Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yale ready for final regular season weekend

Spent some time at Ingalls Rink today prior to Yale's practice. Keith Allain talked about his team working though its recent rough patch and the emotional lift goaltender Jeff Malcolm provided with his return to the net last Saturday. Here's the story I wrote for the Register.

A couple of other notes:

  • Yale has some players who are working through injuries. Allain said as of today he thinks he'll have the same lineup from last Saturday at Princeton, but said he's hesitant to be definitive because the team had yet to take the ice for Thursday's practice. Of course Yale is playing to win both games, but Allain said he's pulling for a first-round bye so his banged-up team can heal. "I think a bye will be helpful," he said. "We're (also) in the middle of exams, so it would be better to have the bye. But we'll deal with whatever comes our way." Malcolm had no setbacks, and is set to start both games. 
  • Yale's non-conference for next season is set. Almost. The final edition of the Ivy League shootout will be held at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., with Brown, Princeton and Dartmouth as the other participants. There will be a third game with Harvard, expected to take place at Madison Square Garden, though the contract hasn't been finalized. Holy Cross, Sacred Heart and Merrimack will play at Ingalls Rink; the Bulldogs will travel to Vermont.
  • Allain said he is always looking for interesting opponents when putting together his non-league schedule. Ivy League rules -- later start date, five fewer non-conference games than the rest of the ECAC -- makes it a challenge. "The schedules are made a couple of years ahead of time so if you're starting to think about (ratings percentage index) when you make it, which you do a little bit, teams are never where you think they're going to be. It becomes an exercise in futility if that's your plan," Allain said. "What's tough is to get (Western) teams to come here for a single game. You can always get them for two and go back for two, but we don't always have two to give. I think we could get pretty much any Western team we wanted to as long as we go back there, so it has to be two. The nice thing about our Denver trip (in November) was that it was two different opponents (Denver and Colorado College)."
  • Asked his opinion about the ECAC working as a partner with the Big 10 for non-conference games, Allain said, "Not necessarily. I love the ECAC. I think it's a competitive league. We've got great tradition. With all these other leagues folding and other leagues starting anew we've probably got the most tradition of any league in the nation. There's rivalries that have been around for a long, long time. As far as joint scheduling...on experience in college hockey those never work. I'm not sure I want the league dictating to me what to do with my non-conference schedule. I'd rather put it together with (associate AD) Wayne Dean and do what's right for our program."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bracketology Today

Here's how the NCAA regionals might look if the brackets were released today, based on the Pairwise Rankings and a few switches to avoid conference matchups in the first round and keeping teams closest to their home base.

Quinnipiac's natural first-round game, if we could stay true to the PWR, would be No. 16 RPI. But since league games are forbidden in the first round, it limits the Bobcats options. We kept No. 14 Notre Dame close to home in Grand Rapids, meaning No. 13 Denver would be Quinnipiac's opponent. Tough game for the top overall seed, but, oh, the potential story lines. Quinnipiac athletic director Jack McDonald was hired from the same position at Denver, where he hired current Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky.

Yale lands in Manchester to face host-team New Hampshire. It's possible that's where they'll remain. But we swapped the Bulldogs out to Providence with St. Cloud State for attendance purposes. Manchester already has BC, Dartmouth and UNH. Providence has Quinnipiac and essentially three Western teams. Yale should give that regional a boost, especially with the potential of a Yale-Quinnipiac regional final. Imagine that!

1. Quinnipiac vs. 13. Denver
8. Niagara vs. 12. Yale

4. Boston College vs. 15. Dartmouth
5. New Hampshire vs. 10.St. Cloud State

3. Miami vs.16. RPI
6. North Dakota vs. 11. UMass-Lowell

2. Minnesota vs. 14. Notre Dame
7. Minnesota State vs. 9. Western Michigan

Quinnipiac still No. 1; Yale drops to 15

Quinnipiac will be No. 1 for the third successive week. Yale drops to 15.
Team             (First Place)   Record   Pts  Last Week
 1 Quinnipiac                (37)   23- 4-5   975     1
 2 Minnesota                 (10)   21- 6-5   948     2
 3 Miami                     ( 2)   21- 8-5   907     3
 4 Boston College            ( 1)   18- 8-3   835     4
 5 New Hampshire                    17- 8-5   770     5
 6 North Dakota                     17- 9-6   734     6
 7 St. Cloud State                  19-12-1   670     7
 8 Western Michigan                 18- 8-8   650     8
 9 Minnesota State                  20- 9-3   635     9
10 Denver                           16-10-5   515    10
11 Notre Dame                       19-12-3   489    11
12 Massachusetts-Lowell             18- 9-2   487    12
13 Nebraska-Omaha                   18-12-2   356    14
14 Niagara                          21- 6-5   335    16
15 Yale                             14-10-3   323    13
16 Wisconsin                        14-10-7   237    18
17 Merrimack                        14-11-6   199    17
18 Dartmouth                        13-10-4   119    19
19 Boston University                14-14-2   112    15
20 Providence                       13-10-7    80    NR

Others receiving votes: Rensselaer 57, St. Lawrence 36,
Union 14, Ferris State 12, Alaska 3, Robert Morris 2.

The Poll consists of 50 voters, including 28 coaches
from the Division I conferences and 22 beat writers and sports
professionals from across the country. The poll, published weekly
by the Associated Press, is a production of, which
provides in-depth coverage of college hockey.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Quinnipiac lets one slip away against Brown

It goes into the books as a tie, but No. 1 Quinnipiac knows this one slipped away. What makes it all the more maddening, coach Rand Pecknold said, is his team's sloppy play and mental mistakes finally caught up with them.

Brown scored twice in the final 2:16 to escape with a tie, stunning the Bobcats and spoiling Senior Night.

"(Brown's) second goal, one of our D goes fishing for the puck, he gets smoked, we have no back pressure, no coverage to help once he gets beat, we were just sloppy defense," Pecknold said. "The third goal, our center doesnt' help, our wings don’t support; our D don’t pick up sticks; it’s endless."

It's been brewing for some time, Pecknold said. While the Bobcats continue to pile up the wins, they haven't been the same team the past eight games.

“I think the last month, we haven’t been playing our best hockey and (Eric) Hartzell has been bailing us out. We’re giving up two breakaways a game, 2-on-1’s all over the place and they guys aren’t buying in the way they did earlier in the year. We have to find a way to recommit if we want to advance in the playoffs because the way we’re playing right now, we’re going to have a tough time.”

Along with the breakways and odd-man rushes, the little things are allowing opponents "seven or eight" extra shots on goal. Hartzell has been magnificent all season, and on a night he allowed at least one goal he'd love to have back, the Bobcats miss a win and are stuck with a tie.

"We were a much better team in November, December and January than we are right now," Pecknold said. "We were on a roll, guys were hungry, buying in, doing little things well. As you have success, it's a natural progression. Kids are going to take shortcuts and that's what they've done now. We've been taking the shortcuts for a while."

Asked which team is the real Quinnipiac, Pecknold left it up in the air.

"We'll see in the end how it pans out," Pecknold said. "You guys will have to guess -- were we overachieving or is this where we're supposed to be. We can't cry over spilled milk. We have to move on and get back to where we were in January and be a great team. There's great character in that locker room, it's a great group of guys with a lot of talent. We have to stop taking short cuts. I think we've been doing it a while, and I was on them about it but we kept winning. We'd get that big-time goal or someone would make a play when we probably should have lost the game. This was a good eye-opener for us."

Video highlights from Yale-Quinnipiac

Here's some highlights from the NBC Sports Network broadcast of last night's Yale-Quinnipiac game, courtesy of Quinnipiac athletics

Friday, February 22, 2013

Quinnipiac still rolling; cruises past Yale

Quite an exciting night in Hamden. Students were out in full force, and as loud as they've ever been. Goaltending was a major factor; Eric Hartzell continuing his case for the Hobey Baker Award while Yale can't find any consistency in Jeff Malcom's absense.

A few quick notes:

  • The Bobcats remain atop the only rankings that matter, the Pairwise. Coach Rand Pecknold noted the team's sweep of Nebraska-Omaha just before the New Year has done wonders in helping win comparisons with some of the Western teams. Quinnipiac remains on track for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and a place at the East Regional in Providence.
  • Matthew Peca can be electric, and the Jones brothers have really come on of late to make that line one of the best in the ECAC. Kellen and Connor Jones had a hand in all four goals tonight.
  • Eric Hartzell has all but locked up the Ken Dryden Award as the ECAC's top goalie and will surely be one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker. His numbers support his case to win it outright.
  • Yale is 0-5 in games started by backups Nick Maricic and Colin Wilson. Maricic was strong in relief tonight, and certainly seemed more confident in himself than Wilson. Malcolm isn't expected back for Saturday's game at Princeton, but you can bet the Bulldogs will have him back as soon as he's ready. Maricic seems likely to get the nod.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm doubtful for the weekend

Yale coach Keith Allain isn't expecting goaltender Jeff Malcolm to return for this weekend's games at Quinnipiac and Princeton. But the senior did some limited team work in practice Wednesday for the first time since his injury on Feb. 1.

Allain ruled Malcolm out for Quinnipiac on Friday, and has yet to decide on Nick Maricic or Colin Wilson as his starter. Though he didn't completely rule out Malcolm for Princeton, Allain hinted it's unlikely.

"He's getting closer, and when he's healthy he'll play," Allain said. "There's a chance (he could play Saturday) but I wouldn't count on that either."

Malcolm's work Wednesday included getting on the ice to face a shots. Allain said he's mostly doing conditioning and "warm-up stuff", with a possibility his workload could increase today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sellout for Friday's Quinnipiac-Yale game

The final 1,000 student tickets for Friday night's game between Yale and Quinnipiac were put up online Monday. Within five minutes, they were all gone. The game will be a sellout, every seat and standing-room ticket accounted for, putting attendance somewhere in the vicinity of 4,000 at High Point Solutions Arena.

Tickets are available on and eBay, though the mark-up is considerable. The good news for those shut out at the ticket window is the game will be televised live on NBC Sports Network at 7:30 p.m.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Quinnipiac still No. 1; Yale at No. 13 in latest USCHO poll

The poll, released today:

1Quinnipiac(34)22- 4-49741
2Minnesota(15)20- 6-49582
19- 8-58893
4Boston College( 1)17- 8-38264
5New Hampshire
16- 8-47575
6North Dakota
16- 8-67407
7St. Cloud State
8Western Michigan
18- 8-66576
9Minnesota State
20- 9-36519
15- 9-551011
11Notre Dame
16- 9-241014
13- 9-335210
15Boston University
19- 6-524315
12- 9-413017
Others receiving votes: Rensselaer 34, St. Lawrence 20, Providence 19, Ferris State 9, Ohio State 7, Alaska 4, Colgate 1.

Read more:

Bracketology Today

Based on the Pairwise Rankings and other criteria used by the NCAA selection committee, here's my version of what the NCAA regional brackets might look like as of today.

1. Quinnipiac vs. 14. UMass-Lowell
7. Minnesota State vs. 12. Yale

4. New Hampshire vs. 16. Union
5. Boston College vs. 11. Denver

Grand Rapids
2. Minnesota vs. 15. Notre Dame
8. Western Michigan vs. 9. St. Cloud State

2. Miami vs. 13. Boston University
6. North Dakota vs. 10. Niagara

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quinnipiac-Clarkson postgame comments

Some comments from Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold and goalie Eric Hartzell after last night's 2-1 victory over Clarkson, courtesy of Quinnipiac.

Yale dropping fast

Three losses this week. Five in the last six games. It's been a rough stretch for Yale, which finds itself dropping in the ECAC standings as well as the Pairwise Rankings. A week ago, the Bulldogs were fifth overall in the PWR. Now, they're down to 12.

The loss of goaltender Jeff Malcolm has been an issue. But the Bulldogs scoring has gone silent of late, too. Just 10 goals scored in the last six games, four coming in the lone win during that stretch, are all contributing factors.

It won't get any easier. Yale takes on No. 1 Quinnipiac on the road Friday, a game that would be a great way to get back on track.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

21 and done -- Quinnipiac starts fresh

Quinnipiac looks to start a new streak tonight. The No. 1 ranking in the polls might be in jeopardy, but the Bobcats remained first where it really counts -- in the Pairwise. They'll also get their first look at the Cleary Cup, which they won despite losing to St. Lawrence last night.

Lineup changes for tonight: Soren Jonzzon is in for Kevin Bui at forward. Zach Tolkinen will play at defenseman for Alex Barron.

The lines for the Bobcats
Van Brabant-Arnt-Samuels-Thomas
St. Denis-Hibbeler-Jonzzon



Monday, February 11, 2013

Quinnipiac is new No. 1

A weekend sweep that extended Quinnipiac's unbeaten streak to 21, coupled with Minnesota's split with St. Cloud State, was enough to bump the Bobcats to the top slot in the poll.

Quinnipiac took 41 of 50 first-place votes. Minnesota received the other nine.

It's the first No. 1 ranking for the school, and the first for an ECAC team since Yale during the 2010-11 season.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Yale-Brown postponed a day; Jeff Malcolm expected back

The impending blizzard has postponed Yale's game at Brown to Sunday. The time is still to be determined, but Yale is expecting a late afternoon start time.

Travel from New Haven to Providence is short enough that Yale can leave campus the day of the game, play, and return home that evening. Rhode Island is expected to receive an extra wallop of the white stuff -- 3 feet? Really? -- making it an easy decision to delay.

In other notes from an afternoon practice at Ingalls Rink, Keith Allain said he expects goaltender Jeff Malcolm back at some point this season. Malcolm went down last Friday when a Princeton skater plowed into him, and hasn't practiced since. There's no timetable for a return, Allain said, but Malcolm is rehabbing and getting a little better each day.

Nick Maricic is expected to start on Sunday. Allain said he's confident the senior can do the job.

"At this time last year, Nick was our guy," Allain said. "He took us into the playoffs. We didn't play him the third game at Princeton only because the first two went into overtime and our guys aren't used to playing three in a row. I thought both goalies looked tired and it was a good chance to get Malcs in. Then, (Maricic) started the Harvard series. We have all the confidence in the world he can do that again."

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bracketology today

Using the Pairwise and a couple of switcheroos for attendance and avoiding non-conference matchups in the first round, here's what the NCAA tournament bracket might look like today.

1. Quinnipiac vs. 16. Notre Dame
7. Yale vs. 11. Boston University

4. Boston College vs. 15. Dartmouth
5. New Hampshire vs. 12. Denver

2. Minnesota vs. 14. Alaska
6. Western Michigan vs. 10. North Dakota

3. Miami vs. 13. Minnesota State
8. St. Cloud State vs. 9. Niagara

Sunday, February 3, 2013

How I voted...

New poll is released Monday. Quinnipiac may again gain some ground on Minnesota after a three-point weekend while the Gophers were idle. It's unlikely the Bobcats will seize the top spot, but being so close last week, there's an outside chance.

Another good week for the top 10 teams on my ballot from last week, while the second 10 struggled to win games. That means Notre Dame only drops a spot, Minnesota State moves up three without playing a game and Niagara hops five slots to No. 14 with a sweep of Bentley.

Ranking No. 19 and 20 was tough, with more than a few options there. I went with Ferris State, which earned a point against WMU, at 19 and Merrimack, on the heels of a sweep of ranked teams, at 20. Union and Providence remain worthy, but just off my ballot. Colgate, Ohio State and Alaska would round out my top 25, if we ranked 'em that far.

My full ballot this week, with my ranking from last week in parenthesis:
1. Quinnipiac, 19-3-4, (1)
2. Minnesota, 18-4-4, (2)
3. Western Michigan, 17-6-5, (3)
4. Miami, 17-6-5, (5)
5. Boston College, 15-7-2, (7)
6. St. Cloud State, 17-10-1, (8)
7. New Hampshire, 16-7-2, (4)
8. North Dakota, 14-8-6, (9)
9. Yale, 13-6-3, (6)
10. Denver, 15-8-4, (13)
11. Nebraska-Omaha, 16-10-2, (10)
12. Notre Dame, 16-11-1, (11)
13. Minnesota State, 16-9-3, (16)
14. Niagara, 17-4-5, (19)
15. Wisconsin, 11-9-6, (15)
16. Dartmouth, 11-8-3, (14)
17. UMass-Lowell, 14-9-2, (12)
18. Boston University, 13-10-1, (17)
19. Ferris State, 13-11-4, (18)
20. Merrimack, 12-10-5, (NR)