Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Blasi Let Go at Miami After 20 Years

The axe finally fell on longtime Miami University (Ohio) head coach Enrico Blasi. The Weston, Ont. native, who had coached his alma mater for the past 20 seasons, was relieved of his duties on Tuesday after the Red Hawks recorded their fourth consecutive campaign below the .500 mark.

Blasi, 47, finished his two decades at the helm in Miami with an overall record of 398-311-76 (.555). He led the RedHawks to 10 NCAA Tournament berths, including eight straight appearances from 2006 to 2013. Included in that run was a national runner-up finish in 2009, plus another Frozen Four berth the following season.

He also guided Miami to three Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season titles and one CCHA tournament crown, plus a tournament championship in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in 2015. Among his other accomplishments was a dozen seasons of 20 or more wins, including a school record 33 victories in 2007-08. He was named as national coach of the year in 2005-06 by the  American Hockey Coaches Association.

As a player, Blasi skated at center for Miami from 1990 to 1994, where he tallied double-digit goals in each season. He finished his college career with 55 goals and 68 assists for 123 points in 151 outings. He also helped the then-Redskins to both a CCHA regular-season title and the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament berth in 1992-93 as a junior.

Following his graduation, Blasi entered the coaching field as an assistant coach with the Junior “A” Wexford Raiders in 1994-95. He then spent four seasons as an assistant with the University of Denver before taking the top job at Miami in 1999-2000.

The RedHawks are expected to conduct a national search for Blasi's successor.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Boston College Advances to HEA Semifinals

Boston College men's hockey's season is still alive.

Sophomore forward Logan Hutsko's goal midway through the third period on Sunday boosted BC to a 2-1 win in the third and deciding game of the Eagles' first-round Hockey East tournament series at Providence College. Hutsko also scored the game-winner 23 seconds into overtime on Saturday in a 4-3 victory at Schneider Arena that tied the series at one game apiece.

Providence had won the opener, 5-4, in overtime on Friday. BC junior goaltender Joseph Woll stopped 105 of 114 shots by the opposing Friars over the weekend, and made at least 34 saves each

BC will now take on Hockey East's No. 1 seed in Massachusetts, which eliminated New Hampshire in two games, on Friday at 7 p.m. The early conference semifinal, at 4 p.m., will pit second-seeded Northeastern against Boston University. Both semifinals will be played at TD Garden in Boston, with the championship game to be contested on Saturday. The winner will receive Hockey East's automatic berth into the 2019 NCAA Division I Tournament.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Feature on Penn State's Marsh Now Up

My story on Penn State University senior forward and Bridgewater, N.J. native Alec Marsh is now up at TheBReezeNJ.com.

Marsh currently has six goals and seven assists for 13 points in 32 games so far this season. The Nittany Lions travel to top-seeded Ohio State for a Big Ten conference semifinal contest on Saturday in Columbus.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Red Wings Sign Kuffner, Hirose

The Detroit Red Wings picked up a couple of players on Tuesday in signing a pair of free agent NCAA skaters to two-year entry-level contracts each.

Left wing Ryan Kuffner (Princeton) just completed his fourth and final season with the Tigers. An All-America choice in 2017-18 when he set a new Princeton school record with a 29-goal campaign, he completed his NCAA career on Saturday with two goals and two assists in a 6-5 triple-overtime ECAC Hockey tournament loss at Brown. The Ottawa native finished his college career with a school-record 75 goals in four seasons, and 152 points in 132 career games that leaves him second all-time in school scoring. Kuffner also paced Princeton with 44 points in 31 outings as a senior this season.

Detroit then delved within the state to sign junior forward Taro Hirose (Michigan State), who currently holds the NCAA Division I scoring lead with both 35 assists and 50 points. Hirose also completed his college season/career on Saturday, as the Spartans fell to Notre Dame in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. Part of MSU's renowned "KHL" line the last two seasons with Patrick Khodorenko and Mitchell Lewandowski, the Calgary native finished his three years in Green and White with 33 goals and 83 assists for 116 points in 106 career outings. Hirose also led the Big Ten in scoring this season, with 10-24--34 points in 24 conference contests.

Other NCAA players who left school early to sign NHL/professional contracts this week included defenseman Quinn Hughes (Michigan) with the Vancouver Canucks, defenseman Joseph Duszak
(Mercyhurst) with the Toronto Maple Leafs, defenseman Cooper Zech (Ferris State) with the Providnce (AHL) Bruins, and goaltender Ryan Huska (Connecticut) with the New York Rangers.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Princeton's 2018-19 Season Ends in ECAC First Round

Princeton University's 2018-19 men's ice hockey season came to an an end tonight in Providence. Alex Brink scored 3:30 into the third overtime session to boost host Brown University to a
6-5 victory in Game 2 of its best-of-three ECAC Hockey first-round series with the Tigers at Meehan Auditorium. At a total time of 103:30, it was the longest game in the history of both schools.

Coupled with Brown's 3-0 win on Friday, Princeton has been eliminated from the conference tournament, while the Bears will travel to either Quinnipiac or Cornell next weekend for a best-of-three quarterfinal series. Princeton eliminated Brown in two games in the first round of the ECACs last spring in New Jersey, en route to the league title.

The two Ivy League rivals played to a 2-2 tie after 40 minutes on Saturday, before Brown scored three times in the first 14:12 of the third stanza to take a 5-2 lead. Princeton pulled within 5-3 just a minute later on Alex Riche's second goal of the night, before Ryan Kuffner scored his second goal of the evening and team-leading 22nd goal of the campaign at 17:41. Kuffner then assisted on Jackson Cressey's tying marker with 49 seconds remaining in regulation. All three goals were scored in a span of 2:47, and all with Princeton's goaltender pulled for an extra attacker.

The teams then played through two scoreless 20-minute overtime periods before Brink ended it. Ryan Ferland took the loss in goal for the Tigers (10-18-3 overall, 8-12-2 ECAC) despite stopping 31 shots. Gavin Nieto earned the win for the Bears (13-13-5, 8-9-5) in making 35 stops.

Kuffner, ECAC Hockey's Player of the Month for February 2019, finished his college career with a school record 75 goals in four seasons, among his 152 points in 132 career games that leave him second all-time in school scoring behind John Messuri's 178 points. Kuffner also paced Princeton with 44 points in 31 outings as a senior this season.

Longtime linemate Max Veronneau was kept off the scoresheet on Friday and Saturday, but scored two goals in a 3-2 regular-season finale victory at Brown on March 2. He completed his college career with 52-91—143 points in 130 appearances, which ranks hims fourth all-time in Princeton points, and finished second to Kuffner on this year's Tiger scoring scroll with 13-23—36 points in 31 games.

Riche posted two goals and two assists in his Tigers swansong Saturday, and placed third among all Princeton scorers this season with 11-15—26 points in 31 games, plus 26-49—75 points in 122 career contests. Finishing in fourth place was senior defenseman Josh Teves with 3-17—20 points in 31 games, and 16-69—85 points in 126 career appearances. Together the foursome led Princeton to the ECAC Hockey tournament championship last year in Lake Placid, plus a berth in the NCAA Midwest Regional in Allentown, Pa. where the Tigers fell to eventual Frozen Four participant Ohio State. Also finishing their Princeton careers on Saturday were senior forward Spencer Kryczka (19 GP, 1-1—2) and senior goaltender Austin Shaw (9 GP, 2-1-1, 2.93, .904).

Other NCAA Division I men's schools that saw their seasons end on Saturday included Alabama-Huntsville, Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State, Colgate, Holy Cross, Mercyhurst, Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, and Rensselaer.

Friday, March 8, 2019

QU's Priskie Suspended Two Games for Kicking Incident

Quinnipiac University senior defenseman and team captain Chase Priskie won't be in the lineup for his team's first two games of the ECAC Hockey tournament this season.

The Pembroke Pines, Fla. native was suspended by ECAC Hockey for kicking an opposing player in a 4-1 win at Yale in Quinnipiac's regular-season finale on March 2. He was charged with a five-minute major penalty for kicking that evening, the first major penalty of his NCAA career, and also earned a game disqualification penalty before the league tacked on another game's suspension.

The six-foot, 192-pound Priskie has tallied a team-high 17 goals to go with 22 assists for 39 points in 34 games so far this season. He also leads the Bobcats with 10 power-play goals this year. A product of Salmon Arm (BCHL), Priskie has registered 39-77116 points in 152 career games with QU, along with 55 penalty minutes, and was a member of its national runner-up squad as a freshman in 2015-16. He was then selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals.

The fifth-ranked Bobcats (25-17-2 overall, 14-6-2 ECACH), who have gone 9-2-1 in their last 12 outings, earned a first-round bye in the ECACs by finishing among the league's top four teams,
and finished first in the standings via tiebreakers over Cornell. They will thus host the lowest-remaining seed in a best-of-three series in Hamden, Conn. on March 15-17. Priskie would be
eligible to return in a deciding third game of that series, if necessary, or in the ECACH semifinals in Lake Placid on March 22 should QU advance that far.

ADDENDUM: Arizona State defenseman Jacob Wilson was also suspended for his team's next two games for a high hit against Minnesota on March 2.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

NCAA Regular Season Champions Determined

The regular-season champions have been crowned in NCAA Division I men's ice hockey for the 2018-19 campaign:

Atlantic Hockey: American International
Big Ten: Ohio State
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac *
Hockey East: Massachusetts
NCHC: St. Cloud State
WCHA: Minnesota State

* Won tiebreaker with Cornell

Postseason tournaments begin this weekend in all six leagues, except Hockey East. Conference championships will all be decided by March 23, with selections to the 2019 NCAA Tournament to be announced on March 24.