Weekend Preview: Buckle Up; Sprint to the Finish Starts Now

College hockey is back in full force. Plenty of top-tier teams face-off and we may see a little Pairwise shuffling after this weekend. Sounds like the perfect way to jump-start the second half of the season. Here is my weekend preview.

First off, since this blog is going up Thursday night, I’ll dip my toe into some major games that just concluded.

Boston University 6 Harvard 5

In a game that really lived up to it’s billing, the Terriers score three goals in the final 3:58 to give Harvard its second loss of the season.

Seniors Danny O’Regan scored three goals and Ahti Oksanen added the game winner with only 1:49 left to top Jimmy Vesey and the Crimson. Jimmy Vesey has 10 goals and 12 assists in just 13 games on the season.

The loss drops Harvard to fifth in the Pairwise.

Harvard has a very tough weekend that started with tonight against Boston University. After tonight, Harvard plays the Quinnipiac Bobcats at Madison Square Garden in a rematch from November 13th, there the Crimson suffered its only loss of the season.

Over the next few games, we are going to really see what type of team Harvard is. After Quinnipiac, Harvard hosts St. Lawrence and Clarkson, before playing at Colgate and at Cornell. That isn’t an easy stretch of games. Harvard will have a huge crimson target on its back.

Union 0 Quinnipiac 5

Quinnipiac had no trouble picking apart Union with help from senior Travis St. Denis’ two goals and an assist. The Bobcats went 2-for-4 on the power play.

Quinnipiac still has only one loss on the season, a 4-1 decision to Boston University.

The Quinnipiac and Harvard meeting on Saturday is a game I wish would be broadcast on a national stage. These two teams play an exciting brand of hockey and feature some of the top players in the game.

Quinnipiac is loaded with scoring talent. Juniors Sam Anas, Tim Clifton, and St. Denis are all averaging over a point per game. The Bobcats come at you in waves and they never let up just as tonight shows you.

Union is an intriguing team. The Dutchman had a terrible stretch where they went 1-6-1 in eight games, but followed that up with a 6-0-1 stretch until tonight’s loss to Quinnipiac. Union has winnable games against Princeton and Colgate before a battle against Cornell. Look for them to be a bubble team the rest of the season.

Heading west, the big tilt in the NCHC involves the Omaha Mavericks hosting the Denver Pioneers.

The Pioneers have lost the last four conference games and have not looked good in any of them, being outscored a combined 20-5 against North Dakota and Saint Cloud State. They hosted Notre Dame and the series ended in two ties.

Denver has been in a scoring black hole, as only three players have five goals and that is the most on the team. If Denver looks to make a good run in the second half of the season, they need a lot more from junior Trevor Moore and senior Quentin Shore only have a combined seven goals.

The Pioneers have a tall task at hand playing a series at Baxter Arena in Omaha, where the Mavericks are a perfect 8-0 in their own barn. Junior Austin Ortega is second in the nation in goals with 16. Junior Jake Guentzel, the Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick, leads the team with 26 points and has 99 on his career.

Sophomore Avery Peterson, who had a great freshman season with 21 points, had only one assist so far this season and has transferred to Minnesota Duluth to be closer to his family.

The Big Ten conference has one really intriguing series with Minnesota traveling to Happy Valley to take on Penn State.

The Penn State Nittany Lions are an impressive 12-3-3 on the season, but many of those games have been against fairly poor competition. This game will be a good test to see what we can expect from Penn State as we enter Big Ten conference play.

The Golden Gophers are a team that really likes to control the pace. For the most part, the Nittany Lions have imposed their will on lesser quality teams like American International and Sacred Heart. I expect to see a high scoring series and one that will have Hockey Valley rocking.

That does it for me. I’ll have my five thoughts and what I imagine is a very different Pairwise ranking. My shift is over.

 

Advertisements

Weekend Preview: Great Games All Over The Nation

This weekend has some of the best match-ups in the season so far. Here are some of the games I’m looking forward to the most.

The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs got good news when they learned they are going to get active career leading scorer Tony Cameranesi for this weekend against the Denver Pioneers. His absence was surely missed last weekend when the Bulldogs dropped both games against the Omaha Mavericks.

The season hasn’t exactly gone the way many thought it would for the Bulldogs. A preseason favorite, Minnesota Duluth was considered to be one of the favorites with a strong freshman class and a lot of returning talent. However, they have limped out of the gate with a 3-4-2 record. They have played some solid teams in Notre Dame and Mass.-Lowell, but a season-opening loss to Bemidji State, which is the only victory for the Beavers so far this year, is a loss that really sticks out.

The Bulldogs look to end a three game losing streak when they host a Pioneers team that has come off a sweep of in-state rival Colorado College. Denver is the top scorer in the NCHC, averaging 3.61 goals per game. Defenseman Will Butcher leads the team with 10 points and he is used in all situations.

One thing to note about some of Denver’s losses; they haven’t been the most clutch team in the league. The Pioneers have lost two games in overtime, one to the respectable Boston Terriers and the other to the beyond-woeful Air Force Falcons. The other lost came against Boston College when the Eagles scored the game winner with just 36 seconds left.

If the game is tied late, it will be interesting to see if the experience of the Bulldogs is able to capitalize.

Heading out east, two undefeated teams are set to battle Friday as the Harvard Crimson heads to Hamden, Connecticut to take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats.

The Bobcats are the only team in NCAA to have an unblemished record, skating with a perfect 8-0-0 record. Harvard’s record sits at 3-0-1.

This will be a great battle against two all-around good teams. Goalie Michael Garteig has played every minute for the Bobcats, posting a .928 save percentage and a stunning 1.75 goals against average.

Garteig will have a busy game when Harvard’s NCAA leading offense looks to taint Quinnipiac’s record. Harvard leads the nation with a 4.65 goals per game and has converted on 41.7% of power play opportunities.

Harvard has also been great defensively giving up an average of only 1.47 goals per game. Goalies Michael Lackey and Merrick Madsen have split time in net.

You can (and some have) make the argument that Harvard hasn’t played a solid team as of yet, only exceptions being the one tie against Yale. While the two wins against Dartmouth and the other against Brown don’t exactly jump off the page, they top players are producing for the Crimson. It’s a shame this isn’t a series, but only one time.

There are many other great games on tap. Let’s have a look:

Miami Redhawks at North Dakota – Speaking of easy schedules, North Dakota will finally play a game against a team with a winning record when they take on Miami. The Redhawks are coming off a sweep against Western Michigan, while North Dakota looks to make adjustments after a downright embarrassing split to Wisconsin.

Saint Cloud Huskies at Western Michigan Broncos – It’s been an up and down reason so far for the Broncos. They followed up a home sweep against highly ranked Nebraska Omaha with a pair of 2-1 losses against Miami. You aren’t going to beat many teams by only scoring two goals all weekend. That will especially be the case when the Huskies depth looks to grind down the Broncos. Huskies captain Ethan Prow is expected to make his return after missing the last four games with a concussion. They haven’t scored a power play goal without him in the lineup.

Boston Terriers and Providence Friars (home and home) – This early season Hockey East clash is a rematch of last year’s national championship game and no doubt the Terriers remember. Providence sports an impressive 6-0-1 record and is showing no signs of a national championship hangover. The Terriers, with a modest record of 5-3-0 have had a little trouble firing on all cylinders. The 5-2 loss to Connecticut remains a head scratcher.

Go to a game this weekend. My shift is over.

Former SCSU Player To Coach Sweden in World Cup

Sweden recently announced former Saint Cloud State defenseman and assistant coach Rikard Grönborg as head coach for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. Grönborg has been a mainstay with Sweden’s national teams, with his coaching pedigree includes two U20 World Junior Silver Medals, World Championship Gold and Bronze Medals. He was also the assistant coach during the Olympics in Sochi, where his team earned a Silver Medal.

While details are still thin regarding this installation of the World Cup of Hockey, slowly and surely more details are being released. Eight teams will be competing from September 17th until October 1st, 2016. The teams will be the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Russia, Team Europe (players from European countries that aren’t the aforementioned), and North American Youngstars. The event will be hosted in Toronto, Canada.

The World Cup of Hockey has been dormant since 2004, which happened to be the last NHL sanctioned event before the lockout that killed an entire season. It is still unknown whether the NHL will okay its players to go to the 2018 Olympics, so this may be the only international competition NHL players may have. The NHL controls the timing, the regulations, and (more importantly) the revenue. Also, ESPN will be showcasing the event. So… look forward to that…

Don’t be surprised if this is the first time you see ads on jerseys.

One Timers:

Sports Illustrated recently published a list of the “Seven Wonders of the Hockey World”. While some of them are fairly easy to predict, it was nice to see College Hockey get some love. Matthews Arena, the current home of the Northeastern Huskies, made the list.

The North Star College Cup, a yearly hockey tournament featuring four of the five Minnesota Division I college teams, recently announced a slight change in the dates the tournament will be held. The first two years of the tournament were a Friday/Saturday affair. This season, it will be a Saturday/Sunday tournament. First game will feature Saint Cloud State playing Minnesota State at 1 p.m. and defending champion Bemidji State facing the University of Minnesota at 4 p.m. The consolation game will be played at 1 p.m. on Sunday with the championship game to follow.

Lastly, logos were leaked for this year’s Stadium Series games. Puck Daddy has a mock up of the designs for the Wild, Red Wings, and Avalance. The Stadium Series has always had a unique twist on uniforms. This is no different.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

Team-by-Team School Breakdowns

If you’re like me and can’t wait for the college hockey season (exhibition games only 40 days away), head on over to the College Hockey reddit page. Right now, redditors are in the middle of doing 60 Teams in 60 Days feature. Reading the rundown of all the teams and facts about the school has really gotten me excited for the season. The teams are sorted by conference. Here is a rundown by conference:

Big Ten: Done, except for Michigan State

WCHA: Done

ECAC: Brown was today, remaining teams go until 9/4

Arizona State 9/5 (will go into more about my feelings about ASU in a future blog)

Atlantic Hockey: 9/6-9/16

NCHC: 9/17-9/24

Hockey East: 9/25-10/6

Some school write-ups are better than others, but I’ve learned something about every school from them. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series. Gets me excited until puck drop!

One-Timers:

Minnesota Wild Assistant Coach Darryl Sydor entered a treatment center in California for at least 30 days after drunk driving and child endangerment charges. Sydor’s blood alcohol content was .30 and was pulled over while driving his 12-year-old son to a hockey practice.

Bidding closed last Friday for 2017 Regionals. Regional sites for this coming year are in Albany, Worcester, Cincinnati, and St. Paul. It should be announced sometime in the next month or two. With the recent push by some of the bigger schools to put regionals back on campus, it will be interesting to see the bids, especially in the Midwest region.

That’s all for now. I have a few ideas for future posts as well as other staples I’ll do during the season. Thanks for checking it out. I hope you stick around!