INSIDE HOCKEY » Tournament http://insidehockey.com Get Inside! Wed, 06 Aug 2014 17:05:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 UMass Lowell falls short of Frozen Four http://insidehockey.com/umass-lowell-falls-short-of-frozen-four http://insidehockey.com/umass-lowell-falls-short-of-frozen-four#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 01:48:24 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=57938

WORCESTER, Mass. – It just wasn’t in the cards for the UMass Lowell River Hawks on Sunday evening as the Boston College Eagles topped the River Hawks in a tight, hard fought Northeast Regional Final.

The River Hawks fall just short of making a return trip to the Frozen Four and end the season a bit earlier than they wanted to. The bright side; the program is shaping up to be one of the top programs in the country. The Eagles will make their 24th appearance in the Frozen Four.

UMass Lowell came up on the bad side of what was a back-and-forth game. The Eagles got out to the first lead of the game on a Kevin Hayes goal at 7:03 in the first period. Of course, a goal that was assisted on by Johnny Gaudreau and defenseman Michael MathesonMichael Kapla and the River Hawks responded with under two minutes remaining in the first, evening the score heading into the second period.

The River Hawks and Eagles traded goals in the second and third period, but the Eagles got the last laugh as Ian McCoshen received a great pass from Teddy Doherty and placed the puck in the back of the net stick-side. The just under nine minutes remaining in the game wasn’t enough for the River Hawks to return the favor.

UMass Lowell played ‘Lowell style hockey,’ but was matched up against a tough Boston College opponent. This weekend, against Minnesota State and Boston College, was two of the toughest, most evenly matched games the River Hawks had played all season long.

“Systematically I wouldn’t change to many things, I thought we played well,” said UMass Lowell Head Coach Norm Bazin. “I thought that was one of the better hockey games we played in the last three or four. However, we came out on the short end. It was the third period that did us in.”

The season boiled down to just a single period, the third period. Whoever won the third period would continue their season and fight for a national title. Entering Sunday night, the two schools had identical records when tied heading into the third period, 4-2-1 and in the end the Eagles got the better result.

Four goals in a single game is an odd sight for River Hawk fans. Connor Hellebuyck gave up four goals for only the second time this season, the last coming against Providence College on Jan. 24. The Winnipeg Jets’ prospect finished an outstanding season with a 18-9-2 with nation’s best 1.79 goal-against average and .941 save percentage. Hellebuyck will likely finish the season with the top spots in both GAA and save percentage.

Falling short of their season goal of winning a national title by only three games is felt hard by Joe HoukDaniel FurlongShayne ThompsonJosh HolmstromJoseph PendenzaDerek Arnold and Doug Carr. All of which are seniors and have played their final game in a UMass Lowell uniform. Most of those seniors are the final remaining players from the 2010-11 five-win team that was part of the program turn around and won back-to-back Hockey East titles to complete their collegiate careers.

“It’s pretty special to be a part of the group that it was,” said River Hawks’ captain and senior forward Holmstrom. “Coming back after my freshmen year was obviously tough, but the class was the right class to go about it. There is a lot of strong guys in [the locker room]. It’s great group of guys to be a part of.”

Holmstrom will look to follow his brother Ben Holmstrom and sign professionally to continue his playing career. Ben currently plays for the Adirondack Phantoms in the American Hockey League.

Four of the seven seniors are from Massachusetts and may have played their final game, for the near future, in the state. The only four local kids on the River Hawks squad.

“I’m very, very proud of the senior class who battle back from a real adverse situation in their first season to come back with three excellent years,” said Bazin. “Right now it’s hard to swallow, but in time they’ll realize that they were part of some pretty good teams.”

UMass Lowell completes their 2013-14 season with a 26-11-4 record, 11- 6-3 in Hockey East play. Best of luck to all the seniors.

This post is cross-posted with VIEW FROM 123

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UMass Lowell squeaks past Minnesota State http://insidehockey.com/umass-lowell-squeaks-past-minnesota-state http://insidehockey.com/umass-lowell-squeaks-past-minnesota-state#comments Sun, 30 Mar 2014 03:53:44 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=57876

WORCESTER, Mass. – The UMass Lowell River Hawks kept their season alive on Saturday night as they defeated the Minnesota State Mavericks at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., 2-1.

The River Hawks renewed their rivalry with a former Division II rival Mavericks team on Saturday night. The River Hawks were once again able to top the Mavericks, as they did in 1979 to win the Division II National Title, when the Mavericks went under the name Mankato State.

Following a questionable charging penalty on Ryan McGrath, the River Hawks found themselves down a man for the first time in the game. Halfway through the penalty kill, Joseph Pendenza blocked a shot on his own blue line creating a breakaway for himself. Pendenza skated the length of the ice and backhanded a shot through Cole Huggins five-hole, giving the River Hawks a 1-0 lead.

“We practice a lot on getting that long stick on that d-man for the penalty kill,” said Pendenza. “I just went out their with a long stick and he ended up shooting it into my body. I just went on a breakaway. I had to escape the goalie one way and just put it in the five-hole.”

The River Hawks continued with their success at scoring first, playing with the lead in the first period and taking that lead into the second period. UMass Lowell improved to 20-2-3 when scoring first and 19-0-3 when leading after one period of play.

“Going into every game its a key to get off on the right foot,” said Pendenza. “It was good to get the goal and take the weight off our shoulders and start playing our game. Anytime you can get the first goal it’s huge.”

Zack Kamrass would give the River Hawks a two-goal lead on an empty net goal with 40 seconds remaining and nearly sealing the victory for Lowell. However, the Mavericks tallied their first goal and only goal with 10 seconds remaining in regulation. It was the first goal scored on Connor Hellebuyck in 201:45, halting his shutout streak at two games.

Hellebuyck once again showed why he is one of the best, if not the best, goaltender in the country. The Winnipeg Jets prospect stopped 35-of-36 shots fired at him by the Mavericks, allowing only the late third period goal by Zack Stephan. Although Hellebuyck’s shutout streak has come to an end, it took a power play and extra attacker for the Mavericks to get one past the sophomore goaltender. Hellebuyck’s last goal allowed was in second period of game three of the quarterfinals against Vermont.

The River Hawks will face the Boston College Eagles on Sunday afternoon in the Northeast Regional Finals for a chance to make a return trip to the Frozen Four. Puck drops at 5:00 p.m. eastern, also at the DCU Center.

This post is cross-posted with VIEW FROM 123

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Clarkson Shocks the World – Wins Frozen Four Title http://insidehockey.com/clarkson-shocks-the-world-wins-frozen-four-title http://insidehockey.com/clarkson-shocks-the-world-wins-frozen-four-title#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 02:28:37 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=57729

HAMDEN, Conn. - For the first time in the history of the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four a non-WCHA team is skating away as NCAA Champions as the Clarkson Golden Knights shocked the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a thrilling 5-4 victory in front of 3573 fans at the High Point Solutions Arena at the TD Bank Sports Center on the campus of Quinnipiac University.

Clarkson co-head coach Matt Desrosiers was happily stunned: “What do I say?” Just thrilled beyond belief. The girls believed in themselves all year, even coming in to tonight. They weren’t going to back down and I think they proved it tonight. I am just speechless right now.”

-“I’ll point out the white elephant in this room,” Minnesota senior Bethan Brausen said. “Me and Kelly [Terry] are pretty upset here. But that is just a testament to out team. It’s hard to say goodbye to our teammates more than anything.”

Clarkson (31-5-5) clamped down early and forced the Gophers to play keep away, rather than attack. Much of the night featured dump-and-chase versus their run and gun offense that usually shows. The forecheck worked brilliantly. Still, Minnesota (38-2-1) showed their ability and peppered senior netminder Erica Howe with 12 shots in the opening frame. They were rewarded at the 9:40 mark when Sarah Davis took a puck that was coughed up by Rachael Bona in the left circle off a draw. Davis took a few strides towards the slot and let go a wicked backhander that found the back of the net top shelf to make the score 1-0 Gophers. The goal gives Davis an even 20 goals on the year to round out her career.

The Gophers, with sophomore goalie Amanda Leveille coming off a rough outing against Wisconsin Friday, appeared to struggle defensively. it took 18:37, but the Knights finally broke through. Christine Lambert got a rebound in the goal mouth and put it home through Leveille to make it 1-0. The goal was her ninth of the season. Shannon MacAulay assisted with the initial shot to get the puck on net.

Only 1:03 later, Clarkson took their first lead of the night, as they continued to pressure Livelle. With a delayed penalty and extra attacker, Jennifer Shields came in on the left side and let go a hard slap shot that was tipped in the left circle by Shelby Nisbet to make it 2-1 Knights at the 19:40 mark. It was Nisbet’s ninth of the year with Cayley Mercer assisting on the play.

As if that wasn’t enough, on the ensuing powerplay, Clarkson got into the act again, just 38 ticks into the second stanza. MacAulay had a shot tipped in front and stopped by Levielle, but the ensuing rebound went right to Patty Kazmaier Award winner and senior Jamie Lee Rattray, who scored her 29th of the year to increase the lead to 3-1. Brittany Styner also had a helper on a goal that gave Clarkson a 2 goal lead.

The Gophers are not the number 1 team in the country for no reason, though. They made sure to shut the doubters up before the midway point of the game. at the 6:09 mark, Martanne Menefee scored her 18th goal of the 2013-14 campaign as she redirected a pass by Dani Cameranesi past Howe and into the back of the net.

Almost 2 minutes after the Golden Gophers cut the lead in half, Rachel Bona struck again, scoring her 23rd of the year. It wasn’t as pretty as the goal she had Friday (although she did have a great move on Howe early in the first, that the Clarkson goalie stopped), but much like the previous goals, it was a tap in on a rebound from Megan Wolfe’s shot that put the game back to square one at 7:57. It was Bona’s 23rd goal of the year.

The game stayed tied for the next 23:35, as Clarkson began to play a little sloppy, taking penalties and getting outshot 14-5 in the second. Then, at the 11:32 mark of the third period, the Knights were back. Vanessa Gagnon fed Vanessa Plante in the left circle and Plante let it rip, scoring her third goal of the year and untying the game on what could be considered the most important goal in program history.

Coming into the third told the girls; ‘if you had twenty minutes to win a national championship could you do it,” Desrosiers said. “And they all say ‘yeah, absolutely!”

Then, at the 15:44 mark, Clarkson scored what ended up being the game winner, as MacAulay picked off the puck and skated up the ice on a breakaway, she made a move on Leveille and scored her 13th goal of the year to make it 5-3. She went backhand and top shelf on the Minnesota sophomore standout. with 4:16 left, Clarkson appeared to be in the drivers seat.

“I don’t really know what was going through my mind,” MacAulay said. “I guess I tipped it off the girls stick and I had a lot of time to think about the shot. Without my teams energy on the bench I don’t know if I would have made the shot”

Not for long.

Kelly Terry fed Baylee Gillanders at the left point and she let go a hard slap shot that was redirected by the stick of Clarkson’s Jennifer Shields to cut the lead to 5-4.

That was all the Gophers could get, and in the Championship, it was not enough, as Clarkson gets their first NCAA title in any sport, and the first title in Women’s Hockey for an ECAC program.

For Minnesota, they return 17 players and get two American Olympians back from their Sochi leave.

“This was an incredible team and incredible group of four seniors,” coach Brad Frost said.

“I like to hope that we made our mark on the program,” Terry said. “I think all four of us bring something unique to the table. I have no doubt that this program will be successful for all of eternity.”

At least the program will be successful in the near term.

Clarkson, meanwhile played with 15 skaters, and somehow made it look easy during the tournament.

It doesn’t matter how many skaters we have,” Desrosiers said. “We have had a lot of players step up for us.”

They graduate 7 players including Howe, Gagnon and Rattray.

-“I hope recruits just line up at the door,” Desrosiers exclaimed. “I think it will do a lot for our community and everyone close to us.”

For those seniors, it was a test not only for the championship, but to beat the team they lost to in their first collegiate game.

-“Needless to say we’ve come a long way,” senior captain Carley Mercer said. “We started against Minnesota my freshman year, it didn’t go so well”

Additionally, this win not only puts the Knights back on the map, but, combined with the increased attention put on the Olympic women’s hockey tournament, could shake up the sport completely.

-“It shows that women’s hockey in general is coming a long way,” Desroisers said. “You have those powerhouse teams in the west over the years that won those national championships. Its just nice to be the team to bring one back to the east and the ECAC.

“I think it’s good for hockey to have another team win.”

NOTES:

  • This was the first time that Minnesota had allowed more than three goals since Feb. 11, 2012 when they beat Ohio State 7-4.
  • This was their second loss of the season. Previously they had lost and tied North Dakota this season. They snap a 26 game unbeaten streak.
  • Minnesota fails in their quest to become the second team to win 3 consecutive titles. Minnesota-Duluth won the first three in 2001-03.
  • This was the sixth time an ECAC team played in the National Championship Game. St. Lawrence, Brown, and Harvard (three seasons consecutive), lost the combined first five tournaments. Cornell lost to Minnesota-Duluth in 3 OT in 2010.
  • The already decorated Jamie Lee Rattray added two more accolades to her trophy case. With a goal and assist, she finished the season with 66 points, one more than Hannah Brandt. She was also named to the All Tournament Team (listed below)

ALL TOURNAMENT TEAM:

Forward Jamie Lee Rattray from Clarkson

Forward Rachel Bona from Minnesota

Forward Maryanne Menefee from Minnesota

Defense Renata Fast from Clarkson

Defense Baylee Gillanders from Minnesota

Goalie Erica Howe from Clarkson

Most Valuable Player Jamie Lee Rattray from Clarkson

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Prediction: Quinnipiac Over UMass-Lowell http://insidehockey.com/prediction-quinnipiac-over-umass-lowell http://insidehockey.com/prediction-quinnipiac-over-umass-lowell#comments Thu, 04 Apr 2013 02:17:49 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=48918

Frozen Four logo

By Ryan Stieg, AllPuck.com

Last week, I tried predicting who would make the Frozen Four next week in Pittsburgh. I did OK, getting two of the four teams correct, while missing terribly on the other two. The good thing is I don’t think anybody predicted that the field of Quinnipiac, Yale, St. Cloud State and UMass Lowell would be heading to the Steel City, so I take solace in that.

A lot of storylines came out of last weekend.

Three of the four teams are making their first appearance in the Frozen Four. The other, Yale, is making its first trip in more than 60 years. Another subplot is that Atlantic Hockey’s two teams almost pulled off huge upsets in the first round (both Niagara and Canisius led their opponents heading into the third period). Yet another was that the CCHA came to an unfortunate end when neither of its two teams (Miami and Notre Dame) made it to Pittsburgh.

However, the two largest storylines involved the WCHA and attendance figures. The WCHA has arguably long considered to be the strongest college hockey conference, and it appeared to make that case again this season. The conference title came down to the final weekend and only a couple points separated the top two teams from the next few seeds. As a result, the WCHA sent six teams to Regionals and many thought that at least two would move on to the Frozen Four. Surprisingly, only one (St. Cloud State) moved on, while the other five played uncharacteristically awful. Top-seeded Minnesota got upset in overtime by Yale after forgetting to play the first two periods; North Dakota almost lost to Niagara and then completely fell apart in the third period in the West Regional Final; Denver led New Hampshire early, then got blitzed for three straight goals in its first round loss; Minnesota State couldn’t score at all against Miami in the first round; Wisconsin, fresh off of a Final Five title and Barry Melrose’s national champion pick, got destroyed by UMass-Lowell. With the league splitting up in three directions, it was a real low note to go out on.

The other large topic was the attendance at the Regionals. As I pointed out last week, the NCAA had bizarrely assigned tournament sites to Toledo, Ohio — far from a hockey mecca — and placed the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Michigan (apparently in Indianapolis, “west” means “east of the Mississippi River”). The atmosphere in both arenas was predictably terrible and if you were watching on TV, you could barely spot any fans at all. I saw the first two rows around the rink filled at both sites. That was it. The only site that really had a crowd was the East Regional in Manchester, New Hampshire, and that was because two of the teams (UNH and Lowell) were located less than two hours away. In fact, it was so bad at Toledo that Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson almost demanded that the NCAA return the Regionals to campus sites.

Why the NCAA ever decided to leave campuses is beyond me. I’ve attended two Regionals as a fan: once in 2006 at the Ralph in Grand Forks and the other in 2009 at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. Both were packed to the rafters, even at Mariucci despite the fact that the Gophers weren’t playing. The atmosphere was loud and intense and you could tell every team fed off it. If you had the choice between attending a game in a smaller arena with a great atmosphere, or a bigger AHL-size arena in a town that doesn’t follow college hockey, which would you choose? I’m hoping the NCAA will wise up and return the games to campus. There were a lot of upsets last weekend, but if a top seed falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Now let’s get to the four teams that made it in. The first matchup is between West Regional champ Yale and Northeast Regional champ UMass-Lowell. On paper, this looks like a mismatch. The RiverHawks won the Hockey East regular season title and the conference tournament. Last weekend they didn’t seem to break a sweat against a hot team like Wisconsin, or against a team playing in front of its home crowd like New Hampshire. Just don’t underestimate Yale like I did. I didn’t think the Bulldogs had a chance to get past the Gophers or UND, and they made both look slow and overrated. Yale is led by 40-point men Kenny Agostino and Andrew Miller, but also keep an eye on Jesse Root, who scored the game-winning goals against Minnesota and UND. Goaltender Jeff Malcolm is capable but has had a shaky tournament, especially against North Dakota, where he was saved by the pipes quite a few times.

While Yale had to show some late grit and tenacity to get out of Grand Rapids, UMass-Lowell roared out of Manchester. The RiverHawks crushed Wisconsin with six goals Friday and then rode star goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to a 2-0 win over UNH. Lowell’s offense is led by 40-point men Scott Wilson and Joseph Pendenza, but as they showed against the Badgers, lots of players are capable of lighting the lamp. It’s going to be a close one, as Yale will battle the RiverHawks from start to finish, but I’m going with the better goaltender. Hellebuyck keeps the Bulldogs off the scoreboard late and UMass Lowell wins 3-1.

The other matchup features Midwest Regional champ St. Cloud State against East Regional champ Quinnipiac. Again, on paper, it looks like another mismatch. Quinnipiac has shared the number one ranking with Minnesota the majority of the year and were the number one overall seed heading into the tournament. However, the Huskies shouldn’t be taken lightly (just ask Notre Dame, who got hammered for five goals Saturday). St. Cloud tied Minnesota for the WCHA regular season title and outplayed Wisconsin for the majority of their Final Five matchup. The Huskies are led offensively by 50-point scorer Drew Leblanc, but have many other scoring threats. Freshman Joey Benik, who scored four goals in the Regional, was named Most Outstanding Player. Goaltender Ryan Faragher is capable and made some nice saves, especially against Miami, but is not someone who will steal a game for St. Cloud.

While the Huskies are hoping a small hot streak will bring them their first national title, the Quinnipiac Bobcats are hoping to end the school’s best season properly. They showed how good they are in Providence when they came from two goals down in the final frame to beat Canisius, and especially Sunday when they trounced Union 5-1 after the Dutchmen had demolished defending national champ Boston College the night before. The first person that comes to mind on the Bobcats roster is Hobey Baker candidate and netminder Eric Hartzell, who has a sparkling GAA of 1.54 and a save percentage of .933. Hartzell wasn’t stellar in Providence, but should be his old self with two weeks to prepare. As far as offense goes, Quinnipiac has a very balanced squad led by 30-point scorers Michael Peca and Jeremy Langlois. Peca actually beat Union singlehandedly in the first period when he notched a natural hat trick against the Dutchmen’s star goalie, Troy Grosenick. This one is a little easier to predict. St. Cloud is capable of pulling the upset, but the Bobcats seem to be rolling at a higher level. Quinnipiac wins 4-2.

Now here’s the moment of truth. Two eastern squads who have had outstanding seasons will battle it out in Consol Energy Center for their first national title. Both have great goalies and strong offenses, so it’s hard to find an advantage. I’m going to have to go with my gut here. The RiverHawks are playing great hockey right now, some of the best I’ve seen. However, the Bobcats have this almost magical thing going for them and I think that continues for one more night. Peca beats Hellebuyck for a late goal and Quinnipiac holds off a big Lowell rush to win 3-2.

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UND’s Hakstol: “Regionals are the Pinnacle” http://insidehockey.com/unds-hakstol-regionals-are-the-pinnacle http://insidehockey.com/unds-hakstol-regionals-are-the-pinnacle#comments Wed, 03 Apr 2013 02:54:36 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=48877

UND head coach Dave Hakstol Eric Classen, UND Sports

UND head coach Dave Hakstol
Eric Classen, UND Sports

This past weekend, UND played in the NCAA West Regional tourney in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  If you watched the games you will see that the games were sparsely attended, just like I had predicted.

So the NCAA wants the teams to play in empty arena’s posing as quite mausoleums during prayer time.

Come to think of it, I have probably been to churches that are louder than last week’s West and Midwest regionals.

The announced attendance for Friday’s game between Niagara and UND was 2289 and for Saturday’s game, the announced attendance was 1918 fans.

Seriously!

If mathematically challenged, that’s a grand total for 4207 fans to see the NCAA West Regional hockey games for the weekend. My words, “that’s pathetic.” The NCAA should be ashamed. There are high school hockey tourneys in North Dakota that have more people attend them then this regional.

Today was the last press conference of the year for UND hockey head coach Dave Hakstol was asked about his thought on the NCAA tourney being played in building with atmospheres like last weekend’s regional in Grand Rapids, Michigan?

“The pinnacle of our season should be played in a great atmosphere,” Hakstol said. “I think the players that are involved in the national tournament deserve that. “I think It’s something that has garnered a fair amount of discussion over the last couple of year, but no action.” We have to fix things. We’re not doing this the right way at the regional level – to play in front of… I saw a stat within out program we had 5500 people on a live chat, and there was maybe 1500 people in a building watching a great hockey game between Yale and North Dakota on Saturday night. That’s not right. That’s the pinnacle and that’s the spotlight of our season. Yeah, we have to change things. Certainly, I would like to work towards doing that, sooner, rather than later. The best regionals that I have been involved in, that I can remember, atmosphere wise, was here, in 05-06, where we hosted, competitive environment. The regional in Minnesota; last year at the Xcel Energy Center; in front of 10,000 people, we came up one game short. Great atmosphere to play in, spotlight event, the way the national tournament game should feel. Third one would have been; at the Kohl Center, where the University of Wisconsin hosted. We had the good fortune of coming out of that regional. That was a tough game, there was about 15,000 people cheering against us and 1,000 of our fans with us, but that was atmosphere, and that’s the stage that our national tournament should be played on, we need to get back to one shape or form. “

It’s pretty clear that the UND’s head coach would rather play in a raucous, loud arena filled with passionate fans, even if they’re another fan bases’  than an empty arena, in a nameless town with empty seats posing as fans for the sake of having a regional championship at a neutral site, in an empty building on Saturday in March.  I agree.

Cross-posted at the Hockey Writers-Combine.

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Photo Gallery: Niagara @ North Dakota (NCAA Regionals) http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-niagara-north-dakota-ncaa-regionals http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-niagara-north-dakota-ncaa-regionals#comments Tue, 02 Apr 2013 01:24:09 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=48793

North Dakota beat the Niagara Purple Eagles 2-1 in game two of the 2013 NCAA Division 1 Regionals on Friday at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. North Dakota missed out on the Frozen Four, with a 4-1 loss to Yale on Saturday. (Dennis Pajot – Inside Hockey)

 

 

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Photo Gallery: Yale @ Minnesota (NCAA Regionals) http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-yale-minnesota-ncaa-regionals-2 http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-yale-minnesota-ncaa-regionals-2#comments Tue, 02 Apr 2013 01:23:45 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=48784

The Yale Bulldogs took game one of the 2013 NCAA Division 1 Regionals with a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jesse Root popped in the winner for the Bulldogs just nine seconds into overtime. Yale also beat North Dakota 4-1 on Saturday afternoon and will join Quinnipiac, St. Cloud St and UMass-Lowell in Pittsburgh for the Frozen Four. (Dennis Pajot – Inside Hockey)

 

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UMass Lowell Blanks UNH, Advances to First Ever Frozen Four http://insidehockey.com/umass-lowell-blanks-unh-advances-to-first-ever-frozen-four http://insidehockey.com/umass-lowell-blanks-unh-advances-to-first-ever-frozen-four#comments Sun, 31 Mar 2013 05:46:09 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=48739

MANCHESTER, N.H. – In the year UMass Lowell announced they will be moving all Div. II sports to Div. I, the slogan “Progress in Motion” also applies to the River Hawks hockey. Already in D1, the River Hawks have gone from a five-win season in 2010-11 to a 28-win season, regular season title, Hockey East Championship and the school’s first ever trip to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Saturday night, freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and the UMass Lowell River Hawks were able to shutout the New Hampshire Wildcats in the Northeast Regional Final, 2-0. Scott Wilson and Adam Chapie managed to score the games only two goals and gave the students of UMass Lowell and city of Lowell something they have been waiting for since the school joined Hockey East in 1984, a Frozen Four birth.

Hellebuyck tallied the River Hawks’ first ever shutout in the NCAA tournament and his sixth on the season. The freshman goaltender was outstanding once again, something Lowell fans have come to get use to seeing. After his performance Saturday night, the Winnipeg Jets draft pick added more hardware to his inventory, as he was named to the Northeast Regional All-Tournament Team and as the Most Outstanding Player by the media.

Coming into Saturday night’s  game, the River Hawks had been unable to come out on top against the Wildcats. During the three-game season sweep, UNH faced junior goaltender Doug Carr. Since their last meeting, Lowell has made a change in goal and it turned out to be the difference maker.

The River Hawks would’ve never made it this far, let alone further, without the outstanding play of Hellebuyck and the Lowell defense. The Wildcats had 57 chances to score on the River Hawks and get something started. However, the freshman net-minder and his Lowell defense in front of him snuffed out every opportunity fired at them. Between the pipes, Hellebuyck stopped all 28 shots, while the rest of the team blocked 19 other shots, before they had a chance to get to the net.

The River Hawks will face Yale University of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference in the semifinal round of the Frozen Four, beginning on Apr. 11 in Pittsburgh, Penn. UMass Lowell forward Scott Wilson is a draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins and will return to the steel city once again, after spending the summer at the rookie camp.

Justin Soderberg is a Hockey East writer for InsideHockey.com. Follow him on Twitter, ‘Like’ him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google. In addition, Justin covers the UMass-Lowell River Hawks at viewfrom123.com.

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UMass Lowell tops Wisconsin, Keeps Frozen Four Hopes Alive http://insidehockey.com/umass-lowell-tops-wisconsin-keeps-frozen-four-hopes-alive http://insidehockey.com/umass-lowell-tops-wisconsin-keeps-frozen-four-hopes-alive#comments Sat, 30 Mar 2013 02:46:32 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=48697

MANCHESTER, N.H. – For the second time in as many years, the UMass Lowell River Hawks have advanced to the Regional Finals. Friday night, the River Hawks beat out the Wisconsin Badgers, 6-1. Joseph Pendenza started the scoring off in the first period, while Christian Folin, Shayne Thompson, Derek Arnold and Adam Chapie would all add goals. The lone goal scorer for the Badgers was Nic Kerdiles.

In a battle of two outstanding goaltenders, it was once again Connor Hellebuyck who came out on top. The freshman goaltender stopped 31-of-32 shots fired at him and the only goal he surrendered was a odd bounce goal that caught him by surprise. On the season the Hellebuyck moves to 19-2-0 with a 1.37 goals against average and a .969 save percentage.

The River Hawks focused on their own game during practice this week and didn’t watch video of the Badgers. “If we play our game, we have a chance against anyone,” said Norm Bazin. That was exactly the case on Friday night in New Hampshire.

Bazin’s club was outstanding in their own zone, blocking 19 shots, including six shots by River Hawks’ team captain Riley Wetmore.

The River Hawks managed to get a number of odd-man rushes, that amounted in a few of their goals. UMass Lowell had the ability to skate 3-on-1 and 4-on-2 into Wisconsin’s zone, bad things are bound to happen. Friday night, the Badgers allowed to many chances and the River Hawks were able to capitalize on them.

UMass Lowell will attempt to make their first ever Frozen Four on Saturday night in Manchester, N.H. The River Hawks will play New Hampshire, which they were unable to beat during the regular season in 2012-13, going 0-3-0. With the team on a hot streak, the River Hawks will look to continue their winning ways and take a trip to Pittsburgh, Penn.

Justin Soderberg is a Hockey East writer for InsideHockey.com. Follow him on Twitter, ‘Like’ him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google. In addition, Justin covers the UMass-Lowell River Hawks at viewfrom123.com.

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Time to move the NCAA Hockey Tourney back on campus http://insidehockey.com/time-to-move-the-ncaa-hockey-tourney-back-on-campus http://insidehockey.com/time-to-move-the-ncaa-hockey-tourney-back-on-campus#comments Thu, 28 Mar 2013 03:37:09 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=48595

NCAA_logo.svgIt’s that time a year again, Division I college hockey soon will be taking center stage in the NCAA regionals playing in half empty arenas, in venues in cities across the USA.

It’s a yearly occurrence for college hockey, because we can’t have any more regionals on campus. God forbid, we can’t have playoff games in rowdy arenas stuffed with rabid fans.

The NCAA wants regional games played in arenas posing as quite emotionless mausoleums, all under the guise of  the regional being held at “neutral” sites.

But some of the sites really aren’t that neutral, for some of the schools.

Midsized towns like Grand Rapids, Michigan, Manchester, New Hampshire, Providence, Rhode Island and Toledo, Ohio, will be hosting this year 2013 NCAA Division I college hockey regionals.

There is a good chance in one or two of these regional, will sparsely attended.

This year, you can pretty much guess that Midwest Regional being held in Toledo, Ohio will be that regional that will be played in front of an empty arena or arena seats posing as fans.

Going on past history, I am betting that this will be that regional that very few fans will see live, unless it’s being watched on television. According to The Blade, a Toledo, Ohio newspaper, tickets remain for the regional. You can get your tickets to the regional for a cool $75.00. Really, tickets remain. I can’t imagine why? That’s way too pricey.

Anyone want to lay odds on the attendance numbers for that regional? If they get 2,000-3,000 fans for the weekend, they will be lucky. That’s what the NCAA want’s half empty arena’s at neutral sites.

The other western regional, the “West” regional, is east of the Mississippi River. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see how anything in the Eastern Time zone is considered the Western part of the USA, at least by my standards, but whatever.

For the West Region, tickets are still available and a little bit cheaper, there going for $65.00.  Want to lay odds, that there will be a fair number of empty seats at this regional as well. Sure, North Dakota and Minnesota are in this regional and their fans travel well.

But let’s get real.

Grand Rapids is 649 miles from the University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota is 582 away from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

With the cable/satellite television, one doesn’t need to spend money on a expensive last minute plane ticket or gas for 14 hour car trip, hotel room, and ticket package.

Of course, on the flip side of this equation, the Boston College eagles will get to travel a strenuous 50 miles south to Providence, Rhode Island.

Let’s not forget, New Hampshire has an exhausting 45 minute bus trip to the North East Regional in Manchester, New Hampshire.

For the most part the NCAA won’t make the eastern teams travel.

According to Grand Forks Herald beat writer Brad Schlossman, “BU and BC have got on a plane 3 times for a regional in the last 13 years. The teams lost by four goals in 1st round each time.”

Last time Boston College was sent west they got rolled 8-4 by the Colorado College Tigers.

So in essence, yearly, the NCAA is giving the eastern teams in the NCAA Division I hockey tournament home games. It’s no wonder they don’t want to move the regionals back on campus. Why should they? They might have to play a Michigan, North Dakota, Minnesota, Denver at their home arena. We can’t have that, they might not have an easier path to the Frozen Four.

I believe it’s time for the NCAA regionals to move back on campus, soon. Of course, there is not a lot of support for moving the regionals back on campus. I don’t, however, think that’s going to happen, anytime soon.

This year, if anything, I think brings to light, a reason to at least explore that option.

After Notre Dame beat Michigan 3-1, to win the CCHA title, it looked like UND was headed to the East regional. Think again. Instead of going by the Pairwise numbers and putting UND in the East Regional with Quinnipiac, Canisius and Union, the NCAA instead put the Boston College in the easier bracket and doubled up two WCHA teams in the West Regional, all under the guise of Minnesota and North Dakota will sell tickets.

After an all WCHA Frozen Four in 2005, the NCAA didn’t want to have a repeat of that even again. In some fans opinion, the NCAA has pretty much handed Boston College a easy route to the Frozen Four with that regional draw.

According to Tom Nevala, chair of the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee and senior associate athletics director at Notre Dame, it doesn’t sound like the regionals are going to be moving back to campus anytime soon.

According to Tom Nevala, chair of the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee and senior associate athletics director at Notre Dame, it doesn’t sound like the regionals are going to be moving back to campus anytime soon.

Personally, I would like to see us move to an on-campus best-of-three series format for the first round,” Nevala said. “The top seeds would host regardless of size of its building. Right now we do it at the conference level and it works very well. There are upsets even with the home ice advantage and the atmosphere for everyone involved would be better. We have such great campus facilities that are such a part of the fabric of college hockey, it’s a shame that the national tourney isn’t played in them.”

So does Nevala see it happening any time soon?

“The coaching body is so set on having the regional games at neutral sites that before the committee would ever propose something like this we would need to work with them to try and get everyone on board,” Nevala said. “Hopefully we can put something together that they would feel comfortable with. It’s really hard for anyone with an objective view to say what we are doing now at our regionals is great,  so we need to try and do something with them because a great tournament should be our goal.”

Regional sites for the next two years have already been determined so the earliest any change could happen would be for the 2015 championship. The 2013 regionals are at Grand Rapids, Mich., Manchester, N.H., Providence, R.I. and Toledo, Ohio. The 2014 regionals will be held at Bridgeport, Conn., Cincinnati, Ohio, St. Paul, Minn. and Worcester, Mass. [ncaa.com]

I find those comments disappointing, however, maybe there is hope. Being from North Dakota, at least there is some hope in the future. Or at least, UND athletic director Brian Faison is saying some of the things that I like to hear.

“I don’t like the situation we seem to find ourselves in sometimes when we play in empty arenas in regionals,” said North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison, who will join the committee in the fall. “I’d love to be in a situation where you could play on campus sites for the first round. … I’d love to see us get into a different format, and I think it’s better for the sport. It’s a great game.

“And you want that game in the best locations that you can to showcase.” [Lacrosse Tribune]

Don’t count on the NCAA Hockey showcasing the college game in half empty arena’s in towns some have never heard of, nor would ever think of visiting, if it was for the college hockey game. It’s  time to consider moving the NCAA Hockey Regionals back on campus.

Cross-posted at the Hockey Writers Combine.

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