Forget “March Madness”, for the New York Ranger prospects playing in the NCAAs and Canadian juniors, the “madness” has already started. Just about every game was key for any post-season hopes that the prospect and his team had. Even the one non-conference game was a heart-stopping nailbiter that K’Andre Miller set up the game-winner.
Tyler Wall (Rich Gagnon/UMass-Lowell)
Tyler Wall and his 15th-ranked UMass-Lowell River Hawks badly needed a win against Zac Jones and his eighth-ranked Massachusetts Minutemen to protect both their hopes of hosting a first-round series in the Hockey East playoffs as well an “at-large” bid at the NCAA tournament.
Wearing New York Ranger style uniforms, Wall stopped 38 out of 40 shots (15 in 1st, 13 in 2nd, and 10 in 3rd) as the River Hawks upset the Minutemen to force a three-way tie for second place in the Hockey East conference with four games left to play.
With the win. Wall improves to 16-7-5 on the season with a 2.08 goals against (13th NCAA) and a 0.931 save percentage (7th NCAA). Zac Jones was scoreless on four shots and two blocked shots.
Same two teams play on Saturday night starting at 7 PM EDT/4 PM PDT, you can watch this one via the CBS “All-Access app.
Morgan Barron and his second-ranked Cornell Big Red shutout Yale 4-0 to win their third-straight Ivy League title. Barron set up what proved to be the only goal Cornell would need with a needle-threaded pass to Cam Donaldson at 3:43 of the first period. (play starts 9 seconds into the clip)
For Barron, the assist extends his scoring streak to six games (4-6-10) as Cornell wins their sixth straight game. Morgan Barron was 0-1-1 on game-high six shots with a +1, 2-1 on faceoffs and one blocked shot.
The Cornell win combined with Clarkson’s loss gives Cornel sole possession of first place in the ECAC with three games left.
Simon Kjellberg (Hans Pennink)
Simon Kjellberg was scoreless on three shots and a cross-checking minor as his Rensselaer Engineers shutout the Quinnipiac Bobcats 4-0 in ECAC action. Kjellberg also contributed a game-high five blocked shots as the Engineers with their win pulled to within three points of the fourth-place Bobcats with three conference games remaining.
Kjellberg was a force on defense showing a huge improvement over the beginning of the season. Remember this is a 19-year old freshman who is playing top-pair minutes and the 2019 fourth-round draft pick could become the Ranger’s steal of the draft.
Tyler Nanne returned to the Minnesota Golden Gopher lineup with a 1-1-2 on three shots with a +1 and two blocked shots as they played to a 3-3 overtime tie with 10th-ranked Penn State. Penn State would pick up the bonus conference point as they scored during the second overtime.
A nice play by Nanne led to Minnesota’s first goal which tied the game up at 1-1 in the second period. It was Nanne’s defensive play that got the offense going and then a second nice play scored the goal.
The senior co-caption set a new career-best in points with his second point which was a secondary assist on Minnesota’s second goal which came in the third period. Nanne is now 4-10-14 on the season.
But because of Penn State earning the bonus point in overtime, Minnesota finds themselves one point behind Penn State in the Big Ten standings. A Minnesota win on Saturday will put them back in first with two conference games remaining.
Earning the top seed in the Big Ten Conference means a bye directly to the league semi-finals and avoiding what could be a matchup with K’Andre Miller’s Wisconsin Badgers.
K’Andre Miller’s second assist of the game coming with 1:09 remaining in the third period set up the game-winning goal as his Wisconsin Badgers won one of the more entertaining games of the season 7-6 over ninth-ranked Arizona State. It was a crazy yet exciting game as the teams traded leads back and forth all game long.
Now it is hard to see but that was Miller who spotted Roman Ahcan in the high slot for the game-winning goal. Miller also set up Alex Turcotte’s goal which at the time gave Wisconsin a 4-2 lead that did not last.
Miller improved to 7-11-18 in the non-conference matchup. Same two teams on Saturday night.
Nico Gross had a secondary assist but his Oshawa Generals fell in overtime to the Kingston Frontenacs 4-3. The good news is despite the OT loss the one point the Generals did earn clinched a spot in the OHL’s Eastern Conference playoffs.
Gross earned his assist on Oshawa’s second goal of the game late in the second period helping Oshawa pull to within one goal at the time at 3-2. For Gross, the assist was his 17th of the season tying his career-high in assists.
Gross had already set new highs in both goals and points as he improved to 9-17-26. The Generals currently sit in third place in the OHL’s East Division, four points behind second-place Peterborough and holding two games in hand.
Hunter Skinner was scoreless on no shots and a -2 as his London Knights lost to the Guelph Storm 5-3. The Knights have already clinched a spot in the OHL’s Western Conference playoffs but they are trying to fight off two teams (Kitchener and Flint) for the top seed in the Western Conference.
It is not as if London is playing bad but rather the other two teams have gotten hotter. The only edge London has at the moment is they hold a game in hand over both teams.
Matthew Robertson and his Edmonton Oil Kings have already clinched a spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference playoffs. After a 5-2 road loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings, their lead over Lethbridge for the first seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs is eight points with 11 regular-season games remaining.
Against Brandon, the Oil Kings were their own worse enemies. Robertson was scoreless on three shots and a tripping minor that led to Brandon’s first goal of the game.
The rest of his night was forgettable as I think they were looking past Brandon. Bad move by Edmonton.
Riley Hughes and his 10th-ranked Northeastern Huskies have been ravaged by injuries and on Friday, fifth-ranked Boston College made matters ever worse after whipping them 10-1. It was a serious horror show for Northeastern as they used three goalies (allowed in college hockey) and none played well.
Boston College built up a 7-0 lead before the Huskies got on the scoreboard late in the second period. Hughes was scoreless on two shots with a -2 for his evening.
The loss drops Northeastern into a tie for seventh place in the Hockey East (top eight qualify for playoffs) with four games remaining. They have the easier schedule of the three teams fighting for the last two spots in the playoffs.
The question is will Northeastern have enough bodies to make it that far?