Archive for February, 2019

ECAC Notebook: 2/21

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

With the ECAC race as close as it can be, the couple of weeks will be very interesting to see play out. Cornell only took a point out of a weekend against Yale and Brown, after a disappointing tie to Brown and a heavy loss to Yale. The Big Red’s lead at the top of the league is just one point, as Quinnipiac sits on 24 points. Beyond those two, the league continued to be tight down to seventh as the top-seven teams are separated by just seven points. Ultimately, all those teams have a mathematical shot at the regular season title but I would keep the favorite as Cornell, with Quinnipiac right on their heels. Yale is two points back and has been getting hotter, of late, while Clarkson and Harvard are three points back. 

The final bye will probably be one of the things to watch, as Clarkson and Harvard are currently tied on 22 points, while Brown and Dartmouth are three points back. I could see Dartmouth getting in that mix, but Brown’s schedule is pretty tough down the stretch. Brown plays Harvard on Friday, while the Big Green have a crucial game against Yale. The home ice berths seem pretty comfortable for the team’s 6-8, as RPI is four points behind Union and five behind the pair in sixth. Union, of course, is an enigma and we await to see which is the real one that will show up in the tournament.

Quinnipiac is still pretty close to a lock for the NCAA tournament, as it sits pretty in the top-six of the pairwise. Positions third to sixth are pretty close in RPI rating, so a big weekend for the Bobcats could help it move up. Really, however, just one win counts for anything, the Clarkson game is huge. Cornell, Clarkson and Harvard are bubble-minded as the three are 10th, 13th and 15th, respectively. Positions 9-16 are relatively close in RPI ratings, so any stumbles could move those teams out of the picture.

Here are my thoughts for the week:


Three Things I Think: Big Ten Feb. 19

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

Less than a month remains in the season and the Big Ten is still in flux. Just eight points separate teams two through seven, which equates to roughly three conference games. The Buckeyes are in first by eight points, but the pair of weekend losses to the Gophers dropped Ohio State to seventh in the PairWise.

The Buckeyes right now are the only Big Ten team currently inside the top 16. Notre Dame and Penn State are outside the bubble at 17 and 18, respectively.

Michigan State is a lot better than people think

After splitting a series with Penn State, the Spartans are sixth in the conference and have been hopping up and down the standings the second half of the season. Backed by their top line of Taro Hirose, Patrick Khoderenko and Mitchell Lewandowski, the Spartans have contended this season. The goaltending has improved slightly as well, with freshman Drew DeRidder posting a team-high .910 save percentage. He’s been splitting starts with John Lethemon.

A few weeks ago I spoke with Khoderenko and he said this year the team believes they should be winning games. Danton Cole has only been at the helm for a few seasons, but the fact he’s coaching a team mostly comprised of Tom Anastos’ recruits and he’s getting them to win is a good sign for the Spartans.

It can be argued the Big Ten isn’t as strong this year as it was last year, which is true. But Michigan State’s play has improved regardless.

‘Tis the season of World Junior injuries

Penn State’s Evan Barrett was injured in Saturday’s game against Michigan State. Wisconsin is still without K’Andre Miller, who may miss the rest of the season. Those players were injured after returning from the tournament, but both Penn State and Michigan already lost players at the tournament in Aarne Talvitie and Josh Norris. And Will Lockwood was hurt at last year’s World Juniors.

What’s worse is that all these teams are fighting for home advantage in a very close Big Ten.

Ohio State’s Goaltending

Nappier leads the Big Ten in goaltending with a .939 save percentage. That’s 10 points above last year’s leader, Cale Morris. But, Nappier has started 10 less games than Morris and has played in seven less games because he’s been splitting starts with Sean Romeo. Romeo, a large part of Ohio State’s success last year, has a .908 save percentage.

Nappier is also the only goaltender in the top three who hasn’t held majority of his team’s starts this year. He shares that honor with Michigan State’s Drew DeRidder, who ranks fourth as a 00 freshman and has a .910 save percentage but has played in just 16 games. 

While Nappier’s numbers have been better all season, the team has fared about equally with Nappier and Romeo. Nappier has played in three of Ohio State’s losses while Romeo has played in two. That isn’t an indication of which goaltender is better, but rather perhaps an indication of why Steve Rohlik has kept the rotation despite Nappier’s higher save percentage. 

Atlantic Hockey Notebook: February 17

Sunday, February 17th, 2019

Here are the current Atlantic Hockey standings:

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

The Niagara Purple Eagles finally ended the Bentley Falcons’ impressive unbeaten streak this weekend. After Bentley pulled off a 3-1 win on Thursday, the Purple Eagles rallied for a 4-3 victory on Friday night. Ben Sokay had the game-winning goal – his second tally of the night – while Noah Delmas and Justin Kendall also scored for Niagara. That ended Bentley’s eight-game winning streak and 12-game unbeaten streak, with their last loss coming on December 30.

Overall, there were a lot of split series this weekend in Atlantic Hockey. The RIT Tigers beat Sacred Heart 2-0 in a matinee match on Friday on goals by Shawn Cameron and Jordan Peacock, but the Pioneers charged back for a 4-3 overtime win Saturday. Austin Magera had the game-winning goal with 39 seconds left in overtime.

Colin Bilek and Joseph Duszak scored for their respective teams as Army and Mercyhurst finished in a 1-1 tie on Friday evening at West Point. The Black Knights won the second half of the series with a 4-3 win on Saturday, powered by goals from Daniel Haider, Taylor Maruya, Zach Evancho and Dalton MacAfee.

Robert Morris and Holy Cross also split their weekend. The Colonials scored five goals, including three straight in the third period, en route to a 5-3 win. Eric Israel had a pair of goals, while Michael Louria, Alex Tonge and Jacob Coleman also scored for Robert Morris. But Tommy Nixon would post a 32-save shutout the next night in a 2-0 Holy Cross win. Michael Laffin and Anthony Vincent had the goals on Saturday for the Crusaders.

Elsewhere, Canisius and Air Force also split their series. The Falcons scored on all situations – even-strength, shorthanded and on the power play – in Friday’s 3-0 win, with goals from Walker Sommer, Kyle Haak and Alex Mehnert. The tables were turned on Saturday, as Canisius came off with a 3-0 win powered by a pair from Dylan McLaughlin. Felix Chamberland also scored, as the Griffs had a pair of power-play goals in the win.

Finally, in the last non-conference action of the season, conference-leading AIC fell twice to Arizona State by scores of 4-1 and 5-4. Joel Kocur had the lone goal in Friday’s loss, when Arizona State scored twice on the power play. Kyle Stephan, Ryan Polin, and Tobias Fladeby (2) scored on Saturday, but the Yellow Jackets fell in overtime when PJ Marrocco had the game-winner.

Atlantic Hockey Notebook: February 14

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

Here are the current Atlantic Hockey standings:

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

We’re heading into the home stretch of the Atlantic Hockey seasosn, and things are really starting to fall into place for how teams are going to finish the regular season. If everything holds, it looks like AIC and Bentley will be the top two teams in the conference, while Canisius and Holy Cross will be near the bottom.

This past weekend, Bentley helped themselves to a pair of wins over the Griffs, by scores of 3-2 and 6-4. As I’m writing this, the Falcons are facing off against the Purple Eagles and putting their seven-game winning streak (and 11-game unbeaten streak) on the line. Just how long can they keep this up?

Sacred Heart also jumped up one spot in the standings after a pair of wins over Niagara this past weekend. The Pioneers, like the Falcons, are also having a lot of success recently, with five straight wins.

Elsewhere, AIC beat Army twice, by scores of 3-0 and 5-2. The Yellow Jackets *also* have a five-game winning streak going, and they’re really proving themselves week after week, finding ways to win and maintaining that top spot in the conference. If they can keep it up, they’ll be in great shape heading into the postseason.

Finally, RIT and Holy Cross split their weekend series, with RIT winning 4-3 Friday before the Crusaders came back for a 3-2 win on Saturday.

Aside from tonight’s Bentley/Niagara matchup, this coming weekend will be a busy one. Those same two teams will finish off their series on Friday, but we’ll also see meetings between RIT and Sacred Heart; Mercyhurst and Army; Robert Morris and Holy Cross; Canisius and Air Force; and AIC and Arizona State. Just about three weeks until the end of the regular season, and there’s still some chance for change in the standings – so every game is critical.

ECAC Notebook: 2/14

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

With the stretch run in offing, the league is still insanely close in key spots. Cornell has built a three-point edge in the league standings as they are unbeaten in 12 of their last 13 games, dating back to a loss against Dartmouth in late November. Colgate, who also has other big results, defeated the Big Red in overtime a few weeks back. The run from positions 2-8, however, is really close as six points separate Quinnipiac from Union in eighth place. Positions 2-5 are separated by just a pair of points, while Brown finds itself a meager three points out of a bye (yes that Brown).

The top-team’s had plenty of success in non-conference and have the ECAC is reaping the rewards, as four league teams would currently make the tournament with all four being in the top-13 of the all important pairwise. This does not include both Union and Yale, who are 20th and 23rd, respectively in the pairwise. Both have long shots, but Union has some big wins that has propped it up all season. It has become evident that the league could be wide open in the tournament, which could mean a team outside these six could win the Whitelaw, like Princeton did last season.


Atlantic Hockey Notebook: February 5

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Here are the current Atlantic Hockey standings:

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

Here’s a look at what happened this past weekend, when all 11 teams in Atlantic Hockey were active.

AIC Yellow Jackets Stay Hot: The Yellow Jackets continue to prove themselves as the real deal, extending their hold on first place with a pair of wins over Niagara. The Yellow Jackets beat the Purple Eagles 6-4 on Friday and 6-3 the following night. Four of their 12 goals came on special teams – but they also gave up three shorthanded goals over the course of the two games. Joel Kocur had a goal in each of the games. Netminder Zackarias Skog recorded an assist on Friday and made 12 saves; he also made 28 saves the following night. The Yellow Jackets have now won three straight.

Mercyhurst vs. Canisius: The Lakers jumped up one spot in the conference standings, beating Canisius and tying them the following night. Mercyhurst topped the Griffs 5-3 on Friday, powered by a strong first period with goals from Michael Bevilacqua, James Anderson and Dalton Hunter.  Stefano Cantali made 37 saves. Casey Jerry and Taylor Best had the goals in Saturday’s tie, which proved to be quite a different game. Colin DeAugustine made 35 saves for the Lakers, while Blake Weyrick had 21 saves.

Bentley Continues Unbeaten Streak: The Falcons are on a five-game winning streak and have a lengthy unbeaten streak going too (for more on that, check out my recent piece.) They topped Air Force 4-3 and 4-0 this past weekend. Brendan Hamblet had the OT game-winner on Friday; Jonathan Desbiens scored in each of the two games. Aidan Pelino made 37 saves, including 20 in Saturday’s shutout victory. Luke Santerno is fourth in Atlantic Hockey scoring, with 29 points in 27 games.

Sacred Heart Sweeps Robert Morris: The Pioneers have now won three straight and jumped up two spots in the conference standings with a sweep of Robert Morris, winning by scores of 6-2 and 3-1. Sacred Heart scored four unanswered goals, including a pair by Austin McIlmurray in the third period, to break a 2-2 tie and capture the win on Friday. Austin Magera had a pair of goals on Saturday, including the game-winning goal. With the losses, Robert Morris extended their losing streak to five games.

RIT Drops Two to Arizona State: The RIT Tigers fell twice to non-conference opponent Arizona State, losing by scores of 6-1 and 4-2. Ryan Kruper, Darren Brady and Jake Hamacher had the goals for the Tigers. Ian Andriano made 18 saves in Friday’s loss, while Logan Drackett had 23 saves Saturday. Arizona State will face AIC later this month in the final non-conference games of the season.

Holy Cross, Army Face Off: The Crusaders have finally climbed their way out of the basement in the Atlantic Hockey standings after tying the Black Knights 2-2 Friday and defeating them 5-4 Saturday. Logan Milliken and Johnny Coughlin scored for the Crusaders on Friday, while Dominic Franco and Zach Evancho both scored on the power play for Army in the tie. The teams traded goals on Saturday, with Anthony Vincent scoring the game-winner with 7:02 to play in regulation. Holy Cross had three power-play goals on Saturday, while Army scored once shorthanded and once with the man advantage.