Archive for October, 2016

Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Oct. 14

Friday, October 14th, 2016

As the second weekend approaches, all Big Ten teams are in action. Michigan State starts its season while the Gophers will have an exhibition game against the NTDP. A couple teams are in one-game series, with Ohio State against Miami, Michigan at Ferris State and Penn State at Mercyhurst. Wisconsin hosts Boston College for a two game set and Michigan State will face Lake Superior State for a pair.

Michigan (1-1) at Ferris State (0-4): Oct. 15 at 7:07 p.m.

The Wolverines resume action at Ferris State. Michigan is 1-1 on the season with a total of seven goals, although it’s too early to know what that means. Freshman Will Lockwood has jumped in already and has a goal and an assist, while Max Shuart leads the team with three points. Both Zach Nagelvoort and Hayden Lavigne have started, and Lavigne has a shutout.

Ferris State is 0-4 on the season, dropping contests to Alabama Huntsville and Western Michigan. Craig Pefley has four points while both Mitch Maloney and Gerald Mayhew have two goals each. Darren Smith has started all four game and has a .904 save percentage.

It’s too early to know if Ferris State will be a better test for Michigan than Union was, but it should show if Lavigne’s success – and the team’s offense – was a fluke or a trend.

Prediction: Series split

Michigan State at Lake Superior State: Oct. 14 at 7:37 p.m.; Oct. 15 at 6:07 p.m.

The Spartans start their season with a series in the Upper Peninsula. Michigan State looks very different this season without its leading scorers and its netminder for the past several years. There are some bright spots in Mason Appleton, last year’s leading freshman scorer, and Jerad Rosburg, who’s back from injury.

Lake Superior is also starting its season this weekend. The Lakers played to a 3-3 tie in their exhibition game against Laurentian. Lake Superior is returning both its goaltenders from last year and its leading scorer. The Lakers finished last year with a 14-22 record, six wins more than the previous season.

The teams met last year for a two-game set, one that ended in a split. The Spartans lost the first game 4-2 before winning 2-0. Like Michigan State, Lake Superior has struggled recently. This weekend will be a test for both teams.

Prediction: Series split

Ohio State (1-0-1) at Miami (1-1): Oct. 15 at 8:05 p.m.

After a successful Ice Breaker Tournament, the Buckeyes resume their annual rivalry with Miami for one game. Ohio State is undefeated on the season after earning a surprising win over Denver last weekend. The Buckeyes have won some big games before, but they’ve struggled with consistency and iffy goaltending. Christian Frey started the first game but then split the second with Matt Tomkins.

Miami is 1-1 after splitting its series at Providence. Miami lost the first game 4-3 and won the second game 2-1. Several players are tied for two points, while freshman Ryan Larkin received both starts in net. He has a .906 save percentage.

Last year Miami swept the home-and-home series but the games were close, with Miami winning 3-2 and 3-1. The Buckeyes are off to a much better start this year than they were last season, though, when it took eight games for Ohio State to win.

Prediction: Miami wins

Penn State (1-1) at Mercyhurst: Oct. 14 at 7:05 p.m.

The Nittany Lions had a good start to their season. While they ended in a split that saw freshman Peyton Jones pulled from the loss, the Nittany Lions proved they can still score, especially against a good defensive team. The underclassmen are leading the offensive charge, and sophomore Andrew Sturtz has three points.

This is the first game of the season for Mercyhurst, which finished with a 17-15-4 record last year. Derek Barach, who scored 32 points last year, is back. Mercyhurst lost their freshman netminder Adam Carlson after he signed a pro contract, but netminder Brandon Wildung has experience in net.

If Penn State can keep up the scoring and play better defensively and in net, they have a good chance of winning.

Prediction: Penn State wins

Wisconsin (1-1) vs. Boston College (1-1): Oct. 14 at 7:07 p.m. CT; Oct. 16 at 3:07 p.m. CT

The Badgers return to the Kohl Center to host Boston College for a two-game series. Wisconsin put up nine goals last weekend, and Corbin McGuire, J.D. Greenway and Seamus Malone all have three points, while McGuire has three goals. But the Badgers also gave up eight goals, and Matt Jurusik has a .837 save percentage.

The Eagles suffered from a lot of roster turnover and dropped their first game of the season to Air Force 2-1. They rebounded with a 3-1 win over Denver and showed promise in net. Senior Austin Cangelosi leads the team with three points while Joe Woll has a .955 save percentage.
Boston College was a good team last year while Wisconsin was not, but BC lost a lot of its roster and the Badgers only got stronger. Even with a much different makeup, the Eagles will still be a challenge for Wisconsin.

Prediction: Series split.

Hockey East Random Thoughts of the Week (10/13/16)

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

— Clayton Keller has been the name almost everyone is talking about when it comes to BU, and for good reason. You’re not the No. 7 overall pick in the NHL Draft by accident. Keller could be in the NHL next season. To some extend, Patrick Harper’s incredible start to the season has been lost in the shuffle, what with him only being a fifth-round draft pick, and not a first-round pick like most of the other players on his team. Harper had two goals at Colgate on Saturday night, and three more in the exhibition. This isn’t a newfound skill for him, either. He had 20 goals in 27 prep games last season and 19 goals in 13 midget games. Between Avon Old Farms and the Neponset Valley River Rats U18 team, he’s been averaging almost one goal per game the last two seasons combined.


Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Oct. 10

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Five Big Ten teams opened play this weekend except for Michigan State. It’s early, but with a 6-3-1 record, the Big Ten already has a better non-conference record than it did at this time last season – and that Ohio State win over Denver could have huge implications come the end of the season.

Ohio State had the most interesting weekend. The Buckeyes first beat Denver – one of the top teams in the country – 3-2 at the Ice Breaker Tournament and then tied Air Force in the championship game. Probably no one expected Ohio State to beat Denver, but it’s even more shocking the Buckeyes limited the Pioneers to two goals. Christian Frey made 33 saves in the win. Against Air Force, Frey and Matt Tomkins split the start. Tomkins made 10 saves while Frey made 15 and allowed three goals.

Minnesota started the season 2-0, defeating both Alaska teams by a good margin. The Gophers’ wins weren’t surprising, as both Alaska and Alaska Anchorage have struggled and are in even more difficulty with the uncertain future of their programs. Minnesota defeated Alaska-Anchorage 6-0 and then beat Alaska 6-3. Jake Bischoff scored twice on Friday, while Tyler Sheehy netted two tallies on Sunday. Goaltender Eric Schierhorn assisted on one of them. It’s early, but Sheehy’s five points leads the team.

The Wolverines split with Union, giving up a 3-2 lead in the third period in a Friday night loss. They rebounded with a 4-0 win that included a pair of goals from James Sanchez. Zach Nagelvoort and Hayden Lavigne split starts.

Penn State also split, defeated St. Lawrence 4-2 and then losing 6-3. The freshman Peyton Jones played well in the win, recording five saves. But he was chased from the cage the next night after allowing three goals on eight shots.

Wisconsin earned a split too. After dropping the first game 3-2 against Northern Michigan, the Badgers won 6-5 in Tony Granato’s first win. Corbin McGuire scored twice, while Trent Frederic scored his first goal. McGuire had three goals on the weekend and Will Johnson had two. Matt Jurusik started both games but wasn’t tested much in the first. He made 25 saves in the win.

(After the jump: Michigan’s net, a promising start for Wisconsin and it’s still early) (more…)

Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Oct. 6

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

College hockey officially kicks off this weekend for the rest of the nation and it marks the first regular-season games for Big Ten teams. Penn State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin all begin their non-conference competition while Michigan State has the lone bye.

Penn State vs. St. Lawrence: Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.; Oct. 7 at 7: p.m.

The Nittany Lions begin their regular season hosting St. Lawrence. These teams played last year at Pegula, skating to a 2-2 tie on the first night. On the next night, St. Lawrence won 4-2. The Saints were one of the biggest tests the Nittany Lions faced last year, and their defense was one of the only good ones that could stop Penn State’s offense. The Saints are still the same defensive team they were last year but lack some offense. But, St. Lawrence also lost its head coach and skates into the season with Mark Morris at its helm.

Penn State, meanwhile, lost a portion of its offense, defense, leadership group and its goaltenders. The Nittany Lions still have David Goodwin, a player who’s improved each season and led the team in scoring last year. Penn State is looking to improve defensively, but the team’s success depends on its freshmen, especially goaltender Peyton Jones.

Both teams are in interesting situations. For St. Lawrence, it’s adapting to a new head coach. For Penn State, it’s creating a cohesive group with a lot of new faces. The Saints’ defense and goaltending is hard to beat, though.

Prediction: St. Lawrence sweeps

Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan: Oct. 7 at 7:07 p.m. CT, Oct. 8 at 7:07 p.m. CT

A new era of Badger hockey begins this weekend as the Badgers host Northern Michigan. The Wildcats and Badgers also played at the beginning of last season, with teams playing to a pair of low-scoring ties. Wisconsin won eight games last year while Northern Michigan won 15.

Both teams destroyed their opponents in exhibition games. The Wildcats won 10-1 against Victoria while the Badgers beat the same team by the same score. Wisconsin has its leading scorers returning in Grant Besse and Luke Kunin. The offensive talent is there, but the team needs to use it and needs to play better defensively. Northern Michigan lost its leading scorer but returns Dominick Shine, who had a career-high 30 points last season. The Wildcats also have goaltender Atte Tolvanen, who had a .929 save percentage last year.

It’s an early test to see if the Badgers can play a different style of hockey cohesively, but if the exhibition game is any indication, Wisconsin is already using its talent better than in seasons past.

Prediction: Wisconsin sweeps

Michigan vs. Union: Oct. 7 at 7:35 p.m., Oct. 8 at 7:35 p.m.

The Wolverines take the ice against Union to open their season. The Dutchmen, after winning the NCAA tournament three years ago, have struggled ever since. But this won’t be an easy test for the Wolverines, who lost the offensive power they used to win with. The teams played last year and the game ended in a 5-5 tie, illustrating Michigan’s lack of defense.

Michigan’s leading returning scorer is Alex Kile, but the team will also be without promising sophomore Cooper Marody. The Wolverines still have the same defensive and goaltending troubles in the past, so they might not be able to win a shootout against the Dutchmen. Union hasn’t been as offensively strong lately, but their leading scorer from last season, Mike Vecchione, is still with the team.

Since Michigan can’t outscore its opponents anymore, the key will be defense.

Prediction: Series split

Minnesota vs Alaska Fairbanks: Oct. 7 at 7:07 p.m. AT; at Alaska at 4:30 p.m. AT

After not playing any exhibition games, Minnesota opens its season with a trip to Alaska. The Gophers have only played Alaska Fairbanks four times and last played Alaska Anchorage in 2011-12.

The Gophers had some offseason losses but retained a good portion of its roster. In net they still have Alaska native Eric Schierhorn who could be better this year but turned in some good performances for the Gophers last season. Minnesota has retained captain and leading scorer Justin Kloos, who has 107 points in his three-year career.

This is a tumultuous time for Alaska hockey, as a budget crisis in the state has led to budget cuts at both schools, leaving the future of both hockey programs is a question mark. The Nanooks’ lost their top three leading scorers but return Marcus Basara, who posted 18 points last year. The Seawolves have Matt Anholt, who recorded 22 points last season.

Last season it took Minnesota a few non-conference games to start winning, but with most of the team returning it should be easier for the Gophers to adjust this year.

Prediction: Minnesota sweeps

Ohio State vs. Denver at 7:35 p.m. CT; vs. Air Force/Boston College at TBA (Ice Breaker Invitational)

The Buckeyes begin their season with the biggest test out of all Big Ten teams. Denver, a Frozen Four member last year, is one of the top teams in college hockey this season. The Pioneers lost some key players but have skaters like Dylan Gambrell and still have goaltender Danny Jaillet. The Buckeyes have struggled for the past few seasons but have some of their scoring back and added a few good freshmen.

Ohio State will either face Air Force or Boston College afterward. Air Force finished high in Atlantic Hockey last year but failed to make the NCAA tournament. Boston College did, and made a Frozen Four appearance, but lost much of its roster to graduation and early departures.

It’s a tough test for the Buckeyes to start the season, and they might not be ready to handle them.

Prediction: Ohio State loses both games