Archive for the 'Hockey East' Category

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.

The Takeaway: Michigan Stuns New Hampshire in OT

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Durham, NH- The game was as evenly played as possible and the weekend was as a whole as well. On Friday night, UNH dominated long stretches of play in route to a 1-1 tie. On this night, despite the 35-24 shot advantage to Michigan, stalemate was the best adjective one could find to describe this game.

UNH opened the scoring at six minutes, 18 seconds of the first period when Trevor van Riemsdyk sent an innocent looking point shot towards the net, which Kevin Goumas tipped into the net to give UNH the early lead. The goal was the first of the season for Goumas, who saw limited action last weekend because of an oblique injury. Alex Guptill answered about three minutes later on the power-play when he was left untouched of Casey Desmith and put it past him to send it into the first intermission tied at 1.

The second period was much of the same, as the teams each had 12 shots on net. Michigan took the lead, on the power-play four minutes into the period as Luke Moffatt found a puck at Desmith’s feet that he put behind him for the 2-1 lead. UNH answered later in the period to send it into the second intermission tied at two. It stayed that way through another stalemate period and the team’s entered the overtime tied, for the second night in a row.

Unlike last night this one would have a winner. Freshman, JT Compher went around the back of the net found a trailing Derek Deblois in the slot who took a shot. Casey Desmith left a rebound to his stick side which Tyler Motte found and was true to give Michigan the 3-2 overtime victory over UNH. Michigan improves to 3-0-1 on the season, while UNH falls to 1-2-1. (more…)

The Takeaway: QU Stifles Lowell, Wins 3-1

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Lowell, Mass - UML and Quinnipiac were both Frozen Four participants last season, but they didn’t play each other . You couldn’t tell by the play on the ice. After a scoreless first period where Quinnipiac dominated play, the Bobcats came out in the second and stifled a good Lowell team, holding them 0-5 on the power-play and limiting them to no quality chances.

Jordan Samuel-Thomas opened the scoring at two minutes, three seconds of the second on a beautiful slot to slot pass from Peter Quenneville leaving the former with nothing but a wide open net to shoot at. QU took a 2-0 lead seven minutes later as Connor Clifton sent a point shot in that deflected off of Connor Jones into the net. The Bobcats finished the scoring in the second at 13:25 of the period when Derek Smith’s point shot beat Connor Hellebuyck to give Quinnipiac the 3-0 second intermission lead.

It was much of the same in the third period, as Lowell turned it up a bit scoring an early third period goal but they would eventually fall  3-1 to the Bobcats. Lowell falls 1-2-0 on the young season, while Quinnipiac improves to 2-1-0. (more…)

Hockey East Power Rankings – Week 1

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Hockey East coaches lauded realignment for several reasons. Primarily, they seemed pleased with fewer conference games in the season’s first few weeks. There was one league game last weekend with Boston University upending Massachusetts, 3-1. Saturday’s game between UMass and UMass-Lowell was a non-conference game, played as part of the series between the two schools for the Alumni Cup — awarded to the team that wins the annual three-game series.

The non-conference matchups around the league yielded some interesting results, especially with Providence’s sweep of Minnesota State and Sacred Heart’s unlikely win over UMass-Lowell. These early-season games don’t tell us too much about the teams around the country since clubs have so little time to prepare. However, their significance can’t be ignored. These games will come into play come Pairwise time. They don’t count in the league standings, but coaches and players want wins just the same.

Rankings:

1. Providence (2-0-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East)

The Friars’ success in 2013-14 depends upon greater contributions from a handful of players as well as even better goaltending from sophomore Jon Gillies. PC received both of those in a pair of wins over Minnesota State at the newly renovated Schneider Arena. Sophomore forward Mark Jankowski scored a pair of goals, as did sophomore defenseman John Gilmour and junior center Ross Mauermann. Gillies stopped 64 of 65 shots he saw over the weekend, earning a shutout in Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Mavericks. PC has a Hockey East championship and NCAA Tournament berth in its mind this season. Two wins over a Minnesota State likely to improve on last year’s season is a good start toward the latter.

This Weekend: Friday home against American International

2. Notre Dame (2-0-0; 0-0-0 Hockey East)

Holding Western Michigan without much production is hardly a difficult task, but the Fighting Irish managed to keep the Broncos scoreless altogether. UND swept the home-and-home pair with WMU with a suffocating defense and 44 total saves from senior Steven Summerhays. Offensive depth is a clear strength for the Irish. It revealed itself throughout the weekend. Seven players scored goals for UND in the wins. Meanwhile, senior defenseman Shayne Taker picked up four assists in the wins.

This Weekend: Friday and Sunday home against Michigan Tech

(more…)

Three Things I Think: Hockey East Week 1

Monday, October 14th, 2013

It felt good, really good, to be back in college hockey rinks this week. Living in Boston means four great rinks are quick train rides away for me. I’m lucky, I know, and I got to Agganis Arena, Matthews Arena and Conte Forum to start the season off properly. The games were equal parts sloppy and exciting, with early-season rust revealing itself as much as the skills of these teams.

The best part of realignment, for me, is more non-conference games. The next few weeks will come with even more non-league games for Hockey East teams, which should give coaches a better idea of their teams’ progress. Moreover, Hockey East play will likely be even better with teams further along when the meat of the schedule comes around.

Again, the performances I saw this weekend aren’t even remotely indicative of the performances I expect to see from these teams as the year progresses. That said, there were a few things I picked up on and expect to continue this season.

(After the jump: Gaudreau’s the difference for BC, UMass still can’t compete, Northeastern’s goaltending battle) (more…)

The Takeaway: UNH Prepares For Season With Exhibition Win

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Durham, NH - It was only an exhibition, but exhibitions can actually tell us a lot. Early on, Acadia appeared to be the team with the upper-hand but the visiting Axemen from Nova Scotia became undisciplined. The Wildcats had six power-plays in the first 30 minutes of the contest. They were able to capitalize on two of the six, to take an early 2-0 lead in that time frame. But then the floodgates opened late in the second as UNH would score three in the final three minutes of the stanza to take a 5-1 lead after two periods. Acadia would outscore UNH 2-1 in the final period, but UNH would leave with a 6-3 win. (more…)

The Takeaway: Mass.-Lowell Wins Its First Hockey East Tournament Title With Win Over BU

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

BOSTON – Massachusetts-Lowell wins its first Hockey East tournament championship with a 1-0 win over Boston University Saturday night at TD Garden. The win gives the River Hawks their first ever Hockey East tournament title, while BU’s season comes to an end with the loss. This also ends BU coach Jack Parker’s 40-year coaching career after announcing his retirement two weeks ago.

Derek Arnold scored the game’s lone goal on a wraparound 11 minutes, 9 seconds into the third period. Scott Wilson and Chad Ruhwedel got the assists on the play.

UML goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was named tournament MVP following his 36-save shutout against the Terriers. BU goalie Sean Maguire had yet another strong night in goal, making 28 saves in the losing effort.

What I Saw

  • In a game that saw little quality chances throughout, the River Hawks broke through at 11:09 in the third period when Arnold beat Maguire with the wraparound to make it a 1-0 game. UML had done a solid job of generate rushes in the second and third period, and finally broke through with a 3-on-2 that started in the defensive zone with Chad Ruhwedel and Arnold trading passes through the neutral zone. Arnold fed Ruhwedel in the slot, but the defenseman’s shot deflected off Scott Wilson and onto the stick of Arnold. The junior then completed the wraparound well out of the reach of Maguire’s outstretched glove. The play exemplified what the River Hawks were trying to do to BU all night, but the Terriers executed well defensively. They had another big chance to beat Maguire 3:25 into the period when Colin Wright got out on the breakaway after leaving the penalty box, but his shot rang off the post and back into play.  (more…)

The Takeaway: BU Rallies With Five Straight Goals To Top BC And Advance To The Hockey East Finals

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

BOSTON – Trailing 2-0 midway through the second period, Boston University scored five unanswered goals to beat Boston College, 6-3, Friday night at TD Garden in the Hockey East semifinals. With the win, BU advances to Saturday’s final against UMass Lowell at 7 p.m.

Danny O’Regan and Evan Rodrigues each scored twice for the Terriers, while Sean Maguire made 44 saves in the winning effort.

BC’s top line of Steven Whitney, Quinn Smith and Pat Mullane accounted for two of its three goals in the game with Whitney and Smith scoring the goals while Mullane had a pair of assists.

Parker Milner struggled in net for the Eagles, making 21 saves and allowing five goals in the loss.

What I Saw

  • After Quinn Smith put BC up 2-0 8 minutes, 46 seconds into the second period, a sense of urgency clicked in with the Terriers and they stepped their game up to a whole new level. They played with speed on both ends of the ice and took advantage of Eagles breakdowns on their way three goals in less than six minutes to close the second period with a 3-2 advantage. BC was in complete control up until that point, playing a fast game that BU simply couldn’t keep up with. But the momentum took a complete 180-degree turn at 12:17 when Evan Rodrigues used some nifty stick work to avoid a Quinn Smith pokecheck, then fired a shot past Parker Milner. Matt Lane put it upon himself two minutes later, forcing a turnover at the point in his own defensive zone, then racing to the other end of the ice to beat Milner 1-on-1 to tie the game.  (more…)

The Takeaway: Third period goals push Lowell past Providence 2-1 in Hockey East semifinals

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

BOSTON - Two third period goals powered Massachusetts-Lowell past Providence College with a 2-1 win in the Hockey East semifinals. The River Hawks came back from a first period 1-0 deficit to cement a spot in the conference championship game Saturday night.

Freshman forward Kevin Rooney’s first career goal came at the right time for PC as the Friars took an early lead. It came on a rebound off Lowell freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck at 8:59 when Noel Acciari fed Rooney in front of the net. Despite outshooting the Friars 15-7 in the second period, the River Hawks couldn’t match Rooney’s goal until the start of the final period.

Just 34 seconds into the third, freshman forward A.J. White nabbed his second career goal, beating freshman goaltender Jon Gillies with a rebound, leaving the teams to battle out of the 1-1 tie through the final twenty minutes of regulation play.

It was Lowell who found the net first, when sophomore forward Scott Wilson took a beauty of a pass from senior forward Riley Wetmore and found the back of the net with a one-timer for the 2-1 lead with 7:30 left in regulation.

What I Saw

  • Lowell put a ton of offensive pressure on the PC defense and of course, Gillies. They outshot the Friars 15-7 in the second period after an evenly matched 10 shots per team in the first, but came out of the period with nothing to show for it.. Riley Wetmore and Joseph Pendenza both had shots that could have been goals on most other Hockey East goalies. It wasn’t that the River Hawks weren’t creating Grade A chances, it was just nearly impossible to get anything past Gillies. They finally broke through in the third.
  • The battle between two of the league’s best and youngest goaltenders didn’t disappoint. Gillies and Hellebucyk, both freshmen, made 33 and 32 saves respectively after standout seasons. Hellebucyk has a .944 save percentage with 1.49 GAA while Gillies is working with a .931 save percentage and 2.08 GAA. They both lived up to those numbers tonight. Gillies carried PC, but Hellebucyk’s performance isn’t to be overlooked with only a two-shot differential between the two teams.  (more…)