Archive for the 'Notes, Thoughts, Ramblings' Category

Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb, 26

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

The top of the Big Ten standings are still tight, and two of the top four programs – Minnesota and Michigan State – will battle over a two-point difference between first and third. With the season almost ending, these are important weeks for both Minnesota and Michigan. The Gophers are currently on the inside, but Michigan is out.

Two good teams, Michigan and Penn State, will have tough contests in Wisconsin and Ohio State this weekend. The two bottom Big Ten teams have been playing better, or in Ohio State’s case, finally healthy.

It’s late in the season, but there are still so many question marks, mainly of consistency, with all of these teams.


Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/25

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Another week in the books and we have hit the last weekend of the regular season. Quinnipiac locked up at least a share of the Cleary Cup last weekend with two ties, while St. Lawrence will be the second seed in the ECAC tournament and still could gain a share if it wins twice, while the Bobcats drop both on the weekend. But that probably won’t happen so don’t think that it will even be a thing. The home ice teams seem to be a lock, but two byes are going to go to the wire. Yale should end up the third seed, but is up just two points on Colgate who it plays on Friday night and Harvard who has the spot. Dartmouth is a point behind both Harvard and Colgate in fifth. Cornell and Clarkson seem to be locks to host first round series’ in two weeks.

The pairwise situation is still marginal at best, as Quinnipiac sits in 11th, while Yale is the only other team in and on the bubble, in 15. Harvard wrecked its chances with an overtime loss to Boston College on Monday, but St. Lawrence would be interesting and close if it continued to win hockey games at the pace it has. The Ivy league is also up for grabs this weekend as Yale would clinch it with a win on Saturday against Cornell, but Dartmouth also has a chance at it if Yale were to fall to the Big Red. Without further ado, here are my thoughts of the week: (more…)

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 25

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

It was another interesting week in the Big Ten.The Gophers are tied with Michigan for first in the conference, but Penn State and Michigan State are both still two points behind.

The Badgers earned their first win streak of the season, defeated Michigan State 2-1 in the first game of their series. The Spartans responded with a 3-0 win, but things are looking rocky for the Spartans now. Tom Anastos just suspended Dylan Pavelek and Carson Gatt for violating team rules, the second and third Spartans to be suspended this season.

They’re out indefinitely, and Michigan State has a huge series against Minnesota coming up. Then at the end of the season, the Spartans will take on Michigan just before the season’s end.

Speaking of Michigan, the Wolverines – in a huge upset – fell 5-3 to Ohio State. It was entirely surprising, given the Buckeyes are starting to get healthy, and scored six goals against Michigan this season. That extended Michigan’s losing streak to three games, until a 5-2 win over the Buckeyes snapped it.

After an impressive series against Michigan last weekend, the Gophers defeated Penn State and extended their winning streak to five. The Nittany Lions earned a 4-3 win in overtime on Saturday.

(After the jump: Wisconsin’s getting better, the two worst teams will go farther then you think and a PairWise check.)

How Important is Scoring First?

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

For the past few weeks, it seems like every player or coach I’ve spoken to has brought up the importance of scoring first. How important is it, though?

Truth is, it’s pretty important.

Across the nation this season, the team that has scored first has won almost 70 percent of the time (69.8%). Atlantic Hockey drags that percentage down, actually. In every other conference, the winning percentage for teams that score first is over 70 percent. In Hockey East, it’s the highest at 74 percent.


Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb. 20

Friday, February 20th, 2015

This weekend of Big Ten play takes off with a logjam in the standings. Minnesota and Michigan are tied for first, while Penn State and Michigan State sit two points behind.

The biggest test this weekend will be Minnesota against Penn State. Minnesota just swept Michigan, looking like the team we expected them to be. On the other side, Penn State was just swept by Michigan State.

Michigan vs. Ohio State might be an interesting one, depending on how healthy the Buckeyes are. Even with the injuries, Ohio State put up six goals on Michigan, albeit allowing 10. Wolverine captain Andrew Copp is day-to-day with an injury, that he probably sustained on this collision.

Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/18

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Quinnipiac has all but locked up the Cleary Cup. It can do so at home against its rival, Yale, on Friday night. Hypothetically it would only clinch a share, but nonetheless to do so in front of your biggest rival is always something special. St. Lawrence is in second place in the standings and in pretty good shape, as it is clear of third place Yale by three points. At that point it gets interesting, as four points separate positions 3-8. Harvard holds the fourth and final bye, which in all honesty it needs to make a run. Dartmouth however is just a point back, while Colgate is two points back of that all important bye. It seems as though, Union and RPI are all but eliminated from contention for the final first round home series. The Engineers are four behind eighth, while its capital region counterpart is five points back.

The national picture is again looking ok for the league, as three teams currently sit in the top 15 of the Pairwise. Quinnipiac is the highest ranked league team, in tenth place. Yale and Harvard are in 14th and 15th respectively, hardly comfortable positioning going forward. Yale could really help itself with a win against Quinnipiac on Friday, ditto Harvard picking up some road wins in the North Country. (more…)

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 17

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

The weekend’s play has created a logjam for the top of the Big Ten. The Gophers vaulted into a tie for first after sweeping Michigan, but the Spartans and Nittany Lions are just two points behind. After splitting with Ohio State, the Badgers are still last in the conference.

After struggling since returning from winter break, the Gophers took down Michigan 6-2, with captain Kyle Rau earning a hat trick. Minnesota then won 2-0, getting revenge for dropping tow games at Michigan in January. Rau and Mike Reilly led the team with four points over the weekend.

For the second time in three weeks, it was proven Michigan’s high-powered offense can be stopped. The Wolverines still average the most goals per game, but it dropped from 4.21 goals per game to 3.96 after scoring two goals against Minnesota. It was the first time Michigan was shut out all season. On Monday, Wolverine coach Red Berenson announced that Andrew Copp is week-to-week after suffering an upper-body injury. I’m going to bet he was injured on this play – when he tried to hit Travis Boyd but ended up sending both of them into the boards.

Michigan’s rival, Michigan State, earned a sweep over Penn State – and has won five of its last six games. For some reason, the Spartans have had a lot of success against the Nittany Lions. This season, the Spartans are 2-1-1, and last year Michigan State was 3-0-1 against Penn State.  Mackenzie MacEachern had five points, including a hat trick, for Michigan State this weekend.

The Buckeyes defeated Wisconsin 2-1 on Friday, then fell 3-2 on Saturday. With the win, Wisconsin snapped an 11-game losing streak. Cameron Hughes returned to the lineup, while freshman Adam Rockwood netted two points (1g, 1a), including the game-winning tally on Saturday. Rockwood has scored five points (2g, 3a) over the past six games.

In some other news and notes, Penn State’s David Glen was suspended for butt-ending a Spartan on Saturday. He’ll miss Friday’s game.

(After the jump: The Minnesota we expected, anything can happen, and what can we expect from Michigan State)


Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week 18

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Two Big Ten series ended in sweeps, with Minnesota and Michigan State earning victories in their home rinks. The Buckeyes and Badgers, a matchup between two struggling teams, yielded a sweep.

The Michigan State-Penn State matchup featured a high-powered offense that likes to shoot against a the Big Ten’s best defense. The Nittany Lions have some of the best Corsi stats in the conference (because they aim to shoot the puck), but their Corsi numbers dropped in the first game to Michigan State.

A similar effect happened in the Minnesota-Michigan series. The Gophers shut down Michigan’s offense, and also finished with a higher Corsi than the Wolverines. It’s surprising because Minnesota’s Corsi numbers haven’t been very strong throughout the season.

The full Corsi stats are listed below: (more…)

WCHA Weekend Preview, Feb. 13-14

Friday, February 13th, 2015

The WCHA has a full slate of league play this weekend, with five conference series on the docket as the races for playoff positioning head toward the stretch run.

Minnesota State and Michigan Tech have already clinched home ice for the playoffs and Bowling Green can join them this weekend. The fourth spot it up for grabs though, with three teams — Northern Michigan, Ferris State, and Bemidji State — in the best positions to clinch it. Though, Lake Superior State and Alabama-Huntsville can put themselves in the conversation with strong showings this weekend.

With so many teams packed together in the middle of the standings, it’s looking like a lot will have to be decided on the final weekend of the season.

Two WCHA players — Michigan Tech senior forward Tanner Kero and Ferris State senior goaltender CJ Motte — have been named as finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. Players are nominated based on notable achievements in the community, in the classroom, in their character, and in competition. Fans can vote for the winner on the Senior CLASS website.

I apologize for the lack of a “Three Things” article after last weekend, luckily CHN has a lot of good WCHA content to check out: BGSU was featured as a the team of the week, and Jen Dobias wrote a great piece about Alabama-Huntsville’s return to relevance this season in her feature, “Southern Revival.”

In the Polls: No movement for any of the three teams in this week’s poll. Minnesota State remains the No. 1 team in the country, Michigan Tech joins them in the top-five at No. 5, and Bowling Green sits at No. 8. Bemidji State (1) is the only WCHA team receiving votes in this week’s poll.

In the Pairwise, the Mavericks remain No. 1, the Huskies jumped up a spot to No. 6, and the Falcons dropped a couple places to No. 8.


Parity in Atlantic Hockey Alive and Well

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Earlier this week, I joined Hockey on Campus‘ Bernie Corbett to discuss the playoff race in Atlantic Hockey, and it got me thinking …

Parity is something most college hockey conferences love to brag about, but until recently, it never really existed. The front-runners were almost always the front-runners and the also-rans were almost always the also-rans, with a few extraordinary years strewn about throughout history.

That trend has changed the last four seasons. UMass Lowell and Providence have become definite powers in Hockey East while Maine and New Hampshire have slid backwards; even Merrimack had a run to the Hockey East title game in 2011. The ECAC’s rise to power has been clearly evident, with back-to-back national champions and a few other programs – most notably Quinnipiac – without a title but still one of the nation’s best teams.