Archive for March, 2013

The Takeaway: Saracino lifts Providence past in UNH in Game 1

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

PROVIDENCE, R.I.  – Freshman Nick Saracino helped lift the Friars past the University of New Hampshire with two goals and an assist in PC’s 3-2 victory in Game 1 of their Hockey East quarterfinal series. A goal from fellow freshman, defenseman John Gilmour rounded out the PC scoring. New Hampshire’s goals came from Grayson Downing and Austin Block, who beat Jon Gillies backhand. The Wildcats had the momentum on their side early, and finished the game outshooting the Friars 37-25, but couldn’t overcome a surging PC third line coupled with Gillies in net.

UNH controlled the first period, with the 23-15 advantage on shots attempted, but the talent of Gillies in net counteracted any Wildcat chances and the teams were scoreless after the first twenty. It looked like UNH would take the 1-0 lead about halfway through the first period when a giveaway in UNH’s zone resulted with the puck on Grayson Downing’s stick. Downing rushed through the PC defense and shot inside the right circle, but the puck rang the inside of the post and bounced out. There was a steady back-and-forth pace to the game until the 12:30 mark of the first, when the Wildcats had some sustained pressure in the PC zone in peppered Gillies with shots, two of which came from Knodel. Shane Luke finally cleared it for the Friars  with some smart play behind the net to end the onslaught of shots.

The momentum shifted in the second as the Friars came out flying and Saracino scored the game’s first goal at 2:06 with an assist from linemate Shane Luke. Just under five minutes into the period, Dan Correale beat the PC defense and had a breakaway chance on Gillies, who came up with the save. Gillies came up big again when Block stole the puck from Myles Harvey, who was attempting D-to-D pass in the PC zone. While Gillies kept UNH scoreless, Gilmour gave the Friars a 2-0 cushion with assits from Saracino and Luke at 13:27. But the Wildcats weren’t far off, and Downing scored a power play goal to pull UNH within one 23 seconds later at 13:50.

The final period became a lot more intense when Block’s beauty of a backhand shot got past Gillies, and it was a tied game at 2-2 with 18 minutes to play. Saracino’s second of the night gave PC some breathing room and was the final goal of the night. (more…)

The Takeaway: Wisconsin Takes Game One With 3-1 Win Over Minnesota-Duluth

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

MADISON – The Wisconsin Badgers take the first game with a physical 3-1 victory over Minnesota Duluth.

UMD’s Dan DeLisle was able to add the first tally to the scoreboard, even though the Badgers controlled the first five minutes of play.  Wisconsin answered with two goals in the second period by Nic Kerdiles and John Ramage, followed by a full-ice, empty-net goal by Mark Zengerle to seal the deal for the Badgers in the 3-1 win. (more…)

The Takeaway: BU Takes Series Lead with 3-0 Win over Merrimack

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

BOSTON — Boston University goaltender Sean Maguire made 30 saves, and Matt Nieto scored a goal and added an assist to help the Terriers to a 3-0 win over Merrimack Friday night. The win gave BU a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. Game 2 is Saturday night at 7 p.m. from Agganis Arena.

After a scoreless first period, Wade Megan broke through at 6 minutes, 10 seconds of the second period. The senior redirected a shot from Ahti Oksanen over the blocker of Merrimack goaltender Sam Marotta. Nieto added his own 10 minutes later. A power-play goal from grinder Ryan Santana extended the lead to 3-0 55 seconds into the third period.

Marotta made 42 saves for the Warriors, but he didn’t receive much support from his teammates. The Warriors created little pressure in front of Maguire and failed to generated any second- and third-chance opportunities. In the second period, they recorded no shots from the grade-A on Maguire.

What I Saw

  • Merrimack was far too content to stay on the perimeter. Maguire did well to avoid allowing many of these chances. There were some there, however, and the Warriors avoided battling for them. Based solely on talent, Merrimack cannot compete with BU. The Warriors have to win this series by scoring ugly goals. They looked entirely disinterested in doing that Friday night.

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The Takeaway: Arnold’s OT Winner Sends Lowell to Garden

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

LOWELL, Mass. – Massachusetts-Lowell became the first team to punch its ticket to the TD Garden, winning 2-1 in overtime on Friday to sweep its quarterfinal series against Maine. Derek Arnold scored the winner 1:50 into the extra session on a play that required a long review. Scott Wilson set up Christian Folin on a 2-on-1, but Martin Ouellette made a great save. As the rebound fluttered through the air, Ouellette got taken out by a backchecking teammate. Michael Fallon knocked the puck down with his glove, and Arnold buried it into the empty net. The review was to see if Fallon made a hand pass to Arnold, but the goal was ultimately upheld.

Devin Shore gave Maine a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal 7:51 into the second. Ryan Lomberg won the faceoff back to him, and he walked across the blue line before snapping a shot through traffic and past Connor Hellebuyck. Michael Fallon tied the game four minutes into the third when he followed up a Scott Wilson wraparound attempt and jammed the puck past Ouellette. That goal came less than a minute after Lowell had failed to capitalize on a five-minute power play.

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The Takeaway: BC Holds On To Defeat UVM 4-2

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Chestnut Hill, Mass – Boston College began their quest to win a fourth consecutive Hockey East tournament title against seventh seeded Vermont. The Eagles jumped out to a lead at 14 minutes, 47 seconds as Brooks Dyroff took the puck into the zone, beat a defender and scored on the second shot. The 1-0 lead would hold through the intermission, as the Eagles and Catamounts played a defensive neutral zone game through 20 minutes. BC would score halfway through the second period, as Michael Matheson sent a bomb right into the back of the net to make it 2-0 for the Eagles.  The Eagles would add another from Cam Spiro to take a 3-0 lead into the second intermission.

Vermont made it interesting in the third period, as Ben Albertson received a puck all alone in front at 4:56 of the third period to make it a 3-1 game. The Catamounts would score again, shorthanded, as Matt White converted a BC turnover to bring UVM within a goal, with just 7:23 remaining in the game.But it was not to be, as Johnny Gaudreau would seal the game for the Eagles on an empty net goal. BC defeated Vermont 4-2 and the Eagles take a 1-0 series lead into tomorrow night’s tilt at Conte Forum. The win moves BC into fifth in the Pairwise rankings. (more…)

All-WCHA Teams & Other Awards

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Yesterday the WCHA unveiled their all-conference teams and individual honors, which are voted on by coaches, players, sports information directors and local media. I don’t have an actual vote when it comes to these things (there’s probably a good reason why), but that isn’t stopping me from naming my own all-WCHA teams and handing out other awards.

It’s always tough to decide on who to pick. This year was no exception; especially with forwards where 7 of the top 10 scorers in the nation are from the WCHA. There were enough deserving players where I could have made a fourth team yet still feel like someone was left off. The other positions are not as deep as forwards, however, there were still plenty of  tough choices.

So without further adieu… (more…)

The Takeaway: Three Third-Period Goals Power Lowell to Game 1 Win

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

LOWELL, Mass. – Massachusetts-Lowell beat Maine 4-2 on Thursday to take Game 1 of their Hockey East quarterfinal series. Scott Wilson broke a 1-1 tie 1:52 into the third when he followed up a Christian Folin drive to the net and buried his second goal of the game. Joseph Pendenza scored off an A.J. White rebound 21 seconds later, and Josh Holmstrom made it 4-1 four minutes after that when he tipped in a Chad Ruhwedel slapper.

Maine opened the scoring with a power-play goal at the 13:52 mark of the first. Jake Rutt walked in from the left point and fired a shot that hit the post before bouncing in off Connor Hellebuyck’s back. The River Hawks tied the game with a power-play goal of their own late in the second. Wilson held the puck in the right circle before beating Martin Ouellette through a screen. Devin Shore cut Lowell’s lead to 4-2 with 47.1 seconds left in the game, but it was too little too late.

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The Takeaway: Dartmouth Advances Defeating Harvard 6-3

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Hanover, NH – Harvard and Dartmouth took to the ice on Sunday evening, with their seasons hanging in the balance and that was easily noticeable given the play. The Green and the Crimson came out flying in the early going, as the speed was just a notch higher than the regular season. The teams would play a scoreless first 19 minutes, but that would change late in the first period as Luke Grenier came out from the back of the net untouched. He scored over Charles Grant’s glove to give the Crimson the 1-0 lead at 19 minutes, 28 seconds of the first period and that lead would hold into the first intermission. The Big Green exploded for three goals in the first 7:26 of the second period, as Brad Schierhorn, Tim O’Brien and Eric Robinson all tallied for Dartmouth. That three goal outburst sent the game into the second intermission with the Big Green leading 3-1.

The third brought much of the same for Dartmouth as Nick Bligh would add an early insurance marker, giving his Big Green a 4-1 lead 16:30 remaining in the game. The lead would be enough, as Dartmouth would hold on to defeat Harvard, 6-3,  in the third game of the ECAC first round series. The win advances Dartmouth to the Quarter-finals, where they will face Union College at Messa Rink in Schenectady, New York. It also keeps alive their chance at an NCAA berth, that is slim at best, sitting at 20th in the Pairwise rankings.

The loss ends the Crimson’s disappointing season at 10-19-3. It was a season that was filled with high hope coming in but was marred with with an academic scandal that saw four players removed from their roster. They were picked near the top of the ECAC in most preseason polls, so saying the season was a disappointment is an understatement. (more…)

The Takeaway: UMD Earns Weekend Sweep With 6-0 Win Over UNO

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

DULUTH – Minnesota-Duluth continues to surprise not only it’s fans, but the rest of college hockey with a large-margined, 6-0 victory and weekend sweep over #16 Nebraska-Omaha.  Ryan Massa started in net for the Mavericks, but John Faulkner finished the game off after the Bulldogs had scored four straight powerplay goals from Austin Farley, Cal Decowski, Joe Basaraba and Andy Welinski.

Faulkner took the net to begin the third period, but a powerplay goal from Joe Basaraba and an even-strength goal from Mike Seidel allowed the Bulldogs to finish with two goals in each period.  When the final horn sounded, the Bulldogs earned the weekend sweep while outscoring the Mavericks 11-4.

What I Saw

Nebraska Omaha was paralyzed with penalties all night long, giving the Bulldogs a man-advantage for a large amount of time.  When things were even, the Mavericks were able to display the talent they’ve normally been able to produce, but couldn’t find a hole in UMD Goalie Aaron Crandall.  The physical game one could expect from UNO was there, but the line between being penalized was crossed much too many times.

Minnesota-Duluth is on a tear.  The powerplay was performing very well tonight, going 5/8 while the penalty kill didn’t give up a goal during the three attempts UNO had.  The Bulldogs were able to breakout, connect passes, avoid neutral-zone turnovers, and sloppy play that plagued them for most of the season, allowing for the performance that we’ve seen.

What I Thought

Just when things seemed as though they were looking up for UNO, they would either take a penalty or turn the puck over.  The amount of times UNO would “shoot themselves in the foot” kept adding up, usually resulting in goals.  Blais would have liked his goaltenders to play a little differently, too, as they gave up six goals.  Had they not taken so many penalties and had some momentum growing from the goaltenders making great saves, the game would have been much closer and could have resulted in the Mavericks winning.

UMD is right where they want to be going into the playoffs.  Although they are heading on the road, either to Minnesota State, Wisconsin, or Denver (most-likely, anyway), the Bulldogs will take a large amount of momentum and confidence with them after two sweeps.  The powerplay and goaltending are performing at the best of its ability, which could end up giving UMD a bid into the WCHA Final Five.

What They Said

Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais said,”It didn’t seem to matter what we did, they found a way to take advantage of our mistakes so you’ve got to give Duluth credit.”

Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said,”Like last night, we took advantage on the powerplay.  Our guys played with a lot passion tonight; we played smart and aggressive.”

Minnesota-Duluth senior Mike Seidel said,”We really stressed coming out in the first period because we knew they were going to come out with fire.  We told ourselves that we were going to match their intensity and push forward and to gain momentum.”

What Else You Should Know

Aaron Crandall earned his second shutout in a row for UMD.  He stopped 32 shots and did a fine job at redirecting pucks away from potentially dangerous situations, as well as seeing shots through a good amount of traffic.

The Bulldog powerplay is now 11 for 23 in the last four games (48%) and penalty kill sits at 13 for 14 (93%).

Nebraska-Omaha has now lost four games in row resulting in the longest losing streak of the season.  They’re also 2-7-0 in their last nine games.

The Takeaway: UMass Tops Merrimack 3-0 To End Its Season On A High Note

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

AMHERST, Mass. – Just one night after being eliminated from Hockey East playoff contention, Massachusetts comes back with a strong showing, ending its season on a high note with a 3-0 win over Merrimack at the Mullins Center Saturday night.

Adam Phillips was the only multi-point scorer for the game with a goal and an assist, including the opening tally on a power play at the 5:08 mark. Conor Sheary and Colin Shea were the other two goal-scorers for UMass.

Steve Mastalerz got his fifth straight start for the Minutemen, and made 24 saves to finish the year with a 4-8-1 record with the shutout win.

Sam Marotta took the loss for the Warriors, making 30 saves on 33 shots faced.

What I Saw

  • Neither team had all too much to play for, UMass in particular, but it was the Minutemen that came out playing hard and were ultimately the better team on Saturday. UMass got plenty of pressure on Marotta in the first period, and capitalized 5 minutes, 8 seconds in when Rocco Carzo hit Adam Phillips with a nice backhand feed and Phillips buried it into an open net. The Minutemen doubled their advantage at 17:42 on Conor Sheary’s second goal in as many games. Branden Gracel’s initial shot from the left circle was saved by Marotta, but Sheary gathered the rebound and easily tapped the puck in. 
  • Merrimack showed a deficiency in its power play this weekend, and it was especially apparent on Saturday. The Warriors had a golden chance down 1-0, 5:22 into the first period when Mike Busillo was sent off for a five-minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head. They were ineffective with the man-advantage for the first four minutes, but then an Oleg Yevenko cross-checking penalty gave them 55 seconds of 5-on-3. However, they could only get one quality chance in the sequence that went wide. Overall Merrimack went 0-for-6 on the man-advantage and did relatively little with it.
  • For what it’s worth, UMass showed some positive signs going into next season with its effort on Saturday night. But I think it’s pretty clear that the Minutemen will once again depend on its first line forwards of Gracel, Sheary and Pereira. They were aided by some strong efforts by Phillips and Shea, but besides that the lack of balance will continue to hold this team back unless someone steps up from the current roster or the incoming recruiting class. One question UMass may have answered heading into next season is who the No. 1 guy in goal will be. Mastalerz has been playing the best hockey of his short career lately, while Kevin Boyle faltered in the last couple months.
  • Merrimack appeared to be playing some uninspired hockey for a good portion of this game, which is not the type of rhythm a team wants to have heading into the postseason. The Warriors took too many penalties and spent 14 minutes a man down. The defense afforded UMass some prime scoring chances as well. While Saturday’s result may have no bearing on their standing in Hockey East, it’s something worth mentioning if they come out flat next weekend. The offense did have an improved energy-level for much of the night, especially compared to their effort the previous night. The Warriors were aggressive and tried to push the pace, but it didn’t come from all four lines and it resulted in little ability to convert.

What I Thought

  • The story of UMass’ season can be told through two particular sequences in the second period. Sheary led a 2-on-0 opportunity in front of the net after forcing an offensive zone turnover but couldn’t complete the short pass to Shane Walsh to set up a scoring opportunity. Then later in the frame, Marotta came out of his  crease to play the puck, but it was deflected and possessed by Sheary, who tried to feed a streaking Walsh in front of a wide open net. But they failed to connect and the Minutemen came up empty. Their season was one full of missed opportunities, and plays such as those define the kind of seasons that leave a team ninth in Hockey East.
  • Marotta’s night could be described in two different ways based on your idea of a good night. But the Merrimack goalie could’ve definitely been better despite the lack of goal support. He made that poor decision trying to play the puck with Sheary coming in hard, and had trouble securing pucks. He looked bad on UMass’ third goal when Colin Shea’s shot deflected off the stick of a Warriors defenseman. Marotta could only get a piece of the puck trying to make the glove save and it went out and into the net. While Merrimack’s inability to score is its most glaring issue heading into the playoffs, it will need much sharper outings from Marotta to be successful. 

What They Said

“I thought we played pretty well to be honest with you, we just couldn’t score…I liked how we played (Saturday), I thought we played much better than we did (Friday) for sure.” -Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy.

“We’ve had nights where we’ve done everything the right way and haven’t been rewarded. It’s been heartbreaking because they haven’t been rewarded like they should so to be able to regroup and come out with the execution that we had was really heartwarming.” -UMass coach John Micheletto.

What Else You Should Know

Gracel left the game in the second period with an apparent wrist injury after taking a hard hit into the boards. With the season being over, it’s nothing that should have any bearing on next year despite being in obvious pain after the hit.

UMass finishes ninth in the Hockey East standings and fails to qualify for the Hockey East tournament for the first time since 2002 when former coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon was in his second season as head man.

With the loss, Merrimack finishes its season sixth in the Hockey East standings with 29 points, and will travel to Agganis Arena to take on Boston University in the Hockey East Quarterfinals next weekend. The best-of-three series starts Friday night.