Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Arizona State Moving to NCAA Division I Hockey

Arizona State University is apparently moving up to the big time on ice.

According to a report at Fox Sports Arizona, the Sun Devils will be the latest school to join the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey ranks, thanks to a $32 million donation from private supporters led by Milwaukee businessman and ASU alumnus Don Mullett.

ASU will become the 60th NCAA Division I men's hockey program, and the first in the state since Northern Arizona dropped its Division I team in 1986. ASU will also have to add a women's athletics program to satisfy Title IX issues.

ASU won last year's American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I national championship, its first in school history, finishing the season 38-2-0. The ACHA is comparable in terms of talent to NCAA Division III.

As with Penn State, which began its NCAA Division I program in 2012-13 after years as a national club power, ASU plans to wade slowly into the NCAA waters, playing a mix of ACHA and NCAA schools beginning in the 2015-16 academic year. The plan is to then become an NCAA Division I independent the following season, and then finally join an existing league, most likely the National Collegiate Hockey Conference or the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Current ASU head coach Greg Powers, who has recruited several players from the USHL to Tempe, is expected to remain on as coach. It is not exactly known where the Sun Devils will play their home games once they transfer to NCAA Division I, although it could be the the 40-year-old Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, current home of Sun Devil basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Eagles, Spartans Meet at Munn for First Time in 24 Years

For the first time in 24 years or since I was a college senior at the HeightsBoston College will visit Michigan State tonight at Munn Arena in East Lansing.

The last time my alma mater and the school where I would eventually work met at Munn was on Nov. 16-17, 1990, almost four full years before I first set foot in Michigan. The two schools split their two-game series that year, with MSU winning the first night, 4-2, and the HEM line helping BC to a 5-4 victory the following evening

The last meeting to date came in 2011 when BC won, 5-2, at the Icebreaker in Grand Forks, N.D., the start of BC's run to a third national title in five years. And Spartan fans surely remember 2007 when MSU edged the Eagles on a late Justin Abdelkader goal in St. Louis to win the NCAA championship.

That's all ancient history nowand the current clubs could both use a win tonight. No. 8 BC is 4-5, having dropped four straight games, while MSU is 3-5 after a split at New Hampshire last weekend.

Drop the puck.

UPDATE: Quinn Smith's second-period score holds up as the game-winner. BC, 3-2.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NCAA Drops the Hammer on Alaska Fairbanks

The situation with the University of Alaska's self-reported violations and the NCAA's ban on postseason play for the Nanooks, among other penalties, has already been well-documented on other sites including USCHO.com, collegehockeynews.com, and The (Fairbanks) Daily News-Miner, so I won't go into extended detail here.

Put simply, Alaska will forfeit its men's hockey victories between 2007 and 2012, including a pair of Governor's Cup titles against in-state rival Alaska Anchorage, and will also lose several scholarships. Four more of Alaska's intercollegiate athletic teams will be taken to task in one way, shape or form, including the dual loss of victories and scholarships.

There have been been academic problems at the former UAF before the 1991-92 Nanook hockey squad had to sacrifice a total of 12 victories because of academic "violations", including the ludicrous NCAA stipulation that a student-athlete's five-year eligibility clock begins ticking once he or she enrolls at an intercollegiate institution or even a community college. That's even if that institution doesn't field (or ice) their particular sport. The same thing happened with Scotland native Colin Shields, who lost an entire season (2000-01) at Maine that way, although the Black Bears didn't have to forfeit any games because he sat out every contest his freshman year.

The current Alaska players are the ones who will be punished for the transgressions of adults who should have kept a better eye on things. The NCAA also seems to be wrongly looking to make an example out of a smaller Division II school where there are transgressions all over the place, some bordering on the outright criminal, at some of its various Division I members.

You can bet this would have never happened with the Florida State football program.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

UConn Blanks BC, 1-0

The University of Connecticut earned its first-ever Hockey East Association victory in its inaugural conference home game on Wednesday night. The Huskies blanked No. 3 Boston College, 1-0, before more than 8,000 fans at the XL Energy Center in Hartford, former home of the NHL's Whalers, in UConn's biggest victory to date over a ranked opponent.

Former BC forward Evan Richardson scored the game's only goal on a power-play midway through the first period, while goaltender Rob Nichols finished with 35 saves for UConn (2-4-2 overall, 1-2-0 HEA), which is in its first campaign in Hockey East. UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh also picked up hist first career victory against the school he helped to four NCAA titles in a personal 18-year stint in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Thatcher Demko made 21 stops for BC (4-3-0, 1-2-0), which has lost two consecutive games and was shut out for the first time in over 100 contests dating back to Jan. 2012.

BC will now host Boston University on Friday night, while UConn will visit BU on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Yale Wins Liberty Invitational in Newark

Yale University won the second annual Liberty Invitational at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Sunday, defeating UConn by a 2-1 count in the title game in a battle between the ECAC and Hockey East. Alex Lyon made 32 saves for the Bulldogs and was tabbed as the tournament's MVP, while Cody Learned tallied the game-winning goal late in the first period.

Yale and UConn had advanced to the title tilt after posting 2-2 ties with Princeton and Merrimack, respectively, on Halloween. The Bulldogs and Huskies then advanced by winning shootouts.

In the consolation game Sunday (shown above), Merrimack (dark blue) got goals from six different scorers en route to a 6-1 rout of host Princeton. Brett Seney, Brian Christie, Jace Hennig, Dan Kolomatis, Ben Bahe and Mathieu Tibbet had two points apiece for the Warriors, who improved to 5-1-1 on the year.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Union's Gostisbehere Makes NHL Debut

The Ghost has arrived on Broad Street in time for Halloween.

Former Union College defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who helped the Dutchmen to their first-ever national title last spring, made his NHL debut on Friday evening as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the visiting Detroit Red Wings, 4-2, at the Wells Fargo Center. He was drafted by the Flyers in the third round (78th overall) in 2012.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Margate, Florida product played in three games with Lehigh Valley (AHL) before being recalled to the parent Flyers late last week due to injuries on the Philadelphia blue line. He was a minus-1 with one shot on goal in just over 12 minutes of ice time against Detroit.

Gostisbehere, a Top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the NCAA's top player last season, registered nine goals and 25 assists for 34 points in 42 games as a junior at Union. He also had a goal and two assists, along with a plus-seven rating, in the Dutchmen's 7-4 NCAA championship game win over Minnesota in Philadelphia on April 12. He posted a pair of assists in a 5-4 NCAA semifinal victory over Boston College two days prior.

Gostisbehere, 21, who prepped with the South Kent School prior to enrolling at Union and helping the Dutchmen to multiple ECAC crowns, finished his three-year college career in Schenectady with 22-6082 points to go with 85 penalty minutes in 118 total collegiate outings. He also played his first two pro games with Adirondack (AHL) last spring, and has two assists in five career AHL contests to date.

He is expected to remain with the Flyers on a day-to-day basis.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Former Eagles Get First Goals of NHL Season

A pair of former Boston College linemates celebrated their first goals of the 2014-15 NHL campaign on Sunday.

2014 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames scored on a wraparound against Winnipeg and also added an assist in a 4-1 win at the MTS Center in Manitoba. He recorded his first career NHL goal in last season's finale against Vancouver just after turning pro.

New York Rangers rookie forward Kevin Hayes followed up his own rebound and wristed it home in a 4-0 victory over visiting San Jose at Madison Square Garden. It was the first goal of his pro career and came in his fourth outing with the Rangers, with whom signed as a free agent in the offseason

Gaudreau left BC a year early after leading all NCAA Division I players in scoring last season as a junior, tallying 36 goals and 44 assists for 80 points in 40 games. Hayes posted 27-3865 points in 40 outings as the duo paired with right wing Bill Arnold to help the Eagles to a Hockey East regular-season title, an NCAA Northeast Regional crown, and a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four in Philadelphia. All three were also members of BC's 2012 national championship team.