Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Berenson Starts Off NASCAR Race in Michigan

Retired University of Michigan hockey coach Gordon "Red" Berenson gave the command for drivers to start their engines at Sunday's NASCAR Monster Cup Energy Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. The race was won by Kyle Larson.

Berenson, 77, retired this summer after 33 years at the helm of Wolverines hockey. He left with a 848-426-92 overall record from 1984 to 2017 at his alma mater , including NCAA titles in 1996 and 1998, and came within an overtime goal of a third in 2011. He also led Michigan 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.

A native of Regina, Sask., who holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Michigan, Berenson 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.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Granato to Guide Team USA at 2018 Olympics

Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato will lead the U.S. men's ice hockey team at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang County, South Korea. The announcement was made late last week by USA Hockey.

Granato's assistant coaches will include Keith Allain (Yale), Chris Chelios (Wisconsin), Ron Rolston (Michigan Tech) and Scott Young (Boston University). Jim Johannson (Wisconsin) of USA Hockey operations will serve as Team USA's general manager, while former U.S. Olympic Coach Ben Smith (Northeastern) will be the director of player personnel.

Team USA has yet to be assembled, but will likely consist of NCAA players and players who have been skating for European clubs. NHL players are not expected to compete en masse in the Olympics for the first time since 1994, as an agreement could not be reached with the IIHF for the 2018 games.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Merrimack's Delia Signs with Blackhawks

Merrimack College has lost its most experienced goaltender less than three months before the start of the 2017-18 NCAA campaign.

Rising junior Collin Delia passed up his senior season in North Andover to sign a free agent contract with the NHLs’ Chicago Blackhawks last week. The deal is for two years, according to the Blackhawks’ web site. Delia has taken part in the Blackhawks Prospects Camp in each of the last two seasons.

In three years with the Warriors, the 6-foot-2, 200-lb. native of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. fashioned a 17-20-3 record in 56 collegiate appearances to go with a 2.60 goals-against average, a .907 save percentage, and four shutouts, according to USCHO.com.

Delia finished ninth among NCAA Division I netminders last season with a .927 save percentage over 21 games, while going 9-8-3 with a 2.15 GAA and three shutouts. The Warriors will return rising sophomores Drew Vogler (18 games) and Craig Pantano (one game) in net next season.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Appleton Leaves MSU to Sign with Winnipeg

Michigan State has lost its captain less than three months before the 2017-18 season begins.

Rising sophomore Mason Appleton recently signed an entry-level contact with the Winnipeg Jets, rather than return to East Lansing in the fall, according to USCHO.com. The Green Bay, Wisc. native was drafted by the Jets in the sixth round (168th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Appleton, 21, led the Spartans in scoring last season with 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points in 35 games, including seven power-play goals, as MSU went 7-24-2 overall and finished last in the Big Ten. In two seasons at State, the Tri-City (USHL) product tallied 17-36—53 points in 72 outings.

MSU begins its first campaign under new head coach and Spartan alumnus Danton Cole on Oct. 7 with an exhibition game against Toronto at Munn Ice Arena.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ferguson Moving on From Nanooks

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is searching for a new hockey coach.

Longtime head coach and former Nanook defenseman Dallas Ferguson, who had helmed his alma mater's flagship program since 2008, has resigned to take the same position with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.

After beginning his coaching career as an assistant with the North American Hockey League's Fairbanks Ice Dogs in 2002, Ferguson served as an assistant coach with the Nanooks from 2004 to 2008 before being elevated to head coach. He was named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Coach of the Year in his first campaign, and the following year led UAF to its first-ever berth in the NCAA Division I Hockey Tournament, an at-large selection. The Nanooks fell to eventual national champion Boston College, 3-1, in the opening round of the 2010 NCAA Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass.

In 10 seasons guiding UAF, Ferguson, 44, finished with a career record of 139-151-42, according to USCHO.com. In five of those seasons, he led the Nanooks to 17 or more victories. UAF also won eight consecutive Governor's Cups against rival Alaska Anchorage in his time behind the bench, although three of those Cups were vacated due to self-reported NCAA violations by the university. The Nanooks finished sixth overall in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) last season, their fourth year in the league after the CCHA folded in 2013.

Ferguson was a four-year letterwinner on defense for the Nanooks from 1992 to 1996, when the UAF played its first four seasons in the CCHA. He tallied a career-high six goals and 31 assists for 37 points as a sophomore, according to hockeydb.com, and finished his career with 17-87—104 points and 64 penalty minutes in 138 career outings.

He was awarded the Shawn Chambers Top Defenseman Award three times, according to alaskananooks.com, was an alternate captain as a junior, and was voted the team captain as a senior. Ferguson, who hails from Wainwright, Alberta, graduated from UAF with a bachelor's degree in business administration, and also played five years of professional hockey.

At least three of Ferguson's former charges have advanced to the National Hockey League (NHL), including St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson, and 2010 Stanley Cup champion Jordan Hendry.

According to the UAF athletic website, Ferguson's last day with the Nanooks is Aug. 17. The Hitmen will open their 2017-18 WHL season on Sept. 22 at Kootenay, while UAF will begin its new campaign on Sept. 29 in Fairbanks with an exhibition game against Simon Fraser.

ADDENDUM: Longtime Nanook assistant coach and former Alabama-Huntsville player and assistant Lance West was named Alaska's new head coach on July 19.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

NCAA Alumni Change NHL Teams as Free Agency Period Begins

A number of former NCAA players changed NHL teams on Saturday, the first day of the NHL’s free-agent signing period.

The biggest coup was perhaps defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (Boston University) leaving the Washington Capitals to sign with the New York Rangers for four years at $6.65 million per year, according to NHL.com. Shattenkirk, who has also played with Colorado and St. Louis in his pro career, tallied 13 goals and 56 points this past season, and helped BU to the 2009 national title.

Shattenkirk wasn’t the only former Terrier on the move Saturday. Nick Bonino (BU), who just won his second consecutive Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, has joined the team that Pittsburgh beat in the final. Bonino, also a member of BU’s 2009 NCAA title team, signed with the Nashville Predators for four years and $16.4 million total. Chris Kunitz (Ferris State), a member of three championship teams in Pittsburgh, inked a one-year deal for $2 million with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Longtime NHL goaltender Ryan Miller (Michigan State) has moved from the Vancouver Canucks to the Anaheim Ducks, while netminder Brian Elliott (Wisconsin) went from the Calgary Flames to the Philadelphia Flyers, and Chad Johnson (Alaska Fairbanks) returned to the Buffalo Sabres after playing last season in Calgary. Miller won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in 2001, while Elliott backstopped the Badgers to a national title in 2006.

Veteran NHL forward Patrick Sharp (Vermont) has rejoined the Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he won three Stanley Cups, after spending the past two seasons with the Dallas Stars. Tommy Wingels (Miami) went from the Ottawa Senators to the Blackhawks, while Brian Boyle (Boston College) will play for the New Jersey Devils after spending last season with Tampa Bay and Toronto. Former Devils forward Mike Cammalleri (Michigan) joined Los Angeles from New Jersey, while Beau Bennett (Denver) left New Jersey to sign with the St. Louis Blues.

Kenny Agostino (Yale) who helped the Bulldogs to the 2013 NCAA championship, led the American Hockey League in scoring this past season with the Chicago Wolves, St. Louis’ AHL affiliate. He signed a one-year contract with the Boston Bruins. Matt Taormina (Providence), who led all AHL defenseman during the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs with 20 points for Syracuse, has left Tampa Bay for the Montreal Canadiens.

A full list of free-agent signings is listed here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Former ECAC Players Sign with NHL Teams

A pair of former Eastern College Athletic Conference hockey players inked NHL contracts this week, one of them a heralded rookie and the other a young veteran.

Union College forward Spencer Foo signed as a free agent with the Calgary Flames after spending the last three seasons in Schenectady. According to the Flames website, the contract will be finalized and made official on July 1. Foo, 23, tallied career highs of 26 goals and 36 assists for 62 points in 38 games this past year, while leading the Dutchmen to both the ECAC regular-season crown and their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2014.

The Edmonton native tied with teammate Mike Vecchione for the ECAC scoring lead, with 44 points in 25 conference games, and likewise was a fellow Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist. In 113 career outings at Union, Foo registered 49-63—112 points.

Former Princeton University netminder Mike Condon re-upped with the Ottawa Senators after spending most of last season in Canada’s capital. According to NHL.com, the deal is for $7.2 million for three years. The Holliston, Mass. native, who began last season with Pittsburgh before being traded to Ottawa in November, finished 19-14-6 in 40 games with the Senators. He also recorded a 2.50 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage to go with a career-high five shutouts.

In 96 career NHL games with Montreal, Pittsburgh and Ottawa, Condon, 27, has fashioned a 40-39-12 record with six shutouts. He went 18-22-8 with three shutouts in 53 NCAA appearances at Princeton from 2009 and 2013.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Kariya Named to Hockey Hall of Fame

Former University of Maine star and Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Paul Kariya was announced Monday as part of the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2017. The induction ceremony will be held in November.

The Vancouver native burst on the college hockey scene in 1992-93, when paced Maine with 25 goals and 75 assists for 100 points in 39 games, while also leading the Black Bears to their first-ever NCAA title. He also became the first freshman to ever claim the Hobey Baker Award, and was drafted fourth overall that summer by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

After recording eight goals and 24 points in just 12 games the following season with Maine, Kariya then joined the Canadian National Team. He competed in the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, where he won a silver medal, one year after earning gold at the World Junior Championship, and several months before winning gold at the World Championship. He then embarked upon a 15-season NHL career that saw him tally 402-587989 points in 989 regular-season outings with Anaheim, Colorado, Nashville and St. Louis, before he retired in 2010.

A two-time 100-point scorer and a seven-time 30-goal scorer, according to hockeydb.com, Kariya also added 16-2339 points in 46 Stanley Cup playoff contests, and helped Anaheim to within one victory of the Stanley Cup in 2003. He also won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in both 1996 and 1997, earned World Championship silver in 1996, and claimed Olympic gold in 2002.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Over 60 NCAA-Related Players Taken in 2017 NHL Draft

Two current NCAA players were drafted in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, while a host of incoming collegiate freshmen also heard their names called this weekend at the United Center.

St. Cloud State center Ryan Poehling was drafted 25th overall by the Montreal Canadiens, while goaltender Jake Oettinger of Boston University went to the Dallas Stars with the very next selection. Poehling tallied seven goals and 13 points in 35 games for the Huskies last season, while Oettinger went 21-11-3 with a 2.11 goals-against average in 35 appearances with the Terriers, who had a total of seven players drafted.

Cale Makar, who is slated to suit up on defense for the University of Massachusetts this fall, was the highest-rated college-related player to be drafted over weekend, as he went fourth overall to the Colorado Avalanche. Finnish forward Eeli Tolvanen, who went 30th overall to the Nashville Predators, had been committed to Boston College, but was recently reported to have been rejected by BC's admissions office.

Rensselaer blueliner William Reilly of Rensselaer was the final player drafted this year, as he was chosen 217th and last overall by the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. A full list of college-related players taken by NHL teams on Friday and Saturday can be found here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Former NCAA Players Chosen in Expansion Draft

Several former NCAA players changed teams Wednesday in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, to help stock the new Vegas Golden Knights franchise:

Jon Merill           New Jersey  (Michigan)
Connor Brickley      Florida     (Vermont)
Jason Garrison       Tampa Bay   (Minnesota-Duluth)
Erik Haula           Minnesota   (Minnesota)
Trevor van Riemsdyk* Chicago     (New Hampshire)
Nate Schmidt         Washington  (Minnesota)

* van Riemsdyk was subsequently traded to Carolina on Thursday

The Golden Knights will also have 13 selections in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, which gets underway tonight in Chicago (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and continues all day Saturday (10 a.m. ET, NHL Network). It marks the second time in four years that the NHL Entry Draft and the NCAA Frozen Four will be held in the same city in the same year, the last coming in 2014 in Philadelphia.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

AHL's Griffins Claim Second-Ever Calder Cup

The Grand Rapids Griffins won their second-ever Calder Cup, and first-ever at home, with Tuesday night’s 4-3 win over the Syracuse Crunch in Game 6 at Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich.
The Griffins claimed their first American Hockey League championship in 2013, by also defeating the Crunch in six games, with the deciding contest that year held in Syracuse. Grand Rapids, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, won 15 of 19 games during the 2017 postseason, ousting Milwaukee, Chicago and San Jose before doing likewise to Syracuse.
Ben Street (Wisconsin) of the Griffins was second on the squad, and fourth in the league, with 21 points during the playoffs. Jared Coureau (Northern Michigan) was in net for all of Grand Rapids’s postseason games, going 15-4-0 with a 2.89 goals-against average in 19 contests.
Syracuse forward Cory Conacher (Canisius) led all scorers during the Calder Cup Playoffs with 12 goals and 28 points. Mike McKenna (St. Lawrence) finished with a 13-9 record and a 2.68 goals-against average in 22 playoff appearances, while Matt Taormina (Providence) paced all league defensemen with 15 assists and 20 points.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

One Year Later

Hard to believe it's been a year since retired Michigan State head coach and college hockey legend Ron Mason passed away.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Penguins Win Second Straight Stanley Cup

The Pittsburgh Penguins have repeated as Stanley Cup champions.

A goal by Patric Hornqvist with 1:35 remaining in regulation proved to be the game-winner, and Carl Hagelin (Michigan) added an empty-net goal to lift Pittsburgh to a 2-0 win tonight over the host Nashville Predators. The Penguins, who won the series in six games, become the first repeat NHL champion since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.

Other former NCAA players who participated for the Penguins in the Final this spring who will have their names engraved on the Cup include Justin Schultz (Wisconsin), Brian Dumoulin (Boston College), Ron Hainsey (UMass Lowell), Nick Bonino (Boston University), Chris Kunitz (Ferris State), Bryan Rust (Notre Dame), Scott Wilson (UMass Lowell), Ian Cole (Notre Dame), Carter Rowney (North Dakota), Conor Sheary (Massachusetts), Josh Archibald (Nebraska-Omaha), Ryan Guentzel (Nebraska-Omaha) and Phil Kessel (Minnesota). Pittsburgh's staff includes head coach Mike Sullivan (Boston University), goalie coach Mike Bales (Ohio State), and assistant general manager Bill Guerin (Boston College).

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Penguins Take 3-2 Stanley Cup Final Lead

Justin Schultz (Wisconsin), Bryan Rust (Notre Dame), Conor Sheary (Massachusetts), Phil Kessel (Minnesota) and Ron Hainsey (UMass Lowell) all scored goals as the Pittsburgh Penguins dismantled the visiting Nashville Predators, 6-0, on Thursday night in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final.

Kessel also had two assists as the Penguins scored three goals in each of the first two periods, and recorded the first shutout of the series. Pittsburgh, which won Games One and Two at home at PPG Paints Arena last week, rebounded to take a three games-to-two series lead after losing Games Three and Four in Nashville.

The Penguins can clinch their second straight Stanley Cup (and fifth all-time) with a victory on Sunday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC) at Bridgestone Arena in Tennessee. If Nashville wins that evening, the seventh and deciding match will be contested on Wednesday in Pittsburgh to conclude the 2016-17 NHL campaign.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Colorado Wins ECHL's Kelly Cup

The Colorado Eagles are the champions of the ECHL.

The Eagles, a transplant from the defunct Central Hockey league, won their first-ever Kelly Cup by completing a four-game sweep of the South Carolina Stingrays with a 2-1 triumph in North Charleston, S.C. on Monday night.

Luke Salazar (Denver) notched the Cup-winning goal just over a minute into the second period, to break a 1-1 tie at the North Charleston Coliseum. Lukas Hafner (Western Michigan) stopped 25 of 26 shots for the Eagles, and ended the postseason with a personal 14-2-0 record. Parker Milner (Boston College) finished with 42 saves Monday for the Stingrays, who got their lone goal from Derek Arnold (UMass Lowell).

Colorado won all four games of the final by one goal apiece, to capture its first playoff title since it won its second of two CHL Ray Miron President's Cups in 2007. South Carolina was seeking its fourth ECHL playoff crown overall, and first since 2009.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Predators Knot Stanley Cup Final

Craig Smith (Wisconsin) and Harry Zolnierczyk (Brown) each posted an assist on Monday night, as the Nashville Predators evened the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-1 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins. The NHL's ultimate annual playoff series is now tied at two games apiece.

Smith had previously scored a goal in Nashville's 5-1 victory on Saturday at Bridgestone Arena in Tennessee, after the Predators had dropped the first two games in Pittsburgh. Brian Dumoulin (Boston College) assisted on the Penguins' lone goal Monday, which briefly tied the game at a goal apiece.

Game 5 will be played Thursday in Pittsburgh, with Game 6 back in Nashville on Sunday.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Shawhan New Head Coach at Michigan Tech

The latest NCAA head coaching vacancy this offseason was filled on Monday when Michigan Tech University assistant coach Joe Shawhan was named as the 22nd head coach overall of the Huskies. He succeeds Mel Pearson, an MTU graduate who left Tech after six seasons to return to the University of Michigan as head coach in place of the retired Red Berenson.

Shawhan has been on MTU's staff the last three seasons, helping the Huskies to a WCHA playoff title and NCAA Tournament berth this past season. He previously served as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Lake Superior State University, and at Northern Michigan University. He also guided the U.S. Junior National Team to a silver medal at the Viking Cup in Alberta as head coach in 2004, two years after doing the same as an assistant.

Prior to becoming an NCAA Division I college coach, Shawhan served as head coach and general manager of the now-defunct Soo Kewadin Casino Indians of the North American Hockey League from 1995 to 2005, amassing a league-record 474 junior “A” wins to go along with three NAHL titles. He also turned out dozens of players for the collegiate and professional ranks, most noticeably former Michigan State University goaltender Ryan Miller, a Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner and U.S. Olympian who now plays for the NHL's Vancouver Canucks.

A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Shawhan played collegiately at LSSU. He led the Lakers in total saves (480) in 1982-83 and in goals-against average (3.03) in 1985-86, and finished with 1,130 career saves.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Guentzel, Penguins Go Up Two Games to None

Jake Guentzel (Nebraska-Omaha) scored his second and third goals of the series, and Chris Kunitz (Ferris State) again had two assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins routed the Nashville Predators, 4-1, on Wednesday night in Game Two of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.
Guentzel's goal off a long rebound came 10 seconds into the third period, and also broke a 1-1 tie while keying a three-goal third period for the host Penguins. Guentzel, who now has a record 12 goals in the playoffs by an NHL rookie from the United States, also notched the game-winner Monday in Pittsburgh's 5-3 triumph.

Bryan Rust (Notre Dame) and Ron Hainsey (UMass Lowell) assisted on Guentzel's game-winner Wednesday, before Scott Wilson (UMass Lowell) scored to put Pittsburgh up, 3-1. A fifth Penguins goal was called back on an offside infraction. Conor Sheary (Massachusetts) and Phil Kessel (Minnesota) also had third-period assists as the Penguins took a 2-0 series lead despite being outshot, 38-27, for the second straight contest.

Game Three is set for Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Penguins Escape Game One, 5-3

Jake Guentzel (Nebraska-Omaha) scored with 3:17 remaining in regulation on Monday night as the Pittsburgh Penguins outlasted the visiting Nashville Predators, 5-3, in Game One of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

Guentzel's goal was Pittsburgh's first shot on net in more than 30 minutes, after the Penguins had built a 3-0 lead in the first period. Nashville then battled back to tie with two third-period scores before Guentzel's heroics. A game-opening goal by Nashville was elminated by an offside infraction.

Nick Bonino (Boston University) had two goals for the Pens, including an empty-net tally in the final minute of regulation. Chris Kunitz (Ferris State) had two assists for Pittsburgh, which was outshot, 26-12.

Game Two of the NHL championship will be held on Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena in Pennsylvania.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Penguins to Meet Predators in Stanley Cup Final

Chris Kunitz (Ferris State) scored his second goal of the game 5:09 into the second overtime to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 victory over the visiting Ottawa Senators. Defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh will now host the Nashville on Monday at PPG Paints Arena in game One of the 2017 Stanley Cup final.

Conor Sheary (Massachusetts) set up Kunitz for the game’s opening goal in the second period, before Ottawa came back to tie it just 20 seconds later. Justin Schultz wristed home a power-play goal midway through the third period off assists from Kunitz and Phil Kessel (Minnesota) to put the Penguins up, 2-1, but Ryan Dzingel (Ohio State) knotted it for the Senators with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

Kunitz slapped a pass home in double OT to send the Penguins back to the final for the second straight season, almost a year after Pittsburgh defeated San Jose in six games to win its first NHL championship since 2009 and fourth overall. Schultz drew the second assist on the winning goal.

The Penguins outshot the Senators on Thursday, 42-29 and scored on their only power-play opportunity.  Ottawa, which went scoreless on two man-advantage opportunities, was seeking is first Stanley Cup Final berth since 2007, when it lost to Anaheim in five games.

Monday, May 22, 2017

NCAA Line Powers Penguins To Game Five Win

The Pittsburgh Penguins “NCAA Line” combined for seven points in a 7-0 rout of the Ottawa Senators on Sunday in Game Five of the NHL’s Eastern Conference Final. Pittsburgh now leads the best-of-seven series, three games to two.

Bryan Rust (Notre Dame), Nick Bonino (Boston University) and Carter Rowney (North Dakota) united for a goal and six assists on Sunday, with Rust’s goal giving Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the first period. Scott Wilson (UMass Lowell) scored the Penguins’ fourth goal just two minutes later, on assists from Rowney and Bonino. Phil Kessel (Minnesota) tallied Pittsburgh’s sixth goal of the game in the third period.

Defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh can advance to its second straight Stanley Cup Final with a win in Game 6 in Ottawa on Tuesday night. The two teams split Games Three and Four at Canadian Tire Centre last week, with Ottawa winning the first contest and Pittsburgh the second.

Sweden Wins 2017 World Championship

Sweden edged Canada, 2-1, in a shootout on Sunday in the gold medal game of the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Cologne, Germany. Sweden outscored Canada, two to none, in the extra session at Lanxess Arena to win its first World Championship gold since 2013. 

Canada was seeking its third straight World Championship. Former NCAA members of this year’s silver medal-winning Canadian squad included Alex Killorn (Harvard) of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Michael Matheson (Boston College) of the Florida Panthers, and Colton Parayko (Alaska Fairbanks) of the St. Louis Blues.

Russia won this year’s bronze medal, with a 5-3 victory over Finland. Next year’s World Championship will be contested in Denmark for the first time.

Friday, May 19, 2017

U.S. Eliminated from World Championships

The U.S. Men's National Hockey Team was eliminated from medal consideration with a 2-0 loss to Finland on Thursday in a quarterfinal-round game at the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Cologne, Germany. The loss also ended a six-game winning streak for the Americans, following a 2-1 tournament-opening defeat to host Germany earlier this month.

Jimmy Howard (Maine) of the Detroit Red Wings made 18 saves in the loss to Finland, which moved on to play Sweden in a semifinal game on Saturday. The other semifinal will pit Canada against Russia, the latter a team the U.S. beat by a 5-3 count earlier this week in round-robin play.

Johnny Gaudreau (Boston College) of the Calgary Flames led Team USA in scoring with six goals and five assists for 11 points in eight contests. The U.S. last medaled in the World Championships in 2015, when it won bronze in the Czech Republic, two years after doing the same in Finland/Sweden.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Both NHL Conference Finals Now Tied

Phil Kessel (Minnesota) scored off his own rebound with 6:55 remaining in regulation Tuesday as the Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the visiting Ottawa Senators, 1-0. Game Three of the NHL Eastern Conference Final, which is now tied at a game apiece, will be played on Wednesday in Ottawa.

Elsewhere in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Nashville Predators will host the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday in the NHL Western Conference Final that is also tied at one game apiece. Anaheim tied the series at home on Sunday with a 5-3 victory, as Ryan Kesler (Ohio State) posted one assist.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

And Then There Were Four ...

Drake Caggiula (North Dakota) scored the game-opening goal and Cam Talbot (Alabama-Huntsville) made 26 saves, but the Edmonton Oilers' first Stanley Cup Playoff run in 11 years came to a close with a 2-1 loss in Game 7 at Anaheim on Wednesday. Andrew Cogliano (Michigan) scored one of the two goals for the Ducks, who advance to the NHL conference finals for the second time in three years.

In Washington, Bryan Rust (Notre Dame) broke a scoreless tie in the second period as the Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated the Washington Capitals, 2-0, in Game 7 Wednesday. Jake Guentzel (Nebraska-Omaha) and Justin Schultz (Wisconsin) had assists on the night for the defending champion Pens, who had lost the previous two games of the series.

Anaheim will now meet the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Final beginning Friday in California, while Pittsburgh will host the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Final starting Saturday in Pennsylvania.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Gaudreau Powers U.S. to Win Over Sweden

Johnny Gaudreau (Boston College) of the NHL's Calgary Flames scored two goals and was named the American player of the game as the U.S. Men's National Team edged Sweden, 4-3, before a crowd of 18,398 in a preliminary-round contest at the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Cologne, Germany.

J.T. Compher (Michigan) of the Colorado Avalanche tallied the game-winning goal in the third period for the U.S., which outshot Sweden by a 39-23 margin and rebounded from three one-goal deficits. Jack Eichel (Boston University) of the Buffalo Sabres registered two assists while Clayton Keller (Boston University) scored the other U.S. goal, and Jimmy Howard (Maine) of the Detroit Red Wings made 20 saves for the Americans.

The win improved Team USA's record in the annual tournament to 2-1-0, including an earlier 2-1 loss to Germany followed by a 7-2 win over Denmark. The U.S. will next face Italy on Wednesday at Lanxess Arena.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Ten Years Ago Today

It was 10 years ago today that I attended my final New Jersey Devils game ever at then-Continental Airlines Arena, a 3-2 double OT playoff win over Ottawa. It was also the last sell-out and the last win the Devils ever recorded in East Rutherford before moving to Newark that fall. It never hosted a college hockey game, but all this time later, I still miss the Meadowlands.

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 hockeydb.com. 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.