Holiday Tournament Preview: Florida College Classic

Florida College Classic
Estero, Fla., Tuesday-Wednesday, Dec. 27-28, 2005

Game 1: Northeastern at No. 8 Cornell, 4:05 p.m. ET

Northeastern Huskies (1-9-4, 1-6-4 Hockey East)
Head coach: Greg Cronin
Leading scorers: So. F Jimmy Russo (5-8–13), Jr. D Steve Birnstill (0-10–10)
Leading netminder: Jr. Adam Geragosian (1-7-4, 3.37, .901)

Cornell Big Red (8-3-1, 5-2-1 ECACHL)
Head coach: Mike Schafer
Leading scorers: Sr. F Matt Moulson (7-10–17), So. F Topher Scott (3-7–10), Jr. D Ryan O’Byrne (4-3–7)
Leading netminder: Jr. David McKee (8-3-1, 2.61, .883)

Game 2: Minnesota-Duluth at No. 9 Maine, 7:35 p.m. ET

Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (7-10-3, 5-6-3 WCHA)
Head coach: Scott Sandelin
Leading scorers: Fr. F Mason Raymond (8-14–22), So. F Matt McKnight (7-13–20), Tim Stapleton (9-8–17)
Leading netminder: Isaac Reichmuth (4-6-3, 3.01, .890)

Maine Black Bears (11-5-0, 5-4-0 Hockey East)
Head coach: Tim Whitehead
Leading scorers: So. F Billy Ryan (4-12–16), So. F Keenan Hopson (3-12–15), Sr. F Greg Moore (10-4–14)
Leading netminders: Fr. Ben Bishop (6-4-0, 2.17, .914), So. Matt Lundin (5-1-0, 0.96, .957)

Tournament outlook: Maine and Cornell are the two powerhouses in this young but well-received tournament — formerly the Everblades Classic — which is the first of the post-Christmas tourneys. The Black Bears and the Big Red should be heavily favored against their first-round opponents: Minnesota-Duluth and Northeastern, respectively. Northeastern, in particular, enters the tournament with nothing to lose and everything to gain for Greg Cronin, whose return to the Hockey East head-coaching ranks has seen just one win as of the holiday break. Matters have been a bit better for UMD, though the Bulldogs reached the season’s halfway point with a sub-.500 record overall and in the WCHA despite the offensive contributions of freshman forward Mason Raymond.

The story of Maine’s first half, meanwhile, has been the timely arrival of netminders Matt Lundin and Ben Bishop. That sophomore-freshman pair has ably replaced Jimmy Howard, who left early after last season to sign with the Detroit Red Wings. Howard, surprisingly, has scarcely been missed as the Black Bears have rolled to an 11-win first half, helped out by the offensive coming-of-age of sophomores Keenan Hopson and Billy Ryan on offense. Cornell, for its part, has upheld high expectations starting the season despite a statistical comedown for Hobey Baker Hat Trick goaltender David McKee, who has compiled a sub-.900 save percentage during the first half.