Archive for October, 2013

ECAC Power Rankings: Week 3

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Over the weekend, the Power Rankings seemed to take hold, as all ECAC teams were in action. The Ivies finally began their seasons over the weekend, with Cornell and Brown looking the most impressive. From Brown’s impressive weekend at the Liberty Invitational to Clarkson’s continued success to the rest of the happenings within the conference, teams made statements from top to bottom.

Last night Harvard and Rensselaer kicked off the conference schedule with a tie. The tie seemed fitting based on how it looks like the conference will play out this year; a battle.It has been an interesting first month for ECAC teams but the month has been a downright success for the teams. Only Dartmouth, Union and Colgate will leave October with sub-500 records, with Dartmouth’s only losses at the Liberty Invitational over the weekend. Those teams will make up the bottom three positions, only because wins matter in Power Rankings. Without further ado I suppose here is my weekly take on how the teams stack up. (more…)

Three Things I Think: Big Ten Week 3

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

This past week for the Big Ten felt right. After week 1 having the positive vibes that comes with being welcomed back to school and week 2 bringing out the negative “oh crap I’m back in school” feeling, week 3 was just college hockey. There were highs. There were lows. In Michigan’s case, underclassmen scored all three goals – including a penalty shot by Alex Guptill against BU – in a weekend split against the Terriers and UMass-Lowell.

No one played incredible for all 120 minutes while no one was outclassed all weekend, either. It was regular season hockey complete with all the highs and lows.

(After the jump: Ohio State takes steps, Penn State learns a lesson, non-conference shootouts and a bonus thought about Friday’s Minnesota-Boston College game) (more…)

Three Things I Think: NCHC Week 3

Monday, October 28th, 2013

It was a rough weekend in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.  Overall, NCHC teams went 4-7-1, with only a single sweep on the weekend.  Colorado College was swept in Clarkson, Cornell swept Nebraska Omaha at home, Denver beat Niagara and fell to Canisius, Minnesota Duluth split with Notre Dame, but hey – St. Cloud State swept Colgate, so we’re not complete losers!

UNO has a legitimate goaltending problem.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone by now, but this weekend not only highlighted the issue, but circled, bolded, and enhanced it.  On Friday night, Dean Blais gave freshman Kirk Thompson the nod to head between the pipes against Cornell, and it didn’t go so well.   Saturday night, junior Ryan Massa took to the net, which resulted in a similar, traumatic experience.  Thompson gave up 5 goals on 20 shots, while Massa let 4 goals slide by on 13 shots.  Combined, both goaltenders saw a total of 33 shots, giving up 9 goals.  This is a problem.

It’s hard to win hockey games when your forwards are more concerned about reducing opponent shots, rather than scoring goals.  Hell, I’d probably have a winger linger around the blue line, ready incase of a fast-break.  It’s a frustrating situation, especially when the Mavericks ARE getting shots on net.  They led the series in shots, 71-33!

(more…)

Three Things I Think Hockey East: Week 3

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Boston College may want to avoid anymore trips to Minnesota for a while. The Eagles have been embarrassed in two of their last three games at Mariucci. There’s no real shame in losing to the Gophers, and BC will, of course, be just fine moving forward. Some clear issues are there, just as there were a year ago. “Just fine” for BC means, the Eagles will still compete for championships, but it’s pretty clear they aren’t the type of favorite they’ve been recently.

Talent is everywhere on the Eagles’ roster. Aside from the clear best player in the country in Johnny Gaudreau, BC’s top six, defensive unit and goaltending corps each has as much talent as any. It hasn’t come together just yet, and the Eagles missed two huge chances to boost their Pairwise standing with losses at Michigan and to the Gophers.

BU should probably control the puck at some point

There are times when massive shot differences are a product of the score. There are times when massive shot differences are a product of gulfs in talent. Other times, well, it’s not quite clear what the reason is. For Boston University, it’s that third one. A 3-2-0 start isn’t the worst reality for the Terriers at this point, but there have been some troubling trends. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC Week 3

Monday, October 28th, 2013

What a weekend for ECAC teams last weekend and in all honesty we have come to expect it. This weekend will see the first week of conference games, as all 12 teams will begin its run at an ECAC regular season crown. We will also see the final banner night of the season, the most important one, as Yale will begin its home slate with a game against St. Lawrence. All in all we will see just how deep the ECAC conference is; it should prove to be a great weekend of games around the conference.

With a another great weekend of non-conference play a few more trends have taken hold within the conference. From the success I keep talking about to Brown’s success at the Liberty Invitational there are many things happening here are the three I deem most important this weekend:

ECAC is the early season king of conferences

Yes, I am a bit biased but the early season has been a downright success for ECAC teams in non-conference action and its success should be no surprise. On Saturday night, ECAC teams went 6-1-0 in non-conference action taking the world by storm. Within those six wins were three wins over arguably the top two conferences in the country Hockey East and the NCHC; the ones that often call the ECAC four different letters (which won’t be mentioned). We all cringe when we hear it but we should all just quietly laugh the next time we hear it said, as what matters is what happens on the ice and the teams have done nothing but impress. (more…)

The Takeaway: Minnesota Duluth Upsets Notre Dame

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

DULUTH - Notre Dame came into the weekend as #2 in the nation, and while they took the first game of the series 3-2 Friday night, the Bulldogs showed everyone they can play with the best of them in Saturday’s match up.

Minnesota Duluth started strong off the hop, outshooting the Irish 14-3 in the first period, a period that included three goals in less than four minutes for UMD. Kyle Osterberg added a fourth goal in the second period to give his team a decisive 4-0 lead through much of the third period. Notre Dame’s Austin Wuthrich scored a power play goal, ending UMD goaltender Aaron Crandall’s chance at a shut out.

What I Saw

UMD faced a freshman netminder in Notre Dame’s Chad Katunar, who saw his first NCAA action the previous night after senior starter Steven Summerhays’s ejection from the game. Peppering the rookie goalie was key to UMD’s victory, with multiple goals coming off of rebounds and redirections.

Notre Dame needed be more disciplined tonight, not only as far as penalties go, but also with regards to their mental game. UMD’s quick three goal lead shut Notre Dame down until late in the third period, allowing the Bulldogs to keep momentum through the majority of the match up.

Notre Dame’s slow start and the Minnesota Duluth’s much improved game were key in the result of this second match up between the teams. While the ND added a late tally on the power play, that last ditch effort was not enough to make a difference.

What I Thought

The key to the UMD’s win was playing more like the team they were in Friday’s third period than the one who started that bout. The momentum from that first game carried over into Saturday as evidenced by the quick start and dominance throughout the game.

Starting rookie Katunar in net was a poor decision on the part of Notre Dame. While two of the goals were second (or fifth) shot rebounds, the play of Summerhays as he took over in the third period was much more composed than that of his freshman counterpart. While the play of Notre Dame in general was weak, Katunar allowing three goals so quickly also points to a lack of resiliency and mental toughness.

The Bulldogs have now proved that they can play with the best of the best.  With Aaron Crandall starting his third game of the season and back up Matt McNeely having played strong in his starts as well, the UMD goalie tandem is a major strength. The penalty kill has been a key for UMD’s recent successes and while the power play needs work, there is plenty for the Bulldogs to build off and have proven they are one of the elite teams in the NCAA.

What They Said

Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said,

“It was a good challenging weekend for us, and that’s what we expected. We knew it was going to be a tough series.”

“Tonight we didn’t have a good start, and that was the difference in the game.”

Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said,

“We talk about playing the game the right way. Tonight and this weekend against a really good team we saw more of that. We all want to win, no one wants to lose. But the most important thing is playing the game the right way to give yourself a chance. We did that tonight.”

What Else You Should Know

UMD has only allowed 3 goals on 40 penalty kills (92.5%) so far this season. Even without the services of PK specialist Justin Crandall, who sat out with an injury, UMD was still able to kill off 6 of 7 Fighting Irish attempts.

Notre Dame’s undefeated start came to end, but the five wins will stand as the best start under coach Jeff Jackson.

Minnesota Duluth’s scoring outburst included first goals on the season for Caleb Herbert and Dominic Toninato.

Notre Dame’s seven powerplay attempts tonight push their season total to 53 in just six games.

 

- By  Nicole Brodzik

The Takeaway: Quinnipiac sweeps home-and-home series over Holy Cross

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Hamden, Conn. – Quinnipiac earned its sixth-straight win Saturday afternoon at the TD Bank Sports Center, defeating Holy Cross 4-1 while also sweeping the home-and-home series. Sam Anas recorded two goals, while Bryce Van Brabant and Travis St. Denis tallied a score each. Mike Barrett recorded the lone goal for Holy Cross. Quinnipiac outshot Holy Cross 49-18 on the day, also converting on two of its six power plays.

What I saw:

– Quinnipiac had some trouble finishing its chances in the first period. The Bobcats played with plenty of speed, blowing past Holy Cross defenders in the offensive zone, but shots and passes kept getting broken up.

– Anas notched two more goals, bringing his season total to six with four coming in the past three games. Though one was a combination of a poor angle and an unlucky bounce, Anas had additional chances throughout the night, including a breakaway and a shot off the pipe. With Peter Quenneville out of the Bobcats lineup, Anas played on the first line with Connor and Kellen Jones to great success.

What I thought:

– Holy Cross held the tempo at times in the first period, especially when it scored its only goal, but never regrouped after Quinnipiac tied it.

– The Bobcats began to overpower the Crusaders in the second period, and it continued for the rest of the game. Quinnipiac held Holy Cross to just four shots on goal, also notching eight grade-a chances compared to the Crusaders’ zero in the stanza.

– Kellen Jones was tripped up on a breakaway and wasn’t given a penalty shot for some bizarre reason. Strange non-call, yet Quinnipiac ended up scoring on that power play anyway. Fortunately it wasn’t a huge difference maker.

What they said:

“They wore us down,” Holy Cross head coach Paul Pearl said. “We’re playing a lot of the same guys a ton of minutes. They play a good, thorough game. Their physicality and their speed wore us down.”

“Very happy with our effort tonight,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “Now our ECAC season starts. I like how we’re playing. We need to be healthy, hopefully we’ll get Quenneville back next weekend.”

“We’ve had a good mindset coming into these games, and it’s not gonna change,” Anas said. “We play our game, compete hard. We’re playing well.”

What else you need to know:

- Holy Cross opens up conference play on Nov. 1 when it hosts Sacred Heart.

– Quinnipiac starts league play on Nov. 1 when it travels to Colgate.

The Takeaway: Notre Dame Slips by Minnesota Duluth

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

DULUTH – Despite Notre Dame’s Steven Summerhays being ejected during the 3rd period, an impressive three-goal second period allowed Notre Dame just enough cushion to hold off Minnesota Duluth until the final horn sounded.  Each team played extremely marginal on their man-advantage attempts, but Notre Dame’s ability to get the puck on net allowed them to leave Amsoil Arena on Friday night, routing Minnesota Duluth, 3-2.

Although 5-on-5 play was undoubtedly very comparable, Minnesota Duluth won the first period by killing off a lengthy Caleb Herbert major penalty as Notre Dame seemed to be picking up speed.  Shots on goal finished 8-6 in favor of the Irish, but the scoreboard read 0’s at the end of the first.

UMD’s ability to counteract Notre Dame’s deep and talented offense seemed to subside as second period play started.  Jeff Costello buried his 3rd goal of the year, receiving a beautiful pass from Robbie Russo and wristing it by UMD netminder, Aaron Crandall.  Minnesota Duluth’s Cal Decowski responded minutes later, but Mario Lucia and Peter Schneider would both record second period goals, putting them in great position coming into the last period.

For lack of better words, shit hit the fan at 5:34 into the 3rd period when UMD captain Adam Krause was pushed into Summerhays, who didn’t appreciate the contact.  When all was said and down, both Krause and Andy Ryan received matching minors for roughing, and Summerhays was issued a facemasking major and a game misconduct.  Freshman Chad Katunar was thrown into net in replacement of Summerhays just as Minnesota Duluth was finding a great amount of momentum.  T.J. Tynan took a hooking minor just seconds later, adding to the anxiety of Notre Dame’s freshman tender, allowing Andy Welinski to blast a shot from up top to draw the Bulldogs within one goal.

Unfortunately for Minnesota Duluth, the tying goal was never found and Notre Dame improved to 5-0-0, their best start under coach Jeff Jackson and Minnesota Duluth fell  2-2-1.

What I Saw

For the most part, intense hockey.  Notre Dame brought what was anticipated – a deep, quick moving offense and a solid d-core to back them up.  It wasn’t until the second period when the Fighting Irish really let-loose, outshooting UMD 15-7 and playing as though they were a man-up for most of the period.

Minnesota Duluth countered Notre Dame’s offense with their own ability to skate with speed and agility.  UMD was able to win a grinding first period, but lost momentum in the second period, which eventually ended up losing the game for the home team.  Third period play looked completely different than a period before, and had they played that way all night, the score would have looked a little differently.

What I Thought

Notre Dame is a very dangerous team.  They established their dominance from the very first few minutes.  They literally have every tool needed to win games – a deep offense who can move the puck efficiently and score, a defense core that can protect the blueline, but also forfeit their bodies to protect against opponent shots on net, and a goalie who has the ability to make jaw-dropping saves.  Hockey East may just be in for a real treat with this team.

Minnesota Duluth was the obvious underdog heading into this one.  Their speed kept them in the game and could have potentially won it for them as well had they played all 60 minutes.  Aaron Crandall, who was originally thought to be the backup netminder for UMD behind Matt McNeely, played outstanding.  He gave up a few bad rebounds, but made up for it by standing on his head, especially during the Herbert-major.

What They Said

Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said,

“It was a hard fought game and wasn’t much different than I expected it to be.  Two teams that skate rather well, but for the most part I thought we did a good job.”

“(We) took that penalty in the third period that could have cost us the game, but our guys responded.  Throw a freshman in for his first minutes as a college hockey player, in that environment, in that situation, it’s amazing that we got through it actually.”

Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said,

“We had a good third period and I liked our first period as well, and our second felt like we were killing penalties the whole period.  We’ve just got to try and play more than 40 minutes a night.”

 

What Else You Should Know

The puck drops at 8:07 EDT tonight for round two.  If you remember from last weekend, Notre Dame beat Michigan Tech 3-2 on Friday before blowing Saturday night’s game apart with a 7-3.  On the otherside, UMD fell last Friday but came back flying, routing Colorado College 5-1.  If both team’s play a full 60 minutes, it should make for a great college hockey game.

Hockey East Power Rankings Week 2

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

The influence of Notre Dame on Hockey East remains to be seen. It likely won’t be realized fully for a few years. In the early going, though, the Fighting Irish’s impact is clearly in level of competition. Notre Dame’s first four games cemented what most already new — its a very real contender for championships.

A handful of teams are in the race for regional and national success, and Notre Dame is as much a factor as anyone.

On the other side of Hockey East, the league’s bottom-dwellers have looked fairly promising in some regards as well. They’re as imperfect as any team in the country, but it’s still going to make Hockey East play as grueling as any league in the nation.

1. Notre Dame (4-0-0; 0-0-0 Hockey East)

Notre Dame rolled through Michigan Tech last weekend. The Huskies put up a fight on Friday night before UND dropped them, 7-3, on Sunday. The Fighting Irish have as deep a group of forwards as anyone in the country. Moreover, their defensive game and goaltending have been predictably strong thus far. Tougher opponents await UND, but it’s clear it can compete with anyone.

This Weekend: (Friday and Saturday at Minnesota-Duluth) (more…)

ECAC Power Rankings Week 2

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Half the conference has still not played a game yet, so the Power Rankings are still a work in progress. We should have a better idea next week of who the strongest teams are in the conference.  Quinnipiac looked impressive over the weekend against UMass-Lowell, while teams like Union, Colgate and St. Lawrence looked the opposite. Make sure to check out the ECAC Three Things I Think, as it will give you even more insight on what I think is happening in the conference. (more…)