Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Former NCAA Players Taking Center Stage in NHL Playoffs


The 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs are almost a week old, and already former NCAA players have been stepping up and serving as difference-makers.

Case in point was Monday night in Chicago, where the defending NHL champion Blackhawks won 2-0 over the St. Louis Blues. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews (North Dakota) tallied the game-winning goal against Ryan Miller (Michigan State), who finished with 23 saves. St. Louis still leads the series, 2-1.

Ryan Garbutt (Brown) helped the Dallas Stars climb back into their series with the Anaheim Ducks, scoring the Stars' third goal in a 3-0 win in Game 3 on Monday night in Texas. Anaheim now leads the series, 2-1.

The Pittsburgh Penguins scored three times in the third period to best the Columbus Bluejackets, 4-3, in Ohio and take a 2-1 lead in that series. Brooks Orpik (Boston College) and Lee Stempniak (Dartmouth) scored for the Pens, who also got two assists from Paul Martin (Minnesota). Jack Johnson (Michigan) and Cam Atkinson (Boston College) scored for Columbus.

Lastly, in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the Minnesota Wild clawed away at its two-game deficit with a 1-0 overtime victory against the Colorado Avalanche. Zach Parise (North Dakota) assisted on the Wild's winning goal.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Union Wins First-Ever National Title


The journey is complete. Union College is the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey national champion for the first time in school history.

The top-ranked Dutchmen, who began competing at the NCAA Division I level in 1991, secured their first national title in their second-ever trip to the Frozen Four by besting Minnesota, 7-4, tonight at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Union scored four times in the third period, including three goals in less than two minutes, and added three more scores in the third stanza to oust the top-seeded Golden Gophers, who were seeking their sixth-ever national title.

Junior defenseman and Philadelphia Flyers draft choice Shayne Gostisbehere led Union with a goal and two assists. Junior forward Max Novak redirected home what proved to be the game-winner 5:31 into the third period to put the Dutchmen ahead, 5-3, and Mat Bodie closed out his collegiate career by closing out the scoring with his fourth goal in four NCAA Tournament games, this one into an empty net with 45 seconds remaining in regulation. Justin Kloos had a goal and an assist for Minnesota, which last won an NCAA title in 2003.

Junior goaltender Colin Stevens made 36 saves for the Dutchmen, who finished the season on a 17-game unbeaten streak that dated back to Jan. 31, while sophomore netminder Adam Wilcox finished with 41 stops for the Gophers.

See you in six months for the 2014-15 NCAA season, and in Boston in 12 months for the 2015 Frozen Four.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Gaudreau-bey Baker


 
Was there ever really any doubt?

After months of speculation/anticipation, Johnny Gaudreau became the third Boston College Eagle ever to win the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top player in NCAA Division I hockey when his selection was announced today in Philadelphia. The junior forward from Carneys Point, N.J. joins David Emma (1991) and Mike Mottau (2000) in the pantheon of BC Hobey Baker Award winners.

Gaudreau, 20, who had a goal and two assists in Thursday’s 5-4 NCAA Frozen Four semifinal loss to Union College at the Wells Fargo Center, finished the season with a nation-leading 36 goals and 44 assists for 80 points in 40 games. The other Hobey Hat Trick finalists this year were senior forwards Greg Carey of St. Lawrence and Nic Dowd of St. Cloud State. Gaudreau was also a Hobey Hat Trick finalist a year ago, when the award when to St. Cloud State's Drew Leblanc.

Through three seasons with BC, the 5-foot-7, 150-pound Gaudreau compiled 78-98—176 points in 119 contests. He collected 21 power-play goals and 18 game-winners, and also scored a spectacular goal as a freshman two years ago to ice the Eagles’ 4-1 win over Ferris State in the 2012 NCAA championship game in Tampa, Fla.

Gaudreau won a host of other accolades this season, including the Walter Brown Award as the top American-born player in college hockey, and was also recently named a First Team All-America selection. He helped BC to three Beanpot Tournament championships, two Hockey East Association regular season championships, and a Hockey East tournament title to go along with a national title. A two-time Hockey East Player of the year, he also tied a league record this season when he fashioned a 31-game point streak.

Gaudreau became the first Eagle since Emma (81 points) in 1990-91 to record at least 80 points in a single season, and the third 80-point scorer in BC annals along with Craig Janney (83 points in 1986-87). “Johnny Hockey” also needed just 54 points next season to top Emma’s 239 career points and become BC’s all-time leading scorer.

Unfortunately, there won't be a next season for him in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

USCHO.com reported that besides winning the Hobey Baker Award today, Gaudreau also signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Calgary Flames, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2011 after he had helped Dubuque (USHL) to a Clark Cup crown.

According to the Calgary Flames web site, Gaudreau's two-way contract  will commence immediately with an annual NHL base salary of $832,500, a signing bonus of $92,500 each year, and an average annual value of $1.85 million including performance bonuses .

He will join BC linemate Bill Arnold, a senior forward who also played his last career college game against Union, and who just signed with Calgary. The pair will make their NHL debuts this Sunday in Vancouver as the Flames close out their 2013-14 campaign, with Gaudreau wearing No. 53 and Arnold No. 46.

As a fan, I'm disappointed to see Gaudreau pass up his senior year at BC, as he is a tremendously talented player. As an alumnus and a New Jersey native, I can say unequivocally that he did both the alma mater and the Garden state proud. 

So long, Gaudreau-bey Bakerand thanks.

And Then There Were Two ...


East will meet west on Saturday night in Philadelphia for the Frozen Four championship when Union College takes on the University of Minnesota in the NCAA Men’s Division I ice hockey national championship game at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) at the Wells Fargo Center.

Top-ranked Union earned its first title tilt after dispatching Boston College, 5-4, in the early semifinal on Thursday. The Dutchmen, who got three goals from Daniel Ciampini and 34 saves from Colin Stevens, are now undefeated in their last 16 games (15-0-1) since Jan. 31. Johnny Gaudreau, who will likely cop the Hobey Baker Memorial Award tonight at 6 p.m. (NHL Network), had a goal and two assists for the Eagles to boost his nation-best scoring totals to 36 goals and 44 assists for 80 points, although his last-second game-tying shot attempt from long range was stopped by Stevens.

Top-seeded Minnesota edged long-time rival North Dakota, 2-1, in the late semifinal on a shorthanded goal by defenseman Justin Holl with 0.6 seconds remaining in regulation, his first goal of the 2013-14 campaign. The contest had been scoreless through two periods before the Golden Gophers and the former Fighting Sioux traded goals 32 seconds apart midway through the final stanza. Adam Wilcox had 36 saves for Minnesota, while Zane Gothberg made 26 stops for UND against his home-state school.

Union will seek its first national title and the ECAC’s second straight on Saturday, while Minnesota goes for its sixth NCAA crown and the Big Ten’s first ever in the fourth-ever encounter between the Dutchmen and the Gophers. Minnesota leads the all-time series, 2-1, with all three games played in Minnesota, although Union won the last meeting, 3-2, in 2010.

Something’s gotta give ….

Thursday, April 10, 2014

And Here We Go ...



We're down to the final four teams and the final three games remaining in the the 2013-14 NCAA hockey season. Come late Saturday night, there'll be just one school left to hold the trophy, and claim bragging rights for the next 12 months.

The national semifinals for the 2014 NCAA Men's Division I Frozen Four will be held today at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia:

Union vs. Boston College - 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
North Dakota vs. Minnesota - 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

The title tilt will be held Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) between the two semifinal winners.

Drop the puck!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

USCHO Story Up on Union's Novak



My first piece for USCHO.com in a while is now up on the site, concerning Union College junior forward and New Jersey native Max Novak.

The Most Outstanding Player at the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn. two weekends ago, he'll be one of the players to keep an eye on in tomorrow's NCAA Frozen Four early semifinal between the ECAC champion Dutchmen and Boston College at 5 p.m. (ESPN2) from Philadelphia.

The late semifinal game will feature former WCHA rivals Minnesota and North Dakota facing off at around 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2). The semifinal winners will then meet on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) at the Wells Fargo Center to decide the 2014 national championship.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Garden State Skater Agostino Helps Defeat Devils





Former Yale University and current Calgary Flames forward Kenny Agostino, who hails from Flanders, N.J., drew a penalty last night in his return to his home state that led to the game-winning goal in Calgary’s 1-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark. 

Agostino was in on a breakaway against Devils goaltender Corey Schneider (Boston College) early in the third period when he was slashed by defenseman Jon Merrill (Michigan). Schneider made the save on Agostino's point-blank shot, but the Flames picked up a power play and broke through in the dying seconds of the man advantage on a blast from the right point by  Mark Giordano for the game's only goal.

Agostino netted his first career NHL goal in his fifth game, the game-opener in a 2-1 win at Florida on April 4. He wristed home a loose puck against Panthers netminder Roberto Luongo at 1:34 of the second period to help the Flames to a 2-1 victory. It was also the first NHL point for the 5-foot-11, 195-pound forward.

Agostino, who led the Delbarton School to three straight New Jersey non-public school state championships from 2008 to 2010, won an NCAA national title with Yale last season. He made his NHL debut in the Flames 6-5 loss to Nashville on March 21, not long after Yale was eliminated from the ECAC Tournament by Quinnipiac. The Bulldogs did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament this year, for just the second time in the last six seasons

Originally drafted by Pittsburgh (5th round, 2010), Agostino saw his rights dealt to Calgary in March 2013 in the Jarome Iginla trade. In four campaigns at Yale, Agostino registered 56 goals and 76 assists for 132 points in 134 games. He had career highs of 17-24—41 points in 37 contests a year ago, including two goals and two assists in four NCAA Tournament games, as the Bulldogs defeated Minnesota, North Dakota, UMass Lowell and Quinnipiac to claim the Yale’s first national hockey crown.

Calgary (34-38-7), which has already been eliminated from Stanley Cup playoff contention, hosts the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow night.