Analyzing Potential St. Lawrence Candidates

Posted: April 15th, 2019 / by Mike McMahon

St. Lawrence is bringing AIC head coach Eric Lang and Northeastern associate head coach Jerry Keefe in for interviews, sources tell CHN. The search could certainly expand, but at least right now, Lang and Keefe are the starting point.

Lang and Keefe aren’t surprise candidates. Lang, 43, is still considered a “young” coach and he has head-coaching experience, which it seems like SLU is prioritizing with these two as primary candidates.

Keefe, you’ll say, hasn’t been a head coach at the college level. But ask around. Everyone says he is essentially a second head coach at Northeastern along with Jim Madigan.

Eric Lang

Lang took the AIC program from death’s door three years ago to where it was this season, when the Yellow Jackets won Atlantic Hockey and upset No. 1 St. Cloud State in the NCAA Tournament (they also nearly beat Denver to reach the Frozen Four). Lang has a proven track record of turning a program with limited resources into a contender. He knows that dynamic. 

Jerry Keefe

Keefe makes sense for St. Lawrence as well, given Northeastern’s success. With the success the Huskies have had since Keefe and Madigan arrived, Keefe should be a candidate everywhere there’s an opening. 

What remains to be seen is how much interest Keefe might have in St. Lawrence. If you are asked to interview for a head-coaching job, and you’re not a head coach, you take the interview. But, Keefe is in a good place and has a good thing going with the Huskies. Madigan clearly values his contributions to the program, and he was given a five-year extension prior to the start of the season (along with Madigan). Assistant coaches don’t get five-year extensions very often. I’m guessing Northeastern is compensating Keefe well for his contributions, if they were willing to extend him a five-year deal.

However, how long is Keefe willing to wait for the Northeastern top job? We said that St. Lawrence would be a job that could attract top candidates — especially with the renovations to Appleton Arena ongoing — so it’s not surprising that someone with Keefe’s resume could be interested.

Kris Mayotte

The biggest surprise, from sources we’ve spoken to, is that Providence associate head coach Kris Mayotte hasn’t been extended an in-person interview. Mayotte has experience at St. Lawrence, coaching under Greg Carvel, and has since been under the learning tree of Providence head coach Nate Leaman.

Both of Mayotte’s primary coaching mentors just led their team to the Frozen Four. Mayotte was on staff with one of those teams.

Mayotte has a lot of experience dealing with issues that face St. Lawrence. He was a Division I athlete on a Division III campus at Union (the same is true for St. Lawrence) and he was on staff at a D-I program on a D-III campus when he was coaching the Saints with Carvel. He knows how that works and how it all fits together.

At the same time, he knows what it looks like at Providence. The Friars have made huge infrastructure improvements since Leaman took over, and it was at Leaman’s direction. Mayotte has been along for that ride. He could help guide St. Lawrence and get to that next level as a program, if it wants to get there.

Like we wrote when the position opened up, the Saints have a lot of great choices. 

Sources have said it’s possible the university has a coach in place by the time the annual American Hockey Coaches Association convention begins in Naples, Fla. on May 1.

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Duluth and Denver: Here They Are, Again

Posted: April 5th, 2019 / by Avash Kalra

Denver and Minnesota-Duluth return to the NCAA Frozen Four next week. It’s the third in a row for the reigning national champions, UMD. For Denver, it’s a third trip in the last four years — a run highlighted by the Pioneers’ national title in 2018.

Yes, the NCHC boasts the last three national champions — North Dakota’s triumph in 2017 preceded Denver’s and UMD’s. But that doesn’t tell the story of UMD’s and Denver’s remarkable consistency — despite coaching changes, inevitable graduations, and early departures (many of which were inevitable, too).

Denver’s return to college hockey’s final weekend of play, in particular, is remarkable considering its rookie head coach — David Carle, not even 30 years of age, leading a team that lost its top three scorers from last year to the NHL. Henrik Borgstorm, Troy Terry, and Dylan Gambrell combined for 143 points last year.

Yet here they are again.

UMD? The Bulldogs lost their top assistant coach, Brett Larson, to league rival St. Cloud State. They faced the probability of a natural step back after the elation of winning last year’s title. They lost an all-time great captain in Karson Kuhlman.

Yet here they are again — looking to become the first team since (who else?) Denver to win back-to-back NCAA titles (2004-05).

“Probably a little bit of luck,” said UMD head coach Scott Sandelin, about his team’s consistency. “We’ve gone through ups and downs in my time here. We changed some recruiting philosophy back in ’08, ’09, looking to get a certain type of player. Certainly guys who you can build around who might be in your program for four years… We’ve always recruited players who we think fit here, more of a blue collar mentality. And we’ve found that and have had great leadership.”

For Denver, the script is similar.

“For us it’s about finding a balance between those perceived higher end guys and guys who are going to be four-year players in your program, who come in with a little bit more maturity and junior experience,” Carle said. “It’s been the recipe for Denver’s success. I’d date it back to the late ’90s when the recipe was put together. We’re just here trying to make sure we follow it, so that we can continue to put out teams that are consistently competing in the national tournament.”

The only way to really explain this type of consistency is to understand that — beyond the obvious cliche of it all — each player on the roster has fully bought into his coach’s vision. How else to explain UMD’s remarkable run of 12 straight one-goal wins in the NCAA tourney before the Bulldogs’ 3-1 win (a blowout, relatively speaking) over Quinnipiac in the NCAA quarterfinal round last week?

Since Sandelin became UMD’s head coach in 2000, UMD is 17-6 in the NCAA tourney, with two national titles this decade.

And in Denver, David Carle — just as Jim Montgomery did before him — often uses the refrain of playing “Denver Pioneer hockey” or simply praising his players for knowing “what it means to be a Denver Pioneer.”

It’s the foundation for consistency.

“It’s an understanding that you’re a part of something that’s much bigger than yourself,” Carle said. “No one person is bigger than this team or this program. There’s not a lot of egos — that gets checked at the door. It’s a huge part of our recruiting process and what we look for in young men and families, trying to filter that out on the front end. That allows them to come here and hold them to high standards and high level of accountability. 

“They learn to hold each other accountable.”

There are 60 teams in Division I men’s college hockey. Every April, only four get to play for the NCAA title. To be a part of that elite 6.6 percent — year after year, as Denver and UMD have done over the past few years — is remarkable.

But is it surprising? For Denver and UMD — among the bonafide elite in college hockey, coming from the best conference in the nation — it’s really  not surprising at all.

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CHN’s 2019 Pairwise Live Blog

Posted: March 22nd, 2019 / by Mike McMahon

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NCHC Weekend Predictions, March 8-9

Posted: March 8th, 2019 / by Avash Kalra

The final weekend of the 2018-19 regular season in the NCHC kicks off in about 90 minutes. Check out this article summarizing what’s at stake for each team.

St. Cloud State vs. Minnesota-Duluth

The marquee matchup of the weekend — a potential Frozen Four preview — features two of the top three teams in the Pairwise. It’s hard to imagine either team coming away with a sweep — I’ll take St. Cloud as the winners on Friday, UMD on Saturday. St. Cloud has already locked up the No. 1 seed in the NCHC playoffs, starting next weekend. With a weekend split, UMD would clinch the second seed. 

Denver vs./at. Colorado College

Denver has an outside chance of moving up to the No. 2 seed this weekend, but will likely finish in third place — and therefore will likely host CC in the NCHC quarterfinals next weekend. So this weekend could serve as a playoff preview, too. Both games between the Pioneers and Tigers this season have been close, and I’d expect the same this weekend as well. I’ll take Denver with a regulation win at home on Friday, and a tie between the two teams on Saturday (with CC getting the extra point at home). In that scenario, Denver remains in third and CC remains in sixth.

Western Michigan vs. Miami

The real intrigue heading into the final weekend is which team — Western Michigan or North Dakota — will earn the final home ice spot in the NCHC quarterfinals next weekend. Despite the Broncos’ blunders of late, I’m still taking Western Michigan — but that’s mostly because Miami seems unlikely to help out North Dakota. Western Michigan wins on Friday night to clinch the fourth seed, then Miami wins Saturday to move up into seventh place…

North Dakota vs. Nebraska-Omaha

North Dakota hasn’t been able to pull off a weekend sweep the last six weekends, but this may be the weekend they get it done. It won’t be enough though, if Western can win a game this weekend. Omaha finishes as the the 8th seed.

If everything above happens, the NCHC QF matchups will be:

St. Cloud State vs. Nebraska-Omaha

Minnesota-Duluth vs. Miami

Denver vs. Colorado College

Western Michigan vs. North Dakota

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Three Things I Think: Big Ten, March 4

Posted: March 4th, 2019 / by Jashvina Shah

The quarterfinals are set. I’ll have more on that later in an official preview, but Minnesota will host Michigan, Penn State will host Wisconsin and Notre Dame will host Michigan. The Buckeyes have the bye.

Ohio State is the only team on the inside of the tournament at seventh. Notre Dame and Penn State sit on the bubble at 15th and 16th, respectively. Minnesota is 21st.

Cale Morris will be the key

The Fighting Irish weren’t doing so well in the beginning of the year and, despite a Frozen Four appearance, have struggled this season. But Cale Morris has looked more and more like the goaltender of last year. Morris was key in the Friday game against Penn State last weekend, and his performance was key in helping the Fighting Irish hold onto home ice.

And it’s going to be the catalyst for the Fighting Irish as the playoffs progress. Right now Notre Dame is on the bubble, and this week will have heavy PairWise implications. While Notre Dame, which lost a few key players in the offseason, has become pretty solid. But goaltending is always what wins championships.

How good is Minnesota, really?

Quietly the Gophers picked up home ice and a third-place finish in the league, which is an improvement from their start to the season. The Gophers, though, are still 21st in the PairWise and likely to miss the NCAA tournament again (unless they earn the automatic bid) although in much less dramatic fashion and in a much more certain way. 

Even though the Gophers will probably be a long shot instead of a near miss this season, I don’t think it means Minnesota is wose than it was before. There’s always a period of adjustment with a new coach, and the Gophers still have a top scorer in Rem Pitlick. 

Of the top three teams, the Gophers have the shakiest goaltending, which doesn’t bode well for their NCAA tournament hopes. But Mat Robson is still a good goaltender, and he’d just need to get really hot at the right time. And the new Big Ten tournament format might be beneficial to teams without lights-out goaltending.  

Give credit to Wisconsin

Heading into last weekend I assumed there was little chance Wisconsin would get home ice because they needed to sweep Michigan, and I doubted they would sweep Michigan – epecially without K’Andre Miller.

But the Badgers pulled through. After winning 5-4 in overtimeon Friday, Wisconsin won 4-3 again in overtime. They didn’t earn home ice, but that’s an impressive feat  – especially without one of your top players. 

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Atlantic Hockey Notebook: March 4

Posted: March 4th, 2019 / by Melissa Burgess

The Atlantic Hockey regular season is now in the books, with teams finishing up regular season play this past weekend. Here are the final standings heading into playoffs:

  1. AIC
  2. Bentley
  3. Air Force
  4. Sacred Heart
  5. RIT
  6. Niagara
  7. Mercyhurst
  8. Robert Morris
  9. Holy Cross
  10. Army
  11. Canisius

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ECAC Notebook 2/28

Posted: February 28th, 2019 / by Josh Seguin

Heading into the last weekend of the Regular, I am not sure even true ECAC fans could have pictured just how close things are at the top. But here we are, as Cornell leads Quinnipiac and Harvard by a lone point, while Clarkson is just two points back of the Big Red. Cornell controls its own destiny, at the top, but with a tough game at Clarkson on Saturday, a lot could go wrong for the team from Ithaca. In a sense, because the Golden Knights own the tiebreaker, the Big Red could go from winning the Cleary Cup, to the four seed in just one game. Luckily for the Red, they have SLU on Saturday, which should assure them at least a bye.

Quinnipiac travels to Brown and Yale, while Harvard is in the capital region for a pair of games. Quinnipiac would hold singular tiebreakers on Cornell and Harvard, while Clarkson owns the singular tiebreaker on each of the other three in the top-4. Cornell would hold the singular tiebreaker on Harvard. Three-way tiebreakers would be a bit more complicated, but are a legitimate possibility. How cool would it be to see a four-way tie at the top, though. In that scenario, the cup is shared, but the seeding is ever important. Yale still can get a bye and are two points back of Clarkson, but the Knights would hold the tiebreaker, with its superior record against the other teams in the top-4.

This weekend is important for all of the above in regards to the pairwise, as well, as all but Quinnipiac are bubbilicious. Clarkson is 12th, Cornell is 13th and Harvard is 14th. Yale probably will need to win the ECAC tournament to get into the dance, as it is 24th in the pairwise.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts of the week:

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Big Ten Home Ice Scenarios

Posted: February 28th, 2019 / by Jashvina Shah

The Buckeyes clinched their first Big Ten championship. The rest of the teams are still fighting for home ice, with just four points separating teams two through five.

The Buckeyes clinched their first Big Ten championship, earning a first-round bye for the Big Ten playoffs. Minnesota also clinched home ice. There are two more home ice spots remaining, with Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Wisconsin all still alive. The Badgers will play the Wolverines and the Nittany Lions will play the Fighting Irish.

This is where it gets complicated. With three points available in each game, there are six possible cumulative point totals each team could finish the weekend with, there are many different scenarios to determine who would receive home ice. The easiest thing for me to do, then, is to direct this on a point basis instead of a game basis.

Here are the points each team can finish the weekend with (the team’s current point total is in parenthesis):

Michigan (34): 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40
Notre Dame (34): 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40
Penn State (32): 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38
Wisconsin (28): 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34

But now we have to take into account tiebreakers. The tiebreakers are as follows:

  1. B1G wins
  2. Best regular-season winning percentage against the other tied teams
  3. Team with fewest Big Ten losses

For the purpose of this exercise and limited time, I only took into account the first tiebreaker. It’s also important to note that for the purpose of this tiebreaker, B1G wins refer to regulation or 5-on-5 OT wins and not the 3-on-3 OT/SO wins.

So, it’s pretty complicated (and I’m on a major time crunch). BUT I’m going to see how far I can get. I didn’t even include thelast few tie-breaking scenariosbecause I’m really hoping it doesn’t get there.

The way I calculated this (I mean problem-solved, because eh, math) is that I took each team’s possible final points total after Saturday’s games and walked back to determine if and how they would clinch with that total. (Minus UW, because that was the easiest to figure out). If you see a mistake here, PLEASE let me know!

Wisconsin (vs. Michigan):

The Badgers don’t control their own fate. Even if Wisconsin wins both games, Penn State currently has three more Big Ten wins and would win that tiebreaker. So, the Badgers need to finish with more points than Penn State. If Wisconsin won both games, they’d have the same number of points as Michigan but would win the first tiebreaker. So they’d only need more points than Penn State, which means Penn State can’t earn more than one point. That’ll be tough.

Michigan (vs. Wisconsin)

40: IN
39: IN
38: IN
37: IN
36: IN if Notre Dame earns three points or more
35: IN if ND takes two points OR PSU sweeps
34: This would happen if UW sweeps UM. Both teams would have the same number of Big Ten wins (tiebreaker No. 1) and it would move to  tiebreaker No. 2. I’m waiting on clarification on that.

Notre Dame:

40: IN
39: IN
38: IN
37: IN
36: IN if UW takes 4/5 points from UM. PSU would be seeded higher than ND thanks to tiebreaker No. 1
35: IN if UW takes 5 out of 6 points from UM
34: IN if UW sweeps UM

Penn State

38: IN
37: IN
36: This one is really complicated. If this happened, PSU and ND would be tied in total points, which the series point breakdown as 4/2  in favor of PSU. Now it depends on how those points were earned. If PSU won a game in regulation/5-on-5 and lost a game in 3-on-3/SO, they’d win the first tiebreaker. But if they won two games in 3-on-3/SO, the wins would be even and we’d move to tiebreaker No. 2. But, if UW takes at least five of six points from Michigan, both teams would earn home ice.
35: IN if UW takes 5 of 6 points from UM
34: IN if UW sweeps
33: OUT
32: OUT

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Atlantic Hockey Notebook: February 26

Posted: February 26th, 2019 / by Melissa Burgess

Well, here we are: the final week of regular-season action in Atlantic Hockey. With a few games still on tap, playoff pictures are starting to shape up as  teams look to finish the season on a high note.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings:

Here are the current Atlantic Hockey standings:

  1. AIC
  2. Bentley
  3. Air Force
  4. RIT
  5. Sacred Heart
  6. Mercyhurst
  7. Niagara
  8. Holy Cross
  9. Army
  10. Robert Morris
  11. Canisius

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ECAC Notebook: 2/21

Posted: February 21st, 2019 / by Josh Seguin

With the ECAC race as close as it can be, the couple of weeks will be very interesting to see play out. Cornell only took a point out of a weekend against Yale and Brown, after a disappointing tie to Brown and a heavy loss to Yale. The Big Red’s lead at the top of the league is just one point, as Quinnipiac sits on 24 points. Beyond those two, the league continued to be tight down to seventh as the top-seven teams are separated by just seven points. Ultimately, all those teams have a mathematical shot at the regular season title but I would keep the favorite as Cornell, with Quinnipiac right on their heels. Yale is two points back and has been getting hotter, of late, while Clarkson and Harvard are three points back. 

The final bye will probably be one of the things to watch, as Clarkson and Harvard are currently tied on 22 points, while Brown and Dartmouth are three points back. I could see Dartmouth getting in that mix, but Brown’s schedule is pretty tough down the stretch. Brown plays Harvard on Friday, while the Big Green have a crucial game against Yale. The home ice berths seem pretty comfortable for the team’s 6-8, as RPI is four points behind Union and five behind the pair in sixth. Union, of course, is an enigma and we await to see which is the real one that will show up in the tournament.

Quinnipiac is still pretty close to a lock for the NCAA tournament, as it sits pretty in the top-six of the pairwise. Positions third to sixth are pretty close in RPI rating, so a big weekend for the Bobcats could help it move up. Really, however, just one win counts for anything, the Clarkson game is huge. Cornell, Clarkson and Harvard are bubble-minded as the three are 10th, 13th and 15th, respectively. Positions 9-16 are relatively close in RPI ratings, so any stumbles could move those teams out of the picture.

Here are my thoughts for the week:

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