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Explaining his magic, Omaha’s Massa has a simple answer: ‘It’s just my job’

20141212 Omaha StCloudState 03 MBishop Explaining his magic, Omahas Massa has a simple answer: Its just my job

Omaha’s Ryan Massa stopped all 40 shots he faced in the Midwest Regional final (photo: Michelle Bishop, file).

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Omaha goaltender Ryan Massa handles words as efficiently as he handles pucks.

In Sunday night’s 4-0 win over Rochester Institute of Technology, the Mavericks trailed in shots on goal 22-19 through the first two periods, in spite of a five-minute power play early in the game.

Through the first 41 minutes, until Jake Randolph scored the game-winning goal at 1:01 in the third, Massa was tested repeatedly and when he was asked about it after the game, the senior had the simplest of answers.

“It’s just my job,” he said. “On the roster, I’m listed as a goalie, so my job is to keep the puck out of the net at whatever cost it may be.”

And Massa did just that, allowing one goal in two games in the Midwest Regional with a two-day save percentage of .986 and backstopping the Mavericks to their first Frozen Four — to their first two NCAA tournament wins, ever.

Massa said that RIT “put on one hell of a fight,” that the Tigers “were limiting our time and space. They were making physical hits on our top players.” But, said Massa, “It was just a matter of time.

“I had to keep the boys settled and keep them in it to give them a fighting chance to get a greasy goal, to get an opportunity and fortunately Randy found the back of the net first and from there everything kept going.”

Massa and the Mavericks played with that one-goal lead until late in the third period, when they scored three goals in quick succession to secure their trip to Boston in two weeks. Sophomore forward Jake Guentzel, who had assists on UNO’s second and third goals Sunday, said that the Mavericks might have suffered another fate without Massa in net.

“A lot of the credit goes to Ryan,” said Guentzel. “He kept us in for a while, the whole game, and without him it would’ve been a whole new game.”

This season, Massa’s numbers put him among the top netminders in the country, fifth in GAA (1.92) and with this weekend’s performance, first in save percentage (.939). With a record of 11-9-1 last year, Massa’s GAA was 2.74 and his save percentage .899.

He skipped the first half of his sophomore season to “reprioritize,” as he said, following a disappointing end to his freshman year, during which he suffered concussions that affected his attitude toward the game.

“I really didn’t have that passion for hockey anymore,” Massa said. “I didn’t feel every day waking up wanting to go to the rink.”

But between his junior and senior years, Massa rededicated himself to his craft — to his job as goaltender.

“I really buckled down and worked extremely hard in developing and fine-tuning my game,” said Massa, “to put myself in a position to be where we are today.”

And the position the Mavericks hold is one of the last four teams standing in the 2014-15 season, with a goaltender who came through when he was needed most.

“The road of a goaltender is certainly filled with a lot of highs and even more lows,” said Massa. “It’s just your ability to persevere and get through those lows that put you in opportunities to succeed.”

Stevenson adding men’s hockey, will join ECAC West in 2016-17

Stevenson University announced on Friday that is adding men’s hockey as its 27th NCAA Division III sport with the team’s inaugural season set for 2016-17 where the Mustangs will join the ECAC West.

The university has already begun its search for a head coach. The team will use Reisterstown Sportsplex in Reisterstown, Md., as its game and practice facility.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Stevenson into the ECAC Men’s West Hockey League,” said ECAC president Dr. Kevin McGinniss in a news release. “Stevenson has been an innovative athletics program and adding men’s ice hockey is yet another reminder of the University’s strong commitment to its student-athletes. Stevenson will be a great addition to an already extremely competitive league.”

The Stevenson women’s team, which just completed its third season, posted a program-best 16-8-1 record this year.

“The success of our women’s ice hockey team really paved the way for the addition of a men’s program,” added Stevenson director of athletics Brett Adams. “Not only is our women’s squad enjoying success on the ice, but the quality of student-athletes that we are attracting through the program fits Stevenson University perfectly. We are excited to offer this opportunity to men’s ice hockey players from across the region as well.”

Less extra-attacker drama but the same result for Frozen Four-bound Providence

DSC 0539 Less extra attacker drama but the same result for Frozen Four bound Providence

Providence’s Tom Parisi fires the tie-breaking goal in the Friars’ win over Denver on Sunday (photo: Matt Eisenberg).

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Providence coach Nate Leaman had just finished his opening statement in the postgame press conference Sunday following the Friars’ win over Denver when he leaned over the microphone to add a final thought.

“One last point: We were able to hit the empty nets,” he said, referring to the two late goals Providence scored with Denver goalie Tanner Jaillet pulled for a 4-1 victory. “We hit the first empty net and the guys were celebrating on the bench and I’m like ‘No, no, there’s a lot of game left here, boys. Remember last night.’”

Leaman was referring to Saturday’s game against Miami, where the Friars watched the RedHawks score three extra-attacker goals to turn a 6-2 lead into a heart-throbbing 6-5 advantage, and nearly connect on a fourth to tie the game before Brandon Tanev sealed the win with an empty-netter in the closing seconds.

The Friars found themselves in a similar situation Sunday night. Up 2-1 on Denver thanks to a late power-play goal by Tom Parisi, Providence once again faced an extra-attacker situation as the Pioneers pulled goalie Tanner Jaillet in the closing minutes, looking for the equalizer.

But this time the Friars held, as Tanev and Kevin Rooney each added an empty-net goal to secure the win and send Providence to the Frozen Four for the first time since 1985.

It was an interesting weekend for the fourth-seeded Friars, who not only watched Miami come roaring back Saturday but saw Denver tie it up with a fluky power-play goal midway through the final period.

Defenseman Joey LaLeggia launched a shot from the point that ripped off the glass, rolling on top of the net before bouncing off goalie Jon Gillies and past the goal line.

“I watched it go over the net and then I heard it hit the glass and I saw a bunch of eyes in front of me looking straight up and I fell backwards and hit the puck into the net,” Gillies said.

It was the type of goal that could have given new life to Denver, as the Friars and Gillies had successfully stymied the Pioneers’ high-powered attack for much of the game. But Providence held tight and took the lead for good on Parisi’s goal at 14:59.

“It was an unlucky bounce but the boys had my back and we were able to battle back,” Gillies said.

LaLeggia hit costly

Denver coach Jim Montgomery likes to attack. It’s how the Pioneers play, and it’s been a large part of their success this year.

But that aggressive style cost them against the Friars, as LaLeggia was called for a five-minute major and game disqualification for contact to the head after wiping out Providence’s Steven McParland near center ice at 10:37 of the third period.

“He’s playing the way coach wanted us to play,” Denver senior Daniel Doremus said. “We’re not going to change the way we play. We were just going hard and trying to win the game.”

Montgomery didn’t necessarily disagree with the call, saying it was a great hockey play, but acknowledged the way the game is played has changed. Still, he said he sees the need for consistent officiating throughout college hockey.

“I guess you’re supposed to back off and let a guy attack you instead of angling that puck like I’ve taught them,” Montgomery said. “Joe LaLeggia did everything I asked of him on that play and unfortunately it was head contact. …

“I do think that we need uniform officiating in college hockey; it’s long overdue. During the regular season, when an East team comes West, or when a West team goes East, you’re playing by a new set of rules. I think it’s important that as a body of coaches that we get one guy in charge of all the other supervisors of the different leagues.”

Notes

• Providence will make its fourth Frozen Four appearance. Besides 1985, the Friars also appeared in the 1983 and 1964 Frozen Fours.

• Forwards Shane Luke, Noel Acciari, (Providence) and Grant Arnold (Denver), along with LaLeggia, Parisi and Gillies were named to the all-East Regional team. Acciari was named the regional’s most outstanding player.

Canisius defender Rumble leaves Griffs for ECHL contract

DSC 1775 Canisius defender Rumble leaves Griffs for ECHL contract

Chris Rumble will leave a big hole on the Canisius blue line after signing an ECHL contract on Saturday (photo: Omar Phillips).

Canisius junior defenseman Chris Rumble signed a contract with the ECHL’s Evansville Icemen on Saturday and will forego his final year of collegiate eligibility.

The first Canisius defender to collect First Team all-conference accolades since Derek Gilham during the 1998-99 season, Rumble led all Canisius blueliners with 20 points on seven goals and 13 assists this season and also helped anchor the top scoring defense in Atlantic Hockey, allowing a school-record low 2.24 goals per game.

In 84 games with Canisius, Rumble recorded 14 goals and 32 assists for 46 points and finishes his career ranked fourth in school history among defenders in points, third in goals and fifth in assists.

After allowing opening goal, McIntyre stays the course for North Dakota

2015032822 18 2317875 After allowing opening goal, McIntyre stays the course for North Dakota

Zane McIntyre made 19 saves in helping North Dakota to a second straight Frozen Four (photo: Jim Rosvold).

FARGO, N.D. — The arena roared. There was one minute left on the clock but no one heard the announcement.

The regional tournament most outstanding player, Zane McIntyre, spent most of the game in front of a familiar fan base that traveled just over an hour south to cheer on a North Dakota team that was bound and determined to make another trip to the Frozen Four.

It didn’t quite look that way at first.

The goaltender was beat by a shot by Jimmy Murray at 1:29 of the opening frame, but that was the only St. Cloud State shot he was going to let past him. The mentality moving forward was simple.

“Just don’t let the next shot in, I guess,” McIntyre said.

He didn’t. The goaltender made 19 saves for UND and held on for a 4-1 victory over St. Cloud State in the NCAA West Regional final on Saturday night at Scheels Arena.

“Zane’s been one of our most important guys throughout the year,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “He’s an anchor for us. We all trust him back there. He gives us an opportunity, if we’re stumbling a little bit, to kind of regain our composure and get back after it.”

UND did just that as it followed up with four straight goals, knowing what was on the line.

McIntyre said he quickly put the situation behind him and maintained a positive mindset.

“This is what we all worked hard for,” McIntyre said. “So we just had to reset and refocus, just kind of go from there. You’re going to have bounces and you’re going to have ups and downs throughout the game and throughout the course of the year, but the best thing I’ve maybe learned over my past three years here is stay the course. Keep going because you never know what could happen.”

McIntyre owns a 5-1 NCAA tournament record with a 1.26 GAA and a .957 save percentage.

The arena where McIntyre spent two years before UND playing for the USHL’s Fargo Force sounded a little different on Saturday.

Cheers from UND fans echoed loudly throughout the game, although that was no surprise to McIntyre.

A Boston-bound team fed off an energetic crowd that has proved its loyalty time and time again.

“I think when you look at the attendance rates throughout college hockey, it’s no question UND is No. 1 for a reason,” McIntyre said. “You go across the whole state, it’s UND Fighting Sioux colors and bleeding green and stuff. It’s pretty special to be a part of, not only as a player, but as a teammate for all these guys and all these coaches … It’s pretty special is all I can say. Thank you guys.”

Omaha appreciates first NCAA tournament win but isn’t satisfied

20150328 OMAHA Harvard Kelley 6 Omaha appreciates first NCAA tournament win but isnt satisfied

Omaha’s Justin Parizek passes in the Mavericks’ win over Harvard (photo: Eric Kelley).

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Saturday’s game between Harvard and Omaha featured two programs with very different stories. Harvard played its first game Jan. 19, 1898. UNO played its first Division I hockey game nearly 100 years later, Oct. 17, 1997.

In spite of their contrasting histories, both the Crimson and the Mavericks came to this year’s NCAA tournament not just to advance but to establish something lasting for each of their programs.

The 4-1 win over Harvard was the third NCAA tournament game in Omaha history and the program’s first win. While the accomplishment wasn’t lost on the UNO team, the Mavericks players said that they don’t have time to pause and reflect — yet.

“It’s a great feeling, but at the same time it’s not satisfying,” said senior goaltender Ryan Massa, who had 33 saves in the win. “It’s not what we came here to do. Yeah, we came here to win that first game to get us to an opportunity to compete in the Frozen Four in Boston, but we still have a full 60 minutes tomorrow night against a good hockey club that beat the No. 1 seed, so for us it’s pretty short enjoyment.

“It’s nice reaching a milestone as an organization, but our work’s far from over.”

“You look at a lot of great players that have come through UNO,” said junior defenseman Brian Cooper. “This is for them, too. It’s a huge step for our program, but like Ryan said, we’re not satisfied yet. We want to extend the season for as long as we can.”

UNO coach Dean Blais is no stranger to NCAA tournament success. Between North Dakota, where he served as head coach from 1994 to 2004, and Omaha, Blais has led teams to eight NCAA tournament appearances, and he coached North Dakota to national titles in 1997 and 2000.

With the benefit of his perspective, Blais understands the real significance for this first win for the Mavericks. Winning breeds winning.

“It’s everything,” said Blais. “In North Dakota, we were expected to win championships. It means a lot for this program, for the first win out of the three times they’ve been in the NCAA tournament. [The championship] just another milestone that we’re going to have to keep working toward.”

For Harvard, this was the 22nd NCAA tournament appearance in program history, but the first since 2006. The Crimson have reached the Frozen Four a dozen times, but they haven’t been that close to a national championship since 1994.

Harvard ended its 2014-15 season with 21 wins — one more win than the Crimson amassed in the past two seasons combined. Senior defenseman Max Everson said that he’s seen the team transformed in his time in Cambridge.

“Coming in freshman year, I had a decent idea of what to expect because my older brother was a couple years ahead of me there,” said Everson. “We had a really good year that year. In the second half of that year, we came on strong and just missed the national tournament, lost the ECAC final.

“It was a strong year, but … my sophomore and junior year there were some struggles on and off the ice that we had to deal with. Not nearly as many wins as we wanted, a lot of setbacks in different areas and injuries and other stuff going on.

“Those were a couple of tough years, but we were able to put all that behind us this year. We evaluated the talent we had in the locker room and evaluated the strength and the character of our guys, and we knew what we could accomplish.”

“First two years, both were 10-win seasons,” said junior forward Jimmy Vesey. “This year, we finished with 21 wins, ninth in the PairWise, national tournament berth.”

Vesey had a renaissance of his own this season with 32 goals — eight more than he produced in his freshman and sophomore years combined.

“If you look at our lineup,” said Vesey, “we’re still very young, very talented, and we have a great coaching staff so I’d say that Harvard hockey is here to stay in the long run in the national picture.”

Miami comes painfully close to completing miracle comeback against Providence

DSC 0250 Miami comes painfully close to completing miracle comeback against Providence

Miami’s Louie Belpedio dives to clear a shot at an empty net away from his goal on Saturday (photo: Matt Eisenberg).

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — None of the 7,908 who were at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Saturday night will ever forget the game between regional top seed Miami and de facto home team Providence.

It wasn’t memorable for Providence’s seven goals, although it was the second-most the Friars scored all year. It wasn’t memorable for Miami’s disastrous play through 40 minutes, although it was certainly among the RedHawks’ worst two periods in recent memory.

It wasn’t even memorable for Providence earning its second straight appearance in the NCAA East Regional final. (The Friars beat Quinnipiac before losing to Union in Bridgeport, Conn., last spring.)

No, it was memorable for Miami’s three extra-attacker goals, scored over the final 8:34 of the third period, in defiance of all reason, sense, and probability. It will stand forever as one of the most incredible, damn-the-torpedoes, full-speed-ahead performances in NCAA history.

And in some way, it will be even more memorable because ultimately, Miami lost. The magical, miracle comeback fell short; Cinderella’s shoe was a size too big.

The RedHawks blocked two empty-net bids; Louie Belpedio sacrificed himself to clear a sure empty-net goal off the goal line, to the extent that he had to crawl the 60 feet back to the bench.

Alternate captain, senior center and leading scorer Austin Czarnik had the game-tying goal in his skates with 25 seconds remaining and Providence goalie Jon Gillies way out of position, but he couldn’t put his blade on the biscuit.

The RedHawks and coach Rico Blasi had redemption in their sights, just one goal away. Not just redemption for a miserable 40 minutes of NCAA play, but for six years of regret.

No, none of the undergraduate members of the Brotherhood played in the national title game in 2009, but the game is legendary: Miami, up 3-1 with a minute remaining, surrendered two extra-attacker goals to Boston University. Overtime — and Miami’s flickering optimism — lasted 11:47 before BU’s Colby Cohen extinguished it.

Blasi would rather not live every game through the lens of that exceptionally depressing game, even Saturday’s. He said that the crown-that-could-have-been never crossed his mind Saturday, and that the team stuck with the plan as it was outlined during the second intermission: Goalie out around the 14-minute mark, and play like your hair’s on fire.

The closest thing these RedHawks players may have to a veteran of the 2009 finale is senior forward Alex Wideman. His brother — current Binghamton Senators defenseman Chris Wideman — was a freshman on the 2008-09 team.

“Just never give up,” is advice he learned from his brother. “It’s not over until the horn blows. You might be up four or five goals, but it doesn’t matter.

“In the locker room between the second and third period, nobody was down. We know it’s their ‘home rink,’ whatever, but we’ve been on the road all year. It’s a hostile environment. Just unfortunately, the bounce at the end didn’t go our way. It sucks that it fell short, but I’ve got all the faith in the guys for next year and the years to come.”

Years to come from now, people will still be retelling the Title That Wasn’t. But now, at least, there will be another story written in The Brotherhood’s expanding tome: The Miracle that Almost Was.

In ‘heavyweight fight,’ Boston University comes up with a late knockout

694A7340 In heavyweight fight, Boston University comes up with a late knockout

Boston University and Minnesota-Duluth traded stretches of dominance before the Terriers emerged with a late winner (photo: Melissa Wade).

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Minnesota-Duluth could not have come much closer to its fifth trip to the Frozen Four.

The Bulldogs came into their contest with Boston University a decided underdog in many observers’ eyes. While they were a respected No.2 seed, and BU the regional’s top seed, the gap between the two appeared larger than that.

BU had been in the top three or four in the national rankings for most of the season, won the Hockey East regular season title and then added the league’s tournament championship.

By contrast, Duluth enjoyed the benefits and stature of being part of the NCHC, college hockey’s clearly dominant conference this season, but had finished fifth of eight teams in the league and got bounced by Denver 4-3 and 4-0 in the opening round of the tournament.

While BU boasted the No. 1 offense in the country, Duluth ranked 23rd in offense and 25th in defense.

BU clearly had the star power. Jack Eichel, college hockey’s top scorer, had accumulated only one fewer point than the three members of Duluth’s top line combined. The Bulldogs, in fact, were one of the few teams to enter the tournament without a single 30-point producer.

Props were due Duluth for emerging from the toughest conference and then thoroughly throttling cross-state rival Minnesota in the first game. Clearly, this was a team that had earned its seeding.

But the favorite remained Boston University.

The Terriers jumped out to a 1-0 first period lead, but Duluth tied it in the opening minute of the second, and by period’s end it was 2-2.

Anybody’s game.

“That was a playoff game in every sense of the word,” BU coach David Quinn said afterward. “It was like a heavyweight fight. We controlled the first few rounds, almost had a couple opportunities to deliver a knockout punch, but they’d come back and dominate for 10 or 12 minutes. Then we’d come back and dominate for 10 or 12 minutes.

“Then we did what we do best. We played a great third period. We were relentless. We were smart. We did the things we needed to do to win an incredibly important hockey game.”

Understandably, Duluth saw the third period differently. The Bulldogs’ focus fell squarely on the holding penalty called with less than five minutes left in regulation.

Some will say it looked like a penalty.

But.

The resulting power play for BU was only the second such advantage for either team all game.

The Bulldogs had to be thinking, not now!

To their credit, they killed almost the entire penalty.

Almost.

The saddest word in playoff hockey.

Evan Rodrigues scored the game-winner on a slick toe drag with one second remaining on the power play.

One second.

And although the Bulldogs mounted ferocious pressure in the final minute with their goaltender pulled, even requiring video replay to determine that somehow they hadn’t gotten the puck across the line, they couldn’t get the equalizer. The Terriers had a 3-2 victory.

So close, but yet so far.

“We could have had a couple bounces, but that’s how hockey is,” Alex Iafallo said. “You’ve got to respect [BU], but it’s a tough one to swallow.

“It stings. It’s not how you want the season to end. You don’t expect that to happen.”

Without using the word “penalty,” Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said what his team was thinking.

“It was a great hockey game,” he said. “It’s unfortunate the way it ended. I’ll leave it at that.

“What can you say? They made a play at the end of the power play to win the hockey game. They’re moving on and we’re not.”

When pressed, he added, “It’s just unfortunate that it had to end like … that.

“For all the great chances they had, I would have liked to see it continue, just let the kids play and decide the game.”

Those wishes didn’t come true.

And words by BU’s coach rang true and bitter at the same time.

“There’s a small margin of error in every hockey game,” Quinn said, “and that margin gets smaller and smaller the later you play.”

Good start, determined defense key another RIT first-round upset

20150328 RIT Minn Kelley 10 Good start, determined defense key another RIT first round upset

Jordan Ruby stopped 33 shots for RIT (photo: Eric Kelley).

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It took five seasons, but lightning struck again in the NCAA tournament Saturday afternoon. Atlantic Hockey autobid Rochester Institute of Technology took down another No. 1 seed.

From the get-go, the Tigers fed off a hyperactive and well-traveled fan section and ambushed Minnesota State 2-1.

The top-seeded Mavericks came out trying to get their speedy offense going, but they found themselves up against a fearless Tigers squad that beat the Mavericks at their own game early in the first.

“That’s the nature of our team,” Tigers coach Wayne Wilson said. “We’re very up-tempo. We’re not a trapping-type team. When I watched Minnesota State, I thought we’re very similar in styles. They get up and down the ice. I thought they were very tenacious from the drop of the puck. You’ve got to be awful conscious off of faceoffs. They really get off of circles really quick and get on loose pucks.”

And Alexander Kuqali’s first-period goal punctuated that.

“I thought the first goal was important,” Wilson said. “It got us grounded and off to a good start.”

RIT spent the next 20-plus minutes keeping the Mavericks offense off the score sheet. Minnesota State got the tying goal but no more thanks to a determined defense that blocked 26 shots and killed five penalties — each one becoming more of a critical kill than the last.

“I thought they did a good job of eliminating second and third chances,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “They really did a good job of getting inside those hash marks, making sure the puck didn’t get below the circles.”

The storms kept coming and came to a head with Chase Norrish’s penalty early in the third. But goaltender Jordan Ruby and the resilient Tigers didn’t flinch, killing that key penalty and setting up Josh Mitchell’s controversial game-winning goal just a few minutes later.

“Right at the bitter end there, we were tied at one and we knew that Jordan was going to be there,” Mitchell said. “He gave us a lot of confidence to just keep driving and play the game and hopefully get some offense going. It felt good to reward his play, for sure.”

“I tell our penalty killers, if you’re doing your job, it’s more valuable,” Wilson said. “Nothing goes up on the board if you kill successfully. But if you’re not successful on your penalty, there’s a goal up on the board, it’s 1-0.”

With time running down, the confident Tigers kept blocking and blocking to seal the deal.

“For as hard as they came in the third period and really most of the game, I thought we were composed,” Wilson said. “When they pulled their goalie I thought we did some key things in relieving some of the pressure. A lot of key moments I thought we came out big and rose to the occasion when we needed to and weathered some storms when we needed to.”

Now, the task ahead is to make their second Frozen Four trip in as many NCAA appearances in such a short Division I history. Any doubt of that possibility seems far away.

“It gives us momentum now,” Wilson said. “It gives us credibility amongst ourselves — yes, we can do it, and now we move on to the next opponent. We’re hoping to use momentum and energy for a 60-minute game. That’s what it comes down to. Sixty minutes goes by pretty quick, so you have to get off to a good start. Tomorrow’s going to be just as important to get started quickly.”

Denver gets better of matchup of elite defensemen against Boston College

DSC 0119 Denver gets better of matchup of elite defensemen against Boston College

Denver scored three goals in the third to pull away from Boston College (photo: Matt Eisenberg).

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — With each team skating three NHL draft picks on defense, goals figured to be at a premium Saturday between Denver and Boston College in the opening game of the East Regional.

The game appeared to be shaping up as a tight defensive matchup, but the Pioneers scored two goals in a span of 59 seconds midway through the third period to turn a 2-1 lead into a 4-1 advantage.

That was too much to overcome for a Boston College team that wasn’t its usual high-scoring self this season. The Eagles cut it to 4-2 on Ryan Fitzgerald’s power-play goal late in the third, but Denver responded with an empty-net goal to make it 5-2.

“We had a couple of good chances to get it to 2-2, but Denver played well and they deserved to go on,” Boston College coach Jerry York said.

It was only the second NCAA tournament win for Denver since 2005, when the Pioneers won the second of two straight national titles. Denver made the tournament seven straight years entering this season, but lost in the first round each time with the exception of 2011. Last year’s loss came against the Eagles, with BC erupting for six goals en route to winning the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass.

The Pioneers’ defense not only held the Eagles to 13 shots on goal through the first two periods and 24 in the game but contributed offensively as well. Senior Hobey Baker Award finalist Joey LeLeggia’s power-play goal made it 1-0 at 4:48 in the first, while Will Butcher scored the first of Denver’s two quick-strike goals in the third period.

“Our defensemen being active is a huge part of our system,” Butcher said. “Moving off pucks and creating some space for ourselves is a big key to success for our team.”

LeLeggia’s goal was his 14th of the season, the second-most by a defenseman in the nation, trailing only the 15 scored by Notre Dame’s Robbie Russo.

“They have some skilled defensemen. They moved the puck pretty well, so we found ourselves chasing some pucks,” York said. “I thought it was a good, solid effort by our team, but Denver was just a touch better.”

In turn, the Pioneers’ forwards were able to keep Boston College’s talented defensive group, which includes a likely first-round pick in freshman Noah Hanifin, from making much of an impact in the game.

“I think our puck pressure [did well], not letting their defensemen really possess the puck, especially in the neutral zone,” Denver coach Jim Montgomery said.

“You’re not going to shut down that D corps all night long, but for the most part our forwards were very conscious and did a great job of making sure the puck got out of their hands quickly,” he added.

Arnold comes up big for Denver

Denver junior captain and fourth-line winger Grant Arnold entered Saturday’s game with no goals this season and only three in 113 career games. He nearly equaled his collegiate total in the third period alone, snapping a shot past Demko from the low slot at 9:04, and then sealed the game with an empty-net goal in the closing minutes of the game.

“It was an awesome time to score the first one, that’s for sure,” Arnold said. “My mindset in the playoffs has always been that it’s a new season, so one game, [two goals] for me so far.”

New Hampshire blueliner Pesce leaves early for Carolina deal

150315 20512468 New Hampshire blueliner Pesce leaves early for Carolina deal

Brett Pesce (UNH – 22) will not be back for his senior season with New Hampshire after signing with Carolina on Friday (photo: Melissa Wade).

New Hampshire junior defenseman Brett Pesce signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, giving up his senior season with the Wildcats.

“Brett has been a tremendous asset to our hockey program both on and off the ice,” said UNH coach Dick Umile in a statement. “We all wish him nothing but the best as his career moves forward.”

Pesce, who was originally drafted by Carolina in the third round (66th overall) in the 2013 NHL draft, recorded three goals and 13 assists for 16 points in 31 games in 2014-15.

In 110 career games as a UNH Wildcat, he compiled 43 points on 11 goals and 32 assists.

After turning the page, North Dakota back to a familiar style and result

2015032720 07 0616285 After turning the page, North Dakota back to a familiar style and result

Tucker Poolman (3) celebrates with North Dakota teammates (photo: Jim Rosvold).

FARGO, N.D. — Two few weeks ago, regular season champion North Dakota had a little bit of trouble putting away last-place Colorado College in the first round of the NCHC playoffs.

Mark MacMillan, the leading scorer for UND, was lost to a season-ending leg injury at the end of February and the team missed his presence.

UND managed to get over it, pick up a sweep of the Tigers and advance to the Frozen Faceoff as the favorite to win it and claim the NCAA tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.

That’s when things started to briefly go downward for UND.

North Dakota’s first-round matchup was with St. Cloud State, a team that needed to win just to get into the NCAA tournament. UND felt MacMillan’s absence again and fell to the Huskies 3-1 after having its offense stifled. It didn’t get any better in the third-place game as UND was crushed by Denver 5-1 and slipped to No. 2 overall.

In the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday, however, North Dakota went back to its old style. It got the lead early, started hitting Quinnipiac to throw the Bobcats off their game, played strong defense and had another stellar performance from Zane McIntyre (29 saves).

After a 4-1 victory, UND is on the verge of returning to the Frozen Four, with a familiar conference foe in its way. North Dakota plays St. Cloud State in Saturday’s West Regional final.

North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol insisted there was no need to bounce back after their tough weekend in Minneapolis.

“Teams have ups and downs,” he said. “This group of guys has been able to [turn the page] every week during the season. Last weekend has very little to do with this weekend. It’s part of the season.”

The way Hakstol put it, North Dakota players have indeed turned the page, and as a result, the program has advanced to its fifth straight regional championship game.

“It’s obviously a big opportunity for our hockey team,” UND defenseman Troy Stecher said about the rematch with St. Cloud State, which beat Michigan Tech earlier Friday. “Last week they beat us, but it’s a new week. We just gotta go do the little things to try to win the hockey game.”

“After our last game went with them, there’s definitely motivation,” Tucker Poolman said. “More so, we’re playing for a berth in the Frozen Four.”

Brodzinski lauded for ‘unbelievable character’ in shaking off injury for St. Cloud State

2015032718 09 2415935 Brodzinski lauded for unbelievable character in shaking off injury for St. Cloud State

Jonny Brodzinski (22) gave St. Cloud State life with a tying goal in the final minute of the West Regional semifinal against Michigan Tech (photo: Jim Rosvold).

FARGO, N.D. — Jonny Brodzinski wasn’t ready for the season to end.

Just 37.3 seconds away from defeat Friday, Brodzinski took a shot that slipped behind Jamie Phillips and sent St. Cloud State into overtime with Michigan Tech. A Michigan Tech turnover led to an SCSU goal and a 3-2 victory in the NCAA West Regional semifinals.

Earlier in the game, his teammates weren’t sure if Brodzinski would be back on the ice.

During the first period, Brodzinski took a hit in a collision behind the Michigan Tech net and went down the tunnel into the locker room.

St. Cloud State was without its leading scorer, and the uncertainty of Brodzinski’s return led to offensive struggles.

“I thought it did when he got hurt,” SCSU coach Bob Motzko said. “Guys like that don’t stay down. We’ve had some big injuries in the last few weeks and our bench got silent.”

Brodzinski made an attempt to finish the first period but waited until the second period to join a resilient lineup — never backing down.

“It’s unbelievable character by Jonny,” said Judd Peterson, who scored the overtime goal for St. Cloud State. “It almost gives us an extra push to keep fighting, to see what a guy like him is battling through, especially in the playoffs.

“Obviously, we need Jonny. When it comes to this time of the year, you’ve just got to play for the guy next to you and that’s what Jonny did tonight. Credit to him for coming out and playing and tying the game. It gives us a little extra energy.”

Brodzinski has posted 20-plus goals in each of his three seasons with the Huskies, and the impact he has on his teammates was evident Friday night at Scheels Arena.

“Just between the period, I think they thought, ‘What do we do now?’” Motzko said. “Because he means so much to our team, and I think in the third period when Jonny raised his game, our team started to raise their game.”

A capable lineup took the challenge in stride, fighting back against a Michigan Tech team that ended with a 38-21 shot advantage.

While Brodzinski’s rebound proved crucial to St. Cloud’s lineup, there is still concern of how he will handle the remainder of the West Regional.

“I thought during the third period, he was outstanding,” Motzko said. “He raised it to a whole new level, which Jonny has been doing the second half. He gutted it out. Obviously, we’re a little concerned tomorrow.”

With atmosphere lacking, Minnesota-Duluth turns promising rivalry game into a rout

150327 18330438 With atmosphere lacking, Minnesota Duluth turns promising rivalry game into a rout

Justin Crandall and Minnesota-Duluth put Minnesota in the rear-view mirror quickly (photo: Melissa Wade).

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Beauty and the Beast came to the Northeast Regional.

The early game was a beauty. Boston University and Yale battled into overtime, neither team ever holding more than a one-goal lead. BU, the top seed, scored on a goal set up by Jack Eichel, college hockey’s most exciting player, to advance to Saturday’s regional final.

While the stands were anything but full — the announced attendance was 5,123 in a building seating 10,103, no doubt reflecting the weekday 2 p.m. starting time — there was still an energy level befitting two somewhat local teams.

Then came the late game.

It held the promise of two strong teams with proud traditions, Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth, in-state rivals, no less. Minnesota ranked as the fifth-best offense in the country, presumably a treat to watch even for locals who don’t know Eden Prairie from Ham Lake.

And for a while it lived up to that promise. The Minnesota Gophers came out flying in the first 10 minutes, but couldn’t capitalize on their chances.

Then, in the span of just six minutes, Minnesota-Duluth scored three goals, rocking the Big Ten champions. After Duluth pounded the final nail in the coffin midway through the second period to make it 4-0, not even Bela Lugosi could breathe life into the contest.

The game had become The Beast.

Fans from the early game who’d stuck around for a while to see the two teams from Minnesota left in droves, leaving behind what felt more like 512 fans than 5,123.

Playing a big rival in what felt like a mausoleum was something Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin had anticipated.

“We talked about it a little bit,” he said. “We were hoping that some of the fans would stick around and not leave early, but some wore brown seats. It happens.”

The two rivals had kicked off the season at the Ice Breaker Tournament in an even more empty building in South Bend, Ind., and Minnesota had also endured a dead environment in the Big Ten tournament in Detroit.

“It is what is,” Sandelin said. “It was still fun. Once we got going, we got the energy from our bench.

“We didn’t need the crowd. Obviously, there wasn’t any.”

Sandelin quickly amended his words: “There were Bulldog fans, but not many of them. But we really didn’t need that.”

In truth, the Gophers were a no-show after the opening 10 minutes. Or perhaps more accurately, the Bulldogs turned them into a no-show. It was shocking even though Duluth had defeated the Gophers in all three matches since the Ice Breaker.

“We were emotionally flat at times tonight,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “We basically had zero time in the offensive zone in the back half of the first and the second.

“I felt bad for the kids that they didn’t play their A game tonight.”

To their credit, none of the Gophers players or coaches blamed the lack of atmosphere on their poor performance, even though they’ve become accustomed to playing before energetic, packed houses on most nights.

“We got our first test of that in Detroit [at the Big Ten tournament], and we were fine with it,” Vinni Lettieri said. “There were more fans here than in Detroit.

“It wasn’t much of an impact for us. We just didn’t step it up ourselves. The crowd shouldn’t be our momentum. We should be able to self-motivate.”

No doubt, the Minnesota-Duluth fans in attendance were delighted to see their Bulldogs advance in any fashion, no matter how sleep-inducing the second half might have been. For fans of a team, a win in the NCAA tournament is like the proverbial face that only a mother could love.

And to Bulldogs fans, this one was a cutie, deserving of magazine covers.

For everyone else, however, this became a game that as it dragged on, desperately needed to be put out of its misery, a game whose last-half pinnacle was the video replay of an empty-net goal (disallowed due to a hand pass).

Fortunately for Minnesota-Duluth players and fans, they won’t be playing in a mausoleum Saturday. They’ll be taking on Boston University, little more than an hour’s drive away, and the game will be played on a weekend so fan turnout should be strong.

The Bulldogs will be facing negative energy from the crowd, but that beats ennui any day.

And if, by chance, they can force a second straight no-show out of their opponent, they’ll happily march on to the Frozen Four.

“Tomorrow will be fun,” Sandelin said.

Best offense beats best defense, but Boston University’s advantage is slim

584H9445 Best offense beats best defense, but Boston Universitys advantage is slim

Boston University got three shots past Yale’s Alex Lyon (photo: Melissa Wade).

MANCHESTER, N.H. — The irresistible force met the immovable object.

Boston University’s offense, tops in the nation at 3.89 goals per game, faced Yale, whose defense, at a microscopic 1.59 goals allowed per game, was similarly the country’s best.

It was not the matchup BU had been hoping for. The Terriers were the youngest team in the country, while the Bulldogs dressed 11 players who’d been part of Yale’s national championship two years ago. Add in their off-the-charts defensive capability and it didn’t make the top-seeded Terriers happy.

“You get your draw in the NCAA tournament and you think, ‘Why are we playing that team? We got screwed,’” BU coach David Quinn said.

“I could hear some of the mumblings after the selection show. Our guys are no different. Eighteen-year-olds always think someone’s trying to screw them.

“But you’ve just got to play.”

The pregame consensus was that if the contest became a shootout, BU would prevail, tough matchup or not. In fact, Yale would have no chance in such a game. But a 1-0 or 2-1 contest would play right into the Bulldogs’ hands.

Well, not exactly.

The Yale defense immediately showed that it was as good as advertised with tight-gap coverage that left BU little time and space.

And after a Nate Repensky power-play goal at 13:19 gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead to take into the second intermission, it appeared that the immovable object of Yale’s stifling defense just might prevail.

“It was the kind of game we thought it would be,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “We felt it was to our advantage to have them chasing us instead of us chasing them.”

It made perfect sense. After all, the Bulldogs’ record when leading after two periods was 17-1-1.

Immovable object, meet irresistible force. While Boston University’s first-period results had been mediocre at best this season, the Terriers had outscored opponents in the third period this year a mind-boggling 65-24.

Sure enough, BU turned on the pressure and by the time Ahti Oksanen scored at 8:21, the Terriers had outshot Yale 10-1 for the period.

“We never think we’re out of it,” Quinn said. “It was eerie the way the feeling changed on the bench when we got down 1-0. Everyone got looser and we started doing the things we need to do to generate offense and have the success we’ve had this season.”

And when Evan Rodrigues scored from the left wing three minutes later — an uncharacteristically soft goal allowed by Alex Lyon — the conventional wisdom said, “Game over.” Yale just wouldn’t have the offensive firepower to come back; it had lost its best chance at an upset.

So much for conventional knowledge.

Frankie DiChiara, who had provided a pivotal screen on Repensky’s goal, delivered the equalizer at 13:12 on only the second shot for Yale in the period.

Game even.

Little more than a minute later, BU superstar Jack Eichel and Lyon provided the personification of the irresistible force vs. immovable object. Eichel, college hockey’s ultimate irresistible force, broke in on Lyon all alone. Eichel had only a half step on his defender, but when Eichel has half a step, he’s gone.

College hockey’s runaway top scorer deked and …

… the immovable object made the save.

The game went into overtime.

BU provided almost all the offensive pressure, eventually outshooting Yale 20-4 from the start of the third period.

And at the 7:27 mark, Eichel, the personification of the irresistible force, covered the right point during a strong Doyle Somerby pinch, and fired a slap shot on net. Lyon made the stop, but the puck caromed to Danny O’Regan, who has seemingly trademarked the rebound goal this year.

With an opening he could have driven the proverbial Mack truck through, O’Regan bested Yale’s immovable object.

The win was BU’s sixth in overtime, a school record. It might have been the most difficult, but it was without question, the sweetest.

Trinity heads up D-III men’s All-American picks

2013 01 26 afl 1027 Trinity heads up D III mens All American picks

Oswego senior blueliner Bobby Gertsakis earned an All-American East First team berth in 2014-15 (photo: Angelo Lisuzzo).

Players from 19 different schools make up the 2015 CCM Division II-III Men’s Hockey All-American selections.

In addition, ten of the 31 players picked are playing for a D-III national title this weekend in Minneapolis.

East First Team

Player's Name
Position
Class
School
Ryan ColeFSo.Trinity
Shawn HulshofFSo.Oswego
William PelletierFSo.Norwich
Bobby GertsakisDSr.Oswego
Jake TurrinDSr.Amherst
Jamie MurrayGJr.Babson

West First Team

Player's Name
Position
Class
School
Ross AndersonFSr.Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Kyle BrothersFFr.Adrian
Josh RanalliFSr.Adrian
Marian FialaDSr.St. Norbert
Kevin GibsonDSr.Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Leo PodolskyGJr.Lake Forest

East Second Team

Player's Name
Position
Class
School
Stephen BucoFSr.Massachusetts-Boston
Jarryd ten VaanholtFJr.Elmira
Nick ZappiaFSr.Cortand
Alec ThiedaDSr.Norwich
Mike VollminDSr.Babson
Nathaniel HeilbronGJr.Trinity

West Second Team

Player's Name
Position
Class
School
Charlie AdamsFJr.Hamline
Martin GruseFSo.St. Mary's
Michael HillFJr.St. Norbert
Joe KaliszFJr.Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Jack CallahanDSr.Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Ryan GieselerDSr.Adrian
Drew FieldingGSr.St. Thomas

East Third Team

Player's Name
Position
Class
School
Michael HawkriggFJr.Trinity
Brad McBrideFSr.Hobart
Chase NieuwendykFJr.Brockport
Michael FlynnDSr.Trinity
Kyle ShapiroDSr.Nichols
Alex LarsonGJr.Nichols

Sid Watson Award goes to ‘outstanding,’ ‘well-rounded’ St. Thomas goalie Fielding

131115 UST UWSP M 0222 Sid Watson Award goes to outstanding, well rounded St. Thomas goalie Fielding

Drew Fielding emerged as a leader on and off the ice for St. Thomas and earned the 2015 Sid Watson Award (photo: Ryan Coleman/d3photography.com).

St. Thomas senior goaltender Drew Fielding has been chosen as the 2015 winner of the Sid Watson Award as the best NCAA Division III men’s hockey player.

Fielding went 13-6-4 this year with a 1.67 GAA and a save percentage of .934. He had six shutouts on the season and is the second straight goaltender to win the award after David Jacobson of St. Norbert won last year. Fielding is the second player from St. Thomas so honored, the first being Steve Aronson in 2000.

“Drew is the most valuable player of our hockey team for the fourth year in a row and the main reason our team was the third ranked defense in the nation,” said St. Thomas coach Jeff Boeser in a news release. “Throughout his four seasons at here, Drew has developed into one of the best leaders and most well-rounded individuals I have ever coached. He leads our team with a 3.88 GPA and heads up our team’s study hall, which meets every Tuesday night during the school year. Drew has also taken the lead with our team’s chapel that meets weekly through Hockey Ministries International. He works with the chaplain weekly to develop a Bible study that will be discussed at the next meeting. He is the first to volunteer for any activity outside of the rink that needs a leader. Drew takes all our freshmen under his wing and helps them navigate the rigors of being a college athlete.

“His contributions to our team and our school cannot be measured only with statistics. He is one of the most outstanding student-athletes I have ever had the pleasure of coaching.”

Fielding has enjoyed an outstanding four-year career at St. Thomas and set the MIAC conference record in shutouts and is in the top three all-time in conference career GAA and save percentage. He has also been named back-to-back MIAC Conference Player of the Year.

The award is named in honor of the former Bowdoin coach, a three-time winner of the Edward Jeremiah Award as Division III Coach of the Year. Watson won 326 games at Bowdoin in a career that spanned from 1959 to 1983. He was also the school’s athletic director.

The runner-up for the 2015 Sid Watson Award is Wisconsin-Stevens Point senior defenseman Kevin Gibson.

Amherst’s Arena selected AHCA D-III Coach of the Year

Amherst coach Jack Arena has been named the winner of the Edward Jeremiah Award as the STX/AHCA Division III Men’s Coach of the Year.

It is the second such honor for Arena, who also captured this award in 2012.

Amherst enters this weekend’s NCAA Division III semifinals sporting an overall record of 24-4-2, facing a Friday evening (7:30 p.m. CST) semifinal date with Wisconsin-Stevens Point at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

Arena became Amherst’s head coach immediately following his senior year with the program. Tied for fourth on Amherst’s all-time scoring list, he capped off his career in 1983 by receiving the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in Division III.

The Edward Jeremiah Award is named in honor of the great Dartmouth head coach and was first presented in 1970.

The runner-up for this year’s award is Adam Krug of Adrian, also an NCAA semifinalist.

Arena will formally receive the award at the annual AHCA Celebration of Men’s Ice Hockey Banquet, held in conjunction with the AHCA Convention in Naples, Fla., on Saturday, May 2.

Wisconsin-River Falls, Plattsburgh lead All-USCHO Women’s D-III teams

 Wisconsin River Falls, Plattsburgh lead All USCHO Womens D III teams

Wisconsin-River Falls led the selections for the All-USCHO Women’s D-III teams today, placing five players on the list. National champion Plattsburgh was next with four players on the teams, while runner-up Elmira placed three.

Overall, 12 schools were represented on the list, with six teams placing multiple players on the list.

Laura Hurd Award winner Ashley Ryan of Elmira, who led the country in scoring with 61 points, 11 more than the next highest scorer, was a first team forward selection, along with her teammate and second leading scorer Ashton Hogan and Middlebury’s Emily Fluke. On defense were Brooke Wilgosh of Elmira and Alyssa Parke of Plattsburgh, while Adrian’s Jade Walsh was the first-team goalie.

The All-USCHO teams are voted on by the editor and writers.

First Team
F: Ashley Ryan (Elmira), Ashton Hogan (Elmira) Emily Fluke (Middlebury)
D: Brooke Wilgosh (Elmira), Alyssa Parke (Plattsburgh)
G: Jade Walsh (Adrian)

Second Team
F: Nina Waidacher (St. Scholastica), Chloe Kinsel (Wisconsin-River Falls), Shannon Stewart (Plattsburgh)
D: Taylor Cross (Norwich), Lyndy Smith (Amherst)
G: Janna Beilke-Skoug (Wisconsin-Stevens Point)

Third Team
F: Alice Cranston (Wisconsin-River Falls), Kelsey Kusch (Adrian), Cheeky Herr (Trinity)
D: Paige Johnson (Wisconsin-River Falls), Carly Watson (Middlebury)
G: Camille Leonard (Plattsburgh)

All-Rookie Team
F: Kayla Meneghin (Plattsburgh) Carly Moran (Wisconsin-River Falls), Jessica Young (Middlebury)
D: Natasha Smith (St. Norbert), Emily Heid (Wisconsin-Superior)
G: Angie Hall (Wisconsin-River Falls); Sydney Belinskas (Trinity)

Minnesota, Boston College lead All-USCHO Women’s D-I teams

 Minnesota, Boston College lead All USCHO Womens D I teams

Players representing 11 schools were named to the All-USCHO Women’s D-I teams today. National champion Minnesota led the way with six players on the list, followed by Boston College with five.

Other schools represented included Bemidji State, Boston University, Clarkson, Cornell, Harvard, North Dakota, Northeastern, Princeton, and Wisconsin.

Leading the first team were the Patty Kazmaier Award finalist trio of Boston College forward Alex Carpenter, Minnesota forward Hannah Brandt, and Boston University forward Marie-Philip Poulin. On defense were BC’s Emily Pfalzer, the leadings scorer amongd defensemen, and Minnesota’s Lee Stecklein. The first team goalie selection was North Dakota’s Shelby Amsley-Benzie, who had the best save percentage in the country.

The All-USCHO teams are voted on by the editor and writers.

First Team
F: Alex Carpenter (Boston College), Hannah Brandt (Minnesota), Marie-Philip Poulin (Boston University)
D: Emily Pfalzer (Boston College), Lee Stecklein (Minnesota)
G: Shelby Amsley-Benzie (North Dakota)

Second Team
F: Brianne Jenner (Cornell), Haley Skarupa (Boston College), Kendall Coyne (Northeastern)
D: Sarah Edney (Harvard), Rachel Ramsey (Minnesota)
G: Brittni Mowat (Bemidji State)

Third Team
F: Dani Cameranesi (Minnesota), Jillian Saulnier (Cornell), Sarah Lefort (Boston University)
D: Kelsey Koelzer (Princeton) Lexi Bender (Boston College)
G: Amanda Leveille (Minnesota)

All-Rookie Team
F: Annie Pankowski (Wisconsin), Kelly Pannek (Minnesota), Denisa Krížová (Northeastern)
D: Erin O’Connor (Cornell), Savanah Harmon (Clarkson)
G: Katie Burt (Boston College); Shea Tiley (Clarkson)

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