Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 9

Posted: February 9th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

After a win at the Hockey City Classic, Michigan is first place in the Big Ten. Penn State is just two points behind, while Wisconsin is (surprise) still last. But the Buckeyes are only two points out of the conference seller. Thanks to the pair of wins over Ohio State, Minnesota is third.

Nothing exciting happened over the weekend, except Wisconsin is showing improvement. And Cameron Hughes, one of Wisconsin’s better players, is injured. On the more successful side of the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry, Travis Boyd had his first career hat trick as Minnesota dominated Ohio State, putting the Gophers back where they should be.

I’m still iffy on Minnesota. Ohio State is one of the weaker teams in the league (partly because of injuries) and there’s no real quality Big Ten competition that Minnesota can test itself against. Michigan and Penn State are good, but they’re not quite Minnesota State or Minnesota-Duluth quality.

Speaking of Minnesota State, the Mavericks are No. 1 in the PairWise. Michigan is still the highest Big Ten team at 12th, while Penn State moved up to 22nd. Minnesota is No. 14, thanks in part to a couple Harvard losses last week. The Wolverines might be able to earn an at-large bid, if they win most of their conference games. If Minnesota is better when those teams face off later, the Gophers might win though. And I’d beware of Penn State, which played well against Michigan earlier this season.

(After the jump: Time to stop outdoor games, Wisconsin is overshadowing Ohio State and too many dangerous hits.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week 17

Posted: February 9th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

Big Ten play returned last weekend, with three conference series. The Nittany Lions swept Wisconsin for the second time this season, while Minnesota defeated Ohio State. Michigan and Michigan State met for the third time in a month, with the Wolverines earning the outdoor win.

Surprisingly, Penn State’s Corsi numbers dipped a little bit against Wisconsin in the second period of the first game. Michigan and Michigan State’s possession numbers were almost even, but they played outdoors on poor conditions.

The Corsi stats are listed below: Read the rest of this entry »

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Feb. 6-7

Posted: February 6th, 2015 / by Ryan Evans

Nine of the WCHA’s 10 teams are in action this weekend with four conference and one non-conference series on the docket.

With just five weeks left in the season, Minnesota State and Michigan Tech have already locked up two of the league’s eight playoff spots. The battle for position among the remaining six should be fun to watch over the next few weeks. Three teams sit within five points of each other for fourth place and the last home ice advantage slot. While the three teams battling for the last two spots – Lake Superior State, Alabama-Huntsville, and Alaska-Anchorage – are separated by just two points in places No. 8-10, with the Seawolves as the team currently on the outside looking in.

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Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week 16

Posted: February 6th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

Five Big Ten teams were in action last weekend. The Gophers and Badgers played at the Kohl Center, Michigan and Michigan State dueled in Detroit and Penn State defeated Vermont in out-of-conference play.

The Corsi stats are listed below: Read the rest of this entry »

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Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb. 6

Posted: February 6th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

Big Ten play resumes this weekend for all teams. The Nittany Lions host Wisconsin, Ohio State travels to Minnesota and the Spartans and Wolverines engage in the second part of their rivalry.

The Michigan-Michigan State game should be competitive, and it’s the third meeting between both teams in a month. It’s a battle of offense and defense, and last weekend defense (Michigan State) won.

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ECAC Weekend Preview Feb. 6-7

Posted: February 5th, 2015 / by Josh Seguin

From here on out, each league team will play two games a weekend. With only four weekends remaining in the regular season, every game seems to be huge. St. Lawrence is hard charging, having won five league games in a row. Quinnipiac is on a six game unbeaten streak and leads the league by three over the Saints. But the league as a whole continues to be close, as positions 3-9 in the league are separated by a mere four points and 4-9 just two points. Tenth place Union sits just three points behind Home byes, home advantage and the illustrious Cleary Cup all seem to be in play in the coming weeks.

Quinipiac and St. Lawrence have looked like the best teams this half. Those two teams look to be the favorites for the Cleary but I am sure some of the teams below them could compete for the title. Harvard got Alex Kerfoot back in the Beanpot semi, which quite frankly they should be proud of as a group. Sean Malone was also back in the lineup, but wasn’t on the bench for the thrilling end. Yale, Clarkson and Cornell all have struggled to find scoring this season, which makes me speculate whether or not any of those teams can make a run. An interesting one to me is Dartmouth, who swept the Capital Region teams at home last weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think: Hockey East, Feb. 5, 2015

Posted: February 5th, 2015 / by Joe Meloni

I’ve been a pretty unrelenting critic of Connecticut this season. The Huskies have been better than anticipated in their first season as a Hockey East school.

Still, 8-12-7 overall isn’t a very good record.

There have been some brightspots, though, and goaltender Rob Nichols stands out as a legitimate all-star contender for the Huskies. Building teams from the goal out is a plan for most coaches. Nichols, a sophomore, has a .930 save percentage in 26 games played.

That’s not just a good season. Playing behind this UConn team, a .930 save percentage is truly remarkable.

The coaching and recruiting chops of Mike Cavanaugh suggest the Huskies are only going to improve in the next few seasons. A steady presence like Nichols in goal is precisely what a team in that transition phase needs to punch above its weight in a league like Hockey East.

For the next five years or so, UConn is going to be outclassed on paper by at least a few teams. It takes a long time for programs to build programs with enough good players to win games consistently and compete for championships.

In the short term, finding quality goaltending and coaching a team to support him with disciplined defending will help UConn win more games than sheer talent suggests it should.

It’s not a certainty if anyone to follow Nichols will play this well. Moreover, from watching UConn’s games, it’s abundantly clear that Nichols isn’t just a product of good defending. He’s a remarkable shot-stopper with the agility, skating and poise to steal certain goals. That’s not something every program can find for every recruiting class. There are otherwise great teams in college hockey right now that don’t have goaltending nearly as strong as UConn does.

Looking ahead to the Hockey East tournament, it’s difficult to see UConn winning two of three games from most teams in the league. Nichols, though, is a serious equalizer for the Huskies. As the Huskies improve over the next two seasons, Nichols may well be the type of player that can force a deep playoff run. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think: WCHA, Feb. 4

Posted: February 4th, 2015 / by Ryan Evans

After playing most of the season with three contenders for the MacNaughton Cup, it’s beginning to look like it will come down to a two-team race. Minnesota State and Michigan Tech have separated themselves at the top of the standings, while Bowling Green’s struggles have put them at a significant disadvantage. After another disheartening weekend, the Falcons are now 10 points back of the first place Mavericks, and six back of the Huskies, with just 10 games left to play.

Rapid Recap: Minnesota State continued to have Ferris State’s number, sweeping the Bulldogs with a pair of 5-1 wins. Michigan Tech poured on the offense in its sweep of Alabama-Huntsville, winning 5-0 and 11-1. Northern Michigan earned its first back-to-back wins since November, sweeping Alaska-Anchorage, 5-3 and 3-2 (OT). NMU senior defenseman Mitch Jones scored the OT winner with just 11 seconds left on Saturday to secure the sweep. Bemidji State ran its unbeaten streak to four, beating, 5-2, and tying, 2-2, stumbling Bowling Green.

In the Polls: After a week at No. 3, Minnesota State re-gained the top spot in the Div. I poll. Michigan Tech moved up three spots to No. 5 and are in the top five for the first time since Dec. 15. Bowling Green slipped two spots to No. 8. Bemidji State (8) is the only WCHA team receiving votes.

Following the weekend’s results, the Mavericks remained at No. 1 in the Pairwise, while Bowling Green stayed at No. 6 and Michigan Tech moved up three spots to No. 7.

(Following the jump: My three thoughts/observations on what went down in the WCHA last weekend)

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Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/2

Posted: February 2nd, 2015 / by Josh Seguin

I was able to take in the Hockey Haven rivalry, penned notably by the New Haven’ Register’s Chip Malafronte, on Saturday night at Yale’s famed Ingalls Rink. You should also check out his column from the game, which talked about how unsatisfying the result was for both sides. I was able to watch two of the better teams in the league fight toe to toe. While Yale was the better possession team and better in the neutral zone, Quinnipiac’s transition game was on full display. This transition led to both goals for Quinnipiac, who may or may not have been the best team on Saturday. I would argue they were a step behind its cross town rival for much of the first two periods and were lucky to leave the Whale with a lone point. Both teams played well in third period, which made for an entertaining last 20 minutes. for me just being in the Yale Whale makes me happy, what a great place to watch a game.

Although I think it is a bit overblown on how big of a rivalry it is, one can tell that Rand Pecknold and Keith Allain just do not like each other. That made for cinema in the first period when Allain caught Pecknold cheating in a player off an icing call, Allain flipped and pointed. Looked as though Allain wanted to say bad things to Pecknold, but in the end the deed was caught and the refs made it good. Other than that there was little hatred in comparison to some of the other more traditional rivalries and for a rivalry game the crowd didn’t seem any more jacked up than it would have been without Quinnipiac in town. And to make matters worse, both bands were in the house but both seemingly had off nights. I guess take that for what it is worth. It may not be up to the level of a BC-BU, Harvard-Cornell, UNH-Maine, or North Dakota-Minnesota but the signs were there that it is almost there. I have heard I will see a totally different atmosphere in Hamden, which I am totally looking forward to.

This weekend I plan on heading to the North Country for my premiere visit to Appelton and Cheel Arenas, barring more snow of course. Right now, the North Country is proving to be the toughest travel partner combo in the league. Clarkson and St. Lawrence played an entertaining game last Saturday night at Cheel Arena, which St. Lawrence was able to eek out a key road win. The win marked SLU’s fifth in a row and Clarkson’s first loss in four games. Both SLU and Clarkson sit in the top four of the ECAC standings, with the Saints in second place and Clarkson tied for fourth with Yale. Tech also holds the tiebreaker with Yale. Of course this gets me thinking to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if both those teams made it to Lake Placid? Personally, I think one of the two actually will but we will see what happens going forward. Better chances than last year for one or both to make it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 1

Posted: February 1st, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

In a battle of defense vs. offense on Friday night in Detroit, defense won. Michigan State limited Michigan to one goal in the win, snapping Michigan’s seven-game winning streak. The Spartans are now on a three-game winning streak, and both teams will play in Chicago next weekend.

The Gophers and Badgers resumed their rivalry just a couple weeks after a series-ending brawl. After a 7-5 Gopher win on Friday, the teams played a wild match on Saturday that ended in a 4-4 tie. The Gophers held a 2-1 lead in the third period, but Grant Besse tied the game. Christian Isackson gave the Gophers the lead back 30 seconds later, but Kevin Schulze tied it – thanks to a great play from Adam Rockwood – less than two minutes later. Cameron Hughes scored his first collegiate goal with less than two minutes left, giving the Badgers a 4-3 lead. But this is Minnesota-Wisconsin, so of course Seth Ambroz tied it with two seconds left in regulation.

The Badgers went on to win in the shootout, because Minnesota doesn’t win shootouts.

Penn State and Vermont faced off in Philadelphia. Again Penn State fell behind, but the Nittany Lions responded with four straight goals to defeat Vermont 4-2. Penn State scored three goals in the final period, and has scored eight third-period goals over the last three games.

Michigan is first in the conference, and Michigan State and Penn State are tied for second.

(After the jump: The truth about Michigan, a PairWise check in and the no-defense league) Read the rest of this entry »

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