Wednesday reading: West, Lowell, SCSU, Providence, Michigan

Former Minnesota women’s standout Emily West, a Pine Creek High School graduate in Colorado Springs, was named to the U.S. Over 18 camp roster for the 2012 USA Hockey Women’s National Festival Aug. 5-13 in Blaine, Minn.

The graduated Gophers captain scored the game-winners in the WCHA postseason and NCAA Tournament championships games to conclude her college career.

The festival ends with the selection of teams to represent the United States in a  a U22 series vs. Canada in Calgary. Three games between the two nations will be played from Aug. 16-19.

Here are the nine incoming freshmen, including fifth-round NHL draft pick Connor Hellebuyck, for future CC foe UMass-Lowell, which is coached by former Tiger assistants Norm Bazin and Jason Lammers.

Former SCSU standout  David Eddy was featured by the Calgary Flames web site.

Providence picked up a Flames’ NHL Draft pick a year earlier than expected.

Michigan retains a big-time defenseman.

Pine Creek grad assumes big leadership role at Penn State

Pine Creek High School graduate Taylor Gross received a huge honor and an equally large responsibility last week when she was named as the first captain of the new NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey program at Penn State.

“Even if I was not captain, I would still need to be a leader because of my Division I experience on a team with a lot of freshmen,” she said. “But, I think we will surprise some people. We will be better than most people will expect.”

Her coach is confident too as he builds a program that will take on the likes of Syracuse and women’s national power Mercyhurst in the College Hockey America conference this October.

“Taylor is absolutely the ideal person to lead this team. She has significant experience and success at the Division I level, and has demonstrated the commitment to Penn State’s academic and athletic values in her time here already,” said Nittany Lions head coach Josh Brandwene. “She will be a tremendous leader for our program and a great mentor to our many young student-athletes.”

The 2010 Eagles graduate played on PSU’s club team this past spring semester after playing a season and a half for Hockey East member Connecticut. She appeared in 46 games during her UConn career and totaled 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists). The Colorado Springs native was the team’s 2010-11 Rookie of the Year.

She will lead 18 freshmen on a 25-player roster that includes a couple holdovers from the previous club squad. Women’s club hockey is a step down from Division III programs, which are below D-I. There is no Division II.

Gross partnered up with two fellow juniors and UConn transfers to give the club team their top scoring line despite playing only half a season. The forward did her best to contribute on the ice without overstepping her role as a newcomer in the locker room.

“I tried to be a leader but without getting in the way of the older club players who had been here for years,” the biology major said. “I stayed positive.”

Excitement is building for hockey in Pennsylvania’s Happy Valley, she said. The women will share a state-of-the-art arena when it opens in 2013 with the men’s team, which is coached by former Colorado College standout Guy Gadowsky. Terry Pegula, owner of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, donated $88 million for the Pegula Ice Arena and to bank roll the two programs.

The creation of the men’s program started a conference shuffle in Division I hockey that prompted CC to become one of the charter members of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which is headquartered near the Broadmoor Hotel.

Gross is one of three Colorado Springs women set to play Division I hockey this winter including Rampart graduate Molli Mott, a standout forward for St. Cloud State, and defenseman Kristen Jakubowski, a former Cheyenne Mountain High School student in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute program. A fourth area player, former Minnesota captain and forward Emily West (Pine Creek), graduated in May after scoring the game-winner in the NCAA championship game.

Gross played with Mott on the Sabercats, a local Tier II high school team, and on the Tier I club Colorado Selects of Denver with Mott and West. Gross played against boys in the Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association until age 12, when her small frame – she is listed at 5-foot-1 as a college junior – led her to focus on girls’ leagues. Playing against the bigger boys certainly helped her development as a player in a physical sport, she said.

Her goal of obtaining a Division I scholarship was realized, but she soon grew tired of UConn, considered moving to St. Cloud State,  and then transferred to PSU over Christmas because of its strong academics and athletics. Because it was only a club, Gross could transfer to Penn State without having to sit out a season.

Now she is ready to lay the foundation of a new program with big-time resources and TV exposure. The men’s and women’s programs have the potential to become national powers.

“I am excited to be at Penn State,” she said. “We have a lot of good leaders among the returning club players and the (incoming) freshmen. Everyone will have to play a large role. My job is to make the freshmen feel welcome and build team unity. If we can do that, we will surprise some people who may be underestimating us.”

Monday reading: Fejes’ NHL draft ranking, West, Duluth anniversary, DU honoree, All-Americans, club news and tryout info

The NHL released its final draft rankings and CC 2012 commit Samuel “Hunter” Fejes was rated at No. 91 among North American skaters. The draft is June 22-23.

Pine Creek High School graduate Emily West, pictured at right, is bringing the NCAA women’s championship trophy to her old Denver area club team to inspire the next generation of women’s college players.

One year ago today, on April 9, 2011, Minnesota Duluth won the NCAA title (video).

Denver’s Joey LaLeggia, who led Division I rookie defensemen with 38 points, was named the Hockey Commissioners Association National Rookie of the Year, it was announced over the weekend in Tampa.

LaLeggia was also the WCHA’s Rookie of the Year. The assistant coaches of the college hockey teams vote, with each league’s rookie honoree nominated. Cornell’s Brian Ferlin, Michigan’s Alex Guptill, Bentley’s Alex Grieve and Massachusetts-Lowell’s Scott Wilson, scheduled to play at World Arena this October, were runners-up. CC travels to Cornell in mid-October over block break while Air Force may host Bentley.

Here is a full list of the All-America teams announced over the weekend, which included West first team forward and former Tiger Jaden Schwartz and second-team East defenseman Tim Kirby of Air Force. Kirby is an East honoree because the Atlantic Hockey Association is based in the Northeast.

In club news, three Pikes Peak Miners were named to their age division’s all-North American Prospects Hockey League teams. Alec Butcher leads the U18 division in goals and points and is headed to the Kenai, Alaska franchise in the NAHL. Looks like he may be one for college scouts to keep an eye on.

The Colorado Hockey Club’s (Rampage) tryouts are April 20-22 (all goalie spots full) and July 27-29. Click here for more info.

The Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association (Miners) are also holding their first tryout session April 20-22. Click here for more details.

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.

PCHS grad West sparks Minnesota to women’s Frozen Four

MINNEAPOLIS — Pine Creek High School graduate Emily West of Colorado Springs, pictured at right, scored on Minnesota’s first shot on goal and the Golden Gophers routed North Dakota again, 5-1, on Saturday to advance to the NCAA Frozen Four women’s hockey tournament.

The Gophers (32-5-2) scored three times in the second period. They outscored the Sioux 11-1 in their previous two games, including a 6-0 win in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals.

Minnesota will play Cornell in the first game of the NCAA Frozen Four.

Here’s the rest of the article.

Thursday reading: League honors, playoff notes, pros and women updates

CC sophomore goalie Josh Thorimbert shared co-defensive player of the week honors from the WCHA. He gets a rematch in this weekend’s playoff series. Here’s preview notes from the fifth seeded Tigers and Huskies.

North Dakota climbed from 11th to fourth by season’s end, giving them home ice against Bemidji State this weekend. Beavers coach Tom Serratore talks UND in this video.

The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, seeded second in the WCHA playoffs, dyed their hair blonde last seaosn and won a national title. They hope Mohawks do the trick this seasonHere are notes for the playoff series preview against MSU Mankato.

Top seed Minnesota hosts last-place Alaska Anchorage a year after the Seawolves upset the Gophers. No. 3 Denver hosts No. 10 Wisconsin while sixth seeded SCSU hosts Nebraska Omaha.

Former Tiger Brian McMillin played his 100th pro game last Friday. Nate Prosser reminisces about the Minnesota state hockey tournament.

Here’s Bruce Ciskie’s look at the WCHA playoffs with predictions and the Merrimack beat writer’s predictions for the Hockey East quarterfinals. Tiger fans should hope he was wrong about Merrimack advancing.

The Grand Forks Herald provides only a smidgen of information since injury updates are forbidden during playoff time.Here’s the latest on the Sioux nickname mess. Here’s Goon’s World All-WCHA blogger ballot.

Pine Creek graduate Emily West cracked the women’s top 10 in all-time points at Minnesota with 153 career points last weekend.

From the WCHA:

Playoffs, First Round – Best-of-Three

Games for Friday, March 9: (12) Alaska Anchorage at (1) Minnesota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (11) Minnesota State at (2) Minnesota Duluth (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (10) Wisconsin at (3) Denver (NC), 7:37 pm MT; (9) Bemidji State at (4) North Dakota (NC), 7:37 pm CT; (8) Michigan Tech at (5) Colorado College (NC), 7:37 pm MT; (7) Nebraska Omaha at (6) St. Cloud State (NC), 7:37 pm CT.

Games for Saturday, March 10: (12) Alaska Anchorage at (1) Minnesota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (11) Minnesota State at (2) Minnesota Duluth (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (10) Wisconsin at (3) Denver (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (9) Bemidji State at (4) North Dakota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (8) Michigan Tech at (5) Colorado College (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (7) Nebraska Omaha at (6) St. Cloud State (NC), 7:07 pm CT.

Games for Sunday, March 11 (if necessary): (12) Alaska Anchorage at (1) Minnesota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (11) Minnesota State at (2) Minnesota Duluth (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (10) Wisconsin at (3) Denver (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (9) Bemidji State at (4) North Dakota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (8) Michigan Tech at (5) Colorado College (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (7) Nebraska Omaha at (6) St. Cloud State (NC), 7:07 pm CT.

Saturday reading: WCHA scenarios, standings, other playoff news

Junior Rylan Schwartz and his CC teammates could still finish sixth if both Nebraska Omaha and St. Cloud State Both win Saturday night and the Tigers lose.

Junior Rylan Schwartz and his CC teammates could still finish sixth if both Nebraska Omaha and St. Cloud State Both win Saturday night and the Tigers lose.

No. 2 Minnesota Duluth blew its chance at garnering the WCHA regular-season title outright. They could share the title but Minnesota would be the top seed headed into next week’s playoffs. That said, two playoff series are determined with more to be decided tonight.

The Golden Gophers, whose power play struggled in a Friday loss to Wisconsin, hosts Alaska Anchorage while Minnesota State Mankato will head north to Minnesota Duluth.

Then it gets a little murkier. No. 3 seed Denver or No. 4 North Dakota will host either Bemidji State or Wisconsin.

No. 5 or 6 seed Colorado College will host either Michigan Tech, Nebraska Omaha or St. Cloud State. All three could place sixth and host the seventh-place team in a playoff series.

Here’s the full list of scenarios and tiebreakers involving the places 5-8 teams courtesy of the WCHA. Yikes.

Colorado College (29 points, vs Michigan Tech) –
Seeded 5th with a win or a tie.
Seeded 5th with a loss and a Nebraska Omaha loss or tie.
Seeded 5th with a loss and a St. Cloud State loss or tie.
Seeded 6th with a loss, a Nebraska Omaha win, and a St. Cloud State win.

Nebraska Omaha (27 points, vs Denver) –
Seeded 5th with a win, a Colorado College loss, and a St. Cloud State win.
Seeded 6th with a win and a Colorado College win or tie.
Seeded 6th with a win and a St. Cloud State loss or tie.
Seeded 6th with a tie and a St. Cloud State loss or tie.
Seeded 6th with a loss, a St. Cloud State loss, and a Michigan Tech loss or tie.
Seeded 7th with a tie and a St. Cloud State win.
Seeded 7th with a loss, a St. Cloud State win or tie, and a Michigan Tech loss or tie.
Seeded 7th with a loss, a St. Cloud State loss, and a Michigan Tech win.
Seeded 8th with a loss, a St. Cloud State win or tie, and a Michigan Tech win.

St. Cloud State (27 points, vs Minnesota Duluth) –
Seeded 6th with a win and a Nebraska Omaha loss or tie.
Seeded 6th with a tie, a Nebraska Omaha loss, and a Michigan Tech loss or tie.
Seeded 6th with a tie, a Nebraska Omaha loss, and a Michigan Tech win by 11 or fewer goals.
Seeded 6th/7th with a tie, a Nebraska Omaha loss, and a Michigan Tech win by exactly 12 goals.
Seeded 7th with a win and a Nebraska Omaha win.
Seeded 7th with a tie, a Nebraska Omaha win or tie, and a Michigan Tech loss or tie.
Seeded 7th with a tie, a Nebraska Omaha loss, and a Michigan Tech win by 13 or more goals.
Seeded 7th with a tie, a Nebraska Omaha win or tie, and a Michigan Tech win by 11 or fewer goals.
Seeded 7th with a loss and a Michigan Tech loss or tie.
Seeded 7th/8th with a tie, a Nebraska Omaha win or tie, and a Michigan Tech win by exactly 12 goals.
Seeded 8th with a tie, a Nebraska Omaha win or tie, and a Michigan Tech win by 13 or more goals.
Seeded 8th with a loss and a Michigan Tech win.

Michigan Tech (26 points, at Colorado College) –
Seeded 6th with a win, a Nebraska Omaha loss, and a St. Cloud State loss.
Seeded 6th with a win by 13 or more goals, a Nebraska Omaha loss, and a St. Cloud State tie.
Seeded 6th/7th with a win by exactly 12 goals, a Nebraska Omaha loss, and a St. Cloud State tie.
Seeded 7th with a win, a Nebraska Omaha win or tie, and a St. Cloud State loss.
Seeded 7th with a win, a Nebraska Omaha loss, and a St. Cloud State win.
Seeded 7th with a win by 11 or fewer goals, a Nebraska Omaha loss, and a St. Cloud State tie.
Seeded 7th with a win by 13 or more goals, a Nebraska Omaha win or tie, and a St. Cloud State tie.
Seeded 7th/8th with a win by exactly 12 goals, a Nebraska Omaha win or tie, and a St. Cloud State tie.
Seeded 8th with a win, a Nebraska Omaha win or tie, and a St. Cloud State win.
Seeded 8th with a win by 11 or fewer goals, a Nebraska Omaha win or tie, and a St. Cloud State tie.
Seeded 8th with a loss or a tie.

Wisconsin (24 points, at Minnesota) –
Seeded 9th with a win or a tie.
Seeded 9th with a loss and a Bemidji State loss or tie.
Seeded 10th with a loss and a Bemidji State win.

Bemidji State (23 points, at Alaska Anchorage) –
Seeded 9th with a win and a Wisconsin loss.
Seeded 10th with a win and a Wisconsin win or tie.
Seeded 10th with a loss or a tie.

Two-Way Tiebreakers:
Colorado College over Nebraska Omaha (2-2-0 head-to-head, Colorado College more WCHA wins)
Colorado College over St. Cloud State (1-1-0 head-to-head, Colorado College more WCHA wins)
Nebraska Omaha over St. Cloud State (1-0-1 head-to-head)
Nebraska Omaha over Michigan Tech (1-0-1 head-to-head)
St. Cloud State vs Michigan Tech at 28 points to be determined (WCHA goal differential)
St. Cloud State over Michigan Tech at 27 points (1-1-0 head-to-head, St. Cloud State more WCHA wins)
Michigan Tech over Wisconsin (2-0-0 head-to-head)
Wisconsin over Bemidji State (2-0-0 head-to-head)

Three-Way Tiebreakers:
Nebraska Omaha over Colorado College over St. Cloud State (Nebraska Omaha head-to-head, then revert to two-way tie)
Nebraska Omaha over St. Cloud State over Michigan Tech at 27 points (Nebraska Omaha head-to-head, then revert to two-way tie)
Nebraska Omaha over St. Cloud State / Michigan Tech at 28 points (Nebraska Omaha head-to-head, then revert to two-way tie which is to be determined)

CURRENT WCHA MEN’S STANDINGS

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
27
19
8
0
38
86
56
23
12
1
128
77
Minnesota Duluth
27
16
7
4
36
100
70
22
8
5
129
89
Denver
27
15
8
4
34
93
77
20
11
4
122
94
North Dakota
27
15
11
1
31
79
73
19
12
3
105
94
Colorado College
27
14
12
1
29
93
86
17
14
2
108
97
Nebraska Omaha
27
11
11
5
27
81
82
14
15
6
103
102
St. Cloud State
27
12
12
3
27
83
71
15
16
4
109
96
Michigan Tech
27
11
12
4
26
85
85
14
17
4
102
107
Wisconsin
27
11
14
2
24
75
81
16
15
2
100
94
Bemidji State
27
10
14
3
23
67
85
16
16
3
92
97
Minnesota State
27
8
17
2
18
73
99
12
21
2
97
119
Alaska Anchorage
27
5
21
1
11
56
106
9
22
2
77
120

And of interest to Tiger fans, UMass-Lowell, coached by former CC assistants Norm Bazin and Jason Lammers, clinched home ice in the Hockey East playoffs and could finish in second in the regular season standings. So, who would like to see a home-and-home nonconference setup with Lowell in the next couple years? Count me in.

Here’s an update on the first round of the CCHA playoffs. Check out the Pairwise rankings, which CC in 20th, behind Notre Dame and Ohio State, which are playing in an elimination game tonight..

In women’s playoff action, Minnesota whipped North Dakota 6-0 Friday behind four points (two goals) from Pine Creek High School graduate Emily West.

Wednesday reading: Weekly honors, UNO rink, J. Schwartz, WCHA women, AFA honor

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) and defenseman Jack Hillen stop a Kings shot during the first period Monday. / Sanford Myers / The Tennessean

Two Gophers were honored by the WCHA this week.

UNO coach Dean Blais is trying to jump start the school’s effort to get its own 8,000-seat arena on campus. No doubt, such a move would be huge for the program, especially from a financial viewpoint (concessions, parking revenue, etc.).

Here’s a look at Wisconsin’s road playoff possibilities.

CC assistant Eric Rud was checking out the NAHL’s top prospects recently.

From stltoday.com: Blues GM Doug Armstrong believes Colorado College forward Jaden Schwartz is close to NHL-ready, and why not? He was captain of Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. He has scored 12 goals and added 24 assists in 26 college games this season.

Colorado College has won just one of its last six games. At 16-14-2 overall and 13-12-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, Schwartz’s team is on the outside of the NCAA’s 16-team national tourney bracket looking in.

Perhaps Colorado College can win the WCHA tourney and the automatic berth that goes with it. Or perhaps Jaden will have to decide whether to turn pro earlier than he expected.

Schwartz is a skilled player, but his character is what sets him apart. He appears to be a natural leader. “When you play, you want to make the players around you better,” he told the Colorado Springs Gazette earlier this season. “Whether teams are on you more or not, that’s something you’ve got to battle through. Every player has been through that at different levels.”

Pine Creek graduate Emily West’s play will be critical for the Minnesota women in the WCHA Frozen Faceoff (league semifinals and championship) this weekend in Duluth.

This sick little boy has been inspired by the Brown Bears and they have been motivated by him.

From AFA sports information:

Air Force sophomore Jason Torf was named the Atlantic Hockey Association Goalie of the Month for February as he helped lead Air Force to a 5-2-1 record and the AHA regular-season championship.

Torf, from Hermosa Beach, Calif., posted a 1.11 goals-against average and a .956 saves percentage in the month. He recorded four shutouts in eight starts as he blanked RIT (3-0 on Feb. 3), Niagara (2-0 on Feb. 10), Mercyhurst (8-0 on Feb. 17) and Robert Morris (3-0 on Feb. 25). Three of his four shutouts came against teams ranked in the top four in the league. Torf led AFA to the league title by stopping all 25 shots he faced in the final regular-season game at Robert Morris, Feb. 25. The night before, he made a season high 35 saves against the Colonials.

After missing almost three months and 14 games with a groin injury, Torf has come back to be among the national leaders in every goaltending category. In all games, he ranks third in the nation in goals-against average (1.65), seventh in shutouts (4) and eighth in saves percentage (.931)

The Atlantic Hockey monthly honor was his first of the season and second of his career. Air Force, 17-9-7 overall and 15-6-6 in the league, earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Falcons will host an AHA quarterfinal series, March 9-11, at the Cadet Ice Arena.

Monday reading: Playoff scenarios, polls, AFA-CC series

The Tigers need to rally this weekend to get home playoff ice and keep their slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

The Western College Hockey Blog explained the WCHA playoff scenarios. Thank you Chris.

CC is in better shape than some may fear, though it will take a good run starting this weekend, and some help, to make the NCAAs.

The Tigers fell to No. 19 in the USCHO.com poll, just ahead of No. 20 Air Force. CC, rated No. 21 in the Pairwise rankings,  did not receive a vote in the USA Hockey poll. The Falcons did.

The Gazette is excited about the very strong chance (early October is my guess) of a home-and-home series between the Falcons and CC. It makes great sense from travel expense and ticket sale standpoints for both programs.

The Wisconsin Badgers are feeling better about themselves after a road sweep at Bemidji State.

Minnesota State Moorhead will not add Division I hockey after falling short of the $37 million needed to start. This opens the door for Alabama-Huntsville to become the 10th WCHA school in fall 2013. Here’s hoping that pans out.

Pine Creek High School graduate Emily West’s two goals Saturday, three on the weekend, helped the Minnesota women advance to the WCHA Final Faceoff.  Host Minnesota Duluth (20-13-1) faces top-rated Wisconsin (31-3-2)  at 4:37 p.m.  CT Friday at Amsoil Arena, while No. 2 Minnesota (29-5-2) plays No. 5 North Dakota (22-10-3) at 7:37 p.m. The title game, with an automatic NCAA tournament berth at stake, is 7:07 p.m. Saturday.

Wednesday reading: Injury updates, features

Here’s CC’s notes for its road series at the defending champion Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs and a Tigers’ injury update. Duluth’s J.T. Brown is questionable for this weekend after practicing on Tuesday.

Here’s a feature on former Minnesota Duluth standout goalie Alex Stalock, pictured at left, who returned after a year-long recovery from a deep cut to his leg that happened only days after his NHL debut.

The Tigers’ opponent next weekend, Michigan Tech, will be a much tougher foe than most expected back in August.

Pine Creek High School graduate Emily West is featured by the Minnesota student daily as the Gopher women head into the WCHA playoffs this weekend.

The merits of live online streaming for the WCHA in 2013 are pointed out in this column. It’s critical for any league, regardless of their TV deal.

Here’s more reaction to Paul Kelly’s resignation from College Hockey Inc. and former Tiger Chad Rau’s NHL game-winner on Sunday.