Friday, May 30, 2014

Smith, Keith Score as Hawks Force Game 7

Duncan Keith (Michigan State) wristed home the tying goal with less than nine minutes left in regulation, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks forced a Game 7 with Friday's 4-3 win at Los Angeles. The Blackhawks and Kings will play a deciding Game 7 on Sunday night in Illinois to crown the Western Conference champion.
Ben Smith (Boston College) scored for Chicago for the second straight game, while Jonathan Toews (North Dakota ) and Patrick Sharp (Vermont) both picked up assists on the night. Smith’s goal gave Chicago a 2-1 lead early in the second period, while Keith’s goal forged a 3-3 tie after Los Angeles had tallied two consecutive third-period goals to take a 3-2 lead. Jonathan Quick (UMass) made 25 saves for the Kings, who had won their previous two home games in the series at the Staples Center.
The Blackhawks, who are seeking to become the NHL's first repeat champion since Detroit in 1997-1998, have won two straight games after falling behind in the series, three games to one. They forced Game 6 with a 5-4 double overtime win on Wednesday at the United Center in Chicago.
The winner of Sunday night’s Game 7 will host the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers on June 4 in Game 1 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

Moore, Boyle Send Rangers to Stanley Cup Final

Dominic Moore (Harvard) scored the only goal of the game, and the New York Rangers will now return to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since winning it all in 1994.

Brian Boyle (Boston College) fed Moore from behind the net at 18:07 of the second period on Thursday Night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, and the Rangers held on to beat the Montreal Canadians, 1-0, at Madison Square Garden. New York won the series, four games to two, after previously winning a pair of seven-game series against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the first two rounds.

The Rangers will be on the road next week at either Chicago or Los Angeles, with the Blackhawks and Kings playing their own Game 6 tonight in California. Los Angeles leads that series, three games to two. Montreal had been seeking its first return to the final since winning the Cup in 1993, the last time the NHL crown was claimed by a Canadian club.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Smith Helps Hawks Stay Alive

Ben Smith (Boston College) scored the tying goal early in the third period, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks went on to defeat the Los Angeles Kings, 5-4, in double overtime on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the NHL's Western Conference Final.

After Chicago took 2-0 and 3-1 first-period leads, the visiting Kings rebounded with three consecutive goals to take a 4-3 advantage after 40 minutes of play at the United Center. Smith's goal against Jonathan Quick (UMass) off a rebound just 1:17 into the final stanza pulled the Blackhawks back into a tie. Quick finished with 45 saves for the Kings, while Chicago captain Jonathan Toews (North Dakota) registered an assist on the Blackhawks' first goal of the game.

The victory not only kept Chicago's season going, it broke a three-game Los Angeles winning streak in the series, and sent both teams back to California for Game 6 on Friday night at the Staples Center. Game 7, if necessary, would be played on Sunday night in Illinois, as Game 1 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final has already been set for June 4.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bourque Hat Trick Brings Habs Back Against Rangers

It almost looked an NCAA all-star game last night in Montreal.  

Rene Bourque (Wisconsin) tallied a hat trick to power the host Canadiens to a 7-4 victory over the New York Rangers and keep the Habs' season alive. Max Pacioretty (Michigan) had a goal and an assist for Montreal, which staved off elimination for the third time in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Derek Stepan (Wisconsin) scored two goals and Chris Kreider (Boston College) notched a goal and three assists for the Rangers, who fought back from a 4-1 deficit to briefly tie the game at 4-4 before Bourque's second goal put the Canadiens back ahead for good. New York still leads the best of-seven Eastern Conference final, three games to two, with Game 6 to be played Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Cam Talbot (Alabama-Huntsville) took the loss in net for New York, surrendering Bourque's last two goals after coming on in relief in the second period. Talbot finished with six saves on eight shots in just his second career NHL playoff appearance.

Ryan McDonagh (Wisconsin) collected two assists for the Rangers, both in the six-goal second period, while Brian Gionta (Boston College) and Thomas Vanek (Minnesota) had one assist each for Montreal.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Quick and Kings One Win Away from Final Again

Former NCAA goaltender Jonathan Quick (UMass) and his Los Angeles Kings are just one win away from a second trip to the Stanley Cup Final in three years.

The Kings dominated the defending NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night at the Staples Center in a 5-2 triumph, with Quick making 22 saves in Game 4 of the Western Conference final. Quick has gone 11-4 in his last 15 playoff outings following an 0-3 start against the San Jose Sharks in the opening round, and has stopped 86 of 96 shots in four outings so far against Chicago.

Los Angeles came back to win the San Jose series in seven games, and then outlasted the Anaheim Ducks in seven games in the second round after falling behind, three games to two. The Kings have also rebounded with three straight wins versus the Blackhawks after losing the opener of their Western Conference final series, 3-1, last week in Chicago.

Two years ago, when the Kings won their first NHL championship, they took a 3-0 lead in each of their four series. They ousted the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils in a total of 20 games, going 16-4 overall that spring, with Quick earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They fell to Chicago in five games last year in the conference final.

Game 5 between the Kings and Hawks this series will be Wednesday night at the United Center in Chicago (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN). The Blackhawks, who got an assist from captain Jonathan Toews (North Dakota) in Monday's loss, rebounded from a 3-1 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings last year with three straight wins in the conference semifinal before going on to top the Kings and then the Boston Bruins to claim their second Cup in four seasons. 

The Chicago power play, however, is functioning at just over 17 percent in the playoffs this spring, according to, and is just 2-for-13 so far against the Kings, including an 0-for-7 statistic in the last two games. The Kings, meanwhile, have been scoring at almost a 27 percent clip with the man advantage in the postseason, including a 2-for-3 power-play performance last night.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rangers Push Habs to Brink with 3-2 OT Win

Carl Hagelin (Michigan) scored for the second straight contest, and Martin St. Louis (Vermont) notched the game-winning goal just 6:02 into overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Hagelin, who scored on a first-period breakaway off a set-up from Brian Boyle (Boston College) and Ryan McDonagh (Wisconsin), also assisted on St. Louis' game-winner as the Rangers took a 3-1 lead in their Stanley Cup Playoff series with the Habs. Rene Bourque (Wisconsin) assisted on the Canadiens first goal of the game as Montreal twice fought back from one-goal deficits to again force sudden death.

Game 5, and New York's first chance to clinch the series and move on to the final, will be on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Chicago Comes up Short Despite Collegian Scores

The visiting Chicago Blackhawks got all three of their goals from former NCAA players on Saturday night in Los Angeles, but still came up on the short end of a 4-3 score at the Staples Center in an NHL semifinal postseason contest.

Jonathan Toews (North Dakota) staked the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks to a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes with two goals in the first period. The host Kings then scored four unanswered goals before Patrick Sharp (Vermont) managed to tip a shot past Los Angeles netminder Jonathan Quick (UMass) with three seconds remaining in regulation for the final margin.

Los Angeles now leads the best-of-seven series, two games to one. Game 4 is slated for Monday night in California at 9 p.m. ET.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Coaching Carousel Continues

The coaching carousel has been going around and around in Division I men's college hockey since the national title game in Philadelphia over a month ago.

Scott Owens resigned at Colorado College, to be replaced by former Elmira skater and Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland.Owens led the Tigers to 324 wins and seven NCAA Tournament berths in his 15-year-tenure in Colorado Springs. Haviland, who helped Chicago to its 2010 Stanley Cup championship, was head coach at Hershey (AHL) last season, and had previously won two ECHL titles as a head coach.

Jim Roque was let go at Lake Superior State after nine seasons and replaced by former Michigan State forward Damon Whitten, who has coached at MSU, Wayne State, Alaska Anchorage and Michigan Tech in his career. It's the first time Whitten will be a head coach at the college level, with a Lakers club that hasn't made the NCAAs since 1996

Bob Prier resigned after three seasons at Princeton, although whether that was under duress or not hasn't been revealedI hope it wasn't the case that he was forced out. Prier had succeeded Guy Gadowsky, who moved on to Penn State in 2011. His own replacement will be the first major hiring for new Princeton athletic director Mollie Marcoux, a Princeton hockey alumnae and a three-time MVP for the Tigers.

Lastly, Paul Pearl resigned after 19 seasons at the helm of his alma mater, Holy Cross, to take the associate position at Harvard. Pearl paced the Crusaders to 297 wins and two NCAA berths in his time, including an overtime upset of Minnesota in 2006. He will replace former Harvard assistant Albie O'Connell, who went back to Boston University where he captained the Terriers as an undergraduate.

Just over four months until the 2014-15 NCAA campaign beginsand the chance for more change behind the benches of Division I programs before the first puck drops.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Crash Kreider He's Not

From Easy Kreider to Crash Kreider? Don't think so.

Concerning Saturday's collision in Montreal between New York Rangers foward Chris Kreider and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, I don't see how Kreider could have stopped in time to avoid contact with Price. The Rangers won, 7-2, scoring two goals late in the second period on Price, who finished the period, and then three more on backup Petr Budaj in the third stanza in a 7-2 romp in Game 1 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final.

Kreider, who is 6'3" and 220 pounds before he even puts on his equipment, had the puck and was going hard to the net at full speed in a 2-0 game, with two opponents whacking away at him. It all happened fast, and he could just as easily have wrecked himself in the ensuing collision.

Habs coach Michel Therrien said on Monday that Kreider's play was "reckless". If Price was so badly hurt, or the Canadiens had concerns about his knee, then why did he last the rest of the period? Now he's said to be out the rest of the series. It's gamesmanship on the part of Montreal's head coach, but that's as much a part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as winning faceoffs and scoring goals.

Kreider has been accused of running into NHL goalies before, as seen here, including the Price play. The sequence with Fleury was questionable, but with the others, why would Kreider slide if he really wanted to take them out? Why not stay upright and barrel them over at full speed, rather than risk getting cut with a skate or slamming a knee into a goal post? The second coming of Matt Cooke, Kreider isn't. Plus, he's even coming off of surgery on a broken hand.

“I think I’m a clean player,” said Kreider, who catalyzed the Rangers' rebound from the brink of elimination in the last round with a power-play goal at Pittsburgh in Game 5. “I don’t go out with the intent to hurt any player. Ever. I’m going to continue to try and score goals.”

He did on Saturday, racing in and beating Price stick-side to give New York a 3-1 lead at the time. And I'm not defending Kreider because we both went to Boston College, albeit him going more than 20 years after me. Brooks Orpik also attended BC, and he's thrown more than a few questionable hits in his time in the NHL that have injured opposing players.

Then there's this semi-late hit on Derick Brassard by Montreal's Mike Weaver, who is not a dirty player, either, early on in Game 1. No word from the Canadiens on that one, even though Brassard left the ice and never returned to action.

Canadiens forward and former Ranger player Brandon Prust said that Kreider did what he did "accidentally on purpose". The same Prust who has 90 points and 843 penalty minutes in 369 career NHL regular-season games, plus 14 more minutes on Saturday for hacking away at Kreider in the third period, including a slash to the hand and a spear (of sort) to the groin. Nice.

The Canadiens should be worrying how to handle the Rangers' speed after that debacle on Saturday afternoon. Expect Montreal to tighten things up tonight in Game 2, hopefully with less fireworks.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

U.S., Canada Win at Worlds

Brock Nelson (North Dakota) scored a goal, Craig Smith (Wisconsin) tallied an assist, and Tim Thomas (Vermont) made 22 saves as the United States outlasted Finland, 3-1, on Sunday in preliminary-round play at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus. Both Thomas and the Americans improved to 4-2-0 in the tournament.
Ben Scrivens (Cornell) made 22 stops as Canada outlasted Sweden, 3-2, in overtime Sunday. Canada is now 5-1 and in first place in Group A. The U.S. will now face Germany on Tuesday, while Canada will take on Norway that same day to conclude pool play. Both North American squads have clinched quarterfinal berths.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Canadiens to Meet Rangers in Eastern Final

What looked to be an all black-and-gold NHL Eastern Conference final a week ago has turned red, white and blue - or bleu, blanc et rouge, if you're north of the border.

One night after the New York Rangers completed their comeback from a 3-1 series deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 2-1 win in Steeltown, the Montreal Canadiens completed their own comeback from a 3-2 series deficit against the Boston Bruins with a 3-1 victory in Beantown.

Max Pacioretty (Michigan) notched the game-winning goal in the second period as the Habs took a 2-0 lead en route to their Game 7 triumph over the East's No. 1 seed. Torey Krug (Michigan State) assisted on Boston's lone goal as Montreal defeated the Bruins for the sixth time in nine all-time Game 7 meetings.

Brian Boyle (Boston College) scored the game-opening goal in the Rangers win on Tuesday night, assisted by Dominic Moore (Harvard). Martin St. Louis (Vermont) and Derek Stepan (Wisconsin) then set up Brad Richard's game- and series-winning goal in the second period to break a 1-1 tie. New York allowed Pittsburgh just three goals in the final three games.

The Rangers-Canadiens series will begin on Friday in Montreal. It has been 20 years since the Rangers made the Stanley Cup Final and won hockey's biggest prize, one year after the Habs did the same in 1993 when Montreal won 10 overtime contests that spring.

Out west, Jonathan Quick (Massachusetts) kept the Los Angeles Kings alive by making 21 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 last night in Inglewood, Cal. Kyle Palmieri (Notre Dame) scored the Ducks' only goal, assisted by Nick Bonino (Boston University), after Anaheim fell behind, 2-0.

Game 7 will be contested in Anaheim on Friday night. The winner will face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, who ousted the Minnesota Wild in six games after a 2-1 overtime win in Minnesota on Tuesday.

Monday, May 12, 2014

U.S. Routed by Russia in World Championship Play

Team captain and Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader (Michigan State) scored the only goal for the United States in Monday's 6-1 loss to Russia in a preliminary round game in the 2014 IIHF World Championship at Minsk Arena in Belarus. The U.S. fell to 2-1 in the tournament, having earlier defeated host Belarus and Switzerland.

Former Spartan teammate Jeff Petry assisted on Abdelkader's goal, which came after Russia had built a 3-0 second-period lead. Florida Panthers netminder Tim Thomas (Vermont) took the loss with 10 saves on 15 shots, and was relieved just over halfway through the contest by David Leggio (Clarkson), who stopped seven of eight attempts.

The Americans return to action against Latvia on Thursday.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kreider Sparks Rangers to Stay Alive in Pittsburgh

Chris Kreider (Boston College) made his 2014 Stanley Cup Playoff road debut a memorable one.
He hustled to get a loose puck back to the left point early Friday night in Pittsburgh, diving to the ice to beat Penguins forward and former BC teammate Brian Gibbons. He then followed up a rebound by Ryan McDonagh (Wisconsin) on that same play with his first goal of the postseason, sparking the New York Rangers to a 1-0 lead en route to a 5-1 win in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at Consol Energy Arena.

Kreider, who also had an assist, and now has seven goals in 28 career NHL playoff games, is coming off of surgery on a broken left hand. That injury caused him to miss 23 games before he finally skated in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss in Manhattan in Game 4. His goal on Friday also broke the Rangers’ 0-for-36 drought on the power play this postseason that extended back to Game 2 of New York’s first-round, seven-game series victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Rangers forward Martin St. Louis (Vermont) was in the lineup for New York one day after the passing of his mother in Canada. He skated 16 minutes, had one shot on goal,  and was named the contest's third star.
Pittsburgh now leads the best-of-seven series with the Rangers, three games to two. Game 6 is slated for Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Quick Stakes Kings to 2-0 Series Lead

Jonathan Quick looks a lot better lately, doesn't he?

The former UMass netminder surrendered 16 goals in his first three Stanley Cup Playoff games this spring, all losses to the San Jose Sharks. Since then he's posted six straight wins and given up just eight goals in that span.

The Kings rebounded against San Jose to become just the fourth team in NHL history to win a best-of-seven series after trailing, three games to none. Quick allowed just five goals in the final four meetings with the Sharks, including just two scores in the last two contests.

He made 36 saves last night in Anaheim as the Kings claimed a 3-1 victory and took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with the Ducks, which now shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4. The winner will face the victor in the Minnesota-Chicago series. Quick made 33 stops in a  3-2 overtime triumph at Anaheim in Game 1 on Saturday.

Quick, who prepped at Avon Old Farms (Conn.) and won 53 games there before enrolling at UMass, led the Kings to their first Stanley Cup title in 2012, as he finished 16-4 that year and also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the top player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.