Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ruggiero, Hay Elected to Hall of Fame

Former Harvard University blueliner Angela Ruggiero was one of five players selected Monday for the Hockey Hall of Fame's Class of 2015. She was the only female skater inducted alongside former NHL stalwarts Sergei Fedorov, Phil Housley, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Chris Pronger.

Ruggiero, a native of Harper Woods, Mich., lettered with the Crimson in 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2004. She won the Patty Kazmaier Award as the nation's top NCAA Division I women's player as a senior, and also led Harvard to a 109-13-5 overall record during her career, according to the Crimson athletics web site.

A first-team All-America and ECAC selection in each of her four seasons in Cambridge, Ruggiero ranks sixth all-time on Harvard's scoring scroll with 96 goals and 157 assists for 253 points. She was also a member of four U.S. Olympic medal squads from 1998 to 2010, including gold the first time, and also helped Team USA to world championship crowns in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2011, according to NHL.com.

Ruggiero also became the first woman to play in a professional game in North America at a position other than goaltender. She skated in one game with Tulsa (CHL) in 2005 and drew an assist while playing alongside her brother, Bill, a goaltender.

Also inducted into the Hall on Monday in the builders' category along with Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, Jr. was former Colorado College forward Don Hay. The Saskatoon native was a two-time WCHA First All-Star Team selection (1957, 1958), and a two-time NCAA West First All-America choice (1957, 1958), according to the Hall's web site. He also helped the Tigers to the 1957 NCAA title, and tallied 60-94--154 points in his two campaigns in Colorado Springs. He is also the first former Tiger inducted into the Hall, according to Colorado College's athletic web site.

Hay later went on to play eight seasons with the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he won a Calder Trophy (1960) and a Stanley Cup (1961). He later served as part owner and team president of the league's Calgary Flames, before spending 15 years as HOF Chairman and CEO.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Three College Players Drafted in Top Eight

A bit of history was made at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft in Sunrise, Fla. on Friday night, as three current NCAA players were selected among the first 10 picks for the first time ever.
As expected, Hobey Baker Award-winning forward Jack Eichel (Boston University) went second overall to the Buffalo Sabres. Noah Hanifin (Boston College), the first defenseman taken in this year’s draft, went fifth to the Carolina Hurricanes, while fellow blueliner Zach Werenski (Michigan) went eighth to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Eichel led the nation in scoring with 26 goals and 45 assists for 71 points during the 2014-15 NCAA campaign, and also helped the Terriers to the Beanpot and Hockey East tournament titles as well as a national runner-up finish. Hanifin tallied 5-18—23 points for the Eagles, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight season, while Werenski led all Wolverine defensemen with 9-16—25 points.
All three also skated for the U.S squad that finished in fifth place at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in Canada.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Keith, Chicago Win Third Stanley Cup in Six Seasons

In the end, it was Michigan State beating Maine on the biggest goal of the Stanley Cup Final to close out the 2014-15 hockey season.

Former MSU defenseman Duncan Keith put home his own rebound against former Black Bear goaltender Ben Bishop with 2:47 remaining in the second period for the game-winning score as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-0, in Game 6 on Monday night. The Blackhawks won their third Cup in six seasons, and first at home since 1938.

Patrick Kane closed out the scoring late in the final frame, and Corey Crawford notched the shutout on 25 saves as Chicago again took the Cup in six games. The Hawks did so in 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers, and then again two years ago versus the Boston Bruins.

Keith was the unanimous selection for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL's playoff MVP, tallying three goals and 18 assists for 21 points in 23 games, while skating more than 700 minutes in the postseason, according to the Associated Press, including over 30 minutes last night. The Winnipeg native skated at MSU from 2001 to 2002, notching 24 points in 56 games for the Spartans, and has also won Olympic gold medals with Canada in 2010 and 2014. 

Keith tied Chris Chelios for the most points by a Blackhawks defenseman in a single postseason. He is also the first defenseman to claim the Conn Smythe since Hall of Fame blueliner Scott Niedermayer did so with Anaheim in 2007, according to NHL.com.

Bishop, who backstopped the Black Bears from 2005 to 2008 and fashioned a 55-35-7 record in NCAA competition, made 30 saves on Monday night at the United Center as the Lightning tried to force a Game 7. He went 1-3-0 in the final, having been lifted in Tampa Bay's Game 2 win for what was finally revealed last night as a groin tear.

The Hawks will celebrate their latest Cup victory with a parade on Thursday, led by captain Jonathan Toews (North Dakota). Other former NCAA players hoisting the Cup with Chicago this spring include Scott Darling (Maine), Patrick Sharp (Vermont) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (New Hampshire).

Monday, June 15, 2015

Americans Claim First ECHL Crown

The Allen Americans earned their first ever Kelly Cup as ECHL champions with a 6-1 victory over the visiting South Carolina Stingrays on Sunday afternoon in Texas. Allen defeated South Carolina in seven games.

Greger Hanson (Northern Michigan) was named ECHL playoff MVP with 12 goals and 29 points in 25 outings, according to echl.com, while goaltender Riley Gill (Western Michigan) backstopped the Americans' title run. Gill went 13-7 in this year's playoffs, and tied a league record with his eighth career win in the ECHL final following yesterday's 27-save effort.

South Carolina's Wayne Simpson (Union) set an ECHL record with 38 points in 27 postseason contests this spring, including 25 assists.

Chad Costello (Northeastern), the ECHL's leading scorer during the regular season with 125 points, tallied two goals and set up another in the decisive game for Allen, which moved to the ECHL after its former home, the Central Hockey League, folded in October. The Americans, who began play in 2009, have now won three consecutive championships in three straight seasons, having claimed the last two Miron President's Cup titles before the CHL ceased operations.

Other NCAA players on this season's Allen title team included Justin Baker (St. Lawrence), Nolan Descoteaux (RIT), Kyle Follmer (Northern Michigan), Aaron Gens (Alaska Fairbanks), Trevor Ludwig (Providence), Tyler Ludwig (Western Michigan), Rylan Schwartz (Colorado College) and Gary Steffes (Miami).

Monarchs Reign Supreme in AHL

Kevin Loverde (Miami) scored the game-winning goal on Saturday night as the Manchester Monarchs defeated the Utica Comets, 2-1, to win the American Hockey League's Calder Cup Final in five games. It was the first Calder Cup championship in team history.

Loverde, who led the Red Hawks in blocked shots in each of his four NCAA seasons, according to theahl.com, put Manchester up, 2-0, with a power-play tally just over 13 minutes into the first period at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Also skating on Saturday and winning the Cup with the Monarchs was Sean Backman (Yale), Nic Dowd (St. Cloud State), Derek Forbort (North Dakota), Michael Mersch (Wisconsin), Brian O'Neill (Yale) and Nick Shore (Denver).

Manchester, the AHL affiliate of the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, will shift its operations to the ECHL next season after 14 campaigns in the AHL. The Kings' new AHL affiliate, the Reign, will play in Ontario, Calif. beginning in 2015-16 as part of the league's western expansion.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Chicago Takes 3-2 Lead in Stanley Cup Final

The Chicago Blackhawks are one win from their third Stanley Cup championship in six years.

The visitors held on for a 2-1 win tonight over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena in Florida in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Chicago now leads the best-of-seven series, three games to two, having won the last two games.

Chicago forward Patrick Sharp (Vemont) opened the scoring Saturday with his first goal in 14 games, putting the puck into an empty net after Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop (Maine) came out to play it and collided with defenseman Victor Hedberg in the faceoff circle. It was Sharp's first goal since May 3 against Minnesota in the second round of the NHL playoffs.

The Lightning knotted matters in the second stanza as Jason Garrison (Minnesota-Duluth) set up Valteri Filppula from the left point to the right side; but the Blackhawks went back ahead for good as Antoine Vermette followed up a rebound exactly two minutes into the final frame.

Bishop finished with 27 saves for Tampa Bay, which outshot Chicago, 32-29, but has now lost two consecutive contests for the first time in this series. The Lightning, who won Games 2 and 3, and claimed their only previous Cup in 2004, will attempt to stay alive with a victory in Game 6 on Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBC) at the United Center in Chicago.

The Blackhawks last won a Cup on home ice in 1938. Game 7, if necessary, would be Wednesday night in Tampa.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Arizona State to Host Desert Classic in January

Arizona State University will host the inaugural Desert Hockey Classic on Oct. 8-9 in Tempe, at a facility to be determined.

The tournament, which takes the place of an originally-scheduled two-game series with Yale University, will include ASU, Yale, Michigan Tech University and the University of Connecticut. It will also mark ASU's only home games against NCAA competition next season.

The Sun Devils, 2013-14 ACHA national club champions, are entering their first season as an NCAA Division I independent. After a contest against longtime ACHA rival Arizona on Oct. 3, ASU will open its 2015-16 NCAA slate in Anchorage, Alaska on Oct. 9-10 at the Kendall Hockey Classic, with games against Alaska Anchorage and Alaska (Fairbanks).

ASU will be the 60th school to currently sponsor men's ice hockey at the NCAA Division I level.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Blachawks Back in Series with 2-1 Win

Jonathan Toews (North Dakota) and Alex Killorn (Harvard) traded second-period goals, but it was Brandon Saad's third-period tally that won Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final by a 2-1 score for the host Chicago Blackhawks. The series with the Tampa Bay Lightning is now tied at two games apiece. Game Five is scheduled for Saturday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Patrick Sharp (Vermont) assisted on team captain Toews score, Toews' 10th of the postseason, while Killorn's goal, which came just over five minutes later, was his ninth of the playoffs. Pittsburgh native Saad connected on a backhander less than seven minutes into the final frame for the final score.

Tampa Bay outshot Chicago, 25-19, and also outhit the Blackhawks, 46-34, according to NHL.com. Chicago won the faceoff battle, 38-20, as both teams went a combined 0-for-7 on the power play. Goaltender Ben Bishop (Maine) did not play for the Lightning.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ferris Alum Blashill Takes Over Red Wings

Former Ferris State University goaltender and Western Michigan University head coach Jeff Blashill made it official on Tuesday, when he became the newest head coach in the storied history of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings.

Blashill, a Sault Ste. Marie native, spent the last four seasons coaching Grand Rapids (AHL), whom he led to a Calder Cup championship in 2013. He signed a four-year contract with the Wings to succeed former mentor Mike Babcock, who moved over to the Toronto Maple Leafs last month.

Blashill played junior hockey with Des Moines (USHL) before backstopping Ferris from 1994 to 1998, winning 27 games with the Bulldogs, according to hockeydb.com. He joined the coaching ranks with his alma mater in 1999, and moved on to Miami (Ohio) in 2002. In 2009 he became head coach and general manager with Indiana (USHL), winning the Clark Cup his first year there, before finishing 19-13-0 in 2010-11 in his lone campaign at WMU. He then spent the next season as an assistant to Babcock in Detroit, before going to Grand Rapids in 2012.

Blashill went 134-71-12-11 in his tenure with the Griffins, leading them to a league title his second season before earning AHL Coach of the Year accolades in 2013-14, according to mlive.com. His 137 career regular-season wins rank second in franchise history, and he also sent 24 players on to the NHL.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Tampa Bay Takes 2-1 Series Lead

Duncan Keith (Michigan State) assisted on the go-ahead goal for the host Chicago Blackhawks in the third period—but the Tampa Bay Lightning responded with the tying marker just 13 seconds later, and then potted the game-winner with just over three minutes remaining in regulation Monday in a 3-2 win in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Final.
Ondrej Palat tied the contest for Tampa Bay 4:27 into the final frame, before Cedric Paquette chipped home the winner 12 minutes later. Ryan Callahan scored the Lightning’s first goal, while Brad Richards (power play) and Brandon Saad connected for Chicago on the night.
Chicago defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (New Hampshire) played his first game for the Blackhawks since injuring his knee in November. Ben Bishop (Maine) finished with 36 saves in net for the Lightning, who won for the 8th time in 11 road games this spring. Game 4 of the NHL's marquee series is Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) in Chicago.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lightning Knot Cup Final

Jason Garrison (Minnesota-Duluth) blasted home the game-winning goal with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation as the Tampa Bay Lightning notched a 4-3 victory tonight over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Two of the Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. The NHL's championship series is now tied at one game apiece.
Jonathan Toews (North Dakota) and Patrick Sharp (Vermont) picked up assists for the Blackhawks—but Sharp was also whistled for back-to-back penalties in the third period, the second of which resulted in Garrison’s game-winner.
Ben Bishop (Maine) made 21 saves for the Lightning, but yielded the net to Andrei Vasilevskiy shortly after Chicago’s third score tied the game. Vasilevskiy was in goal for Tampa Bay when Garrison scored for the Lightning, which earned him the win after he made five saves in nine minutes of play.
Game 3 will be held Monday night (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at the United Center in Chicago.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Blackhawks Win Game One of Final

Alex Killorn (Harvard) scored the game-opening goal on a nifty backhand deflection in the first period, but the Chicago Blackhawks tallied twice in just under two minutes in the final frame to win Game One of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, 2-1, at Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.

The host Lightning, who advanced by beating Original Six clubs Detroit, Montreal and New York, lost for the first time in the 2015 postseason after scoring first. Game 2 at Amalie Arena in Florida will be on Saturday at 7 p.m. (NBC).

Duncan Keith (Michigan State) assisted on the tying goal for Chicago, which bested Nashville, Minnesota and Anaheim to advance to the Final. Ben Bishop (Maine) stopped 19 of 21 Chicago shots Wednesday, while Killorn tied for the game lead with five shots on goal.

The Blackhawks are seeking their third Cup in six seasons, while the Lightning is pursuing its first Cup in 11 years.

BU Alum Hynes Chosen to Lead NHL's Devils

The New Jersey Devils dipped into the college ranks—sort of—to find their next head coach.

Boston University graduate John Hynes, a member of the Terriers’ 1995 NCAA title team, was announced as New Jersey’s newest bench boss on Monday, after spending the past five seasons as head coach with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL). He finished with a record of 231-126-10-17 with the Penguins, after toiling his first season with the squad as an assistant coach.

WBS also won at least 42 regular-season games in each of Hynes’ five campaigns at the helm, including 58 victories in 2010-11, according to his profile at hockeydb.com.

Hynes, who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at BU, also served as an assistant coach with Wisconsin and UMass Lowell before becoming head coach of USA Hockey’s National Development Program from 2003 to 2009.

A Warwick, R.I. native and a former defenseman, Hynes, 40, becomes the youngest current NHL head coach, and is also one of a handful of Devils head coaches who played college hockey, including John Cuniff (Boston College), Herb Brooks (Minnesota), Kevin Constantine (Rensselaer), Lou Lamoriello (Providence), and Adam Oates (Rensselaer).

Hynes will now attempt to get the Devils back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2012, when they won the Eastern Conference and then fell to the Los Angeles Kings in six games in the Stanley Cup Final.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Jacobs Leaves MSU for OHL

Michigan State will need to shore up its blueline a bit next season.

First, Brock Krygier gave up his final two years in East Lansing to transfer to Arizona State's nascent Division I program as a graduate student in April.

Earlier this week, Josh Jacobs made it one-and-done with the Spartans to join the OHL's Sarnia Sting. A second-round NHL draft choice (41st overall) by the New Jersey Devils last year, and was a fourth-round choce by Sarnia in the 2012 OHL Draft, Jacobs tallied nine assists in 35 NCAA games last season with MSU.

According to the MSU website, the Spartans are still expected to return five of their eight defensemen from the 2014-15 season, a campaign in which they finished 17-16-2 overall, and second in the Big Ten with an 11-7-2 conference mark. MSU was also one of the nation’s top defensive teams all season, finishing first in the Big Ten and 13th in the country in goals allowed per game (2.29).

Chicago Blackhawks blueliner Duncan Keith, who begins the Stanley Cup Final tonight in Tampa, is believed to be the last Spartan to leave Michigan State for the major junior ranks, having joined Tacoma (WHL) in 2002. Lansing native and former MSU recruit Reid Boucher jumped to Sarnia in 2011 before ever playing a game for the Spartans, and is now in New Jersey's system.