UNO goalie sits out upcoming season

OMAHA, Neb. – University of Nebraska Omaha head hockey coach Dean Blais announced today that sophomore goaltender Ryan Massa will be taking a year off for personal reasons and will not compete again for the Mavericks until the 2013-14 season.

“We respect Ryan’s decision and wish him the best in the upcoming year,” said Blais.  “Per NCAA rules, he has five years in which to complete four years of competition, and we’ll look forward to his return in 2013-14.

“We are fortunate to have John Faulkner and Dayn Belfour returning as well as incoming freshman Anthony Stolarz joining our roster, and we think all three will do a very good job for us.”

Massa shared the top job with Faulkner but had superior stats. The native of Littleton, Colo. also authored UNO’s only shutout of the season, turning aside 35 shots in a 4-0 win at Michigan Tech on Feb. 11.

Massa finished 7-8-2 with a .914 saves percentage and 2.60 goals against mark but it was Faulkner (5-9-2, .886, 2.93) who started in Saturday’s elimination game during the WCHA playoffs when St. Cloud State ended the Mavs’ season.

Stolarz is well regarded and could end up being the new No. 1 while incoming sophomore Belfour, son of former NHLer Ed, posted good numbers in six games: 2-1-2, .902 saves, 2.55 gaa.

Regardless, the news loosens up a logjam at that position. Colorado College plays a WCHA series at Omaha Jan. 4-5, 2013 in their only scheduled games this upcoming season before both joining the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

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.

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.