Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ECAC stars sign with NHL teams

Cornell's Brendon Nash and Yale's Sean Backman, two of the best seniors in the ECAC this past season, have each signed a professional contract with an NHL team. Nash, a defenseman, has just signed a two-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens, while Backman, a forward, recently agreed to a contract with the Dallas Stars. Both players were First Team all-ECAC selections this season. For more on Nash and Backman check out ECAC Hockey.com.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Miami, BC, Wisconsin, and RIT all advance to Frozen Four

This was a crazy post-season for college hockey, but it's almost over as we are finally down to our final four teams. On Sunday, Miami advanced with a 3-2 double overtime win over Michigan in the Midwest Regional, while in the Northeast Regional Boston College topped Yale in a wild 9-7 affair. The day prior, Wisconsin defeated St. Cloud 5-3 in the West Regional, and underdog RIT shocked New Hampshire with a 6-2 win in Albany.

I'm pretty much a lock to win my family bracket challenge as I picked three of the four teams that are in the Frozen Four (I doubt anyone picked RIT to make it anyways). Even though I picked Miami to win the tournament, I will be rooting for the RIT Tigers. Not only are they the underdog and from New York, but they play in Atlantic Hockey and because of my ties to Army I have to support them.

I think the Miami-BC matchup will be the most interesting. The Red Hawks are the #1 team in the nation and have a lot of momentum heading to Detroit. They also have the hunger to win the whole thing after last year's devastating loss in the championship game to BU. The Eagles will are also a very good team. The thing that keeps me interested in them is how they have won the Hockey East tournament and the Northeast Regional. They won the HE Tourney 7-6 and won 9-7 to win the regional. That type of firepower by the offense could be lethal in the playoffs. Also, BC is a program that is used to playing late into the season and won the national championship two years ago.

It will also be very interesting to see if RIT can extend their Cinderella season even further against Wisconsin. I watched their regional games and they are very capable of winning the championship, especially if their goaltender Jared DeMichiel keeps up his stellar play.

All in all, I am as excited to go the Frozen Four as I am any year. This weekend is basically Christmas for me. I'm still going to say that Miami will win it all, but if they don't I'll pick BC. But who knows. Who though RIT would win a game in the tournament? (besides me of course!)

Walters to participate in Frozen Four Skills Challenge

Senior forward Jason Walters will be participating at the NCAA Frozen Four Skills Challenge at Ford Field in Detroit Michigan on April 9th. He was originally selected as an alternate, but will now be replacing Boston College's Ben Smith who will be playing against Miami the day prior. The last Dutchmen to play in the skills competition was Jason Mrazek two years ago, which did not turn out too well for him. We all remember Air Force's Eric Ehn incredible shootout move which beat Mrazek.

For more on Walters and the Skills Challenge check out Union Athletics.com.

I'm excited that I'll actually have someone to cheer for in Detroit this year.

Fulton commits to Union

It was announced on March 24th that Tyson Fulton has committed to play at Union. He will be joining the Dutchmen in 2010 or 2011 according to Chris Heisenberg. Fulton was the captain for the Breck Mustangs this season, who won the Minnesota Class A State Championship for the second year in a row. In 25 regular season games Fulton registered 33 goals and 44 assists for 77 points, which was third in the state. For more on Fulton you can check out Minnesota Hockey Prospects.com, where they say he could be in the NHL some day. You can also read more about Fulton's signing on Minnesota Hockey Hub.com.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Recap of Day 1 of NCAA Tournament

In an exciting first day of the NCAA Tournament a #1 seed, #2 seed, #3, and #4 seed all advanced. It was an exciting four games as three of the games were one goal games. Both games in the West regional were close affairs. First, St. Cloud topped Northern Michigan 4-3 in double overtime. This was the first win for the (2)Huskies in the national tournament in eight tries. This game was followed by another nail-biter as Wisconsin beat Vermont 3-2 behind three power-play goals by the (1) Badgers.

The biggest upset of the day came in the East Region where (4) RIT beat a highly praised Denver team 2-1. I was able to watch this game on TV and was very impressed with the Tigers and their goaltender Jared DeMichiel. DeMichiel was very aggressive in net as he was on top of his crease all game. On one save he was even out around the hash marks.

The only game that was a blowout was the UNH-Cornell game where Bobby Butler,the nation's leading scorer, and the (3) Wildcats put up a six spot on Ben Scirvens and the Big Red. Scrivens did not allow a goal for an ECAC record 266:11, but UNH was able to put up six goals in the final 23+ minutes of the first round game. Not only was this not good for Cornell, but it is bad for the ECAC as a whole. Cornell was supposed to be the top team in the ECAC by far and a legitimate contender for the national tournament. But, allowing six goals in their first tournament game proves that the ECAC is truly the weakest of the "Big Four" conferences in college hockey. As a Union fan it is mind-boggling how Cornell looked so dominant during the ECAC playoffs and in the championship game against the Dutchmen, and then get demolished against UNH. Imagine what the Wildcats would have done to Union's four freshmen defensemen and freshman goaltender. This was the first time the Big Red allowed six goals all season and only the third time they allowed at least five goals. Also note that Cornell went into Manchester earlier this season and beat the Wildcats 5-2.

Well, after going 3-1 today I lead the family bracket challenge. But, my one loss is a big one since I picked Cornell to go to the Championship game. Luckily, two people picked Denver to go to the championship game and one picked the Pioneers to win them all.

Tomorrow, the Northeast and Midwest Regionals get underway. In the Northeast, (1) BC takes on (4) Alaska-Fairbanks at 1:30pm, and (2) North Dakota will go up against the last ECAC team left in the tournament in (3) Yale at 5:30pm. (1)Miami, the nation's top team, kicks off the Midwest regional against (4)Alabama-Huntsville at 4pm, who snuck into the tournament as they won the CHA tournament when Bemidji was upset in the previous round. At 7:30pm, (2) Bemidji looks to cool down (3) Michigan, who is riding a hot streak into the national tournament. They seem to be really feeding off the opportunity of playing in the Frozen Four in their home state.

Hopefully, tomorrow's six games will be equally exciting as today's.

Friday, March 26, 2010

'Super' Mario signs with Adirondack Phantoms

It has been announced that Mario Valery-Trabucco, Union's leading scorer this year, has signed with the Adirondack Phantoms. The Phantoms are the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and play at the Glens Falls Civic Center, which is less than an hour away from Union College. This could give Mario the opportunity to finish his degree at Union. He will make his professional debut either tonight or tomorrow. For more on the signing check out ECAC Hockey.com and Post Star.com.

RIT upsets Denver in first game of NCAA Tournament

March Madness doesn't pertain just to NCAA Basketball! Who would have thought that RIT of Atlantic Hockey would top the second best team in the tournament???? Well, I did. Every year my family and I have our own bracket competition. So, last night I filled out my bracket and picked RIT to upset the Pioneers. I was the only one in my family (and probably one of the few people in the world) to pick the upset. Here is the rest of my bracket:

Midwest:
(1)Miami over (4) Alabama-Huntsville
(2) Bemidji over (3) Michigan
(1) Miami over (2) Bemidji

Northeast:
(2) North Dakota over (3) Yale
(1) Boston College over (4) Alaska - Fairbanks
(1) Boston College over (2) North Dakota

West:
(1) Wisconsin over (4) Vermont
(2) St. Cloud over (3) Northern Michigan
(1) Wisconsin over (2) St. Cloud
East:
(2) Cornell over (3) New Hampshire
(4) RIT over (1) Denver
(2) Cornell over (4) RIT

Frozen Four:
(1) Miami over (1) BC
(2) Cornell over (1) Wisconsin
(1) Miami over (2) Cornell

NCAA Tournament starts today

While the NCAA Basketball tournament continues today, the NCAA Hockey tournament begins with the East and West Regional Games. In Albany, (1) Denver takes on (4) Rochester Institute of Technology at 3pm, and (2) Cornell goes up against (3) New Hampshire at 6:30pm. In St. Paul, (1) Wisconsin plays (4) Vermont at 9pm, and (2) St. Cloud State matches up against (3) Northern Michigan at 5:30pm.

If you haven't filled out your bracket do so ASAP. I have already done so and have picked Miami, Boston College, Wisconsin, and Cornell to make it to the Frozen Four. Then I have Miami and Cornell matching up in the final with Miami taking home the hardware.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

2010 NCAA Men's Division I Hockey Bracket

Even though the Dutchmen did not make the NCAA Tournament you should still follow it. I've been following the tournament for over 10 years and it gets more exciting every year. Almost every year there is an epic overtime game, a major upset, a win in dramatic fashion, or something of that sort. You can check out the bracket here. The first round begins tomorrow, including the games at the Times Union Center in Albany.

At first glance I'm going to have to pick Miami to win the championship this year. They lost a heart breaker in the championship game last year against BU, so they're going to want it really bad this year. Also, they have two very good goaltenders and great team defense. I am a big believer that defense never quits and wins championships. You still have to give the Michigan teams a shot considering the Final Four is in Detroit, and the tournament has a history of having local teams make the tournament. Also, look out for Boston College since they are playing the first two rounds in Massachusetts.

I've already got my tickets for the Final Four in Detroit. I hope I'm not the only Union fan there!

Who do U think is going to win/ make the Final Four?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Union's Season ends in ECAC Finals

Sorry about the late post... I've been having some computer issues.

Well, that was a disappointing way to end the season. The score and the shots might have been close, but it was not an equal contest. The Big Red was just perfect in every facet of the game and the Dutchmen couldn't handle the constant pressure. Cornell's forecheck worked perfectly, their defense was impenetrable, the penalty kill was swarming, and the power-play was flawless. It just looked like men amongst boys out there as even some of Union's "tougher" players were being knocked around. Going into the game Union knew it was going to be a tough task at hand, but they didn't even make it interesting. The Union crowd seemed to realize this as it seemed to get quieter and quieter as the game progressed. The 3-0 loss was the first time all season the Dutchmen got shutout and lost. In the RPI Tournament, Union beat Lake Superior State in a shootout after finishing regulation at 0-0.

As I said before the game, special teams would be incredibly important. And it was as the Big Red scored two power-play goals, and their penalty kill did not let Union get any good shots on Ben Scrivens, who was named tournament MVP after the game. The Dutchmen took too many penalties and some were undisciplined penalties which were out of character.

But, even though it was a disappointing end to the greatest season in the history of Union College Division I hockey, there were a few good things that came out of the game: 1) Keith Kinkaid had a good game and a good Final Four. The Dutchmen might really have a big time future goaltender. 2) Adam Presizniuk seemed to be one of few Union players not to be over matched against Cornell as he was able to skate and battle with the Cornell players. Prez had a great playoffs and hopefully he can be Union's go-to-guy next season. 3) Four freshman defensemen played in both Final Four games. This gave them some major experience points and will be helpful if the Dutchmen make it back to the Final Four. 4) Many Union fans came out to support their team this past weekend. Hopefully the fans keep supporting the team and more people in the Schenectady area catch on in the future.

It's sad to see Mario Valery-Trabucco and Jason Walters finish up their four years at Union. They are arguably the greatest players in the history of the program. Unfortunately for the Dutchmen the duo did not have a great playoffs. In five playoff games Mario tallied two goals and an assist. One goal came in the first game of the playoffs when he pushed the puck about three inches into the back of the net after Walters rung a shot off the post, and the other goal was an empty netter against St. Lawrence. Walters on the other hand picked up just two assists, the first coming on Mario's goal against Quinnipiac and the second coming on Adam Presizniuk's game-winning goal against SLU. Either way these two guys brought Union to where they were and they will be deeply missed.

That is all I have for now. I will continue blogging throughout the off-season and will focus on such topics as evaluating the 2009-10 season, looking into next season, and maybe even getting some special interviews with people in Union Hockey. I had a great time following the team this season and couldn't have asked for anything more.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Union beats SLU to go to ECAC Championship Game

Who would have picked Union to be in the ECAC Championship game in the beginning of the season? Not many. The Dutchmen were picked to finish sixth in both the Coaches and Media Poll prior to the season. But, with last night's barn-burner Union will face Cornell to decide who will take home the ECAC crown.

Last night's atmosphere was incredible. I don't think I've ever seen so many Union fans in one place! The Union faithful took up about four to five sections at the TUC. The fans were also extremely loud and easily drowned out the SLU fans with their chants. They even found ways to make the SLU cheers into Union cheers. Dutchmen fans will have to be even louder tonight as Cornell has a tremendous and loyal following and has a great cheering section.

The Dutchmen did not play a great game as they seemed to not have enough jump and were fighting the puck a little too much. Luckily, Keith Kinkaid was stellar in net for Union as he made 29 saves on the night, including 13 in the final period. He was great positionally as he was able to catch almost every outside shot in his chest. It looks like the Coach of the Year made a "Coach of the Year" decision. Even though the Dutchmen missed the net on some good opportunities, they were still opportunistic. On only eight shots in the final 40 minuets, Union was able to score two goals.

On other notes, Kelly Zajac got hurt for the second game in a row. After separating his shoulder last weekend, he seemed to sustain another arm/shoulder injury. But, he returned in the second period and played the rest of the game. Now that's what I call a hockey player. As an old hockey friend of mine used to say, "Just Tape It Up." Also, with an assist on last night's game-winning goal, Jason Walters in now the all-time leading scorer with 115 points. But, Mario Valery-Trabucco is right on his tail.

For more on last night's game check out Union Athletics.com, USCHO.com, Ken Schott's Blog, Daily Gazette.com, and other literature you can find on the Extra Frame Blog.

Tonight's game against the Big Red will be a tough one for the Dutchmen as Cornell is one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the nation. Oh, and have I mentioned that they have one of the nation's best goaltenders? Ben Scrivens has been lights out all year and is near the top in every statistical category in all of Division I college hockey. He is tied for first with a .935 save percentage, second with a 1.83 GAA, fourth with 20 wins, and tied for first with six shutouts. He was recently named First Team all-ECAC and is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Scrivens leads the second best defense in the country that has only allowed 1.91 goals per game. Besides Scrivens, Cornell's strength is its' special teams. The Big Red sports the ninth best power-play in the country (20.7%) and the third best penalty kill in the country (87.4%).

So, the keys tonight for the Dutchmen are to stay out of the penalty box and to be opportunistic. It was only two games ago that Union did not have to kill any penalties, and if they do that again they will be in good shape. Also, if they go on the power-play they're going to have to screen Scrivens and pounce on any loose pucks.

If the Dutchmen are able to come out on top tonight it will probably be by the score of 1-0 or 2-1. In their past five games, Cornell has not allowed more than one goal and have only allowed one goal in their three playoff games. Scrivens and the defense brings their shutout streak into tonight's game as they have shutout Harvard and Brown in back-to-back games. Cornell has not allowed a goal in over 170 minutes. The game will be a great battle between high-flying offense (Union is fifth in the nation in scoring) and stifling defense (Cornell is second in the nation in team defense).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Looking into St. Lawrence

Forwards: the Saints have a very balanced attack up front with many players doing their part as they have seven forwards with double-digit points. Their big time players have also been stepping up in the playoffs. The forwards will bring a lot of energy and speed to the ice.

Travis Vermeulen: in his three seasons in Canton Vermeulen tallied 18 goals (1 power-play goal), 24 assists, and 42 points in 105 games. This year he has emerged as the offensive leader on the Saints as he has put up monster numbers: 17 goals (7 power-play goals), 24 assists, and 41 points (tied for fourth in ECAC) in 40 games. He leads the team in each of these categories. Vermeulen has been a consistent scorer throughout the season. He has continued his consistency late into the season as he has registered at least one point in 17 of his last 20 games. He has not scored a goal in the playoffs, but has picked up four assists. Yesterday Vermeulen was named the ECAC Defensive Forward of the year. He has been a top penalty killer for the Saints and has been very successful in the face-off circle. He also sports a +10 plus/minus rating. He is only 5' 6" and 170 lbs, so the big Union defensemen should try to knock him around.

Mike McKenzie: this senior forward has been a constant point producer for the Saints during his tenure. He has kept it up this year as he has tallied 14 goals, 21 assists, and 35 points this season. He is second to Vermeulen on the team in goals and points. He has been the offensive catalyst for the Saints during the playoffs as he has tallied a goal in the Saints last four playoff games. McKenzie has also been hot late this season as he has registered a point in eight of his last nine games (7 goals, 5 assists). He has also scored a goal in seven of his last eight games.

Kyle Flanagan: while McKenzie has been the goal scoring machine in the playoffs for the Saints, Flanagan has been the assists machine. He has registered an assist in four of SLU's five playoff games. Flanagan, a freshman from Canton, has been racking up the assists all year. He is second on the team with 23 assists in just 30 games.

Aaron Bogosian: the junior has been another key for the Saints in the playoffs. He has registered a point in all five of SLU's playoff games (3 goals, 3 assists), and has tallied a point in eight of his last nine contests. Bogosian is third on the team with 11 goals. Bogosian is from Massena, New York and is the brother of Zach Bogosian, who is an assistant captain for the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers.

Defense: the Saints defense is solid on the defensive end, but is lethal on the offensive side of the puck. They have four defesnemen with double-digit points, all of whom have scored at least six goals. This means the Union wingers will have to pressure the point and block a lot of shots.

George Hughes: the freshman leads all Saints defensemen with 18 assists and 23 points (fourth in ECAC among defensemen). He has picked up four assists this postseason, including one in each of his past two games.

Derek Keller: the senior defender leads all ECAC defensemen with nine goals. Six of his nine goals have come on the power-play so make sure to keep an eye on him when the Saints power-play unit takes the ice. But, Keller has been in a goal-scoring drought as he hasn't scored since 2/19 at Yale.

Senior defenseman Jeff Caister and sophomore defenseman Peter Child each have registered six goals and 11 assists this season. Caister scored a goal and had an assist in the Clarkson series, while Child tallied two assists in the Colgate series.

Goaltending: Kain Tisi will be in goal tonight for the Saints. He has received the bulk of the starts this season. He has started three of SLU's five playoff games where he has gone 3-0-0, where he has let up six goals. For most of the year, Tisi was one of the hottest goaltenders in the nation. Heading into his last meeting with Union (2/6) he was fourth in the nation in GAA and tield for second in save percentage. But, he has fallen back down to earth late in the season as he went winless in his last five regular season games and let up 21 goals. Because of his poor end of the season Tisi was not a finalist for the Ken Dryden Award. On the season Tisi is 11-8-3 with a 2.47 GAA (third in ECAC) and .915 save percentage (also third in ECAC).

Prediction: I'm going to have to go with Union tonight. My first reason is because they got to sleep in their own beds last night and have experience playing in the Times Union Center because they played in the Governor's Cup. Also, I feel SLU has had the easiest road to the ECAC Final Four this year. They first played Clarkson, the worst team in the ECAC by far, and it took them three games to knock the Golden Knights off. Then they traveled to Starr Rink, which is the least intimidating rink in the ECAC. It's going to be a big jump for the Saints going from those two environments to a major playoff atmosphere right in Union's backyard. It's going to be a tight one tonight but I say Union comes out on top 3-2.

Union's Lineup Changes Tonight; ECACHWBA Awards

According to Ken Schott, freshman Keith Kinkaid will be starting in net tonight for the Dutchmen. Kinkaid has started in both games against the Saints this year. Also, senior captain Mike Wakita will be out of the lineup because of a lower body injury he suffered last Sunday against Quinnipiac. Freshman Ryan Forgaard will take his place, meaning Union will have three freshman defensemen in tonight's starting lineup. The Dutchmen will definitely miss Wakita's presence and hard hits on the ice tonight. Hopefully someone like Nolan Julseth-White can step up and take that role.

Also, the inaugural ECAC Hockey Writers and Broadcasters Association awards were announced today. They are unofficial awards and I was even lucky enough to have a vote in the awards. And the winners are...

Player of the Year: Chase Polacek, RPI
Rookie of the Year: Brandon Pirri, RPI
Goalie of the Year: Ben Scrivens, Cornell
Coach of the Year: Nate Leaman, Union
Defensive Forward of the Year: Travis Vermeulen, SLU
Defensive Defenseman of the Year: Justin Krueger, Cornell

First Team: Polacek, Mario Valery-Trabucco (Union), Broc Little (Yale), Mike Schreiber (Union), Tom Dignard (Yale), Scrivens
Second Team: Sean Backman (Yale), Austin Smith (Colgate), Blake Gallagher (Cornell), Krueger, Brendon Nash (Cornell), Allen York (RPI)
All-Rookie Team: Pirri, Jerry D'Amigo (RPI), Louis Leblanc (Harvard), Nick D'Agostino (Cornell), George Hughes (SLU), Keith Kinkaid (Union)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mayotte called up to AHL again

Former Union College goaltender Kris Mayotte has been called up by the Adirondack Phantoms, the minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. Mayotte is considered to be one of the best goaltenders in the history of Union Division I ice hockey. The Phantoms play at the Glens Falls Civic Center, which is within driving distance of Schenectady. For more on Mayotte check out ECAC Hockey.com.

Rest of ECAC Awards handed out

  • RPI's Chase Polacek was named Player of the Year

  • Cornell's Justin Krueger named best Defensive Defenseman

  • RPI's Jerry D'Amigo named Rookie of the Year

  • St. Lawrence's Travis Vermeulen named Defensive Forward of the Year

Also, according to Ken Schott, captain Mike Wakita is questionable for Friday's game against SLU. He left the bench sometime in the third period with a lower body injury, but I'm pretty sure he returned later in the period. There has also been no announcement on who will be starting in goal for the Dutchmen tomorrow. SLU Head Coach Joe Marsh has announced that Kain Tisi will start for the Saints.

More Notes on This Weekend

  • The CDTA will be offering a shuttle service for this weekend's games. It's $10 to park but the shuttle if free. For more on the shuttle service go to Times Union.com.

  • It still hasn't been announced who will start in goal for the Dutchmen on Friday against St. Lawrence but Coach Leaman is confident that both Keith Kinkaid and Corey Milan are capable of carrying them to victory. Check out Ken Schott's article on the decision on Daily Gazette.com.

  • For more about the teams in the ECAC Final Four check out Brian Sullivan's "This Week in ECAC Hockey" on USCHO.com.

  • You can check out Union's ECAC Tournament Guide here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Should Union be ranked higher?

INCH thinks so. They call it an "outrage" that a team that is one of a few teams nine games over .500 is not higher than #15. They specifically call out New Hampshire and Vermont. You can read this short clip at the bottom of the page here. What do U think?

Home Ice Advantage?

Read Tim Wilkin's article about the possible home ice advantage Union might have at TUC this weekend on Times Union.com

Monday, March 15, 2010

Union in the National Rankings

In other news, the ECAC Player of the Year Finalists have been announced... and Mario Valery-Trabucco is not one of them. The finalists are RPI's Chase Polacek, Cornell's Ben Scrivens, and Yale's (yep you guessed it) Sean Backman. You already know how I feel on the Mario vs. Backman argument. I'm not really sure how a guy like Backman can be dominated for the league's MVP after he made the bonehead mistake of going swimming after hours and breaking his ankle the week before the league playoffs started. You would think that the players would be extra careful in the time leading up to the biggest part of the season. But, I highly doubt Backman will win the award. I already predicted that Chase Polacek would win the award.

Leaman named ECAC Coach of the Year

It was announced today that Union Head Coach Nate Leaman was named the ECAC Tim Taylor Coach of the Year. He beat out Yale's Keith Allain, St. Lawrence's Joe Marsh, and Colgate's Don Vaughan. Leaman becomes the third coach in Union history to win the award. The others are Bruce Deventhal (1994) and Stan Moore (1997). For more on Leaman's selection check out ECAC Hockey.com and Times Union.com.

Leaman certainly deserves this honor. He has brought Union College Hockey from the joke of the ECAC to a nationally ranked team. Hopefully, the Union Athletic department can convince him to stick around for a very long time and work out an extension once the season is over. His contract currently runs through the 2011-12 season.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Union advances to ECAC Final Four for first time in program history

Finally! Finally! Finally! Union is finally going to Albany for the ECAC Final Four for the first time in program history! The Dutchmen will face St. Lawrence next Friday at the Times Union Center.

The great thing about tonight's victory was that it was a complete team effort. The forwards fore-checked hard, the defense stepped up to the Quinnipiac forwards, beat them badly along the boards and in front of the net, and Corey Milan made all the stops he needed to. It was also great to see the freshman step up for the team as Wayne Simpson and Jeremy Welsh scored both of Union's goals tonight.

It was such an emotional battle between both teams. Bobcat goaltender Dan Clarke was throwing punches, Jason Walters and Eric Lampe were getting at each other for the fourth game in a row, and both teams worked extremely hard. I give the Bobcats a lot of credit for playing the way they did. They worked extremely hard, but just couldn't get past the tough Union defense. I also think the home-ice advantage was HUGE difference in the game. The student section was loud the entire game and the team really fed off of it, which was seen at the end of the game when Milan and the rest of the team jumped into the glass at Section Q.... I honestly thought the glass was going to shatter.

The emotions at the end of the game were incredible to see. Will Friedman and the rest of the student section were jumping up and down and hugging each other while popcorn was thrown into the air and the players could not wipe the smiles off their faces. Union Athletic Director Jim McLaughlin also looked extremely happy, and I even caught the Daily Gazette's Ken Schott with tears in his eyes.
For more on the game check out USCHO.com, Union Athletics.com, Ken Schott's Blog, and Times Union.com.

I was shocked to hear that Brown beat Yale 1-0, which makes all the difference in the world for the Dutchmen. I was even more shocked to see that the only goal was shorthanded and came midway through the first period. Cornell is an incredible team and Union won't have to see them until the ECAC finals. Brown deserves a ton of praise after beating a very good RPI team and then beating the top seed and defending champs on the road in back-to-back weekends. Bears goaltender Mike Clemente has now pulled off three upsets in the past two years. Their hard hitting defensive style has really worked for them. If I were Yale's Sean Backman I would be apologizing to my team for letting them down.

Let's just hope enough students stick around next weekend to see if their team can make more history. Also, good luck to the players and their fans on their upcoming finals.

Message From Coach Leaman

All Union College Students were sent this message from Coach Leaman this morning:
Dear Union College Students,

The Game 2 win last night at Messa Rink was a crucial one for our team and I want to thank everyone who has helped to fill our student section and supported us through these past two games and over the course of the entire season.

The cheering, chanting and the packed section of students wearing Union College gear have created a home ice advantage for our team. As I told reporters after the game last night, I think our fans have done a terrific job picking us up in the this series. It was by far the best job of our fans at Union. We have to use that energy that our building creates to our advantage and make sure that we're coming out with our A-game.

We ask for your support again tonight, as we face Quinnipiac at 7pm for the third and deciding game of this quarterfinal series. Instead of just letting the first 200 students in for free, we will be letting in ALL students arriving before the puck drops at 7PM. If we win tonight, we will advance to the ECAC Championship at the Times Union Center in Albany next weekend for the first time in school history. This would be a huge advance for our program, and we will need all of your support to make this historic step.

Once again thank you for your support and we hope to see you at Messa Rink tonight.

Go U!
-Nate Leaman
Union Men's Hockey Head Coach

All students should show up to the game. Everyone has finals, but being a part of something special and creating school spirit is important as well. This is the biggest game in the history of Union College Division I Men's Ice Hockey to date. If the team wins tonight and manages to make a run to the national tournament, not only would it be great for the players but it would be great for the school. Success in sports can help get a school's name out into the public, which could lead to greater popularity and recognition (ex. Doug Flutie and Boston College Football... might be a stretch but you know what I'm getting at). I have two massive research papers due in the next two days and I will be there even if I'm not writing tonight.

Also, if you're a senior you better show up. No matter what this will be the last game at Messa Rink for the Class of 2010. These guys are arguably the greatest class in the history of the program. Mario Valery-Trabucco and Jason Walters are possibly the most dynamic forwards Messa Rink has ever seen, while Mike Schreiber is one of the best two-way defenseman in Union history. This might as well be the biggest night of their lives as their whole Union career comes down to tonight. They were brought here to bring Union College Hockey to the next step, and that next step is going to the ECAC Final Four. Tonight's game will be a battle of the seniors as the best players for each team are seniors, and they don't want their season to end tonight. A lot of you seniors have just finished your thesis projects, so you probably have nothing else that important to do. So, come to Messa Rink and support your classmates!

Grosenick commits to Union

Goaltender Troy Grosenick has recently committed to play for Union College next season. Grosenick currently plays for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL) where he is 22-14-2 and sports a 2.83 GAA and .898 save percentage. For more on Grosenick check out USHL.com.

He sounds like a pretty solid goaltender; maybe not a big time starting goaltender but possibly a solid backup or tandem guy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Union lives to see tomorrow

Thanks to two goals by Adam Presizniuk and 27 saves by Corey Milan, the Dutchmen topped Quinnipiac 3-1. Luke Cain scored Union's second goal which was the eventual game-winner.
It was a very solid game all across the board. Union was able to get some good offensive pressure and played good team defense. Also, Milan made the stops he needed to make while the Union defense didn't allow many great scoring opportunities.

Due to last night's epic affair John Simpson, Kyle Bodie, and Stephane Boileau were not dressed in favor of Justin Pallos (who assisted on the game-winning goal), Brian Yanovitch, and Jason Shaffer. Yanovitch looked especially good tonight. I wonder if Leaman will stick with this winning formula tomorrow.

I got to watch the game from Section Q for the first time in a long, long time. It was a lot of fun and the students were very loud and in to it.
Tomorrow night is win or go home, so it should be a very emotional and exciting game. This is the last game at Messa Rink for the seniors so expect them to step up in a big way. Also, if the Dutchmen win they will head to the ECAC Final Four for the first time in program history. This year is the last time the final four will be held in Albany.

Also, Cornell topped Harvard and St. Lawrence beat Colgate to clinch a berth to the ECAC Final Four, while Yale bounced back and scored six goals against Brown to force Game 3 tomorrow.

Longest Game in NCAA History

Honestly, that was a lot of fun but very disappointing. Almost everyone knows what happened already so I'll just highlight some interesting points from my night:
  • I got to the rink around 5:30pm and left around 2:00am

  • The student section, lead by Will Friedman, was full and loud for the entire game

  • Stephane Boileau left the game due to an injury. It looks like it could be an upper leg problem or a groin or hip problem. After talking to Coach Leaman it doesn't seem like he will be playing in Game 2 at least.

  • I got to meet Mario Valery-Trabucco's father last night... what a nice guy!

  • Thanks to Union's Assistant Athletic Director/Sport Information Guy Eric McDowell who brought the media staff Burger King Whopper's around 2:00am.

  • Also, thanks to the Times Union's Mark McGuire who drove me back to my dorm after 2am... walking in Schenectady with your computer by yourself at night is not the smartest thing to do.

  • I talked to a member of the Union Dining Staff this morning who served lunch to the players today and he said that the boys looked exhausted. But, he has the utmost confidence that they will win tonight.

For more on the game check out my article on USCHO.com, Union Athletics.com, and Ken Schott's Blog.

It will be interesting to see how tired the players are and to see if there will be any changes to the lineups and who will start in goal for each team.

Things We Missed

  • Yale's Sean Backman out due to some unnecessary horseplay by the pool. Doesn't everyone read the sign about running by the pool?

  • Mike Schreiber (defenseman of the year), Keith Kinkaid (goaltender of the year), and Head Coach Nate Leaman (coach of the year) were all nominated for ECAC awards.

  • Mario Valery-Trabucco received the most votes in the first round of Hobey Baker fan voting.

  • RPI lost to Brown in first round of ECAC playoffs.

  • Jason Walters and Mario were selected as alternates for the Frozen Four Skills Challenge.

Well, that's all I can remember for now. If I think of anything else I'll post it.

I FIXED THE BLOG!!!!!!!

YES IT IS TRUE I HAVE FIXED THE BLOG!!!!
The problem was a virus that does "link spamming." It was due to some gadgets on my page. So, if you liked playing the air hockey at the bottom of my page... sorry it's gone forever.

Now it will take me some time to recap everything we've missed on the blog. I will try to recap in the next post.

Maybe this will be a good omen for tonight's game!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Read my article from the Concordiensis

Check out my article about the Dutchmen heading into the playoffs from the Concordiensis, the school newspaper of Union College on Concordy.com.

Info For Students For Quarterfinals

Associate Athletic Director Beth Taimi has sent me some information on how students can attend the ECAC quarterfinals at Messa Rink in two weekends:

"the first 200 Union students with ID at the student door will be admitted for free, IF they arrive before gametime (7pm). After that time, any leftover seats will be released to the public. Students arriving after 7pm can still purchase any available tickets for $6 in the main lobby of the rink... A few RPI fans have already purchased tickets at our rink."

So, if you are a student and want to attend the game for free I suggest getting to the rink around 6:15 wearing your Union hockey gear and getting ready to get loud. Also, you can buy tickets in advance if you don't want to get to the rink too early. Union fans better drown out whatever RPI (or whoever) fans show up.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Three Dutchmen selected to All-ECAC teams

The All-ECAC teams were announced today and three Union players were selected. Senior defenseman Mike Schreiber was named to the First Team, senior forward Mario Valery-Trabucco was selected to the Second Team, and freshman goaltender Keith Kinkaid was named to the Third Team and All-Rookie team. For more on Schreiber, 'Super' Mario, and Kinkaid check out Union Athletics.com.

First off, congratulations to all three players on being named to All-ECAC teams. Here is my analysis on each of the selections:

Schreiber was an obvious choice for First Team. He leads all ECAC defensemen with 28 points, is second with eight goals, first with 20 assists, first with a +23 rating, fourth with a .129 shooting percentage, and is towards the bottom of the list when it comes to penalty minutes (18). He is the top defenseman in the league and is one of the best in the nation.

Being named to the Second Team is a great honor, but I feel MVT definitely deserved to make the First Team. He has been Union's best player all season and has carried them on his back for many stretches this season, including of late (seven goals in past eight games, nine points in past 10 games). You can also make a legitimate case saying that he is also the MVP of the ECAC. Don't get me wrong, Chase Polacek, Broc Little, and Sean Backman are all great players (as I said earlier this week) and are all well deserving of the honor. But, I feel MVT should have made the First Team over Backman. While Backman had a very good season (21g, 14a, 35pts in 29 games) for the league's top team, Mario is statistically better (21g, 21a, 42 points - second in ECAC) and more important to his team. MVT has more assists and points than Backman, has a better plus/minus, more points per game, and has a higher shooting percentage.

Also, Mario (19g, 13a, 32pts - second in ECAC) has been better than Backman (16g, 9a, 25pts) in league games which are the most important games of the season and when a team needs their best player the most. MVT also has the upper hand in points per game in ECAC games, and all six of his power-play goals have come in ECAC games while only six of Backman's nine power-play goals have come in ECAC contests. There is a huge disparity in each players plus/minus in league games as Mario is +13 and Backman is +8. The only statistic where Backman has the upper hand over Mario in ECAC games is game-winning goals: Backman has two while Mario has one. Personally, league stats should be the only one's taken into consideration when it comes to picking all-league teams as many teams play weaker teams where big time players can pad their stats. By just looking at ECAC stats it is obvious that MVT should be on the First Team instead of Backman. It's also interesting to note that Backman is third on his team in points overall and in ECAC games. Sophomore forward Brian O'Neill has one more point than Backman and did not make any of the All-ECAC teams. Whoever chose Backman over 'Super' Mario has some explaining to do.

Keith Kinkaid has done a very solid job in goal for the Dutchmen this season and is definitely the top rookie goaltender in the ECAC, but is he really the third best goaltender in the league? I have seen almost every goalie in the ECAC this season and I never really thought Kinkaid was a Top 3 goaltender. Harvard' Ryan Carroll and Dartmouth's James Mello each stole games where they made 40+ saves, which is something Keith has not done all season. If I had to pick the third best goalie in the ECAC I would have to go with St. Lawrence's Kain Tisi or Quinnipiac's Dan Clarke. Tisi was on fire for the majority of the season as he sported a goals-against average under two. But, Tisi ended the season on a five game win-less streak where he let up 21 goals in five games. This poor end of the season is probably the reason why he did not make an all-league team. In the same amount of games (22) and about the same time played (Kinkaid has played four more minutes) as Kinkaid, Tisi has a better GAA and save percentage, and has made more saves and let up less goals. Tisi also has better stats than Kinkaid in ECAC games. The same is to be said about Clarke, but Clarke has played in more games and has played behind an awful defense. I know I've been bashing Keith a little of late, but he needs to step up in the playoffs to prove me wrong... and I really hope he does.

A major surprise was the lack of Jason Walters on any of the All-ECAC teams. Wally (16g, 22a 38pts) has had an amazing season, which is one of the best ever by a Dutchman. It just happened to be that Mario is having an epic season that is slightly overshadowing Wally's accomplishments. He is tied with Yale's Broc Little (1st team) and Colgate's David McIntyre (2nd team) for fifth in the ECAC with 38 points, and is tied for the top plus/minus (+23) with Mike Schreiber in the league. Walters is also in the top tier in the league in goals and assists. I am shocked that Brown's Aaron Volpatti was picked for the Third Team over Walters. Volpatti has only amassed 11 goals and 10 assists this season for 21 points, while leading the league in penalty minutes by far (91, the second closest is 75) and sporting a +1 plus/minus. For comparison Walters has more assists than Volpatti has points ,and has a plus/minus rating +22 better than Volpatti. The only case you have for Volpatti is that he scored more goals in ECAC games than Walters and that he has played on a weaker team. Volpatti has been a very good forward for Brown this year and has come up big for them, but it is not fair to say that he is a better player than Jason Walters.

The picks for ECAC Player of the Year, Goaltender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Forward of the Year, Defensive Defenseman of the Year, and Coach of the Year should be out some time in the next few weeks. Here are my predictions:

Player of the Year: Chase Polacek, RPI
Goaltender of the Year: Ben Scrivens, Cornell
Rookie of the Year: Louis Leblanc, Harvard
Defensive Forward of the Year: Blake Gallagher, Cornell
Defensive Defenseman of the Year: Mike Schreiber, Union
Coach of the Year: Nate Leaman, Union

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Union in the final rankings of the season