Saturday, April 22, 2017

Kuraly Keeps Bruins Going in OT


Boston University, Minnesota State and Miami (Ohio) teamed up to keep the Boston Bruins' season alive.

Sean Kuraly (Miami) backhanded home a rebound 10:19 into double overtime to lift the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the host Ottawa Senators on Friday night. Ottawa still leads the best-of-seven NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, three games to two.

Kuraly scored his first career NHL goal on Friday in regulation, but then saw a potential Boston game-winning goal scuttled in the first OT after he collided with Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson prior to the puck entering the net. The goal was subsequently waved off for goaltender interference, and the contest continued

On the winner, McAvoy (BU) launched a shot from the right point that deflected off Backes (MSU) in front. The puck caromed to Kuraly, who then shoveled a backhander onto the open half of the net past Anderson.

Game Six of this Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup is set for Sunday in Boston at 3 p.m. ET (NBC).

Friday, April 14, 2017

NCAA Players Prominent in Start to NHL Playoffs


Former NCAA players made their mark during the first two days of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On Wednesday, Tanner Glass (Dartmouth) backhanded home the game-winning goal for the New York Rangers in a 2-0 victory at Montreal, while rookie Frank Vatrano (UMass Lowell) tied the game for the Boston Bruins in an eventual 2-1 overtime win at Ottawa. Bryan Rust (Notre Dame), Phil Kessel (Minnesota) and Nick Bonino (Boston University) accounted for the Pittsburgh Penguins' goals in a 3-1 win over Columbus.

In Minnesota, Zach Parise (North Dakota) tied the game late for the host Wild, but Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College) set up the game-winner in OT to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 2-1 triumph. In Edmonton, Paul Martin (Minnesota) scored the tying goal and Joe Pavelski (Wisconsin) assisted on the overtime winner as the San Jose Sharks came back for a 3-2 win over the Oilers, who got 41 saves from Cam Talbot (Alabama-Huntsville).

On Thursday, James van Riemdsyk (New Hampshire) set up the first goal of the postseason for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the host Washington Capitals escaped with a 3-2 overtime victory, with T. J. Oshie (North Dakota) and Kevin Shattenkirk (Boston University) drawing assists on the evening. In Anaheim, Kevin Bieksa (Bowling Green) set up the tying goal and Patrick Eaves (Boston College) assisted on the winner as the Ducks edged the Calgary Flames, 3-2, despite 38 saves by Brian Elliott (Wisconsin).




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

It Begins Tonight


The 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway tonight.

An inaugural roster of 16 teams will steadily dwindle over the next two months, one best-of-seven series at a time, until one NHL club reaches 16 wins first to raise the most cherished trophy in sports.

A ton of former NCAA players will definitely be involved in the mix until that happens sometime in June. Let the games begin.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cole Named New Michigan State Head Coach


Spartan alumnus Danton Cole has been announced as the new head coach of the Michigan State University hockey program.

Cole played at MSU from 1985 to 1989 for the late Ron Mason, helping the Spartans to the 1986 NCAA crown along with two Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season titles and two CCHA playoff championships. He recorded 69 goals and 163 points in 180 career games at MSU, and was a three-time CCHA All-Academic Team member and the recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor as a senior.

Cole was chosen by the Winnipeg Jets in the sixth round of the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. He played in 318 NHL regular-season contests with the Jets, Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, and Chicago Blackhawks, tallying 58 goals and 118 points, and was a member of New Jersey’s 1995 Stanley Cup champion club.

Cole finished his playing career in 1999 after three full seasons with the International Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins, scoring the first playoff goal and also the initial overtime goal in franchise history, and then became a Griffins’ assistant coach for one year. After winning a United Hockey League championship with the Muskegon Fury, he served two-and-a-half seasons in charge of Grand Rapids, leading the former IHL Griffins to 116 regular-season American Hockey League wins.

After two campaigns with the UHL’s Motor City Mechanics, Cole served one year as an assistant coach with Bowling Green State University before guiding the University of Alabama-Huntsville for three seasons. His tenure with the Chargers culminated in a College Hockey America championship and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2010.

Cole spent the last seven seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program, guiding the Under-18 Team to gold-medal finishes at the Under-18 World Championships in 2012 and 2014. He was also a coach with two bronze-medal winning U.S. teams, at the 2013 IIHF Men’s World Championship and the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.


A native of Pontiac, Mich., who grew up in Lansing, Cole becomes the seventh head coach in MSU hockey history, which dates back intermittently to 1921. He succeeds fellow Spartan alumnus Tom Anastos, who stepped down at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Berenson Retires as Longtime Michigan Coach


Legendary University of Michigan head coach Gordon “Red” Berenson has announced his retirement after 33 years at the Wolverine helm.

Berenson, 77, fashioned an 848-426-92 overall mark at his alma mater from 1984 to 2017, including NCAA titles in 1996 and 1998, while coming within an overtime goal of a third in 2011. He also led the Wolverines to 10 Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season championships and nine CCHA Tournament crowns, plus a record 22 consecutive NCAA Tournament berths from 1991 to 2012. Michigan also won the 2015-16 Big Ten regular-season and conference crowns under his watch, plus a total of 15 Great Lakes Invitational championships, including nine straight GLI titles between 1988 and 1996.

A native of Regina, Sask., who holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Michigan, Berenson skated for the Wolverines from 1959 to 1962 before turning pro right after, one of the first college-trained players to do so. He played almost 20 seasons in the NHL with Montreal, St. Louis, the New York Rangers and Detroit, recording 261 goals and 397 assists for 658 points in 987 regular-season outings.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Goodbye, Joe Louis Arena



The final hockey game of any kind has been played at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

The building’s primary tenant, the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, ended their run at the venerable facility on Sunday with a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils that closed out both the season, and an era. 

The Red Wings moved into The Joe in Dec. 1979 and left almost 38 years later with four Stanley Cup championships to their credit (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), two of them earned on JLA ice (1997, 2002). Though Detroit’s 25-year playoff run ended this season, Hockeytown fans celebrated on Sunday like it was 1998, with the stands awash in a sea of red jerseys, and the obligatory traditional octopus cascading from the crowd and clumping on the ice after each and every goal by the home side.

Besides the NHL, The Joe was also a long-standing venue for college hockey, ranging from the 1990 NCAA Championship, to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and later Big Ten tournaments, to the long-running Great Lakes Invitational. In my two years (1994-1996) with Michigan State Hockey, I made it to the Joe over a dozen times for CCHA and GLI games, CCHA press conferences, and the now-defunct College Hockey Showcase. I even got to take a turn or two on the ice, hockey stick included.

The most modern facility in North America? Not at all—but there was something comforting about going up those long gray exterior stairs, walking the dark concourses replete with photos and other mementoes of Red Wings history, and gazing out upon two levels of seemingly endless red-and-white seats. There was also having a team credential to see the wood-paneled splendor and the major-league workings that existed behind the scenes. There wasn’t a bad seat in the 20,000-plus house, not even from a high-above-the-ice press box that was added as an afterthought.

I saw my only Red Wings game there as a fan in early 2000, a win over Tampa Bay, and that was the last time I ever made it to the building. I’ve seen Detroit play live in New Jersey several times in the last 17 years after I stopped living in Michigan, but never again at The Joe. This year’s closing is perhaps made even more poignant by the dual passing of hockey icon Gordie Howe and longtime Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, who both left us before the doors were closed for the final time, as did longtime MSU head coach Ron Mason last year.

I thought the quasi-hexagonal gray-and-red venue on the riverfront would stand the test of time and live forever, like Fenway Park and Lambeau Field—but like the Olympia and Tiger Stadium before it in the Motor City, time has unfortunately run out on The Joe. The memories, many as there are, however, will remain.

So long and farewell, Joe Louis Arena. And thanks.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Denver Wins 2017 NCAA Men's Hockey Title


For the first time since 2005 and the eighth time overall, the University of Denver Pioneers are the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey national champions. DU held on for a 3-2 win over the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday night in the national title game at the United Center in Chicago.

Following a scoreless first period, Denver junior forward Jarid Lukosevicius tallied a pair of goals 16 seconds apart to put DU ahead, 2-0. After senior forward Alex Iafallo got the Bulldogs within one score with a power-play goal, Lukosevicius connected again from short range to complete the first hat trick in a Division I men's hockey national title game since Denver head coach Jim Montgomery did the same as a player for NCAA champion Maine in 1993.

Freshman forward Riley Tufte put home a rebound late in the third period to again bring the Bulldogs back within a goal, but UMD couldn't gain the equalizer despite pulling freshman goaltender Hunter Miska (25 saves) for an extra attacker with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. Junior netminder Tanner Jaillet, the 2017 winner of the Mike Richter Award as the nation's top goaltender, finished with 38 stops for the Pioneers, who were outshot, 17-3, in the third period after junior defenseman Tariq Hammond was injured, although he returned for the postgame celebration. UMD outshot DU on the night, 40-28.

Denver captain and 2017 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Will Butcher completed his career with a national championship after DU was eliminated in the NCAA semifinals last year by North Dakota. Denver's senior class finished with 102 total victories in its four campaigns and made the NCAA tournament all four years, with DU now having made the NCAAs nine straight seasons overall.

Denver's most recent NCAA titles came back-to-back in 2004 and 2005. The Pioneers' eighth national title all-time ties them for second place overall with National Collegiate Hockey Conference rival North Dakota, which won the national championship last year. Michigan leads all-time with nine NCAA crowns. UMD, the NCHC's playoff champion, was seeking its second NCAA championship in school history. Denver was the NCHC's regular-season king, and held the No. 1 overall ranking in the country entering the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

The 2018 Frozen Four will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., the first time it will be held in Minnesota since UMD won the 2011 title.