Thursday, July 2, 2015

NHL Free Agency Period Off to Furious Start


 
The National Hockey League’s free agency period started off with a bang on Wednesday, including a number of (now) former NCAA players.
Phil Kessel (Minnesota) was involved in a nine-player deal that sent him from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Pittsburgh Penguins, while 2015 second overall draft choice Jack Eichel (Boston University) signed a three-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres after winning the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey's best player in 2014-15.
Paul Martin (Minnesota) jumped from Pittsburgh to San Jose, while Kevin Hayes (Boston College) moved from the Florida Panthers to the Boston Bruins. Erik Condra (Notre Dame)) signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning after playing five seasons for the Ottawa Senators, Joe Whitney (Boston College) went from the New Jersey Devils to the New York Islanders, and Matt Bartkowski (Ohio State) is leaving Boston for the Vancouver Canucks.

An updated list of free agency signings can be found here.
Earlier this week, Kevin Bieksa (Bowling Green) was traded from the Canucks to the Anaheim Ducks for a second-round selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
In addition, Wisconsin goaltending recruit Luke Opilka will apparently sign with the St. Louis Blues, while Colorado College defenseman Jacob Slavin has inked a deal with the Carolina Hurricanes after two seasons with the Tigers, according to USCHO.com.

Lastly, NHL.com is reporting that Martin St. Louis (Vermont) has retired after 16 NHL seasons and 1,033 regular-season points with Calgary, Tampa Bay, and the New York Rangers. St. Louis guided UVM to the 1996 NCAA Frozen Four, and later won the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Trophy, and the Ted Lindsay Award in 2003-04 while also leading the Lightning to its first Stanley Cup title that same season.

ADDENDUM: St. Louis today traded T. J. Oshie (North Dakota) to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a draft choice and two players, including goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley (Michigan Tech).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Former BC Netminder Clemmensen Retires


Former Boston College goaltender Scott Clemmensen has concluded his professional playing career.

The Urbandale, Iowa native has retired to become the goaltending development coach with the New Jersey Devils, with whom he spent most of his 14-year playing career, including his final three National Hockey League games this past season.

Clemmensen, 37, finished with a 73-59-25 record in 191 NHL regular-season outings with New Jersey, Toronto and Florida from 2001 to 2015. He also registered seven career shutouts to go with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound netminder served three separate stints with New Jersey, and compiled a record of 32-19-6 in 68 games with four shutouts and a 2.60 GAA with the Devils. His best NHL campaign came in 2008-09 when he fashioned a 25-13-1 mark in 40 appearances with New Jersey.

Clemmensen, the first Iowa native to play in the NHL, put together a 99-35-10 record (2.52, .899) with 13 shutouts in 145 career NCAA games at BC from 1997 to 2001. As a senior, he went 30-7-2 and led the Eagles to the Beanpot and Hockey East tournament titles, along with BC's first national championship since 1949. He also held the Hockey East record for most league wins with 52 victories, and in 2009 was chosen as Hockey East's All-Time Unsung Hero as part of the league's 25th anniversary celebration.

He was drafted by the Devils in the eighth round (215th) overall in 1997 after completing his junior career with Des Moines (USHL).

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ruggiero, Hay Elected to Hall of Fame


Former Harvard University blueliner Angela Ruggiero was one of five players selected Monday for the Hockey Hall of Fame's Class of 2015. She was the only female skater inducted alongside former NHL stalwarts Sergei Fedorov, Phil Housley, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Chris Pronger.

Ruggiero, a native of Harper Woods, Mich., lettered with the Crimson in 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2004. She won the Patty Kazmaier Award as the nation's top NCAA Division I women's player as a senior, and also led Harvard to a 109-13-5 overall record during her career, according to the Crimson athletics web site.

A first-team All-America and ECAC selection in each of her four seasons in Cambridge, Ruggiero ranks sixth all-time on Harvard's scoring scroll with 96 goals and 157 assists for 253 points. She was also a member of four U.S. Olympic medal squads from 1998 to 2010, including gold the first time, and also helped Team USA to world championship crowns in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2011, according to NHL.com.

Ruggiero also became the first woman to play in a professional game in North America at a position other than goaltender. She skated in one game with Tulsa (CHL) in 2005 and drew an assist while playing alongside her brother, Bill, a goaltender.

Also inducted into the Hall on Monday in the builders' category along with Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, Jr. was former Colorado College forward Don Hay. The Saskatoon native was a two-time WCHA First All-Star Team selection (1957, 1958), and a two-time NCAA West First All-America choice (1957, 1958), according to the Hall's web site. He also helped the Tigers to the 1957 NCAA title, and tallied 60-94--154 points in his two campaigns in Colorado Springs. He is also the first former Tiger inducted into the Hall, according to Colorado College's athletic web site.

Hay later went on to play eight seasons with the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he won a Calder Trophy (1960) and a Stanley Cup (1961). He later served as part owner and team president of the league's Calgary Flames, before spending 15 years as HOF Chairman and CEO.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Three College Players Drafted in Top Eight



A bit of history was made at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft in Sunrise, Fla. on Friday night, as three current NCAA players were selected among the first 10 picks for the first time ever.
As expected, Hobey Baker Award-winning forward Jack Eichel (Boston University) went second overall to the Buffalo Sabres. Noah Hanifin (Boston College), the first defenseman taken in this year’s draft, went fifth to the Carolina Hurricanes, while fellow blueliner Zach Werenski (Michigan) went eighth to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Eichel led the nation in scoring with 26 goals and 45 assists for 71 points during the 2014-15 NCAA campaign, and also helped the Terriers to the Beanpot and Hockey East tournament titles as well as a national runner-up finish. Hanifin tallied 5-18—23 points for the Eagles, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight season, while Werenski led all Wolverine defensemen with 9-16—25 points.
All three also skated for the U.S squad that finished in fifth place at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in Canada.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Keith, Chicago Win Third Stanley Cup in Six Seasons


In the end, it was Michigan State beating Maine on the biggest goal of the Stanley Cup Final to close out the 2014-15 hockey season.

Former MSU defenseman Duncan Keith put home his own rebound against former Black Bear goaltender Ben Bishop with 2:47 remaining in the second period for the game-winning score as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-0, in Game 6 on Monday night. The Blackhawks won their third Cup in six seasons, and first at home since 1938.

Patrick Kane closed out the scoring late in the final frame, and Corey Crawford notched the shutout on 25 saves as Chicago again took the Cup in six games. The Hawks did so in 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers, and then again two years ago versus the Boston Bruins.

Keith was the unanimous selection for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL's playoff MVP, tallying three goals and 18 assists for 21 points in 23 games, while skating more than 700 minutes in the postseason, according to the Associated Press, including over 30 minutes last night. The Winnipeg native skated at MSU from 2001 to 2002, notching 24 points in 56 games for the Spartans, and has also won Olympic gold medals with Canada in 2010 and 2014. 

Keith tied Chris Chelios for the most points by a Blackhawks defenseman in a single postseason. He is also the first defenseman to claim the Conn Smythe since Hall of Fame blueliner Scott Niedermayer did so with Anaheim in 2007, according to NHL.com.

Bishop, who backstopped the Black Bears from 2005 to 2008 and fashioned a 55-35-7 record in NCAA competition, made 30 saves on Monday night at the United Center as the Lightning tried to force a Game 7. He went 1-3-0 in the final, having been lifted in Tampa Bay's Game 2 win for what was finally revealed last night as a groin tear.

The Hawks will celebrate their latest Cup victory with a parade on Thursday, led by captain Jonathan Toews (North Dakota). Other former NCAA players hoisting the Cup with Chicago this spring include Scott Darling (Maine), Patrick Sharp (Vermont) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (New Hampshire).

Monday, June 15, 2015

Americans Claim First ECHL Crown



The Allen Americans earned their first ever Kelly Cup as ECHL champions with a 6-1 victory over the visiting South Carolina Stingrays on Sunday afternoon in Texas. Allen defeated South Carolina in seven games.

Greger Hanson (Northern Michigan) was named ECHL playoff MVP with 12 goals and 29 points in 25 outings, according to echl.com, while goaltender Riley Gill (Western Michigan) backstopped the Americans' title run. Gill went 13-7 in this year's playoffs, and tied a league record with his eighth career win in the ECHL final following yesterday's 27-save effort.

South Carolina's Wayne Simpson (Union) set an ECHL record with 38 points in 27 postseason contests this spring, including 25 assists.

Chad Costello (Northeastern), the ECHL's leading scorer during the regular season with 125 points, tallied two goals and set up another in the decisive game for Allen, which moved to the ECHL after its former home, the Central Hockey League, folded in October. The Americans, who began play in 2009, have now won three consecutive championships in three straight seasons, having claimed the last two Miron President's Cup titles before the CHL ceased operations.

Other NCAA players on this season's Allen title team included Justin Baker (St. Lawrence), Nolan Descoteaux (RIT), Kyle Follmer (Northern Michigan), Aaron Gens (Alaska Fairbanks), Trevor Ludwig (Providence), Tyler Ludwig (Western Michigan), Rylan Schwartz (Colorado College) and Gary Steffes (Miami).

Monarchs Reign Supreme in AHL



Kevin Loverde (Miami) scored the game-winning goal on Saturday night as the Manchester Monarchs defeated the Utica Comets, 2-1, to win the American Hockey League's Calder Cup Final in five games. It was the first Calder Cup championship in team history.

Loverde, who led the Red Hawks in blocked shots in each of his four NCAA seasons, according to theahl.com, put Manchester up, 2-0, with a power-play tally just over 13 minutes into the first period at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Also skating on Saturday and winning the Cup with the Monarchs was Sean Backman (Yale), Nic Dowd (St. Cloud State), Derek Forbort (North Dakota), Michael Mersch (Wisconsin), Brian O'Neill (Yale) and Nick Shore (Denver).

Manchester, the AHL affiliate of the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, will shift its operations to the ECHL next season after 14 campaigns in the AHL. The Kings' new AHL affiliate, the Reign, will play in Ontario, Calif. beginning in 2015-16 as part of the league's western expansion.