Archive for the 'Regular Season' Category

The Takeaway: Maine Defeats UMass, 2-0, Moves to Eighth Place in HEA

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

AMHERST, Mass. — In a series that will contribute significantly to the determination of the final Hockey East playoff spot, Maine defeated Massachusetts, 2-0, at the Mullins Center Friday night. Junior goaltender Martin Ouellette offered an excellent performance in net for the Black Bears, including saves on multiple above-average UMass scoring chances throughout the game. This was the goalie’s second career shut-out, the result of 30 saves.

The teams will skate again on the same ice tomorrow night. With the victory, Maine moves into eighth place while the Minutemen fall to ninth. Meanwhile, Northeastern lost to Providence, 6-2, staying in the tenth position.

What I Saw

Ouellette made one of the season’s best saves near the beginning of the second period, robbing K.J. Tiefenwerth from very close range. The save maintained a scoreless game. For the next few minutes, the teams traded quality scoring chances through rapid end-to-end action. Several pucks sailed through each crease, as the pair of goaltenders supported their struggling defensemen.

More significantly, the save preserved the complexion of the game in Maine’s favor. The Black Bears finally started the scoring near the end of the second frame as the team took advantage of a power play opportunity. Freshman defenseman Ben Hutton launched a shot past a screened Boyle. Four minutes later, Maine doubled its lead as senior Mark Anthoine sent a perfectly-placed snap shot into the top-right corner above goalie Kevin Boyle’s glove side. The goal prompted UMass coach John Micheletto to replace Boyle with Steve Mastalerz.

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The Takeaway: Minnesota Starts Season On The Right Foot

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Minneapolis, MN- A slow start by Michigan State ended up haunting the Spartans Friday night as three goals by the Gophers in the season’s first 13:38 fueled the #1/2 team in the country to a 5-1 win that was as close as the final score.

WCHA preseason player of the year Nick Bjugstad scored a goal and added an assist while freshman Mike Reilly and redshirt junior captain Zach Budish each had two assists. Tanner Sorenson scored the lone Spartan goal with 4:01 left as Minnesota goaltender Michael Shibrowski made 25 saves en route to his first win as a Gopher.

Ben Marshall, Christian Isackson, Erik Haula and Travis Boyd also scored for Minnesota. MSU goalie Will Yanakeff made 37 saves in defeat.

What I saw:

-The Spartans were one of two teams last year (Denver was the other) to hold Minnesota without a win in a two-game series and much of it was thanks to their defense containing the Gophers’ potent offense.  This year, however, it was the Gophers who used their speed advantage over the Spartans to beat them to pucks, out-muscle their defense and spend entire shifts in the MSU zone. While the top line of Bjugstad, Kyle Rau and Christian Isackson ran wild, the Spartans’ top line of Kevin Walrod, Lee Reimer and Greg Wolfe could not get anything going. (more…)

A star is born for St. Cloud in win over Minnesota

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

If there was any doubt about St. Cloud State’s goaltending situation before St. Cloud State’s 4-3 win over No. 1 Minnesota Friday night, there sure isn’t much anymore.

After an injury to SCSU’s Mike Lee last month — an injury which will likely cost the junior his season — the Huskies were forced to turn things over to Ryan Faragher, a freshman from Fort Frances, Ont. via the North American Hockey League.

And the freshman has responded.

“When Mike went down, we didn’t really know what was going to happen,” admitted junior forward David Eddy, who had three assists Friday. “But he’s stepped up huge. Bigger than we expected. He makes saves where you’re just like ‘Wow, how did he do that?’ He made a couple of those tonight.”

Faragher playing well has become somewhat redundant in the Granite City. It seems to be a topic that comes up for head coach Bob Motzko each week.

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Thoughts on an eventful weekend at Mariucci

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

What a game tonight at Mariucci Arena.

First things first:

The Gophers sweep North Dakota for the first time since December of 2005. It was Don Lucia’s first home sweep of North Dakota as Gophers head coach and Minnesota’s first sweep of the Fighting Sioux at Mariucci since 1996-97.

The win puts the Gophers 10 points ahead of North Dakota in the WCHA standings — still a long ways from the finish line, that 10 points back of a quality team like Minnesota likely means the MacNaughton Cup will be somewhere other than Grand Forks, N.D. come early March.

UND has gained a reputation as a bit of a slow starter during the Dave Hakstol era — but not this slow. This is North Dakota’s worst start in WCHA play in almost four decades, when UND started 1-9 in 1974.

If there was any doubt heading into the weekend about how good Minnesota is, that doubt is now gone. Yeah, North Dakota is down right now. But the Gophers showed a grit and determination Saturday night they haven’t shown in years. Despite heavily outshooting the Sioux through two and a half periods and having been blanked on their previously powerful power play, Minnesota refused to quit — tying the score with a greasy goal by Nick Larson with 6:04 left before scoring another dirty one by Kyle Rau with under a minute left. (more…)

Minnesota vs North Dakota post-game wrap

Friday, November 4th, 2011

A bit of a different look at Friday’s rivalry game between Minnesota and North Dakota.

THE BOTTOM LINE

At the University of Minnesota’s media day Wednesday, Gopher captain Taylor Matson predicted a “bloodbath.”

And while the blood wasn’t necessarily flowing, the Gophers and North Dakota combined for 69 minutes in penalties Friday (29 penalties in all) in a 2-0 Minnesota victory at Mariucci Arena, with much of the action coming in a rough second period.

Seth Ambroz got the festivities started with a five minute major for contact to the head just 30 seconds into the middle frame, although he also checked UND captain Mario Lamoureaux from behind. Minnesota killed the five minute UND power play however, and according to numerous players and coaches after the game, that was the turning point.

Tied 0-0 at the time, the major penalty seemed to stir the emotions a bit, and at 11:47, feelings boiled over as a melee ensued, sending 3 players from each team to the box. North Dakota got the extra 2 minutes though, setting up a Gopher power play. Minnesota took advantage as Nick Bjugstad scored what amounted to the game winner with the extra attacker on.

The Gophers got a separation goal with 8 minutes and change remaining in regulation when Nick Larson’s pass sent Tom Serratore in on Aaron Dell for a breakaway. The sophomore buried his second goal of the season to make it 2-0.

For the night, Minnesota outshot North Dakota 32-24. It was a historic night for Gopher goalie Kent Patterson, as the senior secured his fifth shutout of the season — tying a school record set by Robb Stauber in 1987-88. Just nine games into the year, Patterson may have a couple chances to break that record this season.

Stauber, by the way, won the Hobey Baker Award that season.

AROUND THE LOCKER ROOM

On Patterson tying the shutout record

• “Our team has been doing a great job of letting me see pucks,” Patterson said. “I’m going to have to make a few big saves every once in a while, but guys are back checking through the middle and picking up guys so they aren’t getting those opportunities.”

• “I enjoy each and every day. When I do get a shutout, great, but you have to take the good with the bad.” Patterson said. “I just have to make sure I come to the rink everyday preparing for each game individually, and take my game day by day.”

• “He’s something special, he gives us a chance to win each and every night,” Matson said. “He does all the little things right and everything is going well for him right now.”

On getting the separation goal

• “That was great to see, especially off the face off,” Patterson said. “Tom works hard. He had a huge blocked shot at the beginning of the game. He deserved that goal, he worked his butt off.”

• “We’ve been doing a great job of scoring first this season, but that second goal was huge for us,” Matson said. “Especially off the face off, we’ve been stressing intensity off the face off this season, so it was big to get that goal from our fourth line.”

• “We didn’t have a lot of breakdowns, but that was one of them,” said UND head coach Dave Hakstol. “They took advantage of it.”

On the intensity and atmosphere

• “It was the type of game we expected. It was hard hitting, it was physical, it was blocked shots, it was goaltending. The game was settling in and you knew it was going to be a low scoring game,” said Gophers head coach Don Lucia. ”

• “These games are pretty special to us, there was a lot more hitting, a lot more intensity. The atmosphere was something special to be apart of here tonight,” Matson said.

On killing the UND 5×3 power play in the second period

• “I think the pivotal moment for us was that 5-on-3,” Lucia said. “It was a 0-0 game and we were able to get a little bit of momentum from our [penalty] kill.”

• “It was a huge momentum boost, especially when the crowd gets into it like that,” Patterson said. “It gets our bench going and gave our guys a momentum boost.”

IN OTHER ACTION FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE
Michigan Tech 1, Minnesota State 0
St. Cloud State 7, Wisconsin 2
Nebraska-Omaha 7, Colorado College 5
Denver 3, Minnesota Duluth 3 (OT)
Bemidji State 3, Lake Superior State 2 (OT)

From the Creator of ‘Bad Idea Jeans’

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

If you don’t know what the headline references, click here and make sure your speakers are on.

Someone in the Minnesota Legislature has a bad idea, and it could affect all college sports, including hockey (primarily women’s).

Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, and Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, introduced legislation on March 2 that would ban state money from being used directly or indirectly for an athlete who is not a citizen of the United States.

“We just feel that if we’re going to give state using taxpayers money that we want the opportunity for students in the United States first,” said Dettmer.

Shouldn’t scholarships be awarded based on merit and not residency? After all, no one is stopping United States citizens from applying to attend any university they want, and no one is stopping them from getting all the financial aid they would need.

University of Minnesota system schools do not use state money to fund athletic scholarships. If this bill is passed, it would have more of an effect on St. Cloud State and Minnesota State. SCSU athletic director Morris Kurtz pretty much nailed the counterpoint to this bill.

“They are wonderful additions,” Kurtz said. “We welcome them, their backgrounds, their cultures and their differences, and we learn from them. So it would certainly disappointing not only from a student athlete standpoint, but just from a student point.”

It would also be disappointing from a fan standpoint. Paying customers generally don’t care where the players on their favorite college team hail from. It doesn’t matter if St. Cloud State’s star forward went to high school in St. Cloud, Duluth, Roseau, Madison, Boston, Los Angeles, or Helsinki. They just want to see their team win, and they want their university to be represented well.

It’s not surprising that these lawmakers hail from Gopher Country. Like the men’s team, the Gopher women’s team recruits primarily in Minnesota. Because the pool of talented high school girls hockey players in the state isn’t quite as deep as the boys yet, it’s necessary for all the Division I schools in the state to recruit outside the border. Minnesota-Duluth has been highly successful bringing in European players, and they have four NCAA championships to show for their global recruiting. That would be double Minnesota’s total titles.

I guess, if you can’t beat them, take away their players.

Holiday Tournaments Round 1

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

This week is the first of two weeks for the holiday tournaments in college hockey. Five holiday tournaments will happen this week, with three of them starting today.

Let’s take a closer look at the three tournaments, beginning with the first one the Great Lakes Invitational, that starts in a few hours.

GLI:

The Teams: Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, North Dakota.

The games today: Michigan vs. Michigan Tech (3:05 ET), Michigan State vs. North Dakota (6:35 ET)

Outlook: Both Michigan and North Dakota are red hot. Michigan’s last loss came against Wisconsin on November 29. That same day North Dakota’s last loss happened against Cornell. These are unquestionably the two strongest teams in the field. Michigan State is on one of its worst losing skids in recent memory, while Michigan Tech is coming off a sweep of Northern Michigan. Expect a Michigan-North Dakota final, which could mean a lot of implications in March.

The Badger Classic:

The Teams: Wisconsin, Lake Superior, Harvard, Alabama-Huntsville

Games Today: Lake Superior vs. Harvard (4:07 CT), Wisconsin vs. Alabama-Huntsville (7:07 ET)

Outlook: Since their 0-6-1 start, the Wisconsin Badgers have been red hot, going 9-1-1 in the last two months. Wisconsin should take this. The Harvard vs. Lake Superior game should be interesting as both teams are looking for answers.

Florida College Classic:

The Teams: Colgate, Cornell, Maine, St. Cloud State

Games Today: Colgate vs. Maine (4:05 ET), St. Cloud State vs. Cornell (7:35 ET)

Outlook: This is the most interesting tournament this week. Maine has surpassed expectations up to this point, Colgate will look to gain some momentum as well as St. Cloud State, and Cornell is doing quite well also. Cornell and St. Cloud State should be a great first round game as the matchup features a great offensive attack in St. Cloud State and a potent defensive scheme with Cornell. The Sunshine State could be seeing great hockey after all this weekend.

Other Tournaments:

Ledyard Bank Tournament (Dartmouth, Bemidji State, Army, Massachusetts)

UConn Holiday Classic (Connecticut, Air Force, Quinnipiac, Merrimack)

Tournament Final Predictions:

GLI: North Dakota over Michigan

The Badger Classic: Wisconsin over Harvard

Florida College Classic: Cornell over Maine

UConn Holiday Classic: Air Force over Quinnipiac

Ledyard Bank Invitational: Massachusetts over Dartmouth

Don Lucia’s Wrong on This One

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Yes, I have broadcasted 128 Minnesota-Duluth men’s hockey games.

Yes, I am continuing to support the program as a season-ticket holder.

Yes, I despise the Minnesota Gophers with every fiber of my being.

However, I am not an idiot. My respect for Don Lucia’s work as a college hockey coach is as high as it gets. Evidence can be found here and here.

The fact that he is a great coach and a wonderful ambassador for the sport doesn’t change the fact that he is capable of being dead wrong.

Evidence of that can be found here.

“I have never discouraged or encouraged [playing football], but that may change now in light of what happened to Zach (Budish, Gopher hockey recruit who suffered a torn ACL playing football) and what happened to Garrett, too,” said Lucia, who also watched recruit Garrett Smaagaard of Eden Prairie miss his senior year of hockey after tearing his ACL in the 2000 Prep Bowl.

Budish’s injury and Lucia’s stance underscore a growing conflict between the two sports. Overlapping schedules, competition for varsity spots and the growing trend of specialization have the relationship between football and hockey, as Hill-Murray activities director and hockey coach Bill Lechner said, “at an uncertain point.”

Kim Nelson of Edina and Vince Conway of Hill-Murray, who coach football at schools where hockey is king, worry that Budish’s injury might make hockey players — particularly elite-level players — reconsider playing football.

Their concerns have merit. Just weeks after Budish’s injury, Lucia received a verbal commitment from an athlete who played both football and hockey.

“We had a talk,” Lucia said. “I said, ‘It’s time to be a hockey player, not a football player.’ He agreed and he’s not going to play football next year.”

I’m all for coaches advising their recruits. I’m not all for coaches telling their recruits not to play football. High school is a time for enjoyment, a time for hanging out with friends, and a not a time to be specializing in one sport over anything else.

To me, coaches who try to steer their recruits to a single sport are afraid. They’re afraid that the kid will start to like a different sport and want to play that instead.

Such fears didn’t overcome anyone in the Minnesota-Duluth program after Matt Niskanen committed there in 2004. Niskanen was a three-sport athlete in high school, playing hockey for the co-op Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl program, and playing football and baseball for Mountain Iron-Buhl. He continued to play football and baseball in his senior year, and was a top-notch player in all three sports.

Listen, I’m not trying to hold up Niskanen as some sort of evidence to a greater rule. And I’m not trying to make Scott Sandelin out to be automatically smarter or a better coach than Lucia because he didn’t try to keep Niskanen from playing those sports in his senior year.

But if you ask Niskanen, and I have, the fact that he played all three sports made him a better hockey player and a better person. And you can’t argue with the outcome in either realm. Not only is he one of the better young defensemen in the NHL, but he’s also one of the nicest people you could ever meet, and he truly hasn’t forgotten his roots.

And Lucia is not alone. Around the country, there are coaches trying to dissuade their kids from playing other sports as they grow older. For every Don Lucia, there is a college football coach practically begging his recruits to stop playing hockey or basketball or baseball. And there are high school coaches who go so far as to demand their star players not play any other sport.

These things happen. And they need to stop.

We can’t be in such a hurry to get kids through the developmental stages of sports that we don’t allow them to be kids. Yes, there will be kids like Aaron Ness, a Gophers freshman defenseman who accelerated his high-school education so he could graduate and join the Minnesota program as quickly as possible. But Ness didn’t do that because Lucia told him to. He did it because he wanted to.

And that’s how this should be done. Not with pressure, threats, or even subtle requests from college coaches. If a high-school kid wants to play three sports and star in all three, that should be his decision and no one else’s.

Yes, there is risk.

But there’s also risk in letting that same kid drive to school every day. You don’t see coaches banning their players from driving, do you?

Silly? Absolutely. So is a hockey coach worrying about a potential star recruit getting hurt while playing football, or any other sport.

Why Polls Don’t Matter and Shouldn’t

Monday, December 8th, 2008

I’ve always been pleased as punch with the fact that the NCAA doesn’t incorporate polls into the selection process for the NCAA Hockey Tournament.

Of course, it means that the polls are nothing but discussion fodder. But that’s a good thing. Polls should never be more than that. The opinions of human beings should mean nothing when you’re determining who the best hockey teams are. Same goes for football, basketball, baseball, tennis, volleyball, bowling, and any other sport.

We have tournaments and postseasons so we can decide these types of important things on the field of play.

This week, college hockey pollsters are faced with an interesting, difficult, and nearly-impossible dynamic when it comes to WCHA teams (and others, mind you, but I’m going to focus for a moment on the WCHA).

Minnesota State is now 8-5-3. They have impressive wins over Colorado College and North Dakota, but lost twice over the weekend to St. Cloud State, and they also have a loss and a tie against Minnesota.

St. Cloud State sits at 10-6, just swept MSU, but has lost twice to Minnesota-Duluth by matching 5-1 scores.

UMD is unbeaten in their last five. The Bulldogs, now 7-4-5 on the season, chased Colorado College star goalie Richard Bachman with a five-goal second period explosion Saturday. The 7-4 win follows a three-point weekend against North Dakota and a second four-goal win over St. Cloud State.

Who gets ranked where?

Thankfully, it doesn’t really matter. These three teams settle their differences and decide their rankings with their play on the ice. In January, various sites will start to publish their guesses on what the PWR looks like. CHN has already started publishing the KRACH ratings (waiting until everyone has lost one game).

The only day the PWR matters is on Selection Sunday, but it’s always interesting to watch the ebb and flow over the course of the season’s second half. While there are always quirks with logic involved, they aren’t nearly as bad as the quirks with logic that are involved in the polls.

Of course, it’s always easier to except the quirks when you realize the polls don’t matter one lick. It’s nothing but blog and message board fodder to keep us interested until another full slate of games on Friday night.

PUCK Rankings

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

CHN Blog “PUCK” Rankings
January 16th, 2006

Rank Team Record Last Week
1 Minnesota 20-2-3 1
2 New Hampshire 17-3-1 2
3 Notre Dame 19-4-1 5
4 St. Cloud State 14-4-4 4
5 Maine 14-5-2 3
6 Denver 17-7-2 8
7 Clarkson 13-5-3 7
8 Boston College 12-6-1 11
9 Michigan State 14-8-1 10
10 Boston University 10-4-6 12
11 Miami 17-8-1 6
12 Colorado College 14-9-1 9
13 Michigan 15-9-5 12
14 Vermont 12-8-2 16
15 Cornell 9-6-2 15
16 North Dakota 11-11-2 NR

Bumped: Bemidji State