Archive for the 'Notes, Thoughts, Ramblings' Category

Atlantic Hockey Notebook 10/15

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Another Atlantic Hockey season is underway, with a lot of questions at the helm. Can Air Force build off their championship success in the postseason to fight their way to the top during the regular season? Will Mercyhurst be the best team in Atlantic Hockey? Can teams like Sacred Heart, Bentley and Niagara find ways to improve this season and move up in the standings?

As of October 15, only four teams have been in conference action so far in Atlantic Hockey; Canisius, Holy Cross, Niagara and AIC have all played a pair of conference games, and have each gone 1-1.

The Golden Griffins and Crusaders split a pair of games this weekend in Worcester. Holy Cross came off Friday night with a 4-2 win behind a pair of goals from Mitch Collett; Peter Crinella and Neil Robinson also scored in the win. Tommy Nixon stopped 28 shots. The teams battled hard in their Saturday night rematch, with Canisius narrowly edging Holy Cross 7-6 thanks to four goals in the third period.

Alternate captain Dylan McLaughlin had a goal and two assists, while Tucker Weppner had 20 saves in his first NCAA Division I collegiate victory. Sophomore forward Austin Alger made his debut for Canisius this past weekend after being granted a waiver by the NCAA. He is a transfer from Miami (Ohio).

Elsewhere, Niagara and AIC split a pair of games. The Purple Eagles won 4-3 in overtime on Friday, but the Yellow Jackets snagged a 3-1 victory Saturday. Ludwig Stenlund had a pair of goals Friday, including the overtime game-winner, while Dylan Mills registered three assists for Niagara.

On Saturday, the teams exchanged power play goals before the Yellow Jackets pulled ahead thanks to a goal late in the second period by Darius Davidson. Kyle Stephan added an insurance goal in the third, and Stefano Durante registered 13 saves.

In non-conference action, Mercyhurst fell to Miami (Ohio) (3-0) and tied 6-6 with the University of Notre Dame in the Icebreaker Tournament. (Since it was a tournament game, it went to a shootout, which Notre Dame won). Air Force fell to Denver 4-1, then Colorado College 6-1. UConn topped Army, but the Black Knights came back with a 3-2 win Saturday over Merrimack.

Bentley dropped a 1-0 decision to Merrimack, while RIT split the weekend with UMass Lowell, falling 2-1 Friday before winning 5-4 in overtime Saturday. Finally, Sacred Heart lost both games against Northeastern, while Robert Morris split their weekend series with Bowling Green.

Lots of action in the week ahead, with Bentley and AIC facing off for a series on Tuesday & Thursday. Army and Robert Morris meet for a pair of games, as do Air Force and Canisius. Non-conference opponents include Penn State (Niagara), St. Lawrence (Holy Cross), Ferris State (Mercyhurst), Colgate (RIT) and Clarkson (Holy Cross).

Here are the current Atlantic Hockey standings:

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

The Curious Case of UAA’s Coaching Position

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Mark Divver reported on Saturday that Providence assistant coach Kris Mayotte turned down the UAA head coaching job. That’s strike three for the Seawolves.

Just before the Frozen Four, our own Chris Boulay reported that UAA had three finalists — Mayotte, UMass Lowell assistant Cam Ellsworth and Denver assistant David Carle. Then this week, CHN learned that both Carle and Ellsworth had declined the job. Mayotte was the third.

Where did UAA go wrong? Well, part of it could be their target list. There were reportedly 43 applicants, and UAA chose to target some of the brightest — and youngest — up-and-coming assistants in college hockey. That’s usually not a mistake, but in Anchorage’s case it probably was.

There are serious question marks surrounding the long-term viability of the UAA program. Right now, there’s no permanent athletic director. Candidates have to wonder who they will be working for? That’s a big question, and it looms even larger when you’re talking about moving your family to Alaska. On top of that, there is the possibility of one of the Alaska programs folding into the other one, as the state tries to come to grips with budget problems. There’s the perception out there, among coaches and certainly among recruits, that those programs are in trouble.

For Ellsworth (37), Mayotte (35) and Carle (28), their futures are bright. UAA could be a place their careers go to die, and the money isn’t going to be enough to make up for it.

In 2015, UAF ran an Athletics Financial Assessment. You can view the report by clicking here. In it, the coaching salaries for UAA hockey was listed at around $485,000. But, that number likely includes both assistant coaches as well as any other benefits (insurance, phone, car, etc.) and bonuses. The $485,000 was not Matt Thomas’ salary alone.

So if the money isn’t there — let’s say it’s $200,000 per year — then why would a top assistant (who is probably making slightly north of $100,000), give up their career prospects for a few more bucks from UAA? It’s a tough sell. Especially if you have a family. If things go sour at UAA again, you end up out of a job and you’ve made a few hundred grand extra over 4-5 years. That’s not enough to retire on … especially if you’re only in your early-40’s.

The Seawolves have had one winning season since 1993 and they’ve gone through five head coaches. At some point, it’s not the people in charge of the team, it’s other institutional factors. Some of those factors can’t be changed, like the university’s location.

Coaches want to be head coaches. No one aspires to be an assistant. But when you have three guys like Ellsworth, Carle and Mayotte, they have to be selective about that first job. They need to go to a program that, while maybe it has struggled, has sent coaches to bigger and better programs. Brett Larson going to St. Cloud State is a good example. Take Nate Leaman, who went to Union after Kevin Sneddon left to go to Vermont. At UAA, coaches have coached for a few years and then people grow restless and coaches get fired. That’s not going to boost up anyone’s resume.

Situations like St. Cloud State don’t come up often. Teams that make coaching changes usually need to be torn apart and rebuilt. But coaches need the assurance that the tools will be there for them to succeed. UAA has too many questions surrounding it.

NCHC Final Weekend: Playoff Races, Scoring Titles

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The NCHC wraps up its regular season this weekend while the other five conferences start their conference tournaments. Here’s a look at the storylines for this weekend in terms of playoff positioning, and the scoring titles up for grabs.

First, here are the current NCHC standings:

NCHC
Conference Overall
GP W-L-T SOW PTS GF-GA GP  W-L-T GF-GA
1 St. Cloud State 22 15-4-3 1 49 87-54 32 21-6-5 122-78
2 Denver 22 11-6-5 4 42 67-47 32 17-8-7 104-67
3 Minnesota-Duluth 22 12-10-0 36 74-51 34 18-13-3 109-75
4 North Dakota 22 8-9-5 2 31 66-62 34 14-11-9 98-82
5 Nebraska-Omaha 22 9-12-1 28 70-92 32 16-14-2 113-121
Western Michigan 22 9-12-1 28 73-90 32 14-16-2 106-118
Colorado College 22 7-11-4 3 28 59-76 32 13-14-5 90-103
8 Miami 22 6-13-3 1 22 56-80 32 11-17-4 89-108

 

St. Cloud State has wrapped up the Penrose Cup as the NCHC regular season champion and will therefore be the No. 1 seed in the NCHC tournament. The Huskies will likely host Miami in the NCHC quarterfinals (a best-of-three series) next weekend.

As far as I can tell, the only way this doesn’t happen — based on the NCHC tiebreaker scenarios — is if Miami sweeps Denver on the road this weekend (winning in regulation or the first overtime) AND Western Michigan does the same to Colorado College AND Minnesota-Duluth does the same to Nebraska-Omaha. That would leave Miami, CC, and Omaha in a three-way tie for last place with 28 points, and CC would finish as the 8th seed based on having fewer regular season conference wins than Miami. But again… three weekend sweeps with no games going to overtime, including a Miami sweep of Denver… is probably not going to happen. So you can all but pencil in a trip for the RedHawks to St. Cloud next weekend.

Denver will be the No. 2 seed and their second round opponent is to be determined by this weekend’s games. And Minnesota-Duluth will host a first round playoff series, too, likely as the third seed, but can drop to fourth if — for example — the Bulldogs get swept by Omaha AND North Dakota (a team win only two wins in its last 11 games) sweeps St. Cloud State.

Of course, the real intrigue comes down to which team ends up with the final home-ice spot for the NCHC quarterfinals — North Dakota, CC, Western Michigan, or Omaha. The fact that CC could technically finish with a home-ice spot OR finish last in the conference shows how wild the NCHC has been this season. As you can see from the standings above, North Dakota controls its own destiny, but hosting the No. 1 team in the country will be a big challenge. Expect the aforementioned tiebreakers to come into play to ultimately determine playoff seeding. There’s no easy matchup in the league, but teams are certainly going to want to avoid finishing seventh — which would mean a trip to the reigning national champions, Denver.

And lastly. this weekend for North Dakota and Omaha is huge on the national stage as well, with each team squarely inside the NCAA Pairwise bubble at the moment.

SCORING TITLES

Heading into the weekend, Denver’s Henrik Borgstrom leads the conference with 30 points in NCHC play, but CC’s Nick Halloran and Omaha’s David Pope (who leads the conference with 14 goals scored, 11 of which have come on the power play) are certainly within striking distance for the scoring title:

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Three Things I Think: Atlantic Hockey, Feb. 26

Monday, February 26th, 2018

The Atlantic Hockey regular season is now officially in the books. Mercyhurst finishes the season atop the conference, thanks in part to a four-game winning streak to end the season and a whopping 12 wins since January 1. The Lakers, along with Canisius, Air Force, Army and Holy Cross, all get a bye through the first round of playoffs.

Here are the final regular season Atlantic Hockey standings:

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

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Close Battles Aplenty in ECAC’s Final Weekend

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Going into the final weekend, the Cleary Cup is Cornell’s to lose. For Union to catch them, the Big Red would need to lose in a sweep. Beyond the top of the standings, the races are close. Cornell, Union, Clarkson and Harvard will own the byes, but positioning is up for grabs. The only way Union can win the Cleary Cup would be a win against Colgate on Friday night, a Cornell loss for a second time this season against lowly RPI, and a victory over the Big Red at home on Saturday. It is possible, but Saturday will probably end up pretty insignificant, and then we will think of what could have been.

In terms of positions 2-4 in the standings, Union has a four-point lead on Clarkson and would need to lose a sweep to forfeit that spot. Clarkson has the tiebreakers on the Dutchmen with two wins against them this season. The more interesting battle is for third and fourth, but does it really matter? The Golden Knights and Harvard are separated by a lone point. Clarkson has Princeton and Quinnipiac at home, while the Crimson travels to Brown and Yale. Harvard does own the tiebreakers.

The battle for positioning at the top is not the only entertaining part of this weekend: Only three points separate positions 5-9. Dartmouth is currently in fifth and is probably pretty close to a lock to the first home-ice spot. It has a big game against Yale on Friday night, which is two points back in a tie for seventh. Colgate is a point back of the Big Green in sixth, while Princeton is also in the driver’s seat for a home-ice series next weekend tied with the Bulldogs in seventh.

Dartmouth and Yale will provide the only matchup between teams within the 5-9 band, which is quite remarkable given the number of teams involved. They will faceoff on Friday night at Ingalls Rink in New Haven in what should be an energy-charged game. Yale probably has more on the line given its position and the fact it has Harvard on Saturday night. The Big Green won the reverse fixture, 3-1, in Hanover. The game will also feature the return of Yale coach Keith Allain, who will be back from his role as assistant coach of Team USA.

Quinnipiac is hot on the trail of all these teams and is the only team not in the top 9 to have a chance for home ice. It is a lone point back with games against Clarkson and St. Lawrence. The Bobcats swept the home weekend against the two and will be looking to do the same on the road. If it does so, one would assume they would be at home. The Bobcats have made the league’s championship weekend every year for the last five seasons, last missing it when Atlantic City hosted in 2012. QU has finished in the top 8 of the ECAC every year since 2005-06, its first season in the league.

Brown, Rensselaer and St. Lawrence will finish 10-11-12 in the league and will travel for the first round.

Some random thoughts

No Clear-cut favorite and early picks for the Tournament

Yah, Cornell has been good, but does it have enough possession? Can it get enough shots? Does it have the experience to win in the tournament? Time will tell for the Big Red, I suppose. I personally think if I had to pick a matchup for the Championship game based on how the matchups play out, it would be Clarkson and Harvard. Joe Meloni hit the nail on the head in his piece on Clarkson this week… Despite a 1-5-3 mark in its last nine games, the Golden Knights have been snake-bitten and played bad hockey. The bounces just aren’t going their way. The possession is still there and the top-line, which has been really quiet, will wake up. It is not too late. In terms of Harvard, two words-Ryan Donato. The Crimson defense is also really good, and so is Merrick Madsen.

Still picking Harvard to win it, so sue me everyone or just attack me on twitter at @JoshSeguin24 (honestly, I like it). The scoring has come around and with Donato back it should be fun.

The first round is going to be really interesting, but so will the quarters.

Given how close the 5-9 band of teams are, the first round should pack a lot of interest. Also, St. Lawrence is a team I would watch and the one that could pull an upset. Yah the Saints have had a rough season, but considering the drama that plagued them all season is gone… one should assume the recent better play will continue. In terms of the next round, look out for Princeton and Colgate as lower ranked teams that could make Lake Placid. The Raiders have Colton Point and we all know the story with goalies and tournaments. The Tigers, on the other hand, may have shaky defense and goaltending. But, man, can they score goals and quickly! Quinnipiac is also dangerous because of the experience. Should make for an interesting three weeks.

ECAC, Harvard and Yale a Clear Winner at the Olympics

The ECAC boys scored 7 of the 11 goals for Team USA in South Korea. Harvard’s Ryan Donato had five goals for the Americans, while Mark Arcobello and Brian O”Neill each had goals for the red, white and blue. Kudos to Yale coach, Keith Allain, as well. Not only did he get good press for himself and his program, his former players also played big roles. Both O’Neill and Arcobello played phenomenal hockey, while Broc Little also had a good showing. Ted Donato, of course, is a winner too. After his reactions to his sons’ goals, who wouldn’t want to play for the man? He did himself a lot of good and got great publicity for his program by just showing up. Overall, the tournament was a win for the league.

Playoff hockey is a week away, lets rejoice and be glad.

I will end on that note – no need to say anything else. Enjoy this weekend’s games!

Three Things I Think: Atlantic Hockey, Feb. 18

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Well, here we are. It’s nearly the end of the Atlantic Hockey regular season, with just one more weekend to go before playoffs begin. But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about this past weekend, because it was certainly an interesting one.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings as of Feb. 18:

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

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Random Hockey East Thoughts (2/16)

Friday, February 16th, 2018

— The two Beanpot losses for Boston College looks really costly, at least right now. The Eagles fell to No. 21 in the Pairwise after Monday’s loss to Harvard in the tournament’s consolation game. Playing with the Pairwise results, if the Eagles beat Northeastern in the opening round and then beat Harvard in the finals (we only had the option of changing games that were actually played, but a win over Harvard or BU would be similar) then the Eagles would find themselves all the way up at No. 14 in the Pairwise right now, solidly on the NCAA bubble rather than on the outside looking in.

— So much for the thought that UConn would struggle without Adam Huska, who was injured after a game at Merrimack on Jan. 12. The Huskies have won six games in a row (6-1) all with Tanner Creel between the pipes. Creel’s season-long numbers aren’t great (3.14, .896) but he has posted a 2.44 GAA and a .919 save percentage since Huska went down. During this six-game winning streak, Creel has a .923 save percentage.

— Speaking of predictions gone awry, Vermont is unbeaten in its last seven games (5-0-2), and in reality, that should be its last eight after blowing a lead against UMass Lowell. The Catamounts went from a last-place lock to a team that looks like it might host a first-round Hockey East playoff series.

— As the top-two scorers in the country, Adam Gaudette and Dylan Sikura are getting much-deserved attention, but all that attention is throwing some shade on Nolan Stevens’ tremendous senior year. Back after an injury-plagued junior year, Stevens already has 20 goals, which is tied for third in the nation, and this is his second career 20-goal campaign. Last year he had 10 goals in 17 games, meaning he was on pace for 20 goals. Stevens, flying under the radar, has put together a very impressive goal-scoring career.

Series of the Week: Northeastern vs. Vermont 

This is a big weekend for the Catamounts. They’re at home, with a chance to prove these last seven games aren’t a fluke. Vermont’s analytics suggest that the recent level of play is unsustainable, which I understand, but a solid weekend against Northeastern could lock down a home-ice spot and have the Catamounts feeling even better about themselves heading into the playoffs. This will be one of the toughest tests for them in this stretch, despite the games coming at home.

 

Three Things I Think: Atlantic Hockey, Feb. 14

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

The race for the top of Atlantic Hockey is really heating up. Canisius managed to stay in first despite splitting the weekend with Army, but Mercyhurst – with two wins and an OT loss, and Holy Cross, who lost twice this weekend, are nipping at their heels.

The Griffs are now 15-13-2 overall on the season, while the Lakers are 15-11-4. The Crusaders are 12-13-7.

Robert Morris’ Brady Ferguson continues to lead the conference in scoring, with 42 points (15-27) in 30 games. Canisius’ Dylan McLaughlin has 39 points in 29 games, and RMU’s Alex Tonge has 35 points (12-23) in 30 games. Holy Cross’ Scott Pooley is also averaging a point-per-game with just two weeks left in the regular season.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings as of February 13, following the noontime Air Force vs. Sacred Heart game, with each team’s number of remaining games:

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

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ECAC Notepad 2/7

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Heading into the stretch run in the ECAC is always a love-hate relationship for me as a reporter.

The good teams always drop games they should win and the teams that have been struggling usually come up with big results.

Over the weekend it began as Clarkson fell to Quinnipiac and Princeton, while Cornell fell to Rensselaer. It was a weird weekend, but outcomes like this are not abnormal as ECAC teams tend to beat up on themselves.

Clarkson and Cornell have some leeway in terms of the pairwise, but more losses like they had last weekend will be damaging. The Big Red also announced this morning that Mitch Vanderlaan will be out for the regular season, but it sounds like there is hope for a playoff return.

This weekend Clarkson and Cornell will face off in Potsdam in what could be the biggest game of the stretch run. The Big Red enjoys a three-point lead in the ECAC standings on the Golden Knights. Cornell is fourth in the Pairwise after its loss to RPI, while Clarkson has dropped in recent weeks from a peak of two down to seven. It was inevitably a big game, but it probably won’t impose the influence it could have been a few weeks ago when both were ranked in the top four in the country.

Clarkson has a two point lead on Union in third and three points on Harvard in fourth. The Crimson have a gulf of four points on Colgate in fifth, but also have one less league game. Two points separate Colgate in fifth and Princeton/Dartmouth in seventh, while Quinnipiac is three points back of fifth. Another big game this weekend will be when Yale hosts Quinnipiac on Friday night, as the Bulldogs sit in ninth just one point back of the Bobcats in eighth. That race should be fascinating to watch going forward.

For now, here are my notes for this week:

Below the Break: Ryan Kuffner has been scoring at a high rate, is Quinnipiac back on Track, Colgate relies on Colton Point, Clarkson’s struggles, RPI and Harvard will be fine. (more…)

Three Things I Think: Atlantic Hockey, Feb. 5

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Just three weeks remain in the Atlantic Hockey regular season, and it’s still anyone’s conference to win. After a split weekend, Canisius and Holy Cross remain tied with 28 points, though the Griffs have the extra edge (14-2-2) that’s putting them in first with more games left to play.

With a pair of wins this weekend, Robert Morris is just two points behind, with Mercyhurst a pair behind them.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings as of February 5, with the number of games each team has remaining:

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

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