Thursday, October 23, 2014

Providence Journal: #5 Friars ready for rough-and-tumble series at #3 North Dakota

Interesting take on what the Providence College Friars are expecting from UND. I think this is going to be a highly entertaining series between two talented teams.

Honestly, I don't see UND checking the Friars out of the building, but UND does seem to play more of physical game than they did last season.
Mark Divver, Providence Journal -- Fifth-ranked Providence College (1-1) is expecting a very physical two-game series when it visits third-ranked North Dakota (3-1) this weekend for the first time since President Reagan’s second term in office.

Playing in front of a big crowd in a hostile environment will be a test for the Friars.

“I always think you want to challenge yourself. We’ve done that every year. It’s going to be a great environment. We know it’s going to be great hockey. We want to make sure we’re playing our best,’’ coach Nate Leaman said.

The Friars – who were beaten, 6-4, in November 1987 on their last visit to Grand Forks — will be without center Mark Jankowski (shoulder) and defenseman Tom Parisi (shoulder), neither of whom made the trip. Co-captain Noel Acciari (ribs) is questionable, though he did travel with the team.

Defensemen John Gilmour (lower body) and Kyle McKenzie (disciplinary reasons) are expected to be in the lineup for the first time this season. Also due to return is Nick Saracino, who was held out of last week’s exhibition game against the U.S. National Team Developent Program U-18s for precautionary reasons.

Boston Bruins: Zdeno Chara Hurt After Checking John Tavares (video)

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara blasts New York Islanders forward John Tavares with a good, hard, clean check. Incidentally, Chara would go to the dressing room after the hit and wouldn't return to the Bruins bench.

UPDATE: Chara hurt and will not return.

Johnny Boychuk Returns to Boston

One of my favorite former Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk makes his return to Boston. Boychuk is now a teammate of former Fighting Sioux defenseman Brock Nelson. Boychuk is famously known for his deadly, heavy, accurate slap shot, which is known as a Johnny Rocket.
Joe Haggerty, CSNNE.COM – Johnny Boychuk texted every member of the Bruins team after learning he’d been traded to the New York Islanders. It was the affable B’s defenseman’s way of saying goodbye to his teammates knowing they’d be hopping on the runaway train known as the NHL regular season and Boychuk would be spending the next day packing his equipment and heading to Long Island.

It’s not at all surprising to know that the goodbye texts were about having a few last laughs, still friends but no longer teammates. Some of his old B’s teammates were thinking about those conversations on Wednesday as they ready to host Boychuk and his new-look Islanders on Thursday night at TD Garden.

"He actually texted me after the trade and told me I should give him a goal,” said a smirking Tuukka Rask, who needed a few moments to realize the media was talking about Boychuk rather than Chad Johnson when asked about facing “Johnny” on Thursday. “If its 9-1 or something for us...accidents happen. What can I tell you?

A Trip Down Memory Lane: UND vs. Providence

Here's a blast from the past. It is weird that UND hasn't played Providence since the 1989 season. Brad Schlossman broke the history of UND vs. P.C. All-Time UND has a 8-5 record against P.C. UND holds the edge against Providence (5-2, .714) in Grand Forks.
UND and Providence haven’t played since the old WCHA-Hockey East scheduling alignment. Their last meeting was 1989 in Providence. The teams have played four times in Grand Forks — 1987, 1986, 1983, 1981.

UND Hockey: Providence vs. UND Links

Here's a couple of good reviews on this weekend's matchup with Providence College. This should be an exciting series this weekend.
Brian Sullivan, Cox Hub -- No. 5 Providence at No. 3 North Dakota (Friday and Saturday): The most elite college hockey match-up of the weekend finds the Friars on their longest trip of the year, and also their last trip out of the Eastern time zone (Notre Dame is just this side of the boundary). North Dakota has only played one regular-season home game this year, and it ended in a stunning 5-1 loss to Bemidji State on opening night... rest assured, UND is salivating to get back at it on home ice. The Friars will apparently be without the services of junior center Mark Jankowski, who is not traveling with the team due to an upper body injury. Big loss for Nate Leaman & Co
From USCHO: North Dakota ready for national spotlight with home series against Providence.
Matthew Semisch, USCHO --Third-ranked North Dakota is well aware of this, and it’s also cognizant of the fact that the national spotlight will be on Ralph Engelstad Arena this Friday and Saturday. No. 5 Providence is coming to Grand Forks, N.D., for a two-game set, and UND will be hoping to get the armchair NCAA selection committee on UND’s side.

Going into the series, however, UND coach Dave Hakstol isn’t taking a lot of stock in UND’s and the Friars’ places in the national polls.

“It’s just two good teams, and I guess you can just throw rankings out the window,” Hakstol said. “I know both teams are pretty good, and obviously we’re going to be hungry as we get into a long stretch of nonconference games, and these are extremely important.
Read more:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Simon Despres blows up Sean Couturier, Umberger vs Despres fight

Tonight, I was watching the Flyers and Penguins game. Check out this clean, hard hit.

In my opinion, this is a thing of beauty. Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Simon Despres absolutely blows up Sean Couturier with a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. The video from this angle doesn't do a good job of showing it. Of course you have the obligitory fight between R.J. Umberger and Despres.

Providence Forward Mark Jankowski Won't Travel to North Dakota

The Providence Friars beat writer Mark Divver tweeted that junior center Mark Jankowski won't be making the trip to North Dakota this weekend when UND plays Providence College at the Ralph this weekend. That's a significant loss for Providence College.

During his career at P.C., Jankowski has scored (20g-23a—43pts) in 73 games. Jankowski was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the first round of the 2012 NHL draft.

Drake Caggiula Is Set to Play This Weekend against Providence

For those that are wondering, junior forward Drake Caggiula will be playing this weekend... Last Saturday, during the third period of UND’s game against Colorado College, Caggiula was hurt (took hit to the head) and went to the locker room with the trainer Mark Poolman. Because of the injury, Caggiula didn't return to the game.

Fast forward to this week. According to UND head coach Dave Hakstol, Caggiula is practicing this weekend and is set to go this weekend against the Providence Friars.

Check out the latest addition to the UND locker room remodel.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

USHL Arena Impressions #3 - Sioux City, IA - RW77

Tyson Events Center - Sioux City, IA

The Tyson Events Center is home of the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers.  It's not very easy to spot, even though it is adjacent to the northbound lane of I-29.  Why?  Because that big, brick monstrosity actually mostly obscures it.  The brick monstrosity is actually the former Sioux City Auditorium, which (for an outdated and obsolete structure) is actually quite nice looking for its time.  Luckily for everyone's sanity, though, the Tyson Events Center actually houses the hockey team.  Tyson opened in 2003 and seats 10,000 per the website.

The facility is pretty nice.  I believe it is a bit nicer than Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, but it should be, as it is also home to concerts, events, and the NAIA basketball team for Morningside College.  The seats are about the same as Cedar Rapids as well.

It's got a pretty unusual format in that the seating is almost U-shaped.  There isn't much for seating at the side of the arena that the visitor defends twice a game.  Very odd.

Though of no fault to Tyson, Tyson is hurt by the fact that almost every path to the arena is under massive construction (not just the indefinite perpetual construction that I29 is going through... that project is going on beyond the 6 year mark... it was ongoing when I moved to Omaha in 2008).

Nevertheless, I have to admit that the facility is very good for the size of the town.

Grade:  A


Big points from me for the fact that they serve Coke products, but the real sale is their drink policy itself:  Free refills with the purchase of a large beverage.  If you refill the cup once, you've cost the Tyson Event Center almost $5.00 in lost sales.  I doubt I'll ever see that at the Ralph.

Otherwise it is typical arena food.  Ok but massively overpriced.  Oh yeah, the mini-donuts are a huge hit at the arena.  So huge that if you don't buy them before approximately half way through the second intermission, they usually run out.... or they did when I was there.

There is a lot of variety of food.  I didn't try it all.

Grade:  A-


Believe it or not, there wasn't a whole lot I remember in between periods.  Maybe that's because it was during the playoffs.

The PA guy and the music choices were ok, though.

Grade:  B*  (Guesstimate)


These fans are just as passionate as UND fans, in my opinion.  However, they are a lot like me (to be brutally honest).  They complain A LOT about the refs.  And, I can't blame them.  USHL officiating is, on average, bad if not terrible.  To make a point of it:  I'd take Todd Anderson or the Shepherds over the USHL refs.

Nevertheless, it's all we heard, to the point of openly mocking them back.  They'd yell a penalty and we'd yell back idiotic combinations of penalties like "Interference roughing slashing!" or my personal favorite:  "Contact to the head tripping!"

All in all a fun time.  And they tend to be like their team:  They leave it on the ice.  After the game, many Sioux City fans made it a point to come over to me (I was in my Omaha jersey) and shake my hand and say good game and thanks for coming.  Drive Safe.

Funny, though, I do not recall getting hit by Sioux City's reputation:  Foul smelling air.

Oh well.

Grade:  A

Overall:  If not for Lincoln, Sioux City might very well be the premier road destination to see a USHL team.

Grade:  A

Ryan Kesler Hits Mikael Granlund at the End of the Game With Unnecassary Hit

I know this is about four days late, but it's something that I feel strongly about. This hit on Ryan Kesler on Mikael Granlund with .02 seconds left in the game is unnecessary.

Second, Kesler is one of the biggest frauds to play the game of hockey. He dives and embellished up and down the ice. That in my opinion cheapens the game of hockey and is poor sportsmanship. This is also the reason why I don't like the rule that prohibits fights after five-minute minute mark of the third period.
46.12 Instigator in Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime) - A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at any time in overtime shall be assessed an instigator minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, and a game misconduct penalty, subject to the conditions outlined in 46.22.
This rule gives players the ability to run around the ice and take runs at other players, without fear of retribution. With that bush league move, Kesler should earn himself a beat down the next time the Wild play the Ducks.

Michael Russo thought that the Ducks were taking runs at the Wild in the second and third periods.
The Ducks, getting dominated like Boudreau asserted, definitely tried to go after the Wild’s lesser players physically in the second and third periods. Ryan Getzlaf went after Jonas Brodin all game, and once Coyle jumped to Brodin’s defense. Astonishingly, referee Eric Furlatt gave Coyle four minutes and Getzlaf two (nothing for two cross checks on Brodin) and no extras for Anaheim even though both Getzlaf and Matt Beleskey removed their gloves to fight. The ignored calls on Anaheim and the fact the Wild wound up on the PK turned the momentum bigtime for several minutes here. The Wild still escaped though.
Again, the Wild seem to run into the refs that are having bad performances on the nights the Wild are playing. That's fine, maybe the Wild should start taking runs at the other teams star players if this behavior continues.

The Score on Brock Nelson: Fact or Fiction: 3 players to watch using advanced stats

Here's a little blurb on former UND Fighting Sioux forward Brock Nelson that was written by Ian McLaren of the Score. While it is early, Nelson is having a good season. Thinking of which, I might have to add ole Brock to one of my fantasy teams. Seriously, he could probably score more points than some of the stiffs I have on my teams now.
Brock Nelson, F, New York Islanders

With four goals and four assists in five games, Nelson finds himself tied for second among the NHL's scoring leaders after a hot start on a line with Ryan Strome and Mikhail Grabovski.

Owned in only 49 percent of Yahoo leagues, it leads the other 51 percent to wonder if they should unleash a full Nelson on the opposition.

Nelson had a distinct advantage in terms of his deployment in the first few games of the season, largely enabling his early success. Head coach Jack Capuano slotted Nelson as a center on the second line as opposed to John Tavares's wing man, meaning he's been kept away from the opposition's top defensive units.

As a result, Nelson's rolling with a 57.58 Corsi For percentage at even strength, while starting only 41.7 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone (according to War On Ice).

Providence Journal: Highly ranked PC hockey should be Frozen Four participant

Here's an interesting article by Providence College hockey beat writer Mark Divver. UND plays Providence College in a high profile series at the Ralph this weekend.
Mark Divver, Providence Journal -- On Friday night at Ohio State, Providence College drops the puck on what has the potential to be a season for the ages.

Coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 13 years, the Friars were ranked third behind perennial powerhouses Minnesota and North Dakota in both preseason national polls. Hockey East coaches picked PC — which returns 19 players from last season — to win the league title.

With the NCAA East Regional scheduled for the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence next March, followed by the Frozen Four at the TD Garden in Boston in April, the Friars have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a magical season.

Coach Nate Leaman is pleased but not satisfied with the progress that’s been made since he came to PC in 2011 from Union College — where he helped build the program that won the national championship last April.

“That’s what (PC) hired me to do. They hired me to get the program moving in the right direction,” he said.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Calgary Flames Forward Johnny Gaudreau Scores 1st Goal of the 2014-15 Season

Former Boston College Eagles All-American forward Johnny Gaudreau scored his first goal of the 2014-15 season last night. As you can see, Johnny Hockey's first goal was a thing of beauty. The Calgary Flames rookie has scored (1g-1a--2pts) in six games.

Phil Kessel Humor

I thought this tweet was really funny.

UND Ranked 3rd in Both National Polls Division I Men’s Poll

Rk.      School (First place votes)       
1.         Minnesota (39)                         
2.         Union (11)                                
3.         North Dakota                           
4.         Colgate                                    
5.         Providence                                
6.         Boston College                          
7.         Massachusetts-Lowell                 
8.         Ferris State                               
9.         St. Cloud State                          
10.       Miami     
11.       Denver                                  
12.       Boston University                       
13.       Minnesota State                           
14.       Michigan                                           
15.       Quinnipiac                                         
16.       Alaska                                                
17.       Vermont                                            
18.       Cornell                                               
19.       Minnesota Duluth                             
20.       Alaska Anchorage                           

Others receiving votes: Omaha 78, Robert Morris 67, Notre Dame 62, Bowling Green 47, Michigan Tech 36, Merrimack 27, Northern Michigan 24, New Hampshire 21, Princeton 17, Ohio State 14, Yale 10, Dartmouth 6, Harvard 6, Northeastern 6, Bemidji State 2, Clarkson 1, Mercyhurst 1.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll

Rk.      School (1st place)                     
1.         Minnesota (23)                                 
2.         Union (10)                                        
3.         North Dakota (1)                        
4.         Colgate                                              
5.         Providence                                      
6.         Boston College                                
7.         Ferris State                                        
8.         Massachusetts-Lowell                                     
9.         St. Cloud State                                  
10.       Miami                                                
11.       Boston University                            
12.       Minnesota State                               
13.       Denver                                              
14.       Michigan                                           
15.       Quinnipiac                                          

Others receiving votes: Alaska 45, Vermont 33, Cornell 27, Notre Dame 18, Robert Morris 15, Minnesota Duluth 14, Omaha 14, Yale 9, Alaska Anchorage 8, Bowling Green 6, Merrimack 6, Michigan Tech 5, Ohio State 3, New Hampshire 1, Bemidji State 1.

Hockey Is a Dangerous Sport - Yikes

Here's a picture of Penn State  defenseman David Thompson's abdomen after he was cut with a skate. Thompson laceration came in last Friday's game against UAA during the Brice Goal Rush tournament in Fairbanks, Alaska. Thankfully, Thompson should be back on the ice soon.

"Yeah, he's going to be great," said Penn State Head Coach, Guy Gadowsky of Thompson. "He's going to be fine. They took really good care of him. It was scary at the start, and we took every precaution, but he's going to be back at 100 percent very soon."

Back at it and Timber

After a week of vacation in central North Dakota, I am back at it. First, I want to give a big thanks to Sioux_7, Zach Hawkins and Redwing77 for filling in while I was gone. All three guys did a wonderful job while I was out depleting the North Dakota duck population. Yes, I also had a beer or two.

But I digress.

I wanted to take some time off before the hockey season kicked off full steam ahead. Yeah, because I am so taxed, right? Well not really, but I might as well use up that vacation time. I get 208 hours every year.

After watching UND get rolled 5-1 in the first game of the season against the Bemidji State Beavers, in the last three games UND has given up a grand total of four goals.

On the plus side, UND has scored 12 goals in the last three games. I don't think we need to worry about scoring all that much.

After four games, senior forward Marc MacMillan leads UND with (5g-2a—7pts). Coming in second is sophomore defenseman Paul Ladue (2g-4a—6pts).

After getting lit up in the first game of the season, UND goalie Zane McIntyre has been rock solid and really settled in. In four games, McIntyre has posted some really good numbers. Here’s the McIntyre line (3-1-0. 2.21 GAA and a .929 SV%).

Busness Insider: Jeremy Roenick Describes Life After 13 Concussions

This is kind of scary.
Aaron Taube, Busness Insider-- Five years into his retirement, the nine-time NHL All-Star says that the brain damage inflicted by his hard-hitting career makes it so he can no longer remember many parts of his past — games he played in, trips he went on, and friends he spent time with.

"My wife will ask me, 'Hey, remember we did this? Remember we did that?' And I totally don't remember any of it," Roenick says. "My short-term memory is good, but there's a lot of times I'm asked questions that I couldn't remember for the life of me."

Now an analyst with NBC Sports, Roenick says the concussions also hinder his speech. Sometimes on television he will have trouble finding the right word, even if it's one he knows and uses frequently.

He's worried that his brain will continue to deteriorate as he gets older, and he fears that he could one day suffer from dementia.

UND Women 9th in Division I Women's Poll

October 20, 2014

(First Place Votes)
Last Poll
5- 0-1
6- 2-0
Boston College
3- 0-1
0- 0-0
0- 0-0
Boston University
3- 1-0
4- 0-1
4- 1-1
North Dakota
4- 2-0
3- 3-0
Others receiving votes: Minnesota-Duluth 12, Northeastern 10, St. Lawrence 6.

Developing: Lawsuit filed against Canadian Hockey League over financial compensation

The CHL has been sued via a class action lawsuit. The suit alleges that the CHL players are underpaid.
The Canadian Press -- A class action lawsuit has been launched against the Canadian Hockey League seeking financial compensation for allegedly underpaid players.

The suit claims the players are paid less than the minimum wage in their regions and that they should also get holiday, overtime and vacation pay.

The lawsuit alleges the average OHL player devotes 35 to 40 hours per week to his team and receives $50 a week.

Toronto lawyer Ted Charney says the lawsuit seeks to hold the CHL and its teams accountable.
The Toronto Star has more on this subject. Of course the CHL President, David Branch is going to defense the way the CHL does business.
Robert Cribb, the Star -- An unprecedented class action lawsuit striking at the economic foundations of junior hockey in Canada alleges the Canadian Hockey League and its teams “conspired” to force young players into signing contracts that breach minimum wage laws.

A statement of claim filed in a Toronto court Friday and obtained by the Star, seeks $180 million in outstanding wages, vacation, holiday and overtime pay and employer payroll contributions for thousands of young players given as little as $35 a week for practices, games, training and travelling that could add up to more than full-time hours.

The league and its teams “conspired and agreed together . . . to act in concert to demand or require that all players sign a contract which the defendants knew was unlawful,” the claim alleges. “Such conduct was high-handed, outrageous, reckless, wanton, deliberate, callous, disgraceful, wilful and in complete disregard for the rights of the (players).”
It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.