Sunday reading: BC, Huntsville, Dineen, M. Stuart, Testwuide, J. Schwartz, Bachman, Hillen, Mankato coach, humanitarian award

Colorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom came up big in a key win over Albany Saturday night in the hunt for an AHL playoff berth.

Happy Easter and Passover everyone.

Minnesota will get its rematch against Boston College, which won 19 straight including Saturday night’s 4-1 championship win over Ferris State, during the next Mariucci Classic. Here is the game story.

Perhaps Alabama Huntsville can take solace in this story about Ferris State’s near demise 20 years ago.

Former Tiger Nick Dineen picked up an assist (his third pro point) in Saturday’s 3-0 Game 4 win over Reading in the ECHL playoffs. Game 5 is at 5:05 p.m. Mountain on Monday.

Mark Stuart received the Dan Snyder Memorial Award.  The team honor was established by the Atlanta Thrashers back in 2004, after Snyder died in a car accident in the fall of 2003 and is given to a player who embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward.

“It’s quite an honour, it’s very humbling,” said Stuart. “ I just try to work hard every night. It’s definitely an award I appreciate a lot. I knew his story, but when I got to Atlanta last year, I learned a lot more about him and had a chance to meet his brother (Jake) after our last game last year. What a great family. Everything you hear about (Dan) is positive. He was such a great guy, such a great teammate, that worked hard every night. He’s still sorely missed in the hockey community.”

Mike Testwuide scored an empty-netter for AHL Adirondack on Saturday.

Jaden Schwartz played 7.5 minutes in the Blues’ regular-season finale after three games as a healthy scratch as St. Louis looks to regain some of its intensity and grit headed into the playoffs as the West’s No. 2 seed. He took two shots on  Richard Bachman,  who made 32 saves in a season-ending loss on Saturday.Do not expect to see much of Schwartz in the playoffs. The Dallas Stars’ season is reviewed.

Here are the NHL playoff match-ups. Congrats to Jack Hillen (Nashville) for making the playoffs for the first time after playing for the Islanders.

MSU Mankato is expected to have its head coach hired by the AHCA meetings in late April. CC assistant Eric Rud is one of the darkhorses among the likely finalists. UND’s Cary Eades is the odds-on favorite.

Hockey Humanitarian Award winner and Yale senior Aleca Hughes was inspired by Mandi Schwartz, sister of Jaden and Rylan Schwartz. Hughes did a lot of work for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation.

Here are two Sioux players expected to be heavily courted by the Ontario Hockey League.

The Minnesota captain has moved on to the AHL.

The Frozen Four all-tournament team

Forwards

Kyle Bonis, Ferris State; Paul Carey and Steven Whitney, Boston College

Defensemen

Chad Billins, Ferris State; Brian Dumoulin, Boston College

Goalie

Parker Milner, Boston College.

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.

Friday reading: Frozen 4, Lowery, Mankato job, CLASS and Hobey Baker awards

Minnesota captain Taylor Mattson reacts to the Gophers' loss to Boston College (photo: Jim Rosvold)

Check out this breakdown of Minnesota’s struggles in its Frozen Four semifinal loss to Boston College on Thursday night and the Gophers’ sloppy play on the big stage. Here is a link to the video interviews done by USCHO.

Union lost its semifinal and its leading scorer in a span of eight hours. Tough night for the Dutchmen fans. Here are the Union beat writer’s articles.

Former Tiger Ryan Lowery was sent down to ECHL Stockton on Thursday to play for the Thunder during the playoffs. CC fans can see him in action against Aaron Slattengren starting at 7:05 p.m. tonight at the Budweiser Events Center.

UND assistant Cary Eades confirmed his interest in the MSU Mankato job. He would be the odds-on favorite, most prognosticators say.

Minnesota Duluth’s Jack Connolly won the the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. First-team All-Americans were Connolly, Ferris State defenseman Chad Billins, Merrimack forward Ryan Flanigan, Cornell defenseman Keir Ross and Air Force forward Paul Weisgarber.

The second team is Ohio State defenseman Sean Duddy, Alaska goaltender Scott Greenham, Notre Dame defenseman Sean Lorenz, Brown forward Jack Maclellan and Miami goaltender Cody Reichard.

WCHA bloggers are confident that Connolly will win the school’s  fifth Hobey Baker Award later today. He is certainly deserving.

Frozen Four: Ferris State, Boston College advance

Frozen Four

Boston College 6, Minnesota 1

Paul Carey scored twice in three minutes, including a goal only 22 seconds after Minnesota’s Jake Hansen made it 4-1 to clinch a semifinal victory and send the top-seeded Eagles on to Saturday’s NCAA championship game in Tampa.

Ferris State 3, Union 1

Ferris State’s Kyle Schmit scored the Bulldogs’ opening and win-clinching goal to spark the CCHA regular-season champs past the ECAC regular-season and playoff champion Union in the opening semifinal of the Frozen Four in Tampa.

Kyle Bonis forced a turnover deep in the Dutchmen zone and fired a shot off Union goalie Troy Grosenick for a rebound that Schmit forced in late in the second period to tie the game at 1-1.

Bonis scored the game winner with four minutes left in the third.

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.

Tuesday reading: J. Schwartz, Hall, Lowery, Jutting, Frozen 4

Former Tiger Jaden Schwartz, pictured at left, finished in the top five in voting for the 2012 Premier College Hockey Player of the Year award. Minnesota Duluth’s Jack Connolly won.

Tim Hall (two assists in eight road games) has played well enough to make the Alaska Aces’ roster  for the ECHL playoffs. He is praised in this story from the Anchorage Daily News.

Ryan Lowery, currently on the roster for AHL Western Conference No. 1 seed Oklahoma City, was also on the Stockton roster under playoff-eligible. It is a new ECHL rule that allows its team to designate possible replacements as the AHL teams are eliminated.

Here is a link to the three Mankato Free Press stories about Troy Jutting’s re-assignment at MSU Mankato.

Follow Union beat writer Ken Schott’s good work from Tampa. College Hockey News looks at the Union-Ferris State semifinal match-up. Here are CHN’s fearless predictions.

Frozen Four Schedule: Thursday’s semifinals, Union College versus Ferris State at 2:30 p.m. Mountain (ESPNU); Boston College versus Minnesota, 6 p.m. (ESPN2).

Coach Don Lucia scouts Boston College. It looks like he hopes a good forecheck will work well.

Here is a link to the Tampa paper’s’ coverage with some good stories, including a look at Alabama Huntsville. Now we know why the Frozen Four is in Tampa in the first place. Thanks to Duluth’s Kevin Pates for finding that.

Monday reading: CC-UMD home dates, Jutting reassignment reaction, season reviews, Frozen 4, NHL draft prospects, commits news

Colorado College hosts Minnesota Duluth Jan. 18-19, 2013, according to UMD’s tentative 2012-13 schedule. Here are some of the incoming freshmen that may make that trip.

As posted earlier, 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, 2013.

UMD at home followed by a road trip to Grand Forks? There’s an early taste of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference for Tiger fans.

Here is a review of North Dakota’s season and a look back at a special Minnesota Duluth senior class that vaulted the Bulldogs into elite status.

Here’s a reaction to Mankato reassigning head coach Troy Jutting, who is indeed one of the good guys in the WCHA in my experience. Here is the beat writer’s take with additional info and more reaction.

Inside College Hockey breaks down each Frozen Four semifinal: Boston College-Minnesota at 6 p.m. Mountain on Thursday (ESPN2) and Union-Ferris State at 2:30 Mountain (ESPNU).

Here is a Q&A with Union captain Nolan Julseth-White and one for Avs draft pick Paul Carey of BC.

College Hockey News named Colgate’s Austin Smith as its Player of the Year.

NHL Central Scouting announced its top 10 prospects in each junior/high school league in North America.

Minnesota Duluth brings in an NAHL goalie commit. UMD’s J.T. Brown made his NHL debut on Saturday and talked about an off-ice incident with Duluth police.

Former Bemidji State standout Drew Fisher has landed in the CHL.

The famed North Star J.P. Parise is profiled here. It is a good history piece hockey fans will enjoy.

More weekend reading: Frozen 4, Hobey, Tigers in the pros

Toronto Maple Leafs' Joey Crabb manages to score as the puck trickles under New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist in the second period on March 25. REUTERS

Here is a list of college hockey’s early departures and a feature on BC captain Tommy Cross and another on Minnesota’s Erik Haula.

Here’s why the Hober Baker Award ceremony is being held at an Air Force base and not the Frozen Four’s arena.

Former Tiger Richard Bachman came on in relief for Dallas in a loss Friday night at Vancouver.

Courtesy Canadian Press:

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Brian Connelly finally rediscovered his scoring touch for the Abbotsford Heat.

The offensively gifted defenceman scored with 11.9 seconds to go in overtime to lead the Heat to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Wolves Friday night in American Hockey League action.

Connelly took a feed from Ben Walter and beat Matt Climie glove side for his sixth of the season.

Click here to find out more!“It all started in the D-zone,” said Connelly. “We created a turnover and I saw an opportunity to jump in. Wally (Ben Walter) made a good pass across the ice. I just tried to put it on net and it went in.”

It was his first goal in 23 games since the Calgary Flames acquired him in a trade for Brendan Morrison. When he joined the Heat he was second among AHL defencemen in points but has just nine assists for the Flames’ affiliate.

“I’ve been trying to create opportunities and get shots but they haven’t been going in,” said Connelly. “It’s good to get that off my back and hopefully it springboards me into the rest of the season.”

Greg Nemisz, Krys Kolanos and Clay Wilson all scored in regulation time for Abbotsford (36-26-8). Though the Heat blew a 3-1 lead, goalie Leland Irving made 28 saves, including all 10 over the final 25 minutes to preserve the win. Abbotsford now has a two-point cushion in fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

Darren Haydar, Kevin Connauton, and Mark Mancari scored for Chicago (38-25-6), which includes former Tiger Bill Sweatt.

Climie stopped 40 shots for the Wolves, who moved within three points of second-place Toronto by earning a single point for the overtime loss.

“I think there were a lot of positives,” said Mancari. “I think it was pretty close to a playoff game, if you look at how the game was played. We made a few mistakes we didn’t want to make, and goals that resulted from us not getting the puck out.”

Part of the reason for the playoff atmosphere was the 7,044 fans at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, just the fourth sellout all time and first since Nov. 2010. Many of the fans came to cheer on the Wolves, however, the nearby Vancouver Canucks’ affiliate.

“The majority of them are Canucks fans so it’s a little different,” said Abbotsford’s Jon Rheault. “But when you can feed off that energy, energy is energy and when this place is full it’s a lot of fun to play in front of. They’re a dangerous team when they’re playing for their brass and all their scouts are here so they obviously bring a little extra oomph, if you will, when they come here.”

Updated Monday reading: In the pros, Frozen 4, post-mortems, more early departures

St. Louis Blues' Patrik Berglund (21), of Sweden, celebrates his goal with Kevin Shattenkirk (22), Jaden Schwartz (9) and Chris Stewart as Phoenix Coyotes' Keith Yandle (3) skates in the background during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, March 25, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. The Blues won 4-0. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Former Tiger Joey Crabb is getting noticed for his strong play of late on the Leafs’ shutdown line.

Frozen Four schedule

All times Mountain

Semifinals

No. 3 Union vs. Ferris State, 2:30 p.m. April 5

No. 1 Boston College vs. Minnesota, 6 p.m. April 5

Championship

Semifinal winners, 5 p.m., April 7

Here’s a look back at Denver’s season and at North Dakota, which everyone outside of Grand Forks probably felt overachieved, especially with the injuries mounting.

Here’s more observations, including the fact that none of the future NCHC teams made the Frozen Four.

Denver’s Drew Shore and Miami’s Reilly Smith have reportedly signed pro deals.

Two of the top CCHA defensemen left early to join the Bruins organization.

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