Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Round Two of NHL Playoffs Starts Tonight

The second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins tonight, with eight teams remaining in the hunt.

Three of the top scorers so far in the NHL postseason were college-trained. Phil Kessel (Minnesota) is third overall with two goals and six assists for eight points for the Pittsburgh Penguins, while T. J. Oshie (North Dakota) is fifth with 3-47 points in six outings with the Washington Capitals. Jake Guentzel (Omaha) has posted 5-16 totals in six games with the Penguins as a rookie, and leads all NHl players in playoff goals so far this spring.

Among defensemen, Kevin Bieksa (Bowling Green) has four assists in four appearances with Anaheim, while in goal Cam Talbot (Alabama-Huntsville) led the Edmonton Oilers to their first playoff victory in 10 seasons with a 4-2 record (2.03, .927) and two shutouts in the first round against San Jose.

The Western Conference gets underway Wednesday, with Nashville visiting St. Louis and Edmonton dropping in on Anaheim. On Thursday, it's the Eastern Conference's turn to get going, as Ottawa will host the New York Rangers while Washington will entertain Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pearson Returns to Michigan as Head Coach

Former University of Michigan assistant Mel Pearson is the new bench boss of the Wolverines, as announced Monday. Pearson succeeds former head coach Red Berenson, who retired last month after 33 years at the helm in Ann Arbor.

Pearson, 58, spent the last six years coaching at his alma mater, Michigan Tech. The Huskies went 118-92-6 under his tutelage, won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's playoff tournament this past season, and qualified twice for the NCAA Tournament (2015, 2017). MTU also recorded three consecutive 20-plus win campaigns in the last three years, and went 15-7-6-3 in WCHA play last year, finishing second in the conference.

Pearson played for MTU from 1977 to 1981, scoring 21 goals and adding 35 assists for 56 points in 107 career outings, according to He also served three seasons as an assistant coach with the Huskies (1985-1988).

A native of Edina, Minn., Pearson served as an assistant coach at Michigan from 1988 to 1999, and then as associate coach from 1999 to 2011. In that span, the Wolverines won 10 Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season titles and nine CCHA playoff championships, while qualifying for the NCAA Tournament every year from 1991 to 2011. Michigan also made 11 NCAA Frozen Four appearances and won national titles in 1996 and 1998, while also finishing as NCAA runner-up in 2011. U-M also finished first in the annual Great Lakes Invitational no less than 13 times during Pearson’s tenure, including his first nine seasons.

This past season U-M went 13-19-3 overall, finished fifth in the Big Ten Conference, and did not qualify for the NCAAs for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Princeton's Bonar Named SPHL Goalie of the Year

Sean Bonar (Princeton) has been named the Southern Professional Hockey League's Goaltender of the Year.

A native of Delta, B.C., Bonar backstopped the Fayetteville FireAntz for 49 games during the 2016-17 SPHL regular season, posting a 32-15-12 record along with a 2.07 goals-against average and a .927 save percentrage. He also recorded four shutouts in his second career stint with Fayetteville, with whom he went 9-3-0 with three shutouts in 13 apperances in 2015-16.

Bonar, 26, played at Princeton from 2010 to 2014. In 63 career games with the Tigers, he went 17-33-6 (3.16, .898) with two shutouts and one assist.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Kuraly Keeps Bruins Going in OT

Boston University, Minnesota State and Miami (Ohio) teamed up to keep the Boston Bruins' season alive.

Sean Kuraly (Miami) backhanded home a rebound 10:19 into double overtime to lift the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the host Ottawa Senators on Friday night. Ottawa still leads the best-of-seven NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, three games to two.

Kuraly scored his first career NHL goal on Friday in regulation, but then saw a potential Boston game-winning goal scuttled in the first OT after he collided with Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson prior to the puck entering the net. The goal was subsequently waved off for goaltender interference, and the contest continued

On the winner, McAvoy (BU) launched a shot from the right point that deflected off Backes (MSU) in front. The puck caromed to Kuraly, who then shoveled a backhander onto the open half of the net past Anderson.

Game Six of this Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup is set for Sunday in Boston at 3 p.m. ET (NBC).

Friday, April 14, 2017

NCAA Players Prominent in Start to NHL Playoffs

Former NCAA players made their mark during the first two days of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On Wednesday, Tanner Glass (Dartmouth) backhanded home the game-winning goal for the New York Rangers in a 2-0 victory at Montreal, while rookie Frank Vatrano (UMass Lowell) tied the game for the Boston Bruins in an eventual 2-1 overtime win at Ottawa. Bryan Rust (Notre Dame), Phil Kessel (Minnesota) and Nick Bonino (Boston University) accounted for the Pittsburgh Penguins' goals in a 3-1 win over Columbus.

In Minnesota, Zach Parise (North Dakota) tied the game late for the host Wild, but Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College) set up the game-winner in OT to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 2-1 triumph. In Edmonton, Paul Martin (Minnesota) scored the tying goal and Joe Pavelski (Wisconsin) assisted on the overtime winner as the San Jose Sharks came back for a 3-2 win over the Oilers, who got 41 saves from Cam Talbot (Alabama-Huntsville).

On Thursday, James van Riemdsyk (New Hampshire) set up the first goal of the postseason for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the host Washington Capitals escaped with a 3-2 overtime victory, with T. J. Oshie (North Dakota) and Kevin Shattenkirk (Boston University) drawing assists on the evening. In Anaheim, Kevin Bieksa (Bowling Green) set up the tying goal and Patrick Eaves (Boston College) assisted on the winner as the Ducks edged the Calgary Flames, 3-2, despite 38 saves by Brian Elliott (Wisconsin).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

It Begins Tonight

The 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway tonight.

An inaugural roster of 16 teams will steadily dwindle over the next two months, one best-of-seven series at a time, until one NHL club reaches 16 wins first to raise the most cherished trophy in sports.

A ton of former NCAA players will definitely be involved in the mix until that happens sometime in June. Let the games begin.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cole Named New Michigan State Head Coach

Spartan alumnus Danton Cole has been announced as the new head coach of the Michigan State University hockey program.

Cole played at MSU from 1985 to 1989 for the late Ron Mason, helping the Spartans to the 1986 NCAA crown along with two Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season titles and two CCHA playoff championships. He recorded 69 goals and 163 points in 180 career games at MSU, and was a three-time CCHA All-Academic Team member and the recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor as a senior.

Cole was chosen by the Winnipeg Jets in the sixth round of the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. He played in 318 NHL regular-season contests with the Jets, Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, and Chicago Blackhawks, tallying 58 goals and 118 points, and was a member of New Jersey’s 1995 Stanley Cup champion club.

Cole finished his playing career in 1999 after three full seasons with the International Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins, scoring the first playoff goal and also the initial overtime goal in franchise history, and then became a Griffins’ assistant coach for one year. After winning a United Hockey League championship with the Muskegon Fury, he served two-and-a-half seasons in charge of Grand Rapids, leading the former IHL Griffins to 116 regular-season American Hockey League wins.

After two campaigns with the UHL’s Motor City Mechanics, Cole served one year as an assistant coach with Bowling Green State University before guiding the University of Alabama-Huntsville for three seasons. His tenure with the Chargers culminated in a College Hockey America championship and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2010.

Cole spent the last seven seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program, guiding the Under-18 Team to gold-medal finishes at the Under-18 World Championships in 2012 and 2014. He was also a coach with two bronze-medal winning U.S. teams, at the 2013 IIHF Men’s World Championship and the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

A native of Pontiac, Mich., who grew up in Lansing, Cole becomes the seventh head coach in MSU hockey history, which dates back intermittently to 1921. He succeeds fellow Spartan alumnus Tom Anastos, who stepped down at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Berenson Retires as Longtime Michigan Coach

Legendary University of Michigan head coach Gordon “Red” Berenson has announced his retirement after 33 years at the Wolverine helm.

Berenson, 77, fashioned an 848-426-92 overall mark at his alma mater from 1984 to 2017, including NCAA titles in 1996 and 1998, while coming within an overtime goal of a third in 2011. He also led the Wolverines to 10 Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season championships and nine CCHA Tournament crowns, plus a record 22 consecutive NCAA Tournament berths from 1991 to 2012. Michigan also won the 2015-16 Big Ten regular-season and conference crowns under his watch, plus a total of 15 Great Lakes Invitational championships, including nine straight GLI titles between 1988 and 1996.

A native of Regina, Sask., who holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Michigan, Berenson skated for the Wolverines from 1959 to 1962 before turning pro right after, one of the first college-trained players to do so. He played almost 20 seasons in the NHL with Montreal, St. Louis, the New York Rangers and Detroit, recording 261 goals and 397 assists for 658 points in 987 regular-season outings.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Goodbye, Joe Louis Arena

The final hockey game of any kind has been played at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

The building’s primary tenant, the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, ended their run at the venerable facility on Sunday with a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils that closed out both the season, and an era. 

The Red Wings moved into The Joe in Dec. 1979 and left almost 38 years later with four Stanley Cup championships to their credit (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), two of them earned on JLA ice (1997, 2002). Though Detroit’s 25-year playoff run ended this season, Hockeytown fans celebrated on Sunday like it was 1998, with the stands awash in a sea of red jerseys, and the obligatory traditional octopus cascading from the crowd and clumping on the ice after each and every goal by the home side.

Besides the NHL, The Joe was also a long-standing venue for college hockey, ranging from the 1990 NCAA Championship, to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and later Big Ten tournaments, to the long-running Great Lakes Invitational. In my two years (1994-1996) with Michigan State Hockey, I made it to the Joe over a dozen times for CCHA and GLI games, CCHA press conferences, and the now-defunct College Hockey Showcase. I even got to take a turn or two on the ice, hockey stick included.

The most modern facility in North America? Not at all—but there was something comforting about going up those long gray exterior stairs, walking the dark concourses replete with photos and other mementoes of Red Wings history, and gazing out upon two levels of seemingly endless red-and-white seats. There was also having a team credential to see the wood-paneled splendor and the major-league workings that existed behind the scenes. There wasn’t a bad seat in the 20,000-plus house, not even from a high-above-the-ice press box that was added as an afterthought.

I saw my only Red Wings game there as a fan in early 2000, a win over Tampa Bay, and that was the last time I ever made it to the building. I’ve seen Detroit play live in New Jersey several times in the last 17 years after I stopped living in Michigan, but never again at The Joe. This year’s closing is perhaps made even more poignant by the dual passing of hockey icon Gordie Howe and longtime Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, who both left us before the doors were closed for the final time, as did longtime MSU head coach Ron Mason last year.

I thought the quasi-hexagonal gray-and-red venue on the riverfront would stand the test of time and live forever, like Fenway Park and Lambeau Field—but like the Olympia and Tiger Stadium before it in the Motor City, time has unfortunately run out on The Joe. The memories, many as there are, however, will remain.

So long and farewell, Joe Louis Arena. And thanks.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Denver Wins 2017 NCAA Men's Hockey Title

For the first time since 2005 and the eighth time overall, the University of Denver Pioneers are the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey national champions. DU held on for a 3-2 win over the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday night in the national title game at the United Center in Chicago.

Following a scoreless first period, Denver junior forward Jarid Lukosevicius tallied a pair of goals 16 seconds apart to put DU ahead, 2-0. After senior forward Alex Iafallo got the Bulldogs within one score with a power-play goal, Lukosevicius connected again from short range to complete the first hat trick in a Division I men's hockey national title game since Denver head coach Jim Montgomery did the same as a player for NCAA champion Maine in 1993.

Freshman forward Riley Tufte put home a rebound late in the third period to again bring the Bulldogs back within a goal, but UMD couldn't gain the equalizer despite pulling freshman goaltender Hunter Miska (25 saves) for an extra attacker with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. Junior netminder Tanner Jaillet, the 2017 winner of the Mike Richter Award as the nation's top goaltender, finished with 38 stops for the Pioneers, who were outshot, 17-3, in the third period after junior defenseman Tariq Hammond was injured, although he returned for the postgame celebration. UMD outshot DU on the night, 40-28.

Denver captain and 2017 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Will Butcher completed his career with a national championship after DU was eliminated in the NCAA semifinals last year by North Dakota. Denver's senior class finished with 102 total victories in its four campaigns and made the NCAA tournament all four years, with DU now having made the NCAAs nine straight seasons overall.

Denver's most recent NCAA titles came back-to-back in 2004 and 2005. The Pioneers' eighth national title all-time ties them for second place overall with National Collegiate Hockey Conference rival North Dakota, which won the national championship last year. Michigan leads all-time with nine NCAA crowns. UMD, the NCHC's playoff champion, was seeking its second NCAA championship in school history. Denver was the NCHC's regular-season king, and held the No. 1 overall ranking in the country entering the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

The 2018 Frozen Four will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., the first time it will be held in Minnesota since UMD won the 2011 title.

Denver's Butcher Wins Hobey Baker Award

University of Denver senior defenseman and team captain Will Butcher is the winner of the 2017 Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top player in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey. The honor was bestowed upon Butcher on Friday in Chicago, site of this year’s NCAA Frozen Four. The award is presented by the Decathlon Club of Bloomington, Minn.
Butcher becomes the second Denver Pioneer to win the Hobey Baker Award in its 36-year history, and the first since fellow defenseman Matt Carle in 2005. That was the last year that DU, currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, won its most recent of seven NCAA hockey championships.
A native of Sun Prairie, Wis., and a 2013 draft choice of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, Butcher leads all Denver blueliners with seven goals and 30 assists for 37 points to go along with 18 penalty minutes in 42 games so far this season. In three years at DU, he has tallied 28-75—103 points and 53 PIM in 157 career outings, along with 15 power-play and four game-winning goals.
Also on Friday, Denver junior goaltender Tanner Jaillet copped the 2017 Mike Richter Award, which is annually awarded to the most outstanding netminder in NCAA men's hockey. In 37 outings so far this season, the Red Deer, Alta. native has posted a 27-5-4 record with a 1.83 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. Denver head coach Jim Montgomery won the Spencer T. Penrose Award earlier in the week as Division I men's hockey's top coach.

Butcher, Jaillet, Montgomery and Denver will look to cap the 2016-17 campaign with a national title on Saturday night, when the Pioneers meet Minnesota-Duluth in the national title game at the United Center (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Friday, April 7, 2017

U.S. Wins Women's World Title Again

Hilary Knight (Wisconsin) snapped home a shot from the slot with 9:43 left overtime to boost the U.S. Women’s National Team to a 3-2 victory over Canada in the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship in Plymouth, Mich. The win marked the seventh time in the last eight years that the U.S. earned the tournament’s gold medal.
Kacey Bellamy (New Hampshire) scored America’s first two goals on the evening at USA Hockey Arena, while Nicole Hensley (Lindenwood) made 28 saves for the U.S. Meghan Agosta (Mercyhurst) and Brianne Jenner (Cornell) tallied goals for Canada, while Shannon Szabados (MacEwan) stopped 37 shots. The U.S. outshot Canada, 40-28, before 3,917 on-lookers.

The two squads are expected to meet again at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea in February.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Denver to Meet UMD for NCAA Hockey Title

It'll be Minnesota-Duluth against Denver for all the college hockey marbles on Saturday night, in what will be an all-National Collegiate Hockey Conference affair.

Alex Iafallo deflected home a pass with 26.6 seconds remaining in regulation to lift NCHC champion UMD to a 2-1 victory over ECAC champion Harvard in the first 2017 NCAA Frozen Four semifinal on Thursday at the United Center in Chicago. Harvard's Tyler Moy (power-play goal) and UMD's Joey Anderson exchanged first-period tallies just over three minutes apart, and the score then remained unchanged until Iafallo's heroics.

Harvard's Luke Esposito hit the crossbar in the dying seconds of the third period after the Crimson (28-6-2 overall) had pulled goaltender Merrick Madsen (31 saves) for an extra attacker. Hunter Miska finished with 39 stops for UMD (28-6-7), which was outshot, 40-38. The Bulldogs advanced to their first NCAA title game since 2011, when they beat Michigan in overtime to claim the program's first-ever national championship.

In the nightcap, top-seeded Denver obliterated host Notre Dame by a 6-1 count to return to the national title contest for the first time since 2005. Emil Romig and Henrik Borgstrom staked the Pioneers to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, before Tariq Hammond, Dylan Gambrell and Evan Ritt made it 5-0 after 40 minutes. 

Cam Morrison broke the shutout for the Fighting Irish in the third period, before Gambrell closed out the scoring. Tanner Jaillet made 16 saves for Denver (32-7-4), while Cal Petersen recorded 36 stops for Notre Dame (23-12-5), which was outshot, 42-17, in its Hockey East Association swan song. The Irish will join the Big Ten Hockey Conference next season.

Saturday's NCAA championship game, which will conclude the 2016-17 college hockey campaign at all levels, will be televised live on ESPN beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Denver and UMD split a pair of NCHC league games during the regular season.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Remembering the Illinois-Chicago Flames

The NCAA Men's Division I Hockey Frozen Four is being contested at the United Center in Chicago this week, with Denver, Harvard, Minnesota-Duluth and Notre Dame all vying for a national championship. Chicago itself, however, hasn't had a Division I team of its own on ice in over 20 years.

The University of Illinois-Chicago eliminated its men’s hockey program in 1996 after 30 years of competition, first as a club and then a varsity team. The Flames had been a member of the equally-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association for 14 years when the axe fell due to financial woes, and other constraints that kept attendance down at the UIC Pavilion. The Flames also hadn’t recorded a winning record since 1988-89 when they went 23-14-5 overall and finished third in the CCHA, and never qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

I was finishing up my own personal two-year-stint as the hockey publicity contact at CCHA rival Michigan State when the decision to discontinue hockey at UIC was announced on March 28, 1996, two years after CCHA member Kent had done the same. Players were free to transfer to other schools, as they usually are in such situations when a program is eliminated, unlike the cursory one-year sit-out period for transfers.

Many former Flames skaters did move on, most within the conference to schools such as Lake Superior State, Miami (Ohio), MSU and Western Michigan—but hockey itself never returned to UIC, except in the form of a club program in 2004. Northern Michigan replaced UIC in the CCHA, which itself breathed its last in 2013, with its teams going on to join either the new Big Ten Conference or the more-established Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

UIC wasn't the last Division I men's hockey program to be discontinued. Over the years Fairfield, Findlay, Iona, Wayne State and nearly Alabama-Huntsville were extinguished, much like the Flames had been.

The two Alaska schools, Alaska (Fairbanks) and Alaska Anchorage, appeared to be both on very thin ice last year with new financial burdens on the state, and budgets needing to be slashed. They still may be, in the future, if academic finances in the 49th State continue to fall—and just last week, North Dakota announced it was eliminating its Division I women'shockey program due to budget shortfalls.

Current Frozen Four participant and former CCHA member Notre Dame will join the Big Ten next season from Hockey East, and speculation abounds that the Big Ten could one day add Northwestern and/or Illinois from the hockey-prolific Land of Lincoln, which continues to produce a steady stream of players for the Division I and professional ranks. Unless either university receives a major cash infusion from a well-heeled donor, as Penn State and Arizona State did, those hopes appear unlikely.

Now the sport’s biggest annual gathering on the college level is being held in Chicago—but it’s being hosted by Notre Dame, which is based almost 100 miles east in Indiana. It’s not unprecedented that an “outside” school hosts the Frozen Four. Alaska Anchorage hosted in Anaheim in 1999, and Alabama-Huntsville did the same in Tampa in 2012. Wisconsin hosted last year in Tampa, as North Dakota won its first men’s hockey NCAA title since 2000.

Chicago once had its own Division I school that could have easily played innkeeper for college hockey’s marquee event—but those UIC Flames were doused a long time ago, and will likely never be rekindled.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

NCAA Underclassmen Jumping to NHL

Her's a a sampling of players with college eligibility remaining who have signed with NHL organizations before the end of the 2016-17 NCAA season (as of April 4, listed alphabetically):

Brock Boeser, F, So. *     N. Dakota      Vancouver

Tyson Jost, F, Fr. *       N. Dakota      Colorado
J. F. Karlsson, F, So.     Boston Univ.   Boston
Clayton Keller, F, Fr. *   Boston Univ.   Arizona
Charlie McAvoy, D, So.     Boston Univ.   Boston

Mason Mitchell, Jr., F     AK Anchorage   Washington
Griffen Molino, F, So.     West. Michigan Vancouver
C.J. Smith, F, Jr.         UMass Lowell   Buffalo

Vince Pedrie, D, So.       Penn State     NY Rangers
Tucker Poolman, D, Jr.     N. Dakota      Winnipeg

Angus Redmond, G, Fr.      Michigan Tech  Anahiem
Jake Walman, D, Jr.        Providence     St. Louis
Colin White, F, So. *      Boston College Ottawa

* Indicates player has made NHL playing debut

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hobey Baker Award Finalists Revealed

The Hobey Hat Trick has been announced.
The three finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in NCAA Division I men’s college hockey are Northeastern University senior forward Zach Aston-Reese, University of Denver senior defenseman Will Butcher, and Union College senior forward Mike Vecchione.

Aston-Reese, who recently signed a professional contract and has been playing with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), finished the 2016-17 NCAA campaign with 31 goals and 32 assists for a career-high 63 points in 38 games. The Staten Island, N.Y. native is tied with Vecchione as the leading scorer in the nation.
Butcher, the only Hobey Baker finalist still skating in college this season, and the only NHL draft choice of the trio, is pacing all Pioneers' blueliners with 7-29—36 points through 41 outings. The Sun Prairie, Wis. native will complete his collegiate career at the NCAA Frozen Four in Chicago on April 6-8, with Denver slated to face Notre Dame in the second semifinal game, following Harvard against Minnesota-Duluth. Butcher was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Vecchione, the all-time leading scorer in Union's Division I hockey history, was a contributing member of the Dutchmen’s 2014 NCAA championship squad. The Saugus, Mass. product led all Union skaters this season with individual career scoring highs of 29-34—63 points in 38 appearances, and led all ECAC players with 20-24—44 points in 25 league games. Undrafted, he recently signed with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The 2017 Hobey Baker winner will be announced on April 7 in Chicago.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

North Dakota Dropping Women's Hockey

Just after USA Hockey came to an agreement with members of its Women's National Team in time for them to play in this year's World Championship in Plymouth, Mich., the University of North Dakota announced that it will be eliminating women's ice hockey as a varsity sport, due to budget cuts.

In a state where hockey is revered, and less than a year removed from UND's latest men's hockey national championship, it's a shocking move. UND becomes the first NCAA Division I school to drop women’s hockey since Wayne State did likewise in 2011.

The Fighting Hawks began play on the women's side in 2002 as an independent, before joining the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 2004. Their best outing was in 2012-13 when they finished 26-12-1 overall and earned the second of two consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, the only two such bids in program history.

The former Fighting Sioux also posted seven consecutive winning seasons, including the 2016-17 campaign. In addition, a total of eight players with UND ties participated in women’s hockey during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

According to the Grand Forks Herald, player scholarships will be honored if they choose to remain enrolled at UND. Transfers should be allowed to play immediately at other Division I schools, per NCAA rules, as the program is ceasing to exist.

This past season, the last one for UND as it turns out, saw the Fighting Hawks finish 16-16-6 overall, and fourth in the WCHA with an 11-12-5-3 mark before they fell to Wisconsin in a WCHA semifinal game.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Notre Dame and Denver Round Out Frozen Four

Notre Dame and Denver have filled the final two slots for the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Frozen Four.
The Fighting Irish, who yesterday upset No. 1 seed Minnesota in a Northeast Regional semifinal in Manchester, N.H., did the same Sunday to Hockey East champion and No. 2 seed UMass Lowell. Andrew Oglevie’s goal just 2:44 into overtime sent to send UND to its third Frozen Four overall and first since 2011 in this, its final season in Hockey East before moving to the Big Ten next season. The Irish led, 1-0, early on, and then fought back from a 2-1 deficit to tie the game on a goal by Cam Morrison with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

At the Midwest Regional final in Cincinnati, top overall seed Denver outlasted upstart Penn State, 6-3, to punch its ticket to the Frozen Four for the second straight season. Troy Terry scored three goals and set up two others for the Pioneers, who are seeking their seventh national championship in program history, and first since 2005. Big Ten champion Penn State managed to forge 2-2 and 3-3 ties on the evening, but couldn't keep its Cinderella season, its fifth campaign in NCAA Division I, going.
ECAC and East Regional champion Harvard will face off against NCHC and West Regional champion Minnesota-Duluth in the first Frozen Four semifinal at 6 p.m. ET on April 6 at the United Center in Chicago. The other semifinal, at 9 p.m. ET that night, will feature Notre Dame against Denver. Both games will be televised live on ESPN2.The two semifinal winners will face off for the national championship on April 8 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Minnesota-Duluth, Harvard Headed to Frozen Four

Half the NCAA Men’s Division I Hockey Frozen Four picture is set following six games on Saturday, with the other two spots to be determined on Sunday.
Minnesota-Duluth became the first team to punch its ticket to Chicago in two weeks’ time with a 3-2 overtime victory over Boston University in the West Regional final at in Fargo, N.D. Adam Johnson scored on the power play just 1:57 into the extra session for the top-seeded Bulldogs, who also got 22 stops from Hunter Miska and will proceed to their first Frozen Four since 2011.  
UMD’s opponent in Illinois will be Harvard, which advanced to its first Frozen Four since 1994 by outlasting Air Force, 3-2, in the East Regional final in Providence. Tyler Moy’s second-period power-play goal gave Harvard a 3-0 lead and stood up as the game-winner, as the Falcons responded shortly afterwards with two goals in 15 seconds. Merrick Madsen finished with 27 saves for the Crimson, including a point-blank save on a rebound shot by Matt Serratore with 14 seconds remaining in regulation to preserve the win.

Top overall seed Denver raced out to a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes and never looked back in besting Michigan Tech, 5-2, in a Midwest Regional semifinal in Cincinnati. Colin Staub scored twice for the Pioneers, who connected twice on the power play and also got 16 stops from Tanner Jaillet.
In the late game in Cincinnati, Penn State and Union traded field goals until the Nittany Lions got the touchdown, scoring seven straight times over the last two periods of play en route to a 10-3 victory in their first-ever NCAA Tournament contest. Nate Sucese led Penn State with two goals and two assists, while Andrew Sturtz, Chase Berger and Kris Myllari posted three points apiece. It was the most goals scored by one team in an NCAA Tournament game in 27 years, since Lake Superior State beat Alaska Anchorage by the same score in 1990.

Ryan Lohnin scored two goals and Ryan Collins had two assists as UMass Lowell blanked Cornell, 5-0, in the early Northeast Regional semifinal in Manchester, N.H. Tyler Wall had 19 saves for the River Hawks, who advanced to the regional final on Sunday to take on fellow Hockey East school Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish scored three unanswered goals, the last two by Anders Bjork, to oust top seed Minnesota, 3-2, marking the 12th year in a row that that an NCAA Division I men's hockey No. 1 regional seed was eliminated in the regional round.
UMass Lowell and Notre Dame will face off at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday at the SNHU Arena, while Denver will face Penn State in the Midwest Regional final at 6 p.m. ET at U.S. Bank Arena. Both games will be televised live on ESPNU. The winners of those two regionals will meet in Chicago on April 6.

Friday, March 24, 2017

BU, Harvard, Air Force, UMD Advance in NCAA Hockey Regionals

The first day of the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championship is in the books—and will be tough to top the rest of the tournament.
At the West Regional in Fargo, Boston University edged de facto host and defending national champion North Dakota, 4-3, in double overtime after an apparent UND goal in the first extra session was disallowed, due to an offside play on Ludvig Hoff. The Fighting Hawks had fought back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period with goals just three minutes apart by Hoff and Christian Wolanin to force sudden death, and outshot BU by a 59-29 margin on the afternoon. Charlie McAvoy connected for the game-winner 11:48 into the second OT off a cross-ice feed from Clayton Keller for BU, while goaltender Jake Oettinger finished with 56 saves for the Terriers.
In the nightcap in North Dakota, top-seeded Minnesota-Duluth took a 2-0 lead on Ohio State, which had a supposed goal of its own called back in the opening 20 minutes. The Buckeyes responded with two third-period goals by defensemen Matt Joyaux and Gordi Myer to tie matters, but it was NCHC champion UMD winning in sudden death on a slapshot by blueliner Willie Raskob at 11:58 of the additional session. Hunter Miksa made 40 saves for the Bulldogs, who will now face BU at 6 p.m. ET (ESPNU) on Saturday at Scheels Arena in the West Regional final.
At the East Regional in Providence, ECAC champion and top-seeded Harvard won its first NCAA Tournament game in 23 years, getting two goals from Tyler Moy and 41 saves from Merrick Madsen in topping Providence, 3-0. The Crimson also won its 15th straight game dating back to January.
In the second game, Atlantic Hockey champion Air Force outlasted Western Michigan, 5-4, with Kyle Haak scoring twice and Shane Starrett stopping 22 shots for the Falcons, who led by a 4-1 score early in the third period. Griffen Molino and Sheldon Dries scored 23 seconds apart to pull the Broncos within one, but Tyler Ledford’s goal just over a minute-and-a-half later stood up as the game-winner for AFA. The Falcons will now meet the Crimson on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU) at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in the East Regional final.
The Northeast Regional at SNHU Arena in Manchester, N.H. gets underway with Cornell encountering UMass Lowell at noon ET ( on Saturday, capped by Minnesota skating against Notre Dame at 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU). The Midwest Regional at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati faces off with Denver meeting Michigan Tech at 1 p.m. ET (ESPNews), followed by Union (NY) taking on Penn State at 4:30 p.m. ET (
The Northeast and Midwest regional finals will be contested on Sunday, at 3:30 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. ET, respectively, both showing on ESPNU. The four regional winners will advance to the NCAA Frozen Four on April 6 at the United Center in Chicago.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Anastos Steps Down at Michigan State

After six seasons at the Spartan helm, Tom Anastos resigned from his position as head coach at Michigan State University on Tuesday.

Anastos was hired at his alma mater in 2011 after Rick Comley retired. The commissioner of the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association for 13 years, Anastos was also the former head coach at Michigan-Dearborn.

A Dearborn native, Anastos played four seasons as a forward at MSU for the late Ron Mason. He tallied 70 goals and 151 points in 153 career games in Green and White, and helped the Spartans to four NCAA Tournament appearances, four CCHA Tournament crowns, and three Great Lakes Invitational titles from 1982 to 1985.

After a brief professional career with Sherbrooke (AHL) in Montreal's organization, Anastos entered the coaching ranks and went 68-37-7 in three seasons with UM-Dearborn. He then returned to MSU as an assistant coach under Mason for two years, helping the Spartans to the 1992 NCAA Frozen Four, before later helming first the North American Hockey League and later the CCHA.

MSU went 78-122-24 in all with Anastos as head coach, including the final two years of the CCHA and the first four seasons of the Big Ten Hockey Conference. The Spartans went 19-16-4 overall in his first campaign, and finished 7-24-4 in 2016-17. During his tenure, MSU also made the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but fell to Union in the opening round.

Anastos' youngest daughter, Andie, just completed her own four-year hockey career at Boston College. She tallied 144 points in 156 games, and helped the Eagles to three consecutive Frozen Fours.

MSU is expected to conduct a national search for Anastos' successor. Long-time assistant coach Tom Newton will serve as the Spartans' head coach in the interim.

Clarkson Wins 2017 NCAA Women's Division I Crown

Three years ago, Clarkson University became the first eastern school to win an NCAA Division I Women’s Ice Hockey Championship. On Sunday, the Golden Knights did it again.
The No. 2 Golden Knights blanked No. 1 Wisconsin, 3-0, in St. Charles, Missouri to win their second-ever national title, powered by two late goals by Division I player of the Year Cayley Mercer in the final four minutes of regulation. Savannah Harmon’s power-play goal 27 seconds into the contest stood up as the game-winner, while Shea Tiley made 41 saves.
Clarkson finished the season at 32-4-5 overall, and finished first in the ECAC with a 19-1-12 mark before winning the ECAC Tournament with a 1-0 victory over Cornell on March 5. After topping the Big Red, 3-1, in the NCAA quarterfinals, the Golden Knights then edged Minnesota, 4-3, a week later in the NCAA semifinals, before besting the Badgers (33-3-4 overall) on Sunday at Family Arena.

Wisconsin was ranked No. 1 the entire 2016-17 season, and also recorded 18 shutouts on the year. The Badgers advanced to their first NCAA final in five years with a late 1-0 win in the semifinals over Hockey East champion Boston College on St. Patrick’s Day.

Monday, March 20, 2017

2017 NCAA Hockey Tournament Field Set

The 2017 NCAA Tournament field is set for Men's Division I Ice Hockey. The full bracket, announced on Sunday, can be found here.

The regional seeds are as follows:

Midwest (Cincinnati)
1. Denver
2. Union
3. Penn State *
4. Michigan Tech

Northeast (Manchester, NH)
1. Minnesota
2. UMass Lowell *
3. Cornell
4. Notre Dame

East (Providence)
1. Harvard *
2. Western Michigan
3. Air Force *
4. Providence

West (Fargo, ND)
1. Minnesota-Duluth *
2. Boston University
3. North Dakota
4. Ohio State

* denotes conference champions, who earned automatic NCAA Tournament bids

Schools not qualifying this year that advanced to the 2016 NCAA Tournament include Boston College, Ferris State, Michigan, Northeastern, Quinnipiac, RIT, St. Cloud State and Yale.

Denver is the top seed overall in this year's tournament, while Penn State is appearing in its first-ever NCAA Tournament. North Dakota is the defending national champion, having won its eighth NCAA title overall last year.

The East and West regionals will be held on Friday and Saturday, with the Midwest and Northeast regionals to be contested on Saturday and Sunday. The four regional champions will advance to the NCAA Frozen Four in Chicago on April 6.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SLU's Bayreuther Signs with Stars

St. Lawrence senior blueliner Gavin Bayreuther has signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Texas Stars, the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL's Dallas Stars, according to the AHL club’s website. The New Hampshire native, who was never drafted by an NHL squad, concluded his college career last weekend with the Saints’ three-game ECAC quarterfinal defeat against Quinnipiac.
Bayreuther tallied eight goals and 21 assists for 29 points in 30 games this year with SLU, and led the Saints in scoring for the second straight season despite missing seven contests due to injury. He recorded a career-high 27 assists and 36 points as a freshman in 2013-14, when he earned ECAC Co-Rookie of the Year recognition. He later notched a career-high 12 goals as a junior in 2015-16 when he was tabbed as both a First Team All-ECAC selection and an ECAC All-Tournament choice, and also earned Second Team All-America accolades.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound blueliner finished his four-year NCAA career with 35-76—111 points in 142 contests, including 13 power-play goals and seven game-winners, while also collecting 96 penalty minutes, according to
Bayreuther prepped at The Holderness School prior to enrolling at SLU and was also a USHL All-Rookie Team selection in junior hockey with the Fargo Force in 2012-13, per his Saints online biography. His 35 career goals set a new school record for Saints defensemen.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blais Steps Down at Omaha

The hockey coaching carousel continues in the NCAA Division college hockey ranks, three weeks before the season-ending Frozen Four in Chicago.

On March 6, Seth Appert was relieved of his duties after 11 years at Rensselaer. Shortly after, Walt Kyle was dismissed after 15 seasons at his alma mater, Northern Michigan, where he recorded 265 career victories and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2010 with the Wildcats. On Monday, Niagara parted ways with Dave Burkholder after 16 years, 247 wins, and three NCAA Tournament appearances.

Tuesday, in perhaps the biggest shock, Dean Blais stated that he is stepping down from the helm after eight years at Nebraska-Omaha. He had one year remaining on his contract at UNO.

Blais, a Minnesota graduate who took North Dakota to two NCAA titles (1997, 2000), went 146-133-30 in his tenure with UNO. His record included two of the Mavericks' three all-time NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Frozen Four berth in 2015. A two-time winner of the Spencer Penrose Award as Division I hockey’s top coach, he also led the U.S. to gold at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Canada.

Omaha concluded its 2016-17 campaign with a 2-1 OT loss to Western Michigan on Sunday to fall, two games to one, in the best-of-three NCHC quarterfinal series.

Successors to the four aforementioned coaches have yet to be named. Bids to the 16-team 2017 NCAA Tournament will be announced on Sunday.

ADDENDUM: announced on Wednesday that longtime New Hampshire men’s hockey coach Dick Umile will retire after the 2017-18 season, and will be succeeded by associate head coach Mike Souza.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

BC to Face BU on Friday in Hockey East Semifinals

Boston College is headed back to TD Garden to face Boston University again, with the entire season likely on the line this time.

The Eagles (20-14-4) recorded 7-0 and 7-4 wins over Vermont in the Hockey East quarterfinals on Friday and Saturday at Conte Forum to advance to the conference semifinals for the second time in three years, and second straight after a quarterfinal win over UVM. It was also BC’s first win since a 6-4 triumph at New Hampshire on Feb. 3, which was followed by an 0-5-2 skein that resulted in the Eagles sharing the Hockey East regular-season crown with BU and UMass-Lowell.

Luke McInnis tallied a goal and three assists in the opener against UVM, as the Eagles took the lead just eight seconds into regulation on a goal by Austin Cangelosi and never looked back. BC then outlasted the Catamounts in the rematch as Cangelosi and JD Dudek each scored twice. Joe Woll stopped 54 of 58 shots in all for the Eagles on the weekend.

BC is 0-3 against BU (23-10-3) so far this season, including a 3-1 setback on Feb. 6 in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament at TD Garden. The Eagles are currently 16th in the Pairwise Rankings, which mimics the selection process for the 16-team NCAA Tournament, while BU is sixth. The two Green Line rivals will square off at 8 p.m. Friday in Boston, following the game between Notre Dame (21-10-5) and UML (24-10-3). The winners will meet on Saturday for the Hockey East championship.

Playing around with the NCAA Tournament Pairwise Comparison Ratings and the customized results features at college, BC would probably be slotted 12th in the Pairwise and just about assured of a spot in the NCAAs if it had won one more game this season—such as reversing a February loss against Merrimack, or an October defeat against Air Force. 

A win against the Terriers on Friday could certainly enhance BC’s chances of making the nationals for the eighth straight season. The 15th and 16th spots in the NCAAs will likely go to the Atlantic Hockey and WCHA tournament champions, assuming there are no upset champions in other leagues that could also take away potential NCAA berths.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Appert Out at Rensselaer

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is looking for a new men's hockey mentor for the first time since 2006. RPI relieved head coach Seth Appert of his duties on Monday after he went 152-221-48 over 11 seasons at the helm of the Engineers.

Appert's best season came in 2010-11 when RPI finished 20-13-5 overall and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. His tenure in Troy, N.Y. was the third-longest in program history, behind Dan Fridgen and the legendary Ned Harkness. The Engineers went 8-28-1 this just-completed campaign, and were swept in the first round of the ECAC Tournament by Clarkson.

Appert, a Cottage Grove, Minn. native, lettered in goal at Ferris State in the mid-1990s when I was the Hockey SID at Michigan State, before he served nine years as an assistant coach at Denver. He was always gracious and giving of his time when I covered RPI as a reporter over the past decade, and I wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Princeton Outlasts Colgate to Advance

For the first time in seven years, Princeton University has advanced in the ECAC Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament.
Derek Topatigh (power play) and Ryan Kauffman each scored goals, and Colton Phinney finished with 35 saves as the Tigers edged Colgate University, 2-1, in the deciding game Sunday night at Hobey Baker Rink. Princeton won the best-of-three first-round series, two games to one, after losing the first game in overtime, 3-2, on Friday. The Tigers rebounded last night with a 4-3 overtime victory of their own, after tying the game in the final second of regulation.
Princeton (15-14-3 overall), the seventh seed in this year’s tournament, will now visit second-seeded Union College next weekend in a best-of-three series in Schenectady, N.Y. Princeton’s last series win in ECAC Tournament play came in 2009 when the Tigers defeated Union, two games to one, and advanced to the ECAC semifinals and later the NCAA Tournament.
Colgate, which got its lone goal Sunday from senior captain Jake Kulevich to open the scoring, finished the 2016-17 campaign at 9-22-6 overall.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Princeton Survives in OT, Forces Game Three

Princeton and Colgate will play a third and deciding game on Sunday night to see who advances in the 2017 ECAC Hockey Tournament.

The host Tigers tied Game Two with one second remaining in regulation on Saturday at Hobey Baker Rink, then won it 16:17 into overtime, 4-3, on an unassisted shot from the right wing by Max Veronneau to force a tiebreaking contest in the best-of-three first-round series.

Derek Freeman scored twice for Colgate (9-21-6 overall), including the game-opening goal in the first period and the go-ahead goal in the second session. Jared Cockrell staked the Raiders to a 2-0 lead late in the opening stanza, before Princeton (14-14-3) forged a second-period tie on goals just over eight minutes apart by Jackson Cressey and Ryan Kuffner.

After Freeman’s second goal, the contest remained scoreless until the final minute of regulation, when Eric Robinson dove to poke home a loose puck with one second left, almost a minute after Princeton had pulled goaltender Colton Phinney (31 saves) for a sixth attacker. The Tigers outshot the Raiders, 55-34, on the night, including 36-15 over the final two periods of regulation, although Colgate had nine of the 17 shots on goal in overtime.

Colgate had taken a one game-to-none series lead with a 3-2 victory in overtime on Friday, on a goal by team captain Jake Kulevich. It was the 1,000th win in Colgate’s hockey history dating back to the men’s program’s very beginning in 1915. Saturday’s loss was the first suffered by Colgate senior netminder Charlie Finn (8-1-1) in 10 career games against the Tigers, and also snapped an equivalent unbeaten streak by the Raiders over Princeton that began in 2013.

Game Three will start at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday night. The other three first-round ECAC series have all been decided, with Quinnipiac, Yale and Clarkson advancing with two-step sweeps of Brown, Dartmouth and Rensselaer, respectively. A  Colgate win on Sunday will send the Raiders to top-seeded Harvard next weekend, while a Princeton victory will dispatch the Tigers to second-seeded Union.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Former NCAA Players Dealt at NHL Deadline

The 2017 NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and once again a number of former NCAA players changed professional addresses over the past week.

The biggest coup was probably defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (Boston University) going from the St. Louis Blues to the league-leading Washington Capitals, along with Brad Malone (North Dakota).  Also regarding blueliners, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith (Wisconsin) was dealt to the New York Rangers, while the Rangers’ Mathew Bodie (Union) was sent to the Buffalo Sabres. Greg Pateryn (Michigan) was dispatched from the Montreal Canadiens to the Dallas Stars, while Ron Hainsey (UMass Lowell) joined the Pittsburgh Penguins from the Carolina Hurricanes. The rights to Philip Samuelsson (Boston College) are headed to Carolina from Montreal, while those of Steven Oleksy (Lake Superior State) went from Pittsburgh to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Michael Kostka (Massachusetts) is headed from the Ottawa Senators to the Calgary Flames.

Among forwards updating their zip codes, Thomas Vanek (Minnesota) went to the Florida Panthers from the Detroit Red Wings. Brian Boyle (Boston College) left the Tampa Bay Lightning for Toronto, while Viktor Stalberg (Vermont) left Carolina for Ottawa.  Going to St. Louis as part of the Shattenkirk deal was Washington forward Zach Sanford (Boston College), while Patrick Eaves (Boston College) was shipped to the Anaheim Ducks by Dallas. Minnesota Wild forward Grayson Downing (New Hampshire) is now property of the Arizona Coyotes, and Danny Kristo (North Dakota) went from to Carolina to Pittsburgh in the Hainsey trade. Drew Stafford (North Dakota), formerly a member of the Winnipeg Jets, will now suit up for the Boston Bruins, and Spencer Abbott (Maine) of the Chicago Blackhawks saw himself dealt to Anaheim. Justin Fontaine (Minnesota-Duluth) is off to the Edmonton Oilers from the Rangers. Joe Whitney (Boston College) was sent from the Colorado Avalanche to Arizona.

Concerning goaltenders, Ben Bishop (Maine) went from Tampa Bay to the Los Angeles Kings, while Pheonix Copley (Michigan Tech) went from St. Louis to Washington in the Shattenkirk transaction. Adam Wilcox (Minnesota) was shipped from Tampa Bay to the Florida Panthers, in exchange for fellow netminder Mike McKenna (St. Lawrence), while Joe Cannata (Merrimack) joined Colorado from Washington.

A full list of trades can be found here. The 2016-17 NHL regular season will conclude on Sunday, April 9.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Princeton Clinches Home-Ice Berth in ECAC Tournament

For the first time in four years, the Princeton University men’s hockey team will host a first-round ECAC hockey playoff series at Hobey Baker Rink. Coupled with losses by Colgate and Dartmouth, the Tigers (13-13-3 overall, 8-11-3 ECAC) finished seventh in the conference by virtue of a 4-1 win over visiting Yale on Saturday night.

Joey Fallon scored for the second straight game while Colton Phinney made 36 stops for the Tigers, who also got goals from Eric Robinson, Max Veronneau, and David Hallisey. Veronneau’s goal was his 10th of the season, and gave Princeton four 10-goal scorers in the same year for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign. The victory was also Princeton’s second over the Bulldogs this season, and first at Baker Rink since 2009.

Princeton, which defeated Brown, 7-2, on Friday evening, will now host 10th-seeded Colgate (8-20-6, 6-13-3) for a best-of three first-round ECAC series beginning on March 3 at Baker Rink. The Tigers lost to the Raiders, 4-3, in Hamilton, N.Y. in November, before the two schools skated to a 2-2 tie in Princeton in January.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Boston College Hockey Season Could Be on Precipice

Boston College could win the Hockey East Association men's regular-season title this weekend. Despite that potential accolade, the Eagles could also be on the outside looking in when the 16 berths to the 2017 NCAA Tournament are announced late next month.
BC, following a pair of ties with Vermont last weekend and a loss to UMass Lowell tonight, is currently tied for 17th in the Pairwise Rankings, which mimic the selection process for the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles (18-12-4 overall, 13-4-3 HEA) would realistically have to move up to at least 14th place in the Pairwise to get into the nationals for the seventh straight season, as the winners of the six NCAA Division I conference tournaments will again earn six of the 16 NCAA bids. For example, WCHA front-runner Bemidji State is the highest-ranked team in that conference, standing at 24th in the Pairwise.
Upset wins by lower-ranked schools in the various tournaments could also snatch up the remaining auto-bids and keep BC out of the national picture, along with defending NCAA champion North Dakota (14th). BC’s 5-8-1 mark in non-conference games this season includes losses to Air Force (15 th -tie), Notre Dame (15th-tie) Wisconsin (20th), Quinnipiac (21st-tie), and Merrimack (29th). BC went 12-3-1 overall from mid-October into early December, but is just 5-5-2 over its last dozen outings.
The Eagles play a home-and-home series with Hockey East rival and eighth-rated UMass Lowell on this weekend, with the River Hawks having won the first game, 4-1, tonight in Chestnut Hill, Mass. A win on Friday in Lowell could play a sizable part in determining not only the Hockey East regular-season champion, but just how deep BC’s campaign may extend into March, a journey which may require a win in the Hockey East championship game.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quinnipiac's Nervick a Hockey Humanitarian Award Finalist

Mika Nervick is one of the finalists for this year's Hockey Humanitarian Award, which will be awarded in April at the NCAA Frozen Four to college hockey's finest citizen.

Quinnipiac is in the midst of another successful women’s hockey season.

Bobcats senior forward Mika Nervick is also having a outstanding campaign, even if she has only been able to skate in a handful of games.

The rest of my story on her can be found here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Northern Michigan Shutout Streak Ends

Atte Tolvanen and Northern Michigan University's shutout streak came to an end on Friday, with a 5-3 loss to Minnesota State. It only took five gamesand nearly a month.

The string began with 15:49 remaining in the second period of a 6-1 win over Alaska Anchorage on Jan. 20. It continued with a 4-0 blanking of UAA the following day, followed by 3-0 and 2-0 wins at Bowling Green on Feb. 3-4. A second two-step sweep of Alaska (Fairbanks) came on Feb. 10-11, by identical scores to the BGSU series, before the streak ended 3:26 into Friday's game against MSU.

Tolvanen, a sophomore from Finland, was in net for all six of those contests, and stopped more than 30 shots in each of the five shutouts. In all he had 196 saves over those five outings, and posted a total shutout string of 339:15. The NCAA Division I consecutive shutout minutes record is 375:01, set by Lake Superior State's Blaine Lacher in 1994.

NMU, which itself has been blanked five times this season, is now 11-18-4 overall, and in seventh place in the WCHA with a 9-13-3 mark.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Harvard Wins First Beanpot Since 1993

Georgia native Nathan Krusko scored twice and Sean Malone, Clay Anderson and Tyler Moy set up two goals apiece as third-ranked Harvard University its won first Beanpot Tournament since 1993 with a 6-3 triumph over No. 4 Boston University on Monday night at TD Garden.

Merrick Madsen made 14 saves for the Crimson, which outshot the Terriers, 46-17, while scoring twice on the power play. Harvard has now won the Beanpot 11 times, while BU was denied its record 31st title. No. 11 Boston College is in second place overall, with 20 Beanpot titles to its credit.

BC finished in fourth place in Boston's premiere hockey tournament for the first time in 24 years this time out. Four-time winner Northeastern University, which last won the Beanpot in 1988, scored two goals in the final minute of regulation on Monday for a 4-2 victory in the consolation game.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Princeton Tops St. Lawrence, 3-1

Princeton spotted St. Lawrence a goal on Friday night at Hobey Baker Rink, then scored three straight times to knock off yet another ranked opponent this season.

The host Tigers (10-11-3 overall, 5-9-3 ECAC) increased their unbeaten streak to five games with a 3-1 victory over No. 18 St. Lawrence (15-9-6, 11-4-3), which has now lost two consecutive contests. Princeton remains one point behind Dartmouth in the ECAC standings for the fourth and final home first-round playoff spot in the ECAC Tournament, as the Big Green held on to beat Rensselaer, 2-1.

Jacob Pritchard gave SLU a 1-0 lead just over five minutes into the game, before Alex Riche tied it for the Tigers under 11 minutes later. Josh Teves scored the game-winning goal on a power-play rush with just under three minutes remaining in the second stanza, and Max Becker drove to the net to stuff the puck home for an insurance goal 5:31 into the final frame.

Kyle Hayton finished with 33 saves for the Saints, while Colton Phinney made 30 stops for the Tigers. Princeton is now 7-5-0 against ranked opponents this winter, with two wins apiece over Bemidji State and Quinnipiac, plus single victories over Minnesota State, Penn State and now SLU.

The Saints will skate at Quinnipiac on Saturday night, while Princeton will entertain Clarkson.

ADDENDUM: Princeton rebounded from a  two-goal, third-period deficit to win, 3-2, in overtime against Clarkson on a goal by Derek Topatigh, the first of his college career.

Monday, February 6, 2017

2017 Beanpot Begins Tonight

The 65th Annual Beanpot Tournament is underway at TD Garden in Boston.

Northeastern and Harvard, who last won in 1988 and 1993, respectively, are meeting in the matinee opener today, while the last two victors, Boston University (2015) and Boston College (2016), will face off around 8 p.m. ET.

BU leads the four schools with 30 tournament wins since the Beanpot began in 1952. BC is second with 20 victories, followed by Harvard (10) and Northeastern (4).

Tonight's winners meet will next Monday night, following the consolation contest.

ADDENDUM: Harvard edged Northeastern, 4-3, in the opener before BU topped BC, 3-1, in the nightcap.