Archive for the 'Commentary' Category

Three Things I Think: ECAC, 10/16

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

The first weeks of the regular season are past us and for the non-Ivy league schools some trends are taking shape. We are about a week and a half away from when the Ivy League schools begin play. Harvard and Cornell will each open their seasons on Friday October, 28th against Arizona State and Merrimack, respectively. Conference play will begin the next weekend, with Quinnipiac/Clarkson probably the best matchup in the first week. This weekend there will be many intriguing non-conference matchups, which I will delve on later in the week in my weekend preview blog.

The league as a whole had a good weekend in non-conference and some younger players are coming forward, while some newer trusted hands are also breaking out. While the league has no one that remains undefeated, St. Lawrence and Quinnipiac again look poised to be near the top. SLU after a struggle in the opener, has looked lights out in the past three games, winning going away in each. Clarkson has been a tad inconsistent over the first couple weeks. Colgate, is having some expected bumps early on, RPI is surprisingly as well. Quinnipiac has been hit or miss in the early going and Union has had a decent start to the year with a win and a loss at Michigan, with a win and draw against AIC and Sacred Heart over the weekend. Clarkson split its two weekends against Hockey East foes. All told over the first two weekends ECAC teams have gone 9-9-4. (more…)

Hockey East Has Plans in Place For 11-Team Schedule

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

With Notre Dame’s departure from Hockey East coming at the end of the 2016-17 season, the league is moving forward with plans for an 11-team schedule beginning with the 2017-18 season.

According to several sources, plans were discussed by league athletic directors and administrators over the course of this summer, and while nothing has been formally finalized, the leading scenario would include a 24-game league schedule with all 11 teams qualifying for the Hockey East tournament. Currently, Hockey East utilizes a 22-game league schedule (11 opponents x 2 games), however many coaches wanted to see more league games added in an effort to minimize the number of non-conference games that need to be scheduled on a yearly basis.

Expansion plans for a 12th team have been discussed, but nothing is imminent. It appears that the league is willing to wait for the right fit and won’t be in a rush to court another program just to get the league back to 12 teams. After all, Hockey East functioned for many years as a nine-team league. While an even number of teams is ideal from a scheduling standpoint, it’s certainly not necessary.

The proposed 24-game schedule would consist of:

  • Two games against each of the other 10 Hockey East opponents broken into one home and one away game, with exceptions made for Vermont and Maine (2 home or 2 away, alternating yearly).
  • The final four league games would be determined by an algorithm based on the standings from the previous season. Those four games would include two home games and two road games.
  • Each team would play 12 home games and 12 road games.

Everything is pretty normal until we get to that second bullet point, where it’s been proposed that they utilize a weighted schedule. Teams can fluctuate so much from year to year, especially with the graduation of a large senior class or a slew of pro signings. However, there’s no fair way to project regression. It’s similar to the old league schedule where teams would play opponents three times, two on one campus and one at the other. There seems to be much more thought going into this proposed schedule, whereas before the 2-and-1 format felt like it was randomized, alternating on a year-by-year basis.

It has also been proposed that all 11 teams make the Hockey East tournament, with the top-5 teams getting byes in the first round and 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 12 and 8 vs. 9 determining the final three spots in the quarterfinals. Many believed, when Hockey East adopted the format where all teams qualified, that it was done so in an effort to help the team seeded fifth. Within a 12-team league, that fifth team would host the last-place team for a series at home, more often than not giving them two more wins in the Pairwise which could help Hockey East get another team into the NCAA Tournament. That rationale won’t exist in a format where the top-5 teams receive byes.

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…)

2016 CHN Pairwise Live Blog

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Possession (Again) Not a Factor as UNH Opens Playoffs With Win Over Merrimack

Friday, March 4th, 2016

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — For the second time this season, Merrimack outshot New Hampshire by a wide margin but walked away without a win, as the Wildcats took the lead in the best-of-three Hockey East playoff series after scoring a 3-1 win over the Warriors last night.

UNH leads the series, 1-0. Merrimack will need to win tonight’s Game 2 in order to extend its season or else the Warriors will become the first team in college hockey this season to see it’s campaign come to a close.

Merrimack finished the night with a 79-50 Corsi advantage (61.2%), and earlier this season, when the Wildcats beat the Warriors 4-2 on Halloween, Merrimack had a 75-30 Corsi advantage (71.4%). In those two losses alone, Merrimack controlled 65.8% of the possession.

“I think if we play like that again we’re going to win,” Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said. “That’s been my experience. You throw that much rubber at a goaltender, and it wasn’t like these were all outside shots, they were inside, too. I thought we had plenty of chances to score. You tip your cap and get back at it.

“What we need to do is pay attention when we’re not in their zone. Their first goal, we just fell asleep. We had five guys back, it was a little quick counter and those guys don’t need a lot of space to score goals. That’s on us. You can’t fall asleep there. That’s too easy a goal, especially after how hard we need to work. You know that they can be sleepy. That’s what they do. It’s like the old Miami Dolphin defense, bend don’t break, right? They give up 15 shots and then they go down and they score. They transition, so you need to pay attention. You can’t fall asleep for a second.”

UNH received two goals from freshman Marcus Vela, who scored from the slot after a blocked shot early in the third period, and then tacked on the empty-net goal from the neutral zone to ice the game.

“Every shot in here is a good shot,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “We watched them play and they throw the puck to the net a lot. Deflections, rebounds, and if you are in position to go to the net, you get some scoring chances.”

Projected Hockey East Standings Using KRACH (2/16/16)

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 10.46.44 AM

Projected Hockey East standings using the KRACH rating system.

With two weeks to go in the regular season, Boston College is still projected to finish atop the Hockey East standings, despite Notre Dame pulling ahead of the Eagles this past weekend.

Using the KRACH to project points earned for every Hockey East team in the final two weekends, the Eagles, thanks to a much easier schedule than the Fighting Irish, are projected to win the league by more than one point.

Aside from that, the standings look much like they do right now. Boston University is projected to be the first team out of the first-round bye spots, with Lowell edging the Terriers by one point. Northeastern continues to surge here at the end of the season, and they also have the league’s easiest schedule remaining, but they can’t catch the Terriers regardless of how well they do. What Northeastern’s play, plus easy schedule, does for the Huskies is give them some breathing room with Vermont.


Quinnipiac’s First Conference Loss Almost Seemed Inevitable

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

It was bound to happen and in all honesty Quinnipiac’s first loss in the ECAC has been brewing for some time. The Bobcats probably should have lost a few games in recent weeks. There was the miracle goal with 9.8 seconds left against RPI, which probably was put in by an Engineer defender, that provided a tie in that game. Then there was the comeback against Dartmouth from down three goals in the third period, which wasn’t all that special but more of a bloodbath. Before those games it was a win against Princeton, where it trailed by a pair in the second period.

To say the Bobcats were playing well, would have been a wrong assumption, but the fact they got this far without a conference loss is notable and an accomplishment. Since the break, whether it be complacency or overconfidence or peaking too early, QU just hasn’t been the team that it was in the first half of the season. (more…)

Hockey East Weekend Preview: 2/12/16

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Maine at Notre Dame — Maine hits the road after getting swept by Providence last weekend, while Notre Dame is looking to put together a new unbeaten streak, after Boston College snapped the longest streak in the nation two weeks ago. The Irish got back on track with a sweep over Vermont last weekend.

During a stretch of 15 games where the Irish have gone 11-1-3, goaltender Cal Petersen has a .946 save percentage.

For Maine, much of any success rest of season will come down to how well its goaltender plays. In overall games (not just conference games), Maine’s 1.93 goals per game is worst in Hockey East. Last weekend, in a 1-0 overtime loss to Providence, Matt Morris made 50 saves to almost earn Maine a point, despite the Black Bears getting almost doubled-up in shot attempts, 85-45 (75-39 at even strength).


Projecting the Final Hockey East Standings Using KRACH

Monday, February 8th, 2016

At College Hockey News, we endorse the KRACH ratings as the best way to compare college hockey teams. The KRACH stands for “Ken’s Ratings For American College Hockey,” and it was first applied to college hockey by statistician Ken Butler, hence the name.

Butler uses a mathematical model known as the Bradley-Terry rating system.


BC Student Manager, Van Kula, Backing Up Demko In Beanpot

Monday, February 1st, 2016

With injuries sidelining Boston College goaltenders Chris BirdsallAlex Joyce and Ian Milosz, the Eagles will turn to their student manager, Chuck Van Kula, to backup Thatcher Demko tonight in the Beanpot.

From what I can find on Google, Van Kula played at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia and was an ICSHL All Star in 2013. He started 93 games over his final three years at St. Joseph’s, posting a 2.84 goals-against average and an .892 save percentage his senior year.

Van Kula is a sophomore at Boston College, and is scheduled to graduate in 2018.