Friday, June 24, 2011

Oleksiak First NCAA Player Drafted in 2011

To little surprise, Northeastern rising freshman defenseman Jamie Oleksiak was the first (and only) current college hockey player taken in the first round of tonight's 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn. The Toronto native went 14th overall to the Dallas Stars, where his selection was announced by Dallas GM and former Cornell and NHL standout Joe Nieuwendyk.

Oleksiak won't be the last collegian selected this year, either, although at 6-7 and 240 lbs., he's sure to be the biggest. The question now is does he return to Huntington Avenue in the fall, especially since Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin resigned to take an assistant coaching position with the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this week. The Versus telecast tonight mentioned that Oleksiak's major junior rights are held by Saginaw (OHL), and it's a sure bet the Spirit will be trying to pry the first rounder away from the Huskies and Hockey East between now and the start of the 2011-12 season.

Prior to Oleksiak's selection, John-Michael Liles was dealt from Colorado to Toronto for a second-round choice. The former Michigan State standout had spent his entire professional career to date on the Avalanche blueline. The Indianapolis native has tallied 68 goals and 207 assists in 523 career NHL regular-season games since 2003, and posted 4-7--11 points so far in 36 Stanley Cup Playoff contests.

North Dakota recruit J.T. Miller, a center, was drafted 15th overall by the New York Rangers, while a pair of incoming Miami freshmen also went in the first round. Connor Murphy, a defenseman, was claimed 20th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes, while future classmate and right wing Tyler Biggs went to Toronto two picks later.

Friday, June 17, 2011

That's All, Folks

Congratulations to the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, who took home hockey's biggest prize for the first time in 39 years with their 4-0 victory in Vancouver in Game 7 on Wedenesday night.

And congrats also to Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas (Vermont) and forward Rich Peverley (St. Lawrence) in getting their names inscribed on the Cup - they did both the ECAC and college hockey proud in the playoffs.

Also out on the ice at Rogers Arena following the deciding game clincher on June 15 was Steve Kampfer (Michigan), who played in 38 regular-season games for Boston this winter, while also on the Bruins roster was Matt Bartkowski (Ohio State). Blake Wheeler (Minnesota) and Mark Stuart (Colorado College) also toiled in Beantown this season, but were dispatched by the trade deadline to the Atlanta Thrashers, soon to be the Winnipeg Whatevers.

Now it's on to the NHL Awards, the Entry Draft - and waiting for those 2011-12 college and pro schedules to be finalized ...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One Last Game to Go

Several hours from now the 2010-11 NHL season will have come to a close, and either the Boston Bruins or the Vancouver Canucks will have won the Stanley Cup. The puck drops in just two hours time in British Columbia for Game Seven, but whatever ultimately occurs tonight will be remembered for all time.

Who'll win and who'll be the hero has yet to be determined in this back-and-forth, sometimes nasty best-of-seven series that has been dominated by the home-ice advantage. It may take one goal, it may take several, it may even take overtime to decide matters once and for all between the Bruins and Canucks. We'll all know soon enough.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

ECAC Alums Leading Bruins

The Vancouver Canucks may have more former NCAA players on their roster; but it's the Boston Bruins' two former collegians, both from the Eastern College Athletic Conference, who came up big in Game Four of the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals at TD Garden last night in Beantown.

Former St. Lawrence forward Rich Peverley, who tallied 116 points in four seasons with the Saints from 2000 to 2004, scored twice in the Bruins' 4-0 win that tied the series for Boston at two games apiece. All-World goalkeeper and former Vermont Catamount backstop Tim Thomas picked up the shutout yesterday with 38 saves, two nights after he registered 40 stops in an 8-1 Boston rout in Game Three.

On the other side, former Dartmouth skater Tanner Glass made his Finals debut, blocking three shots for the Canucks while going minus-1. Former Boston College All-America netminder Cory Schneider stopped all nine shots he faced in mop-up duty in the third period for the Canucks, who have scored all of one goal in their last two outings. It was Schneider's first playoff action since a start in Chicago back on April 24 in the first round, and his first game back in Boston since the Eagles won the 2007 Hockey East championship game over UNH.

Now it remains to be seen if Schneider gets the start tomorrow night in Vancouver for Game Five - or gets ready to come on in relief again in what is now a best-of-three series.