t afraid to play out against that attack.   (more…)

Three Things I Think: Hockey East – Postseason Musings Edition – Feb. 19

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Most energy this time of year is exerted on analyzing potential postseason matchups and the eventual NCAA tournament field. The national scene is always interesting to keep an eye on. Still, Hockey East typically raises a few questions on its own.

Merrimack’s surge in the second half has made the current league standings perhaps as strange as they’ve ever been this late in the season. It’s odd, for example, that Merrimack is still on the bubble for an at-large bid. Rarely has a team finished in the top few Hockey East spots and not been a lock essentially for the NCAA tournament. At this point, it looks like Merrimack will more than likely move itself safety should it play well enough in these final three weekends to win the Hockey East regular season title. The Warriors next four games come against Boston College, Boston University and Massachusetts-Lowell twice. All four of these are major opportunities to improve their league standing as well as their Pairwise resume.

The final two games of the season are against Massachusetts. Should the Minutemen get some momentum and gain TUC status by season’s end, a couple wins over UMass would make help Merrimack even further.

Regardless, the Warriors’ 8-3-3 run in the second half has made the playoff race in Hockey East entertaining we’ve seen in years.

(After the jump: BC’s MVP, Merrimack dynamic duo and the key to Vermont’s success.) (more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: 2/19/13

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

With St. Cloud off over the weekend, the race for the MacNaughton Cup got a little tighter. The top seven teams are all within six points of each other now. Things got a bit tighter in my power rankings as well, although not a whole lot changes in terms of positions.

1. Minnesota (20-6-4, 12-6-4 WCHA) — Last week: 1
Minnesota split a pair of 3-2 games with Wisconsin, but neither of my next two teams played over the weekend, so the Gophers’ hold on the top spot is still pretty strong. They’re actually tied for fourth in the league, three points out of first, but they’re still second in the Pairwise. Erik Haula, Nick Bjugstad and Seth Ambroz each had two points in the series. The Gophers lost Sunday’s game at Soldier Field despite outshooting the Badgers 38-19.

2. St. Cloud State (18-11-1, 15-6-1 WCHA) — Last week: 2
The Huskies had the weekend off, so they stay at two. They have a one-point lead over second-place UNO, and they also have two games in hand. St. Cloud is currently ninth in the Pairwise.

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