Archive for November, 2017

Three Things I Think: Atlantic Hockey, November 5

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Army West Point opened the month of November strong in Atlantic Hockey action, sweeping Air Force and taking the top spot in the conference standings. Holy Cross, meanwhile, opened the month with a tie and a loss; every other team in the conference earned at least one win over the weekend.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings:

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


HEA’s Struggles Keeping The Puck Out Could Severely Hurt Its Pairwise Chances

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

There’s no sugarcoating it, Hockey East’s inter-conference record stinks. The league is 19-27-4 (.420) in non-conference games, and that includes a 4-1-1 record against Atlantic Hockey. If you pull those games out, the league is 15-26-3.

Will that hurt the league later this season in the Pairwise? Potentially. There’s still time to make up ground, but the league is in an awfully big hole with the bulk of non-conference games already in the books. Right now the Big Ten (.679), NCHC (.667) and ECAC (.452) all have better non-conference winning percentages.

Last year, Hockey East was .570 in inter-conference games. The league hasn’t been below-.500 since 2010-11, when it went 25-30-12 (.463). Not ironically, the league only had three teams in the NCAA Tournament that season: Merrimack, New Hampshire and Boston College.

Bad inter-conference performance hurts the entire league when teams are positioning for at-large bids in March.

So many inter-conference games take place here at the beginning of a new season, and Hockey East’s combined goaltending has been the worst in the country to start the year. The league has a combined save percentage of .899, with the national average .908 (a number Hockey East drags down a bit). The conferences outside of Hockey East are combining for a .910 save percentage.

Four goalies that most had pegged as the best in the league — Joe Woll (BC), Tyler Wall (UML), Adam Huska (UConn) and Jake Oettinger (BU) have combined for an .877 save percentage, and Oettinger is the only one in that group to be above .900 (.907).

Is Hockey East having a “down year?” There’s evidence to suggest it.

Fact is, teams hoping to earn an at-large bid in March need to be rooting for their league counterparts in inter-conference games today.

There’s only league action this weekend, but next weekend provide some intriguing opportunities. UConn vs. Ohio State is suddenly a big game, with the stranglehold the Big Ten has on these numbers. Hockey East is WINLESS against the Big Ten this season (0-6) and the Huskies are the league’s last hope at changing that. Those games are huge not only for UConn, but potentially other teams in the conference.

There are plenty of ECAC matchups on the schedule, but Hockey East needs to make headway with the NCHC as well. All of a sudden, Merrimack vs. Denver and Merrimack vs. Colorado College in December could mean a lot for the league.

Hockey East might be able to get ahead of the ECAC and stay ahead of the WCHA and Atlantic Hockey, but the Big Ten and NCHC appear to be the two leagues who will win the race for the most NCAA Tournament bids.

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Nov. 2

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

It’s November, leaves are on the ground and all but two teams have started conference play. The Big Ten has a record of 26-12-3 against non-conference opponents for a winning percentage of .671, which is best in the country.

The Wolverines and Nittany Lions split. Penn State edged Michigan 5-4 in overtime before the Wolverines earned a 5-2 win the night after. Michigan State swept Lake Superior State, throwing up 10 goals over the weekend. Don’t look now, but Michigan State’s offense is tied for 12th with an average of 3.50 goals per game.

The Gophers swept Clarkson, winning 3-1 and 2-1. Notre Dame split with Nebraska-Omaha in a couple of high-scoring games. The Buckeyes swept the Colonials and are off to a hot start, much like they were last season. Ohio State has won four games in a row and has just one loss this season.

Conference action this weekend features Minnesota vs. Michigan State and Notre Dame at Ohio State. Michigan will host in-state rival Ferris State, Penn State will host Mercyhurst and Wisconsin will host North Dakota.

Notre Dame’s Jake Evans leads the country with 15 points.

(After the jump: Penn State leads the conference, Who’s going to stay consistent and Injuries)

Penn State’s at the top

If you looked at Penn State’s overall schedule, this would be weird. The Nittany Lions sit at an even .500 and lost to American International, but they’re the only team that has won two Big Ten games. They’re also the only team that’s played in more than two.

Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio State have all played in two conference games and they’ve all won one. Michigan State and Notre Dame have yet to play a conference match, although that will change this weekend.

Who’s going to stay consistent?

The Big Ten had a rough week a few weeks ago, but the conference still has a pretty good non-conference record. Some teams have fared quite well for themselves so far, although strength of schedule for the most part is so-so.

The hottest team in the Big Ten right now is probably Ohio State, which is taking advantage of a great season from Sean Romeo so far. We saw this from Ohio State last year, though, and that dipped as the season went on. This time I actually think the Buckeyes can keep it up, but that rests on Romeo.

The other team that’s doing quite well for itself is… Michigan State. But again, strength of schedule plays a part. Even so, when you’re a new team with not many skilled players and you lack offense, defense and solid goaltending, a 4-2-0 record under a new coach isn’t bad. Will this hold up? Probably not.

Notre Dame’s depth isn’t here yet

The Fighting Irish, despite losing Anders Bjork and Cal Petersen, still entered the season as an extremely deep team with talent. The problem is, Notre Dame hasn’t been healthy so far this year. Andrew Oglevie missed two games over the weekend with an injury. Junior Joe Wegwerth has missed two contests. Just 10 players have played in all eight games this year.

NCHC: Weekend Preview

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Each NCHC team has played at least five games, and every team in the league is over .500 at this early stage in the season, after another successful first few weeks of nonconference action.

Conference play is underway, too. Colorado College split with North Dakota last weekend in the first league play of the season, and there are three more league series this weekend — Denver at Western Michigan, CC at Miami, Minnesota-Duluth at St. Cloud State. Omaha is off, while North Dakota plays two at Wisconsin.

As a preview of this weekend’s action, here’s a brief look at each of the team’s starts to the season (teams listed alphabetically):


Colorado College: After a split against Vermont and a sweep against Alaska-Anchorage, all eyes were on the Tigers last weekend to see how they would fare in their first league games of the season — one of many areas in which the Tigers have struggled in recent seasons. CC responded in a big way with their split against North Dakota. In the Tigers’ Friday night win, they took advantage of their chances, stayed out of the penalty box (North Dakota had only one power play opportunity), and survived periods of pressure in the third… but I found their loss to be encouraging as well.

Despite defensive lapses in a 6-4 game, CC scored all four of its goals on the rush — an area in which they struggled last year. They showed plenty of speed getting behind the UND defense, and that will serve them well as the season goes on. CC already has five wins this season — incredibly, the earliest the Tigers have reached that mark since the fall of 2005. It’s the best start during the Mike Haviland era in Colorado Springs, and junior Mason Bergh has led the way with seven goals (tied for most in the country).


Denver: The defending champions are rolling — undefeated at 4-0-2 after sweeping Boston University and Boston College on the road last weekend. And as expected, the Pioneers’ trio of high-end forwards, Henrik Borgstrom, Troy Terry, and Dylan Gambrell, are leading the way. Borgstrom in particular has picked up where he left off last year, as the potential Hobey Baker candidate has a point in each game he’s played this season and leads Denver with five goals.

It will be interesting this weekend to see how Denver plays on Friday night against the Broncos, as the Pioneers have shown a tendency this season to start slowly before picking up momentum as the weekend goes along. Denver is 1-0-2 on Friday (allowing eight goals in those three games) and 3-0-0 on Saturday (allowing four goals in those three games). Even though Tanner Jaillet is the unquestioned starter in goal, I’d expect head coach Jim Montgomery to mix in freshman Dayton Rasmussen periodically as well. The rookie netminder earned the win for Denver’s first home victory of the season two weeks ago against Lake Superior State.


Miami: The RedHawks rebounded from an inconsistent weekend against Maine to pummel UConn last weekend, outscoring the Huskies 10-1 in a pair of games in Oxford. Miami hosts CC this weekend, and one story to watch will be whether the RedHawks can continue their strong power play efforts — after scoring 11 power play goals on their last 21 opportunities. Their 34.3 percent success rate is fourth best in the nation currently, and in years past, CC has struggled on the penalty kill.

Sophomore Gordie Green (11 points already) looks to be one of the NCHC’s breakout stars this season.