Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Boston College Picked to Finish First in Hockey East

Defending national champion Boston College has been tabbed by both Hockey East coaches and media to claim the conference again in 2012-13, according to the circuit's web site. The Eagles, who have also won three consecutive Hockey East championship games, were ranked ahead of UMass-Lowell, Boston University, and New Hampshire in both polls released Tuesday.

Sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau and senior goaltender Parker Milner (pictured) were also named to the preseason All-Hockey East team. Gaudreau tallied 21 goals and 24 assists for 45 points a year ago, including a dazzling clinching goal in the national title game against Ferris State, while Milner finished 29-5-0 overall with a 1.66 goals-against average, and won his last 19 games of the season.

Also concerning BC, a shout-out to former defenseman and old friend Greg Brown, who was recently elevated to the position of associate head coach. Brown has been on Jerry York’s staff for the past eight seasons, and has helped the Eagles to three NCAA titles in that span. A great player, a very good coach, and an even better person, he’s more than deserving of the promotion.

BC opens its 2012-13 campaign with an exhibition contest against New Brunswick on Oct. 6, before ringing in the regular season a week later at Northeastern.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

North Dakota Captains Suspended for Season Opener

There's trouble in Grand Forks. Again. 

North Dakota senior men's hockey captain Andrew MacWilliam and assistant captains Corban Knight, Danny Kristo and Carter Rowney have all been suspended for UND's opener on Oct. 19 against WCHA opponent Alaska Anchorage at the Brice Alaska Goal Rush in Fairbanks, AK.

The quartet has been suspended for allegedly violating team rules as the result of a party that was held on Sept. 15, according to USCHO.com.

“The behavior in this situation was unacceptable,” North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison said in a prepared statement issued by the university. “Measures taken by the athletics department do not preclude possible additional measures by the department, or actions by the university or local and state authorities.”

The team is also on probation, according to Faison, with further violations possibly costing players as much as their scholarships.

It's not the first time something like this has happened at UND, or under head coach Dave Hakstol's watch.

Former UND forward Matt Frattin was acquitted on drunk driving charges in 2010 after he was dismissed from the squad for violating team rules. He had previously been brought up on disorderly conduct charges. Frattin returned to lead the Fighting Sioux to the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four, and was also a Hobey Baker Award finalist that season before turning pro.

In Feb. 2007, then-Sioux forwards Jonathan Toews and T. J. Oshie,. now both established NHL players, were cited for being minors in a Grand Forks bar, while teammate Robbie Bina reportedly faced charges of obstructing a police officer in the same incident.

Incidents, especially those involving alcohol, can and do happen on or near college campuses all the time - witness last season with two incidents at Boston University, or in 2010 at Boston College, or in July with Minnesota's Erik Haula. That doesn't excuse them, as they give all of college hockey a black eye.

Hopefully this will be the last incident in Grand Forks for a while. Forever is too long a time to ask for.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Penn State Unveils New Sweaters

Penn State University is just weeks away from unveiling its new men's and women's NCAA hockey teams on ice. Earlier this week, both squads unveiled their new white home and blue road sweaters, as depicted online at USCHO.com.

The overall design for both teams is generally the same, except the women's team will carry a College Hockey America patch on theirs, below the left shoulder, as they will begin CHA play this season. The men's team will compete as an independent in 2012-13 before moving to the new Big Ten Conference a year from now with Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Both team's sweaters will feature a Nike logo below the right shoulder, and traditional hockey lacing in front below the neck.It's a nice, clean look, with the school's blue and white colors complimenting each other well. There's solid wide striping featured on both the sleeves and waist, and the well-known Nittany Lion head logo situated on the front.

For Penn State men's coach Guy Gadowsky, who originally comes from a pro background, it's similar to his previous two college stops. Alaska Fairbanks had the UAF logo on the front of its sweaters during his tenure there, while Princeton displayed the university shield while he was behind the bench at Baker Rink and actually kept the design last season.

The PSU women's team and coach Josh Brandwene will make their varsity debut first, when the Nittany Lions visit Vermont on Oct. 6-7. The men's team will swing into action a week later at home against American International College on Oct. 12-13.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Michigan's Madden Hangs 'Em Up

Former University of Michigan forward John Madden, who won the Stanley Cup in both 2000 and 2003 with the New Jersey Devils, has retired as an active NHL player. According to Fire and Ice, he will join the Montreal Canadiens staff, with an emphasis on scouting the U.S. college ranks.

Madden, who also won a Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, completed his NHL career with 165 goals and 183 assists for 348 points in 898 regular-season games with New Jersey, Chicago, the Minnesota Wild, and the Florida Panthers. He added 21-22--43 points in 141 Stanley Cup Playoff contests from 2000 through 2012.

A 5-11, 190-pound native of Barrie, Ont., Madden set an NCAA record with 23 career shorthanded goals at Michigan, while recording 80-100--180 points in all in four seasons in Ann Arbor (1994-1998), including three consecutive 20-goal campaigns. He was a junior on Michigan's first NCAA title team in 32 years in 1996, and also helped the Wolverines to the Frozen Four as a senior.

Undrafted out of college, Madden signed with New Jersey soon after. After a brief apprenticeship with Albany (AHL), he made it to the Meadowlands for good in the fall of 1999, ultimately winning two Cups and compiling 140-157--297 points in 712 regular-season outings as a Devil, including 19 shorthanded goals. He also won the Selke Trophy in 2001 as the NHL's best defensive forward, notching a career-high 23 goals as the Devils eventually fell to Colorado in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final.

After he was not re-signed by the Devils for 2009-10, Madden went west to Chicago as a free agent, and tallied 10-13--23 points in 79 games as the Blackhawks went on to capture their first NHL crown since 1961. The following year he was in Minnesota, and posted 12-13--25 points in 76 appearances with the Wild.

He played his final NHL game with Florida in late April, in the Panthers' 3-2 double overtime Game 7 loss to his old Devils squad. He had three goals in 31 regular-season games with the Panthers for his final NHL points.

Despite my having worked two years at Michigan State, I can say that Madden, 39, wasn't too bad for a Michigan guy. I'm pretty sure he walked by me once at a minor league baseball game in New Jersey and wasn't too pleased to see a Spartan logo on my shirt, though  ...

I'll remember how hard he played and how tenacious he was, especially in those two Stanley Cup seasons with the Devils. I'll also recall his playoff hat trick against the Rangers in 2006 at Continental Airlines Arena, including a pair of shorthanded markers. He definitely proved you can play four years in college and still experience NHL success - even if your name was never called at the draft.