Friday, March 30, 2012

Dropping Like Flies

You know it's the end of the college hockey season this time of year, and not just because we're down to the last four teams at the Frozen Four. No, you know it's the end when players with one, two and sometimes even three years of college eligibility remaining are foregoing it altogether to sign professional contracts.

Rightly or wrongly, it's gotten to be a fact of life for the college game that some players are going to leave before their four years on campus are up. Whether they make it or not to the NHL remains to be seen, but here's some of the players who won't be back for the 2012-13 NCAA campaign, as outlined at

Scott Arnold, Soph., F, Niagara (Phoenix Coyotes)
Anthony Bitetti, Soph., D, Northeastern (Nashville Predators)
Terry Broadhurst, Jr., F, Nebraska-Omaha (Chicago Blackhawks)
Chris Brown, Jr., F, Michigan (Phoenix Coyotes)
J.T. Brown, Soph., F, Minnesota-Duluth (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Alex Chiasson, Jr., Forward, Boston University (Dallas Stars)
David Eddy., Jr., F, St. Cloud State (Calgary Flames)
Torey Krug, Jr., D, Michigan State (Boston Bruins)
Mike Lee, Jr., G, St. Cloud State (Phoenix Coyotes)
Cole Schneider, Soph., F, Connecticut (Ottawa Senators)
Jaden Schwartz, Soph., F, Colorado College (St. Louis Blues)
Riley Sheahan, Jr., F, Notre Dame (Detroit Red Wings)
Drew Shore, Jr., F, Denver  (Florida Panthers)
Reilly Smith, Jr., F, Miami (Dallas Stars)
Sebastian Stalberg., Jr., F, Vermont (San Jose Sharks)
Matt Tennyson, Jr., D, Western Michigan (San Jose Sharks)
Zach Trotman, Jr., D, Lake Superior State (Boston Bruins)
Jason Zucker, Soph., F, Denver (Minnesota Wild) (pictured)

More to come, obviously ...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

2012 Hobey Hat Trick Announced

The three finalists for the 2012 Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top player in NCAA Division I men's ice hockey were announced today in Minnesota. All three players are senior forwards who have finished their collegiate careers: Maine’s Spencer Abbott, Minnesota-Duluth’s Jack Connolly, and Colgate’s Austin Smith.

Abbott, a native of Hamilton, Ont., led Division I in scoring this season with 21 goals and a nation-high 41 assists for 62 points. The Hockey East Player of the Year, he missed the conference championship game with an injury suffered in the semifinals, but returned for the NCAA Tournament last weekend. He scored Maine’s first goal, the final point of his career, in the Black Bears’ 5-2 loss to Minnesota-Duluth at the NCAA Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass. on Saturday. For his career, he collected 54-92—146 points in 151 games, was a Maine Scholar-Athlete Award winner as a junior, and just signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent.

Connolly, who helped his hometown Bulldogs to their first-ever national title last spring, was second overall to Abbott with 20-40—60 points this winter. He scored UMD’s first goal in the win over Maine, before the Bulldogs were blanked, 4-0, the following evening by Boston College to bow out of the tournament. He tallied 66-131—197 points in 166 outings with UMD, and led the Bulldogs in points his last three campaigns while also being named a first-team All-WCHA choice in each of those years.

Smith (pictured) came in third to Abbott and Connolly with 36-21—57 points, although he led the entire nation in total goals and shorthanded goals (6), and was also a first-team All-ECAC selection. The only drafted player of the trio, the Dallas native is now skating for Texas (AHL). He tallied his final point on an assist in a 6-2 loss to Union in an ECAC Tournament semifinal on March 16 in Atlantic City, before ending his Colgate career the following day in a 3-0 consolation game loss to Cornell. He finished with 79-87—160 points in 153 contests, and twice led the Raiders in scoring.

The winner of the 32nd Hobey Baker Memorial Award will be announced on April 6 at the NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 NCAA Frozen Four is Set

The field for the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla. on April 5 is now known, following regional play this weekend.

4:30 p.m. ET Ferris State vs. Union
8:00 p.m. ET Minnesota vs. Boston College

The semifinal winners will then meet on April 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET at the Tampa Bay Times Forum to decide the national championship.

Union and Ferris will both be playing in their first Frozen Four, while Minnesota has now been there 23 times (last one in 2005), and BC will be going for the 20th time (last one in 2010).

The Dutchmen won the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn. by besting Michigan State and UMass-Lowell, while the FSU Bulldogs claimed the Midwest Regional in Green Bay, Wisc. with wins over Denver and Cornell. The Golden Gophers topped Boston University and North Dakota at the West Regional in St. Paul, while the BC Eagles blanked both Air Force and Minnesota-Duluth at the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Eagles to Have Hands Full with Falcons

Considering last year's shocking 8-4 defeat to Colorado College in the first round of the NCAA West Regional in St. Louis, don't expect top-seeded Boston College to be looking past first-round foe Air Force on Saturday afternoon at the NCAA Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass.

The Eagles (29-10-1) are on a 15-game wining streak that has included claiming both the Beanpot and two Hockey East titles; but everybody, though, is even as the 2012 NCAA Tournament kicks off this weekend. The opposing Falcons (21-10-7), winners of Atlantic Hockey, and a former Division I independent, have now posted six straight winning seasons. AFA is 1-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, but could just as easily have won each of those contests.

Air Force beat Michigan, 2-0, in 2009, and then were just a double-overtime goal against Vermont away from the Frozen Four. They've also come up one goal short in NCAA overtime setbacks to Miami (2008) and Yale (2011), and also fell to Minnesota by a single goal in regulation after jumping out a 3-0 lead in 2007.

Junior forward Kyle De Laurell leads the Falcons this season with 15 goals and 38 points, while senior defenseman Tim Kirby is third with 12-16–28 points and is also a Hobey Baker Award finalist. Senior goaltender Stephen Caple has posted a 13-5-5 record this year with a 2.16 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage, while sophomore netminder Jason Torf (8-4-2, 1.72, .928) backstopped the Falcons to a 4-0 win in the Atlantic Hockey title game over RIT and has recorded five shutouts in all.

BC leads the all-time series with Air Force, 5-0, with the two schools having last faced off in an 8-2 Eagle win in Minnesota in 2007. Following last season's early NCAA exit, though, the Eagles' earliest in the NCAAs since falling to Alaska Anchorage in the first round in 1991, don't expect BC to take Air Force lightly.

The DCU Center in Worcester has been good to the Eagles, who have posted an 8-1 record there in NCAA Tournament play, and have used the venue as a springboard to their national championships in 2001, 2008 and 2010. BC had two tough games in Worcester two years ago, though, edging Alaska Fairbanks, 3-1, before outscoring Yale, 9-7, the next night to move on to the Frozen Four in Detroit.

They'll need a similar effort on Saturday to give themselves a shot at doing so again in 2012. The reward for topping Air Force will be a second-round meeting on Sunday with either conference foe Maine, whom BC just beat for the Hockey East playoff title, or defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth, for the right to go to the Frozen Four in Tampa in April.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RIT Women Move to Division I

Fresh off its 2012 NCAA Division III Championship, the Rochester Institute of Technology's women's team is moving up to the Division I ranks for next season.

The Tigers, who bested defending Division III national champion Norwich by a 4-1 count on Saturday at Frank Ritter Memorial Arena, finished the season with a 28-1-1 overall mark. They join their RIT male counterparts, who made the jump to Division I in 2004, and six years later advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four in Detroit.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Niagara Drops Women's Ice Hockey

Another Division I women's hockey program has fallen by the wayside. Niagara University in Lewiston, N.Y. announced on Monday that it will discontinue women's ice hockey as a varsity sport.

Niagara refers to the move as a "restructuring" of the athletic department—but essentially, women's outdoor track and field is replacing women's ice hockey on the university roster. Niagara hockey student-athletes who wish to remain at the school will have their scholarships honored, or else they can transfer to another Division I school without having to endure the customary one-year waiting period for transfers.

The Purple Eagles, who finished 10-16-8 overall in 2011-12, played their final game in a 3-2 loss at Robert Morris on March 2 in the College Hockey America tournament semifinals. Freshman forward Kayla Raniwsky scored Niagara's final varsity goal.

Niagara fashioned an overall mark of 179-240-57 (.436) in 15 Division I campaigns, four in the ECAC and 11 in the CHA, after getting started back in 1998-99. The Purple Eagles, who enjoyed their best record in 2001-02 as a member of the ECAC East when they went 26-8-2 overall and made it to the NCAA Frozen Four, now join Wayne State, Findlay and MIT in the annals of defunct women's hockey programs.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Minnesota Wins Women's Division I National Title

Go, go Gophers.

The University of Minnesota bested Western Collegiate Hockey Association rival and defending national champion Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon by a 4-2 count at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, in the 2012 Women's Division I NCAA Championship Game. Minnesota won its third national title, and first since 2005 when it finished off back-to-back championships.

Amanda Kessel, a sophomore forward and the younger sister of the Toronto Maple Leafs' Phil Kessel, opened the scoring less than nine minutes into the contest for Minnesota. Sarah Erickson then staked the Gophers to a 2-0 lead, before Stefanie McKeough and Brooke Ammerman connected for the Badgers.

Emily West then tallied the game-winning goal on a penalty shot late in the first period, to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead, before Erickson added an insurance marker early in the third period. Noora Räty finished with 42 saves in net for Minnesota, while Alex Rigsby made 21 stops for Wisconsin.

The Gophers, who finished 34-5-2 overall, ended the season on an eight-game winning streak, and also won 13 of their last 14 outings. They won the WCHA Tournament with a 2-0 victory over Minnesota-Duluth on March 3rd, and then bested both North Dakota and Cornell in the NCAA Tournament before denying the Badgers (33-5-2) a second consecutive national crown.

Räty, a native of Finland, went 32-5-2 this season for Minnesota with a 1.33 goals-against average, a .941 save percentage and a nation-best 10 shutouts. Wisconsin native Kessel finished third in the nation in scoring with 31 goals and 48 assists for 79 points.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Final NCAA Tournament Field of 16 Set

The field is set for the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Tournament. The top four seeds for this spring include Boston College, Michigan, Union and North Dakota.

Here's a look at the pairings (numbers refer to overall tournament seeds, not national rankings):

March 23-24

NCAA East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.)No. 15 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Union
No. 12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. No. 5 Miami

NCAA Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wisc.)No. 13 Cornell vs. No. 2 Michigan
No. 11 Denver vs. No. 6 Ferris State

March 24-25

NCAA Northeast Regional (Worcester, Mass.)No. 16 Air Force vs. No. 1 Boston College
No. 10 Maine vs. No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth

NCAA West Regional (St. Paul, Minn.)No. 14 Western Michigan vs. No. 4 North Dakota
No. 9 Boston University vs. No. 8 Minnesota

All told, this year's participants include one team from Atlantic Hockey (Air Force), five teams from the CCHA (Ferris State, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, WMU), two teams from the ECAC (Cornell, Union), four teams from Hockey East (BC, BU, Maine, Mass-Lowell), and four teams from the WCHA (Denver, Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota).

The last five national champions, from 2007 to 2011, include Michigan State, BC, BU, BC and Minnesota-Duluth, all of whom are in this year's tournament. The last Division I school to claim back-to-back national championships, Denver, is also in the 2012 field, and won NCAA titles in both 2004 and 2005.

The four regional winners advance to the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla. on April 5-7.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

2012 Conference Champions Crowned

The automatic bids for the 2012 NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament were awarded on Saturday to the respective conference championship winners:

Atlantic Hockey (Rochester, NY): Air Force 4, RIT 0
Central Collegiate Hockey Association (Detroit): Western Michigan 3, Michigan 2
Eastern College Athletic Conference (Atlantic City, NJ): Union 3, Harvard 1
Hockey East Association (Boston): Boston College 4, Maine 1
Western Collegiate Hockey Association (St. Paul, MN): North Dakota 4, Denver 0

Both Boston College and North Dakota won their respective league tournaments for the third straight season, with BC becoming the first school to win three consecutive Hockey East playoff championships. Western Michigan claimed its first CCHA Tournament crown since 1986, after finishing runner-up a year ago. The Broncos are now headed to their second straight NCAA Tournament, as are Union and Air Force.

Also expected to garner one of the other 11 bids to the NCAA Tournament, according to the Pairwise Rankings, are Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Ferris State, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota, Boston University, Maine, Denver, Massachusetts-Lowell, Cornell and Michigan State.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Conference Championships on the Line on Saturday

The final opportunity for several schools to gain access to the 2012 NCAA Division I Tournament will come down to Saturday night, when the championship games of the five major men's ice hockey leagues will take place.

Atlantic Hockey's past two champions will collide at Blue Cross Arena Rochester tomorrow when Air Force faces RIT. The AFA Falcons, who ousted Mercyhurst by a 5-2 score on Friday, went to the NCAAs last year, while the Tigers, who edged Niagara on Friday in overtime, made it all the way to the 2010 Frozen Four in Detroit.

Bowling Green's Cinderella run through the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs came to a close tonight in Detroit, with a 3-2 double OT loss to Michigan. The Wolverines will face Western Michigan in Saturday's title tilt, after the Broncos dumped Miami, 6-2, in the other semifinal. The Red Hawks will face BGSU in this year's consolation game.

Harvard shocked Cornell, 6-1, in the Eastern College Athletic Conference's late semifinal tonight at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The Crimson will now line up tomorrow against league regular-season champion Union, which dispatched Colgate by a 6-2 count. Cornell and Colgate will meet in the ECAC consolation contest.

Hockey East saw top-ranked Boston College outlast upstart Providence, 4-2, in the first semifinal at TD Garden in Beantown tonight, while No. 11 Maine came back from two one-goal deficits to defeat No. 5 Boston University, 5-3. The Eagles and Black Bears last met in the HE conference championship contest in 2010, with BC winning in overtime.

Top-seeded Minnesota built a 3-0 lead over North Dakota in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals at the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul tonight, only to see the Fighting Sioux score six unanswered goals to earn a 6-3 victory and a berth in Saturday's title game against Denver. The Pioneers had earlier slipped past defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth, 4-3, in two overtimes.

The winners in Saturday's five championship games will receive automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament. Schools that are likely already in the big dance, according to the latest Pairwise Rankings, include BC, Michigan, Union, North Dakota, Ferris State, Maine, Minnesota-Duluth, Denver, Miami and BU, and Minnesota. Air Force, RIT and Harvard can only advance to the NCAAs by winning their respective conference championship games and gaining their league's automatic berth.

The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will be shown on Sunday on ESPNU at noon EDT.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

And Then There Were Four

The NCAA Division I women's hockey season will come to a close this weekend at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn. with the 2012 Frozen Four.

Defending national champion Wisconsin (32-4-2 overall) will take on Boston College (24-9-3) in the first semifinal on Friday in a rematch of a game from last season, while the other contest will pit Cornell (30-4-0) against Minnesota (32-5-2). The winners will meet on Saturday afternoon. Of the foursome, only Minnesota won its conference tournament this year, while the other three schools all played in last year’s Frozen Four in Erie, Pa.

All four advanced by winning home games last weekend in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin ousted Merychurst, while BC rebounded to upend St. Lawrence. Cornell outlasted Boston University in three overtimes, while Minnesota topped newcomer North Dakota.

Wisconsin will be seeking its second straight national title and fifth overall, while Minnesota claimed back-to-back crowns in 2004 and 2005. BC and Cornell will both be looking to win their first NCAA championship.

Monday, March 12, 2012

On to the Conference Semifinals

No less than 10 of the 22 series in the five NCAA Division I men's leagues went to a deciding third game on Sunday, with a few upsets tossed in for good measure.

Atlantic Hockey saw Mercyhurst top Holy Cross in three games, while RIT survived on Saturday night with a 5-4 double overtime win over Bentley thanks to a sudden-death goal by Cameron Burt. The Tigers then posted a 3-0 shutout on Sunday behind Shane Madolora's 24 saves. Niagara swept Robert Morris, while Air Force edged UConn, 4-3, in a tie-breaking game on Sunday on a third-period tally by George Michalke. The AFA Falcons will now take on Mercyhurst in one semifinal, while the other will pit RIT against Niagara, with both games slated for Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY.

In the CCHA, it was last-place Bowling Green upsetting league regular-season king Ferris State in three games, one round after upending favored Northern Michigan for the second straight season. The Falcons, who finished in 11th place during the campaign, won by a 4-3 count on Sunday on Dan DeSalvo's OT marker, and advance to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit to face Michigan, which ousted Notre Dame in two games. Miami swept Michigan State, allowing just one goal in two contests, and will face-off with Western Michigan, which knocked out Lake Superior State in another sweep.

The top four seeds all survived in the ECAC. Harvard finished in third place after playing to 11 ties this season, and then finished off Yale with an 8-2 shellacking in Game Three in Cambridge to advance to the ECAC Championships in Atlantic City along with Union, Cornell and Colgate. Union swept RPI, while Cornell did likewise to Dartmouth, and Colgate came back from a one-game deficit to defeat Quinnipiac, 4-0, in the deciding meeting as Eric Mihalik posted a 31-save shutout. Union will now meet Colgate, while Cornell will line up against Harvard, on Friday on the Boardwalk.

Hockey East saw Providence repeat its winning effort from Game One on Thursday with a 1-0 win over higher-seeded host UMass Lowell on Sunday, as Alex Beaudry made 29 saves for the Friars and Ross Mauermann scored the game's only goal. PC now advances to the league semifinals at TD Garden for the first time since 2001, where it will again face top-seeded Boston College, which outlasted Massachusetts in a pair of games. Maine outlasted Merrimack, 2-1, in both the series and in Game Three, while Maine's semifinal opponent, Boston University, edged New Hampshire, 5-4, in double OT on a Wade Megan goal in the deciding contest. Kieran Millan finished with 68 saves for the win in his final home game for the Terriers. The opposing Wildcats, who had won the opener in five periods of play on Friday at BU, will not make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.

Top-seeded Minnesota swept Alaska Anchorage and is off to the WCHA Championships at the Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, while Michigan Tech surprised Colorado College with its own sweep. Three of the other four series were also two-step sweeps, with North Dakota ousting Bemidji State, St. Cloud State eliminating Nebraska-Omaha, and defending NCAA champion Minnesota-Duluth putting away Minnesota State. Wisconsin and Denver went to a deciding game in Colorado on Sunday, and the host Pioneers came out on top by a 3-2 score as Luke Salazar connected early in OT. Denver and Michigan Tech will vie on Thursday for the right to face Minnesota-Duluth, while North Dakota and St. Cloud will square off to see who takes on Minnesota.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hockey East "Hat Trick" on One NHL Play Sunday

Three former Hockey East players all figured in a penalty-shot situation on Sunday night, in an NHL contest between the Chicago Blackhawks and the visiting Los Angeles Kings at the United Center.

Chicago's Viktor Stalberg (Vermont) was upended by Rob Scuderi (Boston College) as the former broke in on Jonathan Quick (Massachusetts) in the third period. Quick made the ensuing save on the penalty-shot attempt by Stalberg, who could have become the goat of the game towards the end when he drew a penalty in the final minutes of play. The Blackhawks killed off that infraction and the game went to a shootout that was finally won by the Kings, 3-2.

Stalberg helped the Catamounts to the 2009 NCAA Frozen Four, while Scuderi was a linchpin on the Eagles' 2001 national title team, and Quick backstopped the Minutemen to the 2007 NCAA Tournament as a sophomore. Former UVM skater Patrick Sharp scored one of Chicago's two goals in regulation on Sunday night, but misfired on his shootout attempt, while Stalberg was again stopped by Quick. The former UMass netminder ultimately pokechecked Marcus Kruger on the final shootout try to preserve the win for Los Angeles.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

For Many NCAA Teams, It's Do or Die Time

A number of teams in NCAA Division I hockey will see their 2011-12 seasons end this weekend as conference playoffs continue, culminating in next week's championship games and selection to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The do or die best-of-three segment of the season began/continued tonight with Providence's 5-3 win at UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East Tournament.

Here's a brief look at the matchups (all on campus sites) that will determine who goes on to each league's respective semifinals next weekend, before the final 16 schools are called on Selection Sunday, on March 18 at noon ET on ESPNU:

Atlantic Hockey
Bentley @ RIT
Holy Cross @ Mercyhurst
Robert Morris @ Niagara
UConn @ Air Force

Bowling Green @ Ferris State
Lake Superior @ Western Michigan
Michigan State @ Miami
Notre Dame @ Michigan

Dartmouth @ Cornell
Quinnipiac @ Colgate
Rensselaer @ Union
Yale @ Harvard

Hockey East
New Hampshire @ Boston University
Merrimack @ Maine
Providence at UMass-Lowell
UMass @ Boston College

Alaska Anchorage @ Minnesota
Bemidji State @ North Dakota
Michigan Tech @ Colorado College
Minnesota State @ Minnesota-Duluth
Nebraska-Omaha @ St. Cloud State
Wisconsin @ Denver

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2012 NCAA Division I Women's Championship Field Set

The eight-team field is set for the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Ice Hockey Championship.

The three schools earning automatic bids for winning their conference playoff championship were Boston University (Hockey East), Minnesota (WCHA) and St. Lawrence (ECAC), while the five at-large invitees include Boston College, Cornell, Mercyhurst, North Dakota and Wisconsin. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin have recorded 31victories apiece this season, while Cornell has registered 29 wins.

The four first-round games will be played on March 10 at campus sites. Defending national champion Wisconsin is the top seed in the tournament and will host eighth-seeded Mercyhurst, while second-seeded Minnesota will entertain first-time NCAA participant ans seventh seed North Dakota. Boston University will visit third-seeded Cornell, while St. Lawrence will travel to fourth-seeded Boston College.

The semifinals will be played on March 16 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn., followed by the national championship contest on March 18. Wisconsin, which defeated Boston University by a 4-1 count in last year's championship game, is seeking its fifth NCAA title, which would tie it all-time with Minnesota-Duluth. The Badgers also claimed Division I crowns in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

Junior forward Jocelyne Lamoureux of North Dakota leads all NCAA Division I women's skaters with 48 assists and 72 points so far this season, while junior forward Brianna Decker of Wisconsin is tops in the nation with 36 goals to date. Senior forwards Bailey Bram and Kelly Steadman of Mercyhurst are tied for the national lead with 12 power-play goals apiece, while Steadman is also tied for first in the nation with four shorthanded tallies.

Junior goaltender Noora Räty of Minnesota (pictured above) has gone 30-5-2 this season with a 1.35 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage, along with a nation-best 10 shutouts. Sophomore netminder Alex Rigsby of Wisconsin sports a nation-best .952 save percentage.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ohio State - Over and Out

How fast the mighty fall. On Nov. 20, the Ohio State Buckeyes were 10-3-1 overall, coming off a road sweep of Michigan, and ranked first in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Fast forward to March 4, and OSU is 15-15-5 and done for the season.

The 2011-12 campaign came to a close with two losses (2-0, 4-2) in the first round of the CCHA Tournament this weekend at Notre Dame. A 1-11-4 mark down the stretch was largely responsible for the Buckeyes tumble down both the league standings (9th) and the Pairwise Rankings (21st).

Next year's comeback won't include senior goaltender Cal Heeter, who ended his career third in Buckeye history in both goals-against average (2.58) and save percentage (.915), according to In four years in Columbus, the St. Louis native went 39-36-11 with 2,428 saves and five shutouts, and was also the goalie of record for all but six OSU decisions these past two seasons. As a freshman, Heeter helped the Buckeyes to their most recent NCAA Tournament berth, where they lost to eventual national champion Boston University in 2009 in regional play.

The Buckeyes were 14-4-1 this season following a 4-2 win over Robert Morris on Dec. 30 in the annual Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase, but it all went sour following a pair of ties/shootout defeats at Bowling Green in early January. The lone victory in OSU's season-ending 16-game fall came at Western Michigan on Feb. 11, a 4-3 overtime decision.

It's the second year in a row that the Buckeyes have finished with 15 total wins under head coach Mark Osiecki, who went 15-18-4 in his first season at the helm in 2010-11.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Boston College Wins 12th Hockey East Title

Boston College claimed its 12th Hockey East regular-season title with tonight's 4-0 win over Vermont at Kelley Rink. Coupled with last night's 5-1 victory over the Catamounts, the Eagles (25-10-1 overall, 19-7-1 HE), ranked first in the poll, stretched their winning streak to 11 games and earned the conference crown by four points over rival Boston University.

“It’s always special to win trophies,” said BC coach Jerry York, who picked up his 905th career win, at “Our aspirations are to go after more trophies [this season]. We’ll switch gears, just not right away.”

Destry Straight tallied the game-winning goal in the last minute of the first period for the Eagles, and later added an assist. Chris Kreider made it 2-0 in the second period, while Pat Mullane and Bill Arnold (empty-net goal) added insurance markers in the third session. Parker Milner made 26 saves on Senior Night, in which the Eagles honored Barry Almeida, Tommy Atkinson, Paul Carey, Tommy Cross, Edwin Shea, and Chris Venti. The Class of 2012 has compiled 102 victories, two Hockey East regular-season titles and two playoff crowns in all, plus an NCAA championship as sophomores.

BC will face Massachusetts in the first round of the 2012 Hockey East Tournament next weekend at Kelley Rink. The Minutemen took two of three games with BC this season, although the Eagles won the only meeting contested in Chestnut Hill back in October. This will mark the third straight season that the two schools will face off in the first round of the league playoffs.

BC will be seeking its third consecutive conference tournament crown, and its 11th overall. The other first-round best-of-three Hockey East playoff matchups will feature Providence at UMass-Lowell, New Hampshire at Boston University, and Merrimack at Maine.