Here’s a look back at the month’s high (and low) lights.
Holiday tournaments roundup, part 2
The new year kicked off with five holiday tournaments. A thriller took place at Mariucci Arena, with the Minnesota Golden Gophers needing overtime to defeat the Northeastern Huskies 3-2 in the championship game of the 18th annual Dodge Holiday Classic. Sophomore Patrick White (VAN) notched his third goal of the year on the power play. White also earned a spot on the All-tournament team. Minnesota rookie defenseman Aaron Ness (NYI) was named the tournament MVP, posting his first collegiate goal to tie the game in the third period and assisting on Tony Lucia’s (SJ) power-play tally late in the first period. Minnesota was without the services of rookie Jordan Schroeder, and sophomores Mike Hoeffel (NJ) and defenseman Cade Fairchild (STL), who were all with Team USA at the World Junior Championship in Ottawa.
Further out west, two of the nation’s best teams in Boston University and host University of Denver faced off in the championship game of the Wells Fargo Denver Cup. After needing a shootout to get by Holy Cross in their semi-final game, the Pioneers struggled to keep pace with the red-hot Terriers. BU went on to defeat Denver 4-1, despite being without two of their top players in sophomores Colin Wilson (NSH) and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (COL). Tournament MVP Matt Gilroy tallied the game-winning power-play goal. Rookie defenseman David Warsofsky (STL) posted four assists in the tournament and was named to the All-tournament team.
At Hoffman Estates, Ill. host Notre Dame won the Shillelagh tournament defeating Minnesota-Duluth in the championship game 3-1. Senior netminder Jordan Pearce was brilliant between the pipes for the Fighting Irish, stopping a combined 39 of 41 shots and was named the tournament MVP. Sophomore Ben Ryan (NSH) posted the game-winner and added an assist in the semi-final game against Union College. He was one of four Notre Dame players named to the All-Tournament team.
At Value City Arena in Columbus, the fifth annual Ohio Holiday Classic took place. While many had anticipated it to be the state of Ohio showdown between host Ohio State and CCHA rival Miami for the tournament championship and bragging rights, it didn’t quite pan out that way. The Miami RedHawks, who were ranked second in the national polls coming in, finished last after being upset by Clarkson in the semi-final and Army in the third-place game. The championship came down to Clarkson and host Ohio State. Sophomore defenseman Shane Sims (NYI) tallied three assists, including one on Hunter Bishop’s championship winner to help guide the Buckeyes to victory. He also earned a spot on the All-tournament team. Freshman goaltender Paul Karpowich (STL) was outstanding in goal, despite the loss, stopping 31 of 32 Ohio State shots.
Up at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, host Vermont defeated St. Lawrence 4-0 in the 15th annual TD Banknorth Catamount Cup. This was Vermont’s first tournament championship since 2005. Rookie netminder Rob Madore turned in an excellent performance, stopping all 29 shots to post his first collegiate shutout and earning a spot on the All-tournament team. Ferris State sophomore defenseman Zach Redmond (ATL) was the lone NHL prospect named to the All-tournament. He posted three assists in the consolation against Colgate.
Badger brings home the gold
The NCAA was well represented at this year’s IIHF U20 World Junior Championships in Ottawa, but it would be a University of Wisconsin defenseman who would bring home the biggest prize of all. Oakville, ON native and Badgers sophomore Cody Goloubef (CBJ) and his Team Canada teammates captured their fifth straight gold medal after defeating Sweden 5-1. Goloubef finished second on the Team Canada roster with a plus-10. He also added an assist.
For Team USA it was another disappointing ending, finishing fifth in the tournament. Top 2009 draft prospect and current Minnesota Golden Gopher Jordan Schroeder led the Americans with 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in the tournament. New Hampshire sophomore James vanRiemsdyk (PHI) led Team USA with six goals and finished with 10 points. Schroeder and Michigan sophomore Aaron Palushaj (STL) led the team with eight assists each.
Two prospects among the candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award
Boston College senior Brock Bradford (BOS) and Notre Dame senior Erik Condra (OTT) are among the 20 nominees for this year’s Lowe Senior CLASS Award. The award, which recognizes players who have combined excellence in athletics, academics and community service, will be narrowed down to ten finalists in February. The winner of the award will be announced during the Frozen Four at the Verizon Center in Washington DC on April 9–11.
Goulet leaves Nebraska-Omaha
Defenseman Alain Goulet (BOS) left the University of Nebraska-Omaha to sign with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL. He rejoins his former Aurora Tigers coach Jerome Dupont. Dupont’s son Jeremie also plays Nebraska-Omaha. Prior to his departure, Goulet was one of the Mavericks top blueliners, posting five points (two goals, three assists) in 17 games. He led Nebraska-Omaha with a plus-9.
Hockey East loses two Blackhawks prospects
Two Chicago Blackhawks prospects are no longer playing for their respective Hockey East teams.
The Providence College Friars lost not one, but two defensemen over the holiday break including sophomore Joe Lavin. The Shrewsbury, MA native is currently playing in the USHL with the Omaha Lancers and is looking to transfer to another school. In a recent interview with Hockey’s Future, Providence head coach Tim Army expressed his disappointment and surprise at Lavin’s departure.
“I was surprised and disappointed that he left. I didn’t want him to leave. He struggled through the last third of last year and he was struggling this year. We tried to work with Joe through the adversity. We tried to get more out of him because we felt that he had more to give. I guess he was unhappy here, so he decided to leave.”
Meanwhile, New Hampshire senior Joe Charlebois has been ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season, thus ending his collegiate career. The NCAA ruling came down last week after Charlebois was originally suspended indefinitely earlier in the month. Prior to his suspension, Charlebois had been one of the Wildcats’ top defensemen, logging between 25-30 minutes of ice time per game. He had appeared in all 18 games, posting nine assists.
Can it possibly get any worse?
To say that the 2008-09 season has been a struggle for Michigan State is certainly an understatement. Things have progressively gone downhill for the Spartans and in the last few days it has gotten even worse. Goals and wins aren’t the only things that they’re lacking. The Spartans are also lacking in available warm bodies. First, it was losing sophomore defenseman A.J. Sturges and senior Nick Sucharski (CBJ) to season-ending injuries. Next came the dismissal of defenseman Ryan Turek (STL) due to failing to meet team expectations, and the departure of freshman Mike Merrifield to the USHL (Merrifield is expected to rejoin the Spartans next season).
The latest came last week when head coach Rick Comley announced that sophomore Corey Tropp (BUF) and freshman Andrew Conboy (MON) were no longer with the team. It all stemmed from an ugly incident in the Jan. 24 game versus archrival Michigan at Yost Arena that involved the two Spartans players along with Michigan junior defenseman Steve Kampfer (ANA).
Comley had originally suspended Tropp and Conboy for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs, but Conboy has since left the team and the school. Tropp is back with the Sioux Falls Stampede, his former USHL team. The USHL is conducting an investigation of their own before allowing Tropp to play. Tropp has also stated that he hopes to return to Michigan State this fall. Tropp will meet with Comley prior to the start of the 2009-10 season.
With the loss of Conboy and Tropp, the Spartans are down to just 12 forwards and five defensemen with five weeks left in the regular season. In a recent press conference, Comley said that he would look at the option of possibly bringing in some players from Michigan State’s club team to fill some holes in his depleted roster.
Fit to be tied
When Brian Mahoney-Wilson (SJ) moves on to pro hockey, he’ll have a lot of experience in one area – shootouts. With the CCHA being the only NCAA conference using the shootout this season to settle ties, the conference’s goaltenders have gotten some experience in it. But no one has gotten more than the Lake Superior State sophomore. Mahoney-Wilson has been in a shootout six times already, having only one won it once versus Bowling Green. His six shootout appearances however officially go down as ties, although the winner of the shootout is awarded an extra point in the CCHA standings.
Coming into the final weekend of January, Mahoney-Wilson sports a 6-7-6 record that includes one shutout. He also sports a 2.52 goals against average and a.921 save percentage in 19 appearances.
Bowling Green sophomore netminder Nick Eno (BUF) finally made his long-awaited season debut on Jan. 9 versus Ohio State, but it was in relief of senior Jimmy Spratt (CGY). Eno had missed the entire first half due to a high ankle sprain that he sustained prior to the start of the season. The Howell, MI native made his first season start the following night, also against Ohio State, going the distance in the 3-4 overtime loss. Eno enjoyed a sensational rookie season last year that was capped with a selection to the CCHA All-Rookie team.
Vermont’s super Swede Viktor Stalberg is a big reason behind the Catamounts success this season. The 2006 draft selection of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been one of the nation’s most consistent point producers this season.
In Vermont’s 24 games to date, Stålberg has been held pointless in only seven of them. The left wing has also posted multiple points in seven games as well. His best performance of the season came on Jan. 17 versus conference foe Northeastern, where he posted a pair of goals and an assist. The performance also earned Stålberg his second Hockey East Rookie of the Week honor.
Like a bottle of fine wine, Boston University center Colin Wilson just gets better with age. The 2008 first round selection of the Nashville Predators has been one of the catalysts on a Boston University team that may be the best in the country right now.
Coming into the month of February, Wilson leads Boston University with 30 points (9 goals, 21 assists). 24 of his 30 points (six goals, 18 assists) have come in Hockey East play, where he also leads all scorers. Wilson has only been held scoreless in six outings this season. Having missed time due to the WJC hasn’t slowed Wilson down either. He is currently riding a five-game point streak, where he has racked up nine points (two goals, seven assists) and is second in the nation in points per game (1.39)
Wilson was named the MVP of the season-opening Icebreaker Tournament after outstanding performances against two traditional powerhouses in North Dakota and Michigan State respectively. His best performance in conference play came on Nov. 7 versus UMass-Lowell, where he posted two goals and two assists to lead the Terriers to a 6-4 victory. The performance also earned Wilson his first (and thus far only) Hockey East Player of the Week honor.
Further west, sophomore Garrett Roe has been ripping things up for St. Cloud State. With 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists), Roe currently ranks second in the nation in scoring, and fourth with 1.32 points per game. Of the Huskies 28 games that he has played in, Roe has only been held off of the score sheet nine times. The Los Angeles Kings draft pick’s most memorable outing came in the season-opening series versus non-conference foe Mercyhurst, where he exploded for eight points (one goal, seven assists) in the two-game set.
Meanwhile, up in Fairbanks, Alaska, senior goaltender Chad Johnson has got the Nanooks shaking things up in the CCHA. The Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick has become one of the best stories coming out of the conference this season and his name is already being mentioned as a potential Hobey Baker Award candidate.
The Calgary, AB has put up excellent numbers that currently have Alaska ranked third in the CCHA standings behind only Notre Dame and Miami. Though he sports a 9-10-5 record, his individual numbers have been the main reason that the Nanooks are the nation’s second best defensive team, allowing an average of just 1.64 goals per game. In his 23 starts to date, Johnson has allowed three or more goals just six times and of those six, he has allowed four or more just twice. His 1.66 goals against average ranks sixth in the nation, while his .939 save percentage ranks third. His four shutouts are also tied for second in the nation.
Johnson has made his particularly in conference play. He sports the best save percentage in the CCHA with .941, while his 1.63 goals against average ranks second. He also leads the CCHA in minutes played this season (1285:22) as well. Johnson has already taken CCHA Goaltender of the Week honors three times. The most recent came on Jan. 19 when he stopped 59 of 60 shots, including a shootout win versus Nebraska-Omaha.
Out for the season
With the conference races beginning to heat up for the stretch run, the list of NHL prospects that are out for the season has grown since October. Here is the updated list of players whose 2008-09 campaigns have officially ended due to injuries.
Mike Bergin, D, RPI (DAL) – Shoulder
Taylor Matson, C, University of Minnesota (VAN) – Knee
T.J. Miller, D, Northern Michigan University (NJ) – Hip
Brad Phillips, G, University of Notre Dame (PHI) – Knee
Nick Sucharski, C, Michigan State University (CBJ) – Shoulder
On the Shelf
Below are players currently on the IR. Most of these players are expected to return within the next few weeks.
Northern Michigan junior center Matt Butcher (VAN) is currently out of the lineup due to a hip injury.
Michigan State right wing Tim Crowder (PIT) is out indefinitely after suffering a shoulder injury on Jan. 17 versus Miami and could be done for the season.
Ohio State freshman forward Zac Dalpe (CAR) has been out of the lineup with a leg injury that he suffered in the Jan. 16/17 series versus Ferris State.
Minnesota junior defenseman David Fischer (MON) has been out of the lineup with a leg injury that he suffered on Jan. 9 versus North Dakota.
Colorado College junior defenseman Kris Fredheim (VAN) has been out of the lineup with a knee injury that he suffered in practice on Jan. 19.
RPI junior defensman Christian Jensen (SJ) has been out of the lineup with an ankle injury suffered in practice during the week of Jan. 26.
Lake Superior State sophomore goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson (SJ) has been out of the lineup with a concussion that he suffered on Jan. 24 versus Bowling Green.
Clarkson senior defenseman Tyrell Mason (NYI) has been out of the lineup with a high ankle sprain that he suffered on Jan. 11 versus St. Lawrence.
Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Brendan Smith (DET) has been out of the lineup with a wrist injury that suffered on Jan. 3 versus Northern Michigan.