Saturday, March 28, 2015


courtesy @sheamckillop
Trinity  5

Two pretty disciplined teams in terms of commiting penalties coming into this one, so of course we had a penalty laden first period. The teams combine for about 20 penalty minutes a game on average but had a total of 12 in the first period alone. Both capitalized on one of their two plus man advantage opportunities with the Bantams striking first at the 3:38 mark. Sean Orlando pumped home a goal from the low slot after puck movement from Ryan Cole and Mike Hawkrigg. The Pointers struck back at the 15:16 mark, when Alex Brooks laid it off for Kyle Brodie, who lazered it past the right shoulder of Nate Heilbron from the point.

Three more power plays in the 2nd (and three too many men on the ice calls through two periods, weird) but neither team scored on special teams. The only goal of the period less than two minutes in on an excellent concentration play from Mike Hawkrigg as he put in a short pad rebound while falling to the ice on a Paul Burns rip. The Pointers swirled throughout the period and ended up with a 25-12 shots advantage through two, but nothing got past Heilbron in the second frame.

Since it is a national title game, unless someone pulled out a machine gun, there were going to be no penalties called. In a more evenly played period, the Pointers pulled even at 9:10 mark when Nick D'Avolio put in a rebound far pad side on a Brooks shot. D'Avolio had the equalizer against Amherst as well, but this time the Pointers wouldn't pull away. The Bantams took the lead for good with 3:52 remaining when Brandon Cole dislodged a puck behind the net and found Ethan Holdaway in the slot for the tally. UWSP pulled their goalie with 1:39 but couldn't capitalize and Trinity put in two empty netters to seal it.

It's the first D-III MIH title for a NESCAC team not named Middlebury, ironically (poetically) in the year that eight time national champion coach Bill Beaney of Midd. retired. Matt Greason took a team that was 9-13-2 in his first season (when his seniors were freshman) and brought them to a national title just three years later. He also kept them focused after a deflating NESCAC Quarterfinal loss to eight seed Tufts that could have knocked them out if not for a Pool C bid. It's a special moment for all ten seniors including Liam McKillop, who transferred from D-II (which has no playoffs) St. Anselm to Trinity in fall of 2013. Sean Orlando, Mike Flynn, Mike Hawkrigg and Nate Heilbron all made the All-Tournament team, with Heilbron earning the tournament's Most Outstanding Player Award. The junior netminder stepped up big this season in his first full season as a starter. Congrats to the Bantams and that's a wrap on an uber exciting season of NESCAC hockey!

NCAA D-III Men's Hockey Championship Game Preview: Trinity vs UW-Stevens Point

Who Trinity  (24-3-1) vs. UW-Stevens Point (23-6-1)
WhereRidder Arena,   Minneapolis, MN
When: 8 PM  EDT  Saturday 3/28/15 
Video/AudioNCAA GameCenter
Preview: NCAA

Stats (national rank)
Offense: 4.29 G/GM (6th)
Defense: 1.82G/GM (5th)
Power Play: 31/110 - 28.2 % (3rd)
Penalty Killing: 73/86 - 84.9 % (16th)
Penalty Minutes: 9.57/GM (64th)

Offense: 4.40 G/GM (5th)
Defense: 2.32 G/GM (16th)
Power Play: 26/117 - 22.2% (16th)
Penalty Kill: 79/101 - 78.2% (56th)
Penalty Minutes: 10.20/GM (55th)

The Lowdown: All the Marbles
So it all comes down to this. On November 1, 2014, the 2014-15 Trinity Bantams men's hockey team officially convened for the first time as a squad to set out on a journey that they hoped would culminate in Minneapolis 148 days later. That dream has been realized, as the Bantams take on UW-Stevens Point tonight for the NCAA D-III men's hockey championship. It's the first men's hockey title game in school history for Trinity, as they become the first NESCAC team not named Middlebury to venture into this territory. For fourth year coach Matt Greason and his ten seniors (err nine, Liam McKillop is a transfer), they went from a 9-12-3 record in 2011-12 to this game. 

The Bantams got here with a solid all around performance  in a 5-3 win against Adrian in the semis. They'll take on UWSP, who scored six unanswered goals against Amherst in the other semi to reach SP's second straight national title game and the schools' eighth all-time.  The Pointers are looking for their fifth title overall and their first since 1993. 

There's alot of cliches you can throw out for a title game, from the importance of goaltenders (both teams have good ones), to experience (edge would be to UWSP), and all have validity. But it's one game against two good teams, so really, anything can happen. The West has dominated the tournament in recent years (4 straight titles), but the way Trinity skated against Adrian last night, the Bantams certainly won't be intimidated by UWSP and the are anything but longshots to win this game.

As for the fun stuff, let's watch to see if the announcer can pronounce the NESCAC (NES-CACK) correctly tonight. Every time he mentioned the conference on yesterday's two webcasts, he spelled out the conference name N-E-S-C-A-C. He also had the propensity to give a lot of narrative backstory, sometimes in lieu of calling the game at critical moments. We did learn some interesting tidbits about the opposing Pointers from the asides, especially about their senior blueliners. Kyle Brodie is happy just to be on the ice for this one, as he beat testicular cancer in the offseason, while captain Kevin Gibson is the son of former MLB player/manager and 1988 World Series hero Kirk Gibson.

Players to watch (other than the goalies) 
Jackson Brewer (F, '15) It's the final collegiate game for the Bantams assistant captain, who went from eight points his freshman season to a Joe Concannon award last year.

Joe Kalisz (F, '17) Yesterday's player to watch showed off his impressive stickhandling against Amherst and put in one of the six Pointers' goals. In three Frozen Four games, he has four points (2-2-4). 

Congrats to both teams for making it this far, but there can only be one champion. Here's 2008 First Team All-NESCAC men's soccer player and Trinity alum, Sam Wisner aka Sammy Adams with his music video for "Only One"

Friday, March 27, 2015

Frozen Four Live Scoreboard

Trinity  5
Adrian  2

In a fast-paced first period, the Bantams buzzed but Adrian struck first with a goal at the 15:40 mark of the first whe DirecTV Ryan Lowe followed up his own rebound to beat Nate Heilbron five-hole. The Bantams answered right back less than three minutes later when Mike Hawkrigg tallied on assists from Sean Orlando and Jackson Brewer. The first penalties of the game were not called into the final minute of the first when matching high sticking minors were called on Bants frosh Tyler Whitney and cable Ryan Lowe.

The ant-first period, full of stoppage, penalties and scoring in the 2nd. Great puck movement from the Bantams for much of the 2nd frame. Ellie Vered scored a pair of tallies, one on the power play and one even strength. Ryan Cole added a power play goal and Ethan Holdaway had the Bantams first short handed lamp lighting of the season. Adrian got one back on one of their three power plays, when a Bulldog put in a puck after a scrum in front of the net. After Heilbron froze the puck with nine seconds remaining a ruckus broke out. After some deliberation, no power play for either team as two bodies in the box each for both sides with three roughings, a cross checking, and a side of fries were called.

Adrian would not go a way in the third. Matt Thompson shredded Sam Johnson in a great individual effort and then beat Heilbron 1:36 in to cut the lead to 5-3. The West has dominated college hockey in recent years with six of the last eight finalists coming from their region and Oswego being the only eastern team to fill those other two spots. It's not hard to see why with  big, physically talented teams like Adrian, but the Bants held their own all afternoon.

The Bulldogs almost had a huge momentum shift on the power play with 4:46 remaining. After  Jerry Olinyk jammed the puck loose at the post, Kyle Brothers put it past the line for the fourth Bulldog goal. Subsequent video replay showed a distinct kicking motion and the goal was called off. The Bantams held Brothers, the D-III nation's leading scorer to just one shot on the afternoon. Trinity blocked shots all game and held the final shots on goal advantage 35-32.

Adrian pulled the goalie with 2:20 left but was unable to capitalize, losing for the first time in 13 games. It was also only the second time in that thirteen game stretch that they did not score four or more goals. For Trinity, the win punches a ticket to the program's first ever D-III MIH final. It's also the first NESCAC team to reach this milestone not named Middlebury. Furthering the first, it's the first eastern team other than Oswego to make the finals since Norwich won it all in 2010. Trinity has come a long way in a short time since I watched the Bantams lose to Williams in the NESCAC semis against Bowdoin up in Maine two years ago.

UW-Stevens Point   6
Amherst                   2

Both teams had their moments in the first, but defenses kept people away from the front of the net or from sustained pressure. Both teams played tough, but no penalties were called and the score ended up where it began with a slight 10-9 shots advantage for UWSP. The Pointers player to watch Joe Kalisz had a great first frame, including a sequencing in the later stages of the period during which he single handedly weaved around the offensive zone for 30 seconds, but alas, no tally for your eforrts , Joey boy.

Things picked up in the 2nd from the very get go. Amherst drew first blood 3:42 into the period, when Brendan Burke potted one in off a Thomas Lidstrom shot. The Pointers thought they answered back moments later, with a puck that Vitale gloved but UWSP thought crossed the line. The officials went to the video and determined that there wasn't conclusive evidence to call a goal. The NESCAC was 2/2 thus far on video reviews for the day. The Jeffs would extend the lead to 2-0 five minutes later when leading scorer David White gained position in front of the net and hammered in a rebound on assists from Topher Flanagan and Connor Brown. UWSP turned on the pressure immediately and scored just 23 seconds later. They tried to amp up the presence in front of the net the rest of the frame, but Danny Vitale stood tall. SOG in favor of UWSP 24-19 after two. Amherst had nothing doing on the first power play of the game after a too many men on the ice call.

The wheels came off this one for Amherst in the third. UWSP tied the game but the goal was immediately called off for goalie interference. The Pointers killed the penalty on a lackluster Amherst power play and soon after scored the equalizer 5:53 in on a one timer in front of the net. The Pointers would then score three more goals in less than seven minutes to completely take over the game (not to mention a sixth that was called off on video review for goalie interference). An empty netter with 1:45 left would seal the six unanswered goals for the Pointers.

So it's Trinity vs UW-Stevens Point for the national title tomorrow night at 8 PM EDT. Should be a good one.

D-III Frozen Four Semifinal Preview: Amherst vs UW-Stevens Point

WhoUniversity of Wisconsin-Stevens Point vs Amherst (19-4-2)
WhereRidder Arena,   Minneapolis, MN
When: 8:30 PM EDT Friday 3/27/15
Video/Audio:  NCAA GameCenter

Stats (National Rank)  
Offense: 4.34 G/GM (5th)
Defense: 2.38 G/GM (17th)
Power Play: 25/114 - 21.93% (18th)
Penalty Kill: 77/99 - 77.8% (59th)
Penalty Minutes: 10.41/GM (55th)

Offense:3.36 G/GM (20th)
Defense: 2.00 G/GM (6th)
Power Play: 21/86 - 24.42% (11th)
Penalty Kill: 88/102 - 86.3% (11th)
Penalty Minutes: 10.07/GM (57th)


The Lowdown: Purple Reign 
Amherst won a thriller in OT against Norwich and UWSP defeated Hamline at home 4-2 to reach the D-III Frozen Four. It's the second ever visit to the semis for the Jeffs, who lost a heartbreaker in OT to Oswego in the 2012 semifinals. Then freshman Aaron Deutsch had the shot in the final minute of regulation that was eventually rebounded home to force the extra frame in the 2012 contest against Oz. Last Saturday against Norwich, Deutsch didn't just get the helper, he actually fired home the shot heard round Orr Rink in the final minute of regulation that pulled the Jeffs even with the Cadets.

UWSP holds the edge in pedigree with four national titles and eight D-III Frozen Four appearances including their second straight in the elite group of four. Last year, they lost 3-1 to champion St. Norbert in the title game in Lewiston, ME, hosted by Bowdoin. The potent Pointers attack is well balanced with their top five scorers all between 22 and 31 points on the season. Sophomore Joe Kalisz, who was just selected to the Second Team All-America West by the AHCA, leads the way with 17 goals while senior blueliner and First Team All-America West member Kevin Gibsonhas 22 assists to pace the Pointers. In the net, UWSP senior Brendan Jaeger has a 2.20 GAA and a .914 save%. 

Amherst coach Jack Arena, who led his team to its second D-III Frozen Four appearance despite losing their starting goalie midseason, won his second ACHA Coah of The Year award last night. While new starter Danny Vitale may have been a career backup, he has played as anything but this season. The senior, who played only three minutes of college hockey in his first three seasons, has the sixth best GAA (1.71) in the country and the second best Save Percentage at .943.  He's helped out by a disciplined defensive corps led by seniors Jake Turrin, who was just named to AHCA's First Team All-America East and the smooth skating Deutsch. 

It should be a great game between these two purple-clad clubs facing off for the first time in their school's history. While they share a propensity for purple attire, the schools are very different from geographic location to size (1,700 at Amherst vs 8,000 at UWSP)  to playing style. While both are very capable on both sides of the puck, Amherst is known for their disciplined defense while the Pointers have a bit more offensive punch. Either way, expect a knock down, drag out fight for a bid in the national title game. 

Players to Watch (other than the goalies)
Joe Kalisz (F, '17)  In his last semifinal game against Oswego, the new All-American had two points (1-1-2). What does he do in his second Frozen Four appearance in as many college seasons.

Andrew Fenwick (F, '15) There's a lot of good stories on Amherst, from the seniors bookending their careers with Frozen Four appearances to Jack Arena coaching his son, etc., but none is more compelling or recent than the story of the eldest Fenwick brother. He has fourteen goals in his college career with five of them coming in the last five games, including the only goal in a 1-0 NESCAC championship win over Williams.

In honor of the battle for purple supremacy, here's Minneapolis native Prince with "Purple Rain" 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

D-III Frozen Four Semifinal Preview: Trinity vs Adrian

Who Trinity  (22-3-1) vs. Adrian (24-3-3) 
Where: Ridder Arena,   Minneapolis, MN
When: 5 PM  EDT  Friday 3/27/15 
Video/AudioNCAA GameCenter

 Stats (national rank)

Offense: 4.26 G/GM (6th)
Defense: 1.78 G/GM (5th)
Power Play: 29/107 - 27.10 % (4th)
Penalty Killing: 70/82 - 85.4 % (16th)
Penalty Minutes: 9.41/GM (67th)

Offense: 4.77 G/GM (2nd)
Defense: 2.37 G/GM  (16th)
Power Play:39/155 - 25.16% (8th)
Penalty Killing: 104/122 - 85.2% (17th)
Penalty Minutes: 16.73 /GM (6th)

Hartford Courant  Feature on Cole Brothers
FoxCt segement on Trinity
Trinity Preview
Adrian Preview Preview
Trinity Quarterfinals "Behind-The-Scenes" 
USCHO Preview 

The Lowdown: Something's Gotta Give
After an exciting weekend of NCAA Quarterfinals last weekend, we enter the D-III Frozen Four with a chance for the dream: an All-NESCAC national championship. To hold up their end of the bargain, Trinity will have to defeat Michigan's own Adrian, who enters the game as the #2 (USCHO)/#1 ( team in the country. 

Trinity rode a 40 save performance by Nate Heilbron, combined with a  first period penalty shot goal by Jackson Brewer and a four goal, third period onslaught to defeat Plattsburgh to reach this point. Adrian out-slugged D-III Frozen Four mainstays Oswego, 5-4, at home last Saturday to earn the trip to Minneapolis. 

The two teams have never met before and they picked a doozie of a time to start. The Bantams are 4-3 in the NCAA tournament while Adrian is 3-4-0 in the little dance with both appearing in the D-III Frozen Four once. The Bulldogs have made the tournament in five of their program's eight year history. It's the first trip for both head coaches in the game who have a combined five years of coaching and are both alumni of their respective school. It;s the first college coaching season for Bulldog alum Adam Krug, brother of Bruins' blueliner Torey Krug. 

To reach the finals, Trinity will have to slow down an Adrian offense that has scored four or more goals in 11 of the past 12 games, all of which the Bulldogs have won. The Bantams have  given up four goals only three times this season, so somethings gotta give in this one, right? Heilbron has stopped 74 of the 77 pucks he has seen in the tournament and the newly minted AHCA 2nd Team All-American netminder hasn't let up more than two goals in the last six Bantams game. For Adrian, they are backstopped by senior Scott Shackell who sports a 1.98 GAA and a .930 Save %.  

Offensively, Adrian is paced by AHCA First Teamm All-America West team members Kyle Brothers and Josh Ranalli. The frosh Brothers leads D-III in scoring with 49 points (24-24-49) while the senior Ranalli has pitched in with 17 tallies and 27 helpers. 

Trinity led the American Hockey Coaches Association All-American selections Thursday night with four team members. NESCAC Player of the Year Ryan Cole made the First Team East while Heilbron made the Second Team. Junior forward Mike Hawkrigg and senior blueliner Mike Flynn rounded out the Bantams showing with Third Team honors. 

One thing to keep an eye on is the Bulldogs propensity for penalties, racking up the sixth most in D-III, a rarity for teams that make it this far (the other three teams in the D-III Frozen Four are 55th in the nation or lower in penalty minutes). If the Bantams potent power play can take advantage of potential man advantage, it might punch them a ticket to Saturday's finals. 

Players to watch (other than the goalies)                                            
Jackson Brewer (F, '15) The Flow set the tone for the Quarterfinal victory with a penalty shot goal in the first period to put the Bantams ahead. Does the senior extend his college career by one more game? 

Josh Ranalli (F, '15)  The Stoney Creek, OT native scores alot (128 points in his career so far), but he also has 154 penalty minutes in his collegiate tenure. Will he make the Bantams pay or will the Bantams make him pay for his transgressions? 

"It's not how you start, it's how you finish. It's not where you're from, it's where you're at." Nuff Said. Get it done, boys. #RollBants. The Hours "Ali In the Jungle" 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Quick Recap: NCAA Quarterfinals

Norwich   3
Amherst   4  OT
Box Score 

Norwich's speed and aggressiveness were apparent in the opening frame as they jumped out to a lead about seven minutes in on a tally by Justin Charbonneau.  Amherst answered right back on the power play as leading scorer David White put home the tally. After a back and forth second period where each team scored in the second (including a lamp light from Andrew Fenwick for the fifth straight game) and Amherst carried play, Norwich dominated the third. The Cadets took the lead with less than three to play when ECAC-E Player of the Year William Pelletier found the back of the net.

Amherst turned on the pressure in the final minute and thought they had the equalizer with 16 to play when Aaron Deutsch fired it past the Norwich netminder, but it was called off for the net being off the mooring. Shortly after the ensuing faceoff, Deutsch would not be denied again and the Jeffs forced OT. In the OT, Mike Rowbotham flung it in on net after an offensive zone faceoff and it bounced off a Norwich player to punch the Jeffs' ticket to Minneapolis. The Jeffs will take on Wisconsin Stevens Point, who defeated Hamline to make their second straight Final Four.

Trinity         5
Plattsburgh  1
Box Score

This was a good game through two periods. The only scoring in the first two frames came on a Jackson Brewer penalty shot after being taking down in front of the net with about a minute to play in the 1st. Things came apart in the third for the Cardinals, first with a strong forecheck that lead to a Connor Coveney goal. The Bants would then roll on to three more in the period including Brewer's second of the game. Platty pulled the goalie very early but were only able to pop in one goal with 2.3 seconds remaining.  Bantams head to Minneapolis for the D-III Frozen Four next weekend to take on Adrian, who also defeated a SUNYAC team in Oswego.

NCAA Quarterfinals preview: Norwich at Amherst

Who: Norwich (25-3-1) aAmherst (19-4-2)
WhereOrr Rink Amherst, MA
When: 7:00 PM Saturday 3/21/14
Video/Audio:  Video  
Previews: Norwich

Stats (National Rank)
Offense: 4.28 G/GM (6th)
Defense: 1.41 G/GM (1st)
Power Play: 27/119 - 22.69% (17th)
Penalty Kill: 83/91 - 91.2% (3rd)
Penalty Minutes: 8.75/GM (70th)

Offense:3.33 G/GM (20th)
Defense: 1.96 G/GM (6th)
Power Play: 20/81 - 24.69% (10th)
Penalty Kill: 85/99 - 85.9% (13th)
Penalty Minutes: 10.15/GM (56th)

The Lowdown
NESCAC champion Amherst returns to action in the NCAA Quarterfinals after a two week hiatus after defeating Williams 1-0 in the 'CAC title game. They'll take on D-III powerhouse Norwich (ranked 1st (USCHO)/2nd(D3H), who defeated Plymouth State 3-2 in the first round to earn a trip to take on the Lord Jeffs. The game was closer than expected as the Cadets blew out PSU 9-1 in the season opener early in November 2014. 

Norwich has the decided historical advantage in terms of tournament pedigree with 16 appearances, 3 national titles, and final four appearances in four of the last five years. Amherst made their first and only final four in 2012 when they fell to Oswego in OT of the national semifinal. To get there, they defeated Plattsburgh State, Trinity's opponent tonight, in the Quarterfinals. 

In head-to-head matchups the Cadets own a 29-5-5 advantage in the all-time series, including a 5-1 victory in January of 2014 at the Northfield Savings Bank Tournament. 

In D-3 Hockey's Road To Ridder podcast, Amherst coach Jack Arena talked about Norwich's current crops' NCAA tournament pedigree as an advantage for them. In terms of what Amherst needs to do to win, Arena said they needed to play good, tight, hard-nosed defense and be opportunistic when they get their chances. Sounds about right. 

For the Cadets, they are led offensively by ECAC-E player of the Year and Quebecois assassin William Pelletier (F, '167), who has 38 points on the season (15-23-38), including two goals and an assist in the NCAA first round victory. The Cadets are backstopped by Montana native and D-1 (American International) transfer Ty Reichenbach (G, '17), who has a 15-1-1 record with a .932 save% and a 1.37 GAA.

Arena spent a significant portion of his D3H podcast appearance talking about senior netminder Danny Vitale (G, '15), who has stepped up in net since 2014 Second Team All-NESCAC goalie Dave Cunningham went down with a season ending injury in January. Arena admitted he did not know what he had in Vitale, who had played only six to minutes of collegiate hockey heading into this season. Vitale has posted a 14-3-2 record with a 1.65 GAA and a save percentage of .944, good enough for second in the country. 

Amherst also praised NESCAC Rookie of the Year David White (F, '15), who leads the Jeffs in scoring with 32 points (18-14-32). The 32 year bench boss said that everyone on the Amherst bench is excited when the freshman has the puck on his stick. White did not score in the NESCAC semis or finals but if he can light the lamp against the best statistical defense in the country it would go a long way to punching Amherst's ticket to play the winner of Hamline/UW-Stevens Point in the Final Four in Minneapolis next weekend. 

Players to watch (other than the goalies)
Dean Niezgoda (F, '16) The Cadets second leading scorer was shutout against Plymouth State but had two goals in the ECAC-E championship game against Babson.

Andrew Fenwick (F, '15) The senior scored the only goal in the NESCAC finals and has a tally in each of the last four Jeffs' tilts. 

Two weeks off for the Jeffs? Let's get on with the business of trying to get to the Final Four in Minnie. Here's Minnesota native Craig Finn and his band The Hold Steady's "On With The Business"