Monday, June 25, 2012

UConn Joining Hockey East in 2014-15

The University of Connecticut men's hockey team will be making the jump from Atlantic Hockey to Hockey East for the 2014-15 season. The long-rumored move was announced last week at, and a welcome celebration will be held in Hartford on Friday.

"This is a historic day in the history of the University of Connecticut and its Division of Athletics," said UConn Director of Athletics Warde Manuel at "Hockey East is the premier men's ice hockey conference in the country and we are proud to say that the Huskies are now part of it."

Hockey East has won four of the last five NCAA men's hockey Division I national titles, with Boston College winning three of those, including this year. Boston University won in 2009.

The Huskies will now offer 18 scholarships, and will face-off regularly with a number of New England rivals from BC and BU to Maine, Merrimack and UMass-Lowell. Since joining Atlantic Hockey/MAAC in 1998-99 when it transitioned to the Division I level, UConn's New England foes have included American International, Bentley, Holy Cross and Sacred Heart. The program first began play in 1960-61.

With the change in leagues will also come a change of venue, of sorts. UConn will still play it's home non-conference schedule on campus in Storrs, Conn., at the soon-to-be revamped Freitas Ice Forum; but Hockey East conference game swill be contested 25 miles away in Hartford at the 15,635-seat XL Center, current home of the Connecticut Whale (AHL) and former home of the NHL's Hartford Whalers, who moved to Carolina in 1997.

"The entire UConn men's ice hockey family is very excited about this announcement," said UConn head coach Bruce Marshall, a 1985 UConn graduate and former Huskies player who is now entering his 25th season at the Husky helm.

UConn's women's hockey program, which got its start in 2000-01, has been a member of Hockey East since 2002-03.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

10 NCAA Skaters Selected on 2nd Day of NHL Entry Draft

No less than 10 players who played NCAA Division I college hockey last season were chosen on the second day of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft held Saturday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

2nd Round
Phillip Di Giuseppe of Michigan (CCHA) went 38th overall to the Carolina Hurricanes
Jake McCabe of Wisconsin (WCHA) went 44th overall to the Buffalo Sabres

3rd Round
Shayne Gostisbehere (pictured) of Union (ECAC) went 78th overall to the Philadelphia Flyers

4th Round
Austin Wuthrich of Notre Dame (CCHA) went 107th overall to the Washington Capitals

5th Round
Joey Laleggia of Denver (WCHA) went 123rd overall to the Edmonton Oilers
Brendan Woods of  Wisconsin (WCHA) went 129th overall to Carolina

6th Round
John McCarron of Cornell (ECAC) went 153rd overall to Edmonton

7th Round
Dmitry Sinitsyn of UMass-Lowell (Hockey East) went 183rd overall to the Dallas Stars
Joakim Ryan of Cornell (ECAC) went 198th overall to the San Jose Sharks
Jaycob Megna of Nebraska-Omaha (WCHA) went 210th overall to the Anaheim Ducks

No college players from the 2011-12 season were chosen in the first round of the draft on Friday.

Wuthrich also holds the distinction of being the final CCHA player to be drafted, as the league will disband following the 2012-13 campaign, with three of its teams (Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State) going to the new Big Ten Conference and the rest to a revamped WCHA.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Five Incoming College Freshmen Taken in First Round of NHL Entry Draft

Five incoming NCAA freshmen, including four defensemen, were selected in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Friday night.

Jacob Trouba, who played for the U.S. National Development Team and is committed to Michigan for next season, was picked ninth overall by the Winnipeg Jets. Latvian-born forward Zemgus Girgensons, who played with Dubuque (USHL) and will skate at Vermont next year, was nabbed 14th overall by the Buffalo Sabres. His junior teammate, Quebec native Michael Matheson, was taken 23rd by the Florida Panthers, and is headed to Hockey East opponent Boston College in the fall.

Jordan Schmaltz (pictured), who is off to North Dakota for 2012-13, was tabbed 25th overall by the St. Louis Blues after playing in Green Bay (USHL). Brady Skjei, who has agreed to play at Minnesota, was chosen 28th overall by the New York Rangers from the U.S. NTDP.

Rounds 2 through 7 of the draft will be conducted on Saturday.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cahoon, Lang Step Down from Coaching Positions

Well, didn't exactly see either of these moves coming.

A day before head coach Don "Toot" Cahoon resigned from Massachusetts with one year left on his contract, Eric Lang (shown above) stepped down after one season at the helm of the Manhattanville College men's program.

I watched Cahoon (BU '72) coach at Princeton before he took the UMass job, and earlier this year I wrote about Lang and the Valiants for New York Hockey Journal. Cahoon went 166-229-42 in 13 seasons with the Minutemen, and is 336-393-76 overall with UMass, Princeton, Norwich and Lehigh in 25 years.

Lang (AIC '98) led Manhattanville to a 13-9-3 mark and an ECAC West playoff berth in his only campaign with the men's program. He previously went 58-22-3 in three seasons with the Valiants women's team.

Also last week, Blaise MacDonald (RIT' 85) , a former head coach with both Niagara and UMass Lowell, took the reins at Colby College, where he will make his Division III debut as a head coach. He holds a career record of 236-241-59 in 15 seasons with the Purple Eagles and River Hawks.

Just the first of what may be several coaching changes at the college level this summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kings Win Stanley Cup, Quick Captures Conn Smythe

It’s all over now except the celebrating. The Los Angeles Kings claimed the first Stanley Cup title in their 45-year history with a 6-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night in Game 6 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final at the Staples Center in California.

Kings goaltender and former UMass netminder Jonathan Quick also took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL playoff MVP after fashioning a 16-4 record during the postseason, along with a 1.41 goals-against average , a .946 save percentage and three shutouts. He surrendered just seven goals in the six-game final, in which the Kings won the first three games before New Jersey came back to win the next two. LA then closed it out two nights ago to become the lowest-ever seeded team (eighth) to win the title.

Former NCAA skaters joining Quick on the Kings roster were Davis Drewiske (Wisconsin), Matt Greene (North Dakota), Alec Martinez (Miami), Dustin Penner (Maine), Willie Mitchell (Clarkson), Scott Parse (Nebraska-Omaha), Rob Scuderi (Boston College), and Kevin Westgarth (Princeton). Penner had previously raised the Cup with Anaheim in 2007, while Scuderi won it before in 2009 with Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Former Clarkson Defenseman Rufenach Passes Away

Bryan Rufenach, who played collegiately at Clarkson University, died recently while traveling abroad in Switzerland, according to The cause was electrocution, according to

Rufenach was drafted in the seventh round by the Detroit Red Wings in 2007, just before he enrolled at Clarkson after playing junior hockey with Lindsay (OPJHL).  In four seasons in Potsdam, Rufenach tallied 21 goals and 34 assists for 55 points to go with 121 penalty minutes in 136 games.

His best campaign with the Golden Knights came in 2009-10, when he notched 5-1520 points. As a freshman, he helped Clarkson to the ECAC regular-season title, along with its last NCAA Tournament berth to date.

A native of Barrie, Ont., the six-foot, 192-pound blueliner turned pro with Toledo (ECHL) in 2010-11, collecting a goal and an assist in six games. Rufenach, 23, split last season between Toledo and Grand Rapids (AHL), recording 13-2225 points and 45 PIM in all.

"The entire team's thoughts and prayers are with Bryan's family as they get through this difficult time," said Toledo head coach Nick Vitucci. "Bryan was a great teammate and would play any role asked of him."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Quick Continues to Get Job Done for Kings

The Los Angeles Kings are two wins away from claiming their first-ever Stanley Cup title, and they can thank goaltender Jonathan Quick for getting them this far.

Quick made 16 and 32 saves, respectively, in Games 1 and 2 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Center in Newark as the Kings recorded back-to-back 2-1 overtime victories over the host New Jersey Devils.

For the 2012 playoffs, the Connecticut native and UMass product is now 14-2 overall, including 10-0 on the road, with a 1.44 goals-against average, a .947 save percentage, and two shutouts. No. 32 has made 432 saves on 456 shots so far in the post-season, allowing just 24 goals in 16 games.

He's also garnering serious consideration for the Conn Smythe Trophy as NHL playoff MVP, and is already a Vezina Trophy candidate for best league goaltender.

"We know Quickie's back there," said teammate Jarret Stoll to the Los Angeles Times following Game 2. "He kind of calms us down too, with the way he plays and how great he is back there."

It's a far cry from the last two years when Quick and the Kings went 2-4 each time in a pair of first-round losses.

Quick, who has posted 109 regular-season wins for the Kings over the last three years, will attempt to backstop LA to its fourth consecutive 3-0 lead in these playoffs in Game 3 Monday night back home at the Staples Center.