Thursday, March 31, 2016

Coaching Carousel Commences

Wisconsin went back to the past in hiring its new coach, former Badgers forward Tony Granato. St. Lawrence head coach Greg Carvel has left his alma mater to join Massachusetts, and Gary Wright is stepping down at American International after 32 years at the helm.

In other NCAA hockey coaching news, Scott Sandelin has gotten a four-year extension at Minnesota-Duluth, while Nebraska-Omaha is seeking two new assistants.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Vesey Leaves Nashville Waiting

Former Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey will apparently not sign with the Nashville Predators after all.

Vesey, who was drafted by the Predators in the 3rd round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, completed his college career on Friday with the Crimson’s 4-1 loss to Boston College in an NCAA Northeast Regional semifinal.

Nashville fully expected Vesey to sign with them afterwards, but that didn’t happen.

The Predators, who had allegedly kept a spot open for Vesey for their Stanley Cup Playoff run, still hold his rights until Aug. 15, when he will become a free agent.

The son of former Merrimack standout Jim Vesey, now a scout with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jimmy Vesey finished his four-year Crimson career with 80 goals and 66 assists for 144 points in 128 outings, according to He also recorded 19 power-play goals and 16 game-winners in four campaigns in Cambridge, Mass. He led all NCAA Division I skaters with 32 goals overall a year ago, when he was a Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist and also led Harvard to its first ECAC Tournament championship since 2006.

Vesey again won the Walter Brown Award this season as the top American-born college hockey player in New England, after tallying 24-22—46 points in 33 overall appearances as Harvard's captain. He also led the ECAC in scoring with 20-17—37 points in 25 league contests.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Half of Frozen Four Filled, Half to Go

Half of the 2016 NCAA Men's Division I Hockey Frozen Four bracket has been filled.

North Dakota punched its ticket to Tampa with a 5-2 victory over Michigan on Saturday in the Midwest Regional final in Cincinnati, while Boston College outlasted Minnesota-Duluth, 3-2, in the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass. UND, which last won the national title in 2000, will be playing in its third straight Frozen Four, while 2012 NCAA champion BC will return to the national semifinals after a one-year hiatus.

Two other NCAA regionals will conclude today, after getting underway yesterday. Ferris State advanced to the West Regional final in St. Paul, Minn. with a 5-4 overtime victory over St. Cloud State, while Denver ousted Boston University by a 7-2 score. Ferris and Denver will meet today at 5 p.m. ET for the right to face North Dakota in Florida on April 7.

At the East Regional in Albany yesterday, top overall seed Quinnipiac blanked RIT, 4-0, while UMass-Lowell edged Yale, 3-2, in OT. Quinnipiac and UMass-Lowell will face-off tonight at 7:30 p.m., with the winner to play BC in Tampa in two weeks time.

ADDENDUM: Denver scored three unanswered third-period goals to break a tie with Ferris in a 6-3 victory, while Quinnipiac spotted UML a one-goal lead before going on to win, 4-1. Quinnipiac will now face BC at 5 p.m. ET at Amalie Arena on April 7, followed by Denver-North Dakota at 8:30 p.m. ET, with both games to be shown on ESPN2.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

NCAA Tournament Underway

There will at least be a new champion in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey this season.

Defending champion Providence fell, 2-1, in double overtime to Minnesota Duluth in Friday's Northeast Regional opener in Worcester, Mass. The Bulldogs will now meet Boston College, a 4-1 winner over Harvard, tonight at 9 p.m. (all times Eastern) in the regional final.

At the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, Northeastern's 14-game unbeaten streak came to an end with a 6-2 loss to North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks will now face Michigan, a 3-2 OT winner over Notre Dame, tonight at 6 p.m.

The East Regional in Albany gets underway today with top-seeded Quinnipiac facing RIT at 4 p.m., followed by Yale against UMass Lowell at 7:30 p.m. The regional final is scheduled for tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

The West Regional commences today in St. Paul, Minn. with St. Cloud State taking on Ferris State at 3 p.m. The nightcap will feature Boston University against Denver at 6:30 p.m., with the two Saturday winners to skate in the regional final on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The four regional winners will advance to the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals in Tampa on April 7.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Notre Dame to Join Big Ten in Two Seasons

Multiple sources are reporting that the University of Notre Dame will be headed to the Big Ten hockey conference beginning with the 2017-18 campaign.

The Fighting Irish have spent the last three seasons in Hockey East after leaving the dissolving Central Collegiate Hockey Association in 2013. Notre Dame (19-10-7 overall) has gone 60-44-14 overall in its three seasons in Hockey East, according to

The Irish spent the previous 21 seasons in the CCHA, winning two regular-season championships and three playoff titles, including the final Mason Cup in 2013. Prior to that, UND spent eight years as an independent team, after two seasons in the CCHA and 10 years in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The program was reborn as an independent varsity team in 1968 following a 41-year-hiatus.

The 13th-ranked Irish, who were swept by Northeastern in the Hockey East quarterfinals earlier this month, will face former CCHA and (future Big Ten) foe Michigan on Saturday in an NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal. The winner will meet the victor of the North Dakota-Northeastern contest for a berth in the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Eagles Fall in NCAA Women's Championship

The greatest season in the history of the Boston College women's ice hockey program came up one game short of perfection on Sunday afternoon.

The Eagles fell, 3-1, to defending national champion Minnesota in the 2016 NCAA Division I women's hockey national  title game at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H. It was the sixth overall national crown for the third-ranked Golden Gophers (35-4-1 overall) since the NCAA began honoring a women's hockey national champion in 2001. The Gophers, who also claimed their fourth national title in the last five years, previously recorded the only perfect season in NCAA women's hockey history in 2012-13, when they finished 41-0-0.

BC (40-1-0), a 3-2 overtime winner over Clarkson on Thursday, was appearing in its first-ever national championship game. The Eagles, the nation's No. 1 team for virtually the entire season, had not lost since a 2-1 setback to Harvard a year ago to the day of Sunday's game.

Minnesota picked up where it left off in its semifinal match with rival Wisconsin on Thursday night. Sarah Potomak, who scored the game-winner 15 minutes into overtime against the Badgers in a 3-2 victory that evening, struck just 13 seconds after the opening face-off on Sunday. The one-goal lead held up as the Eagles and Gophers traded scoring chances, until the third period when Amanda Kessel and Kelly Pannek scored just under five minutes apart to put Minnesota up by a 3-0 count.

Makenna Newkirk connected for the Eagles with 5:07 remaining in regulation, but that was as close as BC would get. Amanda Leveille made 32 saves in her final appearance with the Gophers, while Katie Burt stopped 31 shots for the Eagles. Minnesota outshot BC, 34-33, while the two teams went a combined 0-for-7 on the power play.

The Eagles had previously won the 2015-16 Hockey East regular-season and tournament championships, plus the 2016 Beanpot Tournament title. Minnesota was the runner-up to Wisconsin for this year's WCHA regular-season and playoff championships.

Next year's NCAA Women's Division I Frozen Four will be held in the St. Louis area. Lindenwood University of College Hockey America will serve as the host of the tournament, which will be played at Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo., on March 17-19, 2017.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship Field Set

The field is set for the 16-team 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. The first-round pairings were announced live earlier today on ESPNU, while the bracket is available online at

The top four overall seeds in this year’s tournament are ECAC playoff champion Quinnipiac, NCHC champion St. Cloud State, North Dakota, and defending NCAA champion Providence. Nine of the 16 schools in this year’s tournament have won at least one national title.

Quinnipiac, which just won its first-ever Whitelaw Cup as ECAC playoff king, will be the top seed at the East Regional in Albany. The Bobcats will face 16th seed RIT, this year’s Atlantic Hockey champion, at 4 p.m. ET at the Times-Union Centre on Saturday. The nightcap will feature No. 8 Massachusetts Lowell against No. 10 Yale at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the winners meeting on Sunday, also at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Northeast Regional gets underway at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass on Friday when Providence faces 14th seed and NCHC runner-up Minnesota-Duluth. The late game will pit No.5 Boston College against No. 11 Harvard. The two winners will face off on Saturday at 9 p.m.

The West regional will begin Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. St. Cloud will meet No. 15 Ferris State, the WCHA playoff champion, at 2 p.m. CT, followed by No. 6 Denver against No. 9 Boston University. The regional final will be held Sunday at 4 p.m. CT.

Last but not least, the Midwest Regional will be held on Friday and Saturday at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. The first day’s slate will see North Dakota take on Hockey East winner and No. 13 seed Northeastern at 2 p.m. ET, followed by Big Ten champion and No. 7 Michigan against No. 12 Notre Dame.

The four regional winners will advance to the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four at Amalie Arena on April 7, to play at either 5 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. ET. The national championship contest will be contested two days later in Florida at 8 p.m. between the two semifinal winners.

Friday, March 18, 2016

BC to Meet Minnesota for NCAA Women's Title

Boston College has advanced to its first-ever NCAA Division I Women's Frozen Four national championship game.

The top-ranked Eagles (40-0-0 overall) overcame a 2-0 deficit and seven scoreless power-play attempts to edge No. 6 Clarkson, 3-2, on a goal 58 seconds into overtime by Haley Skarupa, her second goal of the game.

BC will now face No. 3 Minnesota, a 3-2 OT winner over No. 2 Wisconsin in the second NCAA semifinal in Durham, N.H. on Friday. Sarah Potomak scored 15 minutes into the extra session for the Golden Gophers (34-4-1), who will be seeking their sixth NCAA title on Sunday.

Faceoff at the Whittemore Center on March 20 will be at 2 p.m. ET, with the game being streamed live at

Eaves Out at Wisconsin

Mike Eaves is out at Wisconsin after 14 years at the Badger helm, according to multiple sources.

Eaves, who led UW to the 2006 national title, has been relieved of his head coaching duties after posting 12 wins total in the past two seasons as the Badgers finished at the bottom of the six-team Big Ten Conference in both years. The Badgers’ 2015-16 campaign (8-19-8 overall, 3-13-4-2 Big Ten) concluded yesterday with a 5-2 loss to Penn State in a Big Ten quarterfinal game in St. Paul, Minn.

A Denver native, Eaves leaves his alma mater with a 267-225-66 overall record, including seven NCAA Tournament berths. He also guided Wisconsin to the last tournament title in the “old” WCHA three years ago, before leading it to the inaugural Big Ten Tournament championship the following season, while 26 of his players made it to the NHL.

A 1978 graduate of Wisconsin, Eaves finished his college career with 94 goals and 173 assists for 267 points in 160 appearances, according to, and also helped the Badgers to two WCHA Tournament titles, plus the 1977 NCAA crown. Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the seventh round (113th overall) in the 1976 NHL Amateur Draft, he ultimately recorded 83-143—226 points in 324 NHL regular-season games with the Minnesota North Stars and the Calgary Flames, and also posted 7-10—17 points in 43 Stanley Cup Playoff contests.

Eaves began his coaching career as an assistant with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1988-89, then moved on to the Pittsburgh Penguins after head coaching stints with both Hershey (AHL) and HIFK Helsinki (Finland). He then spent one winter (2000-01) as head coach with the U.S. National Junior Team (USHL) before taking the job at Wisconsin the following season.

Under Eaves’ watch, Wisconsin won the 2006 national title in Milwaukee over Boston College, before being shut out by the Eagles four years later in Detroit in the NCAA title tilt. His sons, Ben and Patrick, both skated for Boston College prior to those games. Ben played professionally in the AHL, ECHL and Finland before retiring in 2013, while Patrick has appeared in over 500 NHL career games and is now in his second season with the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Women's Frozen Four, Men's Conference Championships This Weekend

The stage is set this weekend for the 2016 NCAA Division I Women's Frozen Four, along with the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey conference championships.

The women’s national champion will be crowned this weekend at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H. Number-one ranked Boston College (39-0-0 overall) will face 2014 NCAA champion Clarkson (30-4-5) in the first semifinal at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, while defending national champion Minnesota (33-4-1) will take on WCHA rival Wisconsin (35-3-1) in the nightcap at 7 p.m. ET. BC is looking to earn a spot in its first national title game, which will be played Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, while Minnesota (six) and Wisconsin (four) have 10 national championships between them.

The conference championships in each of the six men’s hockey Division I conferences will also be contested this week, with a half-dozen automatic berths to the 2016 NCAA Tournament on the line. In all six conferences, the Friday semifinal winners will meet on Saturday to decide their respective conference crowns.

In Atlantic Hockey, Army will meet Robert Morris on Friday at 5 p.m. ET, while RIT will battle Air Force at 8:30 p.m. ET at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. RIT won last year’s championship game.

The Big Ten Tournament starts Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., with Wisconsin taking on 19th-ranked Penn State at 4 p.m. CT, and Michigan State facing Ohio State at 7:30 p.m. CT. The winners will meet either Michigan (4 p.m. CT) or Minnesota (7:30 p.m. CT) on Friday, with Minnesota looking to defend its Big Ten title following a victory over Michigan last year in Detroit.

The Eastern College Athletic Conference will see Dartmouth face off with second-ranked Quinnipiac at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y. at 4 p.m. ET Friday, followed by No. 17 St. Lawrence taking on No. 9 Harvard at 7:30 p.m. ET. Harvard won last year’s ECAC Tournament, for its first league title since 2006.

Hockey East will again contest its annual postseason tournament semifinals at TD Garden in Boston, with defending NCAA champion and third-ranked Providence skating against No. 8 Massachusetts-Lowell at 5 p.m. ET on Friday. That game will be followed by No. 5 Boston College playing No. 14 Northeastern at 8 p.m. ET. Boston University, last year’s winner, was ousted by UML in last week’s quarterfinals.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s Frozen Faceoff semifinals will take place at the Target Center in Minneapolis. No. 16 Minnesota-Duluth will vie with top-ranked North Dakota at 4 p.m. CT Friday, before No. 4 St. Cloud and No. 6 Denver hook up at 7:30 p.m. CT. Last year’s NCHC champion, Miami, was knocked out in the quarterfinals last weekend by Minnesota-Duluth.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals return to Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Friday, with Bowling Green testing No. 15 Minnesota State at 4 p.m. ET, followed by Ferris State meeting No. 12 Michigan Tech at 7:30 p.m. ET. MSU is the defending WCHA tournament champion.

The NCAA men’s hockey selection show will be televised Sunday at noon ET on ESPNU. The four Division I regional tournaments will be held on March 25-27 in Albany, Cincinnati, St. Paul and Worcester, Mass., to decide the participants for the NCAA Frozen Four on April 7-9 at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Boston College Heads 2016 NCAA Women's Hockey Tournament Field

Boston College is the top seed in the eight-team 2016 NCAA Division I Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament that will begin on Saturday.

No. 1 nationally-ranked BC will host fellow Hockey East school and sixth-ranked Northeastern, while seventh-ranked Princeton will travel to No. 3 Minnesota. Fifth-seeded Clarkson, the 2014 NCAA champion, will visit No. 4 Quinnipiac, while College Hockey America champion Mercyhurst will travel to four-time NCAA champion and second-ranked Wisconsin.

BC is 38-0-0 overall this season and just won the Hockey East championship with a 5-1 victory over Green Line rival Boston University after the Eagles posted a 24-0-0 mark in league regular-season play. Northeastern (28-8-1) is making its first national tournament appearance since the NCAA began recognizing a women’s Division I championship in 2004, although the Huskies were long an eastern powerhouse along with Providence and New Hampshire prior to the formation of the Women’s Hockey East Association and the formally-recognized NCAA Division I level.

Princeton (22-8-2) will visit Minnesota (32-4-1) for the second time in 10 years in NCAA Tournament play. The Tigers fell to the host Gophers, 4-0, in 2006 in their only previous national invitation. Minnesota, the defending national champion, is playing in its eighth straight national tournament, and has won three of the last four NCAA titles, and six overall.

Clarkson (29-4-5) is in the NCAAs for the fourth straight season, while Quinnipiac (30-2-5) is making its inaugural NCAA Tournament appearance. The game will be a rematch of this year’s ECAC Championship, which was won by Quinnipiac’s Bobcats, 1-0, over the Golden Knights.

Mercyhurst (19-10-5), which edged Syracuse, 4-3, in overtime in the CHA championship game, is back in the NCAAs for the first time since 2014, and the 10th time in 11 seasons despite the Lakers posting their lowest single-season victory total since 2000-01. Wisconsin, which has finished third nationally the past two seasons, last won a national title in 2011, which was two years after the Badgers defeated the Lakers in the NCAA title game in Boston. Wisconsin also blanked Minnesota, 1-0, in this year’s WCHA championship game.

The four winners this weekend will convene at the NCAA Frozen Four in Durham, New Hampshire on March 18-20.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Nanooks Earn Governor's Cup, Last WCHA Playoff Berth

The University of Alaska (Fairbanks) Nanooks claimed their seventh consecutive Governor’s Cup with a 3-2 victory over in-state rival Alaska Anchorage on Friday night at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. For good measure on Saturday night, they posted another 3-2 victory while also claiming the final Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff spot and ending the Seawolves’ 2015-16 season.
Peter Krieger's third-period power-play goal with just over five minutes remaining in regulation Friday stood up as the game-winner for Alaska (10-20-4 overall, 8-16-4 WCHA), while Davis Jones made 28 saves for the Nanooks. Jones finished with 19 stops on Saturday, and made an early third-period score by Justin Woods stand up as the decisive marker shortly after UAA (11-20-3, 8-18-2) had forged a 2-2 tie. Woods sat out last season while being treated for Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Alaska is 3-3-0 in its last six outings overall following a five-game losing skid. The Seawolves, meanwhile, lost 13 of their final 16 games to fall out of playoff contention. UAA needed just two points over the weekend to advance to the postseason, and also went 0-3-1 overall against the Nanooks this season.
Alaska will now face top-seeded and 13th-ranked Michigan Tech in a best-of-three WCHA series beginning on Friday in Houghton, Mich. The Huskies defeated the visiting Nanooks on Feb. 26-27 by 6-5 and 3-2 scores. Alaska missed the playoffs last season due to NCAA sanctions.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Devils Deal Stempniak to Bruins

The New Jersey Devils have parted with the present to help set up the future.

The Devils dealt top scorer Lee Stempniak (Dartmouth) before the end of Monday’s NHL trading deadline, to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a pair of draft picks. The Devils received Boston’s fourth-round choice in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, plus the Bruins’ 2017 second-round selection.

Stempniak, 33, led the Devils with 41 points in 63 games to date, including 16 goals. He was also dealt at last year’s trading deadline, going from the New York Rangers to the Winnipeg Jets at the time.

A native of West Seneca, N.Y., Stempniak tallied 63 goals and 88 assists for 151 points in 135 career NCAA outings at Dartmouth, according to, including 16 power-play goals and eight game-winners. He notched a career-high 21 goals and 49 points as a sophomore with the Big Green in 2002-03, and was subsequently drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the fifth round (148th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He was also a First Team All-America selection as a junior, and a second team choice as a senior.

In 771 career NHL regular-season games with St. Louis, Toronto, Phoenix, Calgary, Pittsburgh, the Rangers and New Jersey, Stempniak has collected 181-229—410 points to go along with 287 penalty minutes, per He has a further three goals and six points in 28 Stanley Cup playoff appearances.

Stempniak should make his Bruins’ debut tonight when Boston hosts Calgary, as should defenseman John-Michael Liles (Michigan State). The former Spartan blueliner was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday in exchange for Carolina’s 2016 third-round pick, its 2017 fifth-round pick, and prospect Anthony Camara. Liles, 35, an Indianapolis native, has recorded 87-272—359 points in 783 NHL regular-season outings with Colorado, Toronto and Carolina. He accumulated 44-94—138 points in four seasons at MSU from 1999 to 2003, and twice earned All-America accolades.