Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Anastos Steps Down at Michigan State

After six seasons at the Spartan helm, Tom Anastos resigned from his position as head coach at Michigan State University on Tuesday.

Anastos was hired at his alma mater in 2011 after Rick Comley retired. The commissioner of the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association for 13 years, Anastos was also the former head coach at Michigan-Dearborn.

A Dearborn native, Anastos played four seasons as a forward at MSU for the late Ron Mason. He tallied 70 goals and 151 points in 153 career games in Green and White, and helped the Spartans to four NCAA Tournament appearances, four CCHA Tournament crowns, and three Great Lakes Invitational titles from 1982 to 1985.

After a brief professional career with Sherbrooke (AHL) in Montreal's organization, Anastos entered the coaching ranks and went 68-37-7 in three seasons with UM-Dearborn. He then returned to MSU as an assistant coach under Mason for two years, helping the Spartans to the 1992 NCAA Frozen Four, before later helming first the North American Hockey League and later the CCHA.

MSU went 78-122-24 in all with Anastos as head coach, including the final two years of the CCHA and the first four seasons of the Big Ten Hockey Conference. The Spartans went 19-16-4 overall in his first campaign, and finished 7-24-4 in 2016-17. During his tenure, MSU also made the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but fell to Union in the opening round.

Anastos' youngest daughter, Andie, just completed her own four-year hockey career at Boston College. She tallied 144 points in 156 games, and helped the Eagles to three consecutive Frozen Fours.

MSU is expected to conduct a national search for Anastos' successor. Long-time assistant coach Tom Newton will serve as the Spartans' head coach in the interim.

Clarkson Wins 2017 NCAA Women's Division I Crown

Three years ago, Clarkson University became the first eastern school to win an NCAA Division I Women’s Ice Hockey Championship. On Sunday, the Golden Knights did it again.
The No. 2 Golden Knights blanked No. 1 Wisconsin, 3-0, in St. Charles, Missouri to win their second-ever national title, powered by two late goals by Division I player of the Year Cayley Mercer in the final four minutes of regulation. Savannah Harmon’s power-play goal 27 seconds into the contest stood up as the game-winner, while Shea Tiley made 41 saves.
Clarkson finished the season at 32-4-5 overall, and finished first in the ECAC with a 19-1-12 mark before winning the ECAC Tournament with a 1-0 victory over Cornell on March 5. After topping the Big Red, 3-1, in the NCAA quarterfinals, the Golden Knights then edged Minnesota, 4-3, a week later in the NCAA semifinals, before besting the Badgers (33-3-4 overall) on Sunday at Family Arena.

Wisconsin was ranked No. 1 the entire 2016-17 season, and also recorded 18 shutouts on the year. The Badgers advanced to their first NCAA final in five years with a late 1-0 win in the semifinals over Hockey East champion Boston College on St. Patrick’s Day.

Monday, March 20, 2017

2017 NCAA Hockey Tournament Field Set

The 2017 NCAA Tournament field is set for Men's Division I Ice Hockey. The full bracket, announced on Sunday, can be found here.

The regional seeds are as follows:

Midwest (Cincinnati)
1. Denver
2. Union
3. Penn State *
4. Michigan Tech

Northeast (Manchester, NH)
1. Minnesota
2. UMass Lowell *
3. Cornell
4. Notre Dame

East (Providence)
1. Harvard *
2. Western Michigan
3. Air Force *
4. Providence

West (Fargo, ND)
1. Minnesota-Duluth *
2. Boston University
3. North Dakota
4. Ohio State

* denotes conference champions, who earned automatic NCAA Tournament bids

Schools not qualifying this year that advanced to the 2016 NCAA Tournament include Boston College, Ferris State, Michigan, Northeastern, Quinnipiac, RIT, St. Cloud State and Yale.

Denver is the top seed overall in this year's tournament, while Penn State is appearing in its first-ever NCAA Tournament. North Dakota is the defending national champion, having won its eighth NCAA title overall last year.

The East and West regionals will be held on Friday and Saturday, with the Midwest and Northeast regionals to be contested on Saturday and Sunday. The four regional champions will advance to the NCAA Frozen Four in Chicago on April 6.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SLU's Bayreuther Signs with Stars

St. Lawrence senior blueliner Gavin Bayreuther has signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Texas Stars, the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL's Dallas Stars, according to the AHL club’s website. The New Hampshire native, who was never drafted by an NHL squad, concluded his college career last weekend with the Saints’ three-game ECAC quarterfinal defeat against Quinnipiac.
Bayreuther tallied eight goals and 21 assists for 29 points in 30 games this year with SLU, and led the Saints in scoring for the second straight season despite missing seven contests due to injury. He recorded a career-high 27 assists and 36 points as a freshman in 2013-14, when he earned ECAC Co-Rookie of the Year recognition. He later notched a career-high 12 goals as a junior in 2015-16 when he was tabbed as both a First Team All-ECAC selection and an ECAC All-Tournament choice, and also earned Second Team All-America accolades.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound blueliner finished his four-year NCAA career with 35-76—111 points in 142 contests, including 13 power-play goals and seven game-winners, while also collecting 96 penalty minutes, according to USCHO.com.
Bayreuther prepped at The Holderness School prior to enrolling at SLU and was also a USHL All-Rookie Team selection in junior hockey with the Fargo Force in 2012-13, per his Saints online biography. His 35 career goals set a new school record for Saints defensemen.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blais Steps Down at Omaha

The hockey coaching carousel continues in the NCAA Division college hockey ranks, three weeks before the season-ending Frozen Four in Chicago.

On March 6, Seth Appert was relieved of his duties after 11 years at Rensselaer. Shortly after, Walt Kyle was dismissed after 15 seasons at his alma mater, Northern Michigan, where he recorded 265 career victories and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2010 with the Wildcats. On Monday, Niagara parted ways with Dave Burkholder after 16 years, 247 wins, and three NCAA Tournament appearances.

Tuesday, in perhaps the biggest shock, Dean Blais stated that he is stepping down from the helm after eight years at Nebraska-Omaha. He had one year remaining on his contract at UNO.

Blais, a Minnesota graduate who took North Dakota to two NCAA titles (1997, 2000), went 146-133-30 in his tenure with UNO. His record included two of the Mavericks' three all-time NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Frozen Four berth in 2015. A two-time winner of the Spencer Penrose Award as Division I hockey’s top coach, he also led the U.S. to gold at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Canada.

Omaha concluded its 2016-17 campaign with a 2-1 OT loss to Western Michigan on Sunday to fall, two games to one, in the best-of-three NCHC quarterfinal series.

Successors to the four aforementioned coaches have yet to be named. Bids to the 16-team 2017 NCAA Tournament will be announced on Sunday.

ADDENDUM: USCHO.com announced on Wednesday that longtime New Hampshire men’s hockey coach Dick Umile will retire after the 2017-18 season, and will be succeeded by associate head coach Mike Souza.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

BC to Face BU on Friday in Hockey East Semifinals

Boston College is headed back to TD Garden to face Boston University again, with the entire season likely on the line this time.

The Eagles (20-14-4) recorded 7-0 and 7-4 wins over Vermont in the Hockey East quarterfinals on Friday and Saturday at Conte Forum to advance to the conference semifinals for the second time in three years, and second straight after a quarterfinal win over UVM. It was also BC’s first win since a 6-4 triumph at New Hampshire on Feb. 3, which was followed by an 0-5-2 skein that resulted in the Eagles sharing the Hockey East regular-season crown with BU and UMass-Lowell.

Luke McInnis tallied a goal and three assists in the opener against UVM, as the Eagles took the lead just eight seconds into regulation on a goal by Austin Cangelosi and never looked back. BC then outlasted the Catamounts in the rematch as Cangelosi and JD Dudek each scored twice. Joe Woll stopped 54 of 58 shots in all for the Eagles on the weekend.

BC is 0-3 against BU (23-10-3) so far this season, including a 3-1 setback on Feb. 6 in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament at TD Garden. The Eagles are currently 16th in the Pairwise Rankings, which mimics the selection process for the 16-team NCAA Tournament, while BU is sixth. The two Green Line rivals will square off at 8 p.m. Friday in Boston, following the game between Notre Dame (21-10-5) and UML (24-10-3). The winners will meet on Saturday for the Hockey East championship.

Playing around with the NCAA Tournament Pairwise Comparison Ratings and the customized results features at college hockeynews.com, BC would probably be slotted 12th in the Pairwise and just about assured of a spot in the NCAAs if it had won one more game this season—such as reversing a February loss against Merrimack, or an October defeat against Air Force. 

A win against the Terriers on Friday could certainly enhance BC’s chances of making the nationals for the eighth straight season. The 15th and 16th spots in the NCAAs will likely go to the Atlantic Hockey and WCHA tournament champions, assuming there are no upset champions in other leagues that could also take away potential NCAA berths.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Appert Out at Rensselaer

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is looking for a new men's hockey mentor for the first time since 2006. RPI relieved head coach Seth Appert of his duties on Monday after he went 152-221-48 over 11 seasons at the helm of the Engineers.

Appert's best season came in 2010-11 when RPI finished 20-13-5 overall and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. His tenure in Troy, N.Y. was the third-longest in program history, behind Dan Fridgen and the legendary Ned Harkness. The Engineers went 8-28-1 this just-completed campaign, and were swept in the first round of the ECAC Tournament by Clarkson.

Appert, a Cottage Grove, Minn. native, lettered in goal at Ferris State in the mid-1990s when I was the Hockey SID at Michigan State, before he served nine years as an assistant coach at Denver. He was always gracious and giving of his time when I covered RPI as a reporter over the past decade, and I wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.