February NCAA prospects notebook

By DJ Powers

With the regular season coming to a close for some teams and nearing it for others, some great performances and fantastic finishes for post-season positioning involving many NHL prospects highlight this month’s edition of the College Prospects Notebook.

Boston University wins 55th annual Beanpot Tournament

Columbus Blue Jackets prospect and Boston University junior Brian McGuirk picked the best time to score his first goal of the season when he notched the game-winner at the 5:06 mark of overtime to give the Terriers their 28th Beanpot Championship in a 2-1 win over archrival Boston College on Feb. 12. This was also Boston University’s third consecutive title. McGuirk’s goal capped another hard-fought Beanpot thriller between the two Commonwealth Avenue rivals. Boston University senior goaltender John Curry was brilliant between the pipes, stopping 37 of the Eagles’ 38 shots to earn both the Eberly Award and the Tournament MVP honor. Curry, a potential candidate for this year’s Hobey Baker Award, also set a new Beanpot Tournament record with a .985 save percentage.

Sophomore Chris Higgins opened the scoring at the 2:33 mark of the first period to stake Boston University out to a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Nathan Gerbe (BUF) would get the equalizer for Boston College on his 14th of the season at the 2:40 mark of the third period. McGuirk would end it in overtime after picking up the loose puck off of a faceoff win by sophomore linemate John McCarthy (SJ) and snapping a shot over the shoulder of Boston College junior netminder Cory Schneider (VAN) for the game-winning tally. Schneider, who also had an outstanding performance in the tournament, made 24 saves for the Eagles in the losing cause.

Earlier in the day, the depleted Northeastern Huskies posted a 3-1 win over Harvard in the consolation game. Northeastern, who was without the services of four of their top scorers, including senior Mike Morris (SJ) and sophomore Joe Vitale (PIT), got the win thanks in large part to the stellar goaltending of freshman Brad Thiessen. Thiessen, one of the most pleasant surprises of this year’s Huskies team, made 25 saves to give Northeastern the win.

Six prospects named semi-finalists for Walter Brown Award

Earlier this month, the 15 semi-finalists for the 55th Walter Brown Award were announced. Six of the 15 semi-finalists are NHL prospects. They are Vermont junior goaltender Joe Fallon (CHI), Boston College sophomore forward Benn Ferriero (PHX), Northeastern senior forward Mike Morris (SJ), Harvard senior defenseman Dylan Reese (NYR), New Hampshire junior goaltender Kevin Regan (BOS) and Boston College junior goaltender Cory Schneider (VAN). Fallon and Schneider are both repeat candidates.

The winner of the award, which recognizes the best American-born college hockey player in New England, will be announced in Boston in March prior to the NCAA tournament. Boston College senior forward Chris Collins (BOS) won the award last year.

Brown backstops Irish to first CCHA title

What a season it has been for senior goaltender David Brown (PIT) and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. After finishing in eighth place last season, the Irish are now CCHA regular season champions for the first time in team history. Notre Dame accomplished the feat back on Feb. 16 in their 1-0 win over host Alaska. Brown, who has been the backbone of the one of the nation’s best and stingiest defenses, continues to rewrite the Notre Dame goaltending history books. After getting lit up for five goals last Friday night, he would cap his final regular season in South Bend with his fifth shutout of the season against Ferris State. His shutout win on Saturday was also his 11th career shutout and 50th career win. Brown currently leads the nation with a 1.68 goals against average. His five shutouts rank third while his .927 save percentage ranks tied for sixth.

Panthers prospect help the Saints win the Cleary Cup

He didn’t post any points in his team’s weekend regular season finale, but senior defenseman and Florida Panthers prospect Drew Bagnall has been a key cog in St. Lawrence’s march to claim just their second ECACHL regular season title in school history and with it the Bill Cleary Cup. The feat came on Friday in the Saints 4-1 win at Quinnipiac. Bagnall, who serves as one of St. Lawrence’s team captains, is tied for fourth on the team in scoring with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists). He is one of only five Saints players to have played in all 34 games thus far this season.

Johnson leads Dartmouth to capture share of Ivy League title

Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Nick Johnson notched three goals in the final regular season weekend to lead Dartmouth to wins over Cornell and Colgate respectively, and in the process helped the Big Green capture a share of the Ivy League Title as well as earning an ECACHL playoffs first-round bye. Johnson finishes the month in impressive fashion, tallying 10 points (seven goals, three assists) in eight games. Dartmouth finishes the regular season tied with Yale atop the Ivy League standings with a 6-3-1 record. This was the Big Green’s first since head coach Bob Gaudet backstopped the team to a share of the Ivy League title back in 1980.

Smith guides Pioneers to top seeding in Atlantic Hockey

The Sacred Heart Pioneers are looking to earn their first ever trip to the NCAA tournament and thanks to New Jersey Devils prospect and senior goaltender Jason Smith they’ve taken the first step in trying to do just that. On Friday, Smith made 20 saves in the Pioneers 5-3 win over Army at West Point to earn the top seed heading into the Atlantic Hockey post-season. While RIT captured the Atlantic Hockey regular season title, they do not qualify for post-season play until next season under NCAA rules of teams moving from D-II/D-III up to D-I. Because of this, Sacred Heart, which actually finished second in the final Atlantic Hockey regular season standings, gains the top seed in post-season play.

Smith, who will certainly leave his mark on Sacred Heart’s goaltending record books when he graduates, set a new school record for career wins on Friday with 37. Depending upon how far Sacred Heart advances this post-season, Smith can also set another school career record. To date, he has played in 89 career games and needs just three more to set a new school record for career games played.

Goepfert leads St. Cloud State to capture DQ Cup

The St. Cloud State Huskies have become one of the best stories coming out of the WCHA this season and the main man behind the team’s success is senior goaltender Bobby Goepfert (PIT). The Kings Park, NY native has posted some very impressive numbers this season. His .931 save percentage currently ranks third in the nation while his 2.11 goals against average ranks sixth. Goepfert is also tied for eighth in the nation with three shutouts.

The Huskies are technically still in the hunt for the MacNaughton Cup (WCHA regular season champions) after a convincing weekend series sweep of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. With the sweep, St. Cloud State also captured the DQ Cup. The DQ Cup, now in its second year, is awarded to the top WCHA program in the state of Minnesota in head-to-head competition.

Regan helps propels New Hampshire to Hockey East title

The Hockey East playoffs don’t begin for another two weeks, but the New Hampshire Wildcats have already wrapped up the conference’s regular season title. One of the keys behind New Hampshire’s success this season has been the stellar goaltending of junior Kevin Regan (BOS). The South Boston, MA native sports a 21-6-2 record. His .930 ranks fourth in the nation, while his 2.17 goals against average ranks eighth. New Hampshire is currently one of only two teams (Maine is the other) whose team offense and defense both rank in the top ten nationally.

The Wildcats, who have been at or near the top of the Hockey East standings all season long won the regular season title outright on Saturday thanks to Vermont’s win over Boston University. After a wild 6-5 win over Providence on Friday, New Hampshire was handed a humbling 7-1 loss by the Friars on Saturday. They close out the regular season this weekend in a home-and-home set with Boston College.

Corbin comes up big in return to DU lineup

After missing 30 games due to a broken leg and ligament damage in his ankle, University of Denver senior J.D. Corbin (COL) made a triumphant return to the Pioneers lineup on Friday, notching the game-winning tally in overtime to defeat North Dakota 4-3 in a crucial WCHA contest. The following night came more good news for the Pioneers, when they clinched home ice in the first round of the upcoming WCHA playoffs courtesy of Michigan Tech’s completed sweep of defending National Champion Wisconsin, despite the fact that Denver fell to North Dakota 3-0 in their weekend finale. Denver closes out their regular season with a home-and-home set versus in-state rival Colorado College beginning on Friday.

Parse continues to make history in final collegiate season

When senior Scott Parse graduates from the University of Nebraska-Omaha this spring, there won’t be many individual records without his name on them. The Los Angeles Kings prospect continues to rewrite the Mavericks hockey history books. This season, he’s added two more to his impressive list of school records and could potentially add even more depending upon how far the Mavericks go in post-season play. Earlier in the season, Parse became Nebraska-Omaha’s career leader in goals scored (79) and power-play goals (24). He needs just one more shorthanded goal to tie the school’s career record and needs three more games to become the team’s all-time leader in career games played. To date, Parse has played in 157 consecutive games and has never missed a game in his entire collegiate career.

Avalanche prospect Hensick joins some elite company

The storied University of Michigan hockey program has produced a plethora of excellent talent, many of whom have gone on to prosperous NHL careers. One of the next players headed that way is senior forward T.J. Hensick (COL). A prime candidate for this year’s Hobey Baker Award, Hensick currently ranks second in the nation both in scoring (17 goals, 39 assists for 56 points) and points per game (1.56). His 39 assists and 1.08 assists per game both lead the nation. In the annuls of the Michigan Wolverines hockey history books, Hensick has moved up to fourth all time in career assists (139). On February 2 versus Western Michigan, he became just the 12th player in school history to eclipse the 200-point career mark. Hensick has 208 career points heading into the CCHA post-season. Hensick is also the first Wolverine in a decade to post three consecutive 50-plus point seasons.

Schneider ties Clemmensen’s record

Junior Cory Schneider already holds one Boston College goaltending record, but it’s one he shares. Now he’s added a second one. The Vancouver Canucks prospect recently tied former Eagle Scott Clemmensen’s school record for career shutouts with 13. Schneider achieved the feat on Feb. 22 in Boston College’s 3-0 win over UMass-Lowell. The win was also his 20th of the season, making it the second consecutive season that he has posted 20 or more wins. On the season, Schneider has four shutouts, which is tied for fourth in the nation.

On the Shelf

Wisconsin senior forward Andrew Joudrey (WSH) missed Saturday’s game against Michigan Tech due to bronchitis. His status has yet to be determined for the Badgers regular season finale at Minnesota-Duluth on Friday.

Northeastern senior forward Mike Morris (SJ) is currently out due to a back injury. He has not played since the Beanpot semi-finals versus Boston University back on Feb. 5. His status is unknown for the Huskies regular season finale versus the Terriers on Wednesday.

UMass sophomore goaltender Jon Quick (LA) missed last Saturday’s game against Northeastern after suffering an ankle injury late in Friday’s night’s contest. He is listed as day to day. The Minutemen close out their regular season hosting Maine in a crucial series for both teams starting on Friday.

North Dakota sophomore forward Matt Watkins (DAL) missed last Saturday’s game at Denver due to an undisclosed injury suffered in the previous night’s game. His availability is unclear for this weekend. North Dakota closes out their regular season at St. Cloud State in a weekend series with serious WCHA implications beginning on Friday.

Ferris State sophomore defenseman Chris Zarb (PHI) is out of the lineup indefinitely due to a leg injury he suffered back on Feb. 9 at Michigan State. The Bulldogs open up their best-of-three CCHA first-round series at Lake Superior State beginning on Friday.

Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.