Michigan Star Louie Caporusso Signs With Ottawa Senators

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Caporusso Signs Two Year Contract With Ottawa

 

Michigan Wolverines hockey star Louie Caporusso has signed a two year entry level contract with the Ottawa Senators.  Caporusso, 21, was a third round pick of the Senators in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, the 90th overall pick that year.  Caporusso spent four year in Ann Arbor playing for the Wolverines, including a trip to the national title game this past season.

 

Bryan Vickroy

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Frozen Fourum: Frozen Four Preview (North Dakota – Michigan)

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FROZEN FOURUM

2011 FROZEN FOUR PREVIEW

North Dakota vs. Michigan

 

The world of college hockey descends upon the State of Hockey this weekend to crown a new NCAA hockey champion at the 2011 Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minnesota.  This year’s field is one of the deepest in recent memory, both in terms of talent and tradition.  Michigan, Minnesota Duluth, North Dakota, and Notre Dame are all looking to skate their way to a national title on the biggest state in college hockey.  The Frozen Fourum has all you need to be schooled on the college game.  Let’s take a look at the evening semifinal between the North Dakota Fighting Sioux and the Michigan Wolverines.

By:  Bryan Vickroy

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Frozen Fourum: Frozen Four Preview (Minnesota Duluth – Notre Dame)


Frozen Fourum 2011 Frozen Four

 

FROZEN FOURUM

2011 FROZEN FOUR PREVIEW

Minnesota Duluth vs. Notre Dame

 

The world of college hockey descends upon the State of Hockey this weekend to crown a new NCAA hockey champion at the 2011 Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minnesota.  This year’s field is one of the deepest in recent memory, both in terms of talent and tradition.  Michigan, Minnesota Duluth, North Dakota, and Notre Dame are all looking to skate their way to a national title on the biggest state in college hockey.  The Frozen Fourum has all you need to be schooled on the college game.  Let’s take a look at the afternoon semifinal between the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

 

By:  Bryan Vickroy

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Points from the Point – Underdog Edition

by Bryan Vickroy

The NCAA hockey tournament has been the antithesis of what the men’s basketball tournament has been. For all the chalk (sorry Petey) of the Final Four, the top seeds in hockey got dusted immediately, save the favorite, Boston University. March may be over, but the madness continues with the Frozen Four next weekend in our nation’s capital. Warning: The following chaos is not for the faint of heart.

Everything kicked off Friday afternoon with #1 seed Michigan being outskated by Air Force, and ended with fellow four seed Bemidji State, the equivalent of the 64 seed on the hard court, manhandling its way to the Frozen Four and becoming the first non power conference team to make the national semifinals in tournament history.

In all, three #1’s lost their opening game, two #4’s made it to Washington, and the lower seed had an astounding record of 8-4. Here’s a look at the games, the players, the teams, and how they survived onward to DC, with a bit of jam session flair.

Best of What’s Around: All Regional Team
Forward: Tyler Scofield, Bemidji State: Quite possibly the fastest player on the ice in both Beaver wins. Threw his body around for the team, and tallied four goals and two assists in the tournament, including both game winners.
Forward: Justin Mercier, Miami Ohio: West Region MOP, scored three goals, including both in the 2-1 victory over Minnesota Duluth. A short hander and power play game winner sealed the Redhawks first ever Frozen Four.
Forward: Jason Lawrence, Boston U: The freshman, who was second in the nation in power play goals, added two more, including the game winning shot/pass/bank shot off a New Hampshire defenseman with 14 seconds left to squeak the Terriers into Washington.

Defenseman: Matt Gilroy, Boston U: The much sought after, soon to be NHL free agent since he went undrafted, showed how strong the BU defense is, laying out punishment and killing rushes all weekend. The captain also rang up four assists against THE Ohio State University.

Defenseman: Dan Lawson, Vermont: Had great two way play in shutting down Yale, then took over the scoring against Air Force. Scored two goals for the Catamounts, including the double overtime game winner, the one that went through the net. More on it later….

Goalie: Matt Dalton, Bemidji State: Midwest MOP, stopped 57 of 59 shots on the weekend against two attacking teams. Stone cold glove save from five feet with seconds left in the final showed his dominance, and that the Beavers belong.

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Before we get into the teams, let me tilt the head skyward and to the left, and head into Dr. John Dorian Dreamland and reflect on some of the crazier moments of the opening weekend.
Big Eyed Fish: The tournament was powered by the big eyed freshman this year. From netminders to leading scorers, every team in the tournament had help from their first year players. Three of the Frozen Four teams start goaltenders in their first year of experience, and a handful of games were won by the clean faced youngsters. The experiences this year will help them grow that playoff beard next time around.

Diggin a Ditch: The first round of action saw two amazing comebacks. Minnesota Duluth came back from down three to tie the game with two goals in 40 seconds, the last with less than five to play, against Princeton. The Wildcats scored with 0.1 second left to tie North Dakota and force OT. Both teams went on to win in the extra session.

Break Free: Vermont won their regional in double overtime, but not after playing a bit of extra hockey. After close play in the Vermont goal, the referees went to video replay to look at the play. However, they were looking at a different play. About five minutes earlier, the Catamounts had a two on one against Air Force. Dan Lawson took a one time wrist shot from his teammate that appeared to go wide of the net. Looking at the replay, the puck was in front of the net, then behind it the next moment. When it was slowed down, it showed that the puck did indeed cross the goal line, and then forced through the twine and out of the net. You had to see it to believe it.

The Space Between: The officials made every opportunity to use the replay system available to them. After nearly every goal, and even after some penalties, deflections, and other plays, the official would skate over to the penalty box, throw on the headset, and watch the monitor available at the scorer’s table. Some of these where merited, as goals were awarded and taken off the board over mere centimeters. And yes, the entire puck must cross the goal line for a goal.

Steady As We Go: Boston University was the cream of the crop all year, and showed it in the throttling of THE Ohio State University 8-3 in the opening game. The final was a different story. After taking the lead near the end of the first period, they were thoroughly outplayed by New Hampshire the rest of the game, and gave up the tying goal. Goaltender Kieran Millan held the BU net shut despite the flurry of New Hampshire shots. Their trip to the Frozen Four was sealed when UNH was called for a penalty with only a minute to play. After a couple failed attempts to cycle the puck, the Terriers made a late rush, set up their overload, and the steadiest power play in the nation won the game. Jason Lawrence threw the puck towards the net, possibly a shot, possibly a pass, and it deflected off one player, then off a defenseman diving through the crease, and into the back of the net.

I Did It: Who would have thought Bemidji State would be the team who rolled into the nation’s capital with the least resistance? After annihilating many experts pick, Notre Dame, the Beavers laid the wood to Cornell as their regional final went on. In the end, the Beaver stood as tall as their hometown brethren: Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Bemidji flat out was faster and tougher than everyone else. Showing the true spirit of Minnesota hockey, they hustle to every puck, dug into the corners, and outskated the Irish and Big Red. On a side note, WCHA official are visiting town this week for further study of their potential conference affiliation. The first tournament win in school history, and the first Frozen Four appearance for a #16 seeded team in tournament history shows how deep the State of Hockey really is.

Typical Situation: Miami Ohio got to the Frozen Four doing what they’ve done all season long: putting pucks on the net. The Redhawks showered the net with shots in both games. The first game against Denver those shots were more than enough to outscore an injury depleted team 4-2. It was a matchup of teacher and pupil. Miami coach Enrico Blasi played for Denver coach George Gwozdecky when he was at Miami, and also was an assistant for him later in Denver. In the final, they needed every shot they could muster against Minnesota Duluth. When it was all over, Miami had managed to slip one more past the hottest goalie on the planet, Alex Stalock, and make it to their first Frozen Four in school history. Using their coach’s attack and shoot style, and relying on hot goaltending by freshman Cody Reichart, the Redhawks skate into DC with some confidence.

So Damn Lucky: Vermont showed it had recovered its defensive touch in its opening game, shutting down Yale 4-1 behind highly regarded pro prospect Viktor Stalberg. Their win pitted them against another underdog, Air Force, for the trip to Washington. After 60 minutes of hockey was proven insufficient, another session was played. And another. The action in the second OT was chaotic and thrilling, with end to end rushes and opportunities that seemed missed. After narrowly avoiding a loss, and a lengthy video review of at least 20 minutes, goal was signaled, and the Catamounts added a second team to the Frozen Four for Hockey East, showing itself as the true dominant conference of this season.
Next week brings a preview of the remaining games, which kickoff next Thursday with both semifinals. Also a look at some of the players who have already bolted school and signed contracts with professional teams. It’s time to march on Washington, and these teams have one thing on their minds: a national title.


Keep it real, and as the immortal Red Green says, “Keep your stick on the ice.”

Points From The Point: Frozen Four Edition

by Bryan Vickroy

Lace up the skates, tape up the sticks, and foil the fists, it’s postseason hockey time!  These 16 teams have a dream, to march into Washington, DC, but only four will be voted into the Frozen Four, no congressional investigation needed.  It’s election weekend in college hockey, and only the winners skate on.

This year’s four region, and hosts are :

East:  Bridgeport, CT  (Yale), Bridgeport Arena at Harbor Yard

Northeast:  Manchester, NH (New Hampshire), Verizon Wireless Arena

Midwest:  Grand Rapids, MI (Western Michigan), Van Andel Arena

West:  Minneapolis, MN (Minnesota), Mariucci Arena

Per NCAA guidelines, host universities must play “at home.”  This is mostly for ticket purposes, as it ensures that all the games are sold out.  This year, both Yale (East) and New Hampshire (Northeast) get the benefit of friendly faces in the stands.

HIGHLIGHTS

Before we get into all 16 teams, let’s look at a couple highlights of the tournament

Tournament Favorites

Boston University: Overall #1, Ranked #1 in both the polls and Pairwise rankings.  Regular season and postseason champs, Hockey East

Notre Dame:  Spent time ranked at #1 throughout the year.  Lost national title game last year.  Regular season and tournament champs, Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA).

Darkhorses

Yale:  Balanced, defensive hockey teams who capitalizes on mistakes.  Which players do you shut down?  Played in, and won, big games this season.  Regular season and tournament champs, East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC).

Minnesota Duluth:  Found their stride down the backstretch of the season.  Went from bubble status to trendy national champion pick.  Goaltender and scorers all playing out of their minds.  Can the good vibes continue?  Tournament Champs, Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).

Players to Watch

Jaques Lamoureux, F, Air Force:  Second most goals in the nation.  A threat to light the lamp every time he touches the puck.  Deadly on the power play.

Ryan Duncan, F, North Dakota:  Won Hobey Baker Award in 2007 as nation’s top player.  Off season, but solid two way forward who can turn it on in open ice.

Alex Stalock, G, Minnesota Duluth:  One goal given up in the WCHA Final Five, including back to back shutouts.  Unbeatable in net, but it’s an adventure when he plays the puck outside of the crease.

Jordan Pearce, G, Notre Dame:  In net for all of the Fighting Irish’s 20 unbeaten streak.  8 shutouts and a 1.6 goals against.  Given up more than three goals only three times all season.

Best Games

Minnesota Duluth vs. Princeton:  An old fashioned goalie duel.  Expect free hockey in this game, and a lot of tense moments.  Which team’s sniper will solve the puzzle first?

Michigan vs. Air Force:  Expect the scoreboard to light up in this one.  Both teams have first rate scorers who can do damage in the blink of an eye.  Air Force likes a wide open game, and Michigan has the speed to fly with them.

Regional Breakdown

East

1)Michigan vs. 4)Air Force, Friday 3/27 (2:00pmCT)

Scoring, it’s what Ann Arbor is good at:  These Wolverines like to score.  Aaron Palushaj and Louie Caporusso were both in the top 5 in the nation, including a 24-1 record when Caporusso records a point.  A late season hot streak was fueled by the ability of the rest of the roster to step up the pace.  Nine national titles in program history, but none in over 10 years.  Tournament flameouts have become customary, usually starring a goaltender meltdown.  Backstop Bryan Hogan showed the symptoms against Notre Dame in the CCHA title game.  Will the Wolverines fight back this time?

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Shock and Awe:  If anything seems oxymoronic, its jets and ice.  However, the Air Force program has taken off recently.  They started this season 13-0, but leveled off the middle of the season before bouncing back to claim the Atlantic Hockey title.  The Falcons live and die offensively by Jaques Lemoureux, ranked second nationally in points, and nine game winners to his credit.  Goalie Andrew Volkening is riding back to back shutouts.

Air Force has the speed to skate with Michigan, but they don’t have the offensive depth.  Barring a sieve-tastic performance by Hogan, the Wolverines should escape.  Michigan 4-2

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2)Yale vs. 3)Vermont, Friday 3/27 (5:30pm CT)

Home Cookin’:  The best season in school history continues, right down the road.  The Bulldogs host the regional, and hopte to parlay that into a trip to DC.  Yale won both the ECAC regular season and tournament titles.  Smart, strong, and balanced, they have five players over 25 points.  Alex Richards is strong in net for the eighth best defensive team in the nation.  Beware their penalty kill.  Besides being ranked third, sophomore Broc Little leads everyone with five short handed goals.

CanTheyMount a Defense:  Of all the teams in the tournament, Vermont’s stock seems to be dropping the fastes.  After giving up only 18 goals in the 2 months prior to the postseason, they gave up 18 in their last four games.  Viktor Stalber is an adapt scorer, but one man can only do so much.  The Catamounts have success when the pester and pressure opposing teams .  Turnovers and defensive lapses have cost them, then need to refocus or go home to the hippie wonderland that is Vermont.

Stoic Yale uses the home ice to their advantage and continues the dream season.  Take that Harvard!  Yale 3-1

EAST REGION FINAL

1)Michigan vs. 2)Yale, Saturday 3/28 (5:30pm CT)

For all the talent and history, Michigan never seems to fulfill their promise.  Playing on Yale’s ice is even less promising.  Yale drops some knowledge on Michigan, as Hogan fulfills the Wolverine curse and melts down in a big spot.  Skull and Bones is pleased for a field trip to the Frozen Four in the nation’s capitol.

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Northeast

1)Boston University vs. 4)Ohio State, Saturday 3/28 (4:30pm CT)

One for the Other Thumb:  Five titles this season is not enough for Boston U.  Three tournament titles, and both Hockey East championships are not enough.  The Terriers have not won the national title since 1997.  BU is the top overall seed after missing the tourney for the last two years.  #3 offense and defense, and the second best power play in the land.  Top six defenseman are all NHL blue chippers, and support two forward lines better than most top lines in the country.  Tendency to take too many penalties, and give up power plays.  Focus and determination are the only things than can undermine the Terriers.

Lucky Buckeye:  THE Ohio State University enjoys the title of last team in this year.  After a weekend of turbulent tournament games around the country, the Buckeyes graded out higher than Minnesota and Wisconsin.  This team is young, with 22 freshman and sophomores, and still a year or two away.  Have played the top teams all season, and won’t back down against anyone.  Tough to beat when they don’t make mistakes.

The BU blueline is stronger than anyone else’s.  The Terriers shut down the unripe Buckeyes, adding to the recent post season woes of THE Ohio State University.  Boston U 5-1

2)North Dakota vs. 3)New Hampshire, Saturday 3/28 (1:00pm CT)

Five for Fighting (Sioux):  North Dakota is going for its fifth straight Frozen Four.  To do that, the Sioux have to travel cross country and play on home ince in Manchester, NH.  This team is deep and experience, winning the WCHA regular season title.  Played their way out of a possible #1 seed getting swept in the Final Five.  Can NoDak flip the postseason switch?  Two way defenseman Chay Genoway and 2007 Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan lead the scoring.  Son of former Vezina and Conn Smythe winner Ron Hextall, Bret, also adds some offensive punch.

New Hampshire House of Horrors:  The University of New Hampshire hockey team gets to play close to home.  They might not want to.  The Wildcats have lost twice in Manchester when hosting postseason play, and have lost four straight NCAA games.  Which team will be loet out to play:  the one who ended the regular season with six wins in seven tries, or the team who got sept out of the Hockey East tourney, mustering one goal.  Must have James van Riemsdyk, the second overall pick in 2007, focused and involved.  If they don’t play a full 60 minutes, they’ll be walking home.

NoDak fans travel as well as any group in the country, all sports included.  Fargo residents may have to evacuate, but they’ll all probably be in New Hampshire already The Sioux also show up in the postseason.  UND 4-2

East Region Final

1)Boston University vs. 2)North Dakota, Sunday 3/29 (4:30pm CT)

BU is so strong on the back end that everyone will have trouble scoring.  NoDak doesn’t have the scoring of years past, and are playing an unproven freshman goalie.  Terriers march to a Frozen Four while NoDak waits for the next boat back to campus.

Midwest

1)Notre Dame vs. 4)Bemidji State,  Saturday 3/28 (6:30pm CT)

Glove Save Jesus:  Quick, name the only thing worth watching under the Golden Dome the last few years:  a junktastic Harangody jumper, a limp Clausen fade route, or a Jordan Pierce glove save?  The skating leprechaun wins!  Coach Jeff Jackson, who came over from two titles at Lake Superior State, has led the Irish to a #1 seed after losing the title game last year.  This team has three players with five game winning goals, no other team in the country has more than one.  Gritty and scrappy, a proven group of winners who bring the first true hope of a championship for the millions and millions of true Notre Dame fans since Lou Holtz slobbered on the sidelines.  An NBC contract for this team can’t be far behind for this budding powerhouse.

Eager Beavers:  Bemidji State is a team without a family, or perhaps a dam.  Their conference is dissolving after this year and admission into the WCHA has been a slow progress.  They’ve played games all over the country, including against the US National Develepmont team.  A lethal powerplay, and the stat of an 11-1 record when forward Matt Read scores.  Goliath is their task, and they’re up for it. They almost beat eventual champ Denver in overtime in 2005.

As Jebediah Springfield said, “A noble spirit embiggens every man.”  The Beavers have the spirit, but Notre Dame has Jesus.  The Irish should lay the lumber and win convincingly.  Notre Dame 5-1

2)Northeastern vs. 3)Cornell, Saturday 3/28 (3:00pm CT)

The Team that Almost Could:  An historic season at Northeastern that for just a few moments could be so much more.  They led Hockey East wire to wire, until the final weekend.  Boston U beath them in the last second to claim the conference title.  Then they gave up a goal in the final minute in the Hockey East semis.  Add in a Beanpot Final loss, and the Huskies have shown a soft spot in the big games.  A first Frozen Four would be a good way to erase those stage fright doubts.

Cram the Books and the Boards:  Cornell hockey gives its fans another reason to mock other schools:  lower test scores, less intelligent, and less impotent.  Defense is legendary at the Ivy League school, and they are ranked fourth nationally.  Goaltender Ben Scrivens is the admissions officer here.  He had seven shutouts this year, and a goals against under two.  Seventh least penalized team in the nation, but not afraid to throw the extra elbow or slash around.  They’re smart enough to get away with it.

A game that theologians and purists will enjoy.  Hard hitting and defensive, Cornell answers the hard questions and makes Northeastern a fool at the big boy’s table again.  Cornell 3-2

Midwest Region Final

1)Notre Dame vs. 3)Cornell, Sunday 3/29 (7:00pm CT)

An academic bowl is held, and a hockey game breaks out.  Notre Dame is too tough and determined not to make the Frozen Four and win a championship.  NBC adds another zero to the end of the contract, and the bandwagon fills for the trip to DC.  Charlie Weiss asks for a couple scoring plays.

WEST

1)Denver University vs. 4)Miami (Ohio), Friday 3/27 (3:30pm CT)

P-IR-neers:  Denver managed to get a #1 seed despite finishing second in both the regular season and WCHA tournament.  Fought injuries throughout the season, but deep enough to withstand long absences from top scorers.  Freshman defenseman Patrick Wiercioch runs the point on a formidable power play, and has played his way to their top defenseman.  Struggled against other tournament teams, most of those in conference foes.  Focus on the first game, and a shot at possible redemption awaits in the finals.

Score to Soar:  No other team in the tournament lives or dies by their scoring.  The Redhawks have scored five or more goals in 9 games, but when scoring fewer than three goals they’re 4-11-3.  Struggled down the stretch, but have shutout both Michigan and Notre Dame this year.  Keep the puck out of their hands and they struggle.  Miami averages almost 11 more shots per game than their opponent.  Can they shout out another #1 seed this year?

Denver is getting healthy at the right time, which doesn’t bode well for the Redhawks of Miami.  Special teams can only keep you in a game for so long.  Denver can score with the best of them.  DU 3-1

2)Minnesota Duluth vs. 3)Princeton, Friday 3/27 (7:00pm CT)

Duluth, Duluth, Duluth is on Fire:  The hottest team in the country is Minnesota Duluth.  After coasting their way through most of the season, they Bulldogs locked down on defense in the last month, and started to roll.  MacGregor Sharp has as much game as his name, tied for second in the nation with 25 goals.  Goalie Alex Stalock has been unbeatable in the last three weeks, single handedly winning the WCHA tournament.  Has the offense and goaltending to beat anybody.  Biggest threat may come from Stalock himself, as he has struggled playing the puck outside of the net, giving up goals on the turnovers.  Keep him in net and he’s magnificent.

InZane in the Net Frame:  Princeton brings scoring balance to a whole new level, with 11 players with at least nine goals.  Backstopping the Tigers is, possible the best goalie in the nation, Zane Kalemba.  This team doesn’t take penalties, and makes teams work for everything.  Multiple overtime games in the ECAC tournament.  Kalemba can keep a game going, someone needs to make sure to end it on a happy note.

Get your popcorn ready, and expect to get your money’s worth.  Also expect to get some extra sessions.  A goalie duel at its best, where even mistakes won’t be enough to win a game.  Stalock keeps the lift bridge down and himself anchored in net.  UMD 1-0

West Region Final

1)Denver University vs. Minnesota Duluth, Saturday 3/28 (7:00pm CT)

A rematch of the WCHA championship game from a week ago.  They switch sides of the river, but it won’t make a difference.  Staylock stayz blazing and continues his Patrick Roy portrayal.  Let freedom ring, but not the goal horn.  UMD to the Frozen Four.

So upon further review, the Frozen Four should looke like this:

-East:  Yale

-Northeast:  Boston University

-Midwest:  Notre Dame

-West:  Minnesota Duluth

Thanks to it being the postseason, these games can be found on one of the multitude of sports channels available these days, though I think most are supposed to be on the ESPN family, as well as the CBS Sports channel.  Catch some games, you won’t regret it.

Keep it real, and as the immortal Red Green says, “Keep your stick on the ice.”