Archive for the 'Hockey East' Category

Three Things I Think: Hockey East, Nov. 18

Monday, November 18th, 2013

November is moving month in Hockey East. As teams wind down the portions of their schedules laden with non-conference games and play more league games, the league’s best teams typically reveal themselves now. It’s not uniform, and teams do occasionally  piece together successful years without great performances in November. Massachusetts-Lowell’s run from December through the Frozen Four last year is a good example.

For the most part, though, the next few weeks will offer an idea of the team’s truly contending for first-round byes in the Hockey East Tournament and at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. Teams like Boston University and New Hampshire, which have struggled at times in the early part of the season, need to win games for the rest of the first half to make up for some of the issues they had in October and November.

North Dakota visits Agganis Arena next weekend. BU needs both of those games, as well as major success in the rest of the first half, if it’s going to make any noise in the league and the national picture. UNH, meanwhile, has won five straight games by a combined score of 24-4. Neither Massachusetts, Brown nor Northeastern, the teams UNH beat in that stretch, are particularly strong teams at this point. So these wins don’t make UNH a legitimate contender in the Hockey East race. They have improved the Wildcats’ mindset, though. Winning games cures all wounds. After their last five games, UNH is ready to make a push as the end of the first half approaches.

(After the jump: Hockey East’s contenders are already clear; UNH is what we thought they were; Ross Mauermann is off to a great start for PC.)

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The Takeaway: UNH Completes Weekend Sweep of NU

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Durham, NH - The Huskies and the Wildcats played their second in as many nights, as UNH took home a 3-0 victory down at Matthews Arena on Friday night. On this night, the teams played a very even first half of the game, leaving the first period scoreless and staying that way for the first 30 minutes of the game. The second half of the second period, however, was a much different animal. UNH scored two quick ones in 40 seconds to take a 2-0 lead  in the second period, as Nick Sorkin scored on the power-play and Casey Thrush would answer moments later.

UNH  added a pair of power-play goals in the third period, while its counterpart added a lone goal. New Hampshire was 3-4 on the power-play and Northeastern was 1-7. UNH completed the weekend sweep of the huskies with the 4-1 win. The win was UNH’s fifth consecutive and it improved its record to 6-5-1 overall, 4-2-0 in Hockey East. The loss dropped the Huskies record to 6-5-0, 1-4-0 in the conference. (more…)

The Takeaway: Maine Romps BU 7-0

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Orono, ME-  The crowd has returned to the Alfond and on this night the electric, sold-out crowd was treated to quite a show by its hometown team. Maine opend the scoring at 10 minutes, one second of the first period as Devin Shore slid a puck past Sean Maguire on a two on one to give the Black Bears the early lead. With six seconds remaining in the first, Maine made it 2-0 on a 5 on 3 power-play, as Connor Leen found the back of the net. Maine took the 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

Maine would take over play mid-way into the second period, as Ben Hutton would score a 5 on 3 shorthanded goal that signified the beginning of the end for BU. Maine would add two more in the second period to give them the commanding 5-0 second intermission lead. Maine added two more in the third period and the Black Bears would pick up the 7-0 win over the Terriers. The margin of defeat was the worst for BU since 1995. Maine improves to 5-4-1, 2-2-1 in Hockey East while BU falls to 4-6-0, 2-3-0.

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The Takeaway: Brown Struggles in 4-2 Road Loss to UNH

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Durham, NH - It was a rare Tuesday night game for both UNH and Brown, in the 37th meeting between the schools. Brown struck first eight minutes, 10 seconds into the first as Mark Naclerio sent a puck to a wide open Massimo Lamacchia in the slot and the latter was true to give Brown the early 1-0 lead. UNH, though, would answer three minutes later when Nick Sorkin found a rebound in front of Brown goaltender, Marco De Filippo. UNH would find the back of the net, again, two minutes later, as Dalton Speelman crossed a pass right in front of the net to Grayson Downing, giving UNH the 2-1 first intermission lead.

New Hampshire would score the only goal of the second period, late in the period. Jeff Silengo would find a puck in the slot and bury it to give the Wildcats a 3-1 second intermission lead. UNH and Brown would trade goals in the third period, with New Hampshire holding on to a 4-2 win. The win improves UNH to 4-5-1 on the season and Brown falls to 3-3-1 overall.

What I Saw

  • UNH’s first three goals were all a direct result of Brown’s failure to clear the front of the net. On the first UNH goal, Marco De Filippo left a puck in front of him where Nick Sorkin found it and buried it. On the second goal, no Brown defenders were anywhere to be found to knock a puck away. The second goal was a pretty passing play by UNH right in front of the net in which two UNH players  in a sense were left all alone in front of De Filippo. The third goal, although not of a similar variety, was  a puck stuck in skates in front of the net and Silengo found it and buried it. UNH will take advantage on those opportunities and it did on this night.
  • Brown struggled to keep up with UNH’s stick-handling in its zone, as UNH seemingly found the puck at will. On many occasions, stick-handling became a huge issue for Brown and led to odd-man rushes. It led to UNH generating tons of shots but credit Brown for keeping UNH to the outside most of the game, as UNH had few grade-A’s despite having tons of shots. On this night, UNH was the better stickhandling team and it was clearly evident by the number of times that the Wildcats pick-pocketed  Bears skaters, seemingly at ease.

What I Thought

  • UNH looks like a much more confident team than the last time I saw them, two weeks ago against UMass-Lowell. Dick Umile’s line juggling of the top two lines is paying dividends, as Grayson Downing, Dalton Speelman and Tyler Kelleher look like a dangerous top line on nearly every shift. The same can be said across the forward lines. Despite a rough start, UNH still has time to recover. It just looks like it may.
  • For Brown, it just seemed like a bad night. Its passes were a touch off, its great players were relatively quiet (Lorito most noticeably) and its sticks weren’t as active as they needed to be. It was clear that the Bears were just a bit off and that they got away from Brown hockey. Brown hockey is workmanlike and tonight did not seem close to that. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

What They Said

Brown Coach Brendan Whittet said,

“We got away from Brown hockey tonight, that’s exactly what I told the guys. Our trademark is much different than the way we played the first two periods. We were circling away from things and we were just not tenacious in what we are doing. We were turning pucks over and I think we made it easy on UNH. It will be corrected.”

“We are short some guys right now, two guys on the blue line and two up front. One of them is Nick Lappin and he is a hell of a good player. I told the guys it was an opportunity for some of the others to do well. We need to figure what makes us tick.”

“UNH is well coached. They do a lot of the little things and are a good hockey program. What I was hoping was and we are a good hockey team too, just don’t think we showed it for two periods.”

Brown forward Matt Lorito said,

“We played well for spurts of the game but we made some mistakes in our own zone where we broke down. Against a team like that you can’t do that”

The injuries are tough but it just opens the door for some guys to step in. I thought the guys that in tonight did a great job. Obviously it’s tough when you are missing regulars in the lineup but at the same time it’s not an excuse because the guys playing have a job to do. Tonight we just came up a little short.”

“It’s tough being an ivy league team and getting the start. We had great start against the other Ivy League teams because we were kind of on a level playing field to start the season. We went home and played St. Lawrence and Clarkson, both of which had played six or seven games, so it’s kind of tough but at the same time we can’t use that as an excuse. I felt we have played tough those games but just couldn’t find a way to get the points we needed.”

UNH forward Kevin Goumas said,

“We have been playing well the last few games. It is not to say we weren’t playing well before then, but the last three games have been complete team efforts, from the goalie on out.”

What Else You Should Know

UNH will play a home and home series against Northeastern beginning on Friday. UNH has now won three consecutive games and have done so in impressive fashion, outscoring its opponents 17-3 in those games.

Brown will have the weekend off at the right time, as it is nursing four injuries. It didn’t have one healthy scratch and all roster players available played in the game. The biggest injury is to Nick Lappin, who is a consistent scorer. Brown has been mighty inconsistent in the early going and have not been able to string together wins. But it has not lost consecutive games yet this season, which is also not a bad thing. Brown next plays on November 22 on the road against Cornell.

The Takeaway: Arnold’s Overtime Goal Leads UML Over UNH

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

Durham, NH - New Hampshire came out with a lot of fire and heavily outplayed its opponent, UMass-Lowell, for much of the first period.  In the first period UNH outshot the River Hawks 10-3 and the latter had an impressive 13 blocks in the first period. The second period, however, was a diferent story as UML came out and took it to UNH at times, especially late in the period.

UNH opened the scoring at ten minutes, 28 seconds of the second when Brett Pesce took a wrist shot from the point and it ended up behind Doug Carr. It was surprisingly Pesce’s first goal and point of the season. Lowell then took control of the period and found the back of the net twice within a minute and 45 seconds, as Joseph Pendenza scored his fourth of the season and Christian Folin backed it up to give Lowell the 2-1 second intermission lead.

Lowell stifled UNH in the final period but UNH would score a late power-play goal with 1:13 remaining in the game off the stick of Grayson Downing. It was the first of the season for the struggling forward. Derek Arnold would score an overtime goal at 3:17 of the period on the power-play to give Lowell the 3-2 win over UNH. The win was UML’s fourth consecutive victory improving its record to 5-3-0, 2-0-0 in Hockey East. UNH is winless in five games and drops its record to 1-5-1 on the season and 0-2-0 in Hockey East. (more…)

Three Things I Think Hockey East: Week 3

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Boston College may want to avoid anymore trips to Minnesota for a while. The Eagles have been embarrassed in two of their last three games at Mariucci. There’s no real shame in losing to the Gophers, and BC will, of course, be just fine moving forward. Some clear issues are there, just as there were a year ago. “Just fine” for BC means, the Eagles will still compete for championships, but it’s pretty clear they aren’t the type of favorite they’ve been recently.

Talent is everywhere on the Eagles’ roster. Aside from the clear best player in the country in Johnny Gaudreau, BC’s top six, defensive unit and goaltending corps each has as much talent as any. It hasn’t come together just yet, and the Eagles missed two huge chances to boost their Pairwise standing with losses at Michigan and to the Gophers.

BU should probably control the puck at some point

There are times when massive shot differences are a product of the score. There are times when massive shot differences are a product of gulfs in talent. Other times, well, it’s not quite clear what the reason is. For Boston University, it’s that third one. A 3-2-0 start isn’t the worst reality for the Terriers at this point, but there have been some troubling trends. (more…)

The Takeaway: Minnesota Duluth Upsets Notre Dame

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

DULUTH - Notre Dame came into the weekend as #2 in the nation, and while they took the first game of the series 3-2 Friday night, the Bulldogs showed everyone they can play with the best of them in Saturday’s match up.

Minnesota Duluth started strong off the hop, outshooting the Irish 14-3 in the first period, a period that included three goals in less than four minutes for UMD. Kyle Osterberg added a fourth goal in the second period to give his team a decisive 4-0 lead through much of the third period. Notre Dame’s Austin Wuthrich scored a power play goal, ending UMD goaltender Aaron Crandall’s chance at a shut out.

What I Saw

UMD faced a freshman netminder in Notre Dame’s Chad Katunar, who saw his first NCAA action the previous night after senior starter Steven Summerhays’s ejection from the game. Peppering the rookie goalie was key to UMD’s victory, with multiple goals coming off of rebounds and redirections.

Notre Dame needed be more disciplined tonight, not only as far as penalties go, but also with regards to their mental game. UMD’s quick three goal lead shut Notre Dame down until late in the third period, allowing the Bulldogs to keep momentum through the majority of the match up.

Notre Dame’s slow start and the Minnesota Duluth’s much improved game were key in the result of this second match up between the teams. While the ND added a late tally on the power play, that last ditch effort was not enough to make a difference.

What I Thought

The key to the UMD’s win was playing more like the team they were in Friday’s third period than the one who started that bout. The momentum from that first game carried over into Saturday as evidenced by the quick start and dominance throughout the game.

Starting rookie Katunar in net was a poor decision on the part of Notre Dame. While two of the goals were second (or fifth) shot rebounds, the play of Summerhays as he took over in the third period was much more composed than that of his freshman counterpart. While the play of Notre Dame in general was weak, Katunar allowing three goals so quickly also points to a lack of resiliency and mental toughness.

The Bulldogs have now proved that they can play with the best of the best.  With Aaron Crandall starting his third game of the season and back up Matt McNeely having played strong in his starts as well, the UMD goalie tandem is a major strength. The penalty kill has been a key for UMD’s recent successes and while the power play needs work, there is plenty for the Bulldogs to build off and have proven they are one of the elite teams in the NCAA.

What They Said

Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said,

“It was a good challenging weekend for us, and that’s what we expected. We knew it was going to be a tough series.”

“Tonight we didn’t have a good start, and that was the difference in the game.”

Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said,

“We talk about playing the game the right way. Tonight and this weekend against a really good team we saw more of that. We all want to win, no one wants to lose. But the most important thing is playing the game the right way to give yourself a chance. We did that tonight.”

What Else You Should Know

UMD has only allowed 3 goals on 40 penalty kills (92.5%) so far this season. Even without the services of PK specialist Justin Crandall, who sat out with an injury, UMD was still able to kill off 6 of 7 Fighting Irish attempts.

Notre Dame’s undefeated start came to end, but the five wins will stand as the best start under coach Jeff Jackson.

Minnesota Duluth’s scoring outburst included first goals on the season for Caleb Herbert and Dominic Toninato.

Notre Dame’s seven powerplay attempts tonight push their season total to 53 in just six games.

 

- By  Nicole Brodzik

The Takeaway: Notre Dame Slips by Minnesota Duluth

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

DULUTH – Despite Notre Dame’s Steven Summerhays being ejected during the 3rd period, an impressive three-goal second period allowed Notre Dame just enough cushion to hold off Minnesota Duluth until the final horn sounded.  Each team played extremely marginal on their man-advantage attempts, but Notre Dame’s ability to get the puck on net allowed them to leave Amsoil Arena on Friday night, routing Minnesota Duluth, 3-2.

Although 5-on-5 play was undoubtedly very comparable, Minnesota Duluth won the first period by killing off a lengthy Caleb Herbert major penalty as Notre Dame seemed to be picking up speed.  Shots on goal finished 8-6 in favor of the Irish, but the scoreboard read 0′s at the end of the first.

UMD’s ability to counteract Notre Dame’s deep and talented offense seemed to subside as second period play started.  Jeff Costello buried his 3rd goal of the year, receiving a beautiful pass from Robbie Russo and wristing it by UMD netminder, Aaron Crandall.  Minnesota Duluth’s Cal Decowski responded minutes later, but Mario Lucia and Peter Schneider would both record second period goals, putting them in great position coming into the last period.

For lack of better words, shit hit the fan at 5:34 into the 3rd period when UMD captain Adam Krause was pushed into Summerhays, who didn’t appreciate the contact.  When all was said and down, both Krause and Andy Ryan received matching minors for roughing, and Summerhays was issued a facemasking major and a game misconduct.  Freshman Chad Katunar was thrown into net in replacement of Summerhays just as Minnesota Duluth was finding a great amount of momentum.  T.J. Tynan took a hooking minor just seconds later, adding to the anxiety of Notre Dame’s freshman tender, allowing Andy Welinski to blast a shot from up top to draw the Bulldogs within one goal.

Unfortunately for Minnesota Duluth, the tying goal was never found and Notre Dame improved to 5-0-0, their best start under coach Jeff Jackson and Minnesota Duluth fell  2-2-1.

What I Saw

For the most part, intense hockey.  Notre Dame brought what was anticipated – a deep, quick moving offense and a solid d-core to back them up.  It wasn’t until the second period when the Fighting Irish really let-loose, outshooting UMD 15-7 and playing as though they were a man-up for most of the period.

Minnesota Duluth countered Notre Dame’s offense with their own ability to skate with speed and agility.  UMD was able to win a grinding first period, but lost momentum in the second period, which eventually ended up losing the game for the home team.  Third period play looked completely different than a period before, and had they played that way all night, the score would have looked a little differently.

What I Thought

Notre Dame is a very dangerous team.  They established their dominance from the very first few minutes.  They literally have every tool needed to win games – a deep offense who can move the puck efficiently and score, a defense core that can protect the blueline, but also forfeit their bodies to protect against opponent shots on net, and a goalie who has the ability to make jaw-dropping saves.  Hockey East may just be in for a real treat with this team.

Minnesota Duluth was the obvious underdog heading into this one.  Their speed kept them in the game and could have potentially won it for them as well had they played all 60 minutes.  Aaron Crandall, who was originally thought to be the backup netminder for UMD behind Matt McNeely, played outstanding.  He gave up a few bad rebounds, but made up for it by standing on his head, especially during the Herbert-major.

What They Said

Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said,

“It was a hard fought game and wasn’t much different than I expected it to be.  Two teams that skate rather well, but for the most part I thought we did a good job.”

“(We) took that penalty in the third period that could have cost us the game, but our guys responded.  Throw a freshman in for his first minutes as a college hockey player, in that environment, in that situation, it’s amazing that we got through it actually.”

Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said,

“We had a good third period and I liked our first period as well, and our second felt like we were killing penalties the whole period.  We’ve just got to try and play more than 40 minutes a night.”

 

What Else You Should Know

The puck drops at 8:07 EDT tonight for round two.  If you remember from last weekend, Notre Dame beat Michigan Tech 3-2 on Friday before blowing Saturday night’s game apart with a 7-3.  On the otherside, UMD fell last Friday but came back flying, routing Colorado College 5-1.  If both team’s play a full 60 minutes, it should make for a great college hockey game.

Hockey East Power Rankings Week 2

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

The influence of Notre Dame on Hockey East remains to be seen. It likely won’t be realized fully for a few years. In the early going, though, the Fighting Irish’s impact is clearly in level of competition. Notre Dame’s first four games cemented what most already new — its a very real contender for championships.

A handful of teams are in the race for regional and national success, and Notre Dame is as much a factor as anyone.

On the other side of Hockey East, the league’s bottom-dwellers have looked fairly promising in some regards as well. They’re as imperfect as any team in the country, but it’s still going to make Hockey East play as grueling as any league in the nation.

1. Notre Dame (4-0-0; 0-0-0 Hockey East)

Notre Dame rolled through Michigan Tech last weekend. The Huskies put up a fight on Friday night before UND dropped them, 7-3, on Sunday. The Fighting Irish have as deep a group of forwards as anyone in the country. Moreover, their defensive game and goaltending have been predictably strong thus far. Tougher opponents await UND, but it’s clear it can compete with anyone.

This Weekend: (Friday and Saturday at Minnesota-Duluth) (more…)

Three Things I Think: Hockey East Week 2

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The most surprising development of the weekend wasn’t the sweeps delivered by and to Massachusetts and Massachusetts-Lowell. It wasn’t the hard-fought decisions between Michigan and Durham or the split Merrimack played to with Mercyhurst. No, the 16 total goals Boston College and Boston University dropped on Big Ten foe Wisconsin dominated conversation after the games were done.

BC and BU played two very different games against the Badgers with the Eagles dominating UW completely. The Terriers, meanwhile, scored seven goals on just 26 shots in their 7-3 win. Ultimately, all that matters is the score, and the Terriers did plenty of scoring after losing, 3-1, to Rensselaer on Friday.

It’s not often Wisconsin — or any team — allows 16 goals in a two-game span. However, it did reveal some potential truths in Hockey East. Both BC and BU can score goals, even if they don’t have the puck all that much. Last Sunday, BC scored seven goals against RPI despite getting just 23 shots on goal. Both BC coach Jerry York and first-year BU boss Dave Quinn will take wins however they can get them. Both conceded after those games that they can’t expect those type of results to happen often. For Wisconsin, Saturday’s loss was a bit easier to handle than Friday’s. Oushooting BU 43-26 was a good sign. Allowing seven goals on 26 shots, especially when recording 43, suggests the Badgers got a bit unlucky at Agganis Arena.

Not time to worry for Lowell

Three losses in four games wasn’t the start Norm Bazin wanted. This isn’t foreign to Bazin’s Lowell teams, though. In 2011-12, the River Hawks were 2-3-0 in October. Last season, they were 4-7-1 in their first 11 games. The 2013-14 edition is, of course, a different team. There’s no way to say this club will bounce back with any certainty, but history suggests this slow start is hardly a death sentence for the team.

UML still hasn’t played a Hockey East game, so the 1-3-0 start hasn’t hurt its chances of a strong league record. Moreover, plenty of games remain against other potential NCAA Tournament teams, so there’s still time to put together a strong resume in the regard. Additionally, the River Hawk players expected to have big seasons are no strangers to difficult starts of their own. Scott Wilson is goalless through four games thus far, just as he was a season ago.

Both Doug Carr and Connor Hellebuyck have been fine in their starts. UML is in Michigan this weekend for games with Michigan State and Michigan. A strong showing out west is exactly what UML needs to put a troubling first four games behind it just as Hockey East play gets going in early November.

Goaltending battle brewing in Durham

Like UMass-Lowell, New Hampshire hasn’t started the season as well at it hoped with just one win. Also like the River Hawks, the Wildcats are still in fine shape as the season’s third weekend approaches. Goals are the issue for UNH with two or fewer in each of their last three games. Keeping UNH in games to this point has been strong defensive play led by goaltenders Casey DeSmith and Jeff Wyer. DeSmith was the guy last year, starting 38 of 42 games. UNH coach Dick Umile opted to open the job to a competition this season, and both look ready to challenge for the spot.

Wyer’s been a bit better thus far with a .962 save percentage and a 0.96 goals-against average compared to DeSmith’s .913 and 2.98. Umile will likely keep rotating his goaltenders for the time being. Wyer’s been great, but DeSmith’s track record means he’ll get every chance to fight for minutes.

Eventually, one will become the guy. None of it will matter if the Wildcats don’t start scoring goals. This is UNH, though. The offense will come at some point. Dalton Speelman is goalless through four games as is Grayson Downing. Talented freshman Tyler Kelleher scored in his first game and more should follow. If the Wildcats’ goaltending continues to impress, their inevitable goal-scoring form will make them a force nationally.

Notre Dame’s scoring depth might be league’s best

Consecutive sweeps of Western Michigan and Michigan Tech were exactly what Notre Dame wanted from its first four games. And the club’s success has looked exactly as expected. Steven Summerhays has been strong in goal, and scoring has come from everywhere. Six different players have at least four points with freshman Vince Hinostroza (three goals and three assists) leading the way.

The Irish have room to grow even further. Senior Bryan Rust is yet to score while sophomore Thomas di Pauli has just one point. As the Fighting Irish improve, their offense is only going to generate more goals. Within Hockey East, every contender should boast similar depth eventually. Finding it already is a great sign for Notre Dame, especially with so many experienced players as part of their nucleus.

Seven players finished the season with at least 20 points for Notre Dame last year. That number should grow even further this season. Hockey East is a league dominated by goaltending. When league play begins, goals will be at a premium. Notre Dame is dealing with the same early year rust as every one else, and they’re still averaging more than four goals per game to this point. Once line combinations settle, the Irish could be a devastating offensive club.

The strength of Hockey East, paired with the Fighting Irish’s general lack of experience with the league, made it difficult to peg UND early in the season.

Hockey East play doesn’t begin for two more weeks, but Notre Dame should be able to enter that series at Vermont on a high note. They’re off to Duluth next weekend for a pair of games with the Bulldogs. A split with UMD and a 5-1-0 start is a very real possibility for the club.