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.

Wednesday reading: UND early departures, Connelly, Crabb, J. Schwartz video, Slattengren, Sterling, M. Stuart, Air Force news

Winnipeg Jets' Mark Stuart (L), Tobias Enstrom (C) and Andrew Ladd (R) celebrate Ladd's game-winning goal against the Florida Panthers during the overtime period of their NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Florida April 3, 2012.
Photograph by: Rhona Wise, REUTERS

North Dakota sophomore Brock Nelson signed with the Islanders with Aaron Dell likely to follow him out of Grand Forks. Here’s a roundup of the comings and goings there. Here is a Sioux nickname update.

You can vote for former Tiger goalie Matt Zaba to be named European Player of the Month for March.

Here’s a video interview of Jaden Schwartz talking about his first few games with the Blues.

Aaron Slattengren scored the only Colorado Eagles goal in an ECHL playoff loss to Stockton.

Brian Connelly picked up an assist for AHL Abbotsford while Brett Sterling scored for Portland.

Joey Crabb picked up an assist for the Leafs in a loss.

Ninth-year Air Force assistant Mike Corbett has been promoted to associate head coach according to a press release.

“Mike has done an outstanding job throughout his tenure at Air Force,” coach Frank Serratore said. “He has played a key role in the overall success the program has enjoyed, Mike’s expertise has factored greatly into our six-year championship run, the promotion in title is well deserved and overdue.”

The former Denver defenseman and assistant captain under Serratore works with the Falcon defensemen and also assists in recruiting. Corbett has guided a group of defenseman that has helped lead the team to the five best goals-against averages in school history. This past season, the team allowed just 2.09 goals per game, the second best mark in school history and the best since setting the school record of 2.07 in 2008-09.

I am glad to see this happen. Mike has been a quality coach from the start, beginning when we first met as we started our careers; he as a Junior A coach of the Butte (Mont.) Irish and me as a sportswriter at the local paper.

Here is College Hockey Inc.’s graphic illustrating where the U.S. Division I players come from. Here is the latest from USCHO on the Frozen Four.

In the pros: Crabb, Prosser, Rau, Stuart

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens, left, celebrates his win with teammate Joey Crabb, right,after defeating the Buffalo Sabres during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday, March 31, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Former Tiger Joey Crabb recorded a goal and assist to spark the Leafs and end the NHL franchise’s record 11-game home winless streak.

Chad Rau scored his 12th AHL goal this season for Houston, which fell to seventh in the West.

Nate Prosser recorded an assist on a deflection in a rare Wild win.Do not be surprised if Prosser (only NHL blue-liner with two-way deal) gets sent to Houston to bolster that franchise’s playoff hopes while the Wild finish out the rest of the NHL regular season.

Winnipeg’s Mark Stuart made an assist in a costly 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay.

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.”

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.

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.

Friday reading: Previews

Former Tiger Joey Crabb scored for Toronto in the Leafs' 3-1 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday night.

No. 2 seed Minnesota Duluth knows it will need to focus on the details when it takes on No. 3 Denver at 1:07 p.m. Mountain in the WCHA Final Five semifinals.

UMD has to feel comfortable in the Xcel Energy Center, where it won its first NCAA Division I title 11 months ago.

No. 1 Minnesota defenseman Nate Schmidt dropped some weight this offseason and it has paid off with 33 assists this season.

Making the Final Five, let alone coming in as the favorite, is new to all but three of the current Gophers, who take on No. 4 seed North Dakota in the 6:07 p.m. MT semifinal.

All Final Five games will be broadcast live on FS North and ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain.

Pine Creek graduate Emily West is one of the players to watch in the women’s Frozen Four this weekend.

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