Wednesday reading: Weekly honors, UNO rink, J. Schwartz, WCHA women, AFA honor

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) and defenseman Jack Hillen stop a Kings shot during the first period Monday. / Sanford Myers / The Tennessean

Two Gophers were honored by the WCHA this week.

UNO coach Dean Blais is trying to jump start the school’s effort to get its own 8,000-seat arena on campus. No doubt, such a move would be huge for the program, especially from a financial viewpoint (concessions, parking revenue, etc.).

Here’s a look at Wisconsin’s road playoff possibilities.

CC assistant Eric Rud was checking out the NAHL’s top prospects recently.

From stltoday.com: Blues GM Doug Armstrong believes Colorado College forward Jaden Schwartz is close to NHL-ready, and why not? He was captain of Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. He has scored 12 goals and added 24 assists in 26 college games this season.

Colorado College has won just one of its last six games. At 16-14-2 overall and 13-12-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, Schwartz’s team is on the outside of the NCAA’s 16-team national tourney bracket looking in.

Perhaps Colorado College can win the WCHA tourney and the automatic berth that goes with it. Or perhaps Jaden will have to decide whether to turn pro earlier than he expected.

Schwartz is a skilled player, but his character is what sets him apart. He appears to be a natural leader. “When you play, you want to make the players around you better,” he told the Colorado Springs Gazette earlier this season. “Whether teams are on you more or not, that’s something you’ve got to battle through. Every player has been through that at different levels.”

Pine Creek graduate Emily West’s play will be critical for the Minnesota women in the WCHA Frozen Faceoff (league semifinals and championship) this weekend in Duluth.

This sick little boy has been inspired by the Brown Bears and they have been motivated by him.

From AFA sports information:

Air Force sophomore Jason Torf was named the Atlantic Hockey Association Goalie of the Month for February as he helped lead Air Force to a 5-2-1 record and the AHA regular-season championship.

Torf, from Hermosa Beach, Calif., posted a 1.11 goals-against average and a .956 saves percentage in the month. He recorded four shutouts in eight starts as he blanked RIT (3-0 on Feb. 3), Niagara (2-0 on Feb. 10), Mercyhurst (8-0 on Feb. 17) and Robert Morris (3-0 on Feb. 25). Three of his four shutouts came against teams ranked in the top four in the league. Torf led AFA to the league title by stopping all 25 shots he faced in the final regular-season game at Robert Morris, Feb. 25. The night before, he made a season high 35 saves against the Colonials.

After missing almost three months and 14 games with a groin injury, Torf has come back to be among the national leaders in every goaltending category. In all games, he ranks third in the nation in goals-against average (1.65), seventh in shutouts (4) and eighth in saves percentage (.931)

The Atlantic Hockey monthly honor was his first of the season and second of his career. Air Force, 17-9-7 overall and 15-6-6 in the league, earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Falcons will host an AHA quarterfinal series, March 9-11, at the Cadet Ice Arena.

Fejes excited to be coming to CC this fall

Image taken from Hunter Fejes' Facebook profile.

Hunter Fejes, listed at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds by his prep school, is excited to be headed to play hockey at Colorado College this fall.

“I see myself as a power forward that is responsible in all three zones of the ice,” he said via a Facebook message. “I am a gritty player that is willing to go to the net. I am also a good skater.”

In his fifth season playing for Shattuck St. Mary’s of Faribault, Minn., the high school senior has 69 points (36 assists) in 49 games. That makes him tied for first in goals on Shattuck, and second in points.

He’s looking forward to coming to Colorado Springs after a recent visit.

“I chose CC because it was a unique place,” he said. “The campus was very nice, and the atmosphere reminded me of Alaska. When I was there the teammates were great. They created a good environment for me to develop and grow as a player and a person.”

He is eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft, where he is projected to go in the third through fifth rounds since he is on the Central Scouting’s preliminary ‘B’ list. Here is some more info from his hometown newspaper.

Tuesday reading: Tiger fans should keep an eye on CCHA playoffs; Geoffrion keeps it in the family; other notes

Here’s a look at the CCHA playoff matchups. Here’s why Tiger fans should pay attention this weekend: Lake Superior State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Western Michigan are all just head of CC in the Pairwise rankings. A series loss for those schools — guaranteed since ND and OSU play each other — would free up an NCAA Tournament spot for CC, assuming the Tigers take care of business down the stretch.

The Denver fan blog theorizes about the 2012-13 Pioneers scheduled, which may include two games against Air Force.

Reinstating the Sioux nickname has already hurt the North Dakota track team, with it losing a spot at the University of Iowa invitational. This blog post wonders loud if it’s worth it or not.

This blog talks about the likely WCHA coach of the year candidates led Michigan Tech’s Mel Pearson. I would be shocked and a bit dismayed if he didn’t garner the award. The Huskies won four games last season. Pearson got win No. 5 on Oct. 28. Enough said.

The same blog also talks about rookie of the year with Minnesota’s Kyle Rau as the top contender.

Look for former Badger Blake Geoffrion to become the fourth generation of his family to play for the Canadiens tonight. He was called up Monday after a trade to the Montreal organization.

I reported last night that CC got a top-end commit — since confirmed by the player — in center Hunter Fejes of Anchorage. He’s likely to come in 2012 judging from the latest Chris Heisenberg list, which does not include him, yet. RW Alex Roos committed on Feb. 8.

. COLORADO COLLEGE
. Alex Roos-RW 2/8/12 2013 or 2014 Team Illinois U18 5’8 150 12-5-94
. Daniel Labosky-LW 12/29/11 2013 or 2014 Benilde St.Margaret 5’6 150 5-24-95 2011 USA U17 Team
. Duggie Lagrone-RD 10/24/11 2013 Des Moines (USHL) 5’10 185 6-23-94
. Garrett Cecere-LD 8/18/11 2013 or 2014 Janesville (NAHL) 5’9 155 1-5-95 2011 USA U17 Team
. Gustav Olofsson-LD 3/11/11 2013 or 2014 Colorado Thunderbirds 6’1 170 12-1-94
. Jaccob Slavin-D 12/17/10 2013 Chicago (USHL) 6’2 167 5-1-94 2011 USA U18 Team
. Christian Heil-C 12/16/10 2013 Chicago (USHL) 5’11 150 3-25-94
. Michael King-D 12/7/10 Westside (BCHL) 6’4 200 1-22-93 48-5-18-23-22
. Matt Hansen-RW 10/5/10 Austin (NAHL) 5’10 163 5-11-93 44-5-5-10-4

Shattuck senior commits to Tigers

Shattuck St. Mary’s senior center Hunter Fejes, pictured at left, has committed to Colorado College, he confirmed via a Facebook message Monday night.

He has 69 points (30 goals, 39 assists) on the third line according to the Twitter sources that first reported the commit.

Fejes would be eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft.

The Anchorage native  is considered a Minnesota high school draft ‘B’ prospect by NHL Central Scouting.

Monday reading: Playoff scenarios, polls, AFA-CC series

The Tigers need to rally this weekend to get home playoff ice and keep their slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

The Western College Hockey Blog explained the WCHA playoff scenarios. Thank you Chris.

CC is in better shape than some may fear, though it will take a good run starting this weekend, and some help, to make the NCAAs.

The Tigers fell to No. 19 in the USCHO.com poll, just ahead of No. 20 Air Force. CC, rated No. 21 in the Pairwise rankings,  did not receive a vote in the USA Hockey poll. The Falcons did.

The Gazette is excited about the very strong chance (early October is my guess) of a home-and-home series between the Falcons and CC. It makes great sense from travel expense and ticket sale standpoints for both programs.

The Wisconsin Badgers are feeling better about themselves after a road sweep at Bemidji State.

Minnesota State Moorhead will not add Division I hockey after falling short of the $37 million needed to start. This opens the door for Alabama-Huntsville to become the 10th WCHA school in fall 2013. Here’s hoping that pans out.

Pine Creek High School graduate Emily West’s two goals Saturday, three on the weekend, helped the Minnesota women advance to the WCHA Final Faceoff.  Host Minnesota Duluth (20-13-1) faces top-rated Wisconsin (31-3-2)  at 4:37 p.m.  CT Friday at Amsoil Arena, while No. 2 Minnesota (29-5-2) plays No. 5 North Dakota (22-10-3) at 7:37 p.m. The title game, with an automatic NCAA tournament berth at stake, is 7:07 p.m. Saturday.

Sunday reading: Home ice, UAA, Pairwise, updated standings

It looks like four of the six WCHA home playoff ice berths are clinched with North Dakota in at No. 4 behind Denver, Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota.

In all likelihood, Alaska Anchorage will be enjoying a direct flight to Minneapolis for its WCHA playoff series. The Gophers beat writer also predicts eight seed St. Cloud State at No. 5 seed CC in the first round, though that remains very much in question with seventh-place Michigan Tech coming to World Arena.

Not surprisingly, NHL scouts think highly of the Gophers.

Here’s the latest Pairwise rankings with CC at No. 21. The Tigers

Alaska Fairbanks 3, Alaska Anchorage 1

FAIRBANKS — Daniel Naslund spotted Alaska Anchorage a lead with a second-period goal, but the Seawolves could not hang on Saturday night, falling 3-1 to host Alaska Fairbanks in hockey action at the Carlson Center. With the weekend split, the Governors Cup was decided by a shootout, which the Nanooks won 3-2. The Cup has now been decided by a shootout five times, with UAF winning four of those.

CURRENT STANDINGS

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
26
19
7
0
38
85
52
23
11
1
127
73
Minnesota Duluth
26
16
6
4
36
99
68
22
7
5
128
87
Denver
26
14
8
4
32
90
77
19
11
4
119
94
North Dakota
26
14
11
1
29
75
71
18
12
3
101
92
Colorado College
26
13
12
1
27
88
84
16
14
2
103
95
Nebraska Omaha
26
11
10
5
27
81
79
14
14
6
103
99
Michigan Tech
26
11
11
4
26
83
80
14
16
4
100
102
St. Cloud State
26
11
12
3
25
81
70
14
16
4
107
95
Wisconsin
26
10
14
2
22
71
80
15
15
2
96
93
Bemidji State
26
9
14
3
21
65
84
15
16
3
90
96
Minnesota State
26
8
16
2
18
71
95
12
20
2
95
115
Alaska Anchorage
26
5
20
1
11
55
104
9
21
2
76
118

Around the WCHA: CC swept in Duluth

Michigan Tech goalie Josh Robinson made big-time saves to keep the Huskies in the hunt for home playoff ice headed into next weekend at CC.

No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 5, No. 16 CC 2

DULUTH – The No. 4 Bulldogs put the finishing touches on a Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep of Colorado College with a 5-2 victory Saturday night before 6,808 at AMSOIL Arena — the largest home crowd in UMD hockey history. With the win, the Bulldogs clinch at least a share of second place in the WCHA, and reach the 22-victory plateau for the fourth consecutive year.

Junior Mike Seidelscored twice and senior  Jack Connolly(three assists) and goaltender Kenny Reiter(two assists, 25 saves)  enjoyed multiple point nights for the defending NCAA champion Bulldogs, who never trailed the entire weekend.

Reiter, who equaled a club single-game record for a goaltender with his two assists, made 25 saves to improve 20-6-5 on the year. CC junior Joe Howe finished with 32 stops for No. 16 Colorado College (16-14-2 overall; 13-12-1 WCHA).

The Bulldogs (22-7-5;16-6-4) went 2-of-3 with the man-advantage, and have now converted on nine of their 22 power plays over the past five games (40.9 percent).

Rylan Schwartz and Andrew Hamburg scored for CC. Aaron Harstad recorded two assists.

CC is now tied for fifth with Nebraska Omaha and owns the tiebreaker with the Mavs based on having more league wins. But the Tigers have only a one point lead over seventh-place Michigan Tech, which visits World Arena next weekend.

Michigan Tech 3, St. Cloud State 2

HOUGHTON, Mich. – On Senior Night at the MacInnes Student Arena, it was freshman Blake Pietillascoring the game winner with 1:38 remaining to lift Michigan Tech to a 3-2 victory over St. Cloud State. Tech (14-16-4 overall, 11-11-4 WCHA) earned the series split with the victory and remained in the hunt for home ice in the WCHA playoffs.

Pietila’s goal broke a 2-all deadlock after St. Cloud (14-16-4, 11-12-3) had tied the game early in the third period.

“I didn’t see much, but they took away the pass so I took the shot,” said Pietila, who joined six other Tech players with at least nine goals on the season. “I was able to get it upstairs and it went in.”

The hosts played from ahead most of the game. Goalie Josh Robinsonmade several big-time saves to keep the game knotted before Tech started to control play down the stretch.

Robinson ended up with 18 saves in the contest to improve to 13-12-4 on the season. Lee suffered the loss with 25 saves.

“There are a couple of reasons why this was an important win for us,” said head coach Mel Pearson. “Not only because it keeps us in the race for home ice or that we wanted to get a win for our seniors, but also to reward all the hard work the team has put in over the last few weeks.”

Tech’s six seniors, including Colorado Springs backup netminder Corson Cramer were honored in a postgame ceremony on the ice.

No. 9 Denver 5, No. 12 North Dakota 3

DENVER — Sophomore forward Nick Shore scored a goal and two assists while Chris Knowlton and Jason Zucker each added a goal and an assist to lead Denver to a 5-3 win against North Dakota on Saturday night at Magness Arena.

No. 6 Minnesota 3, Nebraska Omaha 2

OMAHA — Freshman forward Kyle Rau scored twice to help Minnesota complete the weekend sweep of Nebraska Omaha with a 3-2 victory on Saturday night at CenturyLink Center. With the loss, the Mavericks were swept in a two-game series for the first time this year. Minnesota won 3-2 in overtime on Friday.

UNO finishes the regular season on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3 when it hosts Denver.

Wisconsin 4, Bemidji State 2

BEMIDJI — Junior defenseman Justin Schultz scored a power play goal at 3:47 of the third period and sophomore forward Michael Mersch added an empty net goal to give the Badgers a 4-2 win against the Beavers on Saturday night at Sanford Center. It was the first consecutive road wins for the Badgers this season.

Alaska Anchorage 1, Alaska Fairbanks 0, first period

Minnesota State Mankato, idle

STANDINGS

As of 10:30 p.m. MT Saturday

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
26
19
7
0
38
85
52
23
11
1
127
73
Minnesota Duluth
26
16
6
4
36
99
68
22
7
5
128
87
Denver
26
14
8
4
32
90
77
19
11
4
119
94
North Dakota
26
14
11
1
29
75
71
18
12
3
101
92
Colorado College
26
13
12
1
27
88
84
16
14
2
103
95
Nebraska Omaha
26
11
10
5
27
81
79
14
14
6
103
99
Michigan Tech
26
11
11
4
26
83
80
14
16
4
100
102
St. Cloud State
26
11
12
3
25
81
70
14
16
4
107
95
Wisconsin
26
10
14
2
22
71
80
15
15
2
96
93
Bemidji State
26
9
14
3
21
65
84
15
16
3
90
96
Minnesota State
26
8
16
2
18
71
95
12
20
2
95
115
Alaska Anchorage
26
5
20
1
11
55
104
9
20
2
75
115

 

In the pros: Lampl, Rau, Sweatt

Former Tiger Cody Lampl is now a fan favorite for the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies after recovering from two elbow surgeries this season.

The Minnesota Wild announced Friday that it has reassigned goalie Matt Hackett and center Chad Rau, sending the pair of young players to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League. Rau, a 25-year-old Eden Prairie native, has produced a pair of game-winning goals in seven games with the Wild this winter. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound forward — the brother of Minnesota Gophers standout freshman Kyle Rau — has tallied 21 points in 47 games with Houston this season.

Bill Sweatt scored, but it wasn’t enough to keep the AHL Wolves’s win streak alive.

Updated Saturday reading: Friday recap, standings and Pairwise rankings

Here’s a recap of Friday’s results, updated standings and a link to the latest Pairwise rankings.

No. 6 Minnesota Duluth 4, No. 16 CC 3 OT

DULUTH — Sophomore right winger J.T. Brown made sure of that with a one-time blast off a faceoff exactly three minutes into overtime to send the Bulldogs to a 4-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory before a crowd of 6,346 at AMSOIL Arena.

“(The game-winning goal) felt good,” said Brown, who returned to the lineup after missing last weeken’d series at Minnesota State-Mankato with an upper-body injury. “We had a big lead and then they got a couple clutch goals, but we did what we needed to do to close this one out.”

The Gazette explains how the loss hurts, but does not scuttle the Tigers’ chance at home playoff ice.

But another loss Saturday would force the Tigers to win its first Final Five tournament title in order to advance to the NCAA Tournament, judging from the latest Pairwise rankings.

No. 4 Minnesota 3, Nebraska Omaha 2 OT

OMAHA — Sophomore defenseman Jake Parenteau scored his first goal of the season 1:46 into overtime to lift Minnesota to a 3-2 victory against Nebraska Omaha on Friday night CenturyLink Center.

The loss keeps the Mavericks tied with CC for fifth place.

No. 12 North Dakota 4, No. 9 Denver 3

DENVER – No. 12 North Dakota started fast and held on for a 4-3 win over No. 9 Denver in front of a sellout crowd of 6,119 Friday night at Magness Arena.

The Fighting Sioux jumped out to a 4-0 lead on goals by Corban Knight, Danny Kristo (penalty shot), Carter Rowney (power-play goal) and Stephane Pattyn, and held off a late three-goal flurry from Denver. North Dakota dominated much of the game and Brad Eidsness made 32 saves as the Fighting Sioux improve to 18-11-3, 14-10-1 WCHA.

The win moves North Dakota into fourth, one point behind the third-place Pioneers.

Wisconsin 4, Bemidji State 2

BEMIDJI — Sophomore forward Michael Mersch scored a goal and added an assist while sophomore forward Mark Zengerle handed out a pair of assists as Wisconsin skated to a 4-2 win against Bemidji State on Friday at Sanford Center.

St. Cloud State 5, Michigan Tech 2

HOUGHTON — Freshman forwards Joey Holka and Joe Rehkamp each collected a goal and an assist to help lift St. Cloud State to a 5-2 win against Michigan Tech on Friday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Cheyenne Mountain High School graduate Corson Cramer came on in relief in net after SCSU’s fifth goal and made four saves.

Here’s more details.

Alaska Anchorage 5, Alaska Fairbanks 2

ANCHORAGE — Sophomore goaltender Chris Kamal made 27 saves and the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves rode a three-goal second period to a 3-2 victory against the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks on Friday night at Sullivan Arena.

Minnesota State Mankato is idle this weekend.

CURRENT STANDINGS

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
25
18
7
0
36
82
50
22
11
1
124
71
Minnesota Duluth
25
15
6
4
34
94
66
21
7
5
123
85
Denver
25
13
8
4
30
85
74
18
11
4
114
91
North Dakota
25
14
10
1
29
72
66
18
11
3
98
87
Colorado College
25
13
11
1
27
86
79
16
13
2
101
90
Nebraska Omaha
25
11
9
5
27
79
76
14
13
6
101
96
St. Cloud State
25
11
11
3
25
79
67
14
15
4
105
92
Michigan Tech
25
10
11
4
24
80
78
13
16
4
97
100
Bemidji State
25
9
13
3
21
63
80
15
15
3
88
92
Wisconsin
25
9
14
2
20
67
78
14
15
2
92
91
Minnesota State
26
8
16
2
18
71
95
12
20
2
95
115
Alaska Anchorage
26
5
20
1
11
55
104
9
20
2
75
115

In the pros: Bachman, O’Brien

Former Tigers goalie Richard Bachman recorded a win Thursday night, 3-1 in Chicago.

Tyler O’Brien is back stateside, playing for the Federal League’s Cape Cod franchise after some financial troubles for the Whitecaps and other serious concerns for the import players. He gives details on his blog here.

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