Monday reading: Goalies, outdoor game, Duluth, Penn State, women

Jason Torf shut out Rochester Institute of Technology for the Atlantic Hockey playoff title last season (photo: Omar Phillips).

Air Force’s  Jason Torf and Denver’s Sam Brittain are both considered “Goalies to Watch” this season.

Sophomore goalie Frank Slubowski (17-11-4, 2.03 GAA, .911 saves) led Western Michigan to its first CCHA postseason championship so his inclusion was no surprise. But I did raise an eyebrow since CC’s Josh Thorimbert did not make that top 10 considering he tied for preseason honors with Brittain in the WCHA media poll.

The USCHO preseason poll is scheduled to come out on Monday. Here is last season’s final poll so you may compare the two later.

Tickets for the North Dakota at Nebraska Omaha outdoor game went on sale at 10 a.m. CT today.

A former Minnesota-Duluth forward succumbed to brain cancer.

Penn State will play its first game at Pegula Ice Arena against Army.

Here is a look ahead at this season in Hockey East play and another perspective.

The women’s Division I schedule got underway this weekend.

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Monday reading: Douglas, Prosser, polls, Pairwise, postseason

Minnesota Wild defenseman Nate Prosser (39) and Dallas Stars center Steve Ott (29) tangle during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Former Tiger Nate Prosser, pictured at left, received a two-year contract extension  according to a Monday announcement. The new paperwork changed his two-way deal, meaning he was often sent down to the AHL whenever the Wild needed roster room, to a one-way NHL deal, meaning he cannot be demoted without first going on waivers.

The Gazette looks back on what was a big weekend for Air Force and CC, which moved up to No. 10 from 11 in the Inside College Hockey rankings, the U.S. College Hockey online weekly poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey poll.

CC sits in 16th in the Pairwise rankings, which would mean the Tigers would not be in the NCAA Tournament today with the 16th spot going to the Atlantic Hockey Association playoff champion.

In the USCHO poll, Boston University is the new No. 1, just ahead of Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth, which split at Alaska-Anchorage and is 1-2-1 in its last four league games after a home tie and loss to Michigan Tech. The USA Hockey rankings have Minnesota at No. 1 followed by BU and Duluth.

Here’s an update on the new-look WCHA looking for a 10th member and a side note that the WCHA will not be back at the Xcel Energy Center in 2014. That suggests strongly that the National Collegiate Hockey Conference will hold its postseason tournament there.

Here’s an NHL.com feature on Ed Belfour.

Former CC assistants Norm Bazin and Jason Lammers continue to lead a surging UMass-Lowell team that was won 13 more games than last year.

Joey Crabb talks about the Leafs’ struggling penalty kill.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to acknowledge the passing of News 5 sports director Lee Douglas, who succumbed to kidney problems Sunday morning. I cannot say I knew him well. I wish I had.

He was always positive, pleasant and professional in my interactions with him at the Air Force press conferences and the annual hockey banquet. He was a good example for all us on how to do things right. He is missed already. RIP.

CC battles back to win Gold Pan

The Gold Pan Trophy is back where it belongs after Colorado College deliverable a memorable, gut-check performance against its hated rival.

The 11th-ranked Tigers overcame the biggest adversity they had faced this season, rallying from down 2-0 to forge a 2-2 tie and garner the annual traveling trophy from No. 13 Denver Saturday night at World Arena.

Denver jumped out to a 2-0 lead before injuries started to take a toll on the Tigers (15-9-2, 12-71 WCHA). Senior captain Nick Dineen left the game in the first period with an apparent upper body injury.

But the Tigers dug deep and found a way to win behind the heroics of Jaden Schwartz who sparked a two-goal spurt to tie the game and junior goalie Joe Howe, who later stepped in for sophomore goalie Josh Thorimbert after he was knocked out of the game in the second period after a collision from Denver’s Chris Knowlton of Colorado Springs. Thorimbert also suffered an upper body injury.

“Down 2-0, losing your captain, one of your best players and emotional leader,  tying and later losing your goalie, Josh, who was one of the hottest in the country is a lot to overcome,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. ““We definitely earned that point and that trophy.”

Schwartz jumpstarted the Tigers and the announced crowd of 7,733 with a highlight-reel goal, weaving around two Denver defenders and beating DU goalie Juho Olkinuora high stick side with a hard-angle wrist shot to make it 2-1.

“I had speed and I caught them flat-footed, I guess,” Jaden said. “We definitely battled through adversity tonight especially after losing our captain and Thorny.”

Jaden didn’t remember when he last scored such a goal.

“You don’t really remember when you have a goal like that. But I’ll remember that for awhile,” Schwartz said.

So will the Pioneers and their fans.

“I’ll be having nightmares about the Jaden Schwartz goal,” Denver coach George Gwozdecky said. “They had absolutely nothing going for them but that’s what great players do.”

CC rode the momentum from that four-on-four goal, tying the game with a Jeff Collett power-play goal a couple minutes later. Collett camped out in front and tipped in a Rylan Schwartz crossing pass.

The score came after senior defenseman Gabe Guentzel, who averaged 32 minutes this weekend, kept the puck in the zone. The goal stood after a short video review.

Howe made sure the two goals stood, making big save after save, including a leg pad stack in overtime to rob Daniel Doremus with 2:46 left.

“He lives for this stuff,” Guentzel said.  “We didn’t have any doubts that Howie could get the job done.”

Last-second save secures Minnesota win

Minnesota goalie Kent Patterson made the big save when needed, stoning Jeff Collett‘s attempt with five seconds remaining to preserve the host Gophers 2-1 win over visiting CC Saturday night.

“It’s disappointing to have a one-goal game on the road and not take advantage of the opportunities we had,” CC assistant Eric Rud said in a radio interview. “”We came out firing and competed all night long, We weren’t happy with just two points (goals) on Friday. Minnesota is a good team especially at home. They didn’t give us many chances to generate much offense.”

The win puts Minnesota in sole possession of first place in the WCHA, ahead of No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth, which is playing Alabama-Huntsville this weekend.

The goalies shined all weekend with both potent offenses, averaging four goals each, managing six goals total in 120 minutes. Josh Thorimbert made 38 and 35 saves during the series.

“He was exceptional this weekend,” Rud said. “He was very calm and cool. He gave our guys a lot of confidence this weekend. It settles everything down in our defensive zone. It gets everything going in the right direction.”

There were certainly no soft goals allowed on Saturday.

Nico Sachetti scored a rare goal for Minnesota to stake the host Gophers to a 2-1 lead headed into the third period at Mariucci. A second power play goal by Nate Condon was waved off after a lengthy video review because of an earlier hand pass.

CC sophomore Jaden Schwartz’s one-timer off assists from Collett and Rylan Schwartz gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead late in the first period, but Minnesota’s  Condon scored his fifth shorthanded goal later to tied the game at 1-1 headed into first intermission.

Jaden’s one-timer was perfect with no pause as he blasted the centering pass from Collett.

“We came here on a mission to play better,” Rud said. “We’re very happy with a lot of things. If our power play kicks in one a night, these games are quite different.

CC plans to use its bye week to focus on improving a dormant power play, Rud said.

CC’s defense shines in 2-1 win over No. 10 Union

A stellar team defensive performance proved to be the catalyst for No. 5-ranked Colorado College’s 2-1 nonconference win over No. 10 Union before an announced crowd of 5,882 fans at the World Arena on New Year’s Eve night.

“I thought both team’s defenses were good tonight,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said, “When you’re taking on the top-rated defensive team in the country you know it will be a tight, one-goal game.”

Union came into the game allowing only a Division I-best 1.94 goals, but it was CC’s defense that proved decisive.

A hard check along the boards led to Colorado College’s opening goal early in the second period.

Freshman defender Peter Stoykewych collided with a Union wing, forcing a turnover that was hauled in by sophomore wing Dakota Eveland. He passed across ice to junior defenseman Mike Boivin, who then sent a long pass forward to senior center David Civitarese just before he crossed the Union blue line.

He split the two Dutchmen defenders and charged toward the Union net. He beat sprawling sophomore goalie Troy Grosenick with a backhander with 14:35 left in the second for the 1-0 lead.

Boivin’s assist gave him a point in a team-high 14 games, one ahead of junior Rylan Schwartz (13) and two ahead of sophomore Jaden Schwartz (12).

A Dutchmen turnover led to a goal for senior captain Nick Dineen, who scored from the slot with 1:01 left in the second to make it 2-0 Tigers (12-6-0, 9-5-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association).

It proved to be the game-winner after Union junior wing Wayne Simpson scored with 39.7 seconds left in the third with the Grosenick pulled for the extra attacker.

CC sophomore goalie Josh Thorimbert made 20 saves in a solid performance to improve to 7-2-0 on the season. Union fell to 9-5-5, 3-2-2 ECAC after losing to No. 15 Denver 3-1 on Friday.

“Josh was great tonight,” Boivin said.

The Tigers’ back checking and sound play from the blue-liners kept a good Union offensive team (17th in Division I) under control.

“The forwards, led by David Civitarese, did a good job getting back in support,” Owens  said. “We knew we had to play that way. Even then we were worried for the final 40 seconds because they can put six dangerous players out there.”

The win garners CC a split on the nonconference weekend after falling 2-1 to crosstown foe Air Force.

“It doesn’t take the sting completely away from Friday but this win will help us later this season in the Pairwise (rankings),” Owens said.

Colorado College hosts No. 13-ranked Cornell Jan. 6-7.

Around the WCHA: Tigers charge into third with road sweep

CC junior Rylan Schwartz scored twice to spark the Tigers for their fourth win in five games. Courtesy CC Athletics

No. 7 Colorado College ended the first half of its season with an exclamation point.

The Tigers (11-5, 9-5 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) scored twice early in the third period to seal a convincing 6-2 win at last-place Minnesota State-Mankato (5-14-1, 2-11-1). The road sweep moved CC into sole possession of third place, past idle Nebraska-Omaha (9-8-3, 7-4-3).

CC junior center Rylan Schwartz scored twice, with his team-leading 16th of the year proving to be the game winner when he put the Tigers ahead 3-1 with 15:27 left in the second period.

Defensemen Eamonn McDermott and Joe Marciano scored in the first 4:19 of the third to open up a 5-1 command. Mike Boivin scored the opening goal to give CC three goals by its blue-liners.

Mankato’s Michael Dorr scored a shorthanded goal to make it 5-2 midway through the final period. It was the sixth shorty allowed by the Tigers this season. It was the only negative for a power play that clicked at a 3-for-6 pace.

William Rapuzzi scored an empty-netter for the final margin. Rylan Schwartz got the assist.

CC goalie Josh Thorimbert recorded 24 saves, 13 in the third, to win his second in a row. The Tigers out shot Mankato 44-26, leading in that stat by a 43-18 margin midway through the third.

No. 2 Minnesota (14-5-1, 11-3) and No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth (12-3-3, 10-2-2) are tied for first with 22 points, four ahead of the Tigers.

No. 13 Denver (8-7-3, 6-5-3) lost 5-1 at St. Cloud State in the only other league series this weekend to remain in fifth.

Bemidji State beat Alabama-Huntsville 5-0 for the home sweep while North Dakota downed the Russian Red Stars 5-1 in exhibition play.

The league is idle until after Christmas. CC hosts Air Force on Dec. 30 and No. 12 Union on New Year’s Eve.

Union downed No. 5 Merrimack 3-1 on Saturday night.

CURRENT WCHA STANDINGS

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
14
11
3
0
22
51
28
14
5
1
83
41
Minnesota Duluth
14
10
2
2
22
59
32
12
3
3
73
44
Colorado College
14
9
5
0
18
59
48
11
5
0
67
50
Nebraska Omaha
14
7
4
3
17
46
43
9
8
3
62
60
Denver
14
6
5
3
15
47
45
8
7
3
59
55
North Dakota
14
7
7
0
14
39
37
9
8
1
51
50
Michigan Tech
14
6
7
1
13
41
43
9
9
1
54
55
St. Cloud State
14
5
6
3
13
43
41
7
9
4
64
62
Bemidji State
14
5
7
2
12
36
46
9
9
2
55
56
Wisconsin
14
4
8
2
10
40
50
7
9
2
57
59
Alaska Anchorage
14
3
10
1
7
29
54
6
10
2
46
63
Minnesota State
14
2
11
1
5
37
60
5
14
1
55
75

Saturday reading: Tigers eyeing third place before break

CC senior David Civitarese scored 88 seconds into overtime to give the Tigers a 2-1 road win Friday night.

The Tigers (10-5, 8-5 WCHA) have a chance to move into third place in the league  tonight if they can pull off a road sweep at MSU-Mankato. Easier said than done in this league.

CC goalie Josh Thorimbert shined in Friday’s win but don’t be surprised if Joe Howe gets the start.

Here’s write-ups on CC’s 2-1 OT win at MSU-Mankato Friday night from the WCHA, the Gazette and the Mankato Free Press.

The Tigers defense looked better on Friday.

Some thoughts to ponder from the Mankato Free Press and a link to a live game chat for tonight by the Freep.

Former Tiger Richard Bachman suffered his first loss in the NHL, 6-3 at New Jersey Friday.

Here’s the writeup from the St. Cloud Times on Denver’s 3-2 overtime win at the Huskies, who took a tough call at the end of regulation to set up the winning power-play goal by Drew Shore.

Preview notes for North Dakota’s Saturday home exhibition against the Russian Red Stars.

From the WCHA …

Bemidji State 3, Alabama-Huntsville 0

BEMIDJI — Backed by a 20-save effort by freshman goaltender Andrew Walsh. the Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team served the University of Alabama-Huntsville a 3-0 loss Friday night at Sanford Center.

In a game decided by sharp goaltending, solid defense and a good penalty-kill effort, BSU got goals from three different players, en route to its 16th win in the last 20 meetings versus UAH (16-2-2).

Both BSU and UAH struggled out of the gates to find enough ice to generate any offensive pressure and finished the first period of play tied 0-0.

The Beavers broke the scoreless tie 3:17 into the second period on an delayed penalty goal. Jake Areshenko netted his second goal of the season on a slap shot from the point.

The series concludes tonight.

Northern Michigan 4, Michigan Tech 1

MARQUETTE, Mich. – Northern Michigan jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead en route to a 4-1 non-conference hockey victory over Michigan Tech tonight at the Berry Events Center. The Huskies (9-9-1) pulled within 2-1 in the second period on a goal by Aaron Pietila before the Wildcats (9-7-3) scored twice in the third period including an empty netter with 1:10 remaining.

“The first period was the hockey game,” said Tech coach Mel Pearson. “They jumped us pretty good, won the battles and scored on their opportunities. We battled back and made it close but couldn’t get all the way back. Tonight really showed the importance of a good start.”

Both teams are off for the Christmas break.

Current WCHA Standings

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
14
11
3
0
22
51
28
14
5
1
83
41
Minnesota Duluth
14
10
2
2
22
59
32
12
3
3
73
44
Nebraska Omaha
14
7
4
3
17
46
43
9
8
3
62
60
Colorado College
13
8
5
0
16
53
46
10
5
0
61
48
Denver
13
6
4
3
15
46
40
8
6
3
58
50
North Dakota
14
7
7
0
14
39
37
9
8
1
51
50
Michigan Tech
14
6
7
1
13
41
43
9
9
1
54
55
Bemidji State
14
5
7
2
12
36
46
8
9
2
50
56
St. Cloud State
13
4
6
3
11
38
40
6
9
4
59
61
Wisconsin
14
4
8
2
10
40
50
7
9
2
57
59
Alaska Anchorage
14
3
10
1
7
29
54
6
10
2
46
63
Minnesota State
13
2
10
1
5
35
54
5
13
1
53
69