Monday reading: UMass-Lowell lookahead, North Dakota news, NCHC recruits, Alaska youth hockey upgrade, CC graduation rate, Civitarese

Coach Norm Bazin, center, runs through drills with the UMass Lowell hockey team at the Tsongas Center last season. Bazin, hired last spring, wasted no time turning the program around. SUN / TORY GERMANN

Here’s a good look at the 2011-12 season in Hockey East with some good 2012-13 info on UMass-Lowell, coached by former Tiger assistants Norm Bazin and Jason Lammers, which returns its top three scorers and starting goalie for the game in Colorado Springs in October.

That looks to be a very challenging game to play a night after playing at Air Force. That promises to be a big weekend for Pairwise, even though it will only be the third weekend.

Brad Berry is the lead contender for the open North Dakota assistant’s job.

North Dakota forward Rocco Grimaldi skated for the first time on Friday as he recovers from his season-ending knee surgery

A SCSU recruit scored the game-winner to claim the RBC Cup (junior A national championship) in Canada.

A good offensive defenseman and Duluth recruit was named as the USHL Defenseman of the Year. Former Tiger Tom Preissing garnered the same award for the 1998-99 season.

UMD sent out a corrected 2012-13 hockey schedule that works around the BYU-Notre Dame football game, among other scheduling demands.

The formation of the Alaska Jr. Aces should help youth hockey development in Anchorage. Why should a Tiger fan care? Consider that CC has four Alaskans — Hunter Fejes, Jared Hanson, William Rapuzzi, and Scott Wamsganz — on its roster for 2012-13 and have had a few great Alaskan players (Brian Swanson, Joey Crabb spring to mind) over the years.

Regardless of who is on the roster, the Tigers take care of academics when you consider this story about the entire department’s student-athletes. Former Tiger David Civitarese is a great example of that.

The USHL championships series will go to a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday. There are no current CC commits playing at Waterloo or Green Bay.

Alaska-Fairbanks announced its 2012-13 schedule which includes it season opener against Air Force in the Anchorage tournament.

The AHL conference final series resume on Monday. Norfolk, which includes Colorado Springs’ Jeff Dimmen (one assist, two games) has a 2-0 lead over St. John’s while Oklahoma City and Toronto are tied at 1-1 in the West finals.

Monday reading: Tigers in the playoffs, Zaba video, J. Schwartz honor

Former Tigers Trevor Frischmon (No. 28) and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders' top affiliate, saw their season end on Sunday night with a 4-3 OT loss to Connecticut. The Whale swept the best of five AHL playoff series, 3-0.

Colin Stuart, captain of the Rochester Americans, will try to stave off elimination when his team hosts the Toronto Marlies on Monday night in the league’s only game.

Nate Prosser returned from an unspecified injury and the Houston Aeros defense held together for a 1-0 win Sunday at Oklahoma City to keep the best-of-five series going. The West top seed Barons still lead 2-1 in games.

Brian Connelly recorded an assist in Abbotsford’s 4-2 win Sunday night at Milwaukee. The Heat lead the series 2-0 and head back to B.C. for Game 3 on Wednesday.

The Foxes celebrate their championships in Italy's top pro hockey league.

Here are highlights of the Bolzano Foxes’ perfect (12 wins in 12 games) run to the franchise’s record 19th Italia Serie A championship as shown in this highlights video that features goalie Matt Zaba (No. 1, black headgear). The Foxes wear red and white.

Top hockey prospect website HockeysFuture.com selected Jaden Schwartz, drafted 14th overall in 2010, as an honorable mention after  his sophomore performance with Colorado College and as captain of the bronze medalist Canadian world juniors team.

The USA U18 team brought home yet another gold medal.

In the ECHL playoffs, Alaska will host Las Vegas, probably on Friday, to open the Western Conference finals. Brian Swanson and Tim Hall play for the top seed Aces. No former Tigers play for the Wranglers.

In the pros: ECHL, AHL playoffs update

San Antonio's Mark Cullen had a big game against Chicago in the AHL playoffs on Saturday night.

In the AHL, Mark Cullen picked up two assists, including the first assist on the game-winner in San Antonio’s 4-3 win over Chicago, which plays Bill Sweatt.

Gabe Guentzel played his second playoff game for Syracuse and finished plus-2. David Civitarese has yet to appear for Hershey in the postseason.

Today is a busy day for former Tigers with Bridgeport’s Trevor Frischmon trying to avoid elimination in the best-of-five series against Connecticut while Houston hopes to do the same at OKC. Abbotsford, which features Brian Connelly, will try to take a 2-0 lead at Milwaukee this afternoon.

Former Tiger Brian Swanson assisted the opening goal as the Alaska Aces defeated Stockton 4-1 in Game 5 of their ECHL second-round playoff series and advanced to the Western Conference finals for the sixth time in the franchise’s nine years. They Aces will face the winner of the Las Vegas-Idaho series (LV leads 3-1).

Tim Hall played for Alaska. The loss ends Ryan Lowery’s stay in Stockton He may now be called up to AHL Oklahoma City, which holds a 2-0 lead in its best-of-five series against Houston, which has Kris Fredheim, Nate Prosser and Chad Rau on its roster.

Saturday reading: AHL and ECHL playoffs, Crabb, coaches meetings, Air Force schedule, Penn State arena, Knight injury, DU captains

Former Tiger captain Nick Dineen showed off what he can do, especially on face-offs and down low, during his short amateur tryout with the ECHL's Elmira Jackals.

Former Tiger Nick Dineen’s first pro season is over. The Eastern No. 1 seed Elmira Jackals lost to No. 5 Florida 2-1  Friday night and the best-of-seven ECHL playoff series 4-1.

Elmira had led the series 1-0 on Dineen’s game-winner in Game 1. Dineen is now a free agent. I would expect him sign an AHL contract this summer.

Alaska, which includes Tim Hall and Brian Swanson, now leads Stockton, which plays Ryan Lowery, 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 5 is Saturday night in California.

Gabe Guentzel played in his first pro playoff game, a 3-2 loss for Syracuse. David Civitarese was a scratch for Hershey in its 3-1 loss. Kris Fredheim and Chad Rau’s No. 8 seed Aeros are down 2-0 in their series against Oklahoma City while Abbotsford, led by Brian Connelly, cruised past Milwaukee.

Colorado Springs’ Jeff Dimmen, a former Maine standout defenseman, is playing for the powerful Norfolk Admirals squad, which won its pro-hockey record 29th game in a row on Friday, a mark that is 11 games longer than any other winning streak ever recorded in any league since hockey was professionalized in 1904. CC fans may remember him for scoring the game-winner against the Tigers in the Florida College Classic during December 2008.

Joey Crabb received a respectable grade from the Toronto beat writer for his best NHL season.

This week’s national coaches’ meeting will have plenty of issues to discuss, including half-shields and the new conference alignments.

Construction on the new ice hockey arena for Penn State, which begins play as a Division I independent this October, began officially on Friday with a groundbreaking ceremony. Coach Guy Gadowsky, a CC alumnus, and two PSU players are interviewed in these videos.

Alaska-Anchorage announced its 2012-13 schedule which will include a game against Air Force in the Kendall Classic in Anchorage Oct. 13. The Falcons take on Alaska-Fairbanks at 3:07 p.m. Mountain on Oct. 12.

North Dakota’s Corban Knight played the last three months of the season with a broken hand.

Denver announced that junior defenseman Paul Phillips, who was an assistant this past season, will be the captain of the 2012-13 Pioneers.  Colorado Springs’ Chris Knowlton won the most improved award and will be an assistant captain along with Shawn Ostrow and Nick Shore.

Monday reading: Zaba, J. Schwartz, Kirby, Dineen, Holmstrom, Testwuide, Prosser, Civitarese, Guentzel, ECHL playoffs, Mankato

Elmira Jackals' Nick Dineen tries to redirect the puck in front of Florida Everblades' goalie John Muse during the first period at First Arena in Elmira on Friday.

Former Tiger Matt Zaba won his second Italia Serie A (top Italian pro league) championship on Friday night as starting goalie for the Bolzano Foxes of northern Italy.

“Our goaltender and first line were the key to our victory,” said the club’s President Dieter Knoll.

Bolzano has now won a record 19 league titles.

Jaden Schwartz was named as a second team All-America forward by Inside College Hockey which has Air Force’s Tim Kirby as a third-team defenseman.

Here is INCH’s freshman All-America first and second teams. Do not expect many of these guys to stay four years after such strong rookie seasons.

Colorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom and Vail’s Mike Testwuide both scored in a costly Friday loss for AHL Adirondack, which fell short of the final playoff berth in the East.

Nate Prosser’s arrival in Houston helped the Aeros secure the West’s No. 8 seed in the AHL playoffs, which begin on Thursday. Hershey (David Civitarese) and Syracuse  (Gabe Guentzel) both qualified for the postseason.

In the ECHL playoffs, Nick Dineen and the Elmira Jackals resume their playoff series (tied 1-1) against Florida at 5:30 Mountain tonight. Stockton, which includes Ryan Lowery, and Alaska (Brian Swanson and Tim Hall) will both try to break their 1-1 series tie on Wednesday.

If Richard Bachman (restricted free agent) re-signs with Dallas, he can expect a stern challenge from Texas Stars starter Jack Campbell, who impressed his coaches with a strong first pro season.

Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Connolly was named as the USCHO Player of the Year.

Here is more on Mike Hastings’ hire at MSU Mankato this Saturday. The purple Mavs also released their home schedule, which is a smart way to build up the fans’ excitement in southern Minnesota.

Air Force freshman Scott Holm was named the Atlantic Hockey Association Rookie of the Month for March/April.

Holm, a forward from Plymouth, Minn., was AFA’s top freshman scorer with three goals and four points in six games as Air Force won its fifth league champion­ship in six years. He scored a goal in all three games versus UConn as the Falcons won the AHA quarterfinal series. Holm finished the season with 10 points (6g, 4a) and was named the team’s most improved player.

Saturday reading: Frozen 4, Kirby, game attendance, Huntsville, Johnson, Lowery, Hall, Slattengren, Swanson, Prosser suspension

Here is College Hockey News’ preview of tonight’s championship game.

It’s Boston College’s potent offense versus Ferris State’s suffocating defense according to this preview.

One of Ferris State’s notable alums may be one of the Beach Boys, but the Bulldogs wasted no time on the sand on Friday.

The rigors of the Hockey East schedule best prepared Boston College for tonight’s game at 5 p.m. Mountain (ESPN2).

Air Force defenseman Tim Kirby garnered All-America East honors. He is the fourth Falcon all-time and fourth in the past six years to be so honored.

Attendance has never been an issue for either Air Force or Colorado College in recent years.

Alabama-Huntsville is using its chance to host the Frozen Four as a chance to ingratiate (ie. free scotch and steaks) themselves with the member schools of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Good thing former Tiger Tyler Johnson bolted for Europe. His former ECHL team has folded, but the CHL’s Fort Wayne expected move up the ECHL along with expansion franchises in San Francisco and Orlando mean there will be some minor-league pro jobs out there for other former college players.

Ryan Lowery’s Stockton Thunder eliminated the Colorado Eagles, which included Aaron Slattengren, on Friday in the first round of the ECHL playoffs. The Thunder head north to take on the Alaska Aces, which feature Tim Hall and Brian Swanson.

Nate Prosser was suspended for one game for head-butting Jamal Mayers recently. Here is Brendan Shanahan’s video explanation of the suspension. With Prosser out tonight, former Sioux defenseman Chay Genoway will make his NHL debut tonight against Phoenix.

UMD goalie Kenny Reiter has signed with AHL Bridgeport, an affiliate of the Islanders. North Dakota defenseman Ben Blood (all-league player with an all-world name) signed with Ottawa.

Updated Thursday reading: Frozen 4, Guentzel, Penrose award, predictions,Owens, Hall, Mankato, Rud, Sterling, Connelly, C. Stuart

Former CC standout Gabe Guentzel of the Syracuse Crunch at bottom tangles up with Corey Cowick of the Binghamton Senators in a mid-ice collision in the second period at the Onondaga County War Memorial. Mike Greenlar / The Post-Standard.

Here is a link to all the stories by the Union beat writer in preparation of today’s 2:30 p.m. Mountain semifinal (ESPNU) vs. Ferris State. Here is a video made by ECAC fans hopeful the league will win its first NCAA title since 1989.

Western College Hockey Blog talks about why Ferris State has made it this far.

The Boston College-Minnesota semifinal (6 p.m. Mountain, ESPN2) is discussed here along with other preview notes. The fan blog BC Interruption weighs in on the second semifinal. The teams will face off often in the future.

Goon’s World breaks down the Frozen Four and picks the Dutchmen to win it all. My prediction? Boston College over Ferris State. Let the second-guessing begin.

FSU’s coach garnered the Spencer Penrose Award ahead of UMass-Lowell’s Norm Bazin.

Who says that college does not prepare you for the pros and NHL? For the second year in a row, four of the six all-AHL rookie team members played in college:

  • G: Eddie Pasquale, St. John’s (34 GP, 21-11-1, 2.36 GAA, .913 save pct., 4 SO) OHL
  • D: Matt Donovan, Bridgeport (69 GP, 10-32–42, +9) Denver (NHL debut on Tuesday)
  • D: Cade Fairchild, Peoria (63 GP, 7-25–32, +28, 3 GWG) Minnesota
  • F: Cory Conacher, Norfolk (70 GP, 34-39–73, +11, 7 GWG) Canisius (Favorite to win Rookie of the Year)
  • F: Tyler Johnson, Norfolk (70 GP, 29-35–64, +13, 5 GWG) WHL
  • F: Gustav Nyquist, Grand Rapids (56 GP, 22-36–58, +7, 7 PPG) Maine (NHL debut earlier this season)

CC coach Scott Owens has been under fire of late from fans that were dissatisfied by the early end to this past season. The Colorado Springs Independent’s Ralph Routon does his usual good job outlining the situation.

Not included, but I think worth mentioning is the class workload these players have to handle while facing the full-time demands of playing hockey. The block system is intense and I could see the fatigue in the players’ eyes before every block final. I think the off-ice workload definitely plays a role in the second-half struggles.

The Anchorage Daily News found out some good detail on former Tiger Tim Hall’s move from CC to the ECHL, including how CC assistant Eric Rud connected with Brian Swanson to put Hall on the Alaska Aces’ radar.

Rud is mentioned by the Mankato beat writer as a possible replacement for the ousted Troy Jutting. He and longtime CC assistant Joe Bonnett are both worthy of serious consideration.

Brett Sterling had a goal and an assist in a big win for Portland as the Pirates battle to make the AHL playoffs.

Brian Connelly recorded an assist and Colin Stuart, the captain of the Rochester Americans, was interviewed about Abbotsford’s 4-3 overtime win over the Americans.

Thursday reading: Schedule; Early departures; In the pros

CC will play North Dakota four times next season according to a tentative schedule compiled by the Grand Forks Herald. The dates are UND at CC Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and the Tigers in Grand Forks Jan. 11-12.

J.T. Brown joined the growing list of WCHA early departures.

Former Tiger Tim Hall remains a member of the ECHL Western Conference champion Alaska Aces as is forward Brian Swanson and goalie Drew O’Connell who made his pro debut in a 5-1 loss in relief (seven saves on eight shots) on Feb. 11

Joey Crabb is an unrestricted free agent this summer. It remains to be seen what the Leafs’ offseason plans may be after another disappointing season.

Chad Rau was sent down to AHL Houston to free up a roster spot for rookie Jason Zucker. The Wild need to give the DU junior some ice time to determine his role.

UConn is looking to become the 12th member of Hockey East.

It is now a week until the Frozen Four begins. Here’s some game notes from Minnesota.

Sunday reading: In the pros, Hall, tonight’s playoff games

Toronto Maple Leafs' Joey Crabb, right, fights with Philadelphia Flyers' Wayne Simmonds during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Toronto on Saturday, March 10, 2012.

Former Tiger Aaron Slattengren scored Colorado’s only goal on a record-tying night for ECHL star Wes Goldie, Alaska teammate of former CC star Brian Swanson, who talks about the all-time goals record.

Trevor Frischmon recorded an assist for AHL Bridgeport Saturday night.

Tigers senior Tim Hall, one of the hardest working CC players up to the very end on Saturday, is featured here.

It’s a busy Sunday night in college hockey with eight best-of-three series going the distance.

CCHA regular-season champ Ferris State won 7-4 Saturday to force a decisive Game 3 Sunday against last-place Bowling Green.

Atlantic Hockey Association regular-season champ Air Force lost 3-1 Saturday to No. 8 UConn, forcing a Game 3 at 7 Mountain Sunday.

In the WCHA playoffs, No. 3 seed Denver forced Game 3 against Wisconsin at 7 Mountain at Magness Arena.

Quinnipiac at Colgate and Harvard at Yale’s ECAC playoff series will be decided tonight.

In Hockey East, UMass-Lowell will try to stave off No. 7 seed Providence, Merrimack tries for the road win at Maine and Boston University hosts New Hampshire.

 

Saturday reading: WCHA roundup, features

Michigan Tech's Jordan Baker recorded a goal and an assist to spark the visiting Huskies to a four-goal third period in a 4-4 tie at No. 1 Minnesota Duluth.

Here’s an update on the progress NCHC commissioner Jim Scherr has made in the first three weeks of his tenure. He’s really hit the ground running.

CC’s Chad Rau was one of four former Tigers playing in an NHL last Saturday. Here’s a feature on him, Nate Prosser and a list of how former CC players are doing in the AHL and NHL.

Air Force standout Jacques Lamoureux is the 13th former Falcon to play part-time pro hockey. He’s teammates with former Tigers Drew O’Connell and Brian Swanson for the ECHL’s Alaska Aces.

Brian Connelly was traded to Calgary on Friday. Hopefully he’ll get a better shot at making his NHL debut with the Flames organization.

Compiled from WCHA.com and school web sites …

Michigan Tech 4, No. 1 Minnesota Duluth 4

DULUTH — It took 10 shots and a 10-minute span for the University of Minnesota Duluth to build what appeared to be a comfortable 4-0 first-period lead Friday in its Western Collegiate Hockey Association series opener with Michigan Tech University.

Maybe a bit too comfortable of lead.

After freshman left winger Caleb Herbert potted his second goal of the night to put UMD up by four with 4:47 to go before the first intermission, the top-ranked Bulldogs (17-4-4 overall and 11-3-3 WCHA) looked like they were well on their way to a ninth straight home win and an eighth consecutive victory over their long-time rivals. But that’s when the UMD scoring burst stopped and the Michigan Tech rally began.

The Huskies (11-12-2 ; 8-7-2) struck for four unanswered goals, including three in the third period – a period UMD has more or less owned this season – to gain a 4-4 overtime tie with the defending NCAA champions before a near-capacity crowd of 6,670 at AMSOIL Arena.

“It’s tough to come out of tonight with just a tie,” said Herbert, who also picked up one assist. “We have to come together tomorrow night and outwork them because they are going to be hungry for a win.”

Herbert’s two scores and goals by senior right winger David Grun (just under six minutes after the opening faceoff) and defenseman Brady Lamb (at 10:58 of the first) came on the first 10 shots the Bulldogs put on Michigan Tech goaltender Josh Robinson. He stopped the last 27 shots he faced to finish with 33 saves while helping hold the Bulldogs scoreless on all four of their power play chances. He and the Huskies also did something no team has been able to do in 23 games – keep two-time All-American center and the nation’s number one point getter Jack Connolly off the scoresheet.

No. 15 Denver 4, Alaska Anchorage 2

ANCHORAGE — Playing their first home game in almost two months, the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves could not overcome an early deficit as they fell 4-2 to the 15th-ranked Denver Pioneers in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game at Sullivan Arena.

The Seawolves (6-15-2, 3-15-1 WCHA) got goals from first- and second-line centers Matt Bailey and Eric Scheid, while winger Daniel Naslund tied for the team lead with his seventh assist of the season.

The Pioneers (14-8-3, 9-5-3) received goals from four different players as they improved their season-best winning streak to four games.

DU struck first when freshman winger Ty Loney scored even-strength at 8:13 of the first period. Sophomore center Nick Shore gave the visitors a 2-0 advantage at the 16:16 mark, slamming home a power-play tally.

Bailey quickly cut the deficit in half, however, as the sophomore from Winnipeg scored his fourth goal of the season just 96 seconds later, corralling a centering pass from Naslund and beating DU goalie Adam Murray (30 saves).

Pioneers leading scorer Drew Shore would pick up his 16th goal only 89 seconds into the second period for the eventual game-winner and to extend the visitors’ lead to 3-1, and the junior added his 37th point on linemate Luke Salazar’s goal with seven minutes left in the second.

The Seawolves outshot the Pioneers 32-26 overall, including 10-6 in the third period, breaking through for the game’s finally score on Scheid’s goal with 3:47 on the clock on a goal by Scheid.

No. 3 Minnesota 2, St. Cloud State 1

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – For the first time since Dec. 30, the third-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team won on a Friday night, topping in-state rival St. Cloud State 2-1 in the first game of a home-and-home series at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers received goals from senior Jake Hansen and sophomore Nick Bjugstad and held the Huskies to a season-low 13 shots on goal on the night, proving that the Gophers’ defense is as tough as CC coach Scott Owens said it was last weekend. It was the third 2-1 game in a row for the Gophers.

No. 18 North Dakota 5, Wisconsin 3

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Freshman Stephane Pattyn picked a fine time to score the first goal of his college career at the University of North Dakota.

His tally with just under two minutes left in the third period not only proved to be the game-winner in an important WCHA contest with Wisconsin, but it also came on his 21st birthday.

“It’s probably my best present, for sure,” a smiling Pattyn said. “It’s definitely a good feeling to get that one out of the way. Hopefully they keep coming.”

UND’s 5-3 victory before 11,769 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena improved the team to 14-10-2 overall and 10-9-0 in league play. The Badgers fell to 12-11-2 overall and 7-10-2 in the WCHA, four points behind UND in the battle for home ice during the playoffs.

Sophomore defenseman Dillon Simpson, who notched his first goal since last February, also felt a sense of relief.

“Hopefully the floodgates open a little bit here for me scoring-wise,” he said. “It was great to get that goal and just get the confidence to shoot the puck.”

UND coach Dave Hakstol noted the importance of the team getting scoring contributions across the lineup.

“We need contributions at different times from different people,” he explained. “For Steph Pattyn to step up tonight with his linemates and come up with game-winning goal, that was the separation in a real close hockey game tonight. It’s very important for us.”

Bemidji State 2, Minnesota State Mankato 1

BEMIDJI  — On a night when Bemidji State was out shot 40-26, senior goaltender Dan Bakala stood tall turning aside 39  Mankato shots to open the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series with a 2-1 victory Friday at Sanford Center.

Tied 1-1 midway through the third period, Jordan George potted his team-leading 13th goal of the season to provide BSU with the offense it needed to break the stalemate, gain two points in the league standings and improve to 12-11-2 overall and 6-9-2 in WCHA play.

Minnesota State took the first lead of the game at 8:58 of the opening period when Max Gaede buried his own rebound. Bemidji State clawed its way back into the game before a back-and-fourth second period came to an end.

With 4:40 to play in the period, Jake Areshenko found Danny Mattson  at center ice with an outlet pass. Mattson skated into the zone and capped the play a wrist shot placed just over the glove hand of the MSU goaltender Phil Cook from the right face off circle. The goal was the second of the season for Mattson and stretched his current scoring streak to a career-best five games.

No. 10/12 Colorado College and Nebraska Omaha were idle.

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