Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mind games

Cristoval Nieves (
Saturday was another interesting day for New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects as the upset bug is still taking names. Players and coaches can swear all they want that they don't get affected by loud crowds, traditions or streaks but yes they all do play into the mind games that take place in hockey.

First Star The Michigan Wolverines

22 straight years the Michigan Wolverines have earned invites to the NCAA tournament but this year a terrible start put the Wolverines in a position where the only way to extend the streak would be to win the CCHA Tournament. On February 9th after a 6-4 loss to Notre Dame left Michigan with a 10-18-2 record and it was the last time Michigan has lost.

After upsetting Miami 4-1 in the semifinals of the CCHA Tournament, Michigan is just one win away from an automatic invite to the NCAA tournament. Going 8-0-1 since the loss to Notre Dame, Michigan will come full circle and face Notre Dame in the CCHA finals.

Cristoval "Boo" Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd)
was scoreless on 2 shots but the freshman center was 11-8 on his faceoffs. It has been quite the ride for the freshman from Syracuse New York but if he is feeling any pressure he is not showing it.

If you want the numbers then Michigan is in the finals of the CCHA for the 18th time having gone 10-7 in their previous games. They face perhaps the only school that has as many winning traditions as they do in Notre Dame.

One thing Notre Dame has going for them is they are 4-0 against Michigan this year and are 2-0 against Michigan in the CCHA Finals. Game time is 2:05 PM EDT on Sunday.

Second Star Steven Fogarty Notre Dame

Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) didn't score in Notre Dame's 3-1 win over Ohio State but that doesn't mean his and his linemates efforts were not factors in Notre Dame's win. Notre Dame's coach Jeff Jackson in talking about Fogarty's line against Ohio State:

"We have lines with different identities, but I certainly don’t look at them as being a fourth line. They’ve had great games for us this year; I thought we got contributions from all four lines, but when that line can go out there and play like that, it certainly makes us deeper."

Fogarty had 5 shots and was even for the game. Last year at this time Fogarty was part of the Vernon Vipers and he got plenty of experience playing in pressure games.

The Rest Of the Prospects

Anders Lee (NYI 2009 6th) 2 shots even and Robbie Russo (NYI 2011 4th) 4 shots -1 in Notre Dame's win over Ohio State. Notre Dame is assured of a spot in the NCAA Tournament win or lose but winning the CCHA Final would move them into 4th in the Pairwise rankings.

That should give Notre Dame a "1" seed in the NCAA Tournament and most likely send them to Green Bay Wisconsin for their regional. A loss would drop them to 8th and who knows where they will be sent.

Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) scored his 1st goal of the playoffs and an unassisted one at that just 1:08 into the Barrie Colts game against the Kingston Frontenacs. But would you believe that was the Colts 2nd goal of the game as they got on the board just 17 seconds into the contest on their way to a 7-4 win giving them a 2-0 series lead.

What a strange game as Kingston scored all 4 of their goals on the power play (on 9 attempts). How sad it is that the junior hockey world after claiming they are cracking down on dirty play but yet look around and dirty play is almost the norm so far in the playoffs.

Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) may not have scored but his Spokane Chiefs after a 6-4 win over the Tri-City Americans have a 2-0 series lead. Kichton other than a roughing penalty roughing penalty in the game's last minute was kind of quiet.

Still Kichton was effective defensively in a game where Spokane gave away 2 leads before coming back for the win. Game 3 is Tuesday in Tri-City and don't think the Americans are out of it as these are 2 bitter rivals who have faced each other in many a playoff series.

Jake Bischoff (NYI 2012 7th) was scoreless on 2 shots as a -1 as his Omaha Lancers lost in overtime to the Lincoln Stars in USHL action. Bischoff was playing in his 5th game of the season and will be heading to Minnesota next season.

Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) was DNP (Upper Body Injury) as his Baie-Comeau Drakkar defeated the Sherbrooke Phoenix 8-1 to take a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 is Tuesday in Sherbrooke.

No comments: