Thursday, March 17, 2011

Getting Serious

It is one of those parties that you need a special invite to but for 7 prospects of the New York Rangers and New York Islander, it is a party worth fighting for. It is conference championship weekend and if you have not spent time watching college hockey then you have missed out on some exciting hockey.

For most this is just a formality as they are playing on teams that are going to the NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament regardless if they win their conference championship.


Western Michigan (Max Campbell 2007 5th) against Michigan (Carl Hagelin 6th)- First off congrats to Carl Hagelin who was named the Best Defensive Forward in the CCHA on Thursday night.  It is fitting that Hagelin earned this honor as it was his defensive play 4 years ago that made us into believers of his NHL potential.

As Hagelin has grown into a rock solid 2 way player, we can not forget all the times Hagelin has made the big plays. Western Michigan remembers what Hagelin can do all too well as it was Hagelin who broke Western Michigan's hearts when on Febuary 19th, he scored with 39.4 seconds in regulation to tie the game and then scored with just 3 seconds left in overtime to win it.

Honestly this is supposed to be no contest as King Kong (Michigan) is already headed to the NCAAs while Cinderella (Western Michigan) is on the bubble needing a win or a close loss to squeak out a NCAA invite.

Our heart wants Campbell and Western Michigan to keep the Cinderella dream alive but our head says that Michigan has too many weapons and too much experience. Michigan wins

Miami against Notre Dame (Anders Lee)- Notre Dame is here 1 year sooner than most expected as they have been riding the play of Lee, fellow freshman T. J. Tynan and as many as 8 other freshman all year long. We think Notre Dame has run out of gas after watching them struggle against Lake Superior State. Miami too deep and too experienced for Notre Dame will win

Hockey East

Boston College (Chris Kreider) vs Northeastern- Kreider is out due to a broken jaw and we doubt Northeastern is sending Kreider any get well cards after he lit them up for 4-1-5 during Beanpot Week. Boston College is expected to be a 1 seed in the NCAAs but this Northeastern team is playing for their NCAA life and if there is going to be any upset this weekend it happens right here.

We are going to pick Northeastern they have the bigger incentive here.

New Hampshire (Blake Kessel) vs Merrimack- New Hampshire is making their first trip to the Hockey East semi-finals in 3 season and is like Western Michigan needing at least 1 more win to earn an NCAA bid. We do not see them getting it as Merrimack is the best team nobody but hockey junkies know about.


Bemidji State vs Denver (Matt Donovan)- Bemidji State forgot to read the part about how a team that went 8-15-5 in conference play is not supposed to make it to the WCHA Final Five semi-finals. Denver we think will not have any problem reminding them as Denver knows that they cost themselves a possible 1 seed down the stretch.  Denver over a tired Bemidji State team that needed overtime on Thursday to advance.

Colorado College vs North Dakota (Jason Gregoire and Brock Nelson) - Hi Colorado College you have 2 chances to win here but one of them was if North Dakota did not show up in St. Paul. Right now the best team in college hockey riding an 11 game unbeaten streak it is hard to not see North Dakota as the 1 seed in the entire NCAA tournament.

North Dakota wins going away


Thursday game action was quiet as just 2 prospects were in action starting with Jason Wilson (NYR 2010 5th) and his Niagara IceDogs taking on the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors missing Casey Cizikas (NYI 2009 4th) who is out with an arm injury in what could be viewed as a preview of the OHL's Eastern Conference Finals.

The game turned into a battle of special teams with the Majors winning 2-1 as all the goals were scored on the special teams. For us what stood out was how well the Major's penalty kill played despite missing (in our book) the best penalty killer in the OHL in Cizikas.

With the Majors going 2 for 5 on their power play while limiting the IceDogs to 1 for 6 to us and out shooting the IceDogs 41-29; it was clear which team sent the message and that was the Majors who went 6-1-0-1 (stick tap to Neate Yeager for that stat) against the IceDogs this season.

Andrew Yogan (NYR 2010 3rd) and his Erie Otters moved into a tie for 4th place in the OHL's Western Conference and guaranteed they would finish no worse than 5th after they edged the Sarnia Sting 7-6. Yogan was scoreless with 4 PIMs in a game that was more pond hockey than anything else.

The Otters with 1 game remaining need to win it and hope that Windsor can only gain 2 points out of their 2 remaining games. Still the story to us was Sarnia's Nail Yakupov who we can say is right now the favorite to be the 1st pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Yakupov was 1-4-5 on the night improving to 48-50-98 and that was after he had already broken Steve Stamko's team records for rookie scoring.


While the New York Rangers seem to have overlooked this, we did not as we wish to congratulate Gordie Clark the Rangers Director of Player Personnel for being named to the ECAC 50th Anniversary Hockey Team.

Clark who was a standout player for New Hampshire during the 1970's was a 2 time All-American while at New Hampshire.

(NCAA Frozen Four logo courtesy of the NCAA)

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