The final month of the NCAA regular season featured memorable moments, special honors and some fantastic finishes involving NHL prospects from around the league. Here’s a look back at some of the month’s highlights.
Sterling hits the century mark
Colorado College senior and Atlanta Thrashers prospect Brett Sterling joined some very elite company on Feb. 17 when he notched his 100th career goal versus Alaska Anchorage. Sterling became just the fourth player (and first in nearly a decade) in Colorado College hockey history to hit the century mark in goal scoring.
Leafs prospect leads the Badgers to a “frozen” victory
University of Wisconsin junior and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Robbie Earl notched a goal and an assist to help lead the Badgers to a 4-2 win over Ohio State in front of a boisterous crowd of 40,890 in the Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic at Green Bay’s storied Lambeau Field back on Feb. 11. The other Wisconsin goals were scored by senior Adam Burish (CHI), sophomore defenseman Kyle Klubertanz (ANA) and junior Andrew Joudrey (WSH). Joudrey netted the game-winner.
Colorado Avalanche prospect and Ohio State sophomore Tom Fritsche posted an assist for the Buckeyes in the loss.
Beanpot goes to the dogs again
Some call it “The BU Invitational,” which is probably fitting since the Boston University Terriers have won the Beanpot Tournament a record 26 times. On Feb. 13, they made it 27 times in the tournament’s 54-year history when they beat Commonwealth Avenue archrival Boston College 3-2 in the tournament championship game. Boston University sophomore Peter MacArthur took home the tournament MVP, posting the game-winner to go along with an assist.
Boston College sophomore and Vancouver Canucks prospect Cory Schneider took home the Dan Eberly Award, given to the tournament’s goaltender with the best save percentage (.924). Schneider’s teammate, junior Brian Boyle (LA) posted two assists in the losing cause.
Keeping up with the Joneses
Colorado Avalanche prospect and Dartmouth College sophomore David Jones notched four points, including his first career hat trick on Feb. 24 versus Clarkson in helping to propel the Big Green to a share of the Cleary Cup (ECACHL regular season champions) with Colgate. Dartmouth, who earned their first ever ECACHL title, gets the No. 1 seeding going into the conference playoffs due to winning the tiebreaker with Colgate. Jones finishes the regular season as Dartmouth’s leading scorer with 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists).
Minnesota Wild prospect and Miami sophomore Ryan Jones (no relation) helped propel the RedHawks their first CCHA regular season title since the 1992-93 season on Feb. 14 when he posted three points (two goals, one assist) in Miami’s 6-3 win over in-state rival Ohio State. Jones finishes the regular season with 31 points (19 goals, 12 assists), second only to linemate Nate Davis (CHI) in team scoring.
Potulny leads Minnesota to MacNaughton
Philadelphia Flyers prospect Ryan Potulny had a five-goal outburst in Minnesota’s sweep of Alaska Anchorage this past weekend and helped the Golden Gophers to lay claim to the 2005-06 MacNaughton Cup (WCHA regular season champions). The junior’s five goals included his second hat trick of the season and the third of his career. The WCHA championship was Minnesota’s first outright MacNaughton Cup win since the 1991-92 season. They shared the title back in the 1996-97 season with North Dakota.
Potulny currently leads the nation in both overall goals (29) and power play goals (15). He currently ranks tied with University of Denver junior defenseman Matt Carle (SJ) for fourth overall in scoring with 50 points.
Devils goaltending prospect makes history
New Jersey Devils prospect Jason Smith etched his name into the Sacred Heart hockey history books on Feb. 17 in the Pioneers 4-1 win over American International. The match set a new school single-season record for wins. The junior is also on pace to set a new single-season record for save percentage, goals against average, games played, and saves made. He currently ranks third in the nation in save percentage (.932) and is tied for ninth in goals against average (2.12). He has made 27 appearances this season and logged 1613:13 minutes in goal.
Sacred Heart, who currently sit tied atop the Atlantic Hockey Conference standings with Holy Cross, have a chance at clinching the regular season conference title this weekend when they close out their regular season in a home-and-home set versus the University of Connecticut.
Brown has Irish eyes smiling
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish enjoyed their best month of the season in February thanks to some stellar goaltending by sophomore and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect David Brown. Brown posted three of Notre Dame’s four wins during the month to help the Irish secure home ice in the opening round of the upcoming CCHA playoffs where they will face the same team (Alaska Fairbanks) that they faced to close the regular season.
Brown finished the regular season with a record of 9-14-4 that includes two shutouts. While his record isn’t all that impressive, his 2.50 goals against average and .914 save percentage are certainly notable.
Five prospects among finalists for the 54th annual Walter Brown Award
Five NHL prospects are among the 15 finalists for the 2006 Walter Brown Award. The annual award, presented by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston is given to the top American-born collegiate hockey player in New England. The five prospects named as this year’s finalists are University of Vermont sophomore goaltender Joe Fallon (CHI), University of Maine senior forward Greg Moore (NYR), Boston College sophomore goaltender Cory Schneider (VAN), and a pair of San Jose Sharks defensive prospects in Boston University senior Dan Spang and Harvard senior Tom Walsh.
Six prospects among the WCHA’s inaugural group of Scholar-Athletes
While NCAA hockey players are athletes, it is easy to overlook the fact that they are also students in an academic environment. Earlier this month, six NHL prospects distinguished themselves not only on the ice but in the classroom as well. They are among the inaugural group of 47 WCHA Scholar-Athletes for the 2005-06 school year. To qualify for the honor, the players had to have had at least one year prior to the current year of residency at their institutions and have at least a 3.50 GPA for the previous two semesters or three quarters. The players also qualify if their overall GPA is at least 3.50 for all terms at their current institution of residency.
The six NHL prospects that made the list are Minnesota State-Mankato junior David Backes (STL), University of Denver junior J.D. Corbin (COL), Colorado College sophomore Scott McCulloch (CHI), University of North Dakota juniors Chris Porter (CHI) and defenseman Matt Smaby (TB), and Colorado College senior Brett Sterling (ATL).
Five prospects named to the All-Ivy League First Team
Sophomore David Jones (COL) and junior defenseman Grant Lewis (ATL) were two of three Dartmouth players named to the 2005-06 All-Ivy League team. Big Green senior Mike Ouellette won the Player of the Year honor and was the lone unanimous selection to the All-Ivy League team.
Cornell senior Matt Moulson (PIT) and junior defenseman Ryan O’Byrne (MON), along with Harvard junior defenseman Dylan Reese (NYR) were also named to the All-Ivy League First Team.
Cornell junior Byron Bitz (BOS) and Dartmouth sophomore Nick Johnson (PIT) were honorable mentions to the All-Ivy League team.
Oshie and Parse on point streaks
There is hot and then there is scorching. The latter describes the point streaks that University of North Dakota freshman T.J. Oshie (STL) and University of Nebraska Omaha junior Scott Parse (LA) are on right now.
The North Dakota Fighting Sioux will wrap up their regular season this coming weekend when they host Michigan Tech. Oshie, who currently ranks second on the team in scoring behind junior Drew Stafford (BUF) with 34 points (19 goals, 15 assists), brings a seven-game point streak into the regular season finale. During that span, Oshie has racked up eight points (five goals, three assists).
The Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, who wrapped their regular season finale versus Western Michigan with a split last weekend will host Bowling Green in the opening round of the CCHA playoffs this weekend. Parse will bring in an 11-game point streak during which he has racked up 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists). He leads the nation in scoring with 59 points (19 goals, 40 assists) and in points per game (1.64). Parse, who currently has 143 career points, needs just two more to become Nebraska-Omaha’s all-time career points leader.
Better late than never
Western Michigan freshman Matt Clackson (PHI) notched his first collegiate goal on Feb. 4 in the Broncos 2-7 loss at Ferris State.
Clarkson freshman defenseman Tyrell Mason (NYI) notched his first collegiate goal on Feb. 10 in the Golden Knights 3-1 win over Cornell.
UMass freshman Alex Berry (TOR) notched his first collegiate goal on Feb. 25 in the Minutemen’s 4-2 win over Northeastern.
On the shelf
New York Islanders prospect and Clarkson University freshman Shea Guthrie is currently out with a separated shoulder that he suffered back on Feb. 17 in the Golden Knights 3-2 win over Yale. He could return to the Golden Knights lineup this weekend.
The month of February has not been so kind to University of Minnesota sophomore Kris Chucko (CGY). After missing the Feb. 10-11 series versus Michigan Tech with a separated shoulder sustained two weeks prior versus Wisconsin, Chucko returned to action just to go down again. This time, it is an ankle injury he suffered in the Feb. 18 game versus Denver. Chucko is currently listed as being out indefinitely, although he may return to the Golden Gophers lineup sometime during the post-season.
The University of Wisconsin will be without the services of junior Andrew Joudrey for the next two to four weeks due to a knee injury that he sustained in the Badgers 5-5 tie with Michigan Tech back on Feb. 18.
The Dartmouth’s share of the ECACHL title came at a heavy cost when sophomore and Montreal Canadiens prospect J.T. Wyman was lost for the duration of the season due to a leg injury he suffered in the Big Green’s 3-0 win over St. Lawrence in the regular season finale.
Maine has lost the services of junior defenseman and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Mike Lundin indefinitely due to a finger injury that he suffered in the Black Bears 2-1 win over Merrimack on Feb. 25.
The Cornell Big Red were missing their defensive “twin towers” of junior Ryan O’Byrne (MON) and sophomore Sasha Pokulok (WSH) in their season finale this past weekend. O’Byrne has been out of the Cornell lineup since Feb. 12 with an undisclosed injury and is not expected back until sometime during the ECACHL playoffs. Meanwhile, Pokulok missed the regular season finale versus RPI and Union College due to an unspecified injury that he is battling through.
Cornell finished the regular season with the third seed going into the ECACHL playoffs and get an opening round bye this weekend before resuming play the following weekend versus a yet to be determined opponent.
Coming and going
New York Rangers 2005 draft selection, forward Greg Beller has committed to Yale University for the 2006-07 season. Beller is currently playing with the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL).
Phoenix Coyotes prospect forward John Zeiler has left St. Lawrence University. He left school just prior to the final weekend of the regular season for personal reasons.
Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.