Liam McCanney: Humility and growth on and off the ice

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

Current Northeast Generals’ forward Liam McCanney did not know much about junior hokey before Bryan Erikson (current head coach of the Generals, and at that time was also the general manager too) offered him a spot on his NAHL team. As Liam said ” I was pretty shocked.” when Erikson offered him a spot on the team’s camp roster via a tender with a chance to earn a main roster spot that fall . From there, as Liam said of the journey which has him on the verge of earning a scholarship to play Division One College hockey, of his time in juniors “I never really knew what juniors were… I really didn’t think I was going to go play juniors…. Here we are now. “

On the ice, McCanney has consistently developed year-over-year for the Generals, contributing in previous seasons 12 points, 32 points, and then this year 33 points. He models his game after a center on his favorite team, the Philadelphia Flyers. He tries to bring the same traits to Attleboro that Travis Konecny brings to the Flyers. As Liam said, him and Konecny each provide some defensive chops, and know how to throw checks around. On his own abilities Liam said ” “I’ve got a little grittiness to myself as well.”

On his game, Erikson the following of Liam’s journey

“This is Liam’s third year with us. He had grown so much as a player and a person. He has always had excellent speed and has worked hard. But he was able to improve how to use his speed, create deception and more separation from defenders. Each year he has developed his scoring ability. First year he was more of a hard forechecker who blocked shots and finished every hit. Since then he has kept those traits and improved them while also learning to drive to the back post more in order to generate goals. He is now a threat to score a goal on every shift. Just a great kid who does everything we ask, kills penalties better than most kids in the league, understands what it takes to be successful and puts the work in to reach his goals. Liam is a world class kid and hockey player that will make some team look very smart for grabbing him.”

Personifying the “world class kid” Liam is, we asked what people should know about him. He could have said anything he wanted, but chose arguably the most humble answer, simply saying ” I don’t even know what to say about myself.” The mere fact that he choose to adress that question in that fashion speaks volumes to his humility and willingness to play for others on the Generals more than play with them.

Going forward, Liam is not yet sure what he wants to study in college, but knows business and criminal justice are at the top of the potential majors list under consideration. He could change his mind from that, as he is open to more career choices as well.

Of the type of home he wants to go to, he wants one with a similar loyalty to what Erikson has showed him for the past three seasons. Liam said that of an ideal coaching staff that he is looking for ” “one that takes the time to help each player get better as a player and as a person.”

Like his roommate, Jonathan Young, McCanney is focusing on the day-to-day of helping his team get to the playoffs more than obsessing over which schools will and will not talk to him. The list of teams interested is growing, and McCanney’s desire to earn a playoffs matchup similar to his first year in juniors remains. He wants to earn the right to face Johnstown in the first round and to get a chance to experience the electric atmosphere at Johnstown’s games in the playoffs one more time. To get there, they will have to win the vast majority of their remaining games against the Black Bears of Maryland. As he said of the team’s approach, starting this weekend, “we’re going to play every game like it is our first round.”

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Opinion: Send the NHL back to school, end puck over the glass penalties

Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

The Men’s College Hockey game is not perfect, and there are some things it can learn from the NHL. With that said, this rule being in the NHL, where in college hockey it is treated like an icing is a clear example of a rule that needs to change.

Why?

Well, what is the point of this penalty at the NHL level, to punish players for shooting the puck out of their own end and over the glass.

What does icing itself do to the defending team?

Punish the defending team for clearing the puck out of their own end. They cannot change skaters, and are often tired on the ensuing faceoff.

What does the delay of game penalty do?

Give the other team a two minute power play where, ironically enough, four fresh players come on to the ice to kill a penalty (we know five is often better than four, but would you rather have your best penalty kill on the ice or your bottom three forwards on a minute plus long shift? Different opinions may result here, your thoughts may very). The point of the rule is well intentioned, but often times lends itself to a grey area in this sport’s highest level that, is not ideal, to say the least.

If you treat this like an icing, we would posit that the percentage of goals scored in the next shift would actually end up being equal to, or higher than power play goals scored on the power play .College hockey, both men’s and women’s, needs to change some rules to mirror the National Hockey League, this is one area where the NHL is clearly in the wrong for having this as a penalty. It allows fresh skaters on the ice to kill the penalty, does nothing to speed the game up, and is not in line with rules players have in other leagues. In a league that makes a lot of money, like the NHL, it seems mildly absurd that we would potentially allow a game seven of the Stanley Cup to be decided because a puck meant to go high off the glass and out of the zone goes one millimeter above the glass and into the stands. Hockey at all levels needs less grey areas in its rules.

Why now

This seems like an easy one that already has some backing from the many fans that give the NHL their ever increasing sums of money on a yearly basis. If you want a goal scored in a playoff overtime, when this is often the only penalty called, would you rather force five tired skaters to stay on the ice, or allow four fresh ones on it? That is the crux of the issue.

The league has tended to prioritize offense, while a power play sounds great, plenty of goals are scored after an icing on a long shift, and this would also simplify things for everyone. This is an idea worthy of its time, and one that would save millions of fans around the world the need to break out a magnifying glass, or elementary knowledge of hockey puck physics in determining if their team gets the power play or not.

Removing the puck over the glass penalty for delay of game, and making the consequence be keeping every skater on the ice seems a more apt punishment. In addition, it forces shorthanded teams to clear the puck properly without relying on reaming the puck around the boards and risking sitting in the box in the process.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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PHOTOS: UND vs. AIC

Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Check out some more photos from UND’s 5-1 win last night over AIC, all photos belong to Kelsey Lee of Violet Turtle Photography. For the full gallery click the link below.

Full gallery

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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Undrafted Free Agents to watch at the 2021 Fargo Regional

Photo Credit: Kelly Shea-AIC Athletics

This week, we will see four teams converge upon Scheels Arena in Fargo North Dakota to faceoff for a trip to the 2021 Frozen Four in Pittsburgh in a couple of weeks. These teams all have top end talent, and people we will see in the NHL one day. Each team has more than one undrafted free agent worth noting, and we will discuss four undrafted free agents to watch that should have an immediate impact in professional hockey. We selected one from each team to discuss, that we will be watching this weekend.

American International College

Tobias Fladeby

The winger from Asker, Norway has nine goals and 17 total points on the season. Along with his goal scoring prowess, he has proven the ability to do it against the two best teams AIC has played. four of his goals have come against Quinnipiac (2), and Army West Point (2). Head Coach Eric Lang and the staff at AIC love his release and ability to get to key areas of the ice and find the back of the net. If he does not return to AIC, he up front, and Brennan Kapcheck on defense are two of the quietly more popular undrafted free agents on the market that have the speed and skill needed to make the NHL. Fladeby’s greatest skill this past weekend was his off puck awareness. That is, he knows where to go on the ice to get himself space. For AIC to shock some more people in Fargo, he needs to make his presence known this weekend.

University of Michigan

Strauss Mann

If the goaltender decides to go pro, the NHL may be ready for him now. As ESPN Color Analyst for the Fargo Regional, Dave Starman said of what Mann’s game involves, saying that he is. “athletic, aggressive depth, good stick down low, most importantly he is always square to the puck.” He praised how big the 6 feet tall Mann plays, and noted that he reminds him in style of Byron Dafoe. Mann is the Big 10’s Goalie of the Year and a deserving Mike Richter Award Nominee, his ability to keep the Wolverines in what promises to be a close game against the reigning back-to-back national champions, Minnesota Duluth. For all of the star power the Wolverines have, from their numerous high-end draft picks to players that will be drafted in the top 10 this summer, Mann has been the key to this group. If the Wolverines can defeat the Bulldogs, and earn a trip to the Frozen Four, Mann will be a big part of that. His style of play, and fundamental skill lends itself well to the next level, and he should have offers to choose from this summer. If we returns to Ann Arbor, he will have two years of eligibility left.

Minnesota Duluth

Louie Roehl

While Roehl is not the offensive defender that fans of the Minnesota Duluth Men’s Hockey team have been lucky to see in Dylan Samberg or Scott Perunovich, he plays the game the right way, and is superb at making life tough for the skilled forwards he sees on a nightly basis in the NCHC. As we said in our NCHC preview of Roehl “A responsible defender with improved skating to compliment his high hockey IQ, this 5-foot-10 senior may not possess Perunovich’s point-producing upside, but he makes up for it with solid play in his own end. Roehl can be counted on to maintain a slot presence and keeps loose pucks out of harm’s way or show poise under pressure when a line change is in order. Roehl is not flashy by any means, but he should be an intriguing long-term option for an NHL club in need of a mature defensive defenseman at the AHL level.” If Roehl can develop and earn his way up in a system needing veteran leadership, he could work his way to an NHL job within a few years. For now, his calmness under pressure, and ability to make the life of scoring forwards he faces quite tough are two things that the Bulldogs will need as they look to advance to the Frozen Four.

North Dakota

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Adam Scheel

For the Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey team, they are blessed with two goaltenders in Adam Scheel and Peter Thome who are both capable of playing professional hockey. One of them, Adam Scheel, has wrested control of the net all for himself most of the season, and its not hard to see why. The Lakewood, Ohio native has gotten considerably better at maintaining his positioning throughout the game. His biggest improvement is not so much his positioning, but in how he plays the game. That is, he rebounds quickly from goals he allows, and lets the number one team in front of him find a way to get the goal back. Regardless of what he chooses to do, he will most certainly end up at an NHL development camp this summer, and he may earn a contract pretty soon after UND’s season ends. Teams that get athletic goaltenders that know how to manage the ebb and flow of a game, typically like what the see. The Lakewood, Ohio native has all of those traits and more. His ability to manage games is one reason why the Fighting Hawks have a strong enough team to earn their ninth NCAA Division One Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship this season.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Colin Bilek: Constantly improving and learning

(Photo Credit: Army West Point Athletics)

Colin Bilek is the leading goal scorer for the Army West Point Black Knights Hockey Team. He has a natural eye for the net, and a strong eye to compete and get better in all aspects of what he does every day. As a leader, he enjoys his upper class status in the Corps of Cadets. On the ice, he is a natural leader for Head Coach Brian Riley’s group, and a big reason for this team’s 11 game unbeaten streak. He is a natural goal scorer, and leads the team with 16 goals in 19 games played. With less games played this season, Bilek has already scored more than he did in either of his first two seasons playing for Riley’s group .

Colin is his own player, when we asked him and one of his best friends, Trevin Kozlowski, senior Army goaltender which professional they each model their game after, Trevin mentioned a current goaltender while Bilek kept the focus on himself. The Brighton, Michigan native emphasized that he simply is trying to forge his own path at West Point, and while he grew up liking the play of Detroit Red Wings’ legend Brendan Shanahan, he never focused on any pro comparisons. The path Bilek took to Army West Point involved playing on a four win Northeast Generals team in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) in all sorts of roles, and then finishing ten points better (40 points to 50 points the following season) the following year as the Captain of a Northeast group that went to the Robertson Cup playoffs.

Development for Bilek is not limited to his time at West Point. Northeast Generals Coach Bryan Erikson noted of his growth that the biggest area of his game that Bilek worked on is his skating. Erikson said that of Bilek’s effort, ” he always has worked hard, could always rip the puck but his skating has always been an issue. But he worked so hard on it. Hour after hour and improved incredibly. That combined with his amazing anticipation allow him to win races and battles with much faster players.” His incredible work ethic earned him his only Division One offer, from Army West Point. He since took it and has grown each year playing for Riley’s group.

Early on, Bilek did get one thing, a nickname. He did not know why, but current Rochester American, and former Black Knights’ Captain, Dominic Franco started calling Bilek ” Bilos” during Colin’s first season as a Cadet. Eventually Riley started writing his name in the lineup as “Bilos” and the name stuck. Given Riley’s penchant for going with what works, well, he has no reason to ever change the nickname given the consistent offensive firepower Bilek has brought to this group.

There is one common thread from Bilek’s time at Northeastern to his choice to attend Army West Point. Of his work with the Generals he said “they care more about me as a person.” That is the same philosophy Brian Riley learned from his father Jack, and lives by each day leading his team.

Of that selflessness, Bilos noted the utter fortune he has to go up against Kozlowski every day in practice. The two compete against each other in practice pretty heavily. That competition comes from a mutual friendship and desire to see the other get better. The two turned their initial desire for playing time into a partnership designed to further hone and refine their skills every time they are on the ice. The example Bilek and Trevin have set in this regard, from two future leaders of the Soldiers of America, is impressive to see for its granularity. The two compete with all good cheer, use their energy to further their team, as both plan to do following graduation and upon commissioning as Second Lieutenants in the Army.

Jokingly, to compliment Kozlowski Bilek said to him directly via their joint Zoom interview that, ” if my shooting percentage is five percent against you I’m still pretty good.” Trevin routinely gives the best goal scorer in Atlantic Hockey tips on how to refine his game and beat him.

Seriously, Bilek positively noted that, based on his almost three full seasons at West Point, “I think healthy competition is at the core of our team.” Of Trevin’s consistent skill he added that, “when you’re shooting at the best goalie in the conference every week it makes the team better.” He finally added that, of their competition and the mentorship imparted by Trevin that, “he might not want me to score on him but he wants me to score on the other guy,”

Bilek noted that this team still has its own destiny firmly in its hands. When the subject of his group earning an at large bid was brought up, he noted the same thing that Riley has on multiple occasions. Winning solves all concerns about the postseason aspirations of his group. With that said, with leaders like Bilek and Kozlowski, among the many leaders on the team, the Black Knights, thanks to Bilek’s development and ability to make others better, combined with the selfless nature with which they all play the game, make them tough competition in the postseason for any group, at any time and place.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Where we started… and what comes next

I don’t think we have ever hold the story of why Seamore Sports exists, here is that story.

Seamore Sports started in 2016 following the conclusion of U18 tournament in Grand Forks, ND. I love goaltending. The skill, focus and poise that it takes to play that position. We attended the Latvia vs Sweden game, when we noticed the confidence of Latvian net minder Mareks Mitens in facing 47 shots. I just loved his level of compete and the international game itself. It opened my eyes to all of the great hockey around us that we did not take the time to see and talk about.Players with stories just like Mitens’ are all around the world, and very abundant in college hockey. My love for the game of hockey just grew and grew with the more I learned and watched. It truly is a beautiful game.

I have a complicated medical condition, called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and when Oliver and I met, I was just starting to come to terms with my diagnosis. I was struggling with the realization that is was a life long condition and quality of life I was looking at. The disease was first called the suicide disease when it was discovered around the Civil War for its high consistent pain that it inflicted on soldiers, who years later, some committed suicide to escape the endless pain my condition gives me. With this in mind, I badly needed a distraction. Seamore Sports became that distraction and has sense evolved into our shared passion.

Earlier in the year, Oliver had introduced me to hockey by taking me to a UND vs UMD series, which still is one of the most memorable games I have ever been too. Many of you know what game I am referring to without giving details. For everyone else, it was the over time penalty shot winner from Austin Poganski. For the first time in over two years, my pain melted away and I knew the rink was my home.

Over the last five years, Seamore Sports has turned into everything I didn’t think it ever could. However, it hasn’t always been an easy thing. Towards the end of the 2019-2020 season, I was done. I was struggling with the lack of success and my passion was failing. I had even told Oliver, that it was going to be my last season and I was done. One night in Friday January, someone who I had never met walked in the media room on ice level while I was getting my computer and camera set up for the University of North Dakota (UND) vs University of Alabama- Huntsville (UAH) and asked to sit down. We had a conversation about hockey realignment and talked for a solid 45 minutes, at the end of the conversation, I introduced myself and asked if he was UAH’s Sports Information Director, he smiled and laughed, “Nope, I am head coach Mike Corbett.” Over the course of the weekend, we spent time watching and talking with UAH coaching staff and players. If you are a fan of Alabama Huntsville, and you read our work at all, thank Mike Corbett for encouraging us to start with that first conversation at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

During this time, I fell back in love with hockey. I had renewed hope that the mission of Seamore Sports was ready to change. Now, we are the voice of the Division One College Hockey underdogs, and all those who work to help them shine. Our goal is to work and talk with as many teams, players and coaches that make up this great game. We will be talking with junior hockey players, writing about so many stories that, just like Mitens, deserve a higher level of attention than the media structure in this game is set to provide. In addition, we hope to work with schools over coming years to help train interns to get into writing about more underdogs in this game and creating a network of passionate people to cover the sport we all love.

I, and this independent outlet would not be standing here today, with Oliver by my side helping me to grow this, and taking photos professionally without the people below. If you are not on this list but we have talked to you, know that you matter and are a part of this as well. Also, if you are not on this list, but are involved with this sport at any level from potential commit, to alumnae, to coach or general manager at any level, or any other of the many categories, know that we want to talk to you. Oliver writes many of his recaps with the title of “Beyond the box score” because this game is so much more than a contest to see who scores the most. It is a stage in and of itself, and overtime, its actors depart and new ones try to fill their shoes, and grow, and move to the next level. We want to highlight all those on their path to the stage, and talk about the good done by them as they leave it, and their mentors along the way.

I cannot thank the following people enough (in no particular order):

Eric Lang: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us in 2019 at the Fargo regional following the win against number one St.Cloud. Not only that, but almost 2 years later you remembered us, but not only that you remembered our son, over a phone call. It’s also nice to have a candid conversation with a coach. This game needs more coaches like you in it, and this world needs more good humans like yourself in it. This was the first regional we had covered since I gave birth to our two year old, Henrik (who loves to play floor hockey, and is enthralled with zambonis he sees during intermission), and your encouragement, along the kindness shown to us by you, Seth,and every AIC-associated person that weekend will not ever be forgotten.

Damon Whitten: You remembered our faces after about a year when Bemidji State won that first game by more than a little. You took time to help coordinate media interviews with Mareks and Yuki Miura. In addition, you, like the other coaches in this article are straight up and honest about everything. We appreciate that, and know that as the Lakers progress this year, we will work to cover you with the same verve a national outlet covers the many bigger schools you play (this goes for all teams we cover).

Seth Dussault: You, my friend, have been such a support during our transition. You where the first media relations person to really believe in our mission.Within an hour of seeing you on the day where the non upset happened, I heard you promoting AIC to Oliver, talking about one of your most famous alumnae, Congressman Richard Neal. You are always there to provide feedback on our ideas and articles, and you are one of many people we are fortunate to have in our corner

Mike Corbett: Corbs, thank you for helping me find that spark and fire again. It’s always a joy to have you on the phone and just talk hockey. Our conversations could go on for days and I love how blunt and honest you are. It is much appreciated, the realness that you bring to the table is a rare and beautiful thing. The effort you put into this game, and have put into it for the many decades you have been a part of it, is a thing we hope to more fully chronicle one day.

Brian Riley: I will never forget the fact that you reached out to us on Twitter, my jaw hit the floor and I was on cloud nine for days leading up to our first conversation.Not often does any coach reach out to us, let alone one with your background (its ok to celebrate it a bit as its extensive). Now, it’s like talking to an old friend. You have helped us understand things in the bigger picture of life, and remind us of the simple joy of this game every time we talk. As we agree that College Hockey is a big family, thanks to you, and all whom you work with for making us feel more welcomed at the ever growing table this game provides us all. The joy that you get from coaching the future leaders of armed forces is contagious. I will never understand how Army West Point is forgotten about on the national conversation year after year.

Thank you to every one who has ever read anything that we put out, and to everyone in this game for allowing an independent outlet from Fargo North Dakota to provide you unique stories on so many teams. We have only just begun, and are excited, indeed, for what comes next.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Bracketology Version One: Respecting Atlantic Hockey, and the WCHA

Photo Credit :Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

This year, the bracket for the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Regionals will be more debated than normal. The Pairwise formula that is used to approximate which team is best is not valid on its own in terms of picking a 16 team bracket. It can be used to rate teams in intra conference consideration for those who have played uneven schedules. For inter conference selection it loses most of its value. With that being said, we will focus on the bubble teams for an at large bid today ,and look at the play of three teams. The bracket should not have historical biases in nit, and should simply focus on finding the best teams.

AIC

Eric Lang’s team went on a Covid-19 pause when they were playing their best hockey a few weeks ago. The Yellow Jackets have very few weaknesses in their team, and are able to boast one of the deepest rosters in this game. Lang’s group has been playing well, and by the way have already clinched the regular season conference championship for their third straight season. The only meanignful non coference series for this team came in December, when they got swept by Quinnipiac. In both of those games, at even strength, the Yellow Jackets played an offensive firepower very tough. Since then, they have lost a mere one time in regulation to an Army West Point team deserving of consideration as well. In short, this team is more than the 2019 version that shocked the world against St. Cloud State. They are a team that pushes the fight toward their opponent, and one that would make life tough for a team like North Dakota in the first round, as long as they live up to their discipline, and error free hockey. How this team is considered “on the bubble” and not a solid at large is one of the bigger mysteries of this season.

Army West Point

Brian Riley’s team is playing their best hockey at the right time. Should they defeat Holy Cross this Tuesday, they will set themselves up well for the Atlantic Hockey postseason. In addition they have a legitimate Hobey Baker Award Candidate on their team in Colin Bilek, who is second in the country in goals per game, a stifling defense that buys into playing the team-first game that they do, and Trevin Kozlowski in net. More importantly, Riley has his team repeating their success at scale suitable to earn an at large bid. His team is the only one in conference play to beat Lang’s during regulation. In terms of teams under consideration, having that fact to support you should help. While Riley himself is quite demure on the subject we will say it, his conference lead by AIC and Riley’s group deserve inclusion at least for both of them at the time.

Lake Superior State

The Lakers played a complete series against Alabama Huntsville that showcased their scoring depth and finnese. Mareks Mitens was superb in net on Friday, and is expereced to be their main starter going through the motion. While we think that the Lakers deserve inclusion in the big gourn

Like the other teams we have listed, this team is starting to gel as the season winds down. What they do to keep their good work going is up to them.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

UAH Hockey: Taking positives, things to build on, and moving forward to face Northern Michigan

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Tonight, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville lost to the Mavericks of Minnesota State 5-0. The score is something that of course, no player in the room is happy about. this staff has some work to do in order to get this team ready to face a Northern Michigan side that is getting back a lot of key players from injury and that defeated Bemidji State 5-1 tonight, including two shorthanded goals in that effort.

Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis took some time to provide thoughts on the evening.

On what UAH learned from the weekend series

“We saw a elite team come to our building and we had a taste what elite teams do and how hard we have to work and what strides we need to take to improve our game.” There were moments that had UAH competitive against this team, like scoring first last night, and being able to block a lot of shots on the penalty kill.

On adjustments for tonight and going forward
“We kept them under 40 shots and that was one of the goals tonight. We are teaching our players about discipline and keep working on making plays under pressure.” The shot suppression effort of this team was a little more complete tonight, and was its best in the third period.

Zirnis on the play of the top line, lead by Tyrone Bronte, keep this in mind going forward for this team.

” Bronte’s line did a good job making plays and had created very good scoring chances for us.”

Lessons learned from tonight, according to Zirnis.
“There is always learning lessons from the games you play. Unfortunately these lessons are hard but you still have to learn from them. On the positive side I spoke about the under 40 shots. We had some guys in the line up that we get to evaluate and see in action where their game is at and things they need to work on.”

The staff appriciated the compete level of the team, read more about what it meant from Zirnis here:
” We did never give up on the weekend. When things got hard we kept fighting We kept playing and tried to keep playing the game the right way. Proud of the group of not giving up and kept battling for each other.”

The next game for these Chargers comes Tuesday afternoon on the road at Northern Michigan. Read about Zirnis’ thoughts on what’s next for this team.
“Northern Michigan is playing good hockey right now and they are finding their groove. We have a great challenge in front of us but we are looking for the opportunity to play them and keep growing our game as a team.”

No one wants to lose in this sport, ever. With that said, these Chargers now have experience against a top contender for the national title under their belts. In addition, they are now set to face a team that they are contending with for postseason seeding. The better the Chargers can do in games against the Wildcats, and Lake Superior State, the higher their seed is, and the more they can add to their positive experiences on ice. For a team that is working to delete its past, to their credit, this weekend provides a solid base of encouragement and good moments to build a new future of UAH Hockey with.

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UND Men’s Hockey’s conflicting views on major penalties: Some thoughts

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Today, the NCHC suspended University of North Dakota Forward Grant Mismash for strolling through the creae of Denver’s Magnus Chrona and shocking him with an elbow. Chrona took the elbow to his chest and fell, smacking his head against the ice, and leaving the game after. Mismash was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for charging him.

Was that deserved? Many people outside of the program may think so, but UND Men’s Hockey Head Coach Brad Berry begs to differ, saying ” we know every five-minute major goes through a review process… I got a call today that said he was suspended for the extra game. Our league does an outstanding job as far as officiating and the review process. They deemed it a one-game suspension. I guess I would say we here have a difference of opinion, but at the end of the day, the league makes the call and we deal with it and move forward. It is what it is”

Compare that Brad Berry bit of passive aggressive thought to what he said when Jimmy Schuldt of St. Cloud State nearly two years ago injured Grant Mismash through a knee on knee contact that official Todd Anderson thought, at the time, was a clean hit. Arguably both should have been reviewed, but Schuldt’s hit was not. Berry said, “i’m very, very, disappointed, …And again, I’m not going to get in any trouble here by making a comment, but that was a knee-on-knee that should have been reviewed. We have a protocol in place and it wasn’t reviewed and I’m very disappointed in that. It’s not the result of the game that I’m alluding to. It’s one of those things where you know where anything is 50/50 like that at that time in the game has got to get reviewed, and we have that in our protocol.”

Categorically speaking, the suspension Grant Mismash received today arguably was fair. You do not causally saunter through the blue paint and elbow a goaltender. That is a no in this sport at any level, and Mismash is paying for that. Magnus Chrona did not at all dive, and he looked concussed on the play and could miss time for a Pioneers team. The puck was no where near Chrona when the contact happened, and there was no reason for Mismash to skate in the blue paint, that close to him, during that instance in the game. We remember covering that night against St. Cloud State when Mismash got injured that collision. As noted, fans and Berry were incensed, and rightly so given the player they lost for the rest of the year. Chrona is at least at that level of importance for the Pioneers, if not more given his role as the starting netminder. The overhead view is pretty clear and shows the space Mismash had to try and adjust before going into Chrona.

What Grant Mismash did to him was the functional equivalent of a defensive lineman getting to Kurt Cousins and sacking him three seconds after he throws the football downfield. There is no functional reason for that, or for what Grant did. He is a good player in his own right and playing for an NHL contract with the Nashville Predators. That play certainly did not help his case, which was building in the positive direction given his scoring touch this season, but the stark disparity in Berry’s tone between today, and nearly two years ago is reflective of how some Fighting Hawks fans see this disparity. To Berry and them, we would concede that the Schuldt hit on Mismash was worthy of a review, which it should have had. With that said, we do not play sports in any condition that is theoretical, and UND fans were right to demand a review that they did not get two years ago.

Where we draw the line is the disparity. Advocating for transparency, and for your player to pay attention to where he is on the ice would have been the straight up way to adress the suspension today, if Mismash skates through he paint and doesn’t elbow Chrona, maybe Magnus moves up on him a bit like most goalies to give their defense a little more room, but no elbows to the chest plate occur, or potential concussions on that instance. You could even make the argument that given what he served in the game, and when the penalty happened, no suspension was warranted, but you understood the penalty. Berry was right to be incensed at the NCHC for their lack of transparency on the choice to not review the Schuldt hit on Mismash on the ice that evening, and is not correct in his response to Mismash’s suspension. Knee-on-knee contact and goaltender interference via charging through the blue paint with a puck no where near it both have no place in this sport.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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UAH Hockey: Four Games in, Miles Different

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography )

While the fate of this 2020-2021 Alabama Huntsville Hockey team is unknown. We know some things. For instance, it has a group of 13 freshmen developing daily under the tutelage of this new staff lead by Lance West. Some stats already stand out showing a sharp divide between this and last year’s first four games.

This is showing how far this team has come in four games, year over year. While the Chargers played a superb Lowell side last year, then a speedy Omaha side, this team has not played slouches. Robert Morris is a heavy veteran group that could challenge AIC for Atlantic Hockey supremacy, and Lake Superior State is a veteran laded group poised to rise above their finishes the past few years with a longshot Hobey Baker Award contender in net, Mareks Mitens. These teams are both veteran heavy groups that have taught these Chargers a lot about what they need to rise up the standings in the WCHA this year.

Let’s look at some comparisons from last year to this year.

Goals Scored

19-20 team: Three goals in four games

20-21 team: Nine goals in four games

So far, this is the most immediate improvement this team has seen. Goal scoring was a desperately neeed commodity and these Chargers seem to possess more of that ability than some of their previous iterations. The speed of this forward group is a big reason for that. Their speed combined with the hard work of driving the net has lead to some tap-ins that last year’s team did not have as many of. These Chargers would probably like to get that average up, but the offense from year to year has improved about three times in terms of raw per game output.

Goals Conceded

19-20 team: 19 goals in four games

20-21 team: 14 goals in four games

This is another area of immediate improvement for this team. Also this includes conceding five goals in the third period of their opener against Robert Morris, where David Fessenden sustained an injury during the final frame’s warmups. While this staff will not make excuses for that period or any other goal conceded, we will note the difference in this team that allows the immediate reduction. The team defense of this side is miles ahead of the previous year’s group. So far, we have seen defenders not over-extending and trying to rush up too much, focusing on playing a more neutral zone trap style of game. It’s not always conducive to high scoring affairs, but it stretches’ the value of your goals when you do put one home. This team also prides itself on quality shot suppression. They will let you take unscreened shots all day and box you out for the rebound. In basketball terms, these Chargers guard the key and force you to bang home three-pointers from the blue line on one look when they are humming, which aside from a third period against the Colonials, they have been.

Power Play

19-20 team: Two goals in 19 chances

20-21 team: Four goals on 14 chances

This statistic shows two things for this current group. First off, this team has less than half of their goals on the power play, which is good to get some diversity of goal scoring chances on different situations. If you cannot score at full and even strength, you will not win win many games in any league. This team’s power play utilizes the found speed of their freshmen like Tyrone Bronte to set up things. In addition, we are impressed with the steps of sophomore defender Lucas Bahn. Coach West was quite happy that he has taken on a bigger role, including running a power play unit. He is a cerebral defender who is adept at making key passes, and has already put home half of his point total from last year (31 games) in four games played this year getting two assists to his name. In addition, this also shows how well this team is doing at drawing penalties, averaging almost four power plays per game, which makes the even strength play easier as benches shorten to kill penalties and optimal deployment for non penalty killers is not always achieved.

These are just three of the stats through the first four games that have stood out to us. Lance West and his staff have managed to change the culture of this program in about half a year during a pandemic. That alone is impressive. Regarding these stats, look for the 13 freshmen to continue to improve and make their own history as Chargers. Every good thing this team does is proof positive that the infusion of youth on this roster is what was needed, and further proof of the success of West.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell