Thursday reading

It’s Thursday so the previews and features are coming in. Here’s a sampling from around the WCHA.

Here’s a look at St. Cloud State’s injury situation and their line shuffling because of injuries and departures.

Gabe Guentzel has proven to be the latest Tigers Ironman. He heads into this week’s home series against SSCSU having played in 116 consecutive games. He’s missed two, both during his freshman year, out of a possible 142. That nugget was included in this USCHO notebook on the WCHA. Here’s CC’s preview notes.

The hype for the Minnesota at North Dakota (7-1-1 of late) series is building. Here’s some preview notes, how Minnesota expects to handle the Ralph’s atmosphere, which Kyle Rau expects to enjoy.  Maybe if the Gophers get out of Grand Forks with two points or more. North Dakota has been playing winning hockey with a makeshift lineup.

Wisconsin needs to use this weekend’s series at Minnesota State in Mankato to get  on a roll in league play.

No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth hopes to keep up its excellent 5-on-5 scoring when it travels to Nebraska-Omaha.

The second guessing about holding out Jason Zucker from Denver’s home series split (hence the second guessing) against Alabama-Huntsville continues. The Pioneers host a solid Bemidji State team that has one Northglenn kid seeing a little Tim Tebow in the Beavers.

Michigan Tech hosts Alaska-Anchorage this weekend. Here are the Huskies’ preview notes and the Seawolves.

Here’s the WCHA players of the week. Commish Bruce McLeod is keeping an eye on the start-up efforts at MSU-Moorhead.

The likely arrival of Jaden Schwartz in the Blues organization next season has the St. Louis faithful hopeful for a strong run. He returned to CC practice on Wednesday as expected.

Saturday reading: Gross, Holmstrom and Testwuide on TV today, Pairwise rankings, recaps, preview notes

New Nittany Lion Taylor Gross, a Pine Creek HS graduate.

It’s a real mixed bag this morning,with the usual pro updates and even some women’s college hockey. Ladies first.

Colorado Springs’ Taylor Gross, UConn’s leading scorer as a freshman, has transferred to Penn State women’s hockey at midseason. I wrote a feature on her and the other area women playing Division I back in September.

Colorado Springs’ Ben Holmstrom scored with 20.8 seconds left to force overtime in Adirondack’s 4-3 win over Hershey in the AHL outdoor game which set a league record for attendance. Linemate and former Tiger Mike Testwuide continued his hot streak, scoring Adirondack’s opening goal to record his fifth goal in seven games after a cold start.

Here’s a feature on him I did for CC sports information, where I now work part time, previewing the game, which will be rebroadcast at 2 p.m. Mountain Saturday on the NHL Network.

Here’s more reaction from CC’s home loss to Cornell from the Gazette and Brian Gomez’s game story and notes on shorthanded goals.

And while there is no doubt some concern about CC’s home loss Friday (Tigers are 5-5 in series openers this season, 7-2 on Saturdays), Denver’s home loss to Alabama-Huntsville (2-21-2) could really hurt the Pioneers in the Pairwise rankings. It’s a little early for anyone to push the panic button just yet.

CC is tied for 12th with Cornell in the current Pairwise rankings.

Minnesota-Duluth won its school record 15th straight with a dominant third period at No. 8/9 Western Michigan.

Too many penalties hurt Minnesota State in a 4-3 loss at St. Lawrence.

Here’s extensive notes and links for tonight’s North-Dakota-Clarkson game in Winnipeg.

Contrasting styles at play this weekend

Two ranked teams with contrasting styles will square off this weekend at World Arena when No. 13-ranked and ECAC-leading Cornell (8-4-1, 6-1-1 ECAC) takes on host No. 6 Colorado College this Friday and Saturday.

The Big Red live up to their name with a physical style well suited for the NHL sheet the Ithaca, N.Y. school usually skates on.

“We’ll try to take advantage of the width of the sheet because we know they’re not that accustomed to it,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said.

No doubt that was a reason the Big Red arrived in Colorado Springs a day earlier than usual, Wednesday, to acclimate to the altitude and the Olympic ice sheet at World Arena.

Dictating the style of play by making the nonconference series up-and-down games may favor the Tigers (12-6, 9-5 WCHA).

“We’ll try to keep the puck off the boards, make it an open-ice game and make them skate with us,” senior captain Nick Dineen said.

That said, Cornell looks plenty capable of winning a wide-open contest with the skill players it has, especially with the nation’s sixth rated power play (23.9 percent). CC must skate well and move its feet on defense to avoid penalties.

Defenseman Nick D’Agostino has 15 points including six power-play goals, leading the nation’s Division I defensemen, with five game-winners, tying for the national lead. Right wing Brian Ferlin and center Greg Miller are right behind with 15 and 14 points respectively.

For their part, the Tigers look ready to play well after rebounding from a home loss to Air Force with a determined defensive effort in a 2-1 win over Union.

“We’ve had a good week of practice, probably the best three days we’ve had,” Dineen said. “It will be interesting to see this weekend how that translates.”

It is the first series between the schools. Cornell leads all-time with a 3-2 mark including a 4-2 Tigers win at the Florida College Classic in 2009.

Updated Thursday reading: Another injury at North Dakota, NCHC reaction, preview notes

North Dakota announced that sophomore forward Derek Rodwell is out for the season with a shoulder injury. North Dakota already is playing without Rocco Grimaldi, Corban Knight, Mario Lamoureux and Derek Forbort.

New National Collegiate Hockey Conference commissioner Jim Scherr is a veteran sports administrator but does not have a ton of hockey experience as the St. Cloud Times points out. That’s a fair question, but a good hire for director of hockey operations should assuage any misplaced fears.

The Grand Forks Herald reports Scherr’s salary is $150,000 a year.

Brian Gomez continues to do a sound job on the the CC beat. His NCHC commissioner announcement sidebar has good info on future CC foes and the likely 24-game league slate. Here’s his main announcement story.

There’s hope for CC fans that sophomore Jaden Schwartz will play in Friday’s home game against Cornell. I’m guessing he will.

The WCHA announced its players of the week. CC’s Mike Boivin was nominated.

Here’s an update on Minnesota State, which continues to have injury troubles.

Legendary Notre Dame icon Lefty Smith passed away.

Game preview notes for this weekend:

No. 13 Cornell at  No. 6/8 Colorado College;

Alabama-Huntsville at No. 10/11 Denver

No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth at No. 8/9 Western Michigan;

Notre Dame at No.3 /5 Minnesota;

Minnesota State at St. Lawrence; RIT at Wisconsin; and Clarkson at North Dakota (single game in Winnipeg on Saturday).

Friday reading: Previews and recaps

North Dakota faces an unfamiliar foe, Harvard, with plenty of familiar players from Minnesota. As beat writer Brad Schlossman points out, this is an important series for UND, which needs to pick up some Pairwise ranking points.

That said, CC, No. 15 in the latest rankings, needs them too. Playing a tough, physical opponent like Air Force followed by No. 10 Union is business as usual for Nos. 5/6 Colorado College.

“It’s just like a weekend in the WCHA,” senior defenseman Gabe Guentzel said earlier this week. “You empty the tank on Friday and come back for more on Saturday.”

Last year  a 6-4 win over Air Force was followed by a rout at the hands of No. 1 Yale, which according to Pairwise analysts secured a top seed based on that 5-1 win. Fortunately for CC fans, Union plays Denver the night before.

Here’s the Gazette’s previews focusing on CC and Air Force, which hosts Denver on Saturday.

The NCHC commissioner search looks to be lasting until January.

Former CC goalie Michael Shibrowski is still waiting for his chance to play. Kent Patterson will start against Niagara tonight at the Mariucci Classic with a game against either Princeton or Northeastern on Saturday for No. 2 Minnesota. Here’s notes from the Minnesota beat writer, including a setback for UND nickname supporters.

Nebraska-Omaha has a chance to boost its nonconference record (2-4) with a weekend series against Quinnipiac.

A hot Bemidji State (5-1-1 of late) team takes on future WCHA foe Bowling Green, winless in its last eight, for the first time.

MSU-Mankato takes on the USA U-18 squad in an exhibition tonight.

Thursday’s recaps from WCHA.com …

St. Cloud State 4, No. 8 Western Michigan 2

ST. CLOUD —  The St. Cloud State University men’s hockey team (8-9-4, 5-6-3 WCHA) rallied to win a big 4-2 decision over #8 Western Michigan University (9-5-5, 7-4-3 CCHA) on Thursday, Dec. 29 at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn.

The series concludes tonight in St. Cloud.

The Huskies relied on a pair of goals by senior forward Jared Festler to capture the victory, which included Festler’s game winner at 16:55 of the third period with power play assists from freshman defender Andrew Prochno and sophomore defender Nick Jensen.

No. 14 Michigan State 3, Michigan Tech 1

DETROIT – Michigan Tech held a 46-26 advantage in shots on goal but fell 3-1 to Michigan State in the first semifinal of the 47th annual Great Lakes Invitational Hockey Tournament at Joe Louis Arena. Down 2-0 after two periods, the Huskies (9-10-1) pulled within one with 12 minutes to play before the Spartans (11-6-2) added an empty net goal.

“I’m proud of our team,” said Tech’s head coach Mel Pearson. “We played a pretty good game today and just didn’t get the bounces. I’m disappointed for the guys because I feel like we deserved a better result.”

The Huskies play No. 3 Boston College which lost 4-2 to No. 20 Michigan later Thursday for third at 2 p.m. Friday.

Notes: Junior forward Chad Pietila played his first game in a Tech uniform after sitting out a year because of NCAA Division I transfer rules …Junior defenseman Tommy Brown saw his first action since the opening weekend against American International. He had sat out with a medical condition.

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

Friday reading

Some think CC sophomore Jaden Schwartz, pictured at left, may have a letter on his Canadian national team jersey soon, judging from this well-done feature. They’ll get no argument from me.

He is one of the five Canadians to watch according to NBC.

His absence makes it likely CC will split at Mankato this weekend according to this prediction. The Mavs are healthier headed into this series.

Here’s the Mankato Free Press’ preview capsule and The Gazette’s look at CC’s goalie situation. Fans should keep in mind that they needn’t freak out unless a true No. 1 hasn’t emerged by February. Remember CC turned its season around with a 2-1 loss at Bemidji State when the team suddenly started playing to its potential; capped by that memorable NCAA win over Boston College.

The Alabama-Huntsville at Bemidji State series is previewed by the Bemidji Pioneer. Beavers player Drew Fisher is interviewed in this video.

Denver sophomore Jason Zucker’s hectic days are profiled by the Post’s Adrian Dater. The Pioneers play at St. Cloud State.

The rivalry between the Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan’s coaches go back to their playing days and continued as assistants.

Here’s preview notes for North Dakota’s Saturday exhibition against the Russian Red Stars.

Former Tiger Bill Sweatt’s demotion to the AHL  is explained by the Canucks’ coach. It’s good news. Here’s a feature on his NHL experience by his hometown newspaper.

Richard Bachman continues to impress. It is unclear if he will play against the Devils tonight after winning 3-2 at the Islanders Thursday night.

There’s high hopes for UMass-Lowell, where former CC assistants Norm Bazin and Jason Lammers have engineered a strong start.

Goon’s World makes his predictions for this weekend.

The weekly news releases from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference is annoying to this columnist.