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Atlantic Hockey Notebook 11/4

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

It was an exciting weekend in Atlantic Hockey, as the Air Force Falcons recorded their first sweep at the Army West Point Black Knights since 2004, and RiT’s Erik Brown became the all-time goal scoring leader for his team’s D-I history.

Air Force topped Army twice, with a 4-2 victory in each game. The Falcons received goals from Matt Pulver, Zack Mirageas, Brady Tomlak and Trevor Stone in Friday night’s win. Stone and Tomlak also scored in Saturday’s win, with Kyle Haak and Kieran Durgan adding goals. Billy Christopoulos made 47 saves over the course of the weekend to help Air Force to the victories.

Army’s goals on the weekend came from Dominic Franco, Trevor Fidler, Marshal Plunkett and Daniel Haider. Both goals in Friday’s game came on the power play.

Mercyhurst topped RIT 4-3 on Friday. The Lakers took a 2-0 lead on goals by Wes Baker, but the Tigers tied it with a pair of goals in the second period from Jake Hamacher and Abbott Girduckis. Tommasi Bucci gave the Lakers the lead, and Baker completed the hat trick to make it 4-2. Jordan Peacock got one back for the Tigers, but the Lakers pulled off the win.

The teams then skated to a 2-2 tie on Saturday. Erik Brown scored the 56th goal of his collegiate career with 30 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. Brown’s goal made him RIT”s all-time leading scorer in the program’s Division-I history.

Jake Hamacher also scored for the Tigers. Mercyhurst got goals from Joseph Duszak and Taylor Best.

Elsewhere, Niagara and Robert Morris split their weekend series. The Colonials pulled off a 3-1 win Friday, with goals from Kyle Horsman, Daniel Mantenuto  and Luke Lynch. Nick Farmer scored the lone goal for the Purple Eagles.

Niagara rebounded for a 4-2 win the following night. Alex Truscott, Eric Cooley, Ryan Cox and Justin Kendall all scored for the Purple Eagles. Nick Lalonde had a pair of goals for the Colonials in the loss.

Sacred Heart and Bentley split their weekend series, while Canisius and AIC did the same.

The Pioneers topped the Falcons 3-2 Friday before dropping a decision by the same score Saturday. Sacred Heart scored on even-strength (Ryan Steele), the man advantage (Jason Cotton) and shorthanded (Austin Madera) in Friday’s win.

Dylan Pitera and Jake Kauppila scored for Bentley on Saturday, with Drew Callin tallying the game-winning goal in overtime.

Canisius topped AIC 4-2 on Friday before falling to the Yellow Jackets 6-1 Saturday.

The Griffs got goals from Mitchell Martan, Matt Hoover and two from Dylan McLaughlin on Friday night, including one that made Sportscenter’s Top 10. Luka Maver and Darius Davidson scored for the Yellow Jackets in the loss.

The Yellow Jackets poured on the offense Saturday night. Kyle Stephan had a pair of goals, with Maver, Tobias Flabby, Chris Theodore and Davidson also scoring. McLaughlin had the lone goal for Canisius, his third of the weekend.

In non-conference action, Holy Cross fell 3-0 to nationally-ranked Providence on Saturday.

This coming weekend will see conference play between Holy Cross and Niagara; Bentley and Air Force; Sacred Heart and Army; and AIC and RIT. Robert Morris faces a pair of games against Penn State, while Mercyhurst visits St. Lawrence. Canisius also hosts Clarkson Saturday before visiting RIT next Tuesday.

Here are the current Atlantic Hockey standings:

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

ECAC Notebook 11/4

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

Another week in the books, but this one lacked big surprises. Cornell got back on track with a pair of wins, like I predicted they would. So did Union. I argued that both teams will still be good regardless of results in one week, and it seems both have come true to their identity. Union picked up a pair of wins against Clarkson and SLU, at home, while Cornell held serve against Brown and Yale. Quinnipiac got tripped up by Dartmouth, which provided the Bobcats their first loss, and Rensselaer went 1-1 after win against SLU and a loss to Clarkson.

It is much too early to talk about standings and stuff, but it is interesting to see RPI at the top after the struggles they have had in recent seasons. Dave Smith has instilled confidence in that group, which is only growing. A 6-0 setback to Clarkson on Friday was tough but the Engineers provided a good bounce-back in a 3-2 win against SLU. The pairwise is literally the same, you can look at it but it means zilch until about Christmas.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts:


Hockey East Picks Nov. 1-3, 2018

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

Last Week: 5-5-1
This Season: 9-8-1


Northeastern 4, Boston University 2
The Huskies are playing well, and BU can’t seem to figure anything out. BU looks sloppy and unorganized, and while I think the Terriers have more talent than Northeastern, right now, Northeastern is playing like the team that has things put together.


Merrimack 2, Boston College 1
Merrimack traditionally struggles at Conte Forum, but BC has run into problems at Lawler Arena in the past. And those BC teams have been better than this version. Given BC’s struggles to score goals, they could struggle again to find time and space to use their skill in the tighter confines of Lawler Arena.

Maine 3, UMass Lowell 1
The Black Bears are struggling right now, and seemed to get derailed a bit in a trip at Minnesota Duluth a few weeks ago, but this is a good spot for them to get back on track at home.

UConn 3, Vermont 1
Vermont has had an up-and-down first half. They picked up a nice win at Brown on Sunday, even though I thought the Bears outplayed them at even strength. UConn is playing above expectations recently and they look like the better team right now.


Boston College 3, Merrimack 1
The Eagles will get back on track at home against a Merrimack team that’s beat up and will be missing some players due to injury. 

Boston University 3, Northeastern 2
Yes! That’s right. I think BC and BU both get their first wins of the season on Saturday night at home. You have to figure that BU gets a win at some point, right?

UMass 5, New Hampshire 2
UMass looked incredible last weekend against Merrimack. Cale Makar might be the best player in the league. UMass can score goals and UNH has been trying to figure things out still. 

Vermont 3, UConn 2
Vermont comes back and earns a split with UConn after the Huskies are able to catch them on Friday night.

UMass Lowell 2, Maine 1
If Lowell is going to get a split up at Maine, it’s going to require one of the teams to be low-scoring like this one. Tyler Wall steals them two points.

Providence 4, Holy Cross 0
The Friars fell asleep against Sacred Heart earlier this season and had to settle for a tie. That’s not going to happen this time around with Holy Cross. 

ECAC Picks 11/1

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

The first full weekend of league action begins this weekend with some juicy matchups. Princeton at Dartmouth is probably the game of the weekend, but Harvard hosting the Tigers and Quinnipiac are both right on its heels. In New York, it seems like the matchup of the week will be Union, who will try to recover from its weekend sweep at the hands of RPI, against Clarkson. As usual, league games will be tight and there will be a surprise here and there.


Brown (0-2-0, 0-1-0 ECAC) at Colgate (2-3-0, 0-0-0); 7pm.

Bruno probably deserved a better fate in both games it played last weekend, but it was unable to get a result. The Raiders started 2-0, but have lost three in a row, and will look to get on track. Gate won both meetings last season and will seek to regain the momentum it had to start the year. Despite the two game sweep of New Hampshire opening weekend, the Raiders will be looking for goals, as they have scored just six in five games.

Gate 3-2


ECAC Notebook 11/1

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

After a decent first three weekends for the league, this weekend turned downright scary for teams like Cornell and Union, both of whom were expected to be near the top of the league. Cornell, surprisingly, gave up nine goals to Michigan State in a weekend sweep, while Union dominated both games but got swept by its rival, Rensselaer. It was all a weird weekend for many teams in the league, which included a 13-goal thriller for Dartmouth and Harvard, Brown playing well enough to win both games but getting swept, and Quinnipiac scoring nine goals against AIC on Saturday night.

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


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…