Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Former UND Star Johnson Passes Away

Former college scoring star Greg Johnson (North Dakota) died on Tuesday in Detroit, of unknown causes, according to multiple published sources. He was 48 years old.

A native of Thunder Bay, Ont., Johnson remains the all-time leading scorer in University of North Dakota hockey history, having tallied 74 goals and 198 assists for 272 points in 155 appearances between 1989 and 1993. His best collegiate season came as a sophomore in 1990-91, when he collected career highs of 61 assists and 79 points, one year after he helped the then-Fighting Sioux
to the 1990 NCAA Tournament. He was also a three-time Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist.

After UND, Johnson played two seasons with the Canadian National Team. He then appeared in the only three AHL games of his professional tenure, with Adirondack, before embarking on a 12-year NHL career. Drafted by Philadelphia in the second round (33rd overall) of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, he never skated for the Flyers but still accumulated 145-224369 points in 785 NHL regular-season contests with Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Nashville.

Johnson's best NHL campaign came in 1998-99, when he registered a career-high 34 assists and 50 points for expansion Nashville. He also served as captain of the Predators for several seasons, before retiring following the 2005-06 season at the age of 35 due to a heart condition. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Seven Schools Plan to Leave WCHA

Seven of the 10 schools in the current Western Collegiate Hockey Association are seeking to leave and form a new NCAA Division I men's ice hockey conference, according to published reports.

The seven schools making the proposed move include Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University (Mankato), and Northern Michigan University. The new league would begin play in the fall of 2021, and according to bgsufalcons.com, the seven schools have already independently submitted formal letters of notice to the WCHA office regarding their intent to leave the conference.

The "original" WCHA split up in 2013 when Minnesota and Wisconsin went over to the new Big Ten conference, and Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota and St. Cloud State joined the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Bowling Green, Ferris State Lake Superior and Northern Michigan all left the dissolving Central Collegiate Hockey Association that year and transferred to the new WCHA.

The loss of the seven aforementioned schools would leave the WCHA with just three members in Alabama-Huntsville, Alaska Anchorage, and Alaska (Fairbanks).

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

BC's York to Hall of Fame, Orpik Retires from NHL

Jerry York (Boston College) will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in November. York, the NCAA's all-time wins leader in men's hockey with 1,067 career victories to date, also has five national championships to his credit, four with BC and one with Bowling Green. A Watertown, Mass. native and former All-America forward at BC who began his coaching career at Clarkson University in 1970, York, 73, is believed to be the first inductee into the Hall of Fame solely on NCAA credentials. He has notched 27 seasons with 20 or more wins, and has 41 wins in NCAA Tournament play alone.

Also on Tuesday, defenseman Brooks Orpik (Boston College) announced his retirement as an active player after 15 NHL seasons. Orpik, 38, won Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in 2009 and with Washington in 2018, the only two NHL organizations he ever played for. A 6-foot-3 blueliner from Amherst, N.Y., he recorded 176 assists and 194 career points to go with 972 penalty minutes in
1,035 regular-season NHL appearances, and also played in 156 career Stanley Cup Playoff contests. He skated three seasons at BC, collecting 41 points and 324 PIM from 1998 to 2001, and was a member of the Eagles' 2001 NCAA title team. He also won a silver medal with the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team in Vancouver.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Three BC Freshmen Chosen in 2019 NHL First Round

Three incoming Boston College Eagles were selected in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft on Friday in Vancouver.

Matthew Boldy of Millis, Mass. was selected 12th overall by the Minnesota Wild. Last season with the U.S. National Team Development Program out of Michigan, the 6-foot-2 left wing tallied 33 goals and 48 assists for 81 points in 64 games. He more than doubled his output from the 2017-18 campaign, when he finished with 12 goals and 35 points with the NTDP.

Spencer Knight went 13th overall to the Florida Panthers. The 6-foot-3 goaltender from Darien, Conn. compiled a 15-1-0 record with a 2.21 goals-against average and .903 save percentage against USHL clubs, and finished 17-3-1 in exhibition contests against NCAA and similar competition. He is expected to step into the Eagles' starting goaltender slot with the departure of three-year starter Joe Woll to the Toronto Maple Leafs organization earlier this year.

The 16th NHL choice on Friday went to the Colorado Avalanche, who used it on Alex Newhook from St. John's, Newfoundland. The 5-foot-10 center collected 38-64—102 points in 53 outings last season with Victoria (BCHL), and added five goals and 10 points in five appearances with Canada's U-18 squad.

NTDP all-time leading scorer Jack Hughes, one of seven players from that organization chosen on Friday, went first overall to the New Jersey Devils, but he is not expected to play college hockey like his older brother Quinn Hughes (Michigan) and father Jim Hughes (Providence). The top player with NCAA ties chosen in the first round this year was forward Alex Turcotte, also from the NTDP, who will play at Wisconsin starting this fall.

A full list of this year's NHL's draft selections can be found here. Rounds 2-7 will be televised starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday (NHL Network).

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Michigan's Trouba Traded to Rangers by Jets

Jacob Trouba (Michigan) is headed back east.

The Rochester, Mich. native and former Wolverines defenseman was traded on Monday from the Winnipeg Jets to the New York Rangers. Trouba, who according to eliteprospects.com earns $5.5 million annually, was acquired in exchange for defenseman Neal Pionk (Minnesota-Duluth), plus the 20th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, which begins Friday in Vancouver.

Trouba, 25, was drafted ninth overall by Winnipeg in 2012, and had spent his entire NHL career with the Jets after prepping with Compuware, the U.S. National Team Development Program, and Michigan. In his lone NCAA season, he tallied 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points in 37 outings in 2012-13, and then joined the Jets full-time the next season. In 408 NHL regular-season games to
date, the 6-foot-3, 203-pound blueliner has tallied 42-137179 points.

Pionk played at UMD from 2015 to 2017, recording 11-4051 points in 82 appearances while helping the Bulldogs to the 2017 NCAA Frozen Four. He spent all of last season in the NHL with New York, collecting 6-2026 points in 73 games.

Earlier this month, the Jets traded the rights to forward Kevin Hayes (Boston College), who came to them at the trading deadline from the Rangers, to the Philadelphia Flyers. Hayes registered a career-high 55 points in 2018-19 with New York and Winnipeg.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

St. Louis Blues Win First Stanley Cup

For the first time ever, the St. Louis Blues are the Stanley Cup champions.

The Blues defeated the host Boston Bruins, 4-1, on Wednesday in Game Seven of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, for the first NHL championship in the Blues' 51-year history. It marked the fourth straight year the Cup was awarded to a team that was playing on the road, and it was also the Blues' 10th road win of this postseason.

After the Blues scored twice late in the first period and once again midway through the third, Zach Sanford (Boston College) scored his first goal of the playoffs to put St. Louis up, 4-0. Matt Grzelcyk (Boston University), in his return to the Bruins lineup after suffering an injury in Game Two of the series, closed out the scoring later on with Boston's lone goal of the evening.

Jordan Binnington made 32 saves for the Blues, who went from the worst team in the NHL at the start of the calendar year to league champions. St. Louis forward Ryan O'Reilly finished the postseason with a league-high 23 points and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Other former NCAA players on the Blues roster included Tyler Bozak (Denver), Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College), Colton Parayko (Alaska Fairbanks), Mackenzie MacEachern (Michigan State), Chris Butler (Denver), and Jordan Schmaltz (North Dakota).

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Bruins Force Game Seven in Stanley Cup Final

There will be a Game Seven in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

The Boston Bruins staved off elimination on Sunday night, and also put the St. Louis Blues' backs to the wall, with a 5-1 win in Game Six at Enterprise Center in Missouri. Boston scored four goals in the third period to break open a game that had been 1-0 since a Bruins' 5-on-3 power-play goal in the first period, with Torey Krug (Michigan State) drawing an assist on that play.

Karson Kuhlman (Minnesota-Duluth), playing in his first game for Boston since April 30, wristed home a puck from the right side to make it 3-0 in the third period as the Bruins knotted the series at three games apiece after dropping the last two contests. Kuhlman was the MVP of the 2018 NCAA Tournament when UMD won its first of two consecutive national championships. Sean Kuraly (Miami) helped set up Boston's fourth goal, after the Blues had pulled within 3-1.

Game Seven will be Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC), to close out both the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 2018-19 NHL season as a whole.