Archive for October, 2018

Atlantic Hockey Notebook 10/29

Monday, October 29th, 2018

With all teams except Sacred Heart in action, it was a busy weekend for Atlantic Hockey. The Pioneers are still awaiting their first conference action, while the Mercyhurst Lakers, who fell twice to Army West Point this week, are still looking for their first conference win.

The Black Knights were the only team to come out of this weekend with a pair of wins, but other teams found success elsewhere. Niagara and Air Force split their series, while Robert Morris and RIT did the same. Bentley also pulled off a 7-4 win over Holy Cross, which bumped the Crusaders down four spots in the standings and pulled the Falcons up two spots.

On Friday, Army scored five unanswered goals en route to a 5-1 over Mercyhurst. Five different players scored for the Black Knights, with Dalton MacAfee and Mason Krueger each registering a goal and assist.

The Black Knights then rallied back from a two-goal deficit on Saturday, picking up a 3-2 overtime win over the Lakers. Dalton Hunter and Matthew Whittaker scored to put Mercyhurst up by a pair, but the Black Knights came back in the third. Zach Evancho scored on the power play just 55 seconds in, and Michael Wilson tied it with 11 seconds left in the game. Wilson then scored the game-winning goal on the man advantage 1:37 into OT.

For the Purple Eagles, Brian Wilson had a 39-save shutout to propel his team to a 5-o victory over the Falcons on Thursday. Niagara received goals from five different players, including Alex Truscott, who had a two-point night.

When the teams met for the second game of the series, it took until the middle frame for anyone to get on the board. Walker Sommer and Kieran Durgan put Air Force up 2-0 with under six minutes to play in regulation. Although Justin Kendall was able to get Niagara on the board, the Falcons held on for the win.

Elsewhere, Bentley scored three power-play goals en route to a 7-4 win over Holy Cross this weekend. Jonathan Desbiens, Jakov Novak and Will Garin each had a pair of goals, with both of Novak’s tallies coming on the power play. Dylan Pitera also scored for the Falcons, while Luke Santerno registered four assists. For the Crusaders, Frank Boie had two goals, with Matt Barry and Logan Milliken adding the other tallies.

In Pittsburgh, the Colonials split their weekend series with the Tigers. Robert Morris scored three goals in the second period of Friday’s game to snag a 3-0 win, thanks to tallies by Geoff Lawson, Eric Israel and Daniel Mantenuto. Francis Marotte stopped all 25 shots faced in the shutout.

The teams returned to action Saturday, when Gabe Valenzuela scored the game-winning goal for the Tigers in overtime. Abbott Girduckis also scored for RIT, while Nick Lalonde had the lone goal for the Colonials. All three tallies came with the man advantage. Logan Drackett had 32 saves in the win.

In non-conference action, AIC faced a tough, nationally-ranked Quinnipiac team for a pair of games. The Yellow Jackets managed to score three goals on the 20th-ranked team in the country over the weekend, but fell by scores of 4-1 and 9-2. Shawn McBridge, Jared Pike and Blake Christensen had the goals for AIC.

Bentley also dropped a game to UMass Lowell 4-2, while Canisius fell to Clarkson 4-1. Tanner Jago and Connor Brassard scored for the Falcons, while Aidan Pelino had 23 saves. For the Griffs, Jimmy Mazza had the lone goal, while Blake Weyrick stopped 15 of 18 shots faced.

This coming weekend, all 11 Atlantic Hockey teams will be in action, with series between Niagara and Robert Morris; RIT and Mercyhurst; Air Force and Army; Sacred Heart and Bentley; and AIC and Canisius. Holy Cross faces a single game against nationally-ranked Providence.

Here are the current Atlantic Hockey standings:

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

NCHC Oct. 26-27: Three Takeaways

Monday, October 29th, 2018

Fighting Hawks gaining momentum

The season started off slowly for North Dakota, and Brad Berry’s group looked particularly out of sorts after a 7-4 loss to Minnesota State on Oct. 19. The next night, faced with a tie game entering the third period, UND rebounded for a 4-3 win against the Mavericks, and the Fighting Hawks carried that momentum into last night’s contest against long-time rival Minnesota, in a game played at Orleans Arena in Paradise, NV.

In front of a large contingent of traveling fans (of course), junior defenseman Colton Poolman scored his first two goals of the season (and just the 10th and 11th of his career) to lead UND to a 3-1 win. And in a game full of drama (66 combined penalty minutes), senior defenseman Hayden Shaw chipped in with three assists. The victory also gave freshman goaltender Adam Scheel back-to-back wins heading into next weekend’s home series against Wisconsin.

It’s early, but a win like this can prove to be defining, and North Dakota is playing well in all phases as it gains momentum heading into November.

Omaha defense in shambles

After losing 8-2 to Notre Dame last Saturday, UNO allowed 13 goals in a pair of blowout road losses at Arizona State this weekend. Still winless this season, the Mavericks have lost five in a row after a season-opening tie against Union, and their 33 goals allowed is the worst in the nation.

A disturbing statistic is that the Mavericks have allowed a goal inside the first seven minutes of the first period in each of their five consecutive losses. It’s often snowballed from there — in each of the last three games, UNO has allowed three first period goals each time. Those deficits are clearly too large to overcome, for a team that lost forwards David Pope, Tyler Vesel, and Jake Randolph to graduation after that trio combined for 99 points last season.

It hasn’t helped, either, that UNO has averaged 16.8 penalty minutes per game thus far (9th most in the nation), while enjoying success on the penalty kill only 67.6 percent of the time.

It’s a recipe for disaster, obviously, and something has to change quickly. I picked Omaha to finish last in the NCHC this year, and unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s going to happen if things don’t turn around defensively. UNO hosts Miami this weekend.

UMD, St. Cloud Show Off Depth

Minnesota Duluth is, right now, the best team in the nation after sweeping Notre Dame on the road this weekend, in a rematch of last season’s national championship game.

The sweep punctuated a 6-1-1 start to the season in nonconference play, and over the weekend, UMD scored six times from six different goal scorers, and showed off its depth in all facets of the game on each night. The Bulldogs also held the Irish to a 1-for-10 clip on the man-advantage over the weekend.

Nine different players for UMD have scored multiple times already, while only one (Scott Perunovich) is averaging over a point per game. The story is similar for St. Cloud State, with eight multi-goal scorers at this young stage of the season — spread throughout the lineup. The Huskies’ leading scorer is, like UMD, a defenseman — Jack Ahcan. St. Cloud appeared to be heading to a sixth straight win to start the season, but let a two-goal lead slip away on Saturday at Northeastern.

Still, much of each team’s success was expected before the season started, and each team has excelled at translating those expectations into results. But what is emerging as a significant storyline is that each team has enjoyed contributions from key freshmen — Noah and Jackson Cates for UMD, and Sam Hentges and Nolan Walker for St. Cloud State. All four are players to watch as conference play begins this weekend. The Huskies travel to Colorado College, while UMD is idle before hosting CC next weekend.



ECAC Picks 10/25

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

I have been pretty good doing Ken Schott’s weekly fan picks, where I have a record of 18-3-1. What I pick there I will also post here weekly, with a bit of a blurb on each game. This week features the season opening weekend for the Ivy League squads and the opening of conference play. I am especially interested to see how Cornell fares against Michigan State, while a fun Princeton squad opens up against a free-shooting Penn State team.

Season Record: 18-3-1

Last Week: 8-1-0


Yale (0-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) at Brown (0-0-0, 0-0-0), 7 pm ET

Yale returns much of its squad and has added some talent coming into the year, while Brown should be pretty strong on the backend. It is always fun to see how the Ivies start off and given it is against each other, the rust should be evident everywhere.

Yale 4-2 (more…)

Hockey East Picks (10/25-10/28)

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

Last Week: 4-3-1
Season Record: 4-3-1 (.571)


St. Cloud State at Boston College
BC is struggling, as we know. On the flip side, St. Cloud State has been choking the life out of their opponents thus far, posting a 4-0 record and outscoring opponents 18-5. BC’s top-end talent is on the younger side, whereas St. Cloud is led by a top junior class.
Pick: St. Cloud State 4, Boston College 2


Merrimack at UMass
The Mullins Center is always a tough place for Merrimack to play. Going back through my 13 years of covering the Warriors, I’m not sure I can remember more than two or three solid road games down there. The travel is tough — it can be as much as a three-hour ride on a Friday — and the building rarely has energy.
Pick: UMass 3, Merrimack 1

Maine at Connecticut
The Black Bears need to get back on track after an ugly road trip to Minnesota Duluth, but they’ll have to do it on the road. UConn has wins over RPI and Army, but was thrashed by Providence and also fell to Quinnipiac. I have a feeling Maine finds a way to get back in the win column, and goaltender Jeremy Swayman will lead the way.
Pick: Maine 3, Connecticut 0

Northeastern at UMass Lowell
Looking at all the teams in Hockey East, these might be the two teams we know the least about. Northeastern is still trying to find its new core after losing so much talent last season and UMass Lowell has Tyler Wall back in form, but it needs more consistent scoring. The home-ice edge gives the River Hawks a win on Friday.
Pick: UMass Lowell 3, Northeastern 2

Providence at Boston University
BU needs some home cooking, heading into this Providence game 0-3 to start the season. BU was outworked against Merrimack on Saturday night, and Providence will make the Terriers work again. The Friars are also licking their wounds after letting a game against Sacred Heart slip away. I’m going with the more-experienced Friars here.
Pick: Providence 4, Boston University 2


Maine at Connecticut
It’s really hard to sweep teams on the road. This weekend represents UConn’s first home games of the season, and the 3 p.m. start on Saturday is a little odd for college hockey players. UConn is used to it though, often playing games at times like this to accommodate the Hartford Wolfpack. UConn finds a way to earn the split, despite Swayman once again playing well for Maine.
Pick: Connecticut 2, Maine 1

Massachusetts at Merrimack
Since 2014, UMass and Merrimack have essentially traded wins, excluding a couple of ties. Just like Friday, I think the home team has an advantage here. In an early-season home-and-home last season, UMass pumped Merrimack 4-0 on Friday before the Warriors came home and outworked the Minutemen to a 5-3 win on Saturday. Home ice has been huge in this series, and I expect it to continue. Also, Merrimack’s Homecoming is on Saturday and the game will be sold out. It will be a rocking atmosphere for the home team.
Pick: Merrimack 4, UMass 2

Vermont at New Hampshire
Someone has to win, right? Both of these teams are struggling out of the gate, despite Vermont’s win over Michigan (look at the shots in that game). UNH is finally home after two weekends on the road, and Mike Souza gets his first win as UNH head coach.
Pick: UNH 2, Vermont 1

St. Cloud State at Northeastern
Traveling to Lowell and then coming home to face St. Cloud is a tough task for Northeastern. St. Cloud completes the Hockey East sweep and heads back to the NCHC with some bragging rights.
Pick: St. Cloud 4, Northeastern 1

UMass Lowell at Bentley
This won’t be an easy game for the River Hawks. Bentley lost to Merrimack 1-0 earlier this season and then lost and tied AIC (both in OT) last weekend, and those games were on the road. Bentley can score — they have eight goals in their last two games — but they’ll be up against one of the hottest goaltenders in the league in Tyler Wall, assuming he starts. This could also be a game where Norm Bazin gives Christoffer Hernberg a look, though. I’m going out on a limb and predicting a Bentley win.
Pick: Bentley 3, UMass Lowell 2


Vermont at Brown
The Catamounts’ bus continues south after a game at UNH on Friday and they’ll get back in the win column against the Bears. This will only be Brown’s second game, and they’re lacking scoring.
Pick: Vermont 5, Brown 2

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Oct. 23

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

The season is fully underway now and all Big Ten teams have taken the ice. Weirdly, every Big Ten team has earned a win so far this season. Penn State, Notre Dame and Minnesota are the only “undefeated teams,” while Ohio State and Wisconsin each have three wins.

To clarify, Minnesota may be undefeated, but the Gophers have only played in two games. But the win and tie came against defending champion Minnesota-Duluth. The Wolverines and Spartans also have a win apiece.

Even though there hasn’t been much action yet there’s still been some action, so here are my thoughts so far:

Chill. Nothing that happens now matters

OL it does actually, and some of these results will most likely play a part at season’s end when the final PairWise is being calculated. But these results don’t tell us much about how good or how bad any team actually is.

I seldom use the term “upset” in college hockey, but I never use it in October. Teams are still finding out who they are on the ice and some teams are only playing their first or second game. So it’s not really unusual for a top seed or a so-called favorite to drop a game or two. That team could still end up winning the national championship.

The same thing goes for teams that are winning right now. Taking home a few in the first few weeks of the season could be legitimate or it could just be a fluke. We really don’t know until later on in the year.

Motzko is just what Minnesota needed

I know, I know, just as I wrote above that winning early on in the season doesn’t necessarily mean that a team is good. But I still count Minnesota’s effort against the Bulldogs as a positive sign, especially given how Minnesota has struggled early on against non-conference opposition in the previous few seasons. The Gophers have always had talent, and it seems so far like Motzko can take that talent and translate that to wins.

But, like I said earlier, we’ll know more later.

Liam Folkes is really good

Liam Folkes is one of the most underrated players in a really talented conference. He scored one of the most important goals in Penn State history a year and half ago and continued that success into his sophomore year. It’s only been four games into the season and it looks like he’ll surpass his career totals yet again. Folkes broke out for four points — two goals and two assists – in last weekend’s game against Niagara.

So far he has five points in four games. Last year he had 23 in 38.

He’s the subject of my latest feature, so I asked Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky what has made him so good and why he’s improved instead of suffering from a sophomore slump. Stay tuned for that…

Atlantic Hockey Notebook 10/21

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

Atlantic Hockey teams faced a mixed bag of results this past weekend against non-conference opponents. On the plus side, the RIT Tigers, powered by an Erik Brown hat trick, topped Colgate, and Sacred Heart tied #5 in the nation Providence, a significant feat for the Pioneers. Mercyhurst also split their series with Ferris State, including a win Saturday. But elsewhere, Niagara fell twice to Penn State and were outscored 12-3 on the weekend, and Holy Cross fell to St. Lawrence and Clarkson.

In conference action, the AIC Yellow Jackets took a win and a tie away from their midweek series against the Bentley Falcons. Both games went to overtime. Martin Mellberg registered his third point of the night with the game-winning goal on Tuesday; Blake Christensen, Hugo Reinhardt, Joel Kocur and Jared Pike also scored for AIC. The teams tied 4-4 on Thursday.

Elsewhere, Army West Point tied their Friday night match with Robert Morris 2-2, then beat the Colonials 5-2 Saturday. Eric Butte, Zach Evancho, Mason Krueger, Colin Biley and Dominic Franco all scored for the Black Knights in the win. The Black Knights were missing Michael Wilson, who was suspended as a result of a contact to the head major and game misconduct received in the prior match.

The Lakers, meanwhile, came off with a win against Ferris State in the Saturday night rematch. Dalton Hunter had a pair of goals for Mercyhurst, while Stefano Cantali had 28 saves.

RIT beat Colgate 6-1 on Saturday night at Blue Cross Arena in front of 10,556 fans. Erik Brown registered the hat trick, while Shawn Cameron added a pair of goals. Gabe Valenzuela also scored for the Tigers. Abbott Girduckis potted three assists. The Tigers scored on two of five power play opportunities.

Finally, Air Force and Canisius split their weekend series. The Falcons won 7-3 on Friday powered by a four-goal third period and a hat trick from Evan Feno. Kieran Durgan also added a pair of goals. The Griffs were without Jimmy Mazza Saturday due to suspension, but they rallied back for a 2-0 win, giving netminder Blake Weyrick his first collegiate victory and first collegiate shutout (34 saves).

Conference action in the week ahead includes Holy Cross and Bentley facing off; a series between RIT and Robert Morris; a pair of games between Army West Point and Mercyhurst, and two meetings between Niagara and Air Force. In non-conference action, AIC faces Quinnipiac twice; Canisius visits Clarkson, and Bentley hosts UMass Lowell.

Here are the current Atlantic Hockey standings:

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

ECAC Notebook 10/21

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

Friday night was arguably one of the better night’s the ECAC has had in non-conference play in a while. Union picked up a road win against Northeastern behind a pair of Brett Supinski goals, while Quinnipiac beat Boston College and Clarkson had a big win against Wisconsin. Add in St. Lawrence, who picked up a win against Holy Cross, and ECAC teams went 4-0 on the night. It may seem a bit early to talk about pairwise, but this night will prove crucial when the Pairwise rankings come into play later in the season.  Saturday was just so-so, but Union finishing off the road sweep in Boston was a big weekend for the Dutchmen and one that will put the league coaches on notice.

One thing that has become obvious in the early going, is that the league should have eight or nine really good teams, while the bottom three (Brown, RPI and St. Lawrence) might see some struggles. Union, Clarkson, Colgate and Quinnipiac are a combined 11-3-1 in their opening games, while RPI is 0-3-0 and SLU is 1-3-0. Honestly, this is a really good position for the league to be in with five of my top seven teams yet to drop the puck on their seasons. Obviously, time will tell on what will actually happen but going forward the league looks good. (more…)

Hockey East Picks (10/20)

Saturday, October 20th, 2018

OK, I’m late starting this. Forgive me.

Boston University at Merrimack

Merrimack always plays opponents tough at home, but they have the unenviable task of taking on a BU team that’s still looking for its first win. It will be a tight game, because it always seems to be at Lawler, but BU finds the win column.
Pick: BU 3, MC 2

UMass at Ohio State

UMass got a huge win on Friday night against the Buckeyes, but Ohio State was a Frozen Four team last year for a reason.
Pick: OSU 3, UMA 1

New Hampshire at Colorado College

UNH is still looking for its first win under Mike Souza after getting swept last weekend at Colgate and then tying CC last night. CC is a good team, but UNH will catch them on the road with a one-goal win.
Pick: UNH 2, CC 1

Connecticut at Rensselaer

UConn, which relies on a lot of younger players, has looked better in the first few weeks of the season than I expected. But they’re on the road here and RPI is a team that’s on its way up.
Pick: RPI 4, UConn 3

Union at Northeastern

The Dutchmen won in overtime on Friday night at Matthews Arena, and they’ll complete the weekend sweep over a younger Northeastern team.
Pick: Union 3, Northeastern 1

UMass Lowell at Miami

Lowell shutout Miami, 3-0, on Friday. This is a Miami team that’s trying to change the way it operates, and I don’t think they’ll get swept at home. Lowell had an up-and-down series against RIT a week ago, and Miami will be too tough to handle in the finale.
Pick: Miami 2, Lowell 1

Providence at Sacred Heart

Providence is one of the best teams in Hockey East, and that makes them at least a top-10 team in the nation. Sacred Heart doesn’t have the firepower to match up.
Pick: Providence 5, Sacred Heart 1

Maine at Minnesota Duluth

The defending national champions ran Maine out of the building on Friday night (8-2), outshooting them 46-18. Maine is improved, and I expect it to be tighter, but Duluth completes the sweep.

Pick: Minnesota Duluth 4, Maine 2

Atlantic Hockey Notebook 10/15

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Another Atlantic Hockey season is underway, with a lot of questions at the helm. Can Air Force build off their championship success in the postseason to fight their way to the top during the regular season? Will Mercyhurst be the best team in Atlantic Hockey? Can teams like Sacred Heart, Bentley and Niagara find ways to improve this season and move up in the standings?

As of October 15, only four teams have been in conference action so far in Atlantic Hockey; Canisius, Holy Cross, Niagara and AIC have all played a pair of conference games, and have each gone 1-1.

The Golden Griffins and Crusaders split a pair of games this weekend in Worcester. Holy Cross came off Friday night with a 4-2 win behind a pair of goals from Mitch Collett; Peter Crinella and Neil Robinson also scored in the win. Tommy Nixon stopped 28 shots. The teams battled hard in their Saturday night rematch, with Canisius narrowly edging Holy Cross 7-6 thanks to four goals in the third period.

Alternate captain Dylan McLaughlin had a goal and two assists, while Tucker Weppner had 20 saves in his first NCAA Division I collegiate victory. Sophomore forward Austin Alger made his debut for Canisius this past weekend after being granted a waiver by the NCAA. He is a transfer from Miami (Ohio).

Elsewhere, Niagara and AIC split a pair of games. The Purple Eagles won 4-3 in overtime on Friday, but the Yellow Jackets snagged a 3-1 victory Saturday. Ludwig Stenlund had a pair of goals Friday, including the overtime game-winner, while Dylan Mills registered three assists for Niagara.

On Saturday, the teams exchanged power play goals before the Yellow Jackets pulled ahead thanks to a goal late in the second period by Darius Davidson. Kyle Stephan added an insurance goal in the third, and Stefano Durante registered 13 saves.

In non-conference action, Mercyhurst fell to Miami (Ohio) (3-0) and tied 6-6 with the University of Notre Dame in the Icebreaker Tournament. (Since it was a tournament game, it went to a shootout, which Notre Dame won). Air Force fell to Denver 4-1, then Colorado College 6-1. UConn topped Army, but the Black Knights came back with a 3-2 win Saturday over Merrimack.

Bentley dropped a 1-0 decision to Merrimack, while RIT split the weekend with UMass Lowell, falling 2-1 Friday before winning 5-4 in overtime Saturday. Finally, Sacred Heart lost both games against Northeastern, while Robert Morris split their weekend series with Bowling Green.

Lots of action in the week ahead, with Bentley and AIC facing off for a series on Tuesday & Thursday. Army and Robert Morris meet for a pair of games, as do Air Force and Canisius. Non-conference opponents include Penn State (Niagara), St. Lawrence (Holy Cross), Ferris State (Mercyhurst), Colgate (RIT) and Clarkson (Holy Cross).

Here are the current Atlantic Hockey standings:

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