Big Ten suspends Ohio State’s Weis one game for head contact penalty

The Big Ten announced Monday that Ohio State freshman forward Matthew Weis has been suspended for one game as a result of an incident that occurred in the game against Michigan State on Jan. 24.

The action was taken by the conference after a review of an incident that occurred near the 14:49 mark of the third period and resulted in Weis receiving a major penalty for contact to the head and a game misconduct.

Weis is ineligible to play in Ohio State’s next game on Feb. 6 against Minnesota.

Princeton-Army, UConn-Merrimack games Tuesday postponed by snowstorm

A pair of Division I men’s games scheduled to be played Tuesday have been postponed because of an impending East Coast snowstorm.

Princeton and Army have moved a nonconference game scheduled for Tuesday at Princeton to 5:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, and tickets issued for Tuesday’s game will be honored for the rescheduled contest.

Connecticut and Merrimack have moved their Tuesday game at XL Center in Hartford, Conn., to Feb. 10 in the same building. Tickets for the original date can be used for the rescheduled game.

Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19-25

150124 21201924 Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25

Boston College followed up a win over Merrimack by beating Connecticut on Saturday (photo: Melissa Wade).

Here’s how the teams in the Jan. 19., 2015, USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll fared from Monday, Jan. 19 to Sunday, Jan. 25:

1mnst Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Minnesota State
Friday: beat No. 17 Minnesota 4-2
Saturday: lost to Bemidji State 3-1
19-5-1Friday-Saturday: vs. Ferris State
2und Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
North Dakota
Friday: beat Colorado College 2-1
Saturday: beat Colorado College 5-3
18-5-2Friday-Saturday: at Omaha
3bu Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Boston University
Friday: won at No. 12 Vermont 4-2
Saturday: won at No. 12 Vermont 2-1 (OT)
15-4-4Friday: vs. Massachusetts
4hu Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Friday: lost at Cornell 3-2
Saturday: won at No. 15 Colgate 6-1
12-4-2Friday: vs. Union
5uml Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Friday: lost to No. 18 Providence 7-3
Saturday: lost at No. 18 Providence 4-1
15-7-3Friday: at Merrimack
Saturday: vs. Merrimack
6bgsu Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Bowling Green
Friday: lost to Lake Superior State 3-1
Saturday: beat Lake Superior State 3-1
15-5-4Friday-Saturday: at Bemidji State
7umd Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Friday: lost to Bemidji State 4-0
Saturday: beat No. 17 Minnesota 2-1
14-9-1Friday-Saturday: at Denver
8uno Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Off15-6-3Friday-Saturday: vs. North Dakota
9mu Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Friday: lost to No. 11 Denver 3-1
Saturday: beat No. 11 Denver 4-1
15-9Saturday: at Western Michigan
10mtu Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Michigan Tech
Friday: beat Alaska 4-3 (OT)
Saturday: beat Alaska 3-2
18-7-1Friday-Saturday: vs. Alabama-Huntsville
11du Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Friday: won at No. 9 Miami 3-1
Saturday: lost at No. 9 Miami 4-1
14-8-1Friday-Saturday: vs. Minnesota-Duluth
12uvm Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Friday: lost to No. 3 Boston University 4-2
Saturday: lost to No. 3 Boston University 2-1 (OT)
15-8-2Saturday: vs. Penn State
13yu Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Friday: lost at St. Lawrence 3-2 (OT)
Saturday: lost at Clarkson 1-0
11-6-2Friday: vs. Princeton
Saturday: vs. Quinnipiac
14mc Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Wednesday: lost at No. 19 Boston College 2-1
Friday: tied Massachusetts 4-4
Sunday: lost at Massachusetts 4-1
13-8-3Tuesday: at Connecticut
Friday: vs. UMass-Lowell
Saturday: at UMass-Lowell
15col Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Friday: tied Dartmouth 2-2
Saturday: lost to No. 4 Harvard 6-1
14-8-2Friday: vs. Cornell
Saturday: at Cornell
16um Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Friday: won at Wisconsin 7-4
Saturday: won at Wisconsin 6-0
15-7Friday: vs. Michigan State
17umn Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Friday: lost to No. 1 Minnesota State 4-2
Saturday: lost to No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth 2-1
11-9-2Friday-Saturday: at Wisconsin
18pc Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Friday: won at No. 5 UMass-Lowell 7-3
Saturday: beat No. 5 UMass-Lowell 4-1
16-8-1Friday: at Boston College
19bc Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Boston College
Wednesday: beat No. 14 Merrimack 2-1
Saturday: beat Connecticut 3-2
15-8-2Friday: vs. Providence
20qu Rankings roundup: How ranked teams fared, Jan. 19 25
Off15-8-1Friday: at Brown
Saturday: at Yale

Boston University’s Somerby suspended for one game by Hockey East

Hockey East suspended Boston University defenseman Doyle Somerby for Saturday’s game against Vermont after he was penalized for a hit in Friday’s win over the Catamounts.

The one-game suspension came after Somerby was called for interference on a check.

Somerby, a sophomore, has played in 21 of the Terriers’ 22 games, with three assists.

He’s eligible to return in a Jan. 30 game against Massachusetts.

Mercyhurst women’s coach Sisti appointed to NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey National Committee

agosta sisti photo Mercyhurst womens coach Sisti appointed to NCAA Womens Ice Hockey National Committee

Former Mercyhurst star Meghan Agosta and Lakers coach Mike Sisti speak at a news conference on ‘Meghan Agosta Day’ at the school on March 7, 2014 (photo: Amy Moritz).

Mercyhurst coach Michael Sisti has been appointed to the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey National Committee.

Sisti, who replaces St. Cloud State coach Jeffrey Giesen, starts in the role immediately and his appointment will run until Sept. 1, 2016.

“Over the years, I have been fortunate to serve as a member on the Women’s Ice Hockey West Regional Advisory Committee,” said Sisti in a statement. “This is my first appointment to serve on the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey National Committee and I am proud to join the distinguished members of this group.”

The committee consists of four members with Quinnipiac athletic director Jack McDonald serving as the chair of the committee. Also on the committee is Brown associate athletic director Sarah Fraser and Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson.

Sisti is also the first representative from the CHA to serve on the national committee.

Fifteen candidates announced for 2015 Hockey Humanitarian Award

141213 20310400 Fifteen candidates announced for 2015 Hockey Humanitarian Award

Michigan senior forward Zach Hyman is one of 15 candidates for the 2015 Hockey Humanitarian Award (photo: Melissa Wade).

A total of 15 nominees for the 2015 BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award were announced Thursday.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the award is presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen – a student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to his or her team, but also to the community-at-large through leadership in volunteerism.

Finalists will be announced in February and the winner will be recognized in a ceremony on Friday, April 10, as part of the Frozen Four in Boston.

The following are this year’s nominees:

Player's Name
Brittany AmmermanSr.FWisconsin
Tyler BricklerSr.FGeneseo
Kelsie FralickSr.GConnecticut College
Sebastien GingrasJr.DUnion
Jake HeisingerSo.FCurry
Zoe HickelSr.FMinnesota-Duluth
Zach HymanSr.FMichigan
Eric JohnsonSr.DNotre Dame
Adam KrauseSr.FMinnesota-Duluth
Mark MacMillanSr.FNorth Dakota
Jamie MurrayJr.GBabson
Joel RumpelSr.GWisconsin
Katelyn ScottSr.FRobert Morris
Max SmithJr.DConcordia (Minn.)
Kayla SullivanSr.FOhio State

U.S. College Hockey Online has been a Hockey Humanitarian Award media and marketing partner since 2007.

Northeastern is still under .500, but recent wins provide a ‘quiet confidence’

141011 20384350 Northeastern is still under .500, but recent wins provide a quiet confidence

Derick Roy’s strong play has given Northeastern a second option in goal behind Clay Witt (photo: Melissa Wade).

When Northeastern began its season 0-8-1, it was pretty easy to recognize that there was a tough road ahead.

Predicted to be one of Hockey East’s best teams after returning a solid core of last year’s club that proved predictions wrong, finishing tied for fourth and being a bubble team for the NCAA tournament, the Huskies struggles out of the gate were almost unimaginable.

But since winning its first game of the season, a 2-1 victory over New Hampshire at home on Nov. 15, Northeastern is a more-than-respectable 8-3-3. Granted, an 8-11-4 mark overall isn’t exactly threatening to the NCAA picture just yet. But the team’s ability to reduce its goals against from a putrid 3.89 per game over the first nine contests to 2.29 per game in the 14 games since has been the biggest difference-maker.

One small part of that improvement has been the ability to rely, at least part of the time, on sophomore goaltender Derick Roy. The brother of standout forward Kevin Roy, Derick has seen little of the limelight until recently when he earned wins against St. Lawrence and Yale and a tie and win last weekend at Vermont.

Coach Jim Madigan is clear that there isn’t a new No. 1 goaltender in front of Clay Witt on campus. But the ability to rely a bit on a second netminder has made his club better and given confidence in another player between the pipes.

“We’ve been playing well since mid-November and we’ve gotten points each weekend,” said Madigan. “I’ve always said we have two good goaltenders and people don’t believe you because you always go with the same one all the time.

“Derick has been playing well and is continuing to make improvements under the tutelage of [goaltending] coach [Ed] Walsh. During the stretch of games in early January when we had five games in eight nights, we put Derick in and he played really well. We thought we had the opportunity to go with him again against Vermont on Friday night and he responded well so we went back with him on Saturday.

“So his last four games, against quality opponents like St. Lawrence, Yale and Vermont twice, he’s played real well.”

The wins have given the Huskies a bit of a renewed confidence in itself. So many of these players had high expectations coming into the year. And after such a struggle at the start, Madigan said he is seeing that level of belief return to his locker room.

“It’s a quiet confidence,” said Madigan. “Hey, we’re sub-.500 and there a hole to climb out of. There’s no cockiness. There’s no arrogance. We’re all about going out and doing our jobs.

“The leadership corps has been good and other guys in the room have taken on more leadership, which from a coaching perspective you like to see as the season evolves.

“We’re in a good spot knowing we have a long way to go.”

20141102 1507 Northeastern is still under .500, but recent wins provide a quiet confidence

Brett Seney and Merrimack swept Quinnipiac last weekend (photo: Shelley M. Szwast).

Let’s make this simple: Don’t forget about Merrimack

Two weeks ago I wrote about how I really liked Merrimack’s team. I worried that the Warriors hadn’t played stiff competition and noted a solid win at Minnesota was matched the following night by a loss to UMass-Lowell in the Mariucci Classic title game.

Honestly, I realize now everything I said was relatively noncommittal toward the Warriors.

But after last weekend’s sweep of the first-place team in ECAC Hockey, Quinnipiac, there is no doubt in my mind this team has many of the components to be a championship club.

A couple of weeks ago, I noted Merrimack’s stifling defense, which can frustrate any team. But when this team finds a little bit of offense, it becomes more than equal to its opponents. Merrimack becomes downright deadly.

Last weekend, it was rookie phenom Brett Seney, a guy who would be grabbing all the headlines if it wasn’t for a boy named Eichel playing in Beantown. Friday night in a 4-3 win, Seney picked up a goal and an assist. He followed that Saturday with his first two-goal performance of the season.

Most importantly, Merrimack tallied seven goals against a solid defense like Quinnipiac, the most the team has scored in a two-game weekend since facing Mercyhurst in late October.

Even though Dave and I put our weekly picks in writing on Friday, I’m not one who loves predictions. But you can take this to the bank: If Merrimack continues to score around a 3-3.5-goal-per-game clip, this team will contend for a national title.

PairWise predicament

Yes, it’s only mid-January and many of you may think it is way too early to look at the PairWise Rankings. But I simply have one of those minds that watches this PairWise with a bit of an unhealthy obsession and, thus, I like to share some of my findings as I crunch the numbers.

First off, let’s start with Hockey East as a whole. If the season ended today, the PairWise picture wouldn’t be totally bleak for the conference as four teams (Boston University, UMass-Lowell, Providence and Vermont) all sit within the top 14 and could claim spots in the NCAA tournament. With that said, no team in Hockey East sits higher than eighth in the PairWise, with Vermont tied for 12th and Providence near the bubble at 14th.

Simply put, there is a lot of danger remaining for Hockey East teams as this season plays out. If a few of the current teams slip up, the league could be faced with an unthinkably low number of teams (two could be realistic) in the NCAA tournament. Sure, a team below the bubble like Boston College (19th) could sneak in, but with all other teams ranked 27th or below in the PairWise, it’s an uphill battle.

The same can’t be said for the NCHC, which, at this moment has a similar five teams in the top 14 of the PairWise, but four of those clubs are ranked sixth or higher. Omaha is ranked second, North Dakota is fourth, Minnesota-Duluth is fifth and Miami is sixth. These rankings come despite the fact that teams like Omaha and Minnesota-Duluth have worse records than Boston University, Lowell and Vermont (and in UMD’s case, also worse than Merrimack and Providence).

Anyone who reads my PairWise ramblings enough knows the reason why: out-of-conference success. After last weekend, the NCHC has a .667 winning percentage out of conference, by far the best of the six conferences. Hockey East, although guaranteed to have the second-best OOC record, is well behind with a .581 winning percentage.

Time has virtually run out for Hockey East teams to improve against other conferences. Merrimack helped the league considerably last weekend by sweeping Quinnipiac. But the only games remaining for Hockey East teams against the other conferences are Vermont’s game against Penn State in Philadelphia and the two games that Harvard will play against Boston University and either Boston College or Northeastern in the Beanpot.

Hockey East has a potential high-water winning percentage mark of .592 should it win all three remaining games. Lose all three and the floor is .566.

Rather than focusing on nonconference games, we instead can also look at the bulk of what remains: league contests.

You hear each coach use the same cliche over and over: Every game matters. Nowhere more is that true than when it comes to the PairWise.

After crunching some numbers from last weekend’s games, you can see just how dramatic a difference a single game or two can make when you’re talking PairWise. Here are some examples:

• Boston University beat Lowell 4-3 in overtime on Sunday. The win allowed the Terriers to leapfrog the River Hawks into the eighth spot, while Lowell fell to ninth. Had the River Hawks scored the winning goal instead of the Terriers, Lowell would have jumped all the way to fourth, while BU would have fallen all the way to 14th.

• Boston College lost to Maine on Sunday afternoon, dropping the Eagles to 19th in the PairWise. (They since moved up to 18th with Wednesday’s win over Merrimack.) Had BC won that game, it would have moved to 16th, square on the bubble. Not as dramatic, but it certainly highlights what a single loss can to for those bubble teams.

• Vermont played two games against Northeastern at home last weekend. The Catamounts lost a Hockey East game on Friday night and battled to a 1-1 tie in a nonconference game on Saturday. The status of the game means little to the PairWise but the results are critical. Getting just one of four points left Vermont tied for 12th in the PairWise. If the Catamounts turned Saturday’s tie into a win, they would have jumped to ninth. And if Vermont swept Northeastern, it would sit fourth today.

Omaha freshman Montgomery leaves team for Sioux City of USHL

Nebraska-Omaha freshman forward Jake Montgomery is leaving the team to play for the Sioux City Musketeers, his former team in the United States Hockey League.

“We certainly wish Jake the best,” said Omaha coach Dean Blais in a statement. “He is a good student and a good person, but he wasn’t getting the ice time he expected here. He’ll get that opportunity in Sioux City and a chance to continue his hockey career.”

The native of Oakdale, Minn., appeared in six games for the Mavericks and recorded no points, two penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating in his time with Omaha.

Improved stretch suggests foundation in place for Lake Superior State rebuild

globke Improved stretch suggests foundation in place for Lake Superior State rebuild

Lake Superior State’s Alex Globke lost both of his linemates from last season but he’s still tied for second on the team with nine points (photo: Lake Superior State Athletics).

When Damon Whitten took over the coaching job at Lake Superior State last fall, he knew he was in for an uphill battle.

The Lakers had been stripped of all of their goaltenders, most of their defensive corps and two of their top scorers.

“We’re such a young team,” Whitten said of his expectation at the start of the season, noting that none of his goaltenders had ever started a game in college and that five of the nine defensemen on his roster are freshmen. “Coming into the season, that’s not a position you like to be in.”

As bleak as it looked at the beginning of the season — and the Lakers certainly took their lumps — it seems as though Whitten’s rebuilding project is finally starting to take shape.

There’s a solid frame in place, anyway.

“We’re a better team than we were at the beginning of the season, that’s for sure,” Whitten said. “We’re still growing.”

The Lakers are 6-19-1 overall but 3-2-1 in their last six games, including the Florida College Hockey Classic championship on Dec. 28-29. In that tournament, the Lakers defeated Notre Dame 2-1. Two months earlier, the Irish swept a series against the Lakers.

Last weekend, the Lakers swept a streaking Bemidji State team, winning 1-0 on a buzzer-beater by Alex Globke on Friday and taking Saturday’s game 4-2.

At the very least, a team that lacked confidence in the first half of the season now knows it can beat solid competition.

“Those were some big wins for sure,” Whitten said. “We have a very small senior class that has done a really good job leading this team.”

Forwards Stephen Perfetto, Andrew Dommett and Chris Ciotti are the lone seniors for the Lakers, and Ciotti missed a big chunk of time with a broken thumb. But Whitten said the three did a good job getting the team through a rough first half.

“Those guys have done a good job in a very difficult first half, just in terms of keeping the younger guys’ heads up,” Whitten said.

And those freshmen?

“They’re really not freshmen anymore,” Whitten said.

That includes goaltender Gordon Defiel, who has started in 23 of 26 games and was named the WCHA defensive player of the week for his play against Bemidji State after stopping 76 of 78 shots.

Defiel won the competition between four goaltenders who had zero college experience coming into the season.

The defensive corps also was inexperienced, with five freshmen on the roster. Four of them are in the usual rotation.

“I think we had about 100 games combined on defense coming into the season,” Whitten said. “And most of those were from Eric Drapluk. So we were really inexperienced back there.”

Rookie James Roll quietly has taken over a leadership position on the Lakers’ blue line. He has become Lake Superior’s power-play quarterback and leads the team with nine assists.

Up front, the Lakers also have struggled somewhat. Globke, who was the WCHA newcomer of the year in 2013-14, lost both of his linemates — Colin Campbell and Dan Radke, who graduated — and hasn’t been as productive.

Bryce Schmitt leads the team with 13 points, including six goals.

“We’re scoring a little by committee, but Bryce has been very good for us,” Whitten said. “He’s a bit unheralded, a bit under the radar. But he’s been outstanding for us all season.”

For Whitten, the big question is this: How do the Lakers avoid missing the playoffs for the second straight season? Although they’re tied for last place with Alaska-Anchorage, the extra playoff spot available due to Alaska’s NCAA violations means the Lakers have a realistic shot of sneaking in.

“We just have to win hockey games,” Whitten said. “We want to make the playoffs, and we’re playing some of the teams that we’re fighting down the stretch here.

“We’re playing much better hockey right now so we’re hoping we can keep it going.”

140125 SCSU MNMKTO M 148 Improved stretch suggests foundation in place for Lake Superior State rebuild

Minnesota State lost to Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State in last season’s inaugural North Star College Cup (photo: Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com).

State of Hockey showdown

Minnesota State and Bemidji State will step out of league play this weekend, but they aren’t going into unfamiliar territory. They’ll play their old league opponents in the North Star College Cup at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

“It’s always fun to go down and play at the X,” said Bemidji State senior Sam Rendle, a Grand Rapids, Minn., native. “I played there in the state tournament. It’s an awesome environment, one of the best in the country. We’re all excited to get down there, especially against these in-state teams.”

This is the second year of the all-Minnesota tournament, but the first year Bemidji State is in it (with five Division I teams from the state, one team must rotate out each year).

Beavers coach Tom Serratore said he hopes the event will grow as big as Boston’s Beanpot tournament.

“That’s the plan,” he said. “That is such an event, those two Mondays in February in Boston. You X those days off your calendar. Ideally, what we want to make sure we do down the road is: We want these two days Xed off on the calendar of all the hockey fans that we have in the state of Minnesota.”

Bemidji State will play No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth at 4 p.m. CST Friday. The evening game features the No. 1 Mavericks against No. 17 Minnesota.

The losing teams will meet in a consolation game at 4 p.m. Saturday and the winners will play for the championship after that.

“Whoever comes out of this tournament successfully will have earned it,” Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said.

The Mavericks lost both of their games in last year’s inaugural tournament, falling to Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State.

“I wish there was a way to get all [five] Minnesota teams in it every year,” Mavericks senior Chase Grant said. “But it’s a great idea. I’m shocked it took so long to get it going.”

It took conference realignment to make it happen.

“I think it’s a great tournament for the players, for the fans and for the alumni,” Serratore said. “That’s what it’s about. It’s great for everybody in the [Twin Cities] area, and it’s a great road trip for our fans, against teams they know a lot about. That’s the exciting part.”

Ice chips

• Northern Michigan hits the road this weekend, going to Penn State for the first games between the schools. But it will do so without coach Walt Kyle, who has been put on administrative leave by the school for unspecified reasons. Assistants Rob Lehtinen and John Kyle will direct the team in Walt Kyle’s absence.

• Alabama-Huntsville got a home sweep for the second consecutive series, beating Northern Michigan 2-1 and 3-2. The Chargers have the weekend off from league play but will host the USA Under-18 team for a pair of exhibition games on Saturday and Sunday.

• Alaska-Anchorage is idle this weekend after its sweep of Alaska, which snapped a six-game winless streak and provided its first wins since Nov. 22. Freshman goalie Olivier Mantha made a total of 80 saves in the 2-1 and 3-2 (overtime) wins, the first victories on the road for the Seawolves.

• Four of Alaska’s last five series have featured an overtime game, and the Nanooks have played in six OTs so far this season, going 2-3-1, including a loss Saturday to Anchorage.

• Despite having its nine-game unbeaten streak broken on Friday with a 4-3 loss at Michigan Tech, Bowling Green moved up to No. 6 in the nation, its highest ranking in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll. The Falcons’ 14-4-4 record, which includes a 3-2 rebound win on Saturday, is their best 22-game start since 1994-95.

• Ferris State is idle this weekend and will play at Minnesota State next week for back-to-back series against the Mavericks. The Bulldogs will follow that with back-to-back series against Bowling Green. Ferris State has lost five consecutive games to Minnesota State.

• Lake Superior State’s last-second win over Bemidji State on Friday not only snapped the Beavers’ seven-game unbeaten streak, it also broke goaltender Michael Bitzer’s shutout streak at 238:23. He was on the verge of his third straight shutout after beating Alabama-Huntsville in a pair of 4-0 games the weekend prior.

• No. 10 Michigan Tech hosts Alaska this weekend in the midst of a nine-game home stand. Tech and Alaska have met just seven times, with four of those meetings coming in 2013-14. The Huskies swept the Nanooks in Alaska last season, with the teams switching roles in the series played in Houghton. Tech leads the series 4-3.

• No team in college hockey has more wins since the start of the 2013-14 season than No. 1 Minnesota State, which has 44 over that span, including two victories at Ferris State last weekend. Union is second with 43 victories. Three teams have 41, and the next-closest WCHA team is Ferris State with 40.

• This week’s WCHA players of the week are Alaska-Anchorage forward Blake Tatchell (offensive), Lake Superior State goaltender Gordon Defiel (defensive) and Alaska-Anchorage goaltender Olivier Mantha (rookie).

Holy Cross has competitive edge with Klimasewiski

klimasewiski3 Holy Cross has competitive edge with Klimasewiski

Mary Klimasewiski’s offense this season has helped Holy Cross be a contender for the ECAC East crown (photo: Mark Seliger).

It’s not easy to pronounce Mary Klimasewiski’s last name, but what is easy is watching the Holy Cross senior on the ice.

Her compete level isn’t just limited to the ice, either. She’s just as much a go-getter in the classroom as a psychology major with a minor in environmental studies.

In fact, competition is what initially attracted the Cochester, Conn., native to Holy Cross four years ago.

“I was immediately attracted by the competitive spirit of Holy Cross, both in the classroom and on the ice,” Klimasewiski said. “I have met the most positive, encouraging and inspirational people here, and I am very thankful for that. The relationships I have made with my teammates, coaches and professors have been the most important aspect of my time here, and I will continue to cherish them after I graduate.”

This season, Klimasewiski has helped the Crusaders to a 6-1-0 mark in ECAC East play and an overall mark of 10-4-1. On a personal level, she is having the best season from a stats perspective in her four seasons in Worcester, Mass., with a team-best 10 goals in 15 games.

Last year was Klimasewiski’s top goal-scoring season when she posted nine in 27 games. She still has several weeks left this year to add to her totals, too.

However showing her team-first attitude, Klimasewiski doesn’t take much credit for her increased numbers.

“My burst of offense this season has come from the hard work of my teammates,” Klimasewiski said. “Our coach (Peter VanBuskirk) often likes to reference us to wolves, reminding us that the game is won by the pack and not by a single wolf. I also give a lot of credit to my mom and my dad. They know exactly what to say to me before games and it is because of their support over the past four years that I have been able to be so successful this season.”

Klimasewiski added that seeing Holy Cross be in contention this late in the season has been earned the old-fashioned way.

“As a team, we started this season with the intention of working our hardest, playing our best and having fun,” she said. “Just like every season, we have had our ups and downs, but as the season continues to progress, we have learned and grown from our past mistakes. The ECAC championship is within reach; however, it will require us to reach our full potential, something I strongly believe we are capable of this year.”

Mackenzie Boardman and Kara Violette have been Klimasewiski’s linemates for the entire season, further adding to the “playing our best, having fun” motto the Crusaders have gone by all year.

“We are able to work so well together on the ice because of how much fun we have playing the game,” Klimasewiski said. “When we are on the ice together, we are very competitive, but never forget to have fun.”

She carries that happy-go-lucky attitude to her academics as well.

“Last summer, I had an internship working with a nonprofit environmental agency,” explained Klimasewiski. “I was able to gain hands-on experience in this particular field and would love to continue working in this field after graduation.”

That said, she isn’t ready to rule out hockey once her NCAA career is done.

“Ice hockey will always be a part of my life,” boasted Klimasewiski. “I will continue to play whenever possible, may it be in different leagues or on the pond. I also look forward to becoming more involved not just as a player, but as a mentor, referee, and possibly a coach.”

St. Olaf, winners of just one game all year, came close to tripling its win total last weekend in a home-and-home with Hamline, going to overtime in both games. The Oles lost the first game and then tied the second. St. Olaf’s first win was back on Jan. 9 against Wisconsin-Eau Claire. … Elmira’s Cassidy Delainey and St. Scholastica’s Nina Waidacher lead all of Division III with eight power-play goals. Stevenson freshman Chelsea Blackburn has seven. … Jade Walsh from Adrian leads the nation in wins with 12 and has yet to taste a regulation defeat with a 12-0-3 record for the NCHA-leading Bulldogs. … Top-ranked Plattsburgh leads the country with 84 goals scored. The Cardinals have also allowed just 19, including five shutouts and one in the preseason.

Extra attackers add wackiness at game’s end

P5A0249 Extra attackers add wackiness at games end

Mark Johnson once pulled his goaltender when tied in overtime. (Dan Sanger)

Most sports have a strategy or two that is risky and would usually not be attempted were it not for dire circumstances. A team needs points immediately or it is going down in defeat. In football, it’s the Hail Mary pass, going for it on fourth down, or the onside kick. Basketball has the desperation heave or fouling to force the other team to make free throws. Baseball is odd because there isn’t a clock that is running out, so the search for end-of-game offense usually involves sending up a pinch hitter.

Of the three, hockey’s desperate measures are more similar to those in baseball than basketball or football. A baseball team substitutes for the batter that is due up; a hockey team substitutes a regular skater for its goaltender.

Do these devil-may-care strategies work? Obviously, they must work some of the time, or they wouldn’t be attempted. Taking football in particular, I have very vivid memories from my youth of being depressed for weeks in the wake of a game involving an opponent first converting on fourth and long, and then completing a Hail Mary. I’m sure there are some Green Bay fans who will carry similar scars induced by an onside kick.

As for women’s hockey fans in the United States and Canada, yes, we can recall a game where an extra-attacker goal played a pivotal part, even if it didn’t involve college hockey or take place on this continent.

How often is the strategy successful in women’s Division-I play? According to the Women’s National Statistics Database for this season’s games played through Jan. 20, there have been 88 empty-net goals scored by the 34 teams that compete with the aim of reaching the National Collegiate Tournament, compared to 22 extra-attacker goals. All of those goals are not necessarily on an equal footing; some may also be power-play goals, while others occur when the teams would have been skating four-on-four had one not pulled its goaltender.

Does that same ratio of four empty-net goals for every one extra-attacker goal hold for prior seasons? Sadly, no. Using the same statistics source, last year there were 92 goals scored into an empty net but a whopping 50 goals scored with an extra attacker on the ice. For the 2012-13 season, the database shows 93 empty-net goals and 52 with an extra attacker. Part of the discrepancy appears to be that the extra-attacker goal sum also includes some that we would more accurately describe as delayed-penalty goals.

For example, Clarkson’s Shelby Nisbet scored at 19:40 of the first period in the national championship game. The box score denotes that goal with an “EA.” While it’s true that Erica Howe had been off for 10 seconds and a sixth skater was on the ice, that was due to a delayed penalty on Minnesota, which was assessed once Nisbet’s goal was scored. While the two goals are the same in many respects, in the case of the delayed penalty, the attacking team is not in jeopardy of being scored upon, so it belongs in a different bucket in terms of a metric when we try to determine the risk versus reward of pulling the goalie for another skater.

It’s not entirely accurate to say that an attacking team is not at risk of yielding a goal during a delayed penalty. The most recent example I’ve seen of that came on Oct. 22, 2011 in Duluth. The referee spotted an interference infraction by Wisconsin’s Saige Pacholok. As Minnesota-Duluth was in possession of the puck, play continued and Bulldogs goaltender Jennifer Harss made her way to the bench. A sixth UMD skater came on. After 20 seconds, a Bulldog attempted to make a diagonal pass back to one of her points. The pass failed to click, and the puck bounced off the side boards at neutral ice and slid into the empty net in the UMD zone. Because Wisconsin had not touched the puck in the sequence, no whistle saved the Bulldogs. In an ironic twist, the official scorer credited the unassisted goal for the Badgers to Pacholok.

At the time, Minnesota-Duluth coach Shannon Miller said, “I’ve never even seen that before in the 25 years I’ve been coaching.”

Getting back to what the ratio should be for the number of empty-net goals compared to extra-attacker goals, from personal experience, I’d say the four-to-one ratio for the current season would be more likely than the less than two-to-one ratios for each of the prior two years. The absence of a goaltender figures to make a team far more vulnerable than a sixth skater will make its offense prolific. The accuracy of the number of true extra-attacker goals can be improved slightly with a couple of filters. If only third-period goals and those scored by a team that is trailing are included, then the number of extra-attacker goals drops from 52 to 46 for two years ago, and from 50 to 39 last year. There may still be a handful of delayed-penalty goals in the count. More could be squeezed out by looking only at goals scored at the end of the third period, but as we’ll discuss later, that may also discard some bona fide extra-attacker goals.

In any case, there are certain situations where every coach in the country is going to elect to pull the goaltender in favor of an extra skater. Down a goal with 30 seconds remaining in the game, both teams at equal strength, faceoff in the offensive zone, that goalie is coming off if she isn’t out of the game already.

Beyond that, coaches have to forge a strategy out of a combination of what they believe the percentages favor and a hunch in the current game. If the coach waits too long, the risk is that no more goals are scored before time expires, and the status quo favors the team holding the lead. If the goaltender is pulled too soon, the coach invites an empty-net goal from the opponent, and the hole gets deeper.

To find which teams are most likely to gamble, we can look at the number of minutes teams play with an empty net. In that respect, coach Chris Wells and St. Lawrence traditionally rank near the top.

“I’m of the mindset that what’s the difference between 3-1 and 7-1,” Wells said. “We lose to Clarkson, 5-0, two of the goals were empty nets. We lose to Dartmouth, 5-1, in Rochester, and two of those are empty nets, and Brown scored an empty-netter on us. Once it gets to a certain point, I’m not trying to make a mockery of the game or the score of the game, but to me 5-3, 6-3, 7-3 is no difference, and that’s the mindset of our team. We’ve come to enjoy playing with the goalie out and the desperation of it.”

He gets no argument from current Saints captain Amanda Boulier regarding the strategy.

“I can remember some games where there will be seven or eight minutes left and ‘Wellsy’ will pull her, and no one even thinks anything of it,” Boulier said. “It’s like, ‘Alright, let’s do this; here we go.’ It keeps things interesting, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

There’s usually method behind such madness.

“My first year [coaching SLU], a playoff game against Clarkson, we were down two [goals] with five minutes to go,” Well said. “We pulled the goalie; we scored two goals in the last five minutes, and then we won in overtime on the Friday night game, and then we won on Saturday. Then most recently at Quinnipiac two years ago in the playoffs, we won the first night in overtime, 1-0. Then the second night, we’re down 2-0 with 29 seconds to go in the game with a faceoff in their zone, and we scored. We scored with .7 seconds left to tie it. Then we eventually lost in the third overtime. We’ve had a fair amount of success. I think at one point, we were close to being even with the goalie out and goals against.”

To have that kind of success, a team has to execute.

“We get some good puck pressure, and I think the desperation helps out, and the ability to get on pucks,” Wells said. “It’s hard to stick it in the empty net; it really is.”

Minnesota found that out in its NCAA quarterfinal versus North Dakota in 2012. Trailing 5-0 with 5:53 elapsed in the third period, UND pulled goaltender Jorid Dagfinrud while on a five-on-three power play. North Dakota scored with those six skaters playing versus three to cut its deficit to 5-1, and coach Brian Idalski proceeded to yo-yo Dagfinrud in and out of the net over the remainder of the game, partly because it had to kill a couple penalties of its own. UND played without a goalie for over seven minutes, and the Gophers failed to take advantage. The final score was 5-1, so there was no damage done, but it serves to reinforce Wells’ point.

The scoreboard may have something to do with that. A week later with only a 2-1 lead, the Gophers scored just four seconds after Amanda Mazzotta left the ice to cement a semifinal win over Cornell.

Some goaltender pulls are more strategic than others. In another NCAA quarterfinal in 2012, Boston University trailed Cornell 7-4 with 11 minutes remaining. Coach Brian Durocher pulled Kerrin Sperry while on a power play, and the Terriers scored 12 seconds later. They added two more power-play goals to tie the game at 7-7 with 1:57 left in regulation without having to pull Sperry again. A couple hours later, Lauriane Rougeau scored for Cornell at 19:50 of the third overtime to make the BU comeback for naught.

Surprisingly, that’s how some of those dramatic comebacks end, such as the one Wells described where St. Lawrence fell in the third OT to Quinnipiac. Perhaps that is because after three overtimes, nobody can remember which team fought back from a deficit.

That’s not always the case. The most dramatic comeback I remember seeing involving extra-attacker goals came in the 2005 WCHA Championship. Wisconsin trailed 2-0 when Mark Johnson pulled Meghan Horras with 1:12 remaining. Carla MacLeod scored 22 seconds later to pull her team within 2-1. Horras returned, the Badgers got the puck deep, and she left again. It took only 14 seconds for MacLeod to tie the game, 26 seconds after her first goal. In the 24 seconds that remained before intermission, Wisconsin was assessed two penalties. When the teams came back for the first overtime, Krissy Wendell scored the winning goal on a five-on-three power play before anyone could learn whether the Badgers had gained momentum.

Wisconsin versus Minnesota games tend to create strange endings. In 2009, they went to overtime in their final head-to-head, regular-season meeting. Trailing the Gophers by two points in the WCHA standings, Johnson knew that winning a shootout and gaining one point likely wouldn’t be enough to gain the league crown, so he pulled Jessie Vetter in a tie game with 31 seconds left in overtime.

“Knowing that they needed the win, I figured that they would do that,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “But yeah, it was different.”

In the teams’ most recent game this season, Wisconsin had a slim two-point lead in the standings, but the Gophers had two games in hand. Even if the Badgers won a shootout, Minnesota could take over first place by winning one of those two games, so UW needed to win outright. With 45 seconds left in overtime, Minnesota was assessed a penalty, so Wisconsin had an offensive-zone draw with both teams one skater short. This time, Johnson didn’t pull his goalie for a skater.

“I lost a defenseman early in the second period, and we just came off a good minute and 20 seconds of a penalty kill,” Johnson said. “I didn’t have enough fresh bodies to find the five kids that might be able to do that. So the thought was there, but I didn’t have the personnel to execute.”

While that would have been essentially the same as a five-on-four power play, six skaters versus five is something that teams use far less often. Maybe not all teams. During Wells’ tenure at St. Lawrence, the Saints have always played more than 25 minutes per season with an empty net. Three times, that total has been more than 40 minutes, including 48 minutes last year.

To be sure, some of that time results from delayed penalties. For an estimate, Minnesota never trailed at the end of any game during its perfect season, so it didn’t have any late-game goalie pulls, but the Gophers still played with an empty net for 4:32 that year.

Wells admits that it probably isn’t a good thing to always be near the leaders in empty-net minutes, because it is a sign his team is behind. But if SLU is going to opt for an extra-attacker that often, should they practice that along with other special teams?

“A couple of years ago we did have a setup that we worked at for a couple of years because we had the same personnel,” Wells said. “We haven’t done that yet this year, but we’ll probably get to that point to practice that. It’s fun.”

No time for Western Michigan to get complacent, Murray says

140322 UND WMICH M 0160 No time for Western Michigan to get complacent, Murray says

Sheldon Dries is tied for the Western Michigan lead with nine goals (photo: Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com).

Western Michigan has won nine of its last 10 games, but Broncos coach Andy Murray isn’t altogether positive that his team will win another game this season.

On the surface, that seems colossally pessimistic. Western sits at 10-9-3 overall and 3-6-3-3 in the NCHC and is mired in a dogfight just to earn home-ice advantage for the first round of the league playoffs, but momentum seems to be on the Broncos’ side.

There is, however, a method to Murray’s madness.

The Broncos are on a roll these days, and their coach doesn’t dispute that. Nine wins since Nov. 28 and one loss in that time — on neutral ice against then-No. 17 Colgate in Pittsburgh on Dec. 29 — have made Western one of the hottest teams in the country.

Most recently, Western picked up a shootout victory and regulation win last weekend at No. 6 Minnesota-Duluth. The Broncos won a four-round shootout last Friday night following a 2-2 tie before WMU bested the Bulldogs 4-2 the following night at Amsoil Arena.

That string has transformed Western Michigan from something of a NCHC doormat to a team that looks like it could very well still finish in the league’s top four.

The Broncos have to keep winning in order to make that happen, however. That’s why Murray has his sights fixed exclusively on the future — specifically, this weekend’s trip to St. Cloud State — and not the past.

“We’re playing hard and we’re skating, but that was last weekend, Murray said in his weekly local news conference on Tuesday. “Right now, we’ve got a number of games left and I don’t know if we’ll win another one. That’s kind of the way you’ve got to look at it.

“We’ve got to go out and win at St. Cloud [on Friday], because if we don’t win that one, who knows if we’re going to win the next game. You’ve just got to go out and try to win every single game you play.”

Murray declined a telephone interview request for this story.

Western Michigan could still stand to shore up its defense a little. The Broncos have conceded fewer than two goals only once in their last six games and just twice in their last 11.

The Broncos may yet rue their poor start to the season, as well. Western lost four of its first five games of the season and went 3-8-0-1 in its first 12 games.

Since then, however, Murray’s group has gone on a serious tear. Part of that, he suggested earlier this week, has been down to his team playing smarter, more efficient hockey of late.

“In the early part of this season, I think we struggled certainly with our discipline,” Murray said. “We were taking some penalties that put us in trouble, and we took some penalties at wrong times of games that created situations where [opponents] grasped a hold of it and ran with it a bit.

“We’re playing much more disciplined, we’re playing just as physically if not harder physically, but our discipline has been better. The other thing, interestingly enough, we’ve never been a team that’s given up a lot of shots because we have the puck quite a bit, but certainly our ability to score and finish plays off and execute in key offensive situations has helped.”

“I think a strong point of our team is we don’t get ahead of ourselves,” Murray continued. “If we win the last game we play this year, we’re going to feel pretty good.”

32143January 17 2015 No time for Western Michigan to get complacent, Murray says

North Dakota swept Niagara last weekend (photo: Bradley K. Olson).

UND takes care of business in nonconference

North Dakota didn’t do itself a lot of favors last season when playing against nonconference opponents.

UND finished in second place in a tight inaugural NCHC regular season, only losing its grasp on the Penrose Cup on the final game night ahead of the league playoffs. A 15-9 league record was more than respectable, but UND missed several opportunities when playing against teams from other conferences, finishing 5-2-3 in nonleague play.

That’s not bad, but losses to Boston University and St. Lawrence on back-to-back Fridays in November 2013 and those three ties stung. It hurt UND even more come the postseason, when it needed outside help to get into the NCAA tournament.

This season, UND hasn’t really left much to chance in nonconference play. After dropping a 5-1 shocker at home to Bemidji State on Oct. 10, UND bounced back by going 9-0-1 in the rest of its nonleague games.

Last weekend saw UND round out its nonconference slate with a home series against Niagara. The Purple Eagles were pounded 7-1 by their hosts on Friday in Grand Forks, N.D., before UND completed a series sweep with a 5-0 win on Saturday night.

UND coach Dave Hakstol said he was pleased not only to pick up two more nonleague wins but also to watch his team put in two solid performances.

“It’s just playing well, that’s the biggest thing,” Hakstol said. “The results in getting the wins were critical, and we knew that coming into the weekend. The scores don’t matter.

“These were tough games, and we had to really stay with the things that we do well, and I thought [Saturday] in particular we did that.”

Following the sweep of Niagara, UND finds itself fourth in the PairWise Rankings. If the NCAA tournament began this weekend, UND more than likely would be the last No. 1 seed. If it makes the NCAA tournament, it’s guaranteed to play in the West Regional in Fargo, barely over an hour’s drive from Grand Forks.

UND would have dropped to 10th in the PairWise if it had lost either of its games last weekend against Niagara.

Clearly, plenty was on the line last weekend for Hakstol and his group. It’s because of that that Hakstol was glad to see his team beat what was put in front of it.

“It’s so important to be successful in the nonconference side of things,” Hakstol said. “Every game that we play in a nonconference basis is really tough, especially in this building.

“There’s two different effects that you see, and I thought [Friday] maybe we caught Niagara a little flat-footed; [on Saturday] I thought we saw a really hard, tenacious-to-play-against team.”

“Nonconference is extremely important,” he continued. “Our guys did the job.”

Players of the week

Offensive player of the week — Colton Hargrove, Western Michigan: The junior forward scored three goals and picked up an assist last weekend in two games at Minnesota-Duluth. Hargrove had a career-best three-point night (two goals and an assist) on Saturday when the Broncos knocked off Duluth 4-2.

Defensive player of the week — Joey LaLeggia, Denver: DU’s senior rock on the blue line picked up a goal and an assist in both of the Pioneers’ wins last weekend against St. Cloud State. He also played a key role on a penalty-killing unit that went 6-for-6 when down a man against the Huskies.

Rookie of the week — Avery Peterson, Omaha: Peterson became the league’s rookie of the week for the second week running after recording four points in a split at Colorado College. The freshman forward had a career-high three points (two goals and an assist) on Saturday in the Mavericks’ 4-1 win over the Tigers.

Goaltender of the week — Tanner Jaillet, Denver: The Pioneers freshman was in goal for both of his team’s wins last weekend against St. Cloud State. Jaillet finished the series with 44 saves on the 45 shots he faced.

Northern Michigan puts Kyle on administrative leave; assistants to take charge

wjec nmu w kyle Northern Michigan puts Kyle on administrative leave; assistants to take charge

Walt Kyle has been head coach at Northern Michigan since 2002 (photo: Melissa Wade).

Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle has been placed on administrative leave by the school, which did not identify the reason for the move.

WLUC-TV reported that Northern Michigan athletic director Forrest Karr said it’s unknown how long the leave would be in place.

The Wildcats’ associate athletic director, Bridget Berube Carter, also was placed on indefinite administrative leave, according to WLUC. Berube Carter’s primary duties in the athletic department are NCAA compliance, student-athlete affairs and oversight of sports information.

Assistant coaches Rob Lehtinen and John Kyle, Walt Kyle’s brother, will share coaching duties in the head coach’s absence, Karr said. The Wildcats play at Penn State on Friday and Saturday.

WLUC reported that Karr told Wildcats players about the move before practice on Tuesday.

Walt Kyle has been head coach at his alma mater since 2002, amassing a 232-215-56 record and one NCAA tournament appearance. He was an assistant to Wildcats coach Rick Comley from 1982 to 1992, helping the team to the 1991 national championship.

Northern Michigan spent five weeks in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll this season, reaching No. 17 on Nov. 10.

The Wildcats lost twice at Alabama-Huntsville last weekend to fall to 9-8-5 overall and 6-8-4 in the WCHA.

Check back for more details.

Twenty nominees announced for 2015 Senior CLASS Award

DSC 0160 Twenty nominees announced for 2015 Senior CLASS Award

St. Cloud State defenseman and captain Andrew Prochno is one of 20 candidates for the 2015 Senior CLASS Award (photo: Candace Horgan).

Twenty men’s Division I players who excel both on and off the ice were selected as candidates Wednesday for the 2014-15 Senior CLASS Award.

To be eligible for the award, a nominee must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

The 20 candidates (below) will be narrowed to 10 finalists later in the season and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot.

The winner will be announced during the Frozen Four in April. The 2014 winner was Rensselaer forward Brock Higgs.

Player's Name
Daniel CiampiniFUnion
Austin CzarnikFMiami
Chad DemersFAir Force
Tanner FritzFOhio State
Spiro GoulakosDColgate
Zach HymanFMichigan
Tanner KeroFMichigan Tech
Adam KrauseFMinnesota-Duluth
Matt LoritoFBrown
Mark MacMillanFNorth Dakota
Nick MattsonDNorth Dakota
Ross MauermannFProvidence
C.J. MotteGFerris State
Mike PaliottaDVermont
Andrew ProchnoDSt. Cloud State
Kyle RauFMinnesota
Peter SchneiderFNotre Dame
Clay WittGNortheastern
Cody WydoFRobert Morris
Oleg YevenkoDMassachusetts

Eastern D-III schools emerging as legitimate NCAA contenders

alex larson Eastern D III schools emerging as legitimate NCAA contenders

Nichols goalie Alex Larson has put together a sparkling season that includes an eye-popping .950 save percentage (photo: Dan Hickling).

It’s all about the bottom line, and in hockey, that means Frozen Four championships.

Western schools have capture the past FroFour titles (with St. Norbert accounting for three of them) but team success at that or any level reflects the ability of the players contributing to it.

That said, it’s worth noting that currently most of the major production categories are lead by Easterners.

The nation’s top point getters, top goal scorer, top set up man, top power play producers, and, heck, even the top goaltender (by save percentage) all come from within the East’s six conferences.

Most of those come from squads that can harbor legitimate Frozen Four hopes, too.

Steven Buco has his Massachusetts-Boston mates clawing for the top of a very tough ECAC East pack by virtue of his 30 points and 19 assists, both tops in the nation. Buco, who is the ECACE’s reigning Player of the Week, also has 11 goals, four of them game-winners.

Babson’s Mike Vollmin is the top scorer among all D-III d-men, having recorded 15 setups to go with three goals to help the Beavers stay right with Norwich and Mass-Boston.

As for goalies, it might be fair to say that Nichols owes its hopes for second straight trip to the NCAA’s largely to the work of junior goalie Alex Larson.

Larson’s save percentage of .950 is tops in the land, and for perspective, is 11 points better than Tim Thomas’ NHL record (.939) the year he led the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup.

For power play proficiency you’d have to look at a quintet of Easterners – Trinity’s Sean Orlando and Oswego’s Matt Galati among them – all of whom have potted six extra man goals.

And while it might be a stretch to count Cortland among legitimate title contenders (just yet), Nick Zappia and his nation-leading 17 goals help make the Red Dragons rather exciting to watch.

“I Believe In Jack”

Geneseo has used this season to honor young Jack Reed, the son of the school’s interim director of admissions, Kevin Reed, who was born last year with Down Syndrome.

The team has sported helmet stickers that say “I Believe In Jack” all year, and have also worn blue and yellow wristbands with the same inscription.

On Saturday, the Ice Knights will ramp up its efforts with a Down Syndrome Awareness event in conjunction with its home game against Canton.

The team will raffle off a signed jersey and stick, and will also have the wristbands for sale.

The proceeds will the Arc of Livingston-Wyoming, a non-profit work that provides services to developmentally disabled individuals and their families.

Also on the community service front, Castleton State held a pair of events last weekend that honored emergency services providers and benefited a local food pantry.

Recruiting season is here

You ever wonder what coaches and their staffs do during when games are not on the schedule? They go watch more hockey.

Why? So that they find, mine, and in some cases, unearth new recruits to help out for next season and beyond.

The plethora of junior hockey showcases that were held across North America during the last month provided plenty of opportunity for viewing and reviewing talented young players.

Now comes the time when word of player commitments begins to filter out.

Plattsburgh has been especially busy, the Cardinals having snagged four recruits, including forward Ross Sloan (Oakville, OJHL). Sloan, a small sized (5-8, 160) playmaker has averaged a point per game with Oakville over the past two seasons.

He will be joined at Platty by a pair from the EHL, defenseman Charles Barber (New York) and forward Cole Stallard (New Hampshire). Also coming will be center Cam Owens (Islanders, USPHL). Also coming to the North Country will be forward Joseph Deveny (Stouffville, OJHL) who has committed to Canton.

Hamilton will welcome a pair of OJHL forwards, Richard Court (Georgetown) and Ian Nichols (Orangeville), while Utica will add size in forward Kris Melna (Welland, GOJHL) and d-man L.J. Fellows (Northern Cyclones, EHL). Both players check in at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds.

Slick skating winger Brady Fleurent (Portland, USPHL Premier) will follow the path taken by his brothers, Tyler and Trevor, and head to hometown University of New England. Trevor is a UNE sophomore and leads the Nor’easters in scoring (6-8-14), while Tyler finished up his four-year stint there in 2013.

Minnesota looking for goal scorers to produce and key a turnaround

140330 UMN SCSU M 0158 Minnesota looking for goal scorers to produce and key a turnaround

Minnesota sophomore Taylor Cammarata has just one goal this season after scoring 10 as a freshman (photo: Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com).

This year’s North Star College Cup will feature three ranked teams, which wouldn’t have been hard to believe had it been a preseason prediction.

That Minnesota is the third-highest ranked team in the field is a little more surprising, especially considering the start that the Gophers got off to this season.

Minnesota (11-7-2, 2-2-2 B1G) has cooled down since its 7-1 start and is trying to work itself out of a sticky stretch of hockey that has sent it plummeting down the polls and has its fan base grumbling.

The Gophers finally took a step forward last Saturday with a convincing 5-2 win over Wisconsin a day after a disappointing shootout loss to the Badgers.

“We generated a lot of offense, we had 99 shots on goal and we only gave up a little over 40 on the weekend,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “Those are good, positive trends that you’d like to see. I thought our puck movement was good. We were winning some races to loose pucks.”

Lucia added that he liked the amount of time that Minnesota spent in its offensive zone last weekend, which was something that had been lacking during the last few games.

As for the fan base thinking the sky was falling during the Gophers’ stretch of less than desirable results? Lucia said it’s all part of the journey that is a college hockey season.

“Every year is a journey. You try to put the puzzle back together and even though you’ve got some pieces back, you’re missing some,” he said. “We have to try and find the best combinations, and we thought we had some good combinations last weekend that were different, and now we don’t have Vinni [Lettieri] on Friday night. It forces us to kind of shuffle the deck, and it’s been a little of that all year long with different guys being out for different reasons.”

Lucia added that even last season, which ended with the Gophers in the NCAA championship game, Minnesota had stretches where it struggled to score goals.

Along with consistency in the lineup, a turnaround can simply be the result of a team’s goal scorers actually scoring goals.

“We have to get some guys that have scored in the past to start scoring on a regular basis,” Lucia said. “That will help us. Defensively, we’ve been pretty good.”

“Guys like [Taylor] Cammarata who’s sitting with one and [Seth] Ambroz who’s sitting with two,” Lucia said, referring to players who could light the lamp more often. “It was good to see [Sam] Warning and [Hudson] Fasching score last weekend; they hadn’t had a goal in a while. We need to get our guys that we do expect to score, to score and I think that’ll happen and that’ll help us a lot.”

Minnesota State (18-4-1, 15-2-1 WCHA) is the guaranteed opponent for Minnesota this weekend. The Mavericks, who are typically the underdog to the Gophers, will roll into the Xcel Energy Center as the nation’s No. 1 team.

“They’ve got a good team; they’re an older, veteran team. I was looking at their roster and I think they’ve got two guys under 21,” Lucia said of Mankato. “They’re obviously well-coached. They had a great year last year winning the WCHA Final Five and being an NCAA tournament team, and obviously they’re going to be another NCAA tournament team this year and a real threat to win it all this year with their veteran lineup.”

Minnesota State is averaging 3.74 goals per game this season, which is third in the nation. The Mavericks also put a lot of pucks on net, averaging 34.04 shots on goal per game this season, and that could present a problem for Minnesota on Friday.

Keeping Minnesota State under the 30-shot mark may be the key to success for the Gophers on Friday, even though the Mavericks have been held under that mark only six times this season.

Although Lucia has been quick to defend junior goaltender Adam Wilcox this season, the netminder’s numbers drop off when he’s forced to make a lot of saves. Wilcox is 11-6-2 with a .910 save percentage and 2.45 GAA.

Minnesota is averaging 23.36 shots against per game in its 11 wins and Wilcox has averaged 23.36 saves in those games. In Wilcox’s six losses, the Gophers are averaging 32.66 shots against and he has averaged 29.5 saves.

Wilcox was pulled after giving up five goals in Minnesota’s 7-5 loss to Michigan earlier this month. He has yet to win a game where he has to make 30 or more saves.

If the Gophers are able to get past the Mavericks, Minnesota will potentially play another key game against Minnesota-Duluth. That’s a scenario that fans and media alike may be thinking about, but not Lucia.

“Our focus is on Mankato,” he said. “It’s our last two nonconference games and then we’re back in Big Ten play for the rest of the year. So, obviously, where we’re sitting wins are important to us right now.”

Second annual North Star College Cup brings changes

The North Star College Cup, which will feature Minnesota, Minnesota State, Minnesota-Duluth and Bemidji State, will take place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., this weekend.

The Gophers beat the Bulldogs in a shootout to win the championship last year. That won’t happen again this year, thanks to some rule changes. The five-minute overtime and shootout format will still be utilized for the semifinal games, but the championship game will feature 20-minute overtime periods until there is a winner.

“Hopefully it’ll continue to grow,” Lucia said of the tournament, which features Minnesota and three of the other four state Division I teams on a rotating basis. The Gophers play a series against the team that isn’t part of the tournament that season.

“I don’t know what the ticket sales are like — I haven’t even checked because you’re so absorbed in your own season,” Lucia said. “Any time you can play at the Xcel Energy Center it’s a great weekend and it’s such a phenomenal facility. We’re playing the in-state teams and the games last year were really good.”

131019 20011882 Minnesota looking for goal scorers to produce and key a turnaround

Wisconsin’s Eddie Wittchow will miss both of the Badgers’ games against Michigan this weekend (photo: Melissa Wade).

Two players suspended

Two players will miss time due to a scuffle that broke out during the final minute of play in last Saturday’s game between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s Eddie Wittchow was subject to a one-game suspension because of his disqualification from the contest and the Big Ten suspended him another game. Minnesota’s Lettieri was suspended one game by the Big Ten for leaving the bench to participate in the altercation.

Lettieri will miss the Gophers’ game against Minnesota State at the North Star College Cup and Wittchow will miss both of the Badgers’ home games against Michigan this weekend.

Wittchow’s hit on Minnesota’ Leon Bristedt, in which he made contact to the head, caused the altercation between the two teams. The game had gotten chippy in the final five minutes, with players from both sides getting 10-minute misconducts after post-whistle skirmishes.

“The explanation was it was a serious hit to the head and the time of the game that the hit took place,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said at his news conference on Monday. “So we are in further discussion with [Big Ten Coordinator of men's ice hockey officials] Steve Piotrowski about this, but I think that’s going to be the bottom line.”

Eaves said that freshman Cullen Hurley more than likely will replace Wittchow this weekend.

The Badgers and Gophers will meet again Jan. 30-31 at Wisconsin’s Kohl Center.

Three stars of the week

First star — Michigan forward Dylan Larkin: Larkin recorded five points last Friday against Ohio State. The freshman recorded two goals and three assists and was a factor in the Wolverines’ first three goals in their 10-6 victory over the Buckeyes. This is Larkin’s third Big Ten weekly award of the season.

Second star — Penn State forward David Goodwin: Goodwin had a four-point weekend against Michigan State. He scored the game-tying goal on Friday evening and had the game-winning goal and two assists in the Nittany Lions’ 5-2 victory on Saturday. Goodwin is riding a four-game goal scoring streak. This is his second Big Ten weekly award of the season.

Third star — Minnesota forward Travis Boyd: Boyd had four points last weekend as the Gophers took four of six conference points from their series with Wisconsin. Boyd had an assist in Friday’s shootout loss and had two goals and another assist in Minnesota’s 5-2 victory on Saturday. This is Boyd’s fourth career Big Ten weekly award.

B1G in the poll

No. 16 Michigan and No. 17 Minnesota are the two representatives from the Big Ten in this week’s USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll. Penn State also received votes.

My ballot

1. Minnesota State
2. North Dakota
3. Boston University
4. Denver
5. Massachusetts-Lowell
6. Bowling Green
7. Harvard
8. Minnesota-Duluth
9. Miami
10. Omaha
11. Michigan Tech
12. Michigan
13. Merrimack
14. Vermont
15. Quinnipiac
16. Yale
17. Minnesota
18. Boston College
19. Robert Morris
20. Colgate

This week’s games

Minnesota vs. Minnesota State (Friday, North Star College Cup at the Xcel Energy Center)

Minnesota vs. Minnesota-Duluth or Bemidji State (Saturday, North Star College Cup at the Xcel Energy Center)

Ohio State at Michigan State (Friday and Saturday, Munn Ice Arena)

Michigan at Wisconsin (Friday and Saturday, Kohl Center)

Northern Michigan at Penn State (Friday and Saturday, Pegula Ice Arena)

Former Lake Superior State equipment manager Somes passes away

Former Lake Superior State athletics equipment manager Gilmore ‘Gil’ Somes passed away on Jan. 19.

He was 85.

Somes was hired by former athletic director Bud Cooper in 1981 and served as a full-time as equpment manager for all sports until 1995.

“Gil was a great man and a valuable part of Laker hockey,” former LSSU goalie Darrin Madeley said in a news release. “I will miss that great smile after a win and that great friend after a loss. He and [wife] Margie were family to every player and we love them because they loved us unconditionally. Gilly was an icon and we have lost a great man.”

Army’s Pham gets one-game suspension for slew footing penalty against Air Force

Atlantic Hockey announced Wednesday that Army freshman forward Tyler Pham, has been assessed a one-game suspension for his slew footing major penalty during the Black Knights’ contest against Air Force on Saturday, Jan. 17.

Pham was assessed the five-minute major and game misconduct penalties at the 15:09 mark of the second period.

He is now ineligible for Army’s next game on Tuesday, Jan. 27, against Princeton.

AHCA announces major award winners for 2015

The American Hockey Coaches Association announced on Tuesday its major awards for 2015.

Eight individuals who contributed to amateur hockey in the United States will be recognized during the 2015 AHCA Convention in Naples, Fla., with the women’s hockey honorees being recognized on Friday, May 1, and the men’s hockey award recipients being honored on Saturday, May 2.

Heading the list of award winners is former Boston University head coach Jack Parker, winner of 897 games and three national championships during a 40-year career at BU. Parker will receive the John MacInnes Award.

Also being recognized are Bruce Delventhal, athletic director at Plattsburgh and three-decade officer of the AHCA, who will receive the John “Snooks” Kelley Founders Award, and Karen Kay, former New Hampshire and U.S. National Team head coach, who will be presented the Women’s Hockey Founders Award.

Former WCHA associate commissioner for public relations Doug Spencer will get the Jim Fullerton Award, Miami assistant coach Brent Brekke will be honored with the Terry Flanagan Award, former Minnesota high school coach Bob Gernander will receive the John Mariucci Award, Lynn Olson, the first woman to serve on the USA Hockey Board of Directors, will be honored with the Joe Burke Award and Boston College assistant coach Courtney Kennedy will receive the Assistant Women’s Coach Award.

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