Coming June 2021– 3ICE

From 3ice.com

It was announced that a Canadian 3-on-3 summer hockey league, 3ICE, is going to be starting in June 2021 and will have a solid TV deal. TSN and RDS picked up the rights for it on the Canadian side, while CBS Sports Network will be broadcasting the championship game.

Now, this is not unique to summer hockey, as the 3HL is a thing and we all know about Da Beauty League (and my thoughts on that thing). The difference here, is that it’ll be a traveling show and it’ll be on TV. With nine stops and a tournament every stop– that’s a nice cure for people who don’t own a calendar and don’t know when it’s October.

It’s a smart move by TSN, who don’t have much coverage of things in the summer time, as it’ll help draw people to watch 3-on-3 hockey. The interesting play is CBS Sports Network getting in on it, but only doing the championship game– whatever that might entail. Of course, CBSSN is known for broadcasting college hockey, so they have the talent to call and analyze games, but why not go through the whole summer?? I don’t know how many pressing shows that CBSSN actually has that they couldn’t go through with it, but that’s neither here nor there, I suppose– it’s getting on US TV, so huzzah for that.

What’s going to be interesting is to see who comes out for these teams in terms of name recognition. You’d have to think that 3ICE would want to go ahead and get some recognizable names to move tickets and get people excited about watching it– which would mean trying to pluck from the Da Beauty League, as the 3HL runs in the fall through spring. Can it make some noise?? Sure, it’s hockey in Canada on Canadian TV– people will watch out of curiousity. The big thing is that if it was regularly broadcasted on US TV, what impact to the fans would it have?? Again, hockey people will watch if the timing is right, but who knows what kind of staying power it’ll produce.

Luckily, the rules are simple, there’s tournaments every tour stop, and it could produce a new folk hero or let people relive their days playing pond hockey…but in the summer. It’s going to be a faster game, a quicker game, and something that’ll keep the most short-attention spanned interesting…or that’s the hope.

One of the more interesting things is the timing of it, which could help its cause. The fact we’re still 18-months away allows the league to actually build hype for it, plot it out effectively so that it will have a model that works in terms of profitability for the league, players, and such; as well as not rushing to the ice like some other places would have when it comes to a new idea and hurrying it to market before it’s fully developed. Though people may forget about it because of time, it’s now up to the marketing team at 3ICE to show their moxie and make sure that people keep it in the back of their mind. With a place like TSN behind them, it’ll be easy above the 49th Parallel; it’ll be attracting US hockey fans to it that might be a little harder without a constant TV presence.

Three Days at The Den

When the NAHL announced in April 2018 that they were expanding to Odenton, Maryland– I was excited, but also apprehensive. In fact, I was wrong about a lot of things that they were going to do in the infancy of that team– like the name and inclusion of Natty Boh. However, as time goes and proves me wrong– I’m happy that I was wrong. Spending time around the team this week and at a home game after a season-and-a-half reporting from afar, this team couldn’t be in better shape with what they’ve laid out from the beginning of the team.

The experience of the week was nothing short of tremendous both in a fan experience side of things with participating in intermission festivities to the professional side of thing with access to players and coaches, as well as helping with recaps of the intermission and getting some time in the booth with play-by-play announcer Alex Utano. The open-arms that the Black Bears welcomed Jen Conway (@NHLHistorygirl) and myself was great. It shouldn’t be such a surprise considering how well they take care of Jon Pitonzo as our official podcast photographer.

Thursday morning, Jen and I went to practice and immediately had Black Bears captain Logan Kons tap on the glass and give a head-nod acknowledgement of us being there– which is a stand-up act in and of itself, but more on that later. Following that, communications director Colin MacCarthy came over to welcome us and following practice, team president Robyn Remick came up to us to make sure that we were well taken care of and offered us a skate in the now-reality Rink Two, which we took her up on.

During the, Colin and I worked out who I wanted to talk to for the week– which turned out to be not only a podcast; but the weekly Black Bears’ Report they put out on their social media streams. Following that, Robyn, Colin, Jen, and myself sat up in the Black Bears war room and talked about things inside and out of hockey. It was very good time hearing stories of Robyn’s past at ESPN and the different things she’s experienced when in the sports lifestyle. We took our leave later to let them get to work and have us adventure on our vacation.

Friday night was a great night, not just because of the Black Bears win, but also just being able to experience the game first-hand. The in-game production, coordinated by Harrison Hascoe, was top-notch and very well executed to keep the fans involved during stoppages in play and during the intermission– even if it means putting two podcasters in a grueling obstacle course that is not meant for two former athletes with dwindling cardio. With my time up in the HockeyTV booth with Alex Utano and cameraman Will (whose last name I didn’t get or forgot– sorry Will) was also awesome, as it had been over 15 years since I last called a hockey game.

Also on Friday night, it was meeting up with billet parents who I have interacted with online before, but have never met face-to-face– with the exception of Bethany and Brian; who came to North Dakota in the summer. It’s always great to meet those people behind the scenes to help keep these players in a family lifestyle while they’re away from home.

While Saturday night was a loss, the production and energy in the arena was amazing and kept everyone invested in the game throughout. Especially after the game, where autographs for fans in attendance happened; which happens win or loss– which is a nice connection with these players to the fanbase and the community as a whole. Also, before the game, a reception was held beforehand, as it was Swedish Heritage Night. Delicacies were made and brought from Sweden that season ticket holders and staff partook in with the families of defenseman Hampus Rydqvist and Filip Jakobsson, as well as Lars-Erik Tindre from the Swedish embassy. Another way that the team connects the fans with the team and also making those from the team feel a little closer to home, if only for a night.

Not only that, but seeing people I haven’t seen in a while– like my former teammate Kevin, meeting people who know my former teammates and who I interact with online– Mark; meeting fellow DMV area hockey backers– like Derek of Chesapeake Regional Hockey Review and his son; plus meeting a podcast listener whose name I didn’t get, but was wearing a Patrick Kane US Hockey jersey– so shoutout to you PK88 listener. It was a great coming together of the hockey community in the region.

Back to Logan Kons for a second. I mentioned earlier about him saying hi when Jen and I got there– but after that practice, he formally said hi to us and we chatted and after the game Saturday he came up and thanked me for coming out and asked when I’d be back in the area. I noticed that Friday, as well, with Kons going up to fans, billet families, player’s families, and talking to them and thanking them for coming out. That’s the mark of a true leader when the off-ice commitments are as strong as the on-ice commitments. If there’s someone to look at when it comes to all-around good person in hockey– Kons will be tops on that list for me.

The entire experience was great, the staff there from Robyn to Colin to Harrison to Alex to Will to Herb the PA Announcer to Mitch the Media Intern to the Ice Crew to everyone was top rate, very welcoming and open, and willing to take time out to make things right if there were problems to make sure that they are running a top-notch program on and off the ice.

If you have the chance to make it out to a Black Bears game, I implore you to do so. This is a team that cares about the community from the president to the players and everyone in between. They all make sure the experience you have there is one you will want to come back to and one that will last in your mind. Thanks to everyone who welcomed Jen and I to the rink and it’s something we’ll be sure to return to hopefully sooner than later.

On the Topic Of: The Future of Blogging

There’s a lot of times I sit around and wonder why my writing and podcasting never caught on with a bigger audience and why I never got offered something from a bigger conglomerate. A lot of that self-doubt contributed to my long layoffs and overall dissatisfaction with writing and talking. The talking part has been revitalized and with the recent happenings at SB Nation, kinda dodged a bullet on that front.

If you didn’t know, you can check Awful Announcing, Posting and Toasting, or anyone of the uniformed posts that the SBN NHL sites put up for more details. In talking with FOHS co-host JonnyP, he noted that this is the beginning and it’s going to get worst before it gets better.

Blogging is a vicious cycle. You start off independently and work hard to get any kind of notoriety from it because you think it’ll lead to bigger things. Some times it does and some times it doesn’t. If it doesn’t happen, a bit of confidence is lost and you adjust and adapt your goals. If it does, you get a bigger audience and more notoriety, but not necessarily the money you’d think you’d be making. So, you work harder thinking that the amount you churn out, the more higher-ups will notice and will pay you more or at all. Yet, in this case, we see that even if you work your heart out and give the best content you think you can put out there– it’s still not enough.

I’ve been lucky to get paid for blogging for a season, which was a daily thing for FHM Online back in 2005-06. Then FHM got bought out and I was out of a job. Never got much of a notification, it just happened and it’s done with. Luckily, I was 22 and life goes on and maybe thought it could happen again. But then life happens and you don’t invest in yourself because you have a family and you have to make a living in something concrete rather than in hopes of making it bigger and better.

While it sucks that people are losing their jobs, that’s the nature of how things are going– especially with sites that exploit writers and their content for the exposure brass ring they dangle out there. It’s going to get worse before it gets better as more states catch onto these stunts. A lot of contributors will be out of their regular gigs because of it and will have to find spots elsewhere, on their own, or just leave the writing scene altogether.

That’s the shitty part. Good people with good insight will lose gigs because they aren’t getting the payment they feel they deserve. So, if a writer you like has some kind of tip jar, maybe toss them a couple bucks and help them out because they’re the technological starving artist out there.

Clutch N' Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 014

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (13-13-4) vs. WILKES-BARRE SCRANTON KNIGHTS

After a huge three-win weekend in Maine, the Black Bears return home for their last series before a small winter break against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, a team that’s just a single point ahead of them in the standings.

Last weekend, the Black Bears probably played their most complete weekend of hockey in recent memory. They were able to control the pace of the game for the majority of the three games, they got solid goaltending and defense, while their scoring was clicking in a big way. The team’s dynamic seemed to be on full display with everyone on the roster contributing– even if it wasn’t on the scoresheet.

This weekend is the third meeting between the Bears and Knights, with Maryland holding the lead in the series at 3-1, though it’s been almost two months since their last meeting against each other. Obviously a lot has changed, but the matter at hand for each team is to sweep the weekend and have some kind of breathing room going into the second half of the season.

For Maryland, the key is to keep that solid defensive momentum from the Maine series over into the rest of the year. There were very minimal turnovers or bad breakouts that series, which is something they haven’t always done this season. Both Andrew Takacs and Cooper Black were fantastic when called upon, letting up only four goals in the entire three-game series. More over than that, the addition of Mikhael Gonchar has seemingly helped the defense on both sides of the puck, while Logan Kons and Hampus Rydqvist continue to be the anchors of that blue line.

On the offensive side, Jackson Sterrett has been emerging as the top producer for this team. With East Division Star of the Week honors, the Tennessee native has honed his game into an even more well-rounded setting. It also shows the trust that the coaching staff has in him with placing him in every kind of role imaginable to help him succeed, which includes the penalty kill– earning him three short-handed goals in the season. Not to be outdone, Brayden Stannard and Kyle Oleksiuk have been fantastic as complimentary options for the offense. Both have come up with key goals in the last couple weeks, while also showing a ton of grit in the offensive style. Add that to Andrew Remer and Ethan Heidepriem being solid in the face-off dot and around the puck and you’ve got a top-12 that has every facet of game play ready to move ahead and committed to being there for each other.

The Knights have been a streaky team of sort this season, winning two of three this past week, while being 5-3-2 in their last ten. Both Lincoln Hatten and Tyrone Bronte seemingly love to play against the Black Bears, as Hatten has three goals and an assist already this year against Maryland, while Bronte may not be scoring as much (two assists), but is a thorn in the side on his forecheck. One of the biggest things for Maryland is continuing to pepper the goaltending in Zach Stejskal and Alex Contey, whom they’ve score 19 goals in the series so far. Keeping the Knights on their heels is going to be the top priority in making sure they can’t dictate pace.

And if you’re in the area, go to the Maryland Black Bears website to get some tickets and support your local team. Tell ’em Scotty Wazz sent you and some people ask, “Who??” and others will say, “How’s he doing these days?? Does he know about the second rink??”

Ever on the Cutting Edge, NHL on NBC to Start Podcasting

Look, I know what you’re thinking– you love Wednesday Night Hockey and their personalities, but it’s only on TV and streaming and it’s only a couple hours. Well, ladies and gentlemen– you’re in luck. NBC announced Tuesday that they’re going to be starting a podcast with their NHL on NBC personalities called “Our Line Starts.” You can even hear a preview of Keith Jones talking into a plastic cup.

I know, right?? Just want you wanted!!

Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick will host and they’ll have a typical interview and analyst situation that all castrated corporate podcasts have and all the people think it’s great because it’s got big names…

I’m just glad NBC finally got on the podcast train for hockey. I was worried that they’d wait a couple more years after the ship had been sailing off the coast. It’s amazing to me that in a world of independent and team-based podcasts that NBC things– yeah, this is what we need to get into now to get more ears on us and not rip us a new one for being a generic studio/broadcast.

Now, I could be a shill about this and say that a podcast I do should have more eyes and ears to it, but we’ve done it for 18 years and I hold out no hope for us to make it big– so fuck it, let’s run down the exclusive broadcaster of the NHL in the United States. Plus, I already called the NHL cowards and dared them to hire our show to show they weren’t cowards…so there’s that.

There’s so many hockey podcasts out there that are going to be better than listening to the NBC podcast, so just listen to them. I don’t need to tell you what they are because you’re already listening to them. The fact NBC is getting into this pool after it’s been almost drained shows that they’re so far disconnected from the social platform that this is going to be nothing more than a train-wreck that is popular because it’s coming from the NHL’s official broadcaster and will be listened to by people who are either too timid to listen to independent podcasts and like to yell into the void of social media thinking that their opinion is being hear by famous folks when they’re actually clout-chasing…or I could be wrong and the dynamic of Jones and Roenick could be good and it’s a boon for NBC; I’ve been wrong before. However, people dislike the NBC format on TV, I don’t know how many of them will be tuning into the podcast version.

My point is that the fact that this will have more downloads than other podcasts that are better and more informative is disheartening to me. It’s just a version of the “boys on the back of the bus” with some high profile guests sprinkled in to give a more laid-back vibe…or every other hockey podcast out there, but with bigger name guest. It’s a damn shame, too. NBC could have done something big with actually getting independents on to promote their wears, show their knowledge, and maybe grow the sport and podcasts the natural way…but that’s not NBC’s modus operandi.

And listen– as I “jokingly” said in the clip above– hire Face Off Hockey Show for multi-millions and we’ll sell-out faster than the Reel Big Fish song of the same name. Hell, NBC could have hired us to do this same thing while also promoting all their other shows and give Eddie Olczyk his own horse-betting segment. But we’re still for hire…

The NWHL, Twitch, and You

It was announced today that the NWHL will stream their games on Twitch, the streaming video platform, mainly for gaming. However, as times have changed, the platform has become a very wide array of everything on that platform.

First, the good part of it– it’s great exposure for the league. It’s going to be able to reach all people without many hurdles for people in other countries from watching the games. Second, it’s much more interactive than traditional television deals and will definitely allow fans to connect more to the people who are presenting the game. Third, all the games will be there. That’s something you want to have for a section of sport that goes underappreciated and underrecognized for the skill and talent the players bring to the sport. With Twitch teaming up with the NBA’s G-League and the NFL, it could mean good things– so long as they hire the right production people.

Now, the bad part– the most known players haven’t committed to playing in the league yet. The players are sitting out in the hopes the sanity prevails and the league can find a way to provide a living wage for the players. The formation of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association stated that 200 players strong will NOT play a professional game in North America until they get a living wage of being a professional hockey player. The games seems to be going on as planned for the five-team league, but many people may not know the names, which could deter them from watching. That, or the viewers will support those who are on strike to support them in making a living wage, thus hindering the exposure that this deal will give.

Also, I don’t know if this is the best platform for the game. There’s been an issue with porn being streamed on channels (and then becoming the highest viewed channels), harassment of streamers— mainly women– on the platform, as well as abuse of animals and spouses during streams that have been widely public. Not to mention streamers selling their bath water for their viewers.

It’s basically seems like the Wild West out there.

While this is a step in the right direction for women’s hockey in the mainstream, I don’t think it’s necessary now. I’ve plotted out a while ago a plan that should be done in order to make a professional women’s hockey league viable and none of it includes the NWHL as it is now. However, part of it is being done with the PWHPA’s Dream Gap tour. The big name players need to be out there, touring North America to get people more familiar with them as players and people. Do that for a year and keep women’s hockey out there, while you wait for the NWHL to cave and sell their assets to the NHL and let the NHL run the women’s league to start in 2020-21 with all their marketing, production, and footprint on the landscape.

When NHL teams supported NWHL or CWHL teams, it was more noticeable in the mainstream and it helped those teams a lot to have the synergy of the NHL clubs doing promotion for them. It only makes sense for the NHL to step up, buy the assets of the NWHL, get a living wage for the players so they can actually focus at their task at hand, and we’re all enjoying women’s hockey in a bigger form and on a bigger scale than what’s out there now.

A streaming TV deal is all well and good, especially for three-years and money being put into their pocket; but I doubt it’s good enough to lure the top names out of a strike and to create a living wage for players who have committed this season.

Onward, Upward, and Season Plans

If you haven’t seen the “Better Know An Affiliate” series– and judging by the numbers, you haven’t– it’s dead now. I lost interest in it, it didn’t put the hit out I thought it would, and here we are as a people. If I didn’t get to your team…deal with it or do it yourself.

Plus, as I’m wont to do, the lovely existential dread that comes with thinking about the populous when it comes to getting views and hits and all that shit that makes the internet world go ’round. I mean, hell– I’m 36 and I’m sure if I hadn’t made it to a higher level by now– odds are it won’t happen for one reason or another. I don’t network well with others, which is probably the main reason so I don’t get a lead on things opening up.

But moving forward– what can you expect??

First, I think more open with opinionated pieces. I’m not going to try and censor myself when writing things out, but I’m not going to go overboard on it. When you start to cater things to what other sites will pick up on, then you write a certain way that they’ll think is best for the reflection of what they link….I think. Whatever. But I’m just going to let things flow more and have a stream of thought– so expect it not to make sense at times like a Randy Savage promo.

Second, I’ll be doing game stories from North Dakota again this year, but I’ll try what I can to give a weekend review of the Maryland Black Bears games since we promote them with the Chesapeake Hockey Week and the photos by Jonny P on a weekly basis– why not more coverage?? Maybe the NAHL can love us.

Third, possibly more coverage that’s non-hockey. Music, NASCAR, bowling, personal things– whatever I think I can write about– I’ll do it. I’ve got to realize that this is MY blog and I’ll put things I want on it. If people want input on what I write– pay your boy.

Overall, I just need to get back to my roots and what got me what little notoriety that I’ve carried over now. Just be me rather than what I think this industry wants out of me. Like I said, if I haven’t made it big with a bigger corporation by now– probably won’t happen so why not just go all out??

Yellow Jackets Earn Some Stripes With NCAA Appearance

American International College entered Division One hockey in the 1998-99 season. Prior to this season, the Yellow Jackets were 160-461-68 in Division One. With a 23-17-1 season this year, it was the programs first winning season as a D1 team in history. It was also the first time the team won Atlantic Hockey in the regular season, the post-season, and locked in a spot for the National Tournament. Not only that, but it yielded the team’s first tournament win on Friday, as they beat St. Cloud State.

It’s a path that AIC head coach Eric Lang has paved in his three years behind the bench. It’s a path that he saw last season in the team as they seemed to have turned a corner within the conference.

“I think three years ago, we were hoping to win hockey games,” Lang mentioned before the tournament began. “I think last year we thought we can win some hockey games and I think our belief this year is every time we get on the ice, we have an expectation we’re going to win. It’s been really nice to witness the transformation from thinking and hoping to expecting.”

Of course, in a smaller school in a smaller conference, the pickings are a bit slim when it comes to wanting to be a Yellow Jacket. Prior to the year, AIC was 23-40-12, which didn’t really make the school desirable to some prospective student-athletes.

“Three years ago when I was making phone calls from a four, five, six-win team, it’s hard to get guys to call you back,” Lang mentioned after AIC’s loss Saturday. “It’s a little easier when you’re regular season conference champs, when you win your playoffs, and you’re making recruiting calls from first place. We’re squeezing in as many phone calls as we can in 24 hours from yesterday into today. You have to ride that momentum and recruiting. I think our program has a lot to offer.”

Lang continued, “It’s really important that we stay with an ‘A’ mindset player and we’re not tempted in recruiting anything else but the ‘A’ mindset. That supersedes everything. It actually supersedes our talent. If they’ve got an ‘A’ mindset, we know they’re going to develop, we know they’re going to be great human beings, and we know they’re going to get better.”

This AIC group will be losing three seniors: defenseman Ryan Polin, forward Shawn McBride, and graduate transfer player/mentor Ryan Papa. While all three were leaving after the loss on Saturday, all three had glowing reviews of the school.

“It was an awesome ride going from four years ago to where the program is today it’s unbelievable,” said McBride. “I was just fortunate enough to get a place to play college hockey and to be given lot of opportunity and I’ve met some many great people along the way. Tons of great memories and I feel very, very fortunate.”

“I was fortunate enough to extend my college career to six years,” mentioned Papa who came to AIC from St. Cloud State and had his career finish last season due to concussions. “This program shaped my life and I can’t thank the core staff enough for giving me a second chance here. I couldn’t think of a better group of guys to end my hockey career with.”

“We won seven games our freshman year and to see the program evolve, it’s been amazing to be a part of,” Polin added. “All the guys were buying into what coach Lang has put in our head.”

“I want to thank the athletic administration and coach Lang for revitalizing our program and made coming to the rink so much fun and helped us win games, which is so much fun,” McBride added.

With all these firsts out of the way and all of the national attention, it may be hard to replicate that for AIC if they don’t have the right mindset that coach Lang has put forth. However, he knows that the biggest thing for his team is to not be satisfied for just being there.

“You can’t be satisfied if you don’t win the last game of the year. You constantly have to have that carrot in front of you,” mentioned Lang. “We went from here (conference champions) to here (playoff champions) to here (NCAA tournament). Hopefully, I’m back in this seat next year and we’re moving on because that’s the progression of this program. We return a whole bunch of players next year, these guys will go in and like the taste of this and want to advance this thing another step. That’s really important that these guys stay hungry.”

The core of returned players like goalie Zackarias Skog, forward Joel Kocur, and defenseman Brennan Kapcheck, who all played amazing in the West Regional, the AIC Yellow Jackets have started a solid resume for their future. If nothing else, they won the hearts of the people at the Fargo regional. While it started as a foil for the St. Cloud State fans, the AIC bandwagon grew after the win, as their shirts were sold out before the end of the game Saturday night.

While their season didn’t end the way they wanted to Saturday night, it’s one that they won’t soon forget.

“I’m proud of this group, I think they’ve changed the landscape of AIC hockey. And I told them as you get a little older in life, life’s about making memories and these guys made a bunch of memories this season for each other,” Lang mentioned. “They made a bunch of memories for me and my family, and I’ll be forever grateful to them. The tough part about this group is that I don’t get to be with them for another couple of weeks. So, selfishly I want to be with these guys. I have been with them since August 30. I haven’t had a bad day since August 30. I love these guys and just very proud of them.”

NCAA WEST REGIONAL: Denver Makes Clock Strike Midnight for AIC

FARGO, ND– In what was the probably the most unlikeliest of match-ups to determine the West Regional, the American International College Yellow Jackets took on the Denver Pioneers for a berth into the Frozen Four. Both teams played a defensive game in their Friday match-ups and it was looking like it would be quite the chess match for this Regional Final.

The first period seemed that way, but a speedy chess game. Both teams had plenty of chances, though Denver would outshoot AIC 10-4 thanks to two power plays, but Zackarias Skog was solid in the first period. AIC has some chances, but could not get it past Filip Larsson. Both teams played like they knew if they got the first goal, they could lock up the game defensively from that point forward. The period ended 0-0.

Much of the same in the second period, though AIC got more of the chances in the early going. Plenty of blocked shots, odd bounces, and great saves were seen on both ends of the ice. The sustained pressure didn’t yield much until Ryan Barrow, while taking a skate around the net, found Colin Staub camped out in front, as Staub went high blocker on Skog to break the stalemate.

“We were able to get some defensemen active and started creating havoc in front,” mentioned Staub. “The puck bounced out and luckily, Barrow was able to capitalize on the turnover. He was driving to the net and found me. I wasn’t even looking at the net, I was just trying to get it off as quick as possible.”

AIC was pressing most of the third with two power plays at their disposal, but they couldn’t get it past Larsson. While they pressed hard, a mental mistake with under five minutes left. On a breakout, AIC’s Jared Pike passed back to his defense, but Liam Finlay was able to break out the second clearing attempt  which gave Finlay a mini-breakaway, which he put passed Skog to make it 2-0 and made the clock strike midnight for the Cinderella of the NCAA tournament. Jarid Lukosevicius added an empty-netter for good measure and sealing the 3-0 win.

It will be the third time in four seasons going back to the Frozen Four. An interesting note is that Denver only combined for three third period shots in the two games of the regional. All those shots went in, though only one was with a goalie in net. It’s something that head coach David Carle doesn’t seem too bothered by.

“That how we draw it up,” Carle quipped after the game. “Yeah we’d like to shoo the puck, we’d like to generate a little bit more. At the same time, our puck pressure and our ability to defend was outstanding and our team’s commitment to defense, I think as you saw for 90% of the weekend was very good. We’re pretty proud of that and our team has bought into what we need to win hockey games.”

NCAA WEST REGIONAL: Denver’s Lockdown, AIC Upset Headline Fargo’s Regional

FARGO, ND– The NCAA West Regional kicked off in Fargo on Friday. While the University of North Dakota did not make the tournament, there were plenty of green in the stands for those who decided to make the trip.

In the early match-up, they were able to watch a familiar foe in Denver University taking on THE Ohio State University in the first round match-up.

The first twenty minutes were a bit of a feeling out point, but Ohio State gradually got better as the period went on. However, despite the traffic in front of Denver’s Filip Larsson, there were no goals to be had. On the other end, Tommy Nappier had little work, only facing five shots in the first frame, the most challenge was a double-tip in the beginning, as well as a Tyson McLellan shorthanded chance that sailed over top of the goal, as McLellan was trying to go high short-side on Nappier.

A neutral zone battle took place for most of the second frame, with both Denver and Ohio State playing tighter hockey. The most chances came in the second half of the period, with both sides exchanging quality chances, but it wasn’t until late in the period when Denver broke the draw. With less than a minute left, Emilio Petterson feathered a pass over to Les Lancaster, who then beat Nappier on the glove side to make it a 1-0 game.

“That was a heck of a pass by him,” mentioned Lancaster of Petterson’s pass. “He has some great vision. I think a big part of my game is speed and I saw an opening to go up the ice and he found me. Nappier robbed me early in the period so it was good to get that one behind him.”

Ohio State had a solid chance to tie the game after Larsson had an adventure around his net, but could not bury anything in the open cage. Denver played a very tight game, in fact– they did not get any shots on Nappier with their only goal being an empty netter by Colin Staub to seal the game and advance to the Regional Final on Saturday.

Denver Wins/Photo Jen Conway

“I don’t know how many tickets were sold tonight with that game,” joked Denver coach David Carle after the game, “But I thought it was a really tightly contested game. Not a lot of open ice for either team since both teams are heavily involved on defense

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In the second match-up, the upstart American International College Yellow Jackets looked to give the St. Cloud State Huskies a run for their money. All the while, the Huskies tried to not be eliminated in the first round by an Atlantic Hockey team– like what happened last year against Air Force. It was also AIC’s first ever tournament appearance, which could be daunting to some, but for AIC– they seemed to take it in stride.

“I think we just had to play our game, the same way we played it all year,” mentioned Brennan Kapcheck. “We came in with big dreams and see the big crowd, which is not something we see all the time, but we played our game and it goes the right way.”

AIC was under the microscope, but were attacking early with plenty of chances, including one that rang off the crossbar. However, Joel Kocur found the back of the net, getting the first goal of the game by plugging away at a rebound around David Hrenak’s net and chipping it in for the 1-0 tally. After that goal, AIC went into a trap defense, which lead to more chances, as St. Cloud couldn’t get a good clean breakout, but the period ended 1-0 for AIC.

Knowing they needed to continue the pressure. AIC was able to play the trap defense perfectly against the Huskies, creating more turnovers and then creating another goal for the Yellow Jackets, as Brennan Kapcheck picked up the puck, threw it on net, and it squeaked through Hrenak’s five-hole to make it a 2-0 game. Despite power plays, the Huskes couldn’t put one past Zackarias Skog. Though AIC only put four shots on in the second, they were able to withstand the pressure of St. Cloud late in the period.

The Huskies, not wanting a repeat of last year, got off to a quick start, trying to get one goal back and start a rally. But thanks to stingy defense and Skog standing tall, their first onslaught was for naught. SCSU cut the lead in half on the power play, as a weird bounce off an AIC defender’s helmet went past Skog and was credited to Easton Brodzinski. After that, the Huskies went to work trying for the equalizer, but Skog and his defensemen in front were able to stave off the Huskies, upsetting the #1 overall seed by a score of 2-1.

It was AIC’s first tournament win in their first appearance during their first winning season, no less. It was also the second time in the entire athletics department that they have defeated a #1 seed, as the women’s soccer team defeated Saint Rose in Division II action.

“St. Cloud is a tremendous team,” mentioned AIC coach Eric Lang. “I could only take them in small doses. They’re as skilled a team that we’ve ever seen. But you know what, sometimes the puck bounces your way. I would say it’s puck luck, but in this sport in you earn your luck.”

AIC and Denver will take on each other on Saturday night to see who will represent the West Region in the Frozen Four in Buffalo.