UND HOCKEY: Weekend Sweep of Denver Puts Hawks in Control of NCHC

Photo: Eric Burton/Inside Hockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– After last night’s game, goalie Adam Scheel said he felt fine and could probably play Saturday. That wasn’t the case as the goalie was a scratch for the rematch against Denver, which allowed Peter Thome to step into the starting role. Even with another goalie in net, North Dakota swept the weekend over Denver with a 5-2 victory. 

“I found out this morning at 10:15,” Thome mentioned. “Originally, I thought I wasn’t going to play because I talked to Scheeler and thought it was a charley horse. But I knew there was a chance and prepared like I was going to play. We talked about this last year, it’s really tough making a start with two months in between. They scored a couple goals I’d like to have back. Overall I did what I wanted and what I needed to do and it was enough to get a win.”

The Fighting Hawks got things going within the first five minutes, as Mark Senden’s shot from the top of the circle got tipped in front by Jasper Weatherby and made it 1-0 UND. Jake Durflinger took a penalty, but made up for it after it was done, as he took an outlet pass as his penalty expired and beat Peter Thome on the backhand to tie the game. Part of a problem for UND was passes missing their marks, leading to icings or turnovers. That allowed Denver to control the offensive output, which showed as shots were 13-6 Denver after the first. 

“We had a slow start, one of our slower starts,” head coach Brad Berry stated. “Denver is always very good and they play fast and we didn’t have much time and space. We looked at ourselves after the first and knew we had to be better, a lot better the last 40 minutes. In the NCHC, you’ve got to be ready to play a 60-minute game and I think we got away with only playing 40.”

A neutral zone battle started the second period, but havoc ensued when a Brendan Budy tip in front eluded Magnus Chrona and created a big scrum in front. Out of the scrum, Matt Kiersted got an initial shot into Chrona, but Shane Pinto picked up the puck off that shot and buried it for his 14th goal of the season. Minutes after that, a Pinto pass bounced over the stick of Jacob Bernard-Docker and Denver went the other way with Ryan Barrow passing it out to Carter Savoie, who beat Thome glove side to knot the game at two. More neutral zone battles before a power play for North Dakota led to an odd bounce off an attempted centering pass by Collin Adams deflected off a Denver player and into the net to make it 3-2. 

The tight checking affair continued in the third, but UND was able to get a break due to a Carter Savoie five-and-game for checking from behind. While there wasn’t any scoring for the Fighting Hawks, they got some momentum going and it turned into another Weatherby goal off a rebound from a Judd Caulfield shot to make it 4-2. Penalty issues came for UND, as they had three consecutive penalties in the second half of the frame, one creating a two-man disadvantage. Luckily for UND, their penalty kill was top notch and were able to stave off the Denver pressure. Judd Caulfield finished the job with an empty net goal to make it a 5-2 win and a weekend sweep for North Dakota. 

With the win, the Fighting Hawks are in sole possession of first place in the NCHC. North Dakota remains at home next weekend, as they play the first of four match-ups in three weekends against Nebraska-Omaha. 

THEY SAID IT

“Couldn’t be happier for Peter. He’s a team guy and works hard. He hasn’t had the easiest career, but he makes the most of the opportunity. Our guys were fired up when we knew today, guys were happy, and wanted to play hard for him. He made some big saves and it’s nice to know he can come in and do the job anytime.” — HC Brad Berry on Peter Thome’s performance

“Budy, we started him on the Mismash line and we wanted to try and get a spark and get the attention of some guys, so we flip flopped him and (Riese) Geber and they performed well. Those guys are the next wave that’s going to be influential in our line-up in the future, so it was good to have them make an impact so quickly.” — Berry on Brendan Budy and the youth of the team.

“Yes and no. It’s the third year in a row that I’ve come in on a big spot after not playing for a while and deliver. It doesn’t make it any easier, it’s tough to get into rhythm and find a comfort zone. But that’s part of it, my job is to prepare like I’m playing every game because you never know when you are going to be needed.” — Thome on being familar with coming in on a relief role.

“We love this building and our fans are great and it’s nice to have that home routine. Three thousand isn’t 12,000, but it’s awesome the job they do as 3,000 to make it feel more crowded.” — Jasper Weatherby on playing at home and having fans in the stands.  

UND HOCKEY: Hawks Shutout Pioneers, But Get a Bit of a Late Scare

GRAND FORKS, ND– For the fifth time this season, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and Denver University Pioneers did battle in what seemed to be a bit of a throwback to olden times. 

“There’s something special about these NCHC rivalries– even coming from the WCHA days,” UND head coach Brad Berry mentioned post game. “Players and coaches coming and go, but the rivalry remains the same. Both teams had to deal with penalties, both teams had to overcome adversity, and that’s what you saw tonight.” 

UND were the ones to really overcome adversity, killing off a five-minute major spanning two periods while getting 24 saves from Adam Scheel to secure a 3-0 victory over the Pioneers. 

Denver seemed to control the play in the first half of the period, outshooting North Dakota for a time. However, the Fighting Hawks turned to another gear after back-to-back power plays. Late in the frame, Jake Sanderson rung a shot off the post, but after stalling the Denver transition, Jasper Weatherby wired a shot from the left face-off dot past Magnus Chrona to make it 1-0. That’s when the feisty play started, as Gavin Hain collided with Chrona at one end, then it turned into a dance party with Tyler Klevin and Jake Durflinger getting into a wrestling match in the neutral zone. Hain was assessed a five-minute major for running into Chrona. 

The Hawks were able to kill that penalty thanks to well-timed blocks while managing to pin the puck deep in the Denver zone. The Hawks were able to control the tempo a bit, while also getting some power play time to get ahead on the shot counter. Shane Pinto put the Fighting Hawks up by two on the power play after a bit of a broken play down low saw the puck get pushed back to Matt Kiersted, who found Pinto on the left face-off dot with a huge mass of humanity in front to put UND up 2-0. 

A back-and-forth third was the tale of the frame, with UND and Denver trading chances, but both Adam Scheel and Chrona being equal to the task. Hain and Chrona got acquainted again, as Hain was crashing the net on a power move, running into Chrona with help from the Denver defense. Hain, however, got called for interference– which UND promptly killed off. Pinto sealed the deal for UND with an empty-net goal for his second of the night and fifth-straight multi-point game. A bigger story was at the end of the game, Adam Scheel got tangled up and was unable to put weight on his right leg and needed to be helped off the ice and down the tunnel. 

“I got my leg taken out from under me,” Scheel mentioned, “It’s just a charley horse and I’ll be okay.”

“(Scheel) absolutely got ran into and he’s hurting a little bit,” Berry mentioned. “We went to the net a couple times and there were some consequences. We’ll have to see what happens going ahead.”

Keeping the emotions under control will be a key factor in the return match-up Saturday. North Dakota’s discipline has been a little lacking against Denver, taking 95 of their 271 (35%) penalty minutes on the season against the Pioneers.

“We have to be more disciplined,” remarked Pinto. “We did what we had to do, our kill played well. We have to finish the job tomorrow by being more disciplined.”

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Shut Out Tigers, Sweep Weekend

GRAND FORKS, ND– After a 4-1 win on Saturday night, the University of North Dakota kept their home cooking going, as they faced off against the Colorado College Tigers. In front of 1,775 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Fighting Hawks completed the sweep with a 5-0 victory over the Tigers to move them into 1st of the NCHC. 

“We did a good job of coming out early,” head coach Brad Berry mentioned post-game. “We talk about the second night is the toughest after winning Friday and dealing with pushback. We had good discipline, until what happened at the end there, but that is what it is. We talked about taking less unneeded penalties, there are ones we will take, but I think we got rid of the unneeded penalties.”

North Dakota took control in the first part of the period, taking the pace of play to Colorado College and holding the Tigers’ offense to no shots until halfway through the frame. The Fighting Hawks struck first after Shane Pinto made a power move down the left side, cutting in and beating Dominic Basse for his seventh of the season. 

“During our video scouting this morning it was pointed out,” Pinto said of his goal. “Coach said their defense was pretty immobile, so I just took it to them.”

Pinto was the focal point for the first part of the frame, being set-up twice back door, but not being able to connect on either chance. The Fighting Hawks had some issues in their own end, giving up the puck and allowing the Tigers to get some offense going at the tail-end of the period. 

A chess match in the first few minutes, as both UND and CC played in the neutral zone a bit, but Collin Adams gave UND a 2-0 lead when he got a pass from Matt Kiersted behind all of the Tigers defense and slid the breakaway chance five-hole on Basse to extend the lead. Minutes later, Shane Pinto gots his second goal of the game after coming from the side wall and threw a fade-away shot from the top of the slot that eluded the traffic in front and went past Basse to make it 3-0. Judd Caufield got into the action midway through the period, getting a centering pass in front from Riese Gaber, initially getting it stopped by Basse, but following his own rebound to make it 4-0. 

The Tigers got into penalty trouble in the middle part of the second, going down two men. During the two-man advantage, Grant Mismash tallied his eighth goal of the year after a wonderful pass from the point by Jake Sanderson, making it a 5-0 UND.

Things broke down with 6:16 remaining, as Hugo Blixt laid a hit from behind to Jasper Weatherby, which drew the ire of Tyler Kleven, who dropped cross-check on Blixt while Blixt was on the ice. Both Blixt and Kleven were given the game misconducts on the incident. That was the last of the fireworks, as UND kept the play in the CC zone, keeping them away from Adam Scheel, who pitched a 15-save shutout and swept the weekend for the Fighting Hawks. 

The sweep at home was a carryover from the dominant home record UND had last season. While they don’t like to look in the past, the team did need to make sure it wasn’t neglected on the first weekend back. 

“This is our home. We don’t go back in history, but we had to this weekend,” Berry said of UND’s home ice advantage. “We were 18-1 last year and our younger guys had to know about it. It’s a special place we want to make sure we protect that and keep moving forward.”

The defense was active in the offensive end, as well, with Kiersted and Sanderson putting up two assists apiece, while helping hold the Tigers to only 15 shots on Sunday, bringing CC’s total to  36 on the weekend. 

THEY SAID IT

“Coming off the break and you play a couple of games and try to get momentum. Everyone is trying to  find their stride and building momentum. We saw what our bar is, how we can play to the capabilities of our team on that second night in Denver.” -Brad Berry on the team coming back off the Denver weekend

“It was a wake-up call. We were good in the pod, but we weren’t playing well. We’ve been much better ever since. We’re just being harder on pucks and playing our game. We’ve got to be physical, we cheated in Colorado (versus the Tigers) thinking it’d be coming easy to us, but we’ve got to keep working.” — Shane Pinto on how the loss against Denver affected the team.

UND HOCKEY: What Could Have Been

Ralph Engelstad Arena, 03/12/20; Photo by Scotty Wazz

After I drop Jen off at work, I usually go for a ride around the city to decompress before going to bed. On a night like Thursday March 12th, it was probably much needed. Sports stopped on that day. Rightfully so, but still a bummer that the thing many used to distract themselves from the issues around them is not there. In any case, I decided to drive to Ralph Engelstad Arena and just zone out.

As I pulled up, no lights were on in the building or outside. Light adorn the plaza area with the statue of Sitting Bull, but not much else. It was a fitting scene for the night, as the NCHC cancelled their tournament, as did the NCAA. Again, rightfully so– still a bummer.

Mostly a bummer for the student-athletes on the University of North Dakota squad who had come back to life this season following two years of missing the big tournament. They were on pace to be one of the all-time great teams in North Dakota hockey history, as they were ranked 1st in the Pairwise and were odds-on favorites to win the National Championship.

Now, it’s a case of what could have been.

With the cancellations, all anyone can do is wonder if this team would have won the NCHC playoff title to go with the Penrose Cup, if they could have dominated the NCAA and have won the school’s ninth National Championship, and if there’d be another Hobey Baker Award winner from this team. It was a season to remember for the right reasons and for the reasons that could have been.

You hate it for the team, of course, but you really hate it for the seniors of this team. Colton Poolman, who came back because he had unfinished business; Cole Smith, the heart and soul of this team; Andrew Peski, who bookended his tenure with two solid seasons; Casey Johnson, who became a valued utility option for this club in any spot; Zach Yon, who fought through injuries his last season and was a bit of an energy guy; Dixon Bowen, who carried on the UND tradition his father started, as well as being an energy guy; Westin Michaud, who came to UND as a graduate transfer and made people wish this team had him for a full four years. Those are the guys who may not get much closure on this season.

Then you look at guys outside of the seniors that may think about leaving, but could reconsider given the way this year ended. This is going on nothing at all, but you’d have to think the Ottawa Senators were heavily invested in what Jacob Bernard-Docker did this year and may have even taken a look at him moving forward. Jordan Kawaguchi’s Hobey Baker-esque season could have gotten him looks by NHL teams, but he might stay to finish this fight off. Then there’s Shane Pinto, who was looked at by the Senators heavily in the World Juniors– like JBD– but assured everyone that he would be staying at UND; but time can changes things.

Those are the stories to look at now– who stays, who goes, who comes in. There is no pomp and circumstance, no banner, no one-last-hurrah for the seniors. It’s just over. And now UND fans and players alike will have a chip on their shoulder with how this season ended and what could have been.

Rightfully so.

Media Access, COVID-19, and You

We are all mind-numbingly aware of the COVID-19 virus (I’m only going to call it C-19 moving onward) and we know what it’s done to the social landscape of the world. Obviously, sports is put into this and has led to leagues shutting down their locker room access and even possibly playing in front of empty arenas (although the AHL already did that).

My opinion is good. While it might be an overreaction, you rather err on the side of caution rather than have to clean up the mess that comes from not taking the right moves in the first place. Playing catch-up is never fun, especially in a wide-spread illness.

But seeing media people hem and haul about the shutting down of locker rooms and access to players and give a vague threat to the leagues bascially saying, “This better be temporary,” makes me tilt my head. As someone who has pieces of laminated paper saying I’m part of the media, I’ve never once thought that locker room access is needed to have a good story. Hell, at the University of North Dakota games; all the interviews for the masses are done in a scrum style with two or three players and head coach Brad Berry. We all get our stories, we all move along. Brad Schlossman is one of the finest writers in hockey and he rarely gets the locker room access some of these reporters in sports get, but he’s still churning out bangers week after week.

Does that help with some stories and such?? Sure. Is it a necessity?? That’s a hard sell for me. Does it equate to better stories?? I’m sure it does. Ken Rosenthal thinks it does (subscription because innovation). To a point, it can be true because access and having a good standing with the players can lead to things down the line and becoming an insider. Also, the point that it’s making the media members look petty because they’re getting singled out and other groups aren’t.

But, when the Colorado Avalanche have a sign reminding media members not to hug players or sit at stalls seems more to me like writers are mad because they can’t be buddy-buddy with some players. There’s not many other entertainment industries that allow people to be as tight-knit as the sports community. It can be considered both awesome and invasive all in one.

If you’re a good reporter, you’ll find a way to get the story without having to make brunch plans with the top-line guys or deal with the stench of equipment by your nose when you sit down in one of their stalls. People’s story writing abilities aren’t tied to all-access approaches in locker room settings. Yes, it makes a story better…but there’s tons of people out there writing quality stuff without having a fraction of the access or really needing it– but they’re still getting respect from people who enjoy the content they put out– access or not.

If worst comes to worst– everyone is connected. If you have a good relationship with a player now and need access to the room without getting access to the room– you should have their number. Text them, call them, email them– if they’re really your buddy, they’ll find a way to make time for you either in-person or virtually. Does it tell the whole story you’re looking for?? No, because it doesn’t have those subtle nuances of a locker room…but it’s still better than no access at all.

And yet, the story the writers are really missing are the impact around the games. The fans who may have taken a vacation to see a game, but will have to wait because the game was shuddered down to fans. The impact this will have on local businesses on top of the impact of non-gameday happens with this panic. The workers inside the venues who are going to be losing money and might already be on a tight budget as it is.

But no, let’s talk about the locker rooms shutting down. Let’s talk about the lack of access being the reason some can’t create a good story. There’s stories to be had out there that don’t require direct player access. You just have to be good enough to find it.

Clutch and Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 023

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS vs. Johnstown Tomahawks

After a sweep against Jamestown, the Black Bears enter another crucial weekend not only for playoff contention, but for a rivalry weekend. Not only that, but it’s “Guns N’ Hoses” weekend for support local fire and police officer. These two teams don’t like each other, especially with who’s between the pipes at the other end and the tactics that were pulled last time the Tomahawks were at The Den. Some upsides is the Black Bears looked solid and will build off it and Johnstown played two games earlier this week, which could make them a team primed to beat.

Team defense will be a big deal, as it was very solid last week, limiting the Rebels to 36 shots the entire weekend and Cooper Black stopping 35 of them. That said, one thing that needs improve is the power play, which has no goals in their last 37 attempts with their last power play goal being on January 24th. Keeping the defense strong and making the power play effective will be the biggest keys for the weekend and season ahead.

TEAM MARYLAND vs. Philadelphia Little Flyers

Though it won’t start until the 9th, Team Maryland will start their playoff run after the weekend and hope to take it home. They’ll take on a team that they had a 4-2-0 record against during the season, out scoring the Little Flyers 29-21. One thing to look for from coach Josh Fusco is who will start in net– either Peter Siolas or Zach Richards, both who have had ups and downs.

With seven players in double-digits for goals, offense shouldn’t come at a premium, but it’s a matter of keeping their hot streak alive– as they come into the playoffs on a four-game winning streak. It’s a landmark time for TM and they will hopefully make the most of this during the week and beyond.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 WOMEN at Elmira College

After a huge win against Neumann, Stevenson reaches the UCHC Final Four against the host Elmira. In their only meeting this season, Elmira took it 2-1, though Annie Smyth-Hammond played stellar with 45 saves in the loss. Smyth-Hammond was amazing against Neumann last weekend, with Nikki Kendrick and Trin Barcless leading the way scoring.

More impressive during this five-game win streak is the defense the Mustangs have played, only letting up three goals in those five wins, while scoring 20 in that same span. If the team defense can keep the solid work up, they’ll move onto the UCHC Final and maybe an automatic NCAA bid by the weekend’s end.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D1 vs. ECHA Playoffs

After some time off, the Mids are back at it and are at home for the ECHA Playoffs, which is something that will play well into Navy’s hands with their supporters right there at McMullen all weekend. The rest can be really great for some teams or a detriment to them, especially in a one-and-done tournament scenario. In games coming out of an off weekend for Navy this season, they were 2-1 with their only loss coming early in the season.

That said, as the season rolls and going against a team that will have played the day before– as Navy has a quarterfinal bye– the odds seem in their favor. Add to the fact they were ECHA runner-ups last season, they’ll want to get the championship and have it mean that much more to do it on home ice.

UND HOCKEY: Penrose Make Appearance After Hawks OT Win

GRAND FORKS, ND– With a playoff like atmosphere and the 1980 National Championship team in the house, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks had a lot to play for on Saturday. In a tight-checking game and an emotional roller coaster in the last 47 seconds of the game, the Hawks took out the Western Michigan Broncos 2-1 in overtime. 

“It was an entertaining game that’s for sure from a fan standpoint,” UND head coach Brad Berry mentioned after the game. “From our perspective on the bench, wow, two evenly matched teams, hard fought battle, and physical series. Just glad we found a way to win in overtime and win the Penrose right away.”

It was back and forth between the two to start the game, as the Fighting Hawks got on the board first with Collin Adams putting home his 12th of the year off a rebound kicked to his stick from an initial shot from Colton Poolman. The goal came from a sharp angle, as Adams was right next to the goal line when he got the puck and fired it far-side past Ben Blacker to put the Hawks on the board first. It was a neutral zone battle for most of the period before Paul Washe tipped home a Wade Allison shot that fooled Adam Scheel to tie the game. 

The final 40 minutes of the game were a grind. Neither team let up an inch and the score remained tied at one at the end of regulation with a combined shot total of 33 shots (17-16 UND) after sixty minutes of regulation play. 

“That’s playoff hockey what you saw this weekend,” mentioned Berry. “I thought the officiating let us play and there was a lot of energy that was spent out there. A lot of plays weren’t being made because two teams were playing fierce out there”

In the overtime, there was plenty of action in two minutes to make up for the last 40, as Western Michigan thought they had a game winner, only for it to be called off on goalie interference, as there was no attempt by the Broncos player to get out of the way of Scheel. A short time later, the Fighting Hawks came back on a rush for Matt Kiersted to rip a shot from the point, which rebounded off of Blacker to the stick of Shane Pinto– who made no mistake with an empty net and sent the sellout crowd home happy and give UND a weekend sweep. With the sweep, the Fighting Hawks will get a share of the 2020 Penrose Cup for best regular season record in the NCHC.

“This whole year has been a bit different than the last two years, and I’ve loved every minute of it,” UND captain Colton Poolman said of the team this season. “We still have one more weekend to go and we’re going to try to win this thing outright, for sure.”

THEY SAID IT

“I think that’s the best goal I’ve ever scored. Just everything about it– winning for the seniors, winning the the Penrose Cup. Just the whole moment is something I’ll never forget. I really can’t gather my thoughts, but that building all night you could feel the momentum shift” — Pinto on the game winning goal.

“That shows you the focus and resiliency they had. We had to wait there for the review of the play and we just huddled up the guys and talked to them that we’re going to play longer and just make sure you’re ready to go.” — Berry on the team focus during the overtime review.

“A bad bounce for Western Michigan, but one got called back last night, one got called back tonight. That was a spark we needed honestly. We got some energy on the bench and we go out and score that one. We’ve won games in so many different ways and that’s another new, different way.” — Poolman on the team’s will to win this season. 

“It means everything. Coming in as a freshman you’re a little bit scared. It’s just how it is, it’s a new kind of environment, but they took us in with open arms and kind of taught us the ropes. They’re a special group of guys and we just want to win it for them.”– Pinto on the senior class.

UND HOCKEY: Hawks Inch Closer to Penrose with Friday Win

GRAND FORKS, ND– With the NCHC regular season title in their sights, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks took one step closer with a win against Western Michigan University Friday night taking the first game of the weekend set 3-1. Adam Scheel made 26 saves in his first win since January 11th and his first start since January 24th.

“It’s always fun to get in the net no matter what,” Scheel said post-game. “I was happy and excited to be back. My team helped me, limited the chances, and played hard defense. Couldn’t have done it without them.”

After a first period that seemed more like a tight checking playoff game, UND started to come into their own during the second period. It took them to about half-way before cracking the scoresheet, with a wonderful goal off a three-on-two. Jacob Bernard-Docker started the rush out the zone with Jackson Keane on one wing, Judd Caulfield on the other; JBD found Keane, who got it back to JBD, who got it to Caulfield, allowing Caulfield to go forehand-backhand on Brandon Bussi and slip it past him for the 1-0 lead. Five minutes later, UND got on the power play, where Jasper Weatherby won a draw back to Ethan Frisch. Frisch sailed it to Matt Kiersted, who let a wrister go that fooled Bussi and made it 2-0 Fighting Hawks. 

Western Michigan cut the lead in half at 4:35 of the third, as they got plenty of whacks at the loose puck in front, but Dawson DiPietro got the last whack behind Adam Scheel to make it 2-1 UND. Up until then, Scheel had made several quality saves to start the third, getting his first start in several weekends. UND thought they got the two goal lead back when Jordan Kawaguchi scored, but the goal was called back after Bussi jumped out to make the save and while diving, hit Collin Adams’ thigh as Adams was looking for the rebound outside the crease. The NCHC officials said that it interfered with Bussi making the save and waived it off. Bussi had to leave the game, letting Ben Blacker in the net. A chippy game ensured, with many a missed call until Mattias Samuelsson got an interference call, Westin Michaud to get a tip off a Gabe Bast blast that was set-up by Kiersted to make it 3-1. 

The intensity turned dirty, as Ronnie Attard caught Shane Pinto blindsided in the UND defensive zone. The hit jarred Pinto’s head and left him laying on the ice momentarily as the scrums happened around him. Attard got a five and game for direct head contact to Pinto. With only 1:15 remaining, there wasn’t much else to do but run the clock down, as the Fighting Hawks draw closer to the Penrose Cup for best regular season record in the NCHC. 

THEY SAID IT

“That’s the last thing I wanted to do. I’m confident in my game and my ability. No need to change or hit the panic button.” — Scheel on if he adjusted his game at all since being out.

“Me and Peter (Thome) are really good friends. No matter who’s in the net, it doesn’t change our relationship. You really come to work every day with a little chip on your shoulder and work hard to be ready for your next opportunity. No matter what, Peter’s a great teammate. So you learn from a guy like that. He’s a great guy in the locker room and he was always supportive of me, so I’ll do the same for him.” — Scheel on his relationship with fellow goalie Peter Thome. 

“He had a really good two, three weeks of practice here. We always look at how goalies do against the other teams and he plays outstanding against Western Michigan. And Peter Thome has been playing outstanding as well, but this is the opportunity for someone else to come in. I think it was a combination of a lot of things, but mostly Adam staying sharp and working his tail off in practice.”– Brad Berry on the decision to start Adam Scheel.

“It was kind of a gametime decision that Cole Smith wasn’t in the lineup and it kind of throws you on your heads a little bit about what to do to replace a guy like that. I think what we did was sided on having experience and get Dixon Bowen, a senior; Casey Johnson, a senior; guys a little bit harder, heavier, quicker players to try to take away time and space.” — Berry on his line-up moves ahead of Friday’s game.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 022

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS vs. Jamestown Rebels

After a disappointing weekend in Wilkes-Barre, the Black Bears are back at home and are now in crucial win territory from this point forward. Also, trying to fix the power play will need to happen, as they have no converted on their last 28 power plays. Hampus Rydqvist scored the last PPG on January 24th against this Rebels’ team. This team needs to make their own luck rather than hoping that puck luck reaches them. It’s a gut-check time for all involved if they want to make hold onto the final playoff spot, especially against teams chasing them.

TEAM MARYLAND vs. North Carolina Golden Bears

In the final regular season weekend, Team Maryland takes on the EHL whipping boy in North Carolina. The biggest thing for Team Maryland is to get in playoff form. They can’t shy away from their game plan even against a team lower in standing. If they sweep this weekend, they’ll move into fourth spot and still face the Philadelphia Little Flyers, but at home rather than on the road.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 MEN at Wilkes College

After an 8-4 win thanks to a Nick Gray hat-trick, the Mustangs go to Wilkes for a two-game playoff with mini-game tactics in effect if each team takes a game. Unfortunately, Stevenson dropped both games to Wilkes, once at the start of the season and once at the beginning of February. The same offense shown against Neumann needs to carry over, while the defense needs to tighten up, as Ryan Kenny has faced a ton of shots down the stretch and showing some flaws.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 WOMEN at Neumann University

Riding a four-game winning streak into the playoffs, the Mustangs head up to Aston, PA to With a loss and a tie this year against the Knights, the Mustangs will hope to put that aside and make sure they make the most of this quarterfinal and make the most of their momentum. Outscoring their opponents 18-2 in the four-game win streak, the Mustangs are getting their offense going at the right time, especially for a one-and-done scenario.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend: Crabpot Tournament Edition

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS vs. UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS

The Tigers have had a very rough season. Their goal differential is a minus-121, they have given up an average of 55.8 shots a game (1732 in 31 games), and only have one player who has double-digits in goal scoring. Obviously, defense is an issue, but all things considered; Jacob Snyder and Kevin Mackey have done all they could in net for this team and still had a team save percentage of .901 on the year. Offense wasn’t been grand either, with Ryan Dieter being the biggest contributor– as he has been for his four years at Towson. With Dieter and Matt Curtin leaving, the big stalwarts of the offense staying is going to be Costa Pizanis and Collin Mercier; who have been good…but consistency is king.

When it comes to the Terps, things were going well until Chris Bouchard left due to mid-season graduation. After Bouchard’s departure, the Terps only scored 11 goals in seven games (1-6-0)– one of which was a 7-goal output against Delaware– and they were shutout in three game during that stretch. However, Liam Eden had a quietly solid season with 13 goals and 26 assists, while Evan Yamaguchi was hot at the start of the year, but kind of faded through the season. Griffin Connolly had a strong second-half which kind of got Maryland a nice shot in the arm late.

PREDICTION: Though these teams are struggling, this could be a solid match-up with both having a lot to prove. Towson wants to not lose to a lower division team, while Maryland would love to beat a D1 team at the end of the year. At the end though, I think Towson comes out on top only due to the lack of offense Maryland has out out in this semester.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN vs. STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS

Navy has been at the top of their game this season, making sure that they are in a prime position in the playoffs, which they are hosting, next weekend and it’s paid off. Even going into the season with two untested goalies in Charles Doherty and Casey McCormick; those worries were put to rest as both keepers have been stellar with both having above .925 save percentages and sub-2.40 GAAs. Sophomore Joe Kelly and freshman Conner Hyden have been a solid duo offensively, leading the way for scoring; while John Scaccia and Brendan Reynolds have been great on the back-end.

One of the better stories coming out of Maryland hockey has been the ACHA Mustangs. Head coach Mike Urgo’s team doubled their win total from last year, had the best season in the short team history of this squad, and won three games against European pro teams during Thanksgiving. They are a part of the growing culture of hockey that Stevenson is growing. This is also a gun-slinging team that scored five-or-more goals ten times this season; Mark Bowen, Brandan Scholze, and Ian Malone leading the way. More over, Stevenson had ten players in double digits in points, while Pierce Dushenko was good when called upon, finishing with a .912 save percentage in the process.

PREDICTION: While it’s a tough one to pick, I may have to give the edge to Navy. Both teams are hungry, they have a lot of heart, and there’s plenty of skill on each side. That said, I think the goaltending will be a big factor and the skill is a touch better in the Mids side of things.

CRABPOT FINAL PREDICTION: In my scenario, Navy takes on Towson– to which I have to go with Navy in that one. Navy had beaten the Tigers 6-0 and 7-1 this season and I don’t see the Mids slowing up one bit if they have to take on the Tigers for a third time.