Archive for the 'Commentary' Category

Hockey East Weekend Preview, 1/15/16

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

It’s hard to believe that the playoff push begins now, but with so many non-conference games over and done with, it’s the push run for Hockey East.

Here is a look at this weekend’s series:

Boston University vs. Boston College (home-and-home) — It’s the marquee matchup of the weekend, without question. We’re not sure if the Eagles will have Thatcher Demko back between the pipes as of this writing. The BC goaltender returned to practice this week after what was described as an “upper-body injury,” that according to some not-so-quiet whispers was a concussion.

BU was sparked last week by the returns of Ahti Oksanen and Matt Grzelcyk. Time is running out for the Terriers, however, if they want to be one of the top teams in the Hockey East standings come the end of the season. BU is only two points behind Notre Dame for third in the league, but the Irish have a game in hand. The Terriers sit four points bak of BC for second in Hockey East.

Mike’s Pick: Series split.

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Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/12

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Harvard struggled defensively last week, but its offense is still the most talented in the league. Despite a poor showing in the first period against Quinnipiac at Madison Square Garden, where they left trailing 4-0, the Crimson were able to come all the way back to force overtime. Quinnipiac got a goal from Derek Smith in a seeming fitting ending on the World’s Most Famous Stage. Struggles were abounded in non-league play, as SLU was swept by struggling Northeastern, while Colgate split with Maine in Orono.

This weekend marks the return of ECAC play for most league teams, while Quinnipiac and Princeton have the weekend off. Quinnipiac has a commanding lead in the standings, but it is not as large as it appears. Its lead over Cornell sits at nine points and it has a ten point lead on third place, RPI. But both the Big Red and Engineers have games in hand. Cornell has four games in hand, while RPI has three games on the Bobcats. Five points separate Harvard in fourth place and Union in tenth place. The battle for the last bye and home ice positioning looks to be as close as it usually is. but then again it is still early, with most teams yet to hit the halfway mark of the league slate. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/6

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

The ECAC keeps winning in non-conference play and in recent weeks it has picked up in regularity. Last weekend both Harvard and Dartmouth took home holiday tournament titles, while Union also went undefeated at the Ledyard Bank Classic and missed out to its conference rival on goal differential. Brown took down one of the best teams in the nation, defending national champion Providence, looking good in the process. RPI also split a non-conference series with Miami. Clarkson did the same against Bowling Green. All told, the league is now second in inter-conference record with a .620 winning percentage against the other leagues.

ECAC  teams have played strong schedules, partly because they have played each other but it is furthered by the fact it has played strong non-conference schedules. Dartmouth played a pair at Michigan, Brown played Providence twice, Quinnipiac hosted St. Cloud twice and so on and so forth. This helps the overall strength of schedule and because the league has won a good portion of these games, the ECAC is doing really well in the Pairwise. Quinnipiac and Harvard are one and two in the Pairwise, while four other teams join them in the top 15. All told, there are six teams in NCAA tournament positions (QU, Harvard, Cornell, Yale, SLU, RPI), five league teams in the top 10 of Pairwise and eight in the top 20. You can see how strong the schedules have been in the league, in CHN’s Krach ratings.

The most interesting addition in the top 20 is Dartmouth, who played a murderous schedule in the first winter and is 5-7-1, but because of its strength of schedule it is right in the thick of a tournament bid if it goes on a run in the second half. It could be a monumental year for the league in terms of the NCAA tournament and how many teams make it, if the trends continue. There will be no easy games in the second half of the conference slate. It seems as though there is a high probability of at least five teams, but six is a possibility. The worst case scenario seems to be four. (more…)

Growing Belief Among Coaches Big 10 Proposal Will Pass

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Talking to several college hockey coaches this week on a variety of topics, one issue that keeps coming up is the proposed Big 10 legislation to limit the recruiting of 21-year-old freshmen.

According to five different coaches this week, all who voted against the measure in the informal straw poll that was conducted, they expect the measure to pass when the NCAA council votes officially on the legislation next year.

As one coach put it:

“This is big in terms of college hockey, but for the people voting on this council, this is not a big deal. They’re going to look at this, see that it was proposed by the Big 10, and I’m expecting it will be passed in a matter of minutes. They’ll have more important things to discuss.”

If that comes to fruition, it’s good news for the 11 programs that voted in favor of the measure. Some of those head coaches have cited “stockpiling” as a reason for the proposal being needed.

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ECAC First Half Review

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

As always, the ECAC is not where we thought it would at this point in the season. Yale isn’t the dominant defensive team we thought it would be, Harvard’s offense is second to Quinnipiac, Cornell (I picked them 11th in preseason dumb ehh?) looks like a team to be reckoned with come March and well who thought RPI would ever have a nine game unbeaten streak?

The ECAC standings are extremely tight heading into the second half, with Quinnipiac having 14 points and Cornell close on its heels at 13. Cornell’s only ECAC league loss came to Quinnipiac, in a game it had a three goal lead and couldn’t hold on. Harvard and RPI are tied for third at 11 points, while St. Lawrence and Yale round out the top six with nine and eights points respectively. Any of those six teams are contenders at this point, because the bottom half have been less than stellar, or as I would like to say there is a step down in quality.

One of the biggest ECAC storylines of the first half is the quality of hockey being played throughout the league. The inter-conference record has been sparkling, although it has come down a bit in recent weeks. The .632 winning percentage in non-conference play has the league setup well in terms of the pairwise, as currently five teams are in NCAA tournament positioning. Quinnipiac sits first in the all important Pairwise rankings, while Harvard, Cornell, St. Lawrence and Yale sit sixth, seventh, 11th and 13th in those rankings. Even RPI sits in good positioning, as it is 17th in those rankings. Last year, the NCHC had a .652 inter-conference record and it had six teams in the tournament. Even more important for the ECAC as a league, it has a 24-16-3 against the two best conferences in the country, the NCHC and Hockey East. Maybe the ECAC is the best right now? Ya, lets see how the non-league games go in the next few weeks.

Well and to finish off I would like to say Happy Holidays to all. Hope all of you have an enjoyable holiday, no matter what you celebrate. See you in a week or so for my annual trip to Hanover’s Ledyard Bank Classic. (more…)

Breaking Down The Power Structure of the NCAA Council Vote

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

When the proposed Big Ten legislation on enrollment age for college hockey goes to vote in April, each of the 32 Division I conferences will receive a vote. However, some of those votes will count more than others. The votes are weighted, and the power conferences count more than the rest of Division I. The five autonomy conferences have their vote counted four times, while other non-FBS conferences have their votes counted twice and the rest of Division I conferences have their votes counted once.

It’s important to note that when the Big Ten legislation goes to vote, it will be decided by non-hockey conferences. In fact, the Big Ten itself is the only conference with direct voting power on the council.

“Legislation that is considered through the Council structure generally does get a final vote in April,” said Michelle Hosick, Associate Director of Public and Media Relations for the NCAA. “The Council members each have the ability to vote on legislation, whether or not they sponsor ice hockey. Some members without ice hockey may recuse themselves, but that doesn’t always happen.

“Every conference has a representative on the Council. The vote of a representative from one of the five autonomy conferences counts four times. The vote of a representative from one of the five non-FBS conferences counts two times. The vote of remaining representatives count once.”

Other schools could have influence on how their individual conference votes, but there’s no guarantee. To pass the legislation, all it needs is a simple majority.

There are 22 programs (36.7% of college hockey) that has no representation whatsoever on the NCAA council that will vote on this new legislation.

Here is a breakdown:

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Reacting to the Proposed Big Ten Legislation

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

As reported by College Hockey News on Tuesday, the Big Ten has proposed legislation to the NCAA that would lower the age limit on incoming hockey recruits from 21 to 20 years old, or two years after a player’s expected high school graduation date.

That proposal, and the manner in which it was proposed, has stirred considerable controversy.

First, there’s the proposal itself. The timing of it and the intentions are considered suspect by some coaches who are adamantly opposed to it. Then there’s the process in which it was proposed. Instead of debating this legislation as a college hockey body in Florida at the annual coaches convention, as all legislation in the past has been handled, the Big Ten proposed this unilaterally, without notification to its other conference partners.

That could be the bigger concern.

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12 Hockey East thoughts for Oct. 23, 2015

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

All 12 Hockey East teams are in action this weekend with four playing home-and-home series in the league standings. Let’s take a look around the league with 12 thoughts for 12 teams …

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Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Oct. 19

Monday, October 19th, 2015

The first full weekend for Big Ten hockey saw Michigan open its season against Mercyhurst. The Wolverines swept the Lakers and scored six goals on Friday. Meanwhile Minnesota’s struggles continued, and the Gophers are now 0-3 after a series sweep by Minnesota-Duluth.

The Buckeyes are 0-4 on the season after dropping two series to in-state rivals Bowling Green and Miami. Penn State split its series with Notre Dame, while Michigan State was swept by Denver.

Wisconsin’s woes continued thanks to a road sweep in Boston, although there were a couple of positives from the losses. The Badgers have some talent, but they’re too inexperienced and reliant on underclassmen. Still, this isn’t last year’s Badger team.

It’s early in the season, but so far Kyle Connor is leading the Wolverines in scoring. He has four points through two games, including three goals. And Michigan is sixth in the country with an average of 4.50 goals per game.

While it’s still early in the season, it looks like this will be another year of non-conference struggles for the Big Ten. Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State are the only teams with wins.

(After the jump: Matt Jurusik will be Wisconsin’s starter, a new basement team for the Big Ten and it’s going to be a tough season for Minnesota.)

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Random thoughts heading into Hockey East’s second weekend

Friday, October 16th, 2015

The results around Hockey East on opening weekend where, in a word, interesting. UMass swept Colorado College, Boston College and Boston University both suffered losses in the Capital Region while Providence impressed at Miami, Lowell beat a good RPI team and Maine picked up two ties in the IceBreaker, including one against North Dakota.

It’s dangerous to make any assumptions about a team — good or bad — based on one or two games, but here goes nothing …

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