Tuesday, April 26, 2016

USA Finishes Third at Under-18 Championship

Joey Anderson (Minnesota-Duluth) scored two goals, and Clayton Keller (Boston University) and Casey Mittelstadt finished with three assists apiece, as the United States routed Canada, 10-3, in the bronze medal game of the 2016 IIHF Under-18 World Hockey Championship in Grand Forks, N.D. on Monday. The U.S. medaled for the 12th consecutive time in the tournament, according to IIHF.com.

Jake Oettinger (Boston Unievrsity) finished with 29 saves for the Americans, whose only blemish in the competition was a 4-2 semifinal loss to Finland on Saturday. Finland then defeated Sweden, 6-1, yesterday for the gold medal. Keller, who according to usahockey.com is eligible for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, finished second in overall tournament scoring with four goals and six assists for 10 points in seven outings. He will join Oettinger at BU in the fall.

Oettinger finished with a record of 4-0 in the championship, which saw the U.S. defeat Russia, Sweden, Latvia, Switzerland and the Czech Republic by a combined score of 38-4 in five Group "B" preliminary-round contests from April 14-21 at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Team USA was coached by Danton Cole (Michigan State).

Next year's U18 tournament will be hosted by Slovakia.

Parayko, Blues Oust Blackhawks

Colton Parayko (Alaska Fairbanks) scored his second career postseason goal, and Brian Elliott (Wisconsin) made 31 saves as the St. Louis Blues defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, in a deciding first-round Game Seven on Monday night in Missouri.

Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College) and Paul Stastny (Denver) had assists for the Blues, who managed to win the series after surrendering a three games-to-one lead. Stastny's assist came on the winning goal by Troy Brouwer with 11:29 remaining in regulation.

The Blackhawks rebounded from an early 2-0 deficit to knot the contest in the second period, as Jonathan Towes (North Dakota) and Duncan Keith (Michigan State) drew assists on the tying goal by Andrew Shaw. Chicago had claimed the Cup in three of the past six seasons (2010, 2013, 2015).

The Blues, who had been eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past three years, will now face the Dallas Stars, the top seed in the NHL's Western Conference. The Stars eliminated the Minnesota Wild, four games to two, with a 5-4 victory in Game Six in St. Paul on Sunday.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Demko Leaves Boston College for Canucks

And then there were five (gone).

Boston College junior goaltender Thatcher Demko gave up his senior season to sign an entry level contract yesterday with the Vancouver Canucks, who selected him in the second round (36th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Demko, 20, who won the Mike Richter Award this year as the top goaltender in NCAA Division I men's ice hockey, joins Adam Gilmour, Steve Santini, Alex Tuch and Miles Wood as ex-Eagles who signed professional contracts with college eligibility remaining following the end of BC's 2015-16 campaign. Gilmour and Tuch signed with the Minnesota Wild, while Santini and Wood inked deals with the New Jersey Devils and then made their NHL debuts in the Devils’ season finale on April 9 against Toronto.

A San Diego native, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Demko leaves the Heights after recording a 27-8-4 record with a 1.88 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage, and 10 shutouts in 36 games last season, all career bests. In 98 outings over three seasons, he finished with a mark of 62-26-10 (2.08, .928) with 13 shutouts. 

Demko also backstopped BC to two NCAA Frozen Four appearances, two Hockey East regular-season titles, and two Beanpot Tournament championships in his career. He played his final game for BC in a 3-2 loss to Quinnipiac in an NCAA Frozen Four semifinal on April 7 in Tampa, where he made 27 saves. He stopped 60 of 63 shots combined two weeks prior, against Harvard and Minnesota-Duluth, as the Eagles defeated both to claim the NCAA Northeast Regional in Worcester.

The Eagles will return one experienced netminder in the fall in rising freshman Ian Milosz, who posted a win and a tie in two starts against Providence after joining BC at midseason. Sophomore goalie Chris Birdsall is also expected to return, after missing all of last season due to injury. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Two Clubs Back in Contention, One Set to Sweep

Jonathan Quick (Massachusetts) made 28 saves on Monday night as the Los Angeles Kings climbed back into their Western Conference quarterfinal series of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 overtime win at San Jose. The Sharks, who had won the first two games in Los Angeles, now lead the best-of-seven series, two games to one. Game 4 is Wednesday in San Jose.

In Minnesota, the host Wild stormed back from a 2-0 first-period deficit to register a 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars yesterday. Erik Haula (Minnesota) had a goal and assist to lead the Wild, while Charlie Coyle (Boston University) picked up an assist. Patrick Sharp (Vermont) scored twice for Dallas, which leads the series, two games to one, and will again try to extend its lead in Game 4 on Wednesday in St. Paul.

Lastly, the Washington Capitals, the NHL's top team during the regular season, tallied five power-play goals to move to the brink of a first-round sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers with a 6-1 triumph in Pennsylvania. Jay Beagle (Alaska Anchorage) scored the final goal for the Caps, who now lead the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, three games to none, and will look to close it out on Wednesday.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Blues Take Two-to-One NHL Series Lead

Colton Parayko (Alaska Fairbanks) tied the game at a goal apiece in the first period, and Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College) notched the game winner on a power play with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation as the St. Louis Blues edged the host Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, at the United Center on Sunday afternoon in Game Three of their NHL Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Brian Elliott (Wisconsin) finished with 44 saves for St. Louis, while Kevin Shattenkirk (Boston University) and David Backes (Minnesota State) had one assist apiece. The Blues, who won Game One, 1-0, in overtime at home last week before dropping a 3-2 decision in Game Two to the defending NHL champion Blackhawks, now lead the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoff series, two games to one. Game Four is Tuesday night in Chicago.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Tuch Leaves Boston College for NHL's Wild

Alex Tuch has passed up his final two years at Boston College to sign with the Minnesota Wild, who drafted him in the first round (18th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He will not be eligible to participate in this spring’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, but may practice with the team.

A native of Baldwinsville, N.Y., the 6-foot-4, 220-pound right wing led BC in scoring as a freshman in 2014-15 with 14 goals and 14 assists for 28 points as the Eagles advanced to the NCAA Tournament. This season, Tuch notched 18-16—34 points, including an overtime goal in the Beanpot Championship game against Boston University in February. 

Tuch also scored a goal in an NCAA Northeast Regional victory over Harvard last month, and collected his final college goal in a Frozen Four semifinal loss a week ago to Quinnipiac. He finishes his two-year college career with 32-30—62 points in 77 outings, and also helped the Eagles to a share of this year’s Hockey East regular-season title.

Prior to enrolling at the Heights, Tuch, 19, tallied 13-19—32 points in 26 outings with the U.S. National Under-18 Team in 2013-14. He becomes the fourth undergraduate with eligibility remaining to leave BC in the past week. Junior defenseman Steve Santini and freshman forward Miles Wood signed with the New Jersey Devils late last week, while junior forward Adam Gilmour preceded Tuch this week with the Wild.  

Former College Players Capture Early Stanley Cup Playoff Spotlight

Former NCAA players starred Wednesday night in all three games on the schedule as the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs got underway.

Jeff Zatkoff (Miami) made 35 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins topped the visiting New York Rangers, 5-2. David Backes (Minnesota State) scored the only goal of the game 9:04 into overtime as the St. Louis Blues edged the defending NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks. Finally, Alex Killorn (Harvard) notched the game-winning goal with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation as the host Tampa Bay Lightning outlasted the Detroit Red Wings, 3-2.

The conference quarterfinals continue tonight in the east as the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Washington Capitals, and the New York Islanders travel to the Florida Panthers. In the west, the Minnesota Wild drop in on the Dallas Stars, while the San Jose Sharks head south to face off with the Los Angeles Kings.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

North Dakota 2015-16 National Champs

The University of North Dakota has won the 2016 NCAA Division I men's ice hockey national championship. The Fighting Hawks (34-6-4 overall) scored three times in the third period to break open a one-goal game, and bested top-ranked Quinnipiac University, 5-1, on Saturday night before 19,358 fans at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

UND senior forward Drake Caggiula scored two goals, both in the final frame, for the former Fighting Sioux, and earned NCAA Frozen Four MVP honors with four goals in two games, including a pair in Thursday's 4-2 semifinal win over Denver. Cam Johnson stopped 32 shots for the Fighting Hawks, who won their eighth national title overall, first since 2000, and first as a member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). Head coach Brad Berry, a former UND player and assistant coach, becomes the first NCAA hockey head coach to win a national title in his first season as the top man behind the bench.

Tim Clifton scored the only goal for Quinnipiac (32-4-7), on a first-period 5-on-3 power play after UND had taken a 2-0 lead. The Bobcats, who were attempting to become the third Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) school to win the Division I men's hockey national title in the last four years, were appearing in their second NCAA title game and were seeking their first national crown.

Next year's men's Frozen Four will be held at the United Center in Chicago.

Friday, April 8, 2016

National Awards Announced; BC Loses Two Early

So much for the so-called “off” day on Friday at the Frozen Four in Tampa.

Per USCHO.com, Harvard senior forward Jimmy Vesey won the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in NCAA Division I men's hockey. Michigan freshman forward Kyle Connor earned the Tim Taylor Award as best rookie.  Boston College junior Thatcher Demko claimed the Mike Richter Award as leading goaltender. And according to collegehockeynews.com, BC junior defenseman Steve Santini and freshman forward Miles Wood have signed with the NHL's New Jersey Devils.

In addition, Air Force senior goaltender Chris Dylewski was honored with this year’s Hockey Humanitarian Award, while Holy Cross senior forward Matt Vidal received the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award.

Got all that?

Last but not least, the national title game between Quinnipiac and North Dakota is Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Quinnipiac versus North Dakota on Saturday

It’ll be North Dakota and Quinnipiac for all the Frozen Four marbles/pucks on Saturday night in the Southeast (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

Quinnipiac, the top-ranked team in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey, punched its ticket to the national championship game after outlasting sixth-ranked Boston College, 3-2, at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Thursday afternoon. North Dakota then made its first final in 11 years by rebounding for a late 4-2 victory last night over National Collegiate Hockey Conference rival Denver in the nightcap.

After taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Kevin McKernan and Andrew Taverner in the first eight minutes of play, a power-play tally by Landon Smith early in the second period stood up as the game-winner for Quinnipiac (32-3-7 overall), the 2013 national runner-up. BC (28-8-5) got goals from Alex Tuch and Ryan Fitzgerald (PPG) in playing catch-up, but couldn’t get the equalizer despite outshooting the Bobcats, 36-30. The Eagles came up short when Michael Garteig (34 saves) got a glove on Ian McCoshen’s right-side blast with less than five seconds remaining in regulation.

Third-ranked North Dakota (33-6-4) jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a pair of second-period goals by Drake Caggiula, only to watch as the seventh-ranked Pioneers (25-10-6) tied the game in the third period on tallies eight minutes apart by blueliners Will Butcher and Matt VanVoorhis. Nick Schmaltz’s backhander in front with 57 seconds left won it for the Fighting Hawks, as did 21 saves by Cam Johnson, while Rhett Gardner iced affairs by flipping the puck the length of the ice and into an empty Denver net with two seconds left.

The Bobcats and Fighting Hawks have met just three times in all, with UND winning all three games. The Fighting Hawks defeated Quinnipiac, 4-1, at the 2015 NCAA West Regional in Fargo, N.D. in their most recent get-together. UND is seeking its eighth NCAA championship, and first since 2000, while Quinnipiac is looking for the first national title in program history.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Yale's Lyon Signs with Flyers

Yale goaltender Alex Lyon has signed a free agent contract with the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, according to multiple outlets. He will forgo his final season in New Haven, and closed out his college career on March 26 with 28 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to UMass Lowell in the first round of the NCAA East Regional in Albany.

A native of Baudette, Minn. who prepped with Omaha (USHL) before enrolling at Yale, Lyon finished with a 19-8-4 record in 31 overall appearances this season. He also posted a nation-best 1.64 goals-against average along with a second-best .936 save percentage, and five shutouts. He went 14-6-3 in 23 ECAC games this year while pacing the circuit in GAA (1.61) and save percent (.938) to go along with four shutouts.

A finalist for the second straight season for the Mike Richter Award as the NCAA's best goaltender, Lyon completed his career with a record of 50-29-4 (1.88, .931, 15 SO) in 93 outings at Yale. He also helped the Bulldogs to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances his final two campaigns.

Elsewhere, Boston University goaltender Sean Maguire signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, according to the NHL club's web site, and will join Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) on an amateur tryout contract. He went 13-9-1 (2.41, .920, 2 SO) in 25 NCAA games this year with the Terriers, after sitting out from a medical redshirt season in 2014-15. A native of Powell River, B.C., Maguire finished with a 29-29-1 overall mark (2.58, .922, 6 SO) in three years at BU.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

U.S. Wins Women's World Hockey Gold Again


Alex Carpenter didn't win an NCAA championship with Boston College this season. A second straight world title with the United States will have to suffice.

Carpenter’s goal 12:30 into overtime lifted the Americans to a 1-0 victory over host Canada on Monday night in the 2016 IIHF Women's World Championship gold medal game at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, B.C. It marked the third straight time the U.S. has garnered world gold, including last year’s triumph in Sweden, and the 17th straight time America has faced Canada for gold since the women’s world tournament began in 1990 in Ottawa.

After the two teams traded power plays in the extra session last night, a shot from the right side by Megan Bozak (Minnesota) was tipped in front by Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (North Dakota). Team Canada goalie Emerance Maschmeyer (Harvard) made the initial save, but the puck trickled behind her where Carpenter found it and slammed it over the goal line for the lone goal of the game, and her only goal of the tournament. Maschmeyer finished with 33 saves, while Alex Rigbsy (Wisconsin) made 32 stops for the U.S., which won all five of its games in the tournament.

The U.S. has now won seven out of the last nine women’s world tournaments, according to IIHF.com, and six of the last seven world crowns. Canada settled for silver for a third straight spring, minus the 2014 Olympics, while Russia claimed this year’s bronze after topping Finland, 1-0, in a shootout earlier yesterday.

Hilary Knight (Wisconsin) of the U.S. was named Best Forward and Tournament MVP after leading all players with seven goals and nine points in five games, while Maschmeyer was chosen as Top Goaltender with a 1.25 goals-against average and .956 save percentage in five outings. Monique Lamoureux (North Dakota) of the Team USA was also named to the tournament all-star team along with Knight after collecting two goals and seven points in five games.

The 2017 IIHF Women's World Championship will be contested next April in Plymouth, Mich.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Hobey Hat Trick Announced

The 2016 Hobey Hat Trick has been announced. The three finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, presented annually since 1981 to the top player in NCAA Division I men’s college ice hockey, are as follows:

Kyle Connor, Freshman, Forward, University of Michigan. The rookie from Shelby Township, Mich. led the nation in scoring this season with 35 goals and 36 assists for 71 points in 38 games, following the Wolverines’ elimination from the NCAA Tournament by North Dakota on March 26. The nation’s leading goal-scorer, Connor potted 10 power-play goals and seven game-winners in leading Michigan to both the Great Lakes Invitational and Big Ten Tournament titles.

Thatcher Demko, Junior, Goaltender, Boston College. A 6-foot-4 netminder from San Diego, Demko has set new career highs this season in fashioning a 27-7-4 record with a 1.85 goal-against average and .936 save percentage in 38 games. He leads all Division I goaltenders with 10 shutouts, and has also played a career-high 2,303 minutes this year in leading the Eagles to their second NCAA Frozen Four in three years, along with the Hockey East regular-season and Beanpot Tournament titles. For his NCAA career, he has gone 62-25-10 in 97 appearances.

Jimmy Vesey, Senior, Forward, Harvard University. The North Reading, Mass. native's totals were down from last year, when he paced the nation with 32 goals, but he still managed to put up 24-22—46 points in 33 games this time out as the Crimson advanced to both the ECAC Championship game and the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. He posted six power-play goals and five game-winners in 2015-16, was sixth in Division I in total goals, and registered 80-66—146 points in 128 outings over his now-completed college career.

The Hobey Baker Award will be presented on April 8 in Tampa during the Frozen Four. Last year’s winner was Jack Eichel of Boston University, now a member of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Early Signing Season Begins

Some of the early NCAA hockey player signings that have taken place since the start of March:

Adam Carlson, G, Fr., Mercyhurst         Washington
Shane Conacher, F, Jr., Canisius         Toronto (AHL)
Michael Downing, D, Jr., Michigan        Columbus
Jake Guentzel, F, Jr., Omaha             WB-Scranton (AHL)
Hudson Fasching, F, Jr., Minnesota       Buffalo
Kasimir Kaskisuo, G, So., Minn-Duluth    Toronto
Mario Lucia, F, Sr., Notre Dame          Minnesota
Eamon McAdam, G, Jr., Penn State         NY Islanders
Charlie Lindgren, G, Jr., St. Cloud      Montreal
Mackenzie MacEachern, F, Jr., Mich. St.  St. Louis
Casey Nelson, D, Jr., Minnesota St.      Buffalo
Boo Nieves, F, Sr., Michigan             NY Rangers
Andrew Poturalski, So., F, UNH           Carolina
Dan Renouf, F, Jr., Maine                Detroit
Kyle Schempp, F, Jr., Ferris State       NY Islanders
Nick Seeler, D, Jr., Minnesota           Minnesota
Zach Werenski, D, So., Michigan          Columbus

More to come, obviously, both before and after next weekend's Frozen Four in Florida.