Archive for the 'Hockey East' Category

The Takeaway: NU Remains Winless in 4-3 Loss at Quinnipiac

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Hamden, Ct. - Northeastern has struggled to this point scoring goals but tonight was a different story, as it ran into a team that has been struggling to keep pucks out of the net. The game was marred with penalties, including 34 PIMS in the second period combined. Northeastern opened the scoring at seven minutes, 45 seconds of the first period, when Mike Szmatula collected his own rebound in the slot putting it over the glove of Michael Garteig.Szmatula would follow that goal up with a power-play tally four minutes later to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead after a period.

The floodgates opened in second period but so did the penalty box, as the teams combined for 34 penalty minutes in the stanza. Landon Smith would open the scoring 23 seconds into the period and follow it up 10:29 to tie the game at two. NU would respond 31 seconds later to retake the lead on a Ryan Rosenthal goal. Andrew Taverner finished off the wild four goal period at 18:53 to send the game into the third tied at three.

The third period saw the teams trade chances, but Quinnipiac was the only to team to find the net. Sorren Jonzzon scored to make the game 4-3, which held for the Bobcat victory. Quinnipiac improves its record to 3-2-1 on the season, while Northeastern’s troubles continue at 0-6-0. Both teams will play conference games next weekend.Inline image 1

What I Saw

  • Northeastern and Quinnipiac struggled to find rhythm, mainly caused by the amount of penalties that were called on both teams. All told 80 penalty minutes were called in the game and 10 power-plays were handed out. At five on five the game was played at a standstill, mainly because of the lack of flow.
  • Quinnipiac outchanced Northeastern, but when NU had glorious chances it finished. This game had few nice saves, as the goalies stopped everything that should have been stopped and the defenses just struggled to cover the men left open in the slots. Whereas Quinipiac is struggling, NU is more so. The Bobcat defense still has holes and it showed tonight. as none of the goals were bad goals given up by its goalie. Michael Garteig still doesn’t bail his team out in goal, which has been problematic for QU.
  • Northeastern has struggled to score, which has been mainly caused by possession problems. Tonight it was much of the same, but it wasn’t dominated by any means. The shots on goal were close but the amount of possession time was still controlled by QU. For them to get wins in the tough Hockey East, this will need to improve but it is not a new problem as it has been ongoing.

What I Thought

  • Landon Smith was in the right places at the right time. To begin the second period, Rand Pecknold put him on the first line with Sam Anas and Matt Peca. It paid immediate dividends as the line scored on its first shift, 23 seconds into the period. Smith and Macmaster are both talented freshman forwards, but Smith proved he deserved a shot on the top line with his play tonight. His second goal, was a rebound goal in front of the net. His presence immediately turned the tide for the Bobcats.
  • Northeastern is snake-bitten but isn’t doing itself any favors. After the a successful first period, the Huskies fell apart by taking penalties and just making small mistakes that caused the game to get away. They had chances to win the game and score but those chances are going by the wayside. For them to get off the schneid, their game will need to be simplified. Right now, it seems to be a case of holding the sticks tight and not getting the bounces in their favor.
  • Mike Szmatula found the scoresheet twice in the game and Kevin Roy chipped in with two assists. The guys that Northeastern need to get scoring have begun to do so, which can only mean good things for NU. Entering the weekend, NU had scored a mere four goals in its four contests. This weekend the Huskies saw its first line come alive. Kevin Roy registered a goal and three assists to go along with the pair of genos scored by Szmatula tonight. It is a step in the right direction, but it wasn’t able to register the win.

What They Said 

Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said,

“Congratulations to Quinnipiac. They are a team that plays hard, is well coached and well balanced. In the third we felt good but they scored a goal. This is not where we want to be our how we drew it up, our record is our record. We need to get the monkey off our back.”

“When you’re not winning you need to do all the little things well. I thought we did more of that tonight with an emphasis on it but discipline is part of it.”

Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said,

“We are ecstatic with the win tonight and the sweep on the weekend. It wasn’t our best hockey but to be down 2-0 and battle back, I liked our energy. We really showed a lot of compete.”

“We were flat in the first period, so we juggled a couple of lines. It works once in a while and it worked well tonight. Landon had started there at the beginning of the year. Landon gave us some jump on that line and that kind of energized Sam and Matt.”

Quinnipiac forward Landon Smith said,

They are two very good hockey players and I felt fortunate to be out there with them. I have really good chemistry with them, so hopefully we can continue that.” (In response to his move to the top line before the second period)

Quinnipiac forward Sam Anas said,

“The three of us worked well together, but I think the team needed a change. We needed to shake things up and try to get some momentum on our side. There was no way better to do that then a goal on the first shift.”

What Else You Should Know

Qunnipiac will host the two headed monsters of Colgate and Cornell next weekend. The confidence of this weekend should prove large heading into its first conference weekend, but it won’t be easy. Cornell is entering the weekend off a loss and a tie to Nebraska-Omaha, but should be pretty good with all the returning skaters in its roster. Colgate fell to 6-2-0 on the young season on Saturday in a 2-1 loss to Mercyhurst.

Things won’t get any easier for Northeastern as it will play UMass-Lowell in a home and home series next weekend. The Huskies are still winless and just need to get the proverbial monkey off the back.

Jim Madigan gave some injury updates after the game. Clay Witt’s timetable is up in the air, as Madigan said  “They are going day-to-day hopefully week to week.” Madigan also said, “Colton Saucerman is getting close and Snydeman is day-to-day.”

The Takeaway: Lowell Locks Down UNH, wins 2-0

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Durham, NH- Despite controlling the play for much of the first 40 minutes of play, Lowell was able to play consistent defense in front of its goaltender to take a 2-0 lead after two periods. The River Hawks opened the scoring at 16 minutes, 40 seconds of the first period when John Edwardh took a lively bounce off the board and put it into the open net. it was much of the same in the second period until Lowell again got a lively bounce to work in its favor. This time AJ White took a feed to the weak side and put it past Clark to give UML the 2-0 lead after two.

Lowell would look comfortable in third and continued to hold UNH to the outside areas of the Ice. UML improves its record to 4-1-1 on the year, 2-0-0 in Hockey East. UNH falls to 2-3-0, 0-1-0. UNH has yet to lose consecutive games, but haven’t put together a winning streak as such. Lowell has now won two games in a row for the second time this season. The Wildcats out-shot the River Hawks 34-17, but were unable to solve Kevin Boyle. (more…)

Hockey East Weekend Preview, Oct. 31

Friday, October 31st, 2014

The college hockey season started a few weeks ago. Only now, though, comes a full slate of games. All 12 Hockey East teams are in action twice this weekend with four two-game series in the league and four teams playing a pair of non-conference games.

The first few weeks of the season are always a bit disjointed. Teams play one or no games in a weekend, and it’s not easy to assess their efforts in single games when their league foes have played as many as three more games than they have.

At this point, teams are still more focused on the process than results. Wins are important, of course, but no team with a poor start can afford to panic just yet. The same is true of clubs off to hot starts.

Come Monday morning, the Hockey East picture will, of course, still be very incomplete, but we’ll have a better idea. This piece will be a new weekly feature designed to highlight a few things I’m keeping an eye on this weekend. I’m not going to make game predictions because I’ve never been a fan. I’m not going to preview every game. I, like you, just have a few thoughts on the games and what teams hope and need to see from their players. (more…)

Three Things I Think: Hockey East, Oct. 27

Monday, October 27th, 2014

So here we are, once again. Saturday night, Boston University came back from a 2-1, third-period deficit to beat Michigan, 3-2, at Agganis Arena.

It was a great win for BU, and a tough loss for a Michigan team probably deserving of the victory. Both of these clubs have a lot to look forward to this season after disappointing years. Right on cue, the questions came in from college hockey fans wondering about this week’s rankings.

Polls — Everyone’s favorite completely meaningless method of measuring a college hockey team’s value and progress. Inevitably, one reader said that the polls were important because “the top 16 make the (NCAA Tournament).”

I always expect these questions early in the season. Like new players come into teams each year, there are new fans or those taking a greater interest because their favorite team is better. And every season, I have to remind people that A. Polls are completely irrelevant and B. Even thinking about the Pairwise until after Christmas is a complete waste of time.

The Pairwise has its problems. It’s made by people and changes from committee to committee, so there are are some biases inherent in the algorithm. Still, it’s a very good process, and it rarely gives us a field with an undeserving team.

The Top 16 teams in some poll have nothing to do with the NCAA Tournament. It’s at best a way to tell fans which teams are better than others. At worst, it’s an inelegant way to attract eyes to a website.

Six conference tournament winners make the NCAA field. The 10 remaining teams with the best Pairwise standing earn the at-large bids. They’re then seeded, banded and grouped based on their Pairwise standing and a few other considerations designed to make the tournament more exciting and profitable for the NCAA.

Please stop paying attention to polls. It’ll make you smarter. Just enjoy wins for now. Even some clubs with poor records are in good shape for the rest of the season despite pollsters arbitrarily shooting them down the top 20 because a goalie on some team played out of his mind for a night.

Polls are bad because they mislead fans. Polls are bad because they emphasize fleeting results instead of focusing on a strong couple games that will eventually yield wins for teams. Stop asking me about polls. Stop looking at them. Stop thinking about them. They mean absolutely nothing. Just worry about the way teams play right now. It’s all that matters.  (more…)

The Takeaway: UNH dominates Colorado College

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Durham, NH- It was the home opener for UNH and the Whittemore Center was packed to the brim to welcome a struggling Colorado College team. UNH dominated the opening stages of the game but were unable to get quality chances at the CC goal. At 16 minutes, 57 seconds of the first Maxim Gaudreault scored shorthanded, off a 2 on 1 rebound, to give UNH a lead it never relinquished.

Gaudreault would score a similar goal in the second period to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Cody Bradley responded a minute and  a half later to bring Colorado College to within one. But UNH’s freshman duo of Andrew Poturalski and Shane Eiserman scored goals 12 seconds apart to give UNH a three goal lead. UNH scored another two in the third, while CC added another to give New Hampshire the 6-2 win.

UNH improved to 2-2-0 on the young season, while Colorado College dropped its fourth straight decision to fall to 2-4-0. The Tigers were outscored 12-4 i its two games over the weekend. (more…)

Three Thoughts on Merrimack, Holy Cross After Weekend Series

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Here are three thoughts on both Merrimack College and Holy Cross, after the Warriors completed the weekend sweep on Saturday night. The Warriors took two one-goal games – 3-2 on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday – but Holy Cross showed plenty of promise at the start of the David Berard era.

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Hockey East’s Top-10 Non-Conference Games for 2014-15

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Mark your calendars.

Hockey East fans will be blessed this coming winter. Along with a shortened 22-game league schedule, which as it did last year when the schedule was at 20 games, should make for closer playoff races come the end of February, there’s a slew of premiere non-conference games headed to Hockey East rinks this upcoming season.

Union, the defending national champions, will visit three Hockey East rinks. Michigan makes a pair of trips and even Minnesota will fly to Boston, marking the first time the Gophers will travel to the city that houses four Division I programs since it helped close Walter Brown Arena and open Agganis Arena in Jan. 2005, if you exclude a visit to Vermont in 2012-13 and a trip to Hockey East newcomer Notre Dame last season, which is really in the midwest and not the east.

Since that trip to Boston in 2005, Minnesota has hosted 13 games against Hockey East opponents, and traveled east for just those two in Vermont.

Here are the top-10 non-conference games Hockey East will HOST this season:

10. Yale at Northeastern, Jan. 6
Two classic programs, playing in a classic building. Yale’s program has roots back to 1893 while Northeastern’s has been around since 1929. Matthews Arena has been around since 1909, and you know the history there. Besides, Northeastern is on an upswing in Hockey East the past two seasons under Jim Madigan and Yale just won a national title two years ago.

9. Michigan at Boston University, Oct. 25
Boston University endured one of its tougher seasons in 2013-14, but Jack Eichel will pull a BU shirt over his head this fall, and that makes this early-season matchup with Michigan a must see. Eichel will go against his NJEC linemate, Tyler Motte, as well as a plethora of his other former U.S. National Team Development Program teammates.

8. Union at Boston University, Jan. 3
If the national champions are visiting your building, it’s a big game. BU’s struggles could linger into the early parts of the 2014 schedule, but by January, the Terriers could very well be firing on all cylinders. The only problem here is that Eichel, and any other players that make the World Junior Team, will likely still be playing in the tournament.

7. Union at Maine, Oct. 17 & 18
Maine was reinvigorated last season with new head coach Red Gendron behind the bench, and the Black Bears will bring in their best non-conference opponent to Orono in just the second week of the regular season. Gendron is giving his players a mighty test right away.

6. Michigan at UMass Lowell, Oct. 24
It should be an interesting year for Lowell, which has now lost the bulk of the nucleus that has won back-to-back Hockey East championships. But they’re still the defending two-time champs. Lowell, which in both championship years has gotten off to sluggish starts, will be tested early against an ultra-talented Michigan team.

5. Union at Notre Dame, Nov. 28 (Shillelagh Tournament First Round)
Notre Dame, by its standards, limped through its first year as a member of Hockey East. But parity in college hockey, which is a theory everyone likes to talk about, in most cases doesn’t actually exist. Notre Dame is a reload program. They don’t rebuild. Teams like Merrimack, Vermont and Massachusetts have all had cups of coffee among the nation’s elite, but have failed to sustain it. Notre Dame had a taste of what it’s like near the bottom of Hockey East in its first season – the Irish finished eighth – but don’t expect that to sustain either. Then there’s Union. Did I mention they’re the defending national champions?

4. Michigan at Boston College, Dec. 13
This might as well be called the “NTDP All Star Game.” By my count, there will be 11 former NTDP players on the ice in this one, including BC goaltender Thatcher Demko. For much of these rosters, it will be one of their last games on opposite benches before players like Tuch, Milano, Demko, Motte, Compher, Downing and Larkin likely join the World Junior Team.

3. Minnesota at Northeastern, Nov. 29
A night after it plays a huge game at BC – we’ll get to that in a minute – the Gophers will travel to Matthews Arena to play Northeastern. The Huskies can score and they’ll be trying to improve on a defense that allowed the eighth-most goals in Hockey East, despite starter Clay Witt posting the second-best save percentage. That tells you how many shots Northeastern was allowing. But the Huskies will still be a team in the top-half of the Hockey East standings and it doesn’t get any more marquee than a matchup with Minnesota.

2. Quinnipiac at UMass Lowell, Oct. 18
Lowell and Quinnipiac have been surging at a similar time, and will collide early in the season. Just as Lowell has risen to prominence, winning back-to-back tournament titles, Quinnipiac has made a similar move in the ECAC.

1. Minnesota at Boston College, Nov. 28
This, you can’t beat. Two of the most storied programs in college hockey will meet up on Thanksgiving weekend. Take the league out of it, this will be the most anticipated non-conference game of the season across the entire nation. Union won the national title last April, and that’s all that counts, but BC and Minnesota actually finished No. 1 and 2 in the final Pairwise. Union had to knock off both these programs en route to its championship. Like it has in many years, the road to a national title likely goes through Minnesota or BC, if not both.

Honorable Mention: U.S. Under-20 Team vs. Boston University, Dec. 19
It’s only an exhibition, but Jack Eichel and the WJC team against BU should be a fun take.

Three Things I Think: Hockey East, March 18, 2014

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Boston College will go a second straight season without winning a Lamoriello Trophy. The Eagles won’t even be in the championship game, nor will they be at TD Garden. It’s not mind-boggling from a hockey standpoint. Notre Dame’s a great team. Hockey East is a hard league to win — parity and stuff. But, thinking over the last decade in Hockey East, a Championship Weekend without the Eagles in plainly weird.

Massachusetts-Lowell’s win of Hockey East last season ended a three-year title reign for Boston College. Notre Dame’s defeat of the Eagles on Sunday afternoon, to complete a 2-1 series win, clinched the first semifinal group without BC since 2004. That year, the Eagles also lost to the No. 8 seed (Boston University) as the No. 1 seed in three games.

Ultimately, BC’s chances as a national title contender are still as strong as they were before the loss. There aren’t many teams in the country that can stifle BC like Notre Dame did on Friday and Sunday. The Irish are an uncommonly sound defensive team with the type of scoring talent that makes their possession-focused attack so effective. It’ll take a similar effort to prevent BC from coming out of Worcester and advancing to the Frozen Four in Philadelphia.

Even as BC ran away with the Hockey East Regular Season Championship, some problems still existed for BC. Like last season, the club’s young and talented defensive corps just never looked like a championship-level group. At different times, Mike Matheson has been great. At other points, it seemed like he took a step back in his development. Freshmen Steve Santini, Ian McCoshen and Scott Savage have all been great in their first seasons, but they’re still just rookies. Beyond Isaac MacLeod’s consistently strong play, the Eagles have serious issues on the blue line, especially when it comes to defensive breakdowns. The group moves the puck well  and regularly dominates the physical side of the game. It also can make life awfully difficult for BC’s goaltenders.

Losing to Notre Dame won’t change much for BC in terms of tournament locale. The Eagles will still be the No. 1 seed in Worcester (more than likely) and will play a team they’re probably better than. However, a better performance in the Hockey East Tournament may’ve meant the difference between playing the Atlantic Hockey Champion and a strong team from one of college hockey’s power conferences.

BC is as much of a contender as it’s been at any point this season. That level seems to have been greatly exaggerated, though. (more…)

A Quick Pairwise Look Heading Into Championship Weekend

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Conferences across the nation will crown their league champions, and NCAA automatic qualifiers, this upcoming weekend.

For some teams these will be do-or-die games. For others, there’s a trophy at stake but their tickets to the NCAA tournament have already been punched. Here’s what we know:

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The Takeaway: Northeastern Exorcises Demons at UNH To Send Series to a Decisive Game 3

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Durham, NH - Northeastern entered UNH’s Whittemore Center on Saturday night, without a win in seven seasons at New Hampshire last winning on the olympic sheet in 2007. To make matters worse, the Huskies haven’t defeated UNH in the playoffs since 1989. For much of the first two periods, it appeared to be much of the same for NU on its opponents ice. Grayson Downing opened the scoring for UNH at 11 minutes, 35 seconds of the first period, but NU answered just three minutes later off the stick of Ryan Belonger. UNH took another lead at 18:27 of the first when Nick Sorkin was left all alone in front of Clay Witt. UNH not only took the 2-1 lead into the first intermission, but it entered the second period with 1:34 of of 5 on 3 powerplay time. The powerplay ended up being the turning-point in the series.

UNH’s two-man advantage got plenty of opportunities, but was unable to capitalize. The Huskies caught UNH napping at the end, as Matt Benning exited the box and headed down the ice on a break-away. He was tripped and the Huskies were awarded a penalty shot, which Kevin Roy took and scored to tie the game. UNH would then dominate the middle portions of the second period and would take a 4-2 lead on goals by Kelleher and Agosta. The Huskies though were ever pesky and fought back. Colton Saucerman scored at the 16:29 mark of the second and Kevin Roy scored his second to send it into the third period tied at three.

The third period was a stalemate that saw NU control the possession on UNH, but NU did appear to score midway through the period to take a 5-4 but it was overturned by the guys in stripes to keep the game tied at 4. It was overturned for goaltender interference and the game would head into the overtime tied at four. Mike Szmatula broke the deadlock at 3:39 of the overtime to give NU the 5-4 overtime win. UNH and NU will faceoff in a crucial game three tomorrow at 4:30 at the Whittemore Center. See highlights courtesy of UNH Athletics. (more…)