Last Night: Hockey East Playoff Picture

Posted: March 1st, 2014 / by Joe Meloni

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 Read the rest of this entry »

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The Takeaway: RPI Clinches 1st Round Home Ice With 3-0 Win Over Brown

Posted: March 1st, 2014 / by Josh Seguin

Providence, RI. - Brown and RPI entered Friday night with a lot on the line. Rensselaer entered the evening in seventh place, just two points ahead of Bruno for that spot. Both teams could clinch home ice with a win and the way the chips fell, Rensselaer would have left the night with home ice, win, loss or tie.

The game had a playoff type feel and both goaltenders went toe toe. The first two periods did not disappoint, as the teams entered the third period scoreless. Jacob Laliberte broke the tie at five minutes, 45 seconds of the third period as a loose puck came to him on the doorstep of the net and he was true to give Rensselaer the first lead of the game. Mark Miller scored five minutes later to make it 2-0 Engineers. Rensselaer added an empty netter off the stick of Zach Schroeder and would hold on to the defeat Brown, 3-0. The win clinched home ice in the first round for the Engineers, while Brown holds on to dear life to eighth place one point up on Harvard, SLU and Dartmouth in the ECAC Standings for home ice in the first round.
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Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb. 28

Posted: February 28th, 2014 / by Jashvina Shah

Michigan (15-10-3, 7-6-1-1 B1G) vs. Ohio State (15-10-3, 5-6-3-2 B1G): Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m., March 2 at 1 p.m.

The Wolverines won both games over the Buckeyes when the two teams met earlier this season. Michigan leads the all-time series 73-33-11 and will make its first trip to Nationwide Arena on Saturday.

While JT Compher leads the Wolverines in scoring with 27 points, Zach Hyman has netted 11 points over the last eight games. But the Wolverines may be without captain Mac Bennett, who left last Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury.

Goalkeeping continues to be a question for the Wolverines, as Steve Racine has started three of the last four games. He was in net for Michigan’s win over Penn State, which snapped a four-game losing streak. Racine’s Feb. 14 start was his first since Dec. 28. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think: ECAC Week 19

Posted: February 24th, 2014 / by Josh Seguin

Can anyone else believe that we have hit the last weekend of the season? It seems like just yesterday that Clarkson faced off in the Ice Breaker, but we have reached the last weekend of the year my friends. Union clinched the Cleary Cup outright on Saturday night with its win against St. Lawrence. Colgate became the second team to clinch a first round bye in the ECAC tournament, as it defeated QU on the road. Quinnipiac at 25 points needs just one point to clinch a first round bye, while Cornell sits in fourth and needs a win to clinch because Clarkson three points behind owns the tiebreaker on it. Only Yale and Clarkson could stake a claim on catching QU or Cornell for a bye.

Just like the battle for positioning for byes is interesting so is home ice, but Clarkson and Yale have clinched spots for home ice if they are unable to catch a bye. Rensselaer and Brown currently hold the final two home ice positions. RPI sits in good position but needs to pick up two points, either by a win or a St. Lawrence loss because the Saints would hold the tiebreaker if RPI only picked up one point when St. Lawrence picked up two wins. Complicated stuff but it’s like that I guess. Brown is ahead of St. Lawrence by one point and ahead of both Dartmouth and Harvard by three. The right things would have to fall into place fr Harvard or Dartmouth to get a first round home series, but it isn’t impossible. Princeton will enter the ECAC tournament as the twelfth and final seed, finishing in last place. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 24

Posted: February 24th, 2014 / by Jashvina Shah

The Badgers have 31 points in Big Ten play this season, just one point behind Minnesota. It doesn’t really matter who finishes first or second, just who finishes in the first two spots. The Gophers were off this week, so the Badgers picked up six points to close the gap.

With the pair of wins over the Spartans, the Badgers are now eight points ahead of Michigan for the No. 2 spot. The Badgers have four games left while Michigan has six, so it is possible for the Wolverines to overtake Wisconsin. But it’s unlikely, since the Badgers face Penn State and Michigan State to close out the season.

Ohio State also did not play last weekend, while Michigan split its series against Penn State. The only two conference wins the Nittany Lions have earned this year were both over the Wolverines. The Friday win was Penn State’s only conference win on the road.

(After the jump: How the Badgers have played at Kohl this season, Michigan’s struggles and Big Ten hockey success at the Olympics.) Read the rest of this entry »

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

Posted: February 24th, 2014 / by Joe Meloni

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Weekend Results Set Up SCSU/UND showdown

Posted: February 23rd, 2014 / by Avash Kalra

Each team in the NCHC has four games to play, but it may very well be next weekend’s St. Cloud State / North Dakota series in St. Cloud that determines the first NCHC regular season champion.

Conference Overall
1 St. Cloud State 20 12-5-3 39 71-53 30 18-7-5 109-80
North Dakota 20 13-7-0 39 67-56 30 18-9-3 95-79
3 Nebraska-Omaha 20 10-8-2 1 33 68-59 30 13-15-2 98-100
4 Western Michigan 20 9-9-2 2 31 59-61 32 15-12-5 86-84
5 Denver 20 8-9-3 2 29 49-49 32 14-12-6 81-72
6 Minnesota-Duluth 20 8-10-2 2 28 54-60 30 13-13-4 84-87
7 Colorado College 20 6-9-5 1 24 46-56 30 6-18-6 60-92
8 Miami 20 5-14-1 1 17 48-68 30 11-16-3 88-92

We learned this past weekend that even the teams that have struggled for much of the season — namely, Miami and Colorado College — can’t be taken lightly. On Friday night, the RedHawks toppled St. Cloud, energized by the return of Blake Coleman, who scored two goals in his first game since December 6. More importantly, Miami survived the first several minutes without allowing a goal and enjoyed steady goaltending from Jay Williams for the first time in a while. Colorado College, meanwhile, is suddenly 4-2-2 in its last eight games, including a three game win-streak after sweeping archrival Denver thanks to goals over the weekend from six different goal-scorers.

North Dakota swept Minnesota-Duluth, dropping the Bulldogs to sixth place in the standings, and Dave Hakstol’s team — as they often do this time of year — is peaking, and may just be the favorite to finish the season in first place. Again, though, if St. Cloud or North Dakota has to play Miami or Colorado College in the first round of the playoffs, we saw this weekend that neither will be an easy task.

This week on CHN look for a feature about the St. Cloud/North Dakota showdown, and we’ll also look into Nebraska-Omaha’s roller-coaster February.

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The Takeaway: Colgate Impresses Again in 3-1 Win at QU

Posted: February 23rd, 2014 / by Josh Seguin

Hamden CT. - Colgate and Quinnipiac entered the night deadlocked for second place in the ECAC. The first period is exactly what one would have expected, as the two played up and down hockey. Quinnipiac appeared to score twice in the period, only to be ruled no goal on the ice. The first was when Brice van Brabant went in all alone but held up a Colgate player to get the puck originally. The second was a controversial kicking call, called on the ice as such. Those two were the only close calls in the period, which ended with the teams both scoreless. Colgate took the lead at nine minutes, 14 seconds of the second period when Tylor Spink went around the net and sent a wicked wrister straight past QU goaltender, Michael Garteig. QU responded minutes later when Matthew Peca sent a wrister toward the net that was tipped home by Connor Jones.

The teams entered the third period tied at one goal apiece. It stayed that way until Tylor Spink scored his second of the game, deking Garteig out as he was all alone in front of him. Darcy Murphy added an empty net goal late in the third period, giving Colgate a 3-1 victory at Quinnipiac. The win moves Colgate into second place all alone with a record of 16-11-5 overall, and 12-5-3 in the ECAC. Quinnipiac, meanwhile, falls to 21-8-5, 11-6-3 and to third in the ECAC standings. QU also falls to seventh in the Pairwise rankings, while Colgate rises into an at large bid at 13. Read the rest of this entry »

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ECAC Standings Update, 3 Games Remaining: What Do We Know and What Can Be Clinched Tonight

Posted: February 22nd, 2014 / by Josh Seguin

Last night, Union clinched at least a share of the Cleary Cup with three games remaining. Quinnipiac and Colgate mathematically have a chance to share that title, but it seems unlikely given the way Union is playing. The Dutchmen need just one point to win the title outright and clinch the number one seed throughout the ECAC tournament.

Battles are shaping up from positions 2-11. Union is the only team to clinch a bye. Quinnipiac and Colgate play tonight with the winner clinching a second first round bye. Cornell currently holds the final bye position in fourth, with Clarkson and Yale nipping at its heels. Yale and Clarkson are the only two that are currently not in bye position that has a chance at it. The Bulldogs are one point back of the Big Red and the Golden Knights are two points behind Cornell. Home ice positioning is even closer. Below I will go into each team’s positioning and what can be accomplished tonight. Check out the CHN standings page as a guide Read the rest of this entry »

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The Takeaway: Cornell Grits Out 2-1 Road Win At QU

Posted: February 22nd, 2014 / by Josh Seguin

Hamden, CT. - Cornell and Quinnipiac played a physical quarterfinal last season, in which Quinnipiac won in three games. Tonight, was much of the same and the bad blood continued between the schools, as the two played a very physical game. Quinnipiac scored first at 12 minutes, 54 seconds of the first period when a Cornell defender kicked the puck into his own net on a Quinnipiac feed from Tommy Schutt, who was credited with the goal. The Big Red, as it usually does, responded moments later, as Joakim Ryan sent a wrister from the point straight into the net. The teams took the 1-1 game into the second period and much of the same physical play ensued. Cornell broke the one all deadlock at 13:27 of the period when Brian Ferlin went in on a breakaway and beat Garteig, high over his glove.

The third period was much of the same, as Quinnipiac pummeled Andy Iles with shots and dominated the shot attempts, 38-6. Cornell held on to win on the road, 2-1, against the Bobcats. Cornell moves into fourth place all alone with a 13-7-5 overall record and 9-6-4 mark in the ECAC, one point clear of Yale for fifth. Quinnipiac falls to third in the ECAC standings with a record of 21-7-5, 11-5-3. Cornell also gained in the Pairwise rankings, where it now sits in ninth, while Quinnipiac remains in sixth place. Read the rest of this entry »

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