Archive for the 'Blogs' Category

The Right Choice For St. Lawrence

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

When I first heard Mark Morris’ name pop up, it was early in the process. I included Morris in my preliminary look at candidates that should be involved. It was based mostly on his North Country connections. I said then and I will say here, Mark Morris was the best, most seasoned candidate that wanted this job. Remember, I have seen all the candidates and I say this with plenty of confidence.

Now here we are with the former Clarkson coach, who led that program to new heights, being announced as the head coach at the Golden Knights’ biggest rival St. Lawrence… Who would have ever thought this was even remotely possible about ten seasons ago, five or even last year?

I suggest you read CHN editor Adam Wodon’s piece last week on why this move was a move SLU should make. There we were getting the idea that this was happening and he wanted to start the conversation on it… Enjoy the other perspective, while you read mine… He comes from a past perspective on this, having reported on Clarkson during his firing, while I come from the present having watched Morris’ work with Manchester.

It was hardly a shock when I learned Mark Morris applied for the job (I was the first to report that), it was not a shock when I learned he was the favorite and it certainly wasn’t a surprise to me that he quickly went to the top of the list of candidates. A guy with 300 wins as a college hockey coach, 9 appearances to the NCAA tournament and 374 wins at the AHL level should have never been dismissed.

His success speaks loudly of the person that he is. Quite frankly, accept it or not, everywhere he has gone he has won. If you polled people about a coaching hire, I would assume they would say they want someone that could win and win a lot.

Why would St. Lawrence, a place close to his home, be any different? Morris wanted this job, because it offered him a way to be closer to his family that he has been away from for over a decade. For what it is worth, isn’t that something that would  make a guy strive to be better? He wants this to work, he wants to prove Clarkson was wrong for firing him over a decade ago and of course isn’t there a lot of pride in knowing he will be around a school that is close to home, where his friends and family will be around for every game? I would think so…

Of course the character and coaching style were always going to be in question. Will there be a loss or more among the current roster and commits, I assume so because it happens in nearly every coaching change. Know what I say to that? A player that leaves a program in this regard probably doesn’t want to be in that program to begin with. Ya coaches play a huge role in where a player goes, but if they truly want to be there they will stay and attempt to learn, regardless of who the coach is.

Any player that wants to successful would want to play under Morris. He has developed players at every level. Just look at the Los Angeles Kings for example, he built those Stanley cups in Manchester, New Hampshire when he was the coach of the Kings AHL affiliate, the Monarchs. Many of those players that he coached in Manchester, ended up winning two cups in LA. During the 2014-15 LA Stanley Cup run, 13 of those players had played for Morris in Manchester and in 2012, 14 were former Monarchs. Of course many of his players at Clarkson also went on to successful careers, which should not be forgotten.

Now there are many SLU fans that won’t like this move. That is fine, of course, but at the end of the day if they really support the program they will come around to really love this guy as a coach. There may be a difficult transition for those that don’t think this is right, because he is a Clarkson guy, but eventually those ties will be forgotten, to some degree.

They may not like to hear it, but this was the best move for St. Lawrence not only from a coaching perspective but a marketing perspective as well. The Saints brand will now be easier to sell in the North Country, as a whole, and heck as a program Durocher hit a home run here because there may be many locals that weren’t drawn to SLU that now will be. You have to think too, Morris was affordable because of his local ties and the fact he wanted to be home (I do not know).

Of course comes the issue of age, with Morris being 58. Times have changed and those who think Morris will retire at 65 are probably mistaken. If he is successful, I assume he will be around for a while. I don’t even question whether he will be successful, I totally expect him to take the current roster to new heights this coming season. He will be around longer than those other guys that are younger than him and he is the best coach that was available.

It seems like a win for SLU, in my book because we just saw what happened when a promising coach that was an alum just did, he left for supposed greener and bigger pastures. I respect Carvel’s decision, as a friend of his, but at the end of the day it shows just what the SLU job has become, a stepping stone in the hockey world.

One of the things that draws me to St. Lawrence is the camaraderie of the area and the close knit nature of the community. In recent weeks, as this move started to become likely I have seen a lot of divisive, unhappy fans and alums come to the forefront. It concerns me, because this is one of the ECAC’s premier programs. I really hope that everyone can rally around this move, whether they like it or not, and support their Saints. I hope the players can appreciate why this move would be made and I also hope they realize how much they are learning from this guy who can teach them a lot.

My hope of course, is that SLU is the same place that I have come to love as a reporter. I know where I will be when Clarkson and SLU play for the first time this season. By then, I hope all SLU fans are behind this move and are unchanged in their opinions of the program. It seems like a large task, but it will happen and I hope it is sooner rather than later. The Saints will always be the Saints, or they should be…

So It’s Been a Tough Week at Boston College …

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

One week ago today, the Boston College Eagles lost to Quinnipiac in the Frozen Four, with Michael Garteig turning aside a pair of Ian McCoshen shots inside of the final 75 seconds.

Since, there’s been a mass exodus.

Teddy Doherty and Travis Jeke are the only series losses for BC due to graduation. Brendan Silk graduates as well, but he only appeared in one game and Peter McMullen dressed in 15 games, but didn’t record a point and only had one shot on goal.

It’s all the early signings that have haunted BC.

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What’s Next for St. Lawrence

Friday, April 1st, 2016

This week has been an unexpected one at St. Lawrence. When Greg Carvel took the head coaching job at UMass, he left his alma mater and the school that he grew up following. I am not sure I can fully explain how much of a shock this was to those around the program, in the administration and even the players. None of which had any idea this was coming. What made it even more unexpected, was that Carvel recently signed a five year extension to coach the Saints team that he had heading in the right direction. When opportunities arise, human nature tells us to jump at it, which is exactly what Carvel did and kudos to him.

Right now, SLU will look to pick up the pieces in a situation that is rare in a college hockey. Unlike most jobs that come open in college hockey the cupboard is half full, so to say.

The Saints have a great nucleus returning that will make the job attractive to a coach that may just be looking for an opportunity. It has, arguably, the best three defensemen in the ECAC returning next year, as Gavin Bayreuther, Eric Sweetman and Nolan Gluchowski all return. Of course the other piece, is also the most important.  Its stud goaltender, Kyle Hayton will return for his junior season. Hayton, will enter the season as a Richter Award favorite and on the Hobey Watch List. Heck, I have already started at looking at preseason and this should be a top four team in the league, regardless of what happens. (more…)

Audio: UMass AD Ryan Bamford Introduces Greg Carvel as Head Coach

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

“We’re Getting Screwed!” A Yearly NCAA Tournament Tradition: Volume II

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Last year, it was a gem from the Lowell Sun that said UMass Lowell was essentially screwed out of a spot in the NCAA Tournament because of … you know … math.

This year, it’s SportzEdge.com, which is the affiliate of a news station in Connecticut. The argument here is that the NCAA Tournament is broken, because peasants like RIT, Ferris State and even a team that has one loss in forever, Northeastern, have the same chance at winning a national title as the almighty Quinnipiac, which you might assume is covered by this outlet and the writer admits, in the first line of the column, that he’s a Quinnipiac alum.

Well at least we got the bias out of the way quickly.

So, let’s go through this column piece by piece, and see what we make of the NCAA Tournament being broken, because the favorites aren’t given more of an advantage. Convince me!

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2016 CHN Pairwise Live Blog

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, March 14

Monday, March 14th, 2016

The final weekend in Big Ten play has concluded, and the tournament brackets have been set. On Thursday, Penn State will play Wisconsin and Ohio State will play Michigan State. The winner of Penn State-Wisconsin will face Michigan and the other winner will play Minnesota.

Ohio State beat Michigan State 6-5 and then tied 101. The Gophers lost 4-3 to Wisconsin before winning 4-1.

Michigan needed to win to beat out Penn State for the second seed, and they finished with weekend with a statement sweep. The Wolverines won 7-1 and 6-1 over Penn State. The sweep puts the Wolverines in a better position to win the Big Ten, although they don’t need to win to make the NCAA tournament.

Every other team has to win to make the NCAA tournament. Since Minnesota has the bye, they have the best chance at getting the automatic bid. The only way for the Gophers to make the tournament is through that championship.

(After the jump: Déjà vu, can there be an upset and watch out for Ohio State)

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NCHC Saturday March 12: Three Things

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

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.

The first night of the NCHC playoffs is in the books, and the home team emerged victorious in each of the quarterfinals: North Dakota (7-1 over Colorado College), St. Cloud State (4-3 over Western Michigan in OT), Denver (5-2 over Nebraska-Omaha), and Minnesota-Duluth (a come-from-behind 5-4 win over Miami). Game 2 of each series begins in a few hours, with the season on the line for all four road teams.

1. Montgomery and Blais post-game

Denver jumped out to a 3-0 lead with three early second period goals in a span of 2:22, but UNO controlled play for most of the final 30 minutes of the game, cutting the lead to 3-2 before a Danton Heinen shorthanded goal ended the Mavericks’ comeback bid.

On the goal that effectively put the game away, Heinen raced down the left wing and fired a shot over junior Kirk Thompson’s shoulder.

“‘Thank God he’s on our team,'” said DU coach Jim Montgomery. “That’s what I said when he let that shot go.”

Indeed, the 5-2 game one win was relief for Montgomery and the Pioneers, who despite the win (their 10th straight), were not content whatsoever with a lethargic performance.

Continued Montgomery, “I thought UNO was the better team. I thought we played a little nervous in the first. As the game wore on, we continued to make a lot of mental mistakes. We weren’t playing with good place. I thought our team was a little lethargic.

“We iced pucks on breakouts when guys were open. I couldn’t hear our team talking on the ice, and when we’re not communicating, you’re going to have icings and you’re going to have three-on-twos, and two-on-ones, and guys don’t know it.”

The Mavericks, meanwhile, have now lost seven straight and 11 of their last 14. But Dean Blais was encouraged by the performance of his team.

“We haven’t quit all year. We’ve lost five straight to Denver, and really, I thought our team played hard tonight, and that’s all I can ask for.”

2. Belpedio: the good and the bad

For a while, it looked like Miami would be the one road team in the league to leave Friday night with a win, but a 4-2 RedHawk lead in the third period turned dramatically into a 5-4 UMD win.

Miami sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio scored to put Miami ahead 4-2, showing how dangerous he can be on the power play. But the third period didn’t go as well for the Skokie, Ill., native. On UMD’s goal that cut the lead to 4-3, Bulldog freshman Adam Johnson faked out Belpedio on a rush through the neutral zone, turning Belpedio around to create some space for his shot that sailed over Miami goaltender Jay Williams. Just over a minute later,  on Carson Soucy’s game-winner, Belpedio struggled to locate the puck on an Austin Farley rush into the offensive zone, and Soucy collected the loose puck to score.

Belpedio made national headlines for his valiant diving save of a Providence empty-net goal bid in the NCAA tournament last year, and if Miami is to have a shot at returning to the tourney, the RedHawks must win in Duluth tonight. Miami is winless in five meetings against UMD this season.

3. The bounces

UND’s 7-1 win over CC, considering it was a one-goal game with four minutes to play in the second period, doesn’t necessarily reflect the Tigers’ effort for the first 40 minutes, prior to UND taking control of the game with superior special teams play. In the first period, Drake Caggiula impressively remained onside while trying to collect the puck out of his own skates at the blueline, setting up Nick Schmaltz for the eventual game-winner. The goal came with 22 seconds left in the first — an unfortunate bounce for CC that created a lead too large for its struggling offense to overcome. Caggiula, meanwhile, continues to create magical plays, and has exceeded the 40 point mark for the first time in his illustrious four year career in Grand Forks.

Elsewhere, St. Cloud created an opportunity for its own bounces, in overtime against the Broncos. The Huskies appeared to be a different team in the OT period, outworking Western Michigan and creating a goal thanks to freshman Patrick Newell’s heads-up play in OT. Newell recognized the need for traffic in front of goaltender Lukas Hafner and then managed to bat the puck out of the air (seemingly twice) to score the sudden-death game-winner. It was Newell’s first goal since January 22, a fitting big-time moment for a St. Cloud team that has relied on its upperclassmen all season — and a sign, perhaps, that something special is coming for Bob Motzko’s team.

SLU Defeats Rival Clarkson in Overtime to Take a 1-0 QF Series Lead

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Canton, NY - It is almost as if SLU and Clarkson are a mirror image of each other; in all actuality they are. On Friday night, the rivals separated by just 11 miles played a thriling game that could only be capped off with an overtime game, where Brian Ward ended it on a 3 on 1 break. The Saints took a 1-0 series lead against the Golden Knights in a series it could end on Saturday night, one that could send them back to Lake Placid and the ECAC Final Four for the second time in two seasons.

The crowd was raucous before the game, but it quickly got louder as SLU took an early lead just four minutes, 57 seconds into the tilt. Nolan Gluchowski sent a shot intentionally wide and Alexander Dahl got a pretty tip to put the Saints fans in a frenzy. Ten minutes later, Perry D’Arisso got off a wicked wrister from the faceoff dot to tie the score at one.

The second period was much of the same from both teams, as Clarkson in some ways dominated play and SLU counter-attacked. The Golden Knights got the only goal of the period, when Nick Pierog retrieved a puck as he came out of the penalty box, deked Kyle Hayton and backhanded it home to give Clarkson the 2-1 lead after 2. The Saints came on strong in the third period and had a  golden opportuity early in the period, when Jacob Pritchard found a puck all alone in front on his backhand missing a wide open net by a few feet. At the 6:59 mark of the third, Pritchard made amends by by tying the score on a scrum in front of the net.

The overtime period, much like the game, provided back and forth action, until Ward ended it by looking to pass and finding an empty slot on the glove-side of Greg Lewis. SLU is now 8-2-1 in its last 11 games, while Clarkson fell for the first time in the tournament.

Box Score

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Weekend Preview: Big Ten, March 11

Friday, March 11th, 2016

The last weekend of the Big Ten regular season means a final showdown between the Wolverines and Nittany Lions – a showdown that will determine who gets the second bye spot. It’s probably more important for the Nittany Lions, since they need a Big Ten tournament win. The Wolverines are almost a lock for an at-large bid.

The Gophers will face Wisconsin while Michigan State and Ohio State face off. There aren’t many Big Ten standing implications in these two matchups, but there are PairWise implications. While the Gophers are first in the Big Ten, they’re on the outside of the PairWise, as are the Nittany Lions.

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