Category Archives: College Hour

Jordan Dettrow provides college hockey updates and other musings from around the hockey world.

Our GLI Experience

College hockey is an amazing thing. I would go as far as describing it as the heart of the sport. The players aren’t out on the ice competing for a paycheck, but rather to support their teammates and represent the name on their sweaters. This past Monday and Tuesday, I was fortunate to attend the Great Lakes Invitational. I was reminded why I love college hockey and how it truly has a strong impact on higher levels of the game. Here is a quick recap of the two-day tournament:

Falcons Crash the Party

The Bowling Green Falcons were this year’s Great Lakes Invitational Champions. They achieved this by defeating Michigan in a close matchup Monday night, then by downing Michigan Tech 4-1 the following evening. Goals in the second game for the Falcons were provided by Brett D’Andrea, Connor Ford, John Schilling, and Tyler Spezia. Freshman goaltender Eric Dop played very well between the pipes in the final game, stopping 29-of-30 shots.

Tournament Team

The all-tournament team consisted of players from each of the four participants. Forwards included Lukas Craggs of Bowling Green, Cooper Marody from Michigan, and Patrick Khodorenko out of Michigan State. The defense corps were represented by Bowling Green’s Alec Rauhauser and Michigan Tech’s Mitch Reinke. Bowling Green goaltender Eric Dop rounded out the all-tournament team. Craggs was also slated as the tournament MVP, with two goals and three assists during that span.

Hockey in Michigan

Three of the four teams that participated in the invitational were from the Mitten State. Minnesota may proclaim themselves as the “State of Hockey,” but Michigan sure does have their own argument. All of these programs performed well and had bright spots in each of their games. The rosters themselves were made up of many players from Michigan, including eight on the roster of Bowling Green, the only out-of-state team in the tournament.

Little Caesars Arena

If you haven’t had the opportunity to see the NHL’s newest venue, you’re missing out. The design of the perimeter and concourse area make for a modern and clean look. There are several restaurants connected directly to the arena, which make for a great game day experience. At different points, we sat clear at the top, as well as right by the glass, and I don’t think there was a bad seat in the place. The décor was spot-on, filling the venue with rich history and tradition.

Michigan v. Michigan State

Ohio State may be Michigan’s rival in most sports, but in hockey, it’s their inter-state foMich-Ste, Michigan State. These two teams met in the consolation game, with the Wolverines taking a 6-4 decision. There was plenty of exciting action, including some pushing and shoving after the whistle. These two teams will meet again in the same location for a “Duel in the D” on Saturday, February 10th.

Falcon Momentum

After the New Year, the season has resumed for NCAA Hockey teams around the country. This is the most intriguing point in the season, where teams either stumble and miss the postseason, or they get a massive load of steam rolling forward. Momentum can be a crazing thing in sports. At the moment, the team that represents that is Bowling Green. Their players have a ton of confidence after winning this tournament as the “special invite” team. They face Ferris State in WCHA play this weekend.

Island of Misfit Toys

The second-place Michigan Tech Huskies might have lost the tournament they were hosting, but their supportive fan base surely liftMichiganTeched their spirits. Shout-out to Mitch’s Misfits and their pep band for a great tournament. Even in an NHL facility, they could be heard. At one point, it’s almost certain they were shouting “Go Tech” for two or three minutes straight. Keep those lungs rested and best of luck the rest of the year.

Jeopardy Question

Who raised the first banner in Little Caesars Arena? Well, that would be the Bowling Green Falcons. It was joke on the car ride home that in technicality, the Red Wings won’t be able to say they raised the first banner in their own area. The Great Lakes Invitational banner was lowered after the game and raised following the ceremonies.

Dreams Come True

Although the NCAA is a great pool for the NHL to pick through, not all players have the talent to make it at the next level. This event was an opportunity for some lower-tier players to skate in a game on NHL ice and live out their dreams. One thing that makes the GLI so special is the relationship with the Detroit Red Wings, who have loaned out their home ice since the beginning of the tournament. Seeing the smiles on players’ faces was like watching kids in a candy store, as they scratched an item off their bucket lists.

GLI Day 1: WCHA Bests the Big Ten

In the opening round of the Great Lakes Invitational, two WCHA teams took on two squads from the Big Ten. As is traditional, Michigan Tech, Michigan State, and Michigan were all participants in the tournament, while Bowling Green was the final team invited to compete at Little Caesars Arena.

In game one, the Huskies of Houghton squared off against Michigan State. Michigan Tech entered the competition with a 9-7-5 record, while the opposition maintained an 8-9-1 mark on the season.

First Period –

After the drop of the puck, action was fairly evenly matched. Entering into a Michigan State man advantage towards the end of the period, the score was 0-0. As the final seconds of the penalty ticked away, Zach Osburn made a heads-up play and threw a quick shot on net. Robbie Beydoun got a piece of the puck, but it skipped by him for the first goal of the game.

Second Period –

The middle frame of the game was a lot more offensive-minded. Alex Smith evened the score at 2:04 after a shot deflected off of his skate. Referees reviewed the play, but determined there was no kicking motion. Moments later, Jake Lucchini earned the lead for the Huskies. He took a pass from Alex Gillies and ripped a shot past John Lethemon for his 6th goal of the season. Michigan Tech wasn’t done yet, as Gillies would earn a goal of his own to extend the lead. He found himself alone in front of the net and backhanded a shot that found twine. During the closing minutes of the period, Michigan State’s Patrick Khodorenko made a nice play to make it a one-goal game entering the final frame.

Third Period –

MichiganTechThe last twenty minutes of the game was all Michigan Tech, as they skated to a victory. The Huskies earned a penalty shot taken by Dylan Steman, but the shot was turned aside by Lethemon. Although the Spartans gained some momentum from the big stop, they were deflated by a goal from Gavin Gould that extended their deficit to 4-2. Late in the period, Jake Jackson buried the empty-netter, solidifying a 5-2 win for Michigan Tech. The final shot count was 32-31 in favor of the Spartans.

During the evening contest, Bowling Green battled against Michigan. The Falcons entered the contest at 8-6-6, while the Wolverines were 7-7-2.

First Period –

The opening frame was controlled by Bowling Green, as they tallied two makers for the lead. Tyler Spezia grabbed a lose puck and sent a back-door shot past Jack LaFontaine for the game’s opening goal. Moment later, Justin Wells sent a harmless wrister on net that found its way past LaFontaine for the 2-0 lead.

Second Period –

Bowling Green continued to keep up the pressure right out of the gate. Just fifteen seconds into the period, Lukas Craggs extended the lead to 3-0. At 3:39 of the second stanza, Connor McDonald found a rebound and slid it past LaFontaine to grow the Falcon’s lead. Craggs earned his second point of the night on that play. Michigan’s Jake Slaker was able to stop the bleeding, as he got the Wolverine’s on the board on his breakaway opportunity.

Third Period –

The final frame of the game is where things got a bit interesting. Slaker gets his second of the night to make it a 4-2 game. The Wolverines used that momentum to carry the play for much of the third period, but that ended when facing a crucial penalty kill. BGSUMax Johnson placed a perfect shot over the shoulder of LaFontaine to regain the three-goal lead. Just 25 seconds later, Tony Calderone crashed the Falcon’s crease to make it a 5-3 game. Then, Jack Becker earned his first career goal to make it a one-goal affair. Bednard took Becker’s shot up high, but it floated over his shoulder and rolled into the net. Play would remain back-and-forth for the final few minutes until Michigan pulled their netminder. Craggs shot one into the empty net to end the game 6-4.

In day two of the invitational, Michigan State will take on Michigan, while Bowling Green and Michigan Tech faceoff for the GLI title.

2018 Great Lakes Invitational

Well Down the Frozen River fans, it’s time to turn the page to 2018. We will be ringing in the new year with full coverage of the 53rd edition of the Great Lakes Invitational

The four-team college hockey tournament will see Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, and Bowling Green battle it out for the mid-season honor. Although the Huskies are the hosting party, Little Caesars Arena will act as the neutral location for all participants.

The tournament was created in 1965 and first played in Olympia Stadium. Over the years, the venue has changed, but has remained located in Detroit, Michigan. The event is intended to portray the talents of college hockey in Michigan and the surrounding area.

As we prepare for the opening of the two-day event, we wanted to tell you how you can follow along. Be sure to check us out on Twitter (@DTFrozenRiver), where we will bring you live, in-game coverage of all the action. Game recaps and other updates will posted over the next couple days. You can also expect a complete photo gallery, including Little Caesars Arena, for fans who have not experienced the NHL’s newest facility.

Puck Drop-

Michigan Tech v. Michigan State (1/1, 2:30 p.m.)

Michigan v. Bowling Green (1/1, 6:00 p.m.)

*Games 3 and 4 will be played on 1/2 at 2:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

NCAA Contenders, Part 1

If you have taken a look at the NCAA Hockey schedule, you might notice that there are no games slated for this weekend, which one might assume as the holiday season is upon us. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how things have shaped up so far this year. The Christmas Break is an interesting time for college hockey because it acts as a half-way mark for the season, as well as a one or two-week break for most teams. This time allows for rest, refocus, and can even throw slumping teams right back on track. As for writers, this is the perfect time to make some bold predictions on the NCAA Hockey Tournament, so let’s get to it! Who’s in, who’s out, and who’s on the bubble?

NCHC

Who’s in? – St. Cloud State

The Huskies have played extremely well this season, earning themselves a top ranking in the NCHC, but most importantly, the top position in the Pairwise rankings. Sitting at 12-2-1 overall, there isn’t much this team has done wrong. Considering their two losses came against #2 Denver, as well as one tie with #6 North Dakota, they don’t really have any blemishes. As both of these teams are conference foes, they will need to step up if they want to capture the NCHC crown. At the very least, an at-large bid seems definite at this point.

Runner-Up – Denver

Who’s out? – Nebraska-Omaha

I will probably eat my own words later in the season, but I’m calling the Mavericks to miss the NCAA Tournament. As of this moment in time, they are the definition of a bubble team, sitting 15th in the Pairwise rankings. Unfortunately, they have a very tough road ahead of them on the back half of the schedule. They face North Dakota a total of four times, as well as a series with St. Cloud State and Denver. They could rise to the occasion, but their current conference record of 2-6-0 doesn’t give me much confidence that they will.

Runner Up – Minnesota-Duluth

Who’s on the bubble? – Western Michigan
Western Michigan is looking good right now, with a 10-8-1 overall record. As a result of competing in the NCHC, their wins typically give them a big boost, while losses usually come against ranked teams and don’t bump them down too far. They need to take care of business in the second half, in which they play ten games against opponents in the bottom half of the NCHC. Unfortunately, they also have to deal with four games against St. Cloud State, which could be an issue.

Runner-Up – Miami

WCHA

Who’s in – Minnesota State

The Mavericks are the team to beat in the WCHA. This program has been ahead of the competition for the past several years and continues to show it this season. Their only losses came against #1 St. Cloud State, a talented Bowling Green team, and capable Northern Michigan and Minnesota-Duluth squads. This offense is very deadly, only being shutout once, while posting five or more goals on eight occasions. Even if another WCHA squad rises to the occasion and defeats them in the conference tournament, the Mavericks currently come in at 6th in the Pairwise rankings.

Who’s out? – Alaska-Anchorage

Who to choose from in the WCHA? In all honesty, there are probably five or six teams already theoretically out of the NCAA Tournament, unless they would manage to win the conference’s automatic bid. Let’s just go ahead and pick on Alaska-Anchorage. I hate to kick a team while they’re down, but the Seawolves are dead last in the Pairwise rankings, not to mention the WCHA standings. They will likely miss the WCHA Playoffs entirely, meaning an early end to their season. They have only won one game on the season, coming against Lake Superior State. Oddly enough, they battled to a 1-1 tie with North Dakota to open up the season, but it has gone downhill for them ever since. Unfortunately, there are always  to rumors about the Alaskan NCAA programs being eliminate due to their high travel costs. Hopefully this season doesn’t do any permanent damage to their longevity.

Runner-Up – Lake Superior State

Who’s on the bubble? – Bowling Green

I still don’t know what to make of this Falcon team. When they show up, they are good. The goalie tandem of Eric Dop and Ryan Bednard has been nearly unstoppable at times. The big question mark is their offensive ability. They have six ties on the season, which begs the question, are they capable of finishing off opponents late in the game? Outside of their one non-conference game with Western Michigan, they are unlikely to face a ranked opponent the rest of the regular season. They also have a great opportunity to ring in 2018 with some confidence, as they are participating in the Great Lakes Invitational. If they can take advantage of their strength of schedule and get a streak going, they have a chance of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990. They are currently 18th in the Pairwise rankings.

Runner-Up – Northern Michigan

ECAC Hockey

Who’s in? – Clarkson

The Golden Knights have been a bright surprise for this conference. In their previous campaign, they finished 18-16-5, which is fairly respectable. Turn the page to their current campaign and they are just three wins away from that mark, with fifteen games yet to be played. With just three losses on the season, all of those being in nonconference play, Clarkson is in great position to finish in the top sixteen teams in the nation, as well as win the ECAC Hockey Championship(s).

Runner-Up – Cornell

Who’s out? – Quinnipiac

As with the WCHA, there are several teams that fit into this category, but let’s go with a team that technically still has a chance, but one I think won’t be invited to the big dance. If you read my Beginners Guide to NCAA Hockey, you know that I actually chose the Bobcats as my pre-season favorites, but boy I was wrong. Then again, most writers picked Harvard and they were wrong too, but I digress. Quinnipiac has struggled so far this season, early just a 6-10-2 record overall, with only three conference wins. Now other ECAC Hockey teams have had it tough, including RPI and Dartmouth, but the Bobcats had so much potential. For them to be 47th in Pairwise rankings is pretty deflating, and I don’t think they find the momentum they need after the break.

Runner-Up – Dartmouth

Who’s on the bubble? – Harvard

Alright, time to talk about Harvard again. The team that was once ranked in the top ten has now found themselves fallen from good graces. The Crimson have started the season 4-5-1 and need a big rebound heading into the second stretch of their schedule. The reason why I consider them a bubble team is because this is something that they are capable of. They are on a two-game winning streak, but they need to continue this momentum if they expect to be playing more hockey in March. While they do sit at 36th in the Pairwise rankings, I think the Crimson have an outside shot at getting hot at the right time and taking their conference’s automatic bid.

Runner-Up – Colgate

NCAA Weekly Match-Up, 12/15/17

Well, it’s that time of year; the Holiday season is upon us! This is a great time to celebrate with friends and family, but not the best time for college hockey. As many teams release their players for a few days off, the schedule is usually pretty slim. There are only 13 games being played this weekend. Fortunately, there are still a few interesting match-ups to ramble on about. Since it’s their first meeting in NCAA history, let’s saddle up and head west, as Arizona State visits Colorado College.

Colorado College Tigers v. Arizona State Sun Devils

Game Details:

Saturday, 12/16/17 and Sunday, 12/17/17

Puck Drop- 6:00PM (ET) and 2:00PM (ET)

Broadmoor World Arena; Colorado Springs, CO

Let’s just start off by informing you that this series may not be “Game of the Year” quality. Colorado College is a good program that continues to produce positive results, but rarely has the capability to make a strong post-season run. Arizona State is competing in their third season as a Division-I hockey team, as they continue to transition from their former ACHA (club hockey) status. The Tigers are maintaining a record of 7-7-2, while the Sun Devils have managed just a 4-9-3 mark this season.

One would think sitting at 0.500 is nothing special, but it’s important to look at the big pictureColorado College. Colorado College battles it out with some of the best teams in the country, competing in the NCHC. Although they have only earned three conference victories, those wins came against #6 North Dakota, #23 Miami, and #25 Nebraska-Omaha. Last weekend, they skated to a pair of ties (4-4 and 1-1) against #2 Denver, which really shows their potential. The Tigers are one of those teams that can win on any given night and are capable of holding down the ice against any opponent. They have yet to really break out of their shell, but it could be coming before the end of the season.

The Black and Gold has been riding the hot hand of Nick Halloran, who has 22 points in 16 games played this year. He has been a bright spot, already doubling his production from last year’s campaign. Just a point behind, Mason Bergh is leading his team with 10 goals. Beyond that, the Tigers are lacking true depth. There are only two other skaters on the roster who have scored in the double-digits. Sophomore Alex Leclerc has been holding down their net, playing in all 16 games this season. His 452 saves on the season are good for a 0.913 SV%, as well as a 2.80 GAA.

At the beginning of the season, Arizona State had hoped for a better year. Their record indicates they still have some work to do. College hockey fans need to realize that building an NCAA program is extremely difficult. You have to hire the right staff, recruit the right players, and hope the local community supports the team. It took Penn State five years to build a quality program and now they are a tough competitor every time they take the ice. It may take the Sun Devils some more time, but their hard work should eventually pay off. Currently, they are an Independent team, meaning they do not belong to any major NCAA conference. They should be making this decision within the next year or two, which will provide them an opportunity to expand their brand and move forward.

University of Denver vs. Arizona State - NCAA Division I Ice Hockey
Image compliments of Daniel Petty, The Denver Post

In terms of scoring, Brett Gruber (3-8-11) and Tyler Busch (5-5-10) are leading the charge. Joey Daccord is their go-to netminder, playing in 15 of 16 games this season, including all four victories. He holds a 0.917 SV% and 3.04 GAA. Daccord has received high praise from scouts, who have compared his style to Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils.

The Sun Devils skated well in their last bout, earning a 4-3 OT win against Princeton. Late in the game and down by one goal, Arizona State earned a powerplay opportunity. Head coach Greg Powers pulled Daccord to give them a two-man advantage. Just under a minute on the clock, freshman Johnny Walker scored the game-tying goal with the primary helper coming from Gruber. At 1:47 of the OT period, David Norris ripped a shot that found twine, winning it for the Sun Devils. This type of win shows that this team can overcome adversity and that the players have a “no quite” attitude. They will bring their best effort to Colorado Springs this weekend as they face off against the Tigers.

Players to Watch:

Colorado College Tigers- Sophomore Forward, Nick Halloran; Junior Forward, Trey Bradley; Sophomore Goalie, Alex Leclerc

Fun fact of the day, Trey Bradley is the son of Brian Bradley, who played 10+ seasons in the NHL.

Arizona State Sun Devils- Sophomore Forward, Brett Gruber; Junior Defense, Jakob Stridsberg; Sophomore Goalie, Joey Daccord (Drafted 199th Overall in 2015 by the Ottawa Senators)

NCAA Weekly Match-Up, 12/1/17

Down the Frozen River is back with the NCAA Weekly Match-Up. Since it’s been a little while, let’s make this a two-part deal (please, hold your applause). There are simply too many big matchups to pick from, so why not double up? In a one-game tilt, Harvard takes on Quinnipiac at Frank Perrotti, Jr. Arena. This game is being broadcast on ESPN 3, with puck drop scheduled for 7:00pm. Our next matchup features Big Ten Hockey rivals Ohio State and Penn State. These two teams, currently placed 4th and 5th in their conference, will jockey for position as the season pushes closer to the midway point. Plenty of information coming at you, so let’s dig in!

Harvard Crimson v. Quinnipiac Bobcats

Game Details:

Friday, December 1st (7:00pm)

Frank Perrotti, Jr. Arena – Hamden, CT

Broadcast on ESPN 3

I have been wanting to discuss the Harvard Crimson for a while because they are a squad I find particularly interesting. This season, without even touching the ice for the first couple weeks, they were a ranked hockey team. There are many ECAC Hockey teams that don’t start their seasons until a few weeks after the rest of the NCAA. That is fine and dandy, but why should they be ranked when they have proved absolutely nothing? End rant…

Now that I have stepped down from my soap box, let’s talk about what I mean (using statistics instead of opinions because that’s what professionals do, right?). Harvard was expected to be a great hockey team this year, which is why voters ranked them within the top ten. Fast forward to December and they are 2-5-1 overall. While I am satisfied that I was right and they were wrong, this record is honestly an odd indication. On paper, Harvard should have been better than this. Fortunately, they still have plenty of time to turn their season around, especially only playing five conference games to this point. The Crimson will look to take advantage of a Quinnipiac team that has lost six of their last ten game. Harvard will have to go out and earn their ranking, which is how it should be done.

Quinnipiac is another tough case to crack. Just last season, they rounded out with a 23-15-2 record. Compared to their current mark of 6-7-1, something has clearly gone awry. The Bobcats have historically been a dominant team within the ECAC, but they are clearly showing some signs of struggle this season. Harvard will be a tough test for them, as important conference points are up for grabs this evening.

Players to Watch:

Harvard – Junior Forward, Ryan Donato (Boston Bruins, 56th Overall); Sophomore Defense, Adam Fox (Calgary Flames, 66th Overall); Senior Goalie, Merrick Madsen (Philadelphia Flyers, Overall 162nd Overall)

Quinnipiac – Freshman Forward, Odeen Tufto; Senior Forward, Tanner MacMaster; Sophomore Goalie, Andrew Shortridge

Penn State Nittany Lions v. Ohio State Buckeyes

Game Details:

Friday, December 1st (7:00pm) and Saturday, December 2nd (4:00pm)

Value City Arena – Columbus, OH

At the beginning of the season, I chose Penn State to win the Big Ten Hockey Conference. I may have overlooked Notre Dame just a bit. Currently, the Nittany Lions sit at 8-7-1 overall, but only 3-4-1 in conference play. They will need to improve (and will likely need some help) to get past a hot Notre Dame team. In terms of seeding, they are currently just one point ahead of the Buckeyes, which makes the weekend even more critical. Riding out a four-game unbeaten streak, these are points that Penn State could use to gain even further momentum.

The big story of this series will be the play of sophomore forward, Denis Smirnov. The Moscow, Russia native and Colorado Avalanche draft pick earned 47 points in 39 games played with the Nittany Lions last season. He has been battling through an undisclosed illness, but has still managed a stat line of 5-6-11 during the current campaign. Head Coach Rohlik of the Buckeyes referenced Smirnov as one of the best players in the nation, but also noted, “It’s not about one guy. We have to defend against their five guys on the ice.” Penn State is a very offensive-minded team, leading the nation in average shots on goal per game (41.69), as well as goals, assists, and points so far this season.

The Buckeyes are coming off a pair of great wins over their rival, Michigan. Head Coach Rohlik explain that those are the types of games that get the juices flowing, but their focus has turned to Penn State. “It doesn’t get easier. We’re playing a good hockey team this weekend.” In order to continue their success this weekend, Ohio State will need a good backstopper. They believe they have that in Sean Romeo, who is a transfer from Maine. The redshirt junior only allowed three goal against in their two wins up north. The number 11 Buckeyes look to stay in the national spotlight, as well as push for better position in their own conference, but they know it will be a tough test for them. As Rohlik explained, “Penn State doesn’t change… They bring it every time they’re on the ice.”

Players to Watch:

Penn State – Sophomore Forward, Denis Smirnov (Colorado Avalanche, 156th Overall); Freshman Defense, Cole Hults (Los Angeles Kings, 134th Overall); Junior Forward, Andrew Sturtz

Ohio State – Sophomore Forward, Tanner Laczynski (Philadelphia Flyers, 169th Overall); Junior Forward, Mason Jobst; Junior Goalie, Sean Romeo

Student Section of the Year: Laker Legion

Many times, the most unique hockey venues can be found in the most unexpected places. This is certainly the case for Taffy Abel Arena.

Within the Upper Peninsula, in the city of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, you will find the campus of Lake Superior State University. Although smaller than most colleges, home to less than 3,000 students, the Lakers have a pride and tradition within their hockey program that rivals any opponent.

The hockey program at LSSU was founded in 1966 and has seen many success stories over the years, including three NCAA Championships. The program has had to adjust to several new conferences, coaching changes, and the revolving door of players, but one things has remained the LakerLegionsame; their student section.

At LSSU, the Laker Legion are the fans who bring the noise. This organization is intended to tie together the hockey community within Taffy Able Arena, by offering constant support for their team. Aiden Wright, current team captain for the Lakers, gave us some insight on the importance of their student section.

“Our student section is everything. They’re the ones that provide the energy and support us no matter the game. As a team, it’s awesome to know we can count on our student section to be engaged and full of energy on any given night.”

Student sections have been a longtime tradition in the NCAA, but fans of college hockey are an entirely different breed. Inside the arena, the Laker Legion bellow out unique chants that offer a boost to the Blue and Gold. Shelbey Smith, current Social Media Chair for the Laker Legion tells us, “We try to customize them to the individual player.” Some of their current original chants support junior Forward, Diego Cuglietta and junior Goaltender, Nick Kossoff.

After an LSSU win, students can be heard repeatedly screaming “To the Bell,” which is a nod to the longstanding tradition of a bell being rung after every victory. In order to award their faithful fans, the players also toss out t-shirts after the game. Even in defeat, you will hear “We Still Love You,” because, as Smith explains, “We support the team whether we win or lose!”

Although the players in Blue and Gold certainly support their home crowd, opposing fans may not be as thrilled. Smith stated, “LSSU LogoWe know that we get in the heads of opposing teams.” The student section has recently been relocated next to the opposing bench. The Laker Legion surround their rivals with chants, cheers, and of course, chirps. These students are willing to do whatever they can to provide home ice advantage and help earn a ‘W’ at the end of the night.

Beyond the rink, the Laker Legion have worked diligently to spread their passion across campus. They are currently expanding to all home Laker athletic events, as well as continuing to host viewing parties for many away contests. Additionally, they have worked to achieve some philanthropic goals, donating money to the Movember Fund.

At LSSU, hockey is more than just a game, but a way of life for these fans. They give 100% to support their team, regardless of the outcome. Wright noted, “Whether it’s to build momentum, get under the other team’s skin or support us both on and off the ice, our student section is as good as they come!” The Lakers currently hold a record of 3-8-3 overall to begin the season, but with such a good support system at home, there is no doubt they can turn things around.

 

Good vs. Great: The Story of BGSU Hockey

The Falcon Hockey program at Bowling Green State University has been a topic of debate for the last several years. Has their internal rebuild been successful? Have they returned to their historic, dominant form? Are they good or are they great?

There is a fine line between a good hockey team and a true contender. Good hockey teams in the NCAA win 15-20 games a year, always finish in the top half of their conference, and are capable of winning a post-season series. Yet, their trophy case is left empty and their name vacant from the NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket. If you’re a follower of college hockey, you can name a few teams that fit this mold, but Bowling Green is definitely one of them.

Under Head Coach Chris Bergeron, the Falcons have gradually improved over time. There is an obvious answer to the question regarding their internal rebuild. It has been successful and it continues to be. The only problem is, how exactly do you measure success? In the beginning, it was all about gaining an identity and following the mystical “process” that is often referred to by the team and coaching staff. Fortunately for the program, after several years of good recruiting, expectations begin to change.

Three or so years into the new era, there has to be an adjustment to what is considered success. The coaches, team, and fans eventually want to see results on the scoreboard. During the 09-10 season (before the coaching change), the Falcons only mustered five wins, an incredibly poor result for any college hockey program. The 11-12 season saw 14 wins, including the historic run to Joe Louis Arena in the dwindling years of the CCHA. The 14-15 season was a breakout year, with the Orange and Brown reaching the 20-win marker for the first time since the 94-95 campaign. Twenty wins is good, especially when paired with positive post-season results, but this equation is still missing something. The past three seasons, Bowling Green has earned a +0.500 record, won a first-round playoff series, and then ended it without any hardware.

The Falcons desperately need to take the next step. They may never truly regain the dominance of their historic teams, but how can you expect them to match the talents of George McPhBGSUee, Dan Bylsma, and Rob Blake? This team needs to learn who they are now and what they are capable of. To put it bluntly, they need to get their hands on a championship trophy because it has been far too long since they have done so. At this point in their rebuild, this is the only true measure of success and they are right on the cusp of it. Just last season, the Orange and Brown faced a devastating double-OT loss to Michigan Tech in the conference finals. In their current campaign, they are 6-4-3, but are just one point out of first place in the WCHA. With their great depth on offense, overall solid play on defense, and a tandem of Ryan Bednard and Eric Dop in net, this could be the team to do it.

Is it time for Bowling Green to be great? The short answer is yes. The staff has dedicated themselves to this program and have turned it in the right direction. Although the previous few seasons have been positive, players and fans alike are left wanting more. The Falcons are good, but with just one outstanding season, they can be great. Six wins through 11 games isn’t exactly stellar, but they are currently 11th in the Pairwise Rankings (which determine NCAA Tournament eligibility). If they continue to develop as a team, earning positive results along the way, why not them? Why not now? It’s time for the Falcons to respond to the bell and prove that they can be great.

NCAA Weekly Match-Up, 11/10/17

Apologies for the brief hiatus, but the NCAA Weekly Match-Up is back!

The NCAA season is in full swing at this point and there have been some interesting results. Here’s a quick recap of the latest and greatest:

– Denver skated to a tie against Lake Superior State earlier in the season and was swept by Western Michigan just one week ago. The former number one team has been replaced by an impressive St. Cloud State squad that owns a 7-0-0 record.

– The Big Ten has been playing some great hockey lately. They have five teams ranked in the top 20, with Minnesota leading the pack. The addition of Notre Dame has been very helpful for their league profile.

– A few powerhouse programs could be in trouble early. There is plenty of hockey left to be played, but Boston University, Boston College, and Minnesota-Duluth are all currently outside the top 25 squads in the Pairwise rankings, which determine the at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament.

There are plenty of other topics I could mention, but it’s time to focus on the here and now. Let’s turn our attention to the Madhouse on Mercer.

Bowling Green Falcons v. Lake Superior Lakers

Game Details:

Friday (11/10/17) and Satuday (11/11/17)

7:07pm and 7:07pm

Slater Family Ice Arena (Bowling Green, Ohio)

Match-Up Preview:

The Falcons and Lakers both have quality hockey programs. Typically, these teams are not respected by the national polls or college hockey media, so they both have plenty to prove. They also have great history, which they use to fuel their return to the “glory days.”

Bowling Green is a program that has recently rebuilt and is seeing gradual success. After their 1984 NCAA Championship, they slowly crashed to a near extinction of the program. Since that point, they have developed under Head Coach Chris Bergeron and are relevant once again.

After nine games played this season, the Falcons are led by forward Cameron Wright, who has managed totals of 4-5-9. SeBGSUcond on the team is Alec Rauhauser, with six helpers on the season. In addition to offense, the goaltending department for Bowling Green has been stellar this season. The play of sophomore Ryan Bednard and freshman Eric Dop have lifted the Orange and Brown to a 4-3-2 overall record. Dop has recently earned back-to-back WCHA Rookie-of-the-Week honors

The Falcons are coming off a successful weekend against then #20 Michigan Tech, skating to a 1-0-1 series, but securing the additional conference point in the shootout. Bowling Green was great on the power play, which produced all four regulation goals. This squad looks to continue rolling along, as they have not lost in their last five outings.

Lake Superior desperately needs a big weekend, as a pair of wins would help reverse the direction of their season. Their 2-6-2 record out of the gate is not what Head Coach Damon Whitten had hoped for. The Lakers do have one quality win, coming over #20 Northern Michigan. They also had a great outing in a 3-3 tie with thenLSSU Logo #1 ranked Denver. The defending NCAA Champions expected a swift victory over the Blue and Gold, but they ran into a brick wall in Nick Kossoff. The junior goalie had 63 saves on the night… Let me break this down for you. A good team is going to get off 25-35 shots a game. This guy had to stop double that. There was obviously some overtime hockey involved, but regardless, a big pat on the back to you sir. With that said, Kossoff has since given up the net to Mareks Mitens (which gets an honorable mention for all-time great hockey name). Both goaltenders have a 1-3-1 record on the years. The play of this tandem could be a deciding factor in the series.

The Lakers’ last series was a split against Alaska Anchorage. They managed an overtime victory on Friday night, but Saturday evening was a much different story. Lake Superior struggled to get on the board and were outgunned 4-1. With that result, they now have four points in the WCHA, which is good for 7th in the league. Bowling Green is currently tied with Minnesota State for first in the league.

Down the Frozen River will be traveling to Bowling Green, OH to cover part two of the series. On Saturday, you can expect live updates from our Twitter account (@DTFrozenRiver), as well as a post-game recap.

Players to Watch:

Bowling Green – Senior Forward, Mitch McLain; Freshman Goalie, Eric Dop; Junior Forward, Stephen Baylis

Lake Superior – Senior Forward, J.T. Henke; Junior Forward, Anthony Nellis; Junior Goalie, Nick Kossoff

NCAA Weekly Match-Up, 10/20/17

And here they come again… (Fort Wayne Komets fans out there will understand the reference)

NCAA Hockey teams are at the early point in the year, where these games can either make or break their seasons. Last week, we saw Minnesota State pull off a huge, upset sweep of Boston University. The Terriers appeared to be the better of the two teams, but the Mavericks proved once again that they are reloaded and ready for a big year. This week, we take a look at two teams who are trying to silence the critics and prove they can be successful on the ice. It’s an in-state rivalry matchup, as Western Michigan takes on Michigan State!

Western Michigan Broncos v. Michigan State Spartans

Game Details –

Friday, 10/20/17 and Saturday, 10/21/17

7:05pm (ET) and 7:05pm (ET)

Munn Ice Area (East Lansing, MI) and Lawson Ice Arena (Kalamazoo, MI)

Game Preview –

The Michigan State Spartans are coming off a fairly good weekend against Bowling Green, as they salvaged a split in the series. On Friday night, the Spartans got off to a very rough start, as the Falcons of Bowling Green put three pucks past goaltender Ed Minney in a three-minute span. After John Lethemon entered the game to guard the Spartan’s crease, the teams skated to a 4-1 decision. Saturday night was a much different script, as Michigan State was able to push the pace of play and score one goal in each period, earning a 3-2 win over Bowling Green. This gives the Green and White a 1-1 record on the year.Michigan State

During this series, Michigan State proved they are capable of generating scoring chances, but their goaltending seems to be up for debate. Giving up six goals in a series isn’t horrible, but it’s also not ideal for a team that only mustered four offensive tallies over the weekend. Goal differential can be a critical statistic, especially if neither your goaltending nor your offense is stellar. Western Michigan will be a good test for the Spartans, as they look to turn the corner and show improvement from their previous season. Last year’s 7-24-4 overall record, with only three conference wins, was a big disappointment for their program. If they can’t get the ball rolling early, they may find themselves being at the bottom of the Big Ten yet again.

Western Michigan, a team arguably under-performing so far on the season, will look to get back to business this weekend. A 2-2-1 record through five games is not what the Broncos had hoped for, but two big wins over an in-state rival could be a potential momentum swing. Western Michigan started out with two of three wins against WCHA opponents, but hit a big road block against Clarkson this past weekend. Don’t underestimate your opponents, kids; they may just derail your season. Now, derail is strong word choice, but the win-less weekend against the Golden Knights (if you wondered why Las Vegas ran into licensing trouble, here’s your answer) was less than ideal. NCAA teams only have about 35 games on the schedule, so every one counts. This will surely be the mantra of the Broncos as they take on the Spartans.

The Western Michigan roster is filled with quality players that know how to win games. CurWestern Michiganrently, there are three skaters playing at a point-per-game pace. Although not sustainable, they need their leaders to continue this scoring. In net, there really isn’t a question as to who the Broncos lean on. Ben Blacker has played in all five games so far this season, giving up a total of ten goals against. His 1.98 GAA is already an improvement from his freshman campaign. Keep an eye on this goalie and how he responds to fulltime starting duties.

As former CCHA rivals, these teams have pride on the line. A home-and-home series will help decide which of them takes a stride forward and which one takes a few steps back.

Players to Watch-

Western Michigan – Junior Forward, Colt Conrad; Sophomore Defensemen, Cam Lee; Sophomore Goalie, Ben Blacker

Michigan State – Sophomore Forward, Taro Hirose; Sophomore Forward, Patrick Khodorenko; Junior Forward, Cody Milan