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Big Ten: Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week Five

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Four Big Ten teams played this week, and Wisconsin returned to action after a two-week bye. The conference finished 3-5 over the weekend, with Minnesota sweeping Notre Dame and Michigan State splitting its series with UNH.

This is the first week I’ve been able to calculate Corsi for the Badgers, who are 0-6-0 on the season. On Friday, Wisconsin recorded a Corsi close of 38.10 percent, while on Saturday it was 50.82 in 5-on-5 play. I delve more into the situations of both games below, but the Badgers lost 4-3 on Friday and 5-1 on Saturday.

Following the theme of scoring more goals while possessing the puck less, the Spartans recorded four goals in a 4-3 win over UNH, and finished the game with a 39.62 percent Corsi close. In Saturday night’s loss, Michigan State’s Corsi close was 46.94 percent.

Like last week, I provided the Corsi for each game by period. Below those stats, I have more details on Corsi close:

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Three Things I Think: WCHA, Nov. 11

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

This week in the WCHA featured the conference’s top teams flexing their muscle. Three of the four conference series resulted in sweeps, while Alabama-Huntsville continued the league’s success this season in non-conference play.

In the polls, Michigan Tech slid up four spots in the USCHO.com poll to No. 5 after running its undefeated start to 8-0-0. Minnesota State also moved up four places to No. 13 after sweeping Bemidji State. Northern Michigan jumped two spots to No. 18 with a split versus Ferris State — which dropped out of the top-20 – and, at No. 19, Bowling Green broke into the top-20 for the first time this season after sweeping Alaska.

Ferris State (107) is the only WCHA team receiving votes in this week’s poll.

This week’s top-billed matchup, Ferris State at Northern Michigan, saw an epic goaltending dual between two of the league’s top net minders. Bulldogs senior C.J. Motte and Wildcats sophomore Mathias Dahlstrom each registered 24-save shutouts on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The Bulldogs took the opener in a 1-0 OT thriller before the Wildcats salvaged the split with a 2-0 win on Saturday.

Michigan Tech got its own solid effort in goal from junior Jamie Phillips against Alaska-Anchorage. Phillips stopped 45-of-46 shots on the weekend, including a 19-save shutout on Friday. Huskies sophomore defenseman Shane Hanna led the way for MTU with three points (1+2) as it continued its undefeated start to the season with 2-0 and 3-1 wins over the Seawolves.

Minnesota State and Bemidji State combined for 17 goals in their two games, but it was the Mavericks that proved why they’re among the conference favorites, sweeping the series with 6-3 and 5-3 wins. MSU has now won five of its past six games. Minnesota State junior forwards Bryce Gervais and Teddy Blueger combined for six goals and 10 points in the series.

Continuing the theme of strong play in the crease, Bowling Green junior Tommy Burke backstopped the Falcons to a pair of 3-2 wins on the road versus Alaska, turning away 62-of-66 shots thrown his way. Sophomore forward Mark Pohlkamp lit the lamp twice for BGSU, including the game-winner on Saturday.

In the week’s only non-conference series, Alabama-Huntsville got into the win column for the first time this season with a 4-2 road win over Air Force on Friday before battling the Falcons to a 3-3 tie on Saturday. Chargers freshman forward Brennan Saulnier earned WCHA Rookie of the Week honors for his two points in the series. The WCHA is now 3-3-1 against Atlantic Hockey and 21-16-3 overall in non-conference play this season.

(After the jump: WCHA Three Stars of the Weekend and Three Thoughts on what went down)

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Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Nov. 10

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Now that we’re a month into the season, it’s evident the Big Ten conference is one of the weakest. Penn State, idle last week, has the second-best overall record in the conference with five wins. Minnesota is already cruising through its schedule, and will more than likely have an easy time taking down other Big Ten teams.

Of the four schools in action last week, Michigan State was the only team besides Minnesota to earn a win. The Spartans split its series with UNH, but Wisconsin and Ohio State were both swept by North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha, respectively.

The Buckeyes dropped their first game 4-1. On Saturday, the Buckeyes had a 3-1 lead against Nebraska-Omaha before allowing three unanswered goals in the 4-3 loss. Tanner Fritz leads Ohio State’s offense with nine points, while Matt Tomkins and Christian Frey have continued splitting starts.

Michigan State defeated UNH 4-3 on Friday, winning its second game in a row and scoring four goals for the second night in a row. On Saturday, the Spartans lost 5-2. Matt Berry and Mackenzie MacEachern each have eight points this season, and the Spartans seem to be lowering their block total by week and now average 15.25 blocked shots per game.

The Gophers defeated Notre Dame 5-0 and 4-2 over the weekend, despite playing without Travis Boyd and Brady Skjei. So far, the Gophers have swept through almost all of their opponents, and should find conference play very easy.

(After the jump: What’s up with Wisconsin, the goalkeeping dilemma and Big Ten woes) (more…)

NCHC Weekend Preview: Nov. 7-8

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Every NCHC team is in action this weekend. Before we look at the series, check out a pair of features on the main site: on Denver’s rookie sensation Danton Heinen and St. Cloud’s lessons learned from a grueling start to the season.

St. Cloud State (3-3-0 overall, 0-0-0 NCHC) hosts Minnesota-Duluth (4-4-0 overall, 2-2-0 NCHC)

The Huskies have garnered plenty of attention for their nonconference schedule thus far — a whirlwind trio of series against Colgate, Minnesota, and Union, with St. Cloud splitting all three. But Minnesota-Duluth’s schedule has been tough as well, splitting series against Denver, Miami, and Minnesota State. The Bulldogs also boast a win over Notre Dame that followed a season-opening loss to Minnesota.

Both teams come into the weekend with .500 records, and for St. Cloud, it’s the first league series of the year after the Huskies won the regular season title (the Penrose Cup) a year ago. The key to this particular matchup may be which team’s power play continues to play well. Both are converting about 24 percent of their man-advantage chances so far this season, which places each team in the top 10 in the nation in that category. The Bulldogs, despite scoring over 3.6 goals per game this season, will have to be especially careful at the other end as they also lead the nation in penalty minutes so far. Last Friday, a five minute major against leading scorer Dominic Toninato led to Miami’s game-winning power play goal in the third period.

An intriguing matchup presents itself in goal, too — with St. Cloud sophomore Charlie Lindgren and UMD freshman Kasimir Kaskisuo both playing well in starting roles so far. Prediction: St. Cloud State wins Friday, the teams tie on Saturday

Miami (5-3-0 overall, 1-1-0 NCHC) hosts Colorado College (2-4-0 overall, 0-2-0 NCHC)

Miami heads into the weekend after playing five consecutive one-goal games (going 3-2-0 in that stretch) and welcome to Oxford a young but evolving Colorado College team that has lost four straight, albeit against stiff competition (North Dakota, Boston College, New Hampshire). The RedHawks are rolling behind Blake Coleman’s 11 points (third most in the nation) and Sean Kuraly’s four game-winning goals already, and have shown consistency in big moments that they, for whatever reason, lacked last season. Still, Miami has struggled on the penalty kill … but so has CC (allowing 9 power play goals in 25 penalty killing situations). Sophomore goaltender Tyler Marble started both games for the Tigers last weekend, allowing a total of 12 goals on 56 shots. One bright spot for the Tigers has been defenseman Teemu Kivihalme. The rookie has three goals so far, tied for the most by any NCHC rookie so far. Prediction: Miami sweeps

Denver (4-2-0 overall, 1-1-0 NCHC) hosts Western Michigan (2-4-0 overall, 0-2-0 NCHC) 

Had it not been for freshman Danton Heinen’s overtime heroics last week, a moment even bigger considering there were several players out of the lineup with the “stomach flu,” the feeling in the Mile High City might be a little different heading into this weekend. Prior to Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win over BC, Denver had dropped its previous two games, one to those same Eagles, and one to Minnesota-Duluth. Instead, the Pioneers enter this weekend on a high, boasting a balanced offense and a strong goaltender in Evan Cowley. The sophomore has picked up where Sam Brittain left off last year, and has helped the DU defense limit opponents to just over 1.6 goals per game. Cowley will face a Broncos offense that was shut out in back to back games before scoring four in a 4-2 win over Alaska-Fairbanks last Saturday. This weekend marks the first meeting between the programs since Denver ended WMU’s season last year in the NCHC semifinals, and the Broncos will be looking for their first-ever program win at Magness Arena. Prediction: Denver wins Friday, Western Michigan wins Saturday

Non-conference series

North Dakota at Wisconsin: Off to its best start since the 2009-10 season, on the strength of five (yes, five) shorthanded goals already this season (none bigger than last weekend’s Bryn Chyzyk OT winner vs. Air Force), UND heads to one of its many rivals carried over from the old WCHA. North Dakota brings an unbeaten streak of six games to Madison, facing a struggling, winless Wisconsin team that has managed just three goals in four games thus far. Still, expect a close games between the rivals, especially with Joel Rumpel (Wisconsin) and Zane McIntyre (UND) between the pipes. Prediction: Wisconsin wins Friday, North Dakota wins Saturday

Nebraska-Omaha at Ohio State: Speaking of hot starts… UNO is unbeaten in four straight games as well, led by Jake Guentzel’s 1.8 points per game (tied for fourth nationally, with Boston University’s Jack Eichel). The strength beyond Guentzel has unquestionably been Ryan Massa. The Omaha goaltender, recently named the NCHC Player of the Month (October) boasts a 1.38 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage. He backstopped the Mavericks to three figurative points in Ithaca against Cornell last week. Just as UND/Wisconsin represents a WCHA throwback, this matchup is a CCHA throwback. Massa will face an Ohio State offense that was awakened last week after struggling earlier in the season. Senior Tanner Fritz leads the Buckeyes with seven points, but he’s also a team-worst minus-7 while playing a lot of minutes so far. Prediction: Nebraska-Omaha wins Friday, Ohio State wins Saturday

 

WCHA Weekend Preview, Nov. 7-8

Friday, November 7th, 2014

As a league, the WCHA is off to a strong start, which is exciting for first-year commissioner Bill Robertson and his re-building league. Eight of the WCHA’s ten teams are either ranked or receiving votes and six teams – Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, Bowling Green, Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska – are among the top-20 teams by win percentage.

However, a conference’s strength will always be measured by how it fares against other leagues. In that regard, WCHA teams have a .551 win percentage in non-conference play, which is the second best in the country.

Breaking down its non-conference record, of the WCHA’s 20 wins, almost half have come against the Big Ten. Overall, the league is 9-3-1 vs. the Big Ten, 5-7-0 vs. the NCHC, 2-3-1 vs. Hockey East, 2-0-1 vs. the ECAC, and 2-3-0 vs. Atlantic Hockey.

The biggest news in the WCHA this week, though, was the NCAA handing Alaska a postseason ban for this season stemming from the use of ineligible players from 2007-2011.

With the Nanooks off to a promising start, that decision has big ramifications for the WCHA race. UAF certainly looked capable of a top-eight finish in the conference, so its ban essentially opens up another playoff spot as the ninth place team will now qualify for the WCHA playoffs (assuming it’s not the Nanooks).

(After the jump: Previewing this week’s match-ups)

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Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Nov. 6

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Four Big Ten teams will be in action this week, as Michigan and Penn State both have byes. Three teams — Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State — will be tested with some out-of-conference matchups.

The Gophers should have an easy time facing Notre Dame, but the Badgers, who are winless this season, will take on rival North Dakota. To make things more difficult, the freshman-heavy Badgers also haven’t played a game in two weeks.

Michigan State continues the Big Ten-Hockey East Challenge with a trip to New Hampshire, its first since 1982. Michigan State, a team seldom known for offense, will face a Wildcat team that allowed eight goals in its last game.

Last weekend, the Buckeyes earned their first win since the season opener. They’ll face Nebraska-Omaha, which hasn’t lost since opening weekend and has two of the nation’s top scorers.

The Buckeyes, Spartans and Badgers have all struggled this season, and they should be the most tested teams in out-of-conference play this week.

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ECAC Power Rankings, Nov. 5

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Well last week was just dandy. A week removed from being put in the dungeon, after a sweep at the hands of Bentley, I am sure everyone predicted (I stupidly did not) that Rensselaer would sweep Union. Anybody that predicted that put your hands down, because you did not. On Friday, the Engineers came out flying in a 6-1 win over the Dutchmen at home. On Saturday, Spencer Foo got the Dutch fans a little excited early only for them to find it was just FOOOOS gold. The Engineers received an overtime goal from Viktor Liljegren to propel them to a sweep, well now where did that come from? Tons of great results that involved league teams. St. Lawrence won and tied Clarkson in a non-league pair, while Dartmouth and Harvard played to an entertaining tie, well based on what I saw anyway. I guess we should move on to the rankings…

1. Colgate (6-2-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) – Last Week 1

Some of you will give the whole, Colgate lost to an Atlantic Team. Ya, ya, ya and I don’t want to hear it. Mercyhurst is not your typical Atlantic squad and I explain it in this blog. Losing to an Atlantic team used to be a big deal, but not anymore. In other news, sophomore goaltender Charlie Finn is pretty damn good. He was also the national player of the month. (more…)

Three Things I Think: NCHC, Nov. 4

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Last weekend in the NCHC featured significant showdowns between some of the nation’s top programs — from Boston College’s visit to Denver to St. Cloud’s home-and-home with Minnesota. In the end, those pairs split their series, while elsewhere, North Dakota toppled Air Force (thanks to a dramatic shorthanded goal in overtime), Nebraska-Omaha swept Cornell in central New York, and Miami and Minnesota-Duluth split the only league series of the weekend.

1. Denver is deep

Not many players can be without three 20-point scorers, all NHL draft picks and regulars in the nightly lineup, and still overcome a team like Boston College. But that’s what Denver did on Saturday night, when the Pioneers were without All-American defenseman Joey LaLeggia and forwards Quentin Shore and Zac Larazza. All three were out with, according to Pioneers coach Jim Montgomery, “the stomach flu”.

In their place, others stepped up with ease, from freshman Danton Heinen (check CHN for a full feature on the rookie sensation and Bruins draft pick tomorrow) to senior Daniel Doremus (who quietly scored 24 points last season and is now an integral component to the Pioneers top line, where he centers Heinen and sophomore Trevor Moore). Before the season began, I visited a Denver practice, and afterwards, Montgomery pointed out that his team is “better prepared as a program to handle adversity with injuries.” That depth was clearly on display on Saturday.

2. Overall Player of the Week

The NCHC’s weekly awards this week went to Miami’s Blake Coleman (Offensive Player of the Week after three goals and an assist vs. UMD), St. Cloud’s Ethan Prow (Defenseman of the Week after two assists in the Huskies’ win over Minnesota), Denver’s Danton Heinen (Rookie of the Week after scoring a pair of goals on Saturday, including the OT winner, to beat BC), and Nebraska-Omaha’s Ryan Massa (Goaltender of the Week after a tie and win at Cornell).

It’s hard to argue with those choices. Of them, the overall player of the week, for me, has to be Massa. The senior is now 4-0-1 this season and in his pair of wins at Cornell, he posted a 0.96 goals-against average and a .968 save percentage. The Littleton, Col., native has helped steady a defense that was at times porous last season, especially down the stretch.

One other player worth mentioning in this space is North Dakota’s Bryn Chyzyk. The junior scored just four goals last season but already has two this year — the latest, of course, a shorthanded goal with seconds remaining in overtime against Air Force, with UND a man short after Brendan O’Donnell was sent off after a checking from behind major penalty. Chyzyk handled a terrific Michael Parks pass to slide the puck behind Air Force’s Chris Truehl. In doing so, UND heads to rival Wisconsin this weekend in good spirits and on a six-game unbeaten streak.

3. Miami’s goaltending… controversy?

Heading into the season, my guess was that Ryan McKay would outperform Jay Williams and take over the No. 1 position as the Miami netminder. Instead, Williams is 5-1-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average, and McKay is 0-2-0 with a 3.39 goals-against average. After back-to-back wins by Williams (a 2-1 OT win vs. St. Lawrence last week, then a Friday night win this past weekend vs. Minnesota-Duluth), Miami head coach Enrico Blasi went back to McKay, who took a 4-3 loss on Saturday night despite 36 saves. The game was tied midway through the third period until the Bulldogs’ Willie Raskob scored the game-winner.

Blasi has famously alternated goaltenders, with various duos, for much of the past decade, and that’s been the story for McKay and Williams — both juniors — for the majority of their career as well. Miami hosts Colorado College in a two-game set this weekend. One would imagine Williams would get the start on Friday. If he wins, does McKay get another chance Saturday? It’s essentially impossible to get an answer on the subject from Blasi, so we’re left to speculate.

Both goaltenders are, in truth, incredibly talented, and all accounts suggest that they both have been strong in practice. Time will tell if one starts to get the starting nods over the other.

Coming Soon

Check out CHN prior to this weekend’s games for features on St. Cloud’s lessons learned (from its incredible nonconference schedule against Colgate, Union, and Minnesota) and on Denver’s Danton Heinen.

 

Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week Four

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Five Big Ten teams were in action this week, as the conference finished with a 5-4-1 record. Michigan lost both games to Michigan Tech, Michigan State split with Ferris State, Minnesota split with St. Cloud, Ohio State tied and beat Canisius and Penn State swept Bentley.

Like last week, I calculated Corsi stats for total and 5-on-5 play in each period of each game, which are listed below. This week I also paid more attention to Corsi Close, so Corsi in close-score situations (when there’s a one goal difference in the first two periods or when the game is tied). Those calculations are in the analysis paragraphs at the bottom.

Here are the Corsi stats: (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC, Nov. 3

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

The Ivy League schools finally saw their first action over the weekend and the results were mixed. The six prestigious schools went 2-2-5 in the first weekend of play. The results are always scattered for these schools and I will explain below. The weekend was a mix of results for league teams in non-conference. Quinnipiac picked up two wins against hapless, winless Northeastern, Brown picked up a win against Army, Yale defeated UConn to take home the Liberty Invitation, while Colgate split with Mercyhurst. All told, the league went 5-3-1 in true non-conference games over the weekend and hold the third best mark of all the conferences on the season at 22-18-3.

League teams played each-other in three games over the weekend. St. Lawrence picked up a win and a tie against arch-rival Clarkson. Kyle Hayton again stood on his head over the weekend, stopping 64 of the 66 shots he saw on the weekend. Yale and Princeton tied at the Liberty Invitational in the other matchup that featured two ECAC teams.

With the league season beginning in earnest last weekend, who would have thought that Rensselaer would come out of the weekend flying? Not me, but the Engineers surprisingly came out of nowhere to sweep Union to pick up two conference wins. Dartmouth and Harvard also skated to a 3-3 tie in an entertaining, exciting game of hockey at Harvard’s renovated Bright-Landry Hockey Center. This weekend will feature the first weekend of a full conference slate., as Yale, Quinnipiac, Brown, Princeton, Union and Rensselaer will all host games. We should get a better idea of which teams will be the ones to beat in the early going after this weekend. (more…)