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.

Updated Tuesday reading: Radio show, Hobey balloting, pros

Former Tiger Jack Hillen is expected to play tonight at Colorado. Take advantage of this chance to see him live.

The monthly Scott Owens radio show is tonight from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at McCabe’s Tavern, downtown Colorado Springs. CC captain Nick Dineen and new NCHC commissioner Jim Scherr will be the guests.

Here’s the Gazette’s weekend wrap-up.

Fan balloting for the Hobey Baker Award is underway. Get to it people.

Former Tigers Richard Bachman won the ECHL alumnus award for December.  Joey Crabb garnered some measured praise from this fan blogger.

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.

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).

Monday reading: NCHC commish, TV, polls, commit, J. Schwartz

Sorry for the delay. My third day working for CC sports information kept me from posting this until now.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference will announce its first commissioner, likely former USOC head Jim Scherr, at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Penrose House in Colorado Springs.

The Grand Forks Herald reports the NCHCs TV deal — a 16-game package with CBS College Sports — will be announced soon. I’m guessing it will be released on Wednesday as part of the commissioner announcement.

Colorado College stayed at No. 6 in the USCHO poll, but fell from No. 5 to No. 8 in the USA Hockey rankings.

The Tigers have a commit from a talented Minnesota high school wing, Daniel Labosky, for 2014-15. Click on the link for more details from Gazette beat writer Brian Gomez.

Nothing official yet, but it is likely CC sophomore Jaden Schwartz will return to action for the Tigers this Saturday against Cornell after traveling to Colorado Springs on Friday. The WJC gold medal game is Thursday night in Alberta.

WCHA roundup: Denver whips Air Force

Compiled from school web sites …

No. 15 Denver 7, Air Force 1

USAFA, Colo. – Junior co-captain Drew Shore and senior Luke Salazar scored two goals each and freshman Ty Loney  recorded a career-best three points as No. 15 Denver dominated in-state rival Air Force in a 7-1 win Saturday night at Cadet Ice Arena.

Freshman Juho Olkinuora  stopped 28 shots and Loney, junior Chris Knowlton of Colorado Springs and freshman Joey LaLeggia added goals as Denver (10-7-3) wins back-to-back games for the first time since November. Drew Shore, John Lee and Nick Shore added two assists each for Denver.

“We really played well tonight and I’m proud of our guys for earning two victories this weekend,” DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. “A number of our players turned in their best performances in a while and Juho was great in net.”

After Paul Weisgarber goal at 5:49 of the third, Salazar netted his second goal into an empty net at 11:27 as the Falcons pulled Jason Torf to create a 6-on-3 advantage after multiple DU penalties.

Knowlton iced the win on the power play at 13:37 and LaLeggia added his eighth goal at 16:07 to close out the scoring. Zack Hope  made his collegiate debut in relief of Olkinuora at 3:53 of the third period and made three saves.

DU was outshot 32-26, but went 3-for-4 on the power play. DU held the Falcons scoreless on seven man-advantage opportunities.

The Pioneers, now 31-3 all-time against Air Force, continue nonconference action against Alabama-Huntsville on Jan. 6-7.

North Dakota 7, Harvard 3

GRAND FORKS — Junior forward Danny Kristo had two goals and an assist while freshman forward Connor Gaarder added a goal and two assists to help North Dakota earn a 7-3 win against Harvard on Saturday at Engelstad Arena.

Bemidji State 2, Bowling Green 1

BEMIDJI — A breakaway goal with one second remaining in the second period from junior forward David Boehm proved to be the game winner as Bemidji State prevailed, 2-1, against Bowling Green on Saturday at Sanford Center.

Nebraska-Omaha 4, Quinnipiac 1

OMAHA — The UNO Mavericks got a three-point night from Jayson Megna and two-point nights from three other players on their way to a 4-1 win over Quinnipiac on Saturday afternoon at the CenturyLink Center.

Northeastern 3, No. 2 Minnesota 2

After topping Niagara 5-1 on Friday, the No. 2-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team dropped a 3-2 decision to Northeastern in the Mariucci Classic championship game on Saturday night. Husky goaltender Chris Rawlings stopped 31 shots to help give NU its second Mariucci Classic title.

Already shorthanded without the services of U.S. World Junior Championship team members Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau, the Gophers afforded NU 12 power-play chances, including three three-on-two opportunities.

After a scoreless first period and Seth Helgeson penalty early in the second, sophomore Nate Condon scored his second shorthanded goal of the year. Condon used his speed to break free from two Northeastern defenders and snapped a shot past Rawlings to break the deadlock 55 seconds into the period.

Wisconsin 4, USA U-18 3 (exhibition)

MADISON — Junior forward Derek Lee scored a goal and added an assist to help the Wisconsin Badgers skate to a 4-3 exhibition win against the US Under-18 Team on Saturday night at Kohl Center.

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 …

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.

Wednesday reading: Around the WCHA

Here’s a look at some Gopher reserves, including former CC goalie Mike Shibrowwski, who may play in the Mariucci Classic this weekend. That may not help a perceived lack of buzz over No. 2 Minnesota’s season so far.

Here’s the preview notes from Air Force and Colorado College.

Nebraska-Omaha loses one reserve and brings in another.

The WCHA could use a strong start to the second half of the season this nonconference weekend with only three — Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota and CC — in the top 15 of the Pairwise rankings at the moment.

That could be tough with Michigan Tech, pictured at left celebrating a win at Minnesota,  as the only unranked team in the Great Lakes Invitational field.

Tuesday reading: WJC, J. Schwartz, McElhinney called up

Denver’s Jason Zucker recorded a goal and two assists and BU’s Charlie Coyle recorded a hat trick in an 11-3 win over Denmark Monday.

CC’s Jaden Schwartz recorded two assists in Canada’s 8-1 win over Finland with video. Schwartz and Zucker are both captains for their respective countries. The Canadians lost a top-tier forward to injury.

Russia shut out the Swiss 3-0. Sweden pulled away from Latvia, 9-4. Here’s a preview on the Czech Republic.

Former Tiger goalie Richard Bachman struggled against St. Louis and was pulled for the third period after a couple iffy goals.

Curtis McElhinney was called up to Phoenix. Trevor Frischmon picks up a big assist. Chad Rau scores the tying goal in a 2-1 win for Houston.

Rylan Schwartz is getting attention as a college free agent. Colorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom gets some praise.

Minnesota gets another blue-chip recruit.

NHL Network-U.S. Broadcast Schedule; Dec. 26 – Jan. 5
Date Game Time (EST)
Mon, Dec. 26 Canada 8, Finland 1
USA 11, Denmark 3
Tues., Dec. 27 Denmark vs. Czech Republic 8 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 28 Finland vs. USA 3:30 p.m.
Czech Republic vs. Canada 8 p.m.
Thurs., Dec. 29 Canada vs. Denmark 8 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 30 Czech Republic vs. USA 3:30 p.m.
Finland vs. Denmark 8 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 31 USA vs. Canada 8 p.m. EST
Mon., Jan. 2 Quarterfinal #1 5:00 p.m.
Quarterfinal #2 9:00 p.m.
Tue., Jan. 3 Semifinal #1 5:00 p.m.
Semifinal #2* 9:00 p.m.
Thur., Jan. 5 Bronze-Medal Game 3:30 p.m.
Gold-Medal Game 8:00 p.m.

WJC previews, In the pros, Crabb video

Here’s a short preview on Team Canada headed into its 1:30 p.m. Mountain game opening the World Junior Championships. Here’s  team-by-team capsule preview on each team.
They’ll have plenty of fan support. CC sophomore Jaden Schwartz, the Canada captain, leads an potent line.
North Dakota defenseman Derek Forbort will try to slow them down when the USA faces Canada on Dec. 31.
Former Tiger Mark Stuart made a Christmas Day appearance for a Winnipeg charity.
Former Gopher standout Bill Klatt died over the weekend.
Mike Testwuide is starting to get on track for AHL Adirondack.
Joey Crabb, who scored the game-winning shorty on Friday, is one of the reasons the Leafs look strong headed into the holiday break.  Here’s video of Crabb’s goal: