Archive for November, 2018

ECAC Notebook: 11/20

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Quinnipiac made a big statement over the weekend with a sweep of Colgate and Cornell, while Princeton faltered twice on the same trip. What seemed last week like two teams heading in the opposite directions, has done a 360 with the Bobcats really looking good. this weekend Clarkson also had a really good weekend against Michigan Tech, sweeping the Huskies of the WCHA out of the North Country. The other North Country team, SLU, picked up a much needed win against Minnesota on Friday night, in a great turnaround from a loss to Mercyhurst, but fell to the Gophers on Saturday night.

We are another week into the season, but the standings are still a mess. Although QU is sitting at the top with eight points, but the uneven nature of the schedule means that Cornell is two points back, with a pair of games in hand, while Dartmouth is also two points back and has played one less game. Interestingly enough, while QU has played six league games, the two north country schools have played just two. I wouldn’t write off Clarkson from being near the top at the end because they have played four less games and they have looked really good, at times, which I will talk about below. As I keep reminding everyone, look at standings and pairwise with a load of caution until say Christmas time. 

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Atlantic Hockey Notebook 11/18

Sunday, November 18th, 2018

While the Robert Morris Colonials got a week off from game action, the other Atlantic Hockey teams were all in action at least once over the past week. Some, like AIC, fared better than others, like Canisius. Here’s a look at the week behind us.

First up: let’s talk about the AIC Yellow Jackets, who swept their weekend series over Air Force with a pair of shutouts. The Yellow Jackets put up five goals Friday and added four on Saturday, both afternoon contests, while holding the Falcons off the scoresheet.

Tobias Fladeby and Luka Maver each had a pair of goals in Friday’s win; Martin Mellberg also added a goal. Zackarias Skog stopped all 20 shots faced in the win – his second career collegiate shutout – while Zach LaRocque took the loss for Air Force.

Both teams went with the same goaltenders for the rematch on Saturday, and once again, Skog made 20 saves in the shutout victory. Fladeby scored his third goal of the weekend, while Patrik Demel, Darius Davidson and captain Shawn McBridge also scored for the Yellow Jackets.

With the losses, Air Force’s five-game winning streak finally came to an end.

Mercyhurst also grabbed a pair of wins this weekend, besting Sacred Heart twice. The teams exchanged goals Friday en route to a 3-2 overtime win for the Lakers. Joseph Duszak had the game-winning goal, while Steven Ipri, James Anderson and Derek Barach also scored for Mercyhurst. Vito Bavaro had a pair of goals, while Austin McIlmurray also scored for the Pioneers.

James Anderson then scored twice to power the Lakers to a 3-0 win the following night. Tommaso Bucci also scored for Mercyhurst, who tallied twice in the final 1:16 of play. Garrett Metcalf stopped 30 shots for the shutout win.

Elsewhere, Army West Point and Bentley split their weekend series. The Black Knights narrowly edged the Falcons 3-2 in the first game, on power-play goals by Brendan Soucie and Zach Evancho and a shorthanded tally by Souci. Michael Zuffante and Drew Callin scored for the Falcons.

The next night, Bentley put up four goals on the Falcons en route to a 4-2 win. Zuffante scored once again for his team, while Jonathan Desbiens, Alexey Solovjev and Luke Santerno also tallied for the Falcons. Colin Bilek and Dominic Franco scored for the Black Knights.

Finally, the Niagara Purple Eagles swept their series over the Canisius Golden Griffins, who lost all three games they played this week.

Niagara scored twice on the power play in Thursday’s game. Dylan Mills registered a pair of goals, while Noah Delmas, Ludwig Stenlund and Johnny Curran also scored for Niagara. Brian Wilson made 27 saves for the Purple Eagles. In his return to the net, Blake Weyrick had 24 saves in the 5-2 loss.

The Purple Eagles continued their dominance on home ice Saturday, topping Canisius by a score of 9-6. Reed Robinson had a hat trick for Niagara, who also received goals from Stenlund (2), Delmas, Chris Harpur, Eric Cooley and Kris Spriggs. Twelve different Niagara players registered at least a point in the big win.

Logan Gestro, J.D. Pogue, Keith Obssuth, Mitch Martan, Austin Alger and Nick Hutchison all scored for the Griffs, who are now on a three-game losing streak after falling to RIT earlier in the week.

The Tigers, meanwhile, only had one game this week, but used it to extend their winning streak to three games. Gabe Valenzuela and Will Calverley scored for the Tigers, who got two goals in exactly three minutes in the second period. Logan Drackett made 25 saves in his first collegiate shutout.

Holy Cross fell to No. 4 UMass 3-1 in their lone game of the week. Jack Surowiec had the only goal for the Crusaders, while Erik Gordon had 36 saves in net.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings:

  1. Air Force
  2. Niagara
  3. Army
  4. AIC
  5. RIT
  6. Mercyhurst
  7. Bentley
  8. Canisius
  9. Robert Morris
  10. Sacred Heart
  11. Holy Cross

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Nov. 13

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Another week, another question of what’s really going on. There are a few teams that have been successful since October – like UMass and Arizona State, although we still haven’t figured out what’s “for real.” I actually believe UMass is for real, but I guess we’ll find out about that soon.

Big Ten play has begun, but so far it’s been hard to see who’s acrually better than who. We’ll find out soon, hopefully. 

Notre Dame has settled down 

It was hard not to wonder what happened when the Fighting Irish surrendered six goals to Mercyhurst en route to the Ice Breaker tournament championship. And it was still early enough in the season to wonder if that would be a trend for Notre Dame.

The Fightinng Irish haven’t allowed more than three goals since, and Cale Morris’ save percentage is resting at .927. Also those two three-goal games all came against Minnesota-Duluth.

The Fighting Irish that have barely allowed more than two goals per game and are mostly keeping opponents off the scoreboard more closely resemble the Fighting Irish we knew from later on last season as well as the Fighting Irish that I chose to finish first. 

It’s not unusual for teams to have uncharacteristic games at any point in the season, especially in the start, but when these games happen at seaosn’s start we don’t yet know if that’s how the team will actually play. Now we know it was just a blip for Notre Dame.

Daniel Lebedeff

Before the season started, Badgers head coach Tony Granato spoke highly of Lebedeff. The Badgers have badly needed good goaltending, especially with the young teams Wisconsin seems to be getting each year. There was hope, after St. Lawrence transfer Kyle Hayton wasn’t unable to fill the role last year, that Lebedeff will. 

I watched last Friday’s Gophers-Badgers border battle. He earned the loss but didn’t get any help from his team, which largely looked confused. One of his players also pushed a Gopher into him on a Minnesota goal, so it’s hard to fault him for that one. 

At .927 he is tied for second in Big Ten save percentages. He’s started the last three games and has played in the last six after not playing for the first three.

Penn State’s offense

The Nittany Lions have been scoring, a lot. It’s not surprising because that’s been an asset for them over the past few years. But Nikita Pavlychev and Alex Limoges have 16 points each, which currently ranks second nationally. The Nittany Lions have five of the country’s top six scorers and Penn State is averaging 5.78 goals per game, which is first nationally. 

Penn State is still averaging the most shots per game, with 42.67 shots on goal per game. They’re converting 13.5 percent of those chances, which is third nationally. That’s important, because a few years ago Penn State was shooting the puck heavily but not converting as high a number of those shots. 

Atlantic Hockey Notebook 11/12

Monday, November 12th, 2018

Air Force and RIT both captured a pair of wins this past weekend in Atlantic Hockey action, while Sacred Heart split its first conference action against Army West Point. Elsewhere, Holy Cross and Niagara split one game of their series and tied the other, and  Canisius beat ECAC opponent Clarkson.

Finally, Robert Morris dropped a pair of games to Penn State. AIC also went winless this weekend against RIT, while Bentley fell twice to Air Force. Mercyhurst won their lone game of the weekend, a non-conference matchup with St. Lawrence.

The Purple Eagles’ 6-3 win Friday was powered by five straight goals. Though they found themselves down 2-0 12:22 into the game, Niagara went on to score five times in a span of 17:48 (from 19:02 of the first to 16:46 of the second) to put themselves in a good position to secure a win. Kris Spriggs registered a pair of goals, while Noah Delmas, Jared Brandt, Jon Hill and Johnny Curran also scored.

In the rematch, Niagara got on the board first with a shorthanded tally, but this time, it was Holy Cross who would score three straight goals. Spencer Trapp tied the game on the power play, with Kevin Darrar and Logan Ferguson adding goals later in the second frame. Niagara received goals from Nick Farmer, Reed Robinson and Luke Edgerton to push the Crusaders to a tie.

Air Force put up eight goals in two nights to capture a pair of wins over the Bentley Falcons. Evan Feno scored twice, and Evan Giesler and Walker Sommer added goals, en route to a 4-2 win Friday. Bentley got on the board first Saturday on a goal by Brendan Hamblet, but Air Force scored four unanswered goals to capture another win.

Giesler added another goal, with Kyle Haak, Matt Pulver and Kieran Durgan also scoring. Zach Larocque had to make only 12 saves in the win.

On Friday night, the Sacred Heart Pioneers scored every way: even-strength, power-play and shorthanded – to steal a 4-2 win over Army West Point. Ryan Steele, Marc Johnstone, Austin Mcllmurray and Jason Cotton all scored for the Pioneers, while Brendan Soucie and Trevor Fidler tallied for Army.

Army rallied back the following night for a 4-1 win. Dominic Franco had a pair of goals, with Zach Evancho and Tipper Higgins also scoring. Marcel Godbout had the lone goal for Sacred Heart. Dalton MacAfee also had a pair of assists.

Elsewhere, RIT overpowered AIC in consecutive nights. Alden Dupuis scored shorthanded to put the Tigers up in the first period Friday night. The Yellow Jackets tied the game early in the third on a goal by Hugo Reinhardt, but Darren Brady scored less than three minutes later to regain the RIT lead, and the Tigers held on.

The following night, the Tigers found themselves up 4-0 early in the second period before AIC finally got on the board. The Tigers would add one more later in the second period before allowing the Yellow Jackets to get one more with just four seconds left in regulation. Erik Brown and Jake Hamacher each had a pair of goals, while Abbott Girduckis added a goal in the win.

In non-conference action, Robert Morris dropped 7-2 and 11-6 decisions to the number-eight ranked Penn State. Alex Tonge and Grant Hebert both scored in the first loss. Saturday night, the Colonials were keeping pace with the Nittany Lions, trading goals in the first period and early into the second. Halfway through the middle frame, Penn State took charge and scored seven straight goals to take a commanding lead.

Tonge registered a hat trick in Saturday’s loss. Luke Lynch, Nick Prkusic and Aidan Spellacy also scored.

Finally, Canisius beat Clarkson by a score of 6-3, thanks to four power-play goals. Though the Golden Knights got out to a quick 2-0 lead, the Griffs scored five straight to take an important lead halfway through the game. Dylan McLaughlin had a pair of goals, while Cameron Heath, Lee Lapid, Austin Alger and Nick Hutchison also scored.

Here are the current Atlantic Hockey standings:

  1. Air Force
  2. Army
  3. Niagara
  4. RIT
  5. AIC
  6. Canisius
  7. Robert Morris
  8. Bentley
  9. Sacred Heart
  10. Mercyhurst
  11. Holy Cross

ECAC Notebook: Nov. 12

Monday, November 12th, 2018

Another week, another one filled with interesting results. The Princeton Tigers appear to be the team to beat in the ECAC right now. The Tigers are 3-0-1 in the league and recently seem to score just for fun.  Behind them, a mess of teams has been on-again, off-again in recent weeks. Like Quinnipiac and Dartmouth. The Big Green lost to Brown on Friday, but beat Yale on Saturday. Likewise, Quinnipiac defeated RPI and lost to Union.

Since the RPI sweep, the Dutchmen have just a lone loss against Princeton. It is easy to see now: Those losses to the Engineers will prove costly. Cornell is obviously a team to watch, but the team has only played two league games. The Big Red swept Northern Michigan this weekend to make it four straight wins. Colgate deserved a better fate on Saturday against Ohio State, while Brown has looked better so far.

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Hockey East Picks: Nov. 8-13, 2018

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Last Week: 9-0-1
This Season: 18-8-3

Thursday

Boston College 3, Vermont 1 
BC seemed to figure something out on Saturday against Merrimack. Granted, the game was a little more even than the 4-1 score would suggest, but I think the Eagles finally have some confidence cooking and playing at home will be a big help here.

UMass 5, Providence 3
The Minutemen are for real. This is the most exciting matchup of the weekend. Right now, Providence and UMass look like the best two teams in Hockey East. UMass is pumping this game as their biggest home game in a decade, and it might be. I’m expecting a charged-up UMass team to come out flying and pick up a memorable win.

Friday

Boston College 5, Vermont 2
The Eagles will pick up their first sweep of the season, and they’ll get their offense going against the Catamounts, who have defended pretty well (as far as goals against) but have allowed some big shot totals this season.

Boston University 3, UConn 2
This is one of the tougher games to pick this weekend. BU looked good on Saturday night to get its first win, but they looked bad in some early-season games. UConn, meanwhile, has been slow but steady. I think BU edges out a close one.

UMass Lowell 2, New Hampshire 1
UNH is struggling to score goals but have defended well. UMass Lowell has more firepower, but they’ve been in the same position. The River Hawks come out victorious in a low-scoring game.

Merrimack 2, Bemidji State 1
Craig Pantano has rebounded well after getting pulled, including posting a shutout over BU one game after getting yanked against Army. Pantano was pulled against BC on Saturday as Merrimack faces a Bemidji team that is 4-1 despite scoring just 1.67 goals per game. Pantano powers the Warriors to a win on the road.

Saturday

Northeastern 3, UMass Lowell 1
So far, Northeastern has been able to find pieces for its lost firepower up front. Oh, and Cayden Primeau continues to shine.

Providence 3, UMass 2
The Friars come back and get some redemption for the Thursday game at home. Both of these games are going to be close, though.

New Hampshire 3, Boston University 2
I’m not sure what to make of this game. We could see UNH break out of a funk on home ice, or we could see BU’s skill players take advantage of more time and space on the larger ice. Both teams are also likely to be in for a grind the night before. 

Bemidji State 2, Merrimack 1
Bemidji gets the split with the Warriors with some stellar goaltending, which the Beavers have received all season.

Tuesday

UConn 4, Brown 1
I watched Brown-Vermont a few weeks ago, and it was a tight game despite Brown not being all that stellar. The Bears have made some inroads with recruiting in recent months, but they’re going to struggle against a more-talented UConn squad.

Three Things I Think: Big Ten Nov. 5

Monday, November 5th, 2018

Happy November! The results from last weekend make minimal sense. I know it’s already November, but teams are still finding out who they are. Now if it’s still going on in December, I guess we’re just back to the usual weird inconsistency we’ve seen from the Big Ten in years past. Most likely though this will all settle down soon.

Ohio State and Notre Dame will still be the best

The Buckeyes and Fighting Irish met for the first time since their thrilling Big Ten final last year. The games went how you’d expect, ending in a couple of low-scoring, one-goal games. I know the Buckeyes were rocked by Bowling Green last weekend, and Notre Dame hasn’t exactly been stellar either so far, but these two are still some of the best and this past weekend proved that.

Some people asked me why I picked Notre Dame over Ohio State when I made my conference picks, and the reason lies with goaltending. Cale Morris is still better than Sean Romeo, and I’ll take that over the stifling defense Ohio State *usually* has. (I have to say usually because of that game against Bowling Green. Yikes). Both teams are going to have games where they stumble (like Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin in Chicago last year), which is why I always take the goaltenders. 

Outdoor games are still overrated

People can say I hate fun, which may sometimes be fair. Mostly I love fun, but I don’t think any amount of fun is worth outdoor games. It’s not even because I think they’re overdone, or boring or just a money-making gimmick (although I do think those things). Ultimately I don’t like teams playing in them because they put players at much higher risk for injuries. I was there three years ago when Denna Laing was hurt skating on outdoor ice with sub-par conditions. And last year Will Lockwood got hurt because he was also skating on questionable ice.

I get that it’s a fun event. I’ve gone as a fan once, and while I wouldn’t go again, I do think it’s something people should experience once. But it makes injuries way more likely to happen because there are factors that either can’t be controlled or won’t be controlled when it comes to ice conditions.

Anyway, the point of this rambling, angry-man-yells-at-cloud post is that the Wolverines and the Fighting Irish will be playing in an outdoor game in South Bend. 

Michigan State is on fire

I mean in a good way. The Spartans are quietly winning. Actually, almost everyone in the conference is winning, or sort of winning, because every team except for Minnesota has t least four victories. The Spartans just suffered a loss at Ferris State but had won three in a row, before the loss. Two of those wins came at Cornell, and that’s pretty impressive.

I don’t think Michigan State’s success is a fluke, and I think they can do some damage in the Big Ten this year. That top line of Taro Hirose, Mitchell Lewnadowski and Patrick Khodorenko has to be one of the most underrated lines in college hockey and they’ve already amassed 28 points so far. Khondorenko already has five goals and Hirose’s 12 points are tied for the Big Ten lead.

But the kicker — and what will define how far Michigan State’s success goes — is John Lethemon. Before the season, Danton Cole spoke a little bit about how Lethemon grew and what the team was expecting from him. So far he’s done well, posting a .919 save percentage. 

Atlantic Hockey Notebook 11/4

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

It was an exciting weekend in Atlantic Hockey, as the Air Force Falcons recorded their first sweep at the Army West Point Black Knights since 2004, and RiT’s Erik Brown became the all-time goal scoring leader for his team’s D-I history.

Air Force topped Army twice, with a 4-2 victory in each game. The Falcons received goals from Matt Pulver, Zack Mirageas, Brady Tomlak and Trevor Stone in Friday night’s win. Stone and Tomlak also scored in Saturday’s win, with Kyle Haak and Kieran Durgan adding goals. Billy Christopoulos made 47 saves over the course of the weekend to help Air Force to the victories.

Army’s goals on the weekend came from Dominic Franco, Trevor Fidler, Marshal Plunkett and Daniel Haider. Both goals in Friday’s game came on the power play.

Mercyhurst topped RIT 4-3 on Friday. The Lakers took a 2-0 lead on goals by Wes Baker, but the Tigers tied it with a pair of goals in the second period from Jake Hamacher and Abbott Girduckis. Tommasi Bucci gave the Lakers the lead, and Baker completed the hat trick to make it 4-2. Jordan Peacock got one back for the Tigers, but the Lakers pulled off the win.

The teams then skated to a 2-2 tie on Saturday. Erik Brown scored the 56th goal of his collegiate career with 30 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. Brown’s goal made him RIT”s all-time leading scorer in the program’s Division-I history.

Jake Hamacher also scored for the Tigers. Mercyhurst got goals from Joseph Duszak and Taylor Best.

Elsewhere, Niagara and Robert Morris split their weekend series. The Colonials pulled off a 3-1 win Friday, with goals from Kyle Horsman, Daniel Mantenuto  and Luke Lynch. Nick Farmer scored the lone goal for the Purple Eagles.

Niagara rebounded for a 4-2 win the following night. Alex Truscott, Eric Cooley, Ryan Cox and Justin Kendall all scored for the Purple Eagles. Nick Lalonde had a pair of goals for the Colonials in the loss.

Sacred Heart and Bentley split their weekend series, while Canisius and AIC did the same.

The Pioneers topped the Falcons 3-2 Friday before dropping a decision by the same score Saturday. Sacred Heart scored on even-strength (Ryan Steele), the man advantage (Jason Cotton) and shorthanded (Austin Madera) in Friday’s win.

Dylan Pitera and Jake Kauppila scored for Bentley on Saturday, with Drew Callin tallying the game-winning goal in overtime.

Canisius topped AIC 4-2 on Friday before falling to the Yellow Jackets 6-1 Saturday.

The Griffs got goals from Mitchell Martan, Matt Hoover and two from Dylan McLaughlin on Friday night, including one that made Sportscenter’s Top 10. Luka Maver and Darius Davidson scored for the Yellow Jackets in the loss.

The Yellow Jackets poured on the offense Saturday night. Kyle Stephan had a pair of goals, with Maver, Tobias Flabby, Chris Theodore and Davidson also scoring. McLaughlin had the lone goal for Canisius, his third of the weekend.

In non-conference action, Holy Cross fell 3-0 to nationally-ranked Providence on Saturday.

This coming weekend will see conference play between Holy Cross and Niagara; Bentley and Air Force; Sacred Heart and Army; and AIC and RIT. Robert Morris faces a pair of games against Penn State, while Mercyhurst visits St. Lawrence. Canisius also hosts Clarkson Saturday before visiting RIT next Tuesday.

Here are the current Atlantic Hockey standings:

  1. Air Force
  2. Army
  3. AIC
  4. Canisius
  5. Niagara
  6. Bentley
  7. Robert Morris
  8. RIT
  9. Mercyhurst
  10. Sacred Heart
  11. Holy Cross


ECAC Notebook 11/4

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

Another week in the books, but this one lacked big surprises. Cornell got back on track with a pair of wins, like I predicted they would. So did Union. I argued that both teams will still be good regardless of results in one week, and it seems both have come true to their identity. Union picked up a pair of wins against Clarkson and SLU, at home, while Cornell held serve against Brown and Yale. Quinnipiac got tripped up by Dartmouth, which provided the Bobcats their first loss, and Rensselaer went 1-1 after win against SLU and a loss to Clarkson.

It is much too early to talk about standings and stuff, but it is interesting to see RPI at the top after the struggles they have had in recent seasons. Dave Smith has instilled confidence in that group, which is only growing. A 6-0 setback to Clarkson on Friday was tough but the Engineers provided a good bounce-back in a 3-2 win against SLU. The pairwise is literally the same, you can look at it but it means zilch until about Christmas.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts:

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Hockey East Picks Nov. 1-3, 2018

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

Last Week: 5-5-1
This Season: 9-8-1

Thursday

Northeastern 4, Boston University 2
The Huskies are playing well, and BU can’t seem to figure anything out. BU looks sloppy and unorganized, and while I think the Terriers have more talent than Northeastern, right now, Northeastern is playing like the team that has things put together.

Friday

Merrimack 2, Boston College 1
Merrimack traditionally struggles at Conte Forum, but BC has run into problems at Lawler Arena in the past. And those BC teams have been better than this version. Given BC’s struggles to score goals, they could struggle again to find time and space to use their skill in the tighter confines of Lawler Arena.

Maine 3, UMass Lowell 1
The Black Bears are struggling right now, and seemed to get derailed a bit in a trip at Minnesota Duluth a few weeks ago, but this is a good spot for them to get back on track at home.

UConn 3, Vermont 1
Vermont has had an up-and-down first half. They picked up a nice win at Brown on Sunday, even though I thought the Bears outplayed them at even strength. UConn is playing above expectations recently and they look like the better team right now.

Saturday

Boston College 3, Merrimack 1
The Eagles will get back on track at home against a Merrimack team that’s beat up and will be missing some players due to injury. 

Boston University 3, Northeastern 2
Yes! That’s right. I think BC and BU both get their first wins of the season on Saturday night at home. You have to figure that BU gets a win at some point, right?

UMass 5, New Hampshire 2
UMass looked incredible last weekend against Merrimack. Cale Makar might be the best player in the league. UMass can score goals and UNH has been trying to figure things out still. 

Vermont 3, UConn 2
Vermont comes back and earns a split with UConn after the Huskies are able to catch them on Friday night.

UMass Lowell 2, Maine 1
If Lowell is going to get a split up at Maine, it’s going to require one of the teams to be low-scoring like this one. Tyler Wall steals them two points.

Providence 4, Holy Cross 0
The Friars fell asleep against Sacred Heart earlier this season and had to settle for a tie. That’s not going to happen this time around with Holy Cross.