Archive for December, 2015

NCHC Saturday Dec 5: Three Things

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

In place of traditional weekend previews, check this space on the CHN blog each Saturday for developing mid-weekend NCHC storylines and observations from Friday night games.

Last night’s NCHC action featured all eight league teams in conference action, and home ice advantage was the story, with Minnesota-Duluth (7-0 over Western Michigan), Colorado College (2-1 over Miami), St. Cloud State (4-1 over UNO), and North Dakota (5-1 over Denver) all earning wins at home.

1. Win streak

Earlier this week, we featured a story on Colorado College and the optimism within the team despite 13 consecutive losses to open the 2015-16 campaign. Suddenly, the Tigers have now won two in a row, following up their defeat of Air Force last Saturday with another one-goal win last night, this time against Miami. In both wins, CC has taken control of the game in the third period — an impressive trend for a young team that put together arguably its best defensive performance of the season last night. Hunter Fejes scored both CC goals in the third period to turn a 1-0 deficit into the 2-1 win, but the turning point came halfway through the final period when Fejes, a senior, stole the puck from the usually sure-handed Matthew Caito, Miami’s senior defenseman who was carrying the puck out of the RedHawks defensive zone. That resulted in a breakaway for Fejes, who tied the game and swung the momentum for the rest of the evening in Colorado College’s favor. It was a great opportunistic moment for Fejes, but a dreadful play by Caito, a leader for a Miami team that has suddenly lost four of its last five.

2. Play of the night

With all due respect to North Dakota’s Brock Boeser, who showed off his impressive ability to pick top corners in North Dakota’s dismantling of Denver in Grand Forks, the clear play of the night came at St. Cloud, where the Huskies’ Ethan Prow floated a pass from his defensive zone to teammate Jimmy Murray at the opposite blue line, setting up a goal that put St. Cloud up 3-1. The goal came shortly after Huskies netminder Charlie Lindgren stopped UNO leading point-scorer Jake Guentzel on a two-on-one, payback for a goal Guentzel scored earlier in the night — a play which culminated in the forward’s momentum knocking down Lindgren for several moments. Opponents will have to figure out how to limit the Huskies’ offense, as St. Cloud has now scored three or more goals in a game for nine straight contests.

3. Early and often

UMD scored at will last night against Western Michigan, winning by a touchdown, 7-0. The Broncos have given up an alarming 25 goals over four games now, and it was easy to see why. The Bulldogs took the lead on a shorthanded goal from Austyn Young just 9:01 into the first period, but on the play, WMU netminder Lukas Hafner failed to hold on to the puck sent in from essentially the blueline. Hafner gave up a rebound, and Young capitalized, and for the remainder of the night, the Bulldogs didn’t look back. In fact, they were relentless, getting in front of Hafner’s eyes on multiple subsequent goals, including the goals that extended the lead to 2-0 and 3-0. When Dominic Toninato doubled the Bulldogs lead just three and a half minutes after Young’s goal, senior Austin Farley took away Hafner’s line of sight — a great example of a contribution that doesn’t show up on the scoresheet.

Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Dec. 4

Friday, December 4th, 2015

And now the fun starts. The rest of college hockey is still fuming at the Big Ten, and non-conference play is now almost over for the six power conference teams. So far, all Big Ten teams have struggled – making it interesting to see who’ll do well in the league.

The Big Ten has a 29-32-11 non-conference record, third-worst in the country behind the WCHA and Atlantic Hockey. But if you take away the 23 non-conference wins against Atlantic Hockey, the Big Ten’s record drops to 17 non-conference wins.

Right now, Penn State has the best record at 8-2-3. The Wolverines are behind them with seven wins, while Minnesota and Michigan State are tied with four. The Badgers and Buckeyes both have three wins, but Ohio State’s nine losses are more than Wisconsin’s.

It’s pretty early to tell which teams will fare well in the conference, although competition may be closer than we think. (more…)

ECAC Weekend Preview: 12/3

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Another full slate of league games awaits us this weekend, as the schedule is a tad more manageable this weekend in comparison to last week’s full slate of non-conference games. Yale hosts Quinnipiac in the game of the week, as the two New Haven area rivals renew their acquaintances at the Whale. Last season, the matchup was as close as possible with two ties in its two meetings. Quinnipiac is still undefeated at 13-0-2, which the best start since Colorado College started 15-0-2 in 1995-1996. St. Lawrence at Cornell is another highlight of Friday night, while RPI and Harvard will play for the second straight week after the Crimson took home the Shillelagh Tournament title back to Cambridge, with a 4-0 win, on Saturday.

Each weekend is crucial within conference play. RPI and Quinnipiac remain tied at the top of the standings with 10 points. The top 7 are separated by just four points, with Brown rounding out the bunch at seven. The conference still has six teams in the top 16 of the Pairwise and wins within league play are so important, because there isn’t a bad loss within the league because of a .648 win pct. in inter-conference play. There are many great matchups this weekend. as always I urge you to hit a rink to see your favorite team play. Also see this week’s Three Things I Think, for more of my thoughts. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 12/1

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Another successful weekend in non-conference play has the conference in pretty good shape going forward. In terms of strength of schedule according to Krach, league teams have been pretty successful and have played some of the more difficult schedules in college hockey. The ECAC owns 10 of the top 18 schedules nationally, which is a direct consequence of the league’s non-conference winning percentage. The inter-conference record dropped a tad over the weekend, but still sits at a national best of .648. This all means good things, as the ECAC currently has seven of the top 16 teams in the Pairwise. It probably won’t stay at that, but its fun to look at because there still is good chance the league will have four, maybe five teams. (more…)

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Dec. 1

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Another weekend, another slate of questionable results for the Big Ten. Losses were the norm again, dominating a weekend where Big Ten teams combined for two wins and a tie. This weekend marked the end of full non-conference play, as the Big Ten enters conference matchups next week. While it’s way too early to look at PairWise rankings, these non-conference losses will hurt Big Ten teams later in the season – as it did last year.

After last week’s age limit proposal, there’s been a lot of controversy around the Big Ten. Ironically, as one fan pointed out, Minnesota’s third-string goaltender Brock Kautz is a 21-year-old freshman. And sophomore Nick Lehr, the backup goalie who replaced Eric Scheirhorn, was born in 93 – making him a 21-year-old when he was a freshman as well.

There wasn’t much new to learn about the Big Ten this year, expect Ohio State has continued scoring. The Buckeyes have now notched four or more goals in four of its last five games. Michigan is still inconsistent, Minnesota is still struggling and so far Penn State has fared the best out of conference.

Also, Nick Seeler was suspended one game for a malicious headshot against St. Cloud’s Niklas Nevalianen.

(After the jump: Reinforcing thoughts about Michigan, Minnesota’s mistakes and who’ll finish first in the Big Ten.) (more…)