Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday Hockey News

With two weeks of games remaining before the winter break and holiday tournaments, our correspondents can't wait to unwrap the hockey bounty placed before them. Brown and Yale wrap up the ECAC Hockey schedule for the calendar year on Saturday, but the WCHA is still in full swing with No. 4 Denver at No. 14 St. Cloud and No. 15 Minnesota at No. 7 North Dakota, among others. Top-ranked Miami is back in action hosting Alaska, and Bemidji State hopes to avoid an upset at the hands of Alabama-Huntsville in CHA play. Canisius has big-game hunting in mind with Air Force in its sights, and Hockey East combatants No. 8 New Hampshire and No. 11 Massachusetts tangle in Amherst. Can No. 12 Northeastern dispatch of a second consecutive ECAC opponent? Union might have something to say about that. There are midseason musings for AHA, CHA and WCHA teams, Matt Mackinder examines the end of a streak for the Purple Eagles, and Dave Hendrickson and Paula C. Weston provide a little holiday cheer.

BU Suspends 4 Players

Boston University’s woes this season don’t show any sign of turning around soon.

Already saddled with a disappointing 4-9-2 record, the Terriers will be without four players indefinitely due to a suspension. Three seniors and one junior comprise the group: Captain Brian McGuirk, leading scorer Bryan Ewing, former Hockey East Rookie of the Year Brandon Yip, and defenseman Dan McGoff.

No details were provided on the reasons for the suspension beyond a statement issued by Terrier coach Jack Parker. “I’m disappointed that these four chose to break one of our team rules,” said Parker. “This is strictly a team matter.”

The team also announced that “in light of the suspensions,” senior Pete MacArthur “has been named captain of the Terriers” with senior Ryan Weston and junior Matt Gilroy serving as alternates. It is not clear whether McGuirk could be reinstated if and when the suspension is lifted. The timeframe for the suspension is also unclear for now.

BU will be able to suit up exactly 18 skaters for tomorrow night’s against at UMass-Lowell. In addition to the four suspensions, freshman defenseman Colby Cohen will miss the game due to injury. Jason Lawrence was already out with a badly separated shoulder. As a result, the Terriers likely will dress four players who have combined to play just 12 games of the team’s first 15 games this season: Ryan Monaghan, Steve Smolinsky, Victor Saponari, and Craig Sanders.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

USA Hockey announced last night that 22 players have been named to the 2008 United States National Junior Team, which includes three Hockey East players. Sophomore blueliner Brian Strait (Waltham, Mass.) and freshman forward Colin Wilson (Greenwich, Conn.) of Boston University, and freshman forward James vanRiemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) of the University of New Hampshire will represent Team USA. The team will compete at the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship in Pardubice and Liberec, Czech Republic, December 26, 2007 to January 5, 2008.

Strait, a former captain of the U.S. National Under-18 Team, is the oldest player on the roster, as he will turn 20 on Jan. 4, the day of the World Championship’s semifinal round. Strait has recorded seven assists in 15 games for the Terriers this season.

Wilson has amassed 11 points (4g,7a) in his freshman season at BU. He ranks tied for third in scoring among the league’s rookie class. Wilson is the second youngest player on the squad. Wilson and vanRiemsdyk were linemates last season on the U.S. Under-18 Team and he ranked second on the team in scoring last year. He helped the team to a gold medal at the 2006 World U-18 Championships.

vanRiemsdyk, who currently ranks second in the nation in rookie scoring (1.25 ppg), was a two-year member of the United States National Program.

Last year, he led the US Under-18 team in scoring and also helped the squad to a gold medal at the U-18 Championships in 2005-06. vanRiemsdyk was selected as the second overall pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2007 NHL Draft.

In addition to the players, former Terrier John Hynes, head coach of the U.S. National Under-18 Team, will serve as head coach of the 2008 U.S. National Junior Team. Hynes played at BU from 1994-1997 and was a member of the Terriers’ National Championship Team in 1995. Former University of New Hampshire captain Patrick Foley (Charlestown, Mass.) has been named an assistant coach for the team. Foley was a member of the UNH hockey team for five seasons (1999-2004) and helped lead the team to two Frozen Fours in 2002 and 2003. He was the captain of the Wildcats in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004.

Hockey East referee Peter Feola (Rochester, N.Y.) has been named as one of the two United States officials to the event. Feola will serve in a linesman capacity for the championships.

The team will play two pre-tournament games, including one at Western Michigan on Dec. 18. The complete schedule is below.

The Hockey East Association is a 10-team, Division-I college hockey conference, with offices based in Wakefield, Mass. Founded in 1983, the league has won four NCAA championships in the past 13 years. The conference also sponsors an eight-team women’s league which began play in 2002-03.

Weekly National Poll

1 - Miami
2 - Colorado College
3 - Michigan
4 - Denver
5 - Michigan State
6 - Notre Dame
7 - North Dakota
8 - New Hampshire
9 - Clarkson
10 - Wisconsin
11 - Massachusetts
12 - Northeastern
13 - Harvard
14 - St. Cloud State
15 - Minnesota
16 - Minnesota-Duluth
17 - Boston College
18 - Bowling Green
19 - Rensselaer
20 - Michigan Tech

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Notre Dame Sweeps Nebraska-Omaha

A night after they needed a frantic comeback to record a 5-4 win, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dominated the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks in nearly every aspect of the game, sweeping the Mavericks with a 5-0 victory.

Jordan Pearce made 16 saves to notch his 12th win of the season and his second shutout. Five different players scored for the Irish in a balanced offensive attack that included two shorthanded goals.

Unlike the previous night, where the Mavericks outplayed and outscored the Irish in the first period, Notre Dame controlled the play from the outset.

“I liked the fact that we responded [to last night’s slow start] to come out and play a 60-minute hockey game,” said Irish coach Jeff Jackson. “They elevated their game a bit in the second period, but we were able to match it. It’s never going to be a perfect game, but I really liked our effort tonight.”

The Irish’s hard work paid dividends less than four minutes into the game when senior captain Mark Van Guilder gave his team a 1-0 lead with a short handed goal. Van Guilder started the play when he stole the puck from a Mavericks’ defender in the neutral zone and skated in on a two-on-one break with Kevin Deeth. Van Guilder gave the puck to Deeth just inside the blue line, and Deeth forced Mavericks’ netminder Eric Aarnio to commit to him before sliding the puck back to Van Guilder, who tucked it into the open side of the net.

Despite the difference in play, the Mavericks were able to keep the deficit to only one goal until late in the second period, when a fortunate bounce gave the Irish a momentum-changing second goal.

Christian Hanson, or more accurately Hanson’s right skate, gave his team a 2-0 lead at 17:25 of the second period. Hanson started the play by winning an offensive zone faceoff back to Brock Sheahan, who slid the puck across the blue line to Teddy Ruth, who fired a one timer. Ruth’s shot appeared to be going wide, but it deflected off the skate and into the net for a 2-0 Irish lead.

“The [goal] that really hurt was the second one,” said Mavericks’ coach Mike Kemp. “It’s a 1-0 game down to the last two minutes of the period. They won the faceoff and the shot caroms off [Hanson] and into an empty net.”

Hanson, who scored his second goal in as many nights, said “I won the faceoff and I was just going to the net for a rebound, the puck just happened to hit off my right skate and it went in.”

Stellar work in net by Pearce was a key to the victory, especially in the second period, when Pearce made 11 of his 16 saves. He made several good stops, including a pad save on Nick Von Bokern about when Pearce moved post-to-post to rob Von Bokern of a quality scoring chance.

The night also marked a drastic turnaround for Pearce, as he was able to record a shutout only a night after one of his worst games of the season. Jackson said that he stuck with Pearce, as opposed to freshman netminder Brad Phillips, as a vote of confidence in his top goalie.

“When you have a number one goaltender, they’re allowed to have an off night,” he said. “I think it’s important that you come back with them to show confidence, and Jordan responded tonight.”

Notre Dame blew the game open with three goals in the third. Teddy Ruth started the scoring with his first collegiate goal only 49 seconds into the period, and Ryan Thang scored his team-leading 10th goal of the season shorthanded on a pinpoint wrist shot five minutes later. Freshman defenseman Ian Cole’s second goal of the season capped the scoring late in the third, as the Irish took advantage of a five-on-three power play to score their third special teams goal of the game.

With the outcome no longer in doubt, the game became physical, and the teams combined for 36 penalty minutes in the third period. Several after-the-whistle scrums culminated in a brawl with just under three minutes to play in the game, with all eight players on the ice throwing punches at one another.

The fight between Kevin Deeth and Dan Charleston, who started the scrum, was the most notable, with Charleston ripping off Deeth’s helmet from behind. Charleston was given a two minute minor and a 10 minute misconduct, while Deeth was not penalized on the play. Teddy Ruth and Bryan Marshall also received minor penalties for roughing after they squared off with one another.

The Mavericks’ next game is a home contest against Lake Superior State at 7:05 P.M. on Friday, the same day the Irish travel to Princeton for a non-conference game.

Fighting Sioux Earn Split With Pioneers

Led by their big guns Ryan Duncan and T.J. Oshie and the strong goaltending of Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, the No. 8 North Dakota Fighting Sioux salvaged a split with the No. 3 Denver Pioneers, taking advantage of their special teams to earn a hard-fought 3-1 win.

“It’s nothing new for us,” said Lamoureux of the play of Oshie and Duncan. “We don’t have success unless those guys produce. Fortunately for us tonight we were able to execute a little better offensively. There’s a very fine line between winning and losing in this league. I thought it was a great team effort through the lineup.”

The first period was much chippier than Friday night’s game. Seven penalties were called over the course of the period, most for marginal things like tripping. The Sioux seemed to have a little more jump, and used it to draw the calls. With Brandon Vossberg in the box for holding, the Sioux’s top line got them on the board. Oshie fought off a check in the corner and passed to Chris VandeVelde in the slot, and VandeVelde one-timed a shot low glove side past Peter Mannino.

“Playing a great goalie like Peter Mannino, you can’t let him get too comfortable,” said Duncan. “I think last night we gave him a little confidence, and we definitely wanted to get an early goal on him and hopefully we could build from there.”

The Sioux continued to test Mannino often. Robbie Bina and Joe Finley fired shots from the point that Mannino seemed to have difficulty picking up. On one of Bina’s shots, Mannino gave up a rebound that seemed to sit in front for an eternity, and led to an interference penalty on Cody Brookwell, as he tried to keep Bina from pouncing on the rebound.

“Denver, as we saw last night, they’re just so good when they get the lead,” said Sioux coach Dave Hakstol. “It was kind of a classic goaltenders battle this weekend. I thought both guys played well.”

The Sioux’s best chance to build on the lead came on the ensuing power play when Matt Watkins slid a pass through the slot from the right side boards to Rylan Kaip on the far post, but Mannino came up with a huge save.

“I thought both goaltenders were very good,” said Pioneers’ coach George Gwozdecky, echoing Hakstol’s thoughts. “I thought both goaltenders were sharp.”

Offensively, the Pioneers couldn’t seem to get untracked. They generated some pressure in the Sioux zone, but kept looking for the perfect setup, and ended up only getting two shots on goal.

The Sioux quickly built on their lead in the second on another power play goal. Anthony Maiani was called for slashing late in the first period, and the penalty carried over into the second. Derrick LaPointe carried the puck into the Pioneers’ zone, and three Pioneers converged on him, but the puck popped free to Oshie along the left boards, and Oshie quickly fed a cross-ice pass to Duncan, who ripped a shot top shelf glove side past Mannino at 1:05.

“We’ve been having a little trouble with our power play,” said Duncan. “We’ve been working it around well and getting chances; we’ve just been having trouble burying the chances, but tonight it just happened that we got the bounces and the puck went in.”

Sometime around the 8:00 minute mark of the period, the Pioneers finally started to generate some offense. Jesse Martin hit the outside of the left post on a redirect, and Lamoureux robbed Tyler Bozak with a quick glove.

“He was coming across the middle, but I didn’t have any traffic in front and I was able to get a good read on it,” said Lamoureux.

Right after that chance, Brian Gifford received a pass in the right circle, looked at a wide-open net, lined up a shot and fired the puck five feet over the crossbar.

Bozak finally got the Pioneers on the board at 10:04 on a great setup by Brock Trotter, who had the puck behind the net, held it just long enough to freeze the Sioux defense, then fed a pass to Bozak in the slot.

When Oshie took a penalty seconds later, the Pioneers looked to have a golden chance to tie the game, but it was the Sioux who got the goal when a clear got behind the Pioneers’ defense and VandeVelde and Duncan raced down two-on-none. VandeVelde carried it deep down the left side and passed over to Duncan, who fired it home.

“Joe (Finley) made a great play; he kind of chipped it up the boards,” said Duncan. “He had great vision and saw Vandy in the clear and we were able to get a step and get a two-on-0. It doesn’t happen very often, especially against a great team like that.”

“I thought the biggest goal of the game was the shorthanded goal,” said Hakstol. “There was a momentum swing there where Denver scored a few minutes before and the crowd was getting into it, and that goal was a critical one.”

Rattled by the quick Sioux goal, the Pioneers started to press offensive plays and passes that didn’t exist, and turned the puck over numerous times, leading to good Sioux scoring opportunities.

“We just got reckless and impatient,” said Gwozdecky. “It’s very rare that you see a two-on-0 breakaway. You’ve got to work pretty hard to create that kind of thing. To give up a shorthanded goal when you’ve just got back into the game, that’s a huge emotional swing. The disappointment, and all the emotions that go into it. You had a great chance to perhaps tie it, and now it’s a two-goal swing. I think that takes the wind out of your sails and gives them such a boost.”

In the third period, the Pioneers finally started to settle down and get some good chances. Martin had a good chance early from down low in the slot, but couldn’t jam a rebound home. Bozak continued to be strong offensively, and just missed lifting a backhand over Lamoureux’s shoulder.

“I think they were definitely going to be way more aggressive,” said Lamoureux. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t get outnumbered at the net. The PK guys did a great job of allowing me to see the puck and I didn’t really see too many second or third shots, so credit to the guys in front of me.”

With the Pioneers on a power play, their leading scorers, Trotter and Tyler Ruegsegger, both had chances from near the left post. With the puck sitting just outside the crease, Trotter couldn’t get it free from between a Sioux defenseman’s skates and poked it behind the net. He picked it up and passed it to Ruegsegger coming down towards the net, but Ruegsegger’s shot was stopped by Lamoureux.

“I was pleased by the way we played in the third period,” said Gwozdecky. “I thought we played hard. We tried a lot of different things, but Lamoureux was there to answer the bell.”

“I think we played a little too conservative and gave up some chances,” said Duncan of the third period. “Phil stood on his head and played a great third period and really kept us in the game, so that’s something we can learn from.”

Weekend Recap

Boston College has had a rough time of it this year, and coming into this weekend hadn't won a game since October. Boston University hadn't done much better, getting a big victory against Cornell at Madison Square Garden, but struggling otherwise. The Eagles held on tonight to get a much-needed sweep and possibly put themselves back into gear, led by feisty Nathan Gerbe, who had four points in the 4-3 win. Notre Dame continued to play like they want to get back to the top, sweeping Nebraska-Omaha with a convincing 5-0 win, while their CCHA counterpart Michigan got a little revenge, beating Ohio State 4-2. Out west, Wisconsin finished off a sweep of St. Cloud, rallying for two goals in the third en route to a 4-3 win, while Minnesota got a much needed split with Michigan Tech, winning 3-1. Based on tonight's game, the WCHA better watch out for the Fighting Sioux; the big guns of T.J. Oshie and Ryan Duncan brought it against the No. 3 Denver Pioneers. Duncan had three points, helping the Sioux to a 3-1 win. Could the Sioux be repeating their mid-season surge of last year? Meanwhile, back in New York, St. Lawrence knocked off No. 9 Clarkson 4-2, and Hockey East continues to confuse, as Mass.-Lowell upended No. 6 New Hampshire 3-2.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

BC Sweeps BU

The Boston University men's ice hockey team dropped the second game of a home-and-home series against cross-town rival No. 19 Boston College by a score of 4-3 on Saturday evening at Agganis Arena. The Terriers scored on half of their six power-play chances, but a natural hat trick from sophomore Ben Smith proved to be the difference maker for the Eagles.

BU (4-9-2, 3-5-1 HE) got goals from freshman Kevin Shattenkirk and juniors Brandon Yip and Matt Gilroy, but could not pull even despite outshooting BC, 44-25. Freshman John Muse recorded 41 saves for the Eagles, who improved to 5-4-5 overall with a 4-3-4 conference mark.

The teams combined for four goals in the first period, with each squad striking twice. Junior Nathan Gerbe opened the scoring at 2:06 with his third shorthanded goal of the weekend before later assisting on all three of Smith's goals.

Shattenkirk knotted the game less than eight minutes later with a dart from the left point just nine seconds into the Terriers' second power-play chance of the evening.

Yip gave the home team a 2-1 lead with 2:07 left before the first intermission when he collected a rebound off the back boards following a shot by freshman Colin Wilson and knocked it home outside the left post.

The lead would be short-lived, however, as Smith answered 44 seconds later with help from Gerbe on a 2-on-1 to start his streak of three consecutive goals.

Smith scored the lone goal of the second period when he knocked in a high rebound at 12:32 on assists from Gerbe and senior Mike Brennan.

BC took its first multi-goal lead of the contest at the 6:52 mark of the third when Smith sent in a rebound in the slot following a shot by Gerbe that was initially saved by BU netminder Brett Bennett, who made 21 saves in the game.

The Terriers attempted to get back in the game, using their power play once again to draw within one. Gilroy one-timed a shot past Muse from the top of the slot on assists from Wilson and freshman Colby Cohen.

BU, which held a 35-12 shot advantage in the final two periods, could not muster a late equalizer, as Muse and the BC defense held on to complete the weekend sweep.


Senior captain Matt Fornataro (Calgary, Alberta) recorded a goal and two assists to propel the sixth-ranked University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team to Friday night’s 3-2 Hockey East victory against University of Massachusetts-Lowell at the Whittemore Center.

UNH won its third consecutive game to improve to 8-2-1 overall and 5-2-1 in Hockey East. UML, which skated to a 2-2 tie against the Wildcats at the Whittemore Center earlier this month (Nov. 9), is now 4-4-4, 2-4-4.

With the score tied, 2-2, midway through the third period, Mike Radja (Yorkville, Ill.) put the Wildcats back in front. Phil DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.; two assists) chased own the loose puck in the left corner and threw the puck in front, where Radja collected the pass and deposited a shot in the upper-left corner of the net. DeSimone’s pass deflected off Fornataro to Radja to give the senior captain his second assist of the night.

The River Hawks pulled Hamilton in favor of an extra skater with 1:05 to play, then called time out with 44 seconds remaining. A centering pass from behind the net cleared the offensive zone to the other end of the ice, however, and UML was unable to reestablish possession in the offensive zone the rest of the way.

UNH goaltender Kevin Regan (South Boston, Mass.) finished with 22 saves. Hamilton stopped 38 shots in net for UML.

UNH struck first in the opening period but the visitors took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Jerry Pollastrone (Revere, Mass.) netted his fourth goal of the season at 7:18 when he collected Fornataro’s pass down the slot, shifted and fired a shot into the net. Brad Flashains (Glendale, Ariz.), with the outlet pass through the neutral zone, was also credited with an assist.

The River Hawks netted goals 2:23 apart to take a 2-1 lead. With the faceoff to Regan’s left, UNH drew the puck back towards the net. Jonathan Maniff swept in and lifted a wrist shot into the upper-right corner to tie the score, 1-1, at 11:11. UMass-Lowell struck on its first power play of the night to go ahead 2-1 at 13:34 when Mark Roebothan, positioned at the top of the crease, collected Scott Campbell’s pass from behind the net to score. Ryan Blair was also credited with an assist.

New Hampshire
pulled even, 2-2, by scoring the only goal of the middle stanza at 6:46 when Craig Switzer (Peachland, British Columbia), skating in the left circle, sent a pass across the slot to an unmarked Fornataro at the right post for the goal. Radja initiated the scoring sequence with a pass to Switzer.

UNH’s Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton, Ontario) generated a strong scoring opportunity on the Wildcats’ power play midway through the second period when he maneuvered from the left circle towards the near post but was denied by Hamilton. The ‘Cats then created a flurry in which DeSimone was denied from the slot and Radja was turned aside off the rebound at the right post.

Earlier in the second stanza, Hamilton stopped James vanRiemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) at the top of the crease and also turned aside his shot off the rebound, then Thomas Fortney (Webster Grove, Mo.) pushed the puck just wide of the post at the left doorstep.

Early in the final frame – with the score still tied -- Fornataro was denied on a breakaway bid on a left leg pad save by Hamilton. UNH maintained pressure, but once again Hamilton denied Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) on his shot from the slot, then Fortney’s shot off the rebound sailed wide right of the cage.

New Hampshire and UMass-Lowell conclude the home-and-home series Dec. 1 (7 p.m.) at Tsongas Arena. The Wildcats’ next home game is Dec. 16 (4 p.m.) against the University of Maine.

Bullying Buckeyes

Perhaps inspired by their football counterparts, the Ohio State Buckeyes defiantly stormed into Ann Arbor and bested second ranked Michigan 3-2, abruptly ending the Wolverines 12 game winning streak. The tenacious and hard-fought victory — due largely to senior forward Tommy Goebel's two unassisted goals — improved previously slumping OSU to 4-10-1 on the season and, with Miami idle, virtually guaranteed the RedHawks unanimity as the nation’s best team when the weekly poll is released on Monday. In the Rocky Mountains, where the evening’s expected drama unfolded, No. 3 Denver’s senior netminder Peter Mannino shutout eighth ranked North Dakota, 1-0. The blanking, the normally high-flying Sioux’s second in three weeks, has the Pioneers nipping on the heels of in-state rival CC in the WCHA. Elsewhere in the conference, No. 13 Wisconsin used one of its now-trademark comebacks to best tenth ranked St. Cloud 3-2 in Madison and visiting No. 20 Michigan Tech toppled No. 14 Minnesota in overtime by an identical score, buoyed by three unanswered goals from three different players — each their first of the season. Finally out east in Boston, the nightmare season continued for Jack Parker and his BU Terriers (now just 4-8-2) as a Nathan Gerbe hat trick contributed mightily to the 6-2 walloping by No. 19 BC.