Thursday, October 29, 2009

Monday, December 3, 2007

It was a nice run...

As readers may have noticed in recent days, the amount of updates has gone down a bit on the WCHA Blog, and this is due to the fact that my "A" job has changed in recent days, and I now have much less time to focus on extracurricular things, which unfortunately includes this blog. I've been fortunate to have had ample time in the past months to handle starting and maintaining the blog, but with my new job, my hands will be much more full than they have been in the past.

Professionally, this is a great thing for me, but obviously not for the blog.

I may try to kick things into gear again down the road once I get settled in at my new place of employment, but for now, the updates won't be coming as frequently.

Thanks to everyone who has read the blog over the last few months...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Weekend Preview: Nov. 30 - Dec. 2

North Dakota at Denver
Friday – 8:30 p.m. CST (Live on FSN Rocky Mountain and FCS Pacific)
Saturday – 8 p.m. CST

North Dakota travels to Denver this weekend to take on the second-place Denver Pioneers, and the Fighting Sioux will look to buck their early-season trend of splitting WCHA series. The Sioux are 4-4-0 in WCHA play, and have split each of their conference series (at Michigan Tech, at Wisconsin, versus Colorado College, versus Minnesota Duluth), which has left them in fifth place in the WCHA. The Pioneers split a home-and-home series with the first place Colorado College Tigers last weekend, with each team winning on home ice. Both teams have senior netminders, but the difference this weekend could be on the blueline, where North Dakota would appear to have more talent and experience. UND is also older up front, but DU’s sophomores (Brock Trotter, Rhett Rakhshani, and Tyler Ruegsegger) have done a very admirable job in carrying the load for DU.

Michigan Tech at Minnesota
Friday – 7 p.m. CST (Tape-Delayed on FSN North and FCS Central)
Saturday – 7 p.m. CST (Live on FSN North and FCS Central)

The Minnesota Golden Gophers return to conference play this weekend as they play host to the Michigan Tech Huskies. Both teams are off to slower than expected starts, and in particular Minnesota, whose troubles have been well documented. They rank near the bottom of the WCHA in nearly every key statistical element, including power play, penalty kill, scoring offense, scoring defense, and third period goal differential. The key to the weekend could be the play of Minnesota’s goals – Jeff Frazee and Alex Kangas. Both have been okay this season, but with Michael-Lee Teslak likely in net for the Huskies on both nights, Minnesota likely cannot afford any soft goals. Michigan Tech, meanwhile, will likely try to play a tight, physical game with the Gophers and try to grind out a pair of road wins. Goal-scoring has been an issue for Tech as well, so a pair of low-scoring games could be on tap at Mariucci.

Colorado College at Alaska Anchorage
Friday – 10:30 p.m. CST
Saturday – 10 p.m. CST

The first place Colorado College Tigers will look pad their four-point lead over DU for first place in the WCHA as they head north to take on Alaska Anchorage this weekend. They key to these games will be the Seawolves’ ability to slow down CC’s high-octane offense, which is led by the likes of Chad Rau, Jimmy Kilpatrick, and Billy Sweatt. They are averaging 3.6 GPG in WCHA play; the Seawolves have been scoring just 2.17 GPG in conference play, and go up against one of the conference’s best goaltenders in the form of Tiger freshman Richard Bachman, who has been the biggest surprise of the season so far. Expect CC to handle UAA handily in one night, but don’t be surprised if the Seawolves push the Tigers to the limit in one of the two contests.

St. Cloud State at Wisconsin
Friday – 7 p.m. CST (Live on FSN North-Wisconsin and showing at 1 a.m. on FCS Central)
Saturday – 7 p.m. CST

In what could end up being a key series down the road for home-ice advantage in the WCHA playoffs, St. Cloud State travels to Madison to take on Mike Eaves’ Wisconsin Badgers, who are coming off a loss and a tie during last weekend’s College Hockey Showcase against Michigan and Michigan State, respectively. UW has four points in six conference games, which leaves them tied with UAA for eighth place in the WCHA. The Badgers need to come away from this weekend with at least two points to keep themselves in the hunt. The Huskies bring their top-ranked power play into Madison, and UW will need to key on sophomore Ryan Lasch and freshman Garrett Roe – the duo each have 20 points in 12 WCHA games, and are the conference’s co-leaders in scoring. UW’s scoring issues haven’t been as serious as they have been in year’s past, but they are far from an offensive juggernaut. SCSU has been yielding over 30 shots per game on a regular basis, so the Badgers will need to cash in on some of those chances, since it’s likely that the Huskies will get theirs in the offensive end.

Minnesota Duluth at Minnesota State
Friday – 7:30 p.m. CST
Saturday – 7 p.m. CST

Minnesota Duluth will look to keep gaining ground on CC and DU in the WCHA this weekend when they travel to Mankato to take on the Minnesota State Mavericks. On paper, it looks like four points should be in the Bulldogs’ future, but the Mavericks always have a propensity to play in-state teams tough, and certainly have the ability to take a point or two from UMD at the Alltel Center. Statistically speaking, UMD certainly wouldn’t appear to be a top WCHA team, but they have played well during the arguably toughest stretch of their schedule, and are primed to make a run at the top of the league with their next six WCHA games coming against the Mavs and Alaska Anchorage. Minnesota State didn’t play last weekend, and currently sits at the bottom of the WCHA, having amassed just three points in eight WCHA games, though most of their games have been away from home.

Other Noteable Games:

Boston University vs. Boston College
Friday - at BC
Saturday - at BU

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

WCHA Blog Power Rankings - 11/28

To compliment the Division I men's poll and the Inside College Hockey Power Rankings that are updated on a weekly basis, the WCHA Blog will establish its own weekly ranking system. The number in parenthesis to the right of the team's name shows the change in rank from last week's rankings.

1. Colorado College (+1)
Last Week: 5-1 win and 3-2 loss versus Denver
This Week: Two games at Alaska Anchorage

The Tigers have a nice four-point lead in the WCHA race heading into this weekend's series at Alaska Anchorage, which gives them a decent shot to expand that lead, with second place Denver playing a though home series against North Dakota. CC has played arguably the toughest schedule in the nation and has obviously fared very well. They don't play another game at the World Arena until January 11, but play just five goad games from that date on.

2. Denver (-1)
Last Week: 5-1 loss and 3-2 win versus Colorado College
This Week: Two games versus North Dakota

The Pioneers are probably the most pleasant surprise in the WCHA this season. Like Michigan in the CCHA, the Pioneers infusion of youth, combined with an upperclassmen goalie, have allowed them to have great success on the ice. Their next two weekends are tough, as they host UND before heading to St. Cloud State to take on the Huskies.

3. North Dakota (-)
Last Week: 8-3 win and 4-2 loss versus Minnesota Duluth
This Week: Two games at Denver

Despite their average 6-4-1 overall record (4-4-0 in WCHA play), you haven't had to follow college hockey long to know that Dave Hakstol's teams always turn it on in the second half. This season, they have just as much talent as any of his previous teams at UND, so there's no reason to think another second-half surge isn't in store. That being said, it looks like DU and CC are near locks to finish in the top three, so that last spot appears to be North Dakota's to lose at this point, but leaving the Mile High City this weekend with points will be helpful to that quest.

4. St. Cloud State (-1)
Last Week: 4-1 win and 3-2 loss at Clarkson
This Week: Two games at Wisconsin

Sophomore Ryan Lasch and freshman Garrett Roe continued their hot play last weekend as SCSU went to Clarkson and left with a split. They now head into the teeth of their schedule, as their next six series shapes up like this: two at Wisconsin, two versus Denver, two versus Colorado College, Ohio Hockey Classic with Miami, Harvard, and Ohio State, two versus North Dakota, and a home and home versus Minnesota.

5. Minnesota Duluth (+1)
Last Week: 8-3 loss and 4-2 win at North Dakota
This Week: Two games at Minnesota State

Speaking of tough stretches in a team's schedule, it appears as though the best is yet to come for UMD, who currently sits a 6-4-2 overall and 5-4-1 in conference play. The Bulldogs play their next six conference games against Minnesota State and Alaska Anchorage, so it would appears as though a rise in the standings is on the way for UMD.

6. Wisconsin (-)
Last Week: 3-2 loss at Michigan and 4-4 tie at Michigan State
This Week: Two games versus St. Cloud State

Like the Gophers, UW left the College Hockey Showcase with more questions than answers. They lost a 3-2 game to Michigan that, by most accounts, could have been 6-2 if not for the Maize and Blue putting several pucks off pipes. The Badgers then skated to a 4-4 tie with Michigan State. They head home to Madison for a key series with SCSU this weekend.

7. Michigan Tech (-)
Last Week: Idle

This Week: Two games at Minnesota

Michigan Tech will look to cure their goal-scoring issues this weekend as they travel to Minneapolis to take on the Golden Gophers after not playing last weekend. The Huskies are just 4-5-1 in conference play with have just one win in their last seven games. They have just one home game from now until January 25, so they are going to have to learn how to get points on the road.

8. Minnesota (-)
Last Week: 3-3 tie at Michigan State and 5-1 loss at Michigan
This Week: Two games versus Michigan Tech

Minnesota played a solid road game on Friday night last weekend but blew a pair of third period leads versus Michigan State in tying 3-3. On Saturday, Michigan didn't run them up and down the ice, but the duo of Chad Kolarik and Kevin Porter was just too much for Minnesota to stop. The Gophers are obviously having a down year, and will probably need a pair of wins over the next two weekends to remain in the race for home-ice.

9. Alaska Anchorage (-)
Last Week: Idle
This Week: Two games versus Colorado College

The Seawolves will do their best to slow down the high-powered Colorado College Tigers this weekend at Sullivan Arena. UAA will look to carry over some momentum from it's 4-2 win on Nov. 17 at Mariucci Arena versus Minnesota. CC is averaging 3.60 GPG, while UAA is scoring just 2.17, so the Seawolves will likely look to bottle up CC and play a 2-1 type game if they can.

10. Minnesota State (-)
Last Week: Idle
This Week: Two games versus Minnesota Duluth

The Mavs have lost four-straight WCHA games, but have been in all but one of them. They take on another in-state rival this weekend in the form of UMD, who will be favored in each game. However, it wouldn't be shocking if they Mavs take a point or two from the Bulldogs in Mankato this weekend.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

UND adds goalie to replace Grieco

Earlier this month, North Dakota sophomore goalie Anthony Grieco left the team to pursue a career in the OHL. Today, the Fighting Sioux replaced Grieco on the roster with freshman Landon Snider, a former Brainerd High School player who was already enrolled at North Dakota as a freshman but not part of the hockey program.

From the press release:

Snider, a 6-foot, 170-pound UND freshman from Brainerd, Minn., has joined the team and begun practicing with the Sioux.

A 2007 Brainerd High School graduate, Snider was a three-year member of the Warriors boys hockey team. He lettered and was the starting goalie for his last two seasons. He helped Brainerd to the Central Lakes Conference championship in his junior season and a second-place conference finish as a senior.

Snider was named Brainerd’s team MVP in his senior year, and in his senior year he was also an all-conference selection along with being named academic all-conference. Snider was on the high school honor roll for two years.

In Snider’s senior season, Brainerd lost 1-0 in double overtime to Elk River in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota 7AA sectionals.

Snider’s high school head coach was Ty Eigner, and his position coach was former Sioux goalie Toby Kvalevog, who played at UND from 1993-97. Kvalevog is UND’s all-time leader in games played by a goalie (121), and ranks second in all-time saves.

WCHA Players of the Week - 11/27

Colorado College forward Chad Rau and goalie Richard Bachman, along with St. Cloud State defenseman John Swanson have been named the WCHA Players of the Week.

From the press release:

Colorado College center Chad Rau, who led all conference players over the Thanksgiving weekend with four scoring points, has been named the Red Baron WCHA Offensive Player of the Week for Nov. 27-Dec. 3. This marks the second straight week Rau has earned the offensive honor.

A 5-11, 184-pound junior from Eden Prairie, Minn., Rau recorded his first collegiate three-goal hat trick - including his league-best fourth game-winner of the season - to boost the league-leading Tigers to a 5-1 victory over arch-rival Denver last Friday (Nov. 23) night at the Colorado Springs World Arena. His three goals came in succession in the first, second and third periods, giving him a natural hat trick.

Then last Saturday at DU, Rau added an assist on teammate Jimmy Kilpatrick's game-opening power-play goal at 1:11 of the first period in a game the Tigers dropped, 3-2.
In addition to his four points, Rau also extended his point-scoring streak to six games, fired 11 shots on goal and earned a +2 plus-minus rating in the series.

Through 12 games of the 2007-08 season, Rau is third in scoring overall among WCHA players with 15 points, including nine goals and six assists. He is an NHL Draft choice of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Also nominated this week were: Tyler Ruegsegger, F, DU; and Ben Street, F, UW.

St. Cloud State University defenseman John Swanson, who excelled at both ends of the ice in the Huskies' road series at No. 7-ranked Clarkson over the Thanksgiving weekend, has been named Red Baron WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for Nov. 27-Dec. 3.

A 5-11, 180-pound junior from St. Cloud, Minn., Swanson has moved from forward to defense this season. He earned a +3 plus-minus rating in the series split against the host Golden Knights on Nov. 23-24, helped the Huskies kill nine of 10 CU power-play attempts, produced three scoring points, and had five shots on goal.

In a 4-1 St. Cloud State victory last Friday night, Swanson had one assist, was +2, and helped the Huskies go 6-of-6 on the penalty-kill in a game they were outshot, 33-13.

To complete the weekend, he scored his first goal of the season and his first collegiate shorthander to give SCSU a 1-0 lead in the second period, later added one assist, and earned a +1 plus-minus mark in a 3-2 setback last Saturday (Nov. 24) evening.

On the season, Swanson has one goal, five assists and six points in 12 games played.

Also nominated this week were: Nate Prosser, D, CC; and Alex Kangas, G, UM.

Colorado College first-year goaltender Richard Bachman, who stopped 52 of 56 shots on goal and posted three shutout periods in a weekend split against arch-rival Denver, has been named Red Baron WCHA Rookie of the Week for Nov. 27-Dec. 3. This marks the second time this season Bachman has earned the rookie honor.

A 5-10, 172-pound freshman from Highlands Ranch, Colo., Bachman stopped 28 of 29 shots on goal and blanked the visiting Pioneers on all four of their power-play chances in a 5-1 victory last Friday (Nov. 23) night at the Colorado Springs World Arena. He was named the game's second star.

He then came back with 24 stops in a 3-2 loss at Denver last Saturday (Nov. 24) evening, again stoning the Pioneers on both of their power-play chances. For the series, Bachman posted a .929 saves percentage , three shutout periods, and helped CC blank DU on all six man-advantage opportunities.

On the 2007-08 season, the Dallas Stars' (NHL) draftee sports a WCHA-best 8-2-0 (.800) record, a league-best .944 saves percentage, and ranks fifth overall in goals-against average at 1.70.

Also nominated this week were: Alex Kangas, G, UM; and Ryan McDonagh, D, UW.

USCHO Poll - 11/19

Click here to view the entire poll. The number in parenthesis represents the movement in the poll from last week. Miami received 44 of the 50 first place votes, while Michigan received the other six. WCHA teams, which occupy eight of the 20 spots, are in bold.

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

USHL Update - 11/27

Click here to see the individual stats for USHL players that are committed to play in the WCHA. I will update this on a weekly basis during the USHL season. If you see a player I missed or a mistake, please take advantage of the comments section and let me know.

UW recruit Crandall mixes it up

Wisconsin recruit Aaron Crandall, a former goalie at St. Thomas Academy who now plays for the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL, got into a pretty sweet fight with Chicago goalie Nick Pisellini in the Steel's 8-3 victory over Green Bay on Nov. 21.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ex-White Bear Lake defenseman Johnson to SCSU

As Chris Heisenberg first reported, former White Bear Lake defenseman Taylor Johnson has committed to St. Cloud State for the fall of 2008. Johnson, who currently plays for Green Bay in the USHL, would have been a senior for the Bears this fall. So far this year, Johnson, who currently stands at 5'9", 175 lbs., has played in 17 games for the Gamblers, posting two goals and four assists with a minus three rating.

Around the Country - 11/26

In the Rensselaer Holiday Hockey Tournament, Notre Dame was able to take down the host team – RPI – to capture the tournament title. In their first semi-final, the Fighting Irish took down Alabama-Huntsville, who pushed the Irish to double-overtime in last year’s NCAA Tournament, by a 4-1 score. On Saturday, the Irish needed a pair of third period goals – including Ryan Thang’s score with fewer than four minutes left – to topple RPI by a 4-3 score.

After dropping a 2-1 game in overtime to Harvard on Tuesday night, Boston University traveled to Madison Square Garden to take on the Cornell Big Red on Friday night. And in a game between two teams that are traditionally very defensive minded, the teams combined for 70 shots – 42 by BU – and the Terriers won by a 6-3 score. BU got goals from six different scorers, including a goal from each of their four forward lines. Brett Bennett made 25 saves in improving his record to 4-2-2.

Notes: Miami, the No. 1 team in the nation, outscored Canisius by a 15-1 margin in sweeping the Golden Griffins in Oxford … Boston College continues to be arguably the biggest bust of the season, as their record dropped to 3-4-5 after losing to Northeastern by a 4-3 score in overtime at home.