Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It Has Begun ...

... meaning the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the greatest time of the year for hockey fans, that is. (Well, that and the NCAA Tournament—and for others up north, the Memorial Cup and the World Junior Championships.)

There'll be a number of former American college-trained skaters involved before Lord Stanley's silver chalice is raised sometime in June, by at least a few players who last plied their amateur trade in the NCAA, some of whom are now captains and would thus get first crack at taking the Cup hand-off from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Off the top of my head (and with a bit of help from Yahoo), here's one former college player per each of the 16 teams participating in this year's NHL tournament, with position and Division I school (I'm trying to list 16 different schools).

We'll see who's left standing—and celebrating—when all is said and done.

Anaheim Ducks - Dave Steckel, F, Ohio State
Boston Bruins - Jay Pandolfo, F, Boston University
Chicago Blackhawks - Jonathan Toews, F, North Dakota
Detroit Red Wings - Jimmy Howard, G, Maine
Los Angeles Kings - Jonathan Quick, G, Massachusetts
Minnesota Wild - Zach Parise, F, North Dakota
Montreal Canadiens - Brian Gionta, F, Boston College
New York Islanders - Matt Moulson, F, Cornell
New York Rangers - Derek Stepan, F, Wisconsin
Ottawa Senators - Cory Conacher, F, Canisius
Pittsburgh Penguins - Chris Kunitz, F, Ferris State
San Jose Sharks - Dan Boyle, D, Miami (Ohio)
St. Louis Blues - David Backus, F, Minnesota State
Toronto Maple Leafs - Phil Kessel, Minnesota
Vancouver Canucks - Mason Raymond, F, Minn-Duluth
Washington Capitals - Jay Beagle, F, Alaska Anchorage

(Looks a tad weighted towards forwards, doesn't it?)

We'll see who the heroes are in two months time. Drop the puck.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tim Taylor 1942-2013

Longtime Yale University men’s hockey head coach Tim Taylor has passed.

Taylor, who had been fighting cancer and was gravely ill, died on Saturday at the age of 71, two weeks to the day that the Bulldogs won their first NCAA men’s hockey title with a 4-0 win over Quinnipiac in Pittsburgh.

A Boston native and a 1963 Harvard graduate, Taylor was head coach at Yale from 1976 to 2006. He bypassed the 1983-84 and 1993-94 seasons while participating with the U.S Olympic Team, including the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway where he served as head coach and led the Americans to an eighth-place finish.

As a player, Taylor skated for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the old semi-pro United States Hockey League. He also played for the Manchester Black Hawks and Framingham Pics, and was a member of the 1964 U.S, National Team, according to hockeydb.com. At Harvard, he won the Donald Angier Hockey Trophy in 1961-62 as the Crimson’s most improved player, and served as captain the following season as the Crimson finished 21-3-2.

He posted 10 winning seasons at Yale, while fashioning a 342-433-55 overall record. His 1997-98 squad was the first Yale team to earn an NCAA tournament berth since 1952, and he is also the school’s all-time leader in victories.

A three-time ECAC Coach of the Year, Taylor also won the Spencer Penrose Award as college hockey’s top Division I coach in 1998. He also mentored the U.S. during the 1991 Canada Cup, leading the Americans to a best-ever second-place finish.

Following his three-decade tenure in New Haven, Taylor served as an amateur scout with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. He then worked with the U.S. National Team Development Program from 2007 until his passing.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rohlik Made Permanent at Ohio State

Interim head coach Steve Rohlik has been given the permanent job of head men's hockey coach at Ohio State University. Rohlik succeeds Mark Osiecki, who was let go by OSU earlier this month.

Rohlik, who has served as OSU's associate head coach the past three seasons, is a former Wisconsin skater who won an NCAA title with the Badgers in 1990. A native of St. Paul, Minn., he enters his first head coaching stint after assistant positions at Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota-Duluth. He served 10 years with the Bulldogs before coming to Columbus in 2010.

Ohio State, which made it to this year's CCHA semifinals in Detroit in the last year of the league, will enter the nascent Big Ten Conference in the fall. The Buckeyes are also seeking their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2009, when they lost to eventual national champion Boston University in a regional semifinal.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Princeton's Condon Off to Calder Cup Playoffs with Houston Aeros

Former Princeton University netminder Mike Condon is now 3-0-0 with the AHL's Houston Aeros, after going 3-1-0 with the ECHL's Ontario Reign in his professional debut earlier this spring.

A 6-2, 195 lb. native of Needham, Mass., Condon, 22, was a free agent after four years at Princeton, where he went 12-17-7 with three shutouts over the past two seasons after playing in just 12 games with the Tigers over his freshman and sophomore campaigns. He played his final game in a Princeton uniform on March 9, stopping 29 of 32 shots in a 4-2 first-round ECAC Quarterfinal loss to Cornell at Hobey Baker Rink.

Condon now sports a 2.39 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage with Houston, having allowed just nine goals in five appearances so far. Houston begins a best-of-five first-round Calder Cup playoff series with the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Griffins on Saturday, which also marks Condon's 23rd birthday.

The Aeros, the primary affilliate of the NHL's Minnesota Wild, will relocate following the season to Des Moines, where they will become the Iowa Wild.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

UAA Names Four Finalists for Head Coach

According to the Anchorage Daily News and other media outlets, the University of Alaska Anchorage has announced the four finalists for the Seawolves’ vacant head men’s hockey coaching position. They include Augsburg (Minn.) head coach Chris Brown, Air Force assistant coach Mike Corbett, Utica College head coach Gary Heenan, and Michigan Tech assistant coach Damon Whitten.

Brown, who was an assistant coach at UAA from 1997 to 2000, has been head coach at Augsburg since 2005. Prior to that he was the head coach at both Hamline (Minn.) and Marian, and was originally an assistant coach with Augsburg before going to Anchorage. In 12 seasons at the helm of the Auggies, he has gone 144-146-23 overall, and won an NCAA Division III national championship as a player with Wisconsin-River Falls in 1994.

Corbett has been on the Air Force staff as an assistant coach since 2003, and served as associate head coach this past season. He has helped the Falcons to five NCAA Tournament berths, including to within an overtime goal of the NCAA Division I Frozen Four in 2009. Prior to joining Air Force, he was the associate head coach with Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League, after head coaching stints with both Butte (Mont.) and Billings in the former America West Hockey League. He played collegiately as a defenseman at Denver.

Heenan has been the only coach Utica has known since it began play in 2001. This past season, he led the Pioneers to 21 wins, a share of their first ECAC West regular-season conference title, and their first-ever berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Pioneers defeated Bowdoin in the quarterfinal round before falling to eventual national champion Wisconsin Eau Claire in the Division III Frozen Four. Heenan, who also had a brief flirtation with an assistant coaching position at Union in 2005 before ultimately returning to Utica, played at Hamilton College, and is 165-119-29 in 12 seasons with the Pioneers.

Whitten, who served as an assistant coach at UAA from 2006 to 2008, has been at Michigan Tech the past two seasons. Prior to his tenure in Anchorage, he also served as assistant with both Michigan State and Wayne State.  A high school goaltender, Whitten later shifted to forward and skated four years at that position at Michigan State, ultimately going to two Frozen Fours with the Spartans.

The Seawolves have been to the NCAA Division I tournament three times in their history, but have not had a winning season since 1992-93, their last as an independent before joining the WCHA. They are seeking a successor to Dave Shyiak, a former Northern Michigan player and assistant coach who was let go by UAA last month after posting an 80-177-33 record over eight seasons in Anchorage.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston 04/15/2013

Being a Boston College graduate, and someone who has been to the city many times, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Boston, now more than ever - R.

Global Hockey Legends Shoot and Score for Sandy Relief

It was one of the greatest assemblages ever of superstar hockey talent in the tri-state area— and it was all for charity.

More than 6,000 fans took up most of the lower level of the Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils, in Newark, N.J. on Saturday afternoon, and more than $50,000 was raised to benefit last year's southern New Jersey victims of Hurricane Sandy.

The North American Hockey Legends, a team of former Devils and other former local NHL alumni, faced off with such Russian Hockey Legends as Darius Kasparaitis, Alexei Kasatonov, Vladimir Malakhov, Alexei Yashin and Valeri Kamensky, along with Kontinental Hockey League president Alexander Medvedev. The Russians held on for a 7-6 victory, after North America roared back from a 6-2 third-period deficit.

The game was organized by former longtime Devils defenseman and current TV analyst Ken Daneyko, who put things together in just a matter of weeks.

More at Bleacher Report.

Monday, April 15, 2013

NCAA Hockey Coaching Carousel Continues

Denver is believed to have locked up Dubuque (USHL) general manager/head coach and University of Maine alumnus Jim Montgomery as its next head coach, as mentioned in the Denver Post. Ohio State and head coach Mark Osiecki, meanwhile, have parted ways after just three seasons, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Former Denver coach George Gwozdecky, who was not retained by the Pioneers after 19 seasons, is still available, although he is considered to be a prime candidate for the Maine job, according to the Bangor Daily News. Last week, USCHO.com said that Maine had tabbed assistant coach and former forward Bob Corkum as the Black Bears' interim head coach, after 12-year-head coach Tim Whitehead was not retained.

Also still seeking a head coach is Alaska Anchorage, which let Dave Shyiak go last month after eight seasons at the Seawolf helm. UAA has been looking at candidates, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Yale Wins First-Ever National Title

The fourth time was the charm.
Yale University shook off three earlier losses this season to league rival and top-ranked Quinnipiac University with a 4-0 win on Saturday night in the NCAA Division I national title game before a crowd of 18,184 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
The victory in the latest "Battle of Connecticut" in this year's NCAA Frozen Four earned Yale, the 15th seed overall in the 2013 NCAA tournament, its first national championship in its 117-year-hockey history. It also marked the first Eastern College Athletic Conference national crown in 24 years, since Harvard beat Minnesota, 4-3 in overtime, in 1989.
Clinton Bourbonais broke a scoreless deadlock with his redirection of a Gus Young shot with 3.5 seconds remaining in the second period, and Jeff Malcolm made 36 saves on his 24th birthday to provide Yale with all the tools it needed.
“He did what great goaltenders do,” said seventh-year Yale head coach and former Bulldog netminder Keith Allain at NCAA.com. “He gave us a chance to win.”
Charles Orzetti, captain Andrew Miller, and Pittsburgh native Jesse Root (empty-netter) produced third-period goals as Yale (22-12-3 overall) won its fourth straight game against a ranked team, and its third against a No. 1 seed in this year's national tournament.
Miller, who also scored the game-winning goal in Yale’s 3-2 OT win over UMass Lowell in a national semifinal on Thursday, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
Root had powered the Bulldogs into the NCAA West Regional final in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Good Friday with his goal just nine seconds into sudden death in a 3-2 triumph over second-ranked Minnesota. The next day, Yale scored four times in the final eight minutes to eliminate No. 7 North Dakota, 4-1.
Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist Eric Hartzell made 27 stops in his final appearance for Quinnipiac (30-8-5), which had just defeated Yale three weeks prior by a 3-0 count in the ECAC Tournament consolation game in Atlantic City. The Bobcats were ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the 2012-13 campaign, and had outscored Yale by a 13-3 count in their previous three meetings.
Not on Saturday night, though, sending the NCAA trophy to New Haven, Conn. for the first time.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Connecticut Rivals Yale and Quinnipiac to Face off in Frozen Four Finale

Call it a tale of two teams from Connecticut, with the final chapter now coming up.

Whoever loses tonight in Pittsburgh, though, the Eastern College Athletic Conference and the Constitution State will still win.

League rivals Yale and Quinnipiac will meet for the NCAA Division I men's college ice hockey national championship on April 13 at the Consol Energy Center following semifinal victories against UMass Lowell and St. Cloud State, respectively, on Thursday night.

Quinnipiac (30-7-5 overall) won all three meetings with Yale (21-12-3 overall) this season, including a 3-0 decision in the ECAC Consolation Game at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on March 23. The two schools are separated by just eight miles in Connecticut’s Greater New Haven area, and have been league rivals since the Bobcats joined the ECAC in 2005. All-time, the newcomers also lead the season series with the Bulldogs, 10-5-2.

Quinnipiac also fashioned a 21-game unbeaten streak from November to March of this season, and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the new calendar year before stumbling in Atlantic City.

“It’s been a great ride,” said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold to the New Haven Register. “And we’ve got to get one more.”

Yale, which won at Denver and Colorado College in November, has won eight of its last 10 games, falling only in the ECAC semifinals and consolation in that span.

“People have been calling us a Cinderella story but that means they haven’t been paying attention,” said Yale forward Nico Weberg, who has been sidelined since early March with a concussion, to the Register. “I think we’re a hard-working team. We play hard, we skate hard and we grind teams down."

The ECAC is guaranteed its first national champion since 1989, when Harvard edged Minnesota, 4-3, in overtime at the new-demolished St. Paul (Minn.) Civic Center on a sudden-death score by Ed Krayer.

It also marks the first appearance of an ECAC team in the national final since Colgate lost, 7-3, to Wisconsin in 1990 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, and the first time that two ECAC schools will meet with the national title on the line since Boston University defeated Boston College, 5-3, at the Providence Civic Center in 1978 (before those two schools moved to the Hockey East Association six years later).

“Both the Bobcats and the Bulldogs pulled off impressive wins on the ice last night, once again focusing the eyes of college sports on Connecticut," said Governor Daniel P. Malloy to the Register. "There’s no doubt that these two teams have made Connecticut the center of the college hockey universe.”

A stretch that has expanded from just eight miles apart to encompass the entire nation for one night.

Friday, April 12, 2013

St. Cloud's LeBlanc Wins 2013 Hobey Baker Award

Drew LeBlanc of St. Cloud State University is the 2013 winner of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s top player.

The award was presented to the senior forward tonight at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, site of the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Year and the WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year, the first such skater to earn both accolades simultaneously in the 52-year history of the league, LeBlanc finished the 2012-13 campaign with 13 goals and a nation-high 37 assists for 50 points, one year after suffering a severely-broken leg that limited him to 10 games and force him to redshirt the rest of the 2011-12 campaign.

"Wow," said LeBlanc on NHL Network upon taking the podium to accept the 33rd Hobey Baker Award. "This is one of those things ... It's an unreal moment for me. I'm humbled, honored, and blessed.

In 171 career games with the Huskies, the six-foot, 185-lb. LeBlanc collected 42 goals and 105 assists for 147 points. He ended his college career in Thursday's 4-1 loss to Quinnipiac and fellow Hobey Baker finalist Eric Hartzell in an NCAA semifinal. Johnny Gaudreau of Boston College was the other finalist.

A four-time WCHA All-Academic choice, LeBlanc, a Hermantown, Minn., native has also served as a high school math student-teacher this season.He prepped with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League before enrolling at St. Cloud.

More on this story at Bleacher Report.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yale Advances to National Title Game

And to think they almost didn't make the field.

The last school to gain a berth in this year's NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Tournament, the Yale University Bulldogs are one of the last teams standing following a dramatic 3-2 national semifinal victory over third-ranked UMass Lowell in overtime on Thursday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

Yale will now face Connecticut and ECAC rival Quinnipiac , a 4-1 semifinal winner over St. Cloud State, on Saturday night for the national title. It will be the first NCAA Championship Game appearance for both the Bulldogs and the Bobcats, who faced each other three times this year, all Quinnipiac victories.

Senior captain Andrew Miller corralled a bouncing puck at the UML blueline, stepped outside a defender, and ultimately slipped a backhander between the pads of River Hawks netminder Connor Hellebuyck (44 saves) just 6:59 into sudden death to lift Yale to its third straight NCAA Tournament victory over a ranked opponent.

The Bulldogs, who made the national tournament when Michigan was eliminated in the CCHA title game and missed out on an at-large NCAA bid, defeated No.2 Minnesota (3-2 OT) and No. 7 North Dakota (4-1) two weeks ago at the NCAA West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Mitch Witek and Antoine Laganiere staked Yale to 2-0 lead after the first period before UML tied the contest on second-period scores just 14 seconds apart by Riley Wetmore and Joseph Pendenza . It stayed that way even though Yale outshot UML, 16-3, in the final 20 minutes of regulation, and 6-0 in the extra session before Miller struck. Jeff Malcolm finished with 16 saves for Yale, which outshot the River Hawks, 47-18.

Frozen Four Finally Here

It's the most wonderful time of the year. One of them, anyway.

The NCAA Men's Hockey Frozen Four and the final weekend of the 2012-13 college hockey campaign are finally here.

The early game today at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh will feature Yale (18-12-3) vs. UMass Lowell (26-10-2) at 4:30 p.m. ET, followed by St. Cloud State (23-15-1) against top-ranked Quinnipiac (27-7-5). All four schools are seeking their first-ever hockey national championship. Only Yale has previously advanced to this point, albeit in 1952.

Yale advanced to this year's semifinals by besting WCHA opponents Minnesota and North Dakota two weeks ago at the NCAA West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich. UMass Lowell, the only team at the Frozen Four that won its conference tournament championship, bested Wisconsin and Hockey East rival New Hampshire at the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H., while St. Cloud upended a pair of CCHA schools, Notre Dame and Miami (Ohio), at the Midwest Regional in Toledo. Lastly, ECAC regular-season champion Quinnipiac ousted New York schools Canisius and Union at the East Regional in Providence to punch its ticket to Pittsburgh.

Both of today's contests will be televised live on ESPN2. The winners will advance to Saturday night's championship contest at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Whitehead Era Ends at Maine

Tim Whitehead's 12-year run as head men's hockey coach at the University of Maine is over.

Whitehead was fired today after compiling a 250-171-54 record at the helm of the Black Bears, including seven NCAA tournament berths, seven seasons of 20 or more victories, two appearances in the national title game, and a Hockey East tournament championship.

“I have been fortunate to be surrounded with great players, coaches and staff during my time at Maine,” Whitehead said to the Bangor Daily News. “We have fought through a lot of adversity together, but we have always embraced those challenges head on … The Maine hockey fans are the best in the country, and they have a lot to look forward to for next season.”

He had one year left on his contract at $190,000 a year, which university officials said will be paid through privately-raised funds from the President's Discretionary Account.

"Tim's positive character and demonstrated commitment to developing our hockey players as student-athletes have been outstanding," said University of Maine President Paul Ferguson on the Maine athletic web site. "We as a university are grateful for that commitment to student success."

Maine Director of Athletics Steve Abbott added that the decision was also based on the future of the school’s marquee athletic program, which won national titles in both 1993 and 1999.

"This is about the future of our marquee program,” said Abbott. “Since 2008, UMaine has experienced declining Hockey East success, season ticket sales and overall ticket revenues, and waning student engagement in men's ice hockey.

“The President and I are committed to ensuring that our Men's Hockey Program is financially sustainable, continues to focus on developing the student-athlete and is known nationally for excellence."

Whitehead, a 1985 graduate of Hamilton College, was an assistant coach at Maine before being named interim head coach when the late Shawn Walsh was stricken with cancer. Following Walsh’s death in 2001, Whitehead subsequently led Maine to the 2002 NCAA championship contest where it fell to host Minnesota, 4-3, in overtime.

Two years later, he guided the Black Bears to a 33-8-2 overall mark and a conference tournament championship—but Maine fell to Denver, 1-0, in the national title contest in Boston.

The Black Bears completed a run of six consecutive NCAA Tournament berths in 2007, when they made it to the Frozen Four in St. Louis, but lost to eventual national champion Michigan State in the semifinals. That was one year after doing likewise against eventual NCAA champion Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

The Black Bears would then miss the national tournament in five of Whitehead’s final six seasons, with Maine falling to defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth by a 5-2 count in a 2012 NCAA Northeast Regional semifinal in Worcester, Mass.

This past season Maine went 11-19-8 overall and finished seventh in the Hockey East standings with a 7-12-8 mark. The Black Bears did sweep defending NCAA champion Boston College in a two-game set in January, but were eliminated by eventual Hockey East champion UMass Lowell in the first round of the conference playoffs.

Prior to taking the reins at Alfond Arena, Whitehead served as head coach at UMass Lowell for five seasons, from 1996 to 2001. His coaching ledger through 17 NCAA Division I campaigns stands at 326-264-65 overall. He has also served as a graduate assistant coach at Maine, and as an assistant coach at Middlebury College in his career.

Under Whitehead's tutelage in Orono, players such as Ben Bishop, Jimmy Howard, Dustin Penner and Teddy Purcell all reached the NHL, with Penner winning Stanley Cups with both the Anaheim Ducks (2007) and Los Angeles Kings (2012).

Whitehead is the third NCAA Division I hockey coach to be relived of his duties in recent weeks, following Denver’s George Gwozdecky, who spent 19 years with the Pioneers, and Dave Shyiak of Alaska Anchorage, who led the Seawolves for eight seasons.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Early NHL Signings Begin

Early pro signings have begun – and continue – at the NCAA Division I men's hockey level. Listed alphabetically are players with their most recent class, position, and school, and the NHL organization signed with before their NCAA eligibility was up:

Mark Alt, Jr., D, Minnesota (Philadelphia Flyers)

Nick Bjugstad, Jr., F, Minnesota (Florida Panthers)

Zach Budish, Jr., F, Minnesota (Nashville Predators)

Derek Forbort, Jr., D, North Dakota (Los Angeles Kings)

Troy Grosenick, Jr., G, Union (San Jose Sharks)

Erik Haula, Jr., F, Minnesota (Minnesota Wild)
Matt Lindblad, Jr., F, Dartmouth (Boston Bruins)

Scott Mayfield, So., D, Denver (New York Islanders)

Matt Nieto, Jr., F., Boston University (San Jose Sharks)
Juho Olkinuora, So., G, Denver (Winnipeg Jets)

Nate Schmidt, Jr., D, Minnesota (Washington Capitals)
Jacob Trouba, Fr., D, Michigan (Winnipeg Jets)

Not included are players who had exhausted their four years of college eligibility before signing.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hobey Hat Trick and Spencer Penrose Award Nominees Named

The pool of 10 finalists for the 2013 Hobey Baker Memorial Award has been whittled down to the Hobey Hat Trick. This year's top three:

Drew LeBlanc 

Sr., F, St. Cloud State (WCHA) 41 games, 13-37—50 points.
Johnny Gaudreau 

So., F, Boston College (HEA), 35 GP, 21-3151 points.
Eric Hartzell 
Sr., G, Quinnipiac, 40 GP, 29-6-5, 1.55, .933, 6 shutouts.

The award will be presented on April 12 between the semifinals and finals of the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four in Pittsburgh.

The finalists for this year's Spencer Penrose Award for the top coach in NCAA Division I men's college hockey have also been announced, according to USCHO.com:

Keith Allain (Yale)

Has led the Bulldogs to their first Frozen Four since 1952 coach.
Norm Bazin (UMass Lowell)

Hockey East Coach of Year, Frozen Four coach.
Enrico Blasi (Miami)

CCHA Coach of the Year in the league's final season.
Dave Burkholder (Niagara)

Atlantic Hockey Coach of the Year.
Mike Hastings (Minnesota State)

WCHA Coach of the Year.
Bob Motzko (St. Cloud State)

Has led the Huskies to their first-ever Frozen Four.
Rand Pecknold (Quinnipiac)

ECAC Coach of the Year, Frozen Four coach.

Yale faces UMass Lowell in the early national semifinal (4:30 p.m. ET) in Pittsburgh on April 11 at the Consol Energy Center, while Quinnipiac takes on St. Cloud later that evening. The winners then meet on April 13 at 7 p.m. to decide the Division I men's national championship.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lee Signs with Islanders, Scores First NHL Goal

Former Notre Dame forward Anders Lee, who passed up his senior season with the Fighting Irish to sign a two-year contract with the New York Islanders on Monday, made his professional debut on Tuesday evening in a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets at Nassau Coliseum.
Besides playing in his first NHL game and being part of his first NHL win, Lee also scored his first professional goal when he wristed a shot past Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec in the first period.

A native of Edina, Minn. and a 2009 Islanders draftee, Lee tallied 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points this past season with UND to lead the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in goals and points. He also led the Irish to the last-ever CCHA Championship with a 3-1 victory over Michigan at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit last month to claim the final Mason Cup.
Lee, who prepped with Green Bay (USHL) before joining the Irish, played in his final collegiate game in UND’s 5-1 loss to St. Cloud State on Saturday in an NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal in Toledo. In 125 career college games, he recorded 61-55—116 points.

The Islanders were 18-16-9 overall and in eighth place in the Eastern Conference following the win over Winnipeg, and will play at Washington on Thursday night.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gwozdecky Done at Denver After 19 Seasons

The University of Denver released head coach George Gwozdecky on Monday after 19 years at the helm of the Pioneers.

“I’m extremely proud of the work that we have done to continue to build on the great Pioneer hockey tradition," said Gwozdecky at denverpioneers.com. "Our consistency of success on the ice and in the classroom over the years has been a focal point of our work and I am very proud of what we have achieved.

According to the Denver Post, Gwozdecky had been hopeful of a contract extension following the 2012-13 season. Then came a meeting on April Fool's Day with school officials, and when it was over, it was no joke. Gwozdecky was gone.

It was not known if the reason was Gwozdecky's salary demands, or the Pioneers' lack of recent success in the NCAA Tournament, or a combination of both.

DU is the only Division I men's ice hockey program to have won at least 20 games in each of the past dozen seasons. The Pioneers also won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005, the last Division I school to do so, although they have yet to return to the Frozen Four. They have also lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in five of the last six years, including Friday's 5-2 loss to New Hampshire in an NCAA Northeast Regional semifinal in Manchester, N.H.

DU went 20-14-5 overall this past year, and finished fourth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a 14-9-5 mark. The were eliminated in the first round of the league tournament and did not advance to the WCHA Final Five in Minnesota, instead gaining an at-large bid to the NCAAs.

Gwozdecky went 443-267-64 in his tenure with the Pioneers, after first serving two seasons (1981-83) as head coach at at Wisconsin Stevens-Point, and then eight seasons as head coach at Miami (Ohio). He led Miami to its first-ever CCHA title and NCAA Tournament berth in the early 1990s, and a postseason hockey trophy at the school was renamed the George Gwozdecky Blue Line Club Award last year in his honor.

In 30 seasons as a college head coach, he has gone 592-390-85 overall. He was also one of the driving forces in the creation of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference that will began play this fall and will include both Denver and Miami among its constituents, along with Colorado College, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, St. Cloud State, Western Michigan.

A 1978 Wisconsin graduate and a four-year letterman with the Badgers, Gwozdecky was an assistant coach with Michigan State for five years prior to taking over at Miami, and was a part of the Spartans' 1986 national championship team. He is the only individual to have won an NCAA Hockey title as a player, an assistant coach, and a head coach. He is also a two-time recipient of the Spencer Penrose Award as the top Division I men's hockey head coach in the nation.

Denver is expected to begin a national search for its new head coach immediately.

It is not known where Gwozdecky might land next if he chooses to remain in college coaching. One Division I men's vacancy right now is at Denver's former WCHA opponent Alaska Anchorage, which released Dave Shyiak last week after eight campaigns in charge of the Seawolves. The other is at Connecticut, which is moving to Hockey East in the near future and is looking for a replacement for long-time coach Bruce Marshall, who stepped down last season due to medical issues.