By: Collin Schuck – IceRays Staff
Mar. 8, 2016
NCAA Division I and III conference tournaments are in full swing with the higher tier of collegiate hockey heading toward the majority of their quarterfinal rounds. The 20th edition of the IceRays Alumni Report, Vol. II will be entirely surrounding collegiate hockey with the midway point of Division I conference tournaments and the announcement of the field for NCAA Division III teams. Only one player remains at the lower tier while 10 in the upper tier still keep their seasons alive.
Conference tournaments continue in NCAA Division I play, and the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA) has whittled down their field from 11 teams to eight. One of those teams was not Niagara University, who were eliminated by rival Canisius College in three games last weekend. The Purple Eagles came away with game one of the set with a 3-2 win but dropped 1-0 and 4-1 in consecutive days and found their end of the season early. Freshman forward Tanner Lomsnes (’14-’15) is through with his first season of collegiate play, amassing four goals and seven assists for 11 points through 34 games and finishing tied for the fourth-most points scored on the team this season.
Following a weekend off, Mercyhurst University begins their AHA Quarterfinals this weekend in a best-of-three scenario in a four-seed, five-seed matchup against Rochester Institute of Technology. The Lakers and Tigers opposed each other to close the regular season, so this will be at least four-straight meetings not including a potential deciding game. Forward Tommaso Bucci (’12-’13) and defenseman Mychal Monteith (’10-’12) are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of meaning for this playoff series. Bucci is rounding out his freshman campaign with two goals and three assists for five points, but this is the last shot for Monteith, who will conclude his collegiate career at the end of this season. The Lakers and Tigers met in the AHA Championship last season.
Both teams in the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) advanced to their conference quarterfinal round with wins last weekend. Clarkson University swept Princeton University with two-straight 3-2 overtime wins at home to hold their five-seed positioning heading into this weekend. Defenseman Perry D’Arrisso (’11-’13) picked up an assist on the game’s opening goal of the series clincher, and James de Haas helped the Golden Knights with both overtime winners. Cornell University also needed overtime to clinch their advancement, and the Big Red swept the nine-seed Union Dutchmen at home to advance. The top seeds in the opening round all won their weekend series, so the Big Red will take on the top-ranked team in Division I hockey, Quinnipiac, while also hoping for an appearance from backup goaltender Hayden Stewart (’12-’13), and Clarkson will tangle with 18th-ranked St. Lawrence.
The Hockey East Tournament continues this weekend with the quarterfinal round and only eight teams remaining, and the hottest team in college hockey, Northeastern University, continues their run in the postseason thanks to back-to-back overtime wins over the University of Maine at home to improve to 16-1-2 through their last 19 games this season. This weekend, defenseman Colton Saucerman (’10-’11) and the Huskies will take on 10th-ranked Notre Dame in their first postseason meeting and hope to break their four-game streak of overtime games in the postseason. That is, unless they claim both games in overtime and advance to the Hockey East Semifinals. The Huskies have also played nine-straight one-goal games in the conference tournament.
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) sets three alumni teams into the conference tournament and begins the road to the Frozen Faceoff in Minneapolis. Two of the three teams will go head-to-head starting on Friday night as the University of Denver hosts the University of Nebraska-Omaha in a battle of ranked teams. The two sides just finished their seasons against each other with the Pioneers sweeping the Mavericks in two games to improve to nine-straight wins and a 14-1-1 record in their last 16 games. The end of the road will come for one of two players and former teammates: forward Emil Romig (’12-’13) enters his third postseason with Denver just one point shy of his career-high in points and double-digits, while defenseman Jalen Schulz (’12-’13) just broke into double-digit games last weekend in his first trip to the conference tournament. Elsewhere, defenseman Grant Hutton (’12-’13) and Miami University (OH) head into the same predicament that Nebraska-Omaha is facing: a three-game set against a team they were swept by to close the regular season. The RedHawks takes on 20th-ranked Minnesota-Duluth in a four-seed, five-seed matchup. Hutton has five points while playing all but one of his side’s games this season, and it’s not hard to see his impact to, hopefully, advance his season further.
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) heads into their quarterfinals and opens the 2015-16 postseason with the lone best-of-three round before the WCHA Final Five takes place next week. The University of Alaska Fairbanks just edged their way into the eight-seed by two points over Alaska Anchorage to make the playoffs thanks to a sweep last weekend at home. That’s the good news. The bad news is their opponent for the quarterfinal round is the top-seeded and 13th-ranked Michigan Tech Huskies. Defenseman Kyle Froese (’13-’14) has had an abbreviated sophomore season due to an injury prior to the beginning of the schedule, but after three games the Traverse City, Mich., native hopes to log time and help the Nanooks make the WCHA Final Five. While one team enters, another team sees the end of a collegiate career. Defenseman Frank Misuraca (’11-’12) ends his four-year run with the Chargers short of a chance at postseason glory. Over his four-year campaign, the Clinton Township, Mich., native has earned 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points with 51 penalty minutes through 128 games. He set career-highs in all categories last season with six goals and six assists for 12 points through 38 games.
The hot streak continues for forward Matt Weis (’11-’12) at Ohio State University with one week remaining before the Big Ten Tournament begins, and the sophomore now has a six-game point streak after last week’s sweep of Michigan. The Madison, N.J., native picked up three assists in two games with a multi-point game in Friday’s 7-4 win on the road for his third multi-point game in the stretch. Over his last six games, Weis owns two goals and nine assists for 11 points and remains in third among teammates with nine goals and 20 assists for 29 points through 30 games. He’s three points behind second place on the team and shares the team lead in assists.
The bracket for the NCAA Division III Tournament has been announced, and only one alumni team sits in the field to make a bid at the NCAA Championship on March 26. Adrian College, the new top-ranked team in the county, earned a first round bye following their 4-1 victory over St. Norbert in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) Championship, being the only alumni team to earn an automatic bid. The Bulldogs will play third-ranked Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the winner of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Tournament, on March 19, and goaltender Dillon Kelley (’12-’13) awaits his entry into postseason play.
The three other alumni teams competing in conference championships all saw the end of the road last weekend. Plymouth State University found their way to the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Championship after defeating Fitchburg State 6-2 in the semifinal round, but that’s where the season ended in a 4-0 blanking at the hands of 15th-ranked Salem State. Three different players complete their junior seasons. Defenseman Tommy Dowell (’10-’11) closes his campaign with a record number of assists, earning nine to go along with his lone goal scored in the MASCAC Semifinals for ten points. That matches his career-high set last season. Forward Michael Economos (’12-’13) was awarded MASCAC 2nd Team selection following the end of his season and another strong campaign, finishing with 13 goals and nine assists for 22 points and equaling his career-high goal total from last season. Forward Ian McGilvrey (’12-’13) also closed the year with a great result, earning six goals and 17 assists for 23 points while sitting second on the team in points, one slot ahead of Economos. Sophomore forward Caleb O’Brien (’12-’14) finished his first season with the Panthers and second in college with three goals and seven assists for 10 points through 15 games, earning his first collegiate points in one less game.
St. John’s University fell to 13th-ranked Augsburg College in the Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Championship on Saturday night, and it was a heart breaker. Augsburg won 5-4 in triple overtime, playing almost two full games to setting the winner, and the Johnnies had a 4-2 lead early in the third period before seeing their lead slip away. The loss ends a strong run to make a chase at the postseason as well as three freshman seasons for alumni players. Forward Joe Chitwood (’13-’15) earned three assists through 15 games this season battling injuries along with teammate Connor Kelly (’13-’15), who picked up four goals and two assists for six points through 15 games. Forward Matt Colford (’14-’15) finished a solid first season, turning in six goals and 10 assists for 16 points through 26 games while finishing fifth in scoring and third in assists among teammates.
The State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championship did not go in favor of the higher-ranked team. Now sixth-ranked Plattsburgh State was taken down mightily by now eighth-ranked Geneseo State, 7-1. The game never fell into the Cardinals’ grasp, allowing seven-straight goals before finally earning a tally just over five minutes into the third period. Defensemen Ryan Chiasson (’12-’13) and Chris Taff (’12-’13) found the end of their respective seasons with Chiasson closing his first collegiate year with three points through 20 games including his first career goal while Taff set career-highs in all categories with two goals and 14 assists for 16 points through 21 games while finishing second among defensemen in points and seventh overall.
Read the IceRays Alumni Report every Tuesday on www.GoIceRays.com and hear the audio version on the IceRays Broadcast Network.
Collin Schuck is the Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations for the Corpus Christi IceRays. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @CollinDSchuck.