Tag Archives: Penn State

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