Monday, April 30, 2018

Largen Chosen as New Alaska (Fairbanks) Head Coach

The University of Alaska (Fairbanks) finally settled on a new head coach—and it's now-former assistant coach Erik Largen.

A Fairbanks native, Largen, 31, becomes the youngest head men’s ice hockey coach in NCAA Division I ranks, following Matt Curley, 35, who was tabbed as the new head coach at in-state rival Alaska Anchorage earlier this month.

Largen, who was an assistant coach at UAF over the past two seasons, is also a former backup goaltender for the Nanooks (2006-2008). According to, he entered the coaching ranks in 2009 and spent two seasons as the goaltending coach for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (NAHL). He then moved on to the Twin Cities (Minn.) Northern Lights (MNJHL) for two years as head coach, before splitting the 2013-14 campaign between Janesville (NAHL) and Tri-City (USHL) as an assistant coach.

Largen then served one season as head coach at NCAA Division III Marian (Wisc.) University, before he returned to his alma mater as an assistant in 2016. His hiring completes a process that was heavily botched by UAF administrators, one that came to a head earlier this month when first choice Brent Brekke, a former associate head coach at Miami, was chosen as the new Nanook head coach but could not come to an agreement with the university on a contract.

Lance West, the other finalist for the position, withdrew from consideration after Brekke was originally selected. West served as an interim head coach of the Nanooks last season after longtime head coach and UAF alumnus Dallas Ferguson took the head coaching job with Calgary (WHL) last summer. West, a former player for Alabama-Huntsville, had served as an assistant coach with UAF for nine years prior to his one year as head coach. Since he was labeled as an interim coach, the position had to be re-opened for applications this year.

Largen becomes the ninth head coach in the modern history of Nanook Hockey, which got its start as an independent NCAA Division II varsity program in 1979. The Nanooks, now a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, moved up to the Division I ranks in the 1980s and made their only NCAA Division I Tournament appearance in 2010 as a member of the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

U.S. Finishes Second at 2018 World Under-18s

The United States took the silver medal at the recently-completed 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship in Russia.

The defending champion Americans fell to Finland, 3-2, on Sunday in the gold medal game in Chelyabinsk. Patrick Giles, who is committed to Boston College, and Trevor Janicke (Notre Dame) scored for the U.S., while Spencer Knight (Boston College) made 25 saves.

Jack Hughes of the U.S. was named both the tournament's top forward and its Most Valuable Player, and was also named to the All-Tournament Team. Hughes led all tournament scorers with seven assists and 12 points over seven games.

Team USA defenseman Cameron York (Boston College), and forward Oliver Wahlstrom (Harvard), were also named to the All-Tournament Team. York tied for second overall with six assists, while Wahlstrom finished second among all scorers with seven goals.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Bruins Oust Maple Leafs in Seven Games

Torey Krug (Michigan State) tied the game early in the third period, and his teammates then deposited three more goals into the opposing net as the Boston Bruins outlasted the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs, 7-4, on Wednesday in the deciding Game 7 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series. 

The Bruins won the series, four games to three, after Toronto had claimed the previous two contests to force a tie, including a 4-3 win in Game 5 at Boston's TD Garden. Boston won three of its four home games in the series, en route to forging 2-0 and 3-1 series leads.

Krug's slapshot from the blueline brought the Bruins back from a 4-3 deficit and also started a run of four consecutive Boston third-period goals. Danton Heinen (Denver) also scored for Boston, his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal, while Kevan Miller (Vermont) set up two Bruins goals and David Backes (Minnesota State) recorded an assist.

The Bruins now advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a five-game winner over the New Jersey Devils in the first round. The Bruins-Lightning best-of-seven series will begin Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (NBC TV) in Florida.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Devils, Flyers Eliminated From 2018 NHL Postseason

The New Jersey Devils’ 2017-18 NHL campaign came to a close on Saturday in Tampa, Florida. The Devils dropped a 3-1 decision to the host Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, four games to one. It was New Jersey’s first playoff series appearance since 2012.
Kyle Palmieri (Notre Dame) assisted on the Devils’ only goal of the afternoon, while Cory Schneider (Boston College) stopped 35 of 37 shots in the loss. Tampa Bay advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals against either the Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs. Boston currently leads that series, three games to two.
The Philadelphia Flyers’ 2017-18 season ended Sunday as the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins scored five unanswered goals en route to an 8-5 victory. Pittsburgh, which won its ninth consecutive NHL playoff series dating back to 2016, closed out the Flyers in six games.
Jake Guentzel (Nebraska-Omaha) paced the Penguins with four goals and also added an assist, while Phil Kessel (Minnesota) set up two goals. Pittsburgh will next face the winner of the series between the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, which Washington currently leads by a three-to-two count.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Jets Advance to NHL's Second Round

A second straight shutout by Connor Hellebuyck (UMass Lowell) has boosted the the Winnipeg Jets to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Jets, who relocated to Manitoba from Atlanta in 2011, earned their first Stanley Cup Playoff series victory with a 5-0 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild on Friday night. Winnipeg won the best-of-seven series in five games.

Hellebuyck, a finalist this season for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender, made 30 stops in the Game 5 victory. Jacob Trouba (Michigan) scored the winning goal just 31 seconds into the game, while Paul Stastny (Denver) had two assists on the night.

Winnipeg will now face the winner of Colorado and Nashville in the Western Conference semifinals.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Devils Win Game Three Versus Tampa Bay

The New Jersey Devils aren't dead just yet, thanks to several former NCAA standouts.

A third-period goal by rookie defenseman Will Butcher (Denver), his first ever in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, tied the contest at two goals apiece as the Devils ultimately clawed their way back into their NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night at the Prudential Center. Tampa Bay still leads the best-of-seven series, two games to one, with Game Four coming up on Wednesday in Newark, N.J.

Butcher's goal forged a 2-2 tie and was part of a four-goal third period outburst by the Devils. Team captain Andy Greene (Miami) assisted on the game-winning goal by Stefan Noesen, before Blake Coleman (Miami) and Ben Lovejoy (Dartmouth) scored unassisted empty-net goals in the final minutes of regulation, with Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy having been pulled both times for an extra attacker.

Cory Schneider (Boston College), making his first start in the NHL postseason since 2013 when he was with Vancouver, stopped 34 shots to earn the win for New Jersey. Alex Killorn (Harvard) notched a goal and an assist for the Lightning, which was outshot, 41-36, by the Devils.

ADDENDUM: Tampa Bay ultimately won the series in five games.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

2018 NHL Playoffs Underway

The 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs have commenced. The ultimate winner from the field of 16 will be crowned sometime in June.

On Friday, Shayne Gostisbehere (Union) opened the scoring for Philadelphia as the Flyers rebounded from a Game One debacle to even their quarterfinal series with a 5-1 victory at two-time defending champion Pittsburgh. Farther north, Connor Hellebuyck (UMass Lowell) made 16 saves as the Winnipeg Jets took a two games to none series lead with a 4-1 victory over Minnesota.

Lastly, Alex Tuch (Boston College) scored the game's first goal and Erik Haula (Minnesota) connected in the second overtime to lift the Vegas Golden Knights to a 2-1 victory over Los Angeles. Vegas now leads that series, two games to none.

In the other five series (all one game to none as of Friday night): Nashville leads Colorado, San Jose leads Anaheim, Tampa Bay leads New Jersey, Boston leads Toronto, and Columbus leads Washington.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Princeton's Véronneau, Kuffner Earn 2018 All-America Accolades

Princeton University rising junior forwards and Ottawa natives Max Véronneau and Ryan Kuffner have been named as Second Team CCM/AHCA Hockey All-Americans by the American Hockey Coaches Association, as announced over the weekend at the NCAA Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minn.

Véronneau (No. 15 in photo) finished second in the nation with 55 points, on 17 goals and 38 assists, in 2017-18, five points behind Hobey Baker Award winner Adam Gaudette of Northeastern. Véronneau also established a new Princeton single-season superlative for total points, while Kuffner (No. 21) set a new school standard with 29 goals. Kuffner also registered 23 assists and was tied for fourth in NCAA Division I with 52 points with former University of Denver forward Henrik Borgström.

Véronneau and Kuffner, who played junior hockey together with Gloucester (CCHL) before enrolling at Princeton, are both undrafted and expected to return to the Tigers in the fall for their senior seasons. Each also recorded his 100th career collegiate point in 2017-18.

Véronneau and Kuffner led the Tigers to a 19-13-4 overall mark, including Princeton's first ECAC Hockey championship since 2008 and its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2009. The Tigers won six straight playoff games to earn their league’s title, before ultimately bowing out with a 4-2 loss to Ohio State University in an NCAA Midwest regional semifinal.

UML's Hellebuyck, Hutton Top NHL Goalie Stats

Two former UMass-Lowell goaltenders were atop the NHL statistical charts as hockey's top league finished its 2017-18 regular season on Sunday.

Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets led all NHL goaltenders with 44 victories, setting a new league standard for American-born netminders, while Carter Hutton of the St. Louis Blues paced the circuit in both goals-against average (2.09) and save percentage (.931). Hellebuyck finished 44-11-9 in 67 games this season, while Hutton went 17-7-3 in 32 contests.

Hellebuyck, a 2012 Jets' draft choice, from Commerce, Mich., played at UML from 2012 to 2014. He backstopped the River Hawks to both the 2013 Hockey East championship and the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four as a freshman, and went 38-12-2 (1.60, .946) in 53 career appearances. Hutton, a free agent from Thunder Bay, Ont., went 32-41-10 (2.33, .913) in 85 outings at UML from 2006 to 2010.

Winnipeg will face the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while St. Louis was eliminated from postseason contention by the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Minnesota-Duluth Wins 2018 NCAA Men's Hockey Title

The last team into the tournament was the last team left standing.

For the first time since 2011, the University of Minnesota-Duluth is the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey national champion. The Bulldogs outlasted Notre Dame, 2-1, on Saturday before a sold-out crowd of 18,303 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The national title is the second in UMD men's hockey history, while the Fighting Irish was seeking its first NCAA championship.

UMD (25-16-3 overall) took a 1-0 lead on a goal by senior captain Karson Kuhlman just over nine minutes into the first period, then assisted on the game-winning goal by Jared Thomas just over nine-and-a-half minutes later. Big Ten champion Notre Dame (28-10-2) got back within one on a score by Andrew Oglevie 7:40 into the second period, but was shut down by the Bulldogs the rest of the way.
Cale Morris, who won the 2018 Mike Richter Award as college hockey's top goaltender, finished with 33 saves for the Irish, while Hunter Shepard made 19 stops for the Bulldogs. UMD also outshot the Irish, 35-20, and went 0-for-3 on the power play, while Notre Dame was 1-for-2 with a man advantage.

UMD finished as national runner-up to Denver last year, dropping a 3-2 decision in last year's championship game in Chicago, after Notre Dame had fallen to DU in the semifinals. The Bulldogs edged Michigan, 3-2, in overtime in the 2011 NCAA championship game, also in St. Paul, after first ousting the Irish in a semifinal match, while Notre Dame dropped a 4-1 decision to Boston College in the 2008 national title tilt in Denver. The Bulldogs and Irish both advanced to this year’s championship contest with Frzoen Four national semifinal triumphs on Thursday, with UMD topping Ohio State, 2-1, and Notre Dame outlasting Michigan, 4-3.

The Bulldogs received the last at-large bid into this year's 16-team NCAA Tournament by .0001 percentage point over in-state rival Minnesota, according to the Pairwise Rankings that mimic the NCAA's selection process. UMD's victory Saturday also marked three consecutive NCAA titles for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, following Denver last year and North Dakota in 2016.


No other words.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Northeastern's Gaudette Wins 2018 Hobey Baker Award

Adam Gaudette of Northeastern University was named Friday as the 2018 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner in St. Paul, Minn. The award, which has been presented since 1981 to the top player in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey, is named for the former Princeton University hockey star of a century ago.

Gaudette, a 6-foot-1, 184-pound junior forward from Braintree, Mass, is the first Hobey Baker winner to hail from Northeastern. He led the Huskies this season with 30 goals and 30 assists for 60 points in 38 games, and paced the nation in both total goals and total points. He also helped NU to its first Beanpot Tournament title in 30 years, notching three goals in a 5-2 championship contest victory over Boston University on Feb. 12.

Gaudette, 21, tallied 68-74—142 points in three seasons at NU, and also helped the Huskies to two NCAA Tournament appearances, plus the 2016 Hockey East tournament championship, its first league title since 1988. He played his final collegiate game in a 3-2 loss to Michigan in an NCAA Northeast Regional semifinal on March 24.

A fifth-round draft choice of the Vancouver Canucks in 2015, Gaudette had played in his first four career NHL games as of Friday. The Canucks close out their 2017-18 campaign on Saturday at Edmonton, while the 2017-18 NCAA season also ends the same night, with Minnesota-Duluth facing Notre Dame for the men’s Division I national title.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

2018 National Hockey Title Game Matchup Set

Louie Roehl and Jared Thomas scored 1:11 apart in the the first four minutes of play, and the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs held on for a 2-1 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes in the early NCAA Frozen Four men's hockey semifinal on Thursday in St. Paul, Minn.

Tanner Laczynski finally got the Buckeyes on the board on a power play with 10:33 remaining in regulation, but that was as close as OSU would get in its first Frozen Four appearance in 20 years. Hunter Shepard made 19 saves for UMD as the Bulldogs advanced to the national title game for the second straight season, and also eliminated OSU in the NCAAs for the second consecutive year.

Sean Romeo finished with 26 saves for the Buckeyes, who were outshot, 28-20, overall, including 17-4 over the opening 20 minutes.

In the nightcap at the XCel Energy Center, Notre Dame outlasted Michigan as Jake Evans drove to the net and scored with 5.2 seconds left on the clock for a 4-3 win for the Fighting Irish.

Evans scored two goals and set up another as Notre Dame rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit to take a 3-2 third-period lead. After Michael Pastujov scored for the Wolverines with just over five minutes remaining in regulation to tie the contest, the game appeared headed to overtime until Evan's last-second heroics.

Tony Calderone and Dexter Dancs had a goal and an assist apiece for Michigan, while Andrew Oglevie (power-play goal) and Cal Burke tallied the Irish's other goals. Notre Dame outshot Michigan, 29-28, and also got 25 saves from Cale Morris, while Hayden Lavigne made 25 stops for the Wolverines.

The Bulldogs and Fighting Irish will meet on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) to decide the 2018 national championship. UMD won its first NCAA crown in 2011, when it defeated Michigan in OT in St. Paul. Big Ten champion Notre Dame is seeking its first-ever national hockey title, having last appeared in the NCAA championship tilt in 2008 when it fell to Boston College in Denver.

Last Weekend of the Season

The 2018 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Frozen Four is finally here. 

The action faces off from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. starting at 6 p.m. ET today with Minnesota-Duluth taking on Ohio State, followed by Michigan vs. Notre Dame. Both games are televised by ESPN2. 

UMD was national champion in 2011 and national runner-up last season, while Michigan last won it all in 1998. OSU and UND are both seeking their first-ever NCAA hockey title.