Archive for the 'Hockey East' Category

The Takeaway: Kelleher Goal Leads UNH To 1-0 Victory Over NU and a 1-0 Series Lead

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Durham, NH - UNH entered the Hockey East tournament without an appearance at the TD Garden in three seasons.  It looked hungry to get there again. Both Northeastern and UNH had last week off with byes. UNH had the better of the play in the period but the two teams left the period scoreless. The second period was marked by a UNH parade to the penalty box, as the Huskies had five power-plays in the period, but the Huskies were unable to capitalize. UNH had the better of the five on five play in the period, but again the teams left the period scoreless.

The Third period was much like the first two in that UNH dominated the possession and quality opportunities. Freshman,Tyler Kelleher broke the scoreless tie at four minutes, 49 seconds of the third period when he found a Grayson Downing tip right in front of Witt that he roofed to give UNH the 1-0 lead. The Huskies struggled to get quality chances late and in game, it was held to just four Grade A opportunities in the contest. UNH defeated Northeastern, 1-0 in front of 3,135 fans at the Whittemore Center and improves its record 20-16-1, moving up a spot in the Pairwise to a tie for 17th, just outside tournament positioning. Northeastern is also in that tie for 17th place with a record of 18-13-4. See these Highlights courtesy of UNH Athletics. (more…)

Last Night: Hockey East Playoff Picture

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

The final night of the Hockey East regular season is upon us. The new playoff format has eliminated the type of drama we’re accustomed to. Every team qualifying for at least the preliminary round means each club has at least one game to look forward after Saturday night’s regular-season finale.

Here’s a look at where it all stands now, and what everyone has to lose.

The Champion

Boston College locked up the top seed in the Hockey East Tournament a couple weeks ago, picking up yet another trophy for legendary head coach Jerry York.

The Eagles were idle on Friday, but they host Notre Dame Saturday night at Conte Forum. Within the league, BC has nothing to gain, but a win over the Fighting Irish is especially important for BC in its quest to be the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament. Moreover, it’s always an important game when BC and Notre Dame meet in any sport.

Highest Possible Finish: 1st
Lowest Possible Finish: 1st (more…)

Three Things I Think: Hockey East, Feb. 24, 2014

Monday, February 24th, 2014

As much as the 2014 Winter Olympics disappointed American hockey fans, it’s abundantly clear that the state of hockey in the United States is strong. On both the men’s and women’s sides, strong American teams fell to worthy opponents despite rightfully lofty expectations. The talent pool for each of these national teams is only going to get larger moving forward. There won’t always be generational talents with each new crop of 18- or 19-year-olds, but there’s more talent than ever before.

It’s with this that the role of college hockey takes on an even greater responsibility. College coaches draw the difficult charge of having to focus on the development of their players while also trying to win games. Looking around Hockey East rosters and the minutes players receive, it’s often a balancing act between helping an 18-year-old with all the upside in the world and a 22-year-old who may not have the ceiling but is a more effective player at this time. Regardless, most of what we’ve seen from USA Hockey of late is generally positive for the future.

That in itself should be enough for the NHL to guarantee that the next round of Winter Olympics includes NHL players. It’s, in my opinion, because NHL players represent their countries in the Olympics that more Americans have started watching the game. Moreover, the annual World Junior Ice Hockey Championships have reached a level of popularity and esteem in this country that they wouldn’t without NHL players appearing in the Olympics.

The ongoing rivalry between the U.S. and Canada is great for hockey in North America. Seeing this rivalry play out at the junior level each year and the senior level every four years is good for everyone. If NHL players aren’t going to appear in the Olympics, the tournament loses a lot of its cachet. Before everyone starts ranting and raving about the Olympic spirit and the archaic ideal of amateurism in athletics, think about what this specific Olympic event means for hockey. No, hockey shouldn’t be considered more important than the other events in the eyes of organizers. The NHL and USA Hockey need the Olympics, however. If the teams competing in those games aren’t made up of the best players in the world, then there is no major ice hockey tournament that truly suggests which nation is the best.

The IIHF World Championships aren’t taken too seriously by North Americans because of when they occur. A World Cup of Hockey, while an interesting idea, would invariably come with the same hiccups as the world championships. Playing the event at anytime in the summer would prevent some players from participating. As much as all of us like to think representing your country should come first, professional players’ first responsibility is to the organization that guarantees them their paychecks.

The current status quo is the best arrangement. Annual matchups between the best young players in the world, along with a premier senior tournament every four years gives us the best opportunity to showcase the sport’s growth and significance while also attracting young athletes to local rinks.

Any discussion about removing NHLers from the Olympics must consider the potential influence of this tournament on the game itself. Aside from the prospect of losing high-quality college players for a season like occurs in the women’s game, it also will comes with a significant drop in interest for a game that simply can’t afford that in the United States. (more…)

The Takeaway: BU Valiant in Comeback Attempt, But Falls 4-3 to UNH

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Durham, NH - On the night that UNH celebrated its seniors, the Wildcats came out rocking against a BU team that has been struggling in recent weeks.  Dan Correale scored the first of the night for UNH at the two minute, 52 second mark when he found a puck on the doorstep and put it past O’Connor in a scrum. BU, though controlled much of the play in the period. UNH, though, was ever advantageous of BU mistakes, as Eric Knodel scored on the power-play from the point. Matt Willows followed it up seven minutes later to give UNH a 3-0 lead. BU scored a 5 on 3 power-play goal with 8 seconds remaining in the first period, as Evan Rodrigues received a pass and buried it past Desmith to send the game into the first intermission, 3-1. The goal was a turning point in the game.

The teams traded goals in the second, as Boston University again dominated the territorial play against UNH. The Wildcats led Boston University, 4-2, heading into the third period. BU would make it interesting at 9:15 of the third, as Robbie Baillageron netted the Terriers’ second 5 on 4 power-play goal of the night. BU gave a valiant effort in the waning minutes of the game but Casey Desmith had every answer thrown at him, including a late glove save to preserve UNH’s 4-3 win over BU.

The win improved UNH to 17-15-1, 9-8-0 in Hockey East and BU dropped to 8-17-4, 3-9-3. The win moves UNH into a tie for third place with Maine, four points behind UMass-Lowell in second. UNH is one point ahead of Northeastern in fourth, which is the final spot with home ice in the quarterfinals, and two points ahead of sixth place Providence. Positions six  through 11 play first round games, while positions 1-5 have first byes with the top four getting home ice in the quarterfinals. BU sits in tenth place, three points behind home ice in the first round. The win also moves UNH up to 21st in the Pairwise, it would conceivably need to win out to get an at large berth. (more…)

The Takeaway: UVM Dominates UNH in 5-2 Road Win

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Durham, NH - It was a typical UNH-UVM hockey game, which saw very few chances. UNH scored first at six minutes, 22 seconds off the stick of Kevin Goumas, who got a pass into the slot from Matt Willows. The lead was shortlived, though, as UVM would score two quick goals 42 seconds apart at 10:11 and 10:53. UVM took the 2-1 lead into the second period. Late in the second stanza, Connor Brickley added to the lead on the power-play. The Catmounts entered the third period, leading UNH 3-1.

UNH turned the momentum early in the third period, as Brett Pesce wristed a shot from the point into the net to bring the game within a goal. But UNH would get no closer, as UVM smothered and scored two goals of its own in the period. Vermont picked up the impressive, 5-2 win over UNH on the road. Vermont improved to 14-3 overall and 6-7-0 in Hockey East. UNH falls to 16-14-1, 8-7-0 and misses its opportunity to move up in the league Standings or gain some distance. Vermont currently sits in seventh place in the standings with 16 points, two points behind second in the league while Vermont sits in seventh with 12 points. The loss will also hurt UNH in the Pairwise, while Vermont gains with games still to be played. (more…)

The Takeaway: Willows SHG Propels UNH to Sweep of Notre Dame

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Durham NH - UNH needed wins heading into this weekend but Notre Dame did as well. The Irish sat on the bubble of the national tournament picture and UNH was on the outside looking in. But UNH was the team this weekend that pounced on opportunities and was able to respond well to its opponents charges. New Hampshire took the first game of the series last night on Friday night, defeating the Irish 4-2.

New Hampshire took an early lead midway through the first period at 10 minutes, 21 seconds when Tyler Kelleher fed a trailing Maxim Gaudreault on a 2 on 1. Mario Lucia answered seven minutes later for the Irish on a wicked snipe from the slot to send the game into the first intermission tied at one. The two teams traded goals in the early stages of the first period, as Tynan and Speelman scored. But UNH would get a late highlight reel goal by Matt Willows late in the period and cruise from there to a 5-2 win over Notre Dame. UNH lifts itself into fourth place in Hockey East with the win and to a record of 16-13-1, 8-6-0 Hockey East. UND falls to 15-11-1, 4-8-1 and is in a tie for eighth place in the conference. (more…)

Three Things I Think: Hockey East, Jan. 28, 2014

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Massachusetts senior Michael Pereira earned his 100th career point Saturday night in a 3-2 loss to Merrimack. Pereira scored twice in the game, both in the second period and on the power play. UMass lost the game, however, and the story of Pereira’s career in Amherst received another troubling chapter.

In the fall of 2010, Pereira arrived at UMass, along with about a dozen other freshmen. Naturally, that team struggled badly in Hockey East, winning only five games and just barely sneaking into the league tournament. At times, Pereira, Branden Gracel, Conor Sheary and other youngsters on that club revealed the talent and skill that made people wonder about the future.

In the last three-and-a-half years, that class has produced the occasional great result, but they, like UMass classes before them, have never amounted to much more than some good players who can’t win games. Mix in the departure of Don Cahoon as head coach two summers ago, and it’s been a difficult career for Pereira and his talented classmates.

Seven years ago, UMass was in the midst of one of only a few successful seasons since the program’s rebirth more than 20 years ago. That year, guided by all-American goaltender Jon Quick, was supposed to signify the beginning UMass’ ascent to regional prevalence. Instead, Quick bolted and everything fell apart. The Minutemen haven’t finished above .500 since that season, and the next couple seasons don’t look much brighter.

When John Micheletto took over for Cahoon in August 2012, he proclaimed, as everyone associated with that programs always has, that UMass would become “the place to be.” Moving toward the end of his second season with UMass, Micheletto is banking on his recruiting talent to turn UMass around. It’s inevitably going to take some time, especially with nine players graduating this season. At this point, though, it’s difficult to think it will ever actually happen.

(After the jump: BC’s Hockey East dominance; UMass-Lowell is very good no matter what else you’ve read; Still not sold on Northeastern? Nope.) (more…)

The Takeaway: UNH Battles In 3-2 Win Over Rival Maine

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Durham, NH. - UNH and Maine faced off in the so called Border War on Friday night, and the start was typical and similar to most starts between these two teams at the Whittemore Center. UNH scored an early goal at 47 seconds of the first period for the lead, as a Maine turnover at the blue line to Nick Sorkin deking Martin Ouellette and putting it past the Maine netminder. Maine answered 2:09 later when Will Merchant scored his first of the year. Maine outshot UNH 6-3 in the first eight minutes, but the Black Bears stormed back to dominate the last 12 minutes. It outshot UNH 12-0 in the last 12 minutes of the first period.

The second period was much of the same in terms of possession and shots, but UNH scored a go ahead goal off an Eric Knodel midway through the period to take a 2-1 lead. That lead held into the second intermission. UNH scored an early goal in the third period to take a two goal lead into the latter stages of the third period. Mark Anthoine brought Maine to within one goal with 54.7 seconds remaining in the game, but UNH would hold off a fierce Maine rally attempt to win 3-2 in front of a sell-out crowd. UNH improves its record to 14-12-1 overall and 6-5-0 in Hockey East play, while Maine falls to 11-9-2, 5-4-2. New Hampshire moves up to 17th in the Pairwise rankings with the win, with Maine falling to 23rd. (more…)

The Takeaway: Union Picks Up Road Sweep of UNH

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Durham, NH - While it was snowing outside, New Hampshire and Union put on a show in front of smallish crowd at the Whittemore Center. Union opened the scoring at 15 minutes, five seconds of the first period when Mark Bennett put in a goal from zero angle on the backhand to give the Dutchmen a 1-0 lead. UNH responded seconds after its star defenseman, Trevor van Riemsdyk, went down with an apparent right leg injury, as Kyle Smith sent a pass to Tyler Kelleher to send the game into the first intermission tied at one.

The second period was a sluggish period of hockey, at best, by both teams. Union scored the only goal of the second period at 17:26 off a beautiful tip from Max Novak. The Dutchmen took the 2-0 lead into the third period, looking for its second win in as many nights against UNH. Union added an empty netter in the third period to cap the 3-1 win, securing the weekend sweep at UNH. Union improves to 15-4-3 on the season, while UNH falls to 13-12-1.


Three Things I Think: Hockey East, Jan. 14

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

College hockey’s winter break came and went pretty quickly. As teams traveled to various holiday tournaments and other series around the country, Hockey East clubs produced some results that, as they often do, offered as many questions as they answered.

Even now, after another weekend of games, it’s difficult to say with any certainty where most teams stand.

The jump into the second half also leads to year-end award discussions. These arguments reveal as much about the league as any of the results on the ice. Within Hockey East, the coach of the year conversations are as wide open as any in recent memory. In the last two seasons, it came down to either Massachusetts-Lowell’s Norm Bazin or Providence’s Nate Leaman. With more than 50 wins in that time, Bazin was the clear favorite.

However, the presence of Jerry York always means there’s another candidate to discuss. Once again, York has his Eagles in great position. BC is atop the Hockey East standings to this point and in equally great shape on the national scene. That was expected, though. The Eagles are among the nation’s most talented clubs, and nothing they do really surprises anyone anymore. York’s the best at what he does. If he won the coach of the year award every season, it really wouldn’t come as much of a shock.

Beyond York, and even Bazin, there are four candidates warranting serious consideration. Leaman’s Providence team is in position to earn a bye in the Hockey East Tournament and an NCAA bid. Again, though, most anticipated a strong year from the Friars led by goaltender Jon Gillies and junior center Ross Mauermann. Outside of Leaman, Northeastern’s Jim Madigan, Maine’s Red Gendron and Vermont’s Kevin Sneddon are all guiding teams currently outpacing their preseason expectations.

Each, of course, comes with some caveats that we’ll get a better understanding of in the next two months. At this point, I’d give Madigan the nod. Northeastern missed the last two Hockey East Tournaments thanks to horrendous regular-season campaigns. While that can’t happen again as a result of a new playoff format, the Huskies are currently tied for second in Hockey East with Providence. NU holds the tiebreaker over PC after defeating the Friars, 2-1, last Tuesday in overtime and playing to a 3-3 tie at Matthews Arena in December.

There are some concerns with Northeastern moving forward (more on that later), but the Huskies continue to prove they’re a legitimate contender within Hockey East play. NU hosts Vermont this weekend for two games (only one is a conference game) before traveling to South Bend, Ind., in two weeks for a pair with Notre Dame. Outside of league play, the Huskies are ninth in the Pairwise.

Like it will for every club, the next few weeks will reveal Northeastern’s true standing. At this point, though, it’s not fair to say they haven’t earned some respect.

(After the jump: Northeastern’s possession problems; BC’s depth; Maine’s coming road test.) (more…)