Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Former NCAA Skaters Pacing NHL Statistical Scrolls

Former NCAA players are doing a bang-up job so far in the 2013-14 NHL statistical race (all following stats from

Joe Pavelski (Wisconsin) of the San Jose Sharks is tied for second overall in the league with 28 goals, while right behind him is Phil Kessel (Minnesota) of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who has 27 scores so far on the season. Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (Michigan State) leads all league blueliners, and is third among all players, with 44 assists.

Matt Niskanen (Minnesota-Duluth) of the Pittsburgh Penguins leads all NHL players with a plus-29 plus-minus ranking, while teammate Chris Kunitz (Ferris State) is tied for second overall with a plus-26 mark. Kunitz is also second in league annals with 11 power-play goals to date, with Pavelski one power-play tally behind him. Mike Santorelli (Northern Michigan) of the Vancouver Canucks is tied for the league lead with two overtime goals this winter.

Concerning shots on goals, Patrick Sharp (Vermont) of the Chicago Blackhawks is second overall with 216 shots, followed by Kessel in third place with 209. Ryan Kesler (Ohio State) of the Canucks is fifth with 188 shots, while Ryan Suter (Wisconsin) of the Minnesota Wild again leads all NHL skaters with an average ice time of 29:38 per contest.

As for goaltenders, Ben Bishop (Maine) of the Tampa Bay Lightning ranks first among all NHL netminders with a .933 save percentage, and is third overall with 26 victories, and tied for second with four shutouts. Cory Schneider (Boston College) of the New Jersey Devils is second among league backstops with a 1.86 goals-against average, and is followed in succession by Bishop with a 1.99 GAA, Ben Scrivens (Cornell) of the Edmonton Oilers with a 2.03 GAA, and Jonathan Quick (Massachusetts) of the Los Angeles Kings with a 2.05 GAA. Scrivens (.930) and Schneider (.927) also rank fourth and fifth overall, respectively, in save percent.

There’s just over a week remaining in NHL play before the Sochi Winter Olympic Games commence, which will shut the league down for a fortnight before the regular season starts up again on Feb. 25.

Monday, January 20, 2014

NCAA Grads Duel in NHL Line Brawl

I went to a boxing match and ... oh, never mind.

The Vancouver Canucks hosted the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, and their NHL contest broke out in a line brawl at the opening face-off at Rogers Arena. In all there were 152 penalty minutes whistledand the pleasantries all began at center ice between a pair of NCAA graduates.
Calgary's Kevin Westgarth (Princeton) faced off with Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa (Bowling Green), who moved up from the blueline to take the inaugural draw after trading words with Westgarth prior to the puck drop. (Bieksa won the draw, by the way, according to the Vancouver Sun.)
Nine players were ejected when all was said and done. Vancouver ultimately won, 3-2, in a shootout.
Westgarth played at Princeton from 2003 to 2007, where he tallied 47 points and 76 PIM over his last two campaigns with the Tigers. Bieksa was at BGSU from 2000 to 2004 and accumulated 75 points and 316 PIM in four seasons with the Falcons, according to


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hendricks, Scrivens Headed to Edmonton Oilers

Two former NCAA stars were acquired by the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers in separate transactions on Wednesday, according to
Former St. Cloud State forward Matt Hendricks (above, right) and former Cornell goaltender Ben Scrivens are both headed to Alberta after being traded from the Nashville Predators and Los Angeles Kings respectively. Hendricks was dealt for goaltender Devan Dubnyk, while Scrivens was obtained for a third-round choice in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia.

Hendricks, a center from Blaine, Minn. has tallied 29 goals and 33 assists for 62 points in 307 career NHL games since becoming a league regular in 2009-10 with the Colorado Avalanche. He spent the next three seasons with the Washington Capitals before joining the Predators this season, where has two goals and four points in 44 outings.
At SCSU, Hendricks posted 54-58—112 points in 152 contests for the Huskies from 2000 to 2004 . He also served as team captain as senior.
Scrivens has seen the bulk of the work in the Los Angeles net this season, with counterpart Jonathan Quick sidelined by a groin injury. In 19 games with the Kings, Scrivens has fashioned a 7-5-4 record with a 1.97 goals-against average and a.931 save percentage to go along with three shutouts.

Scrivens split the previous two seasons between the Toronto Maple Leafs and their AHL affiliate, and in 51 career NHL appearances has gone 18-19-6 with five shutouts. The Spruce Grove, Alta. native went 65-37-13 with 19 shutouts in 117 career games at Cornell from 2006 to 2010, and also earned First Team All-America accolades as a senior.

Edmonton returns to action on the road Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tales from the Road

Pretty good piece at about the trials and travails of college hockey teams traveling earlier this month, particularly the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Stuck in Minneapolis after not making their connecting flight from Wisconsin in time, the Seawolves eventually arrived home 24 hours before they swept Minnesota State—which was already in the 49th State, having played Alaska (Fairbanks) the weekend before—even though UAA had to express mail its equipment home.

Having spent my first year after graduating from Boston College at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, I can personally relate that traveling from the Great White North to the rest of the NCAA hockey world had and still has its own unique challenges, even normally. Connecting flights are just a cost of doing business to compete at the Division I level with the rest of the Lower 48.

In November 1991, UAF headed east to play Army, which was an East Coast homecoming for me. The itinerary? Leave Fairbanks International Airport at midnight Alaska time (which is 4 a.m. ET). Get into Anchorage in about 45 minutes, then leave for Seattle about a half-hour later. Get into Seattle 5 a.m. Pacific time, when barely anything is open in the airport (as a long-time Seahawks fan, I probably should have gone to see the Kingdome then, before it got imploded in 2000). Then off to Salt Lake City, before flying to Chicago, and then getting into Newark early that evening.

Play at Army, sweep the series, then head up to Maine (I didn't make that leg of the trip). Then go home in reverse, again taking about 15-18 hours total with layovers. Then repeat again a few weeks later to Alabama-Huntsville. Then again to Kent State—and again. And again. (And then personally, do it one more time in Jan. 1996 with Michigan State for a three-game trip to Fairbanks.)

You don't really see NHL teams do that.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Princeton Edges Rensselaer, 2-1

A pair of New Jersey natives made it Princeton University's night on Friday.

Mike Ambrosia's early-third period goal at Hobey Baker Rink stood up as the game-winner, and fellow Chatham, N.J. native Colton Phinney finished with 33 saves for Princeton (4-14 overall, 3-8 ECAC) in the Tigers' 2-1 victory over ECAC rival Rensselaer on Jan. 10.

Princeton thus gained a split of its two-game regular-season series with the Engineers, following a 5-2 loss in Troy, N.Y. last month  Scott Diebold made 25 stops for RPI (8-9-4, 3-4-3) in Friday's setback, including 13 saves in the third period.

RPI's Luke Curadi opened the scoring off a goal-mouth scramble at 14:49 of the first period, before Tyler Maugeri responded for Princeton just over a minute later on a power play, by wristing home a long shot from the slot that went under the crossbar.  It was the Tigers' only man-advantage opportunity of the contest.

The score remained tied until Ambrosia tallied in-close just 1:04 into the final frame.  The visiting Engineers appeared to have tied the score later in the third stanza, but the goal was disallowed following a video review by officials.

Princeton now hosts ECAC frontrunner Union in a Saturday matinee, while RPI ventures to Quinnipiac.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Boston College Edges Notre Dame, 4-3, at Frozen Fenway

Junior forward Johnny Gaudreau scored two goals on Saturday night, including the game-winner in the third period, and ran his personal points string to 14 games as sixth-ranked Boston College edged No. 14 Notre Dame, 4-3, in the cold at Fenway Park in Boston.

Brendan Silk and Bill Arnold (shorthanded) also scored for B.C, which led 2-0, after 20 minutes. Mario Lucia, T.J. Tynan (power play) and Bryan Rust connected for UND, which forged ties of 2-2 and 3-3 before Gaudreau scored at 8:21 of the third period to ice it.

Gaudreau, a 2013 Hobey Baker Award finalist, had previously been named MVP of the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh on Dec. 27-28, recording two goals and three assists as the Eagles swept Bowling Green and Penn State. The Carneys Point, N.J. native, who initiated his current scoring string with two goals against Northeastern on Nov. 1, has 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points in his last 14 outings. He leads B.C. with 17-18—35 points through 19 contests this campaign, and in 98 career appearances at the Heights has registered 59-72—131 points.

Steve Summerhays finished with 17 saves for the Fighting Irish on Saturday, while Brian Billet made 20 stops for the Eagles, including one on his doorstep at the final buzzer when Notre Dame thought it had again scored the equalizer. The net came off its posts, the play was reviewed, and replays showed the puck never crossed the goal line. UND finished 1-for-6 on the power play, while B.C. went 0-for-9 in running its winning streak to five games.

It was also the first-ever conference meeting between the Eagles (13-4-2, 7-1-1 HEA) and the Fighting Irish (10-8-1, 3-5-1 HEA), the latter a former member of the now-defunct CCHA, and counted in the Hockey East standings. B.C. is also now 2-1-0 in NCAA games played at Fenway, including a 3-2 loss to rival Boston University in 2010, and a 2-1 victory over Northeastern in 2012. In each of the three games, the Eagles have unveiled commemorative gold jerseys, with the latest model shown above.

B.C. and Notre Dame will next meet on Feb. 28 at Chestnut Hill, Mass. to close out the 2013-14 regular season. The Eagles will host Providence this Friday and head to Brown on Saturday, while the Irish entertain Alabama-Huntsville this weekend.

In a non-conference tilt between Hockey East teams early Saturday at Fenway, former B.C. defenseman Mark Dennehy and his current Merrimack squad skated to a  1-1 tie with Providence. This Saturday, Hockey East returns to Yawkey Way when Northeastern faces UMass Lowell and Maine takes on Boston University.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

U.S. Eliminated with WJC Loss to Russia

There will be no gold medal repeat for Team USA.

The U.S. dropped a 5-3 decision to Russia in a quarterfinal match at the 2014 IIHF Under-20 World Junior Championship today in Malmo, Sweden. The loss leaves the Americans, who won gold last year in Russia, albeit with a much different lineup, at 3-2-0 overall in the tournament and out of medal contention for the first time since 2012.

A 3-2 U.S. lead after one period today didn't stand up. Stephane Matteau scored for the second straight game for the Americans, sandwiching a goal between two Russian scores before Ryan Hartman and Nic Kerdiles (Wisconsin) scored just under five-and-a-half minutes apart to put the U.S. ahead.

That was it for the American offensive effort, however, as Nikita Zadorov scored two second period power-play goals, both on 5-on-3 advantages, for the Russians, who added an empty-netter with 28 seconds remaining in regulation.

Jon Gillies (Providence) made 20 saves for Team USA, which outshot Russia, 33-25, but couldn't connect in five power-play attempts. The U.S. also had 10 giveaways in its own defensive zone, according to the NHL Network.

After winning its first three round-robin games by a combined score of 19-4 against the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany, things started to unravel for the Americans in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Canada. That defeat left the U.S. one point behind the Canadians in the Group 'A' final preliminary standings and matched it up against the Russians in the quarterfinals, against whom Team USA was 0-4 in WJC playoff competition entering Thursday's contest.

Now that mark is 0-5 and the Americans are headed home, while the Russians will face host Sweden in a semifinal match. The winner will meet the victor of Canada-Finland for the gold medal that last year belonged to the U.S.

MSU's Abdelkader Scores for Red Wings in Winter Classic

On a day when Michigan State football would win its first Rose Bowl title in 26 years, a former Michigan State hockey player made a highlight of his own in the 2014 NHL Winter Classic before over 105,000 on-lookers at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

Muskegon native Justin Abdelkader, who scored the game-winning goal that gave the Spartans the 2007 NCAA Division I men's hockey title, connected with 5:32 remaining in regulation for his home state Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday afternoon to pull them into a 2-2 tie at the time.

The Toronto Maple Leafs eventually won, 3-2, in a shootout. New Hampshire alumnus James van Riemsdyk tallied Toronto's first goal  in regulation in the second period to tie the game, 1-1.

Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard (Maine) finished with 24 saves on the same day he was named to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, along with NHL fellow netminders Ryan Miller (Michigan State) and Jonathan Quick (Massachusetts). The full U.S. Olympic men's roster, which includes more than 20 former NCAA players, can be found at, while the U.S. Olympic women's roster can be found at

Michigan State defeated Stanford, 24-20, in Pasadena on Wednesday for its first Rose Bowl victory since 1988.