Monday, February 29, 2016

Tigers, Bears Tie in ECAC Finale

I saw what was probably my last live hockey game of the 2015-16 NCAA season with Brown's 2-2 ECAC tie at Princeton on Saturday (while also turning 47 myself). It was the final regular-season game for both schools, and was also the final appearance ever at Hobey Baker Rink for Princeton’s Class of 2016.

Davey Middleton, a native of Novi, Mich. where I last lived before returning to New Jersey in 2000, scored Brown's first goal less than a minute into the second period on a solo shorthanded rush, the first shorthander of the season for the Bears. Stuart Pomeroy tied the game for Princeton just over three minutes later with his first career collegiate goal, but Brown went back up on top in Tyler's Bird 5-on-3 power-play tally that sailed upwards and then dropped into the net with just under six minutes left in the second session.

The score remained unchanged until the Tigers pulled Colton Phinney (35 saves) for an extra attacker and then hit pay dirt with seven seconds remaining in regulation. The Tigers kept the puck inside the Brown zone, with Ryan Kuffner accepting a pass that stayed just inside the blueline at the right point. Kuffner then fed Eric Robinson in the right circle, and Robinson’s backhand feed into the slot was fired home by Princeton leading goal-scorer Max Verroneau.

Brown netminder Tim Ernst (43 saves) preserved the tie in overtime with a stabbing glove save on a 2-on-1 attempt by the Tigers. Princeton outshot Brown, 45-37, on the night, including 25-9 over the final 25 minutes of play.

Princeton (5-21-3 overall, 3-16-3 ECAC) finished in 12th place in the ECAC and will visit fifth-seeded Clarkson in a best-of-three league preliminary series this weekend. Brown (5-17-7, 31-3-6) wound up in 10th place and will visit seventh-seeded Rensselaer in their own best-of-three series that also begins Friday.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Princeton's New Look

When the new 2015-16 season started in October, Princeton displayed redesigned jerseys for the first time in 10 years, as shown above on sophomore goaltender Ben Halford.

Gone was the university shield that emblazoned the front in the days of previous coaches Guy Gadowsky and Bob Prier. The shield has shifted upwards to the jersey shoulders, while the school name now appears in an arched orange letters over each player’s number, also in orange, on both the white home and black road jerseys.

It’s the first time the Tigers have sported a player’s number on the jersey front in many years. Back in the Don “Toot” Cahoon days of the late 1990s, when the Tigers made the NCAA Tournament for the first time, the jerseys featured a script “Princeton” in black or white on the front, but no digits. The shield logo on the front came along when Gadowsky came aboard from Alaska Fairbanks in 2004-05, and remained through last season, the first at the helm for current Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty.

Princeton won three of four games in late November/early December in their new togs, including back-to-back victories at Brown and Yale, and also recorded a win over Clarkson. The traditional throwback look with the numeric front has been one that has served the ECAC well in recent years. Besides Princeton, league members Brown, Colgate, Dartmouth, Harvard, St. Lawrence and Yale all currently sport a similar motif on at least one of their uniforms.

The Tigers, mired in 12th place in the ECAC standings, finish out the regular season this weekend at home at Hobey Baker Rink against Yale and Brown.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Montoya Stops Hagelin in U-M Meeting

Michigan stopped Michigan on Monday night in the Florida Panthers’ 2-1 shootout win over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

Former University Michigan forward Carl Hagelin had a breakaway against former Wolverine netminder Al Montoya during the contest, but Montoya made the save. It was Hagelin's only shot on goal of the game.

Montoya made 31 saves in regulation before stopping four of five shootout attempts. Scott Bjugstad (Minnesota) scored for the Panthers before the shootout, while Chris Kunitz (Ferris State) tallied for the Penguins.

Hagelin, who started the year with the Anaheim Ducks after being acquired in the off-season from the New York Rangers, skated for Michigan from 2007 to 2011, notching 152 points in 171 games, according to He also led the Wolverines to the NCAA championship game as a senior, before helping the Rangers to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. 

Montoya backstopped U-M from 2002 to 2005, compiling an 86-29-8 record in 123 NCAA appearances, and is now with his third NHL organization since making his debut with the New York Islanders in 2010-11.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Gostisbehere, Kincaide Rep Union in NHL Play

A pair of Union College alumni had themselves quite a weekend in the National Hockey League, at least in the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division.

Former Dutchmen defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who is in his first full season as an NHL blueliner, scored the Philadelphia Flyers’ only goal in a 2-1 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. Gostisbehere’s goal extended his point-scoring streak to 11 games, an NHL record for a rookie defenseman. He stretched that string to a dozen games with an assist on Philadelphia’s only goal in a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday night. 

Gostisbehere, who hails from Florida, led Union to its first-ever NCAA Tournament title in 2014 while recording 22 goals and 60 assists for 82 points over three collegiate campaigns. He now has 10-21—31 points in 39 career NHL outings to date.

Former Union netminder Keith Kincaide made 28 saves to earn his first career NHL shutout in the Devils’ 1-0 win on Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings. Kincaide, a Long Island native who is now 10-10-4 in his NHL career, backstopped the Dutchmen to their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth in 2011. He finished his two-year college career in Schenectady with a 37-18-6 overall mark.

The current Union College club is 11-11-8 overall (4-9-5 ECAC) following a 4-1 loss to ninth-ranked Harvard on Saturday night, and will host Princeton on Friday.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Brodeur Caps Career as No. 30 is Retired

Martin Brodeur was not the starting goaltender for the New Jersey Devils when the franchise moved east from Colorado in 1982. He had just been there so long it seemed that way.

Tuesday night, his No. 30 Devils jersey was raised to the rafters and retired for all time at the Prudential Center in Newark, a place Brodeur helped build after bringing three NHL championships to the Devils’ former home in the Meadowlands. On Monday, an 11-foot-high bronze statue of him saluting the crowd in full goaltending regalia was unveiled at The Rock, and was briefly positioned near the ice surface as he gave Devils fans one final salute to close the book on his storied professional playing career

That career actually began with a one-game stint out of junior hockey in Quebec when he bested Boston, 4-2, in East Rutherford during the 1991-92 campaign. He took over the Devils’ crease full-time in 1993-94, winning the Calder Trophy that year as the NHL’s top rookie while also backstopping New Jersey to within one goal of the Stanley Cup Final, and made that blue rectangle his personal province for the next two decades.

Although he wasn’t a former NCAA netminder, Brodeur was undoubtedly one of the greatest players to ever put on goalie pads, and retired last year as the NHL’s all-time leader with 691 career regular-season victories and 125 shutouts, to go with 113 playoff triumphs and 24 shutouts. He spent his first 21 NHL seasons with the Devils, winning three Stanley Cups, four Vezina Trophies, and five Jennings Trophies, before closing out his career last season with a seven-game stint with the St. Louis Blues, with whom he now serves as assistant general manager.

One of the game's best stickhandling netminders, Brodeur also scored posted three goals and added 58 assists in NHL play. A two-time Olympic gold medalist with Canada (2002, 2010), Brodeur also guided his native country to a World Cup crown in 2004. 

On a personal note, I was fortunate to watch him play live many times, especially over the last 14 years of his career in New Jersey. That included the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he registered seven shutouts, including three in the final against Anaheim, in leading New Jersey's only true professional sports franchise to its third league title. It’s hard to believe he won’t be guarding a Garden State crease anymore.

Thanks, Marty. Congratulations and good luck.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

BC Wins 2016 Beanpot Over BU, 1-0

Alex Tuch’s long shot eluded goaltender Sean Maguire just under two minutes into overtime to lift Boston College to a 1-0 victory over Boston University in the 2016 Beanpot Tournament title game Monday night at TD Garden. It was the first 1-0 contest in the Beanpot’s 64 years of competition, and also gave third-ranked BC its 20th Beanpot title overall before 15,000-plus onlookers.

After taking a short pass from Zach Sanford high in the offensive zone, Tuch delayed before uncorking a wrist shot through a screen that beat Maguire on the stick side and clanged in off the post. It was the 11th goal of the season for the Baldwinsville, N.Y. native, who was also assisted on the play by defenseman Steve Santini.

Maguire earned Beanpot Most Outstanding Player honors after making 41 saves for the seventh-ranked Terriers (16-8-4 overall), while Thatcher Demko had 30 stops for the Eagles (20-4-4), who have won six of the last seven Beanpot championships. Demko’s shutout was also his ninth of the season, setting a new school record.

The game was delayed for about half an hour following a power failure that may have been related to snowfall in Boston last night. BC outshot BU, 42-30, including 23-12 in the first period, while the two Green Line rivals combined to go 0-for-5 on the power play.

In the consolation game played earlier on Monday, Northeastern defeated ninth-ranked Harvard, 5-1. BU had edged Northeastern, 3-1, in the Beanpot’s opening round after BC outlasted Harvard, 3-2, both on Feb. 1. Either BC or BU has won the Beanpot every year since Harvard (13-7-3) last claimed it in 1993, while Northeastern (10-13-5) last took a victory lap in 1988 in the since-demolished Boston Garden.

Next year’s Beanpot slate will have BC facing BU, and Northeastern taking on Harvard in the first round the first Monday of February.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Spartans Win "Duel in the D"

"D" stands for Detroit, as in the new Iron D trophy.
It also stands for DeBlouw, as in Michigan State forward Matt DeBlouw, whose slapshot from the top of the right circle 3:29 into overtime Friday night lifted the Spartans (7-18-2 overall, 3-8-0-0 Big Ten) to a  3-2 victory over fifth-ranked archrival Michigan at Joe Louis Arena.

MSU has now won two of its last three games, all in Big Ten play, while Michigan, which had been averaging five goals per game, saw its four-game winning streak snapped.
Joe Cox broke a scoreless tie 10:41 into the second period when he connected on penalty shot for the Spartans. The Wolverines (16-4-4, 7-2-2-1) rebounded just over six minutes later when Tyler Motte sped away to score on MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand (40 saves) on the stick side.

Motte later put U-M up, 2-1, on a shot from the slot just over nine minutes into the third stanza. Cox responded just under four minutes later, snapping home a shot from the left side. DeBlouw then won it in the extra session when he blasted the puck off the far post and past Michigan netminder Steve Racine (38 saves).

The Spartans claim the inaugural 50-pound Iron D trophy that will be awarded to the winner of the annual “Duel in the D” contest between MSU and U-M. Tonight's game marked the 308th meeting in series history, with No. 309 scheduled for Saturday night at MSU's Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tim Alexander 1957-2016

I knew Tim Alexander when I worked in communications for the North American Hockey League in Michigan 16 years ago and he was coaching the Cleveland Barons Junior ‘A’ franchise. I always liked him, and he always treated me well.

Tim accomplished quite a bit in hockey before he passed away from pancreatic cancer last week at age 58. He played four seasons at Bowling Green State University (1976-1980), tallying 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points in 37 games as a senior under head coach Jerry York, according to

Born in Canada, he also led the Falcons to three Central Collegiate Hockey Association tournament titles, two CCHA regular-season championships, and three NCAA Tournament berths, including a third-place national finish as a sophomore under head coach Ron Mason, according to The Falcons defeated visiting Colorado College in a two-game, total goals quarterfinal round series before falling to Boston College in a semifinal matchup in Providence, and then edged Wisconsin in the consolation contest. His teammates at BGSU included future NHL players George McPhee and Brian MacLellan, plus long-time Michigan State assistant coach Tom Newton.

After college and a short professional playing stint with Dayton (IHL), Tim embarked on a long career coaching at multiple levels in the Barons organization. He also returned to his collegiate alma mater as an assistant coach in 2001-02 before going back to the Barons, and in all coached hockey for over 30 years in the Cleveland area while sending numerous players on to junior, college and pro hockey. He leaves behind a wife, Sandi, and a son, Jarrett.

Rest in peace, Tim, and thanks.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

BC, BU to Meet for All the Beans in 2016

It'll be Eagles and Terriers again next Monday (weather permitting) next week at TD Garden.

Boston College and Boston University advanced to the 64th Beanpot Tournament title game after posting wins in the semifinal round yesterday. The fourth-ranked Eagles came back to edge No. 7 Harvard, 3-2, in the opener, while the No. 9  Terriers outlasted Northeastern, 3-1, in the nightcap.

Colin White's second-period power-play goal stood up as the game-winner in BC's victory, after the Crimson had taken a 2-1 lead in the first period by scoring on its first two shots on goal of the game.

Sean Maguire, who was a medical redshirt last season, made 24 saves in net for BU as the Terriers jumped out to a 2-0 lead and then held off the Huskies with a late empty-net goal.

BU won last year's Beanpot title, and has a record 30 crowns to its credit. BC had won the previous five Beanpots, and will be seeking its 20th ring since the tournament commenced in 1952. It will be the 22nd championship game meeting between the two Hockey East Association and MBTA Green Line rivals, and first since 2012 when BC won, 3-2, in overtime en route to the NCAA title.

Harvard last won the Beanpot in 1989, the last year the Crimson also won the national title. that title came one year after Northeastern claimed its last Beanpot crown in 1988.