Frozen Four: Wisconsin crushes RIT 8-1

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The Wisconsin Badgers are headed to the National Championship game on the strength of defense, patience, offensive skill and some brutal frustration from the RIT Tigers as Wisconsin took out RIT 8-1 in the first semifinal game of the 2010 Frozen Four.

Wisconsin took the steam out of RIT almost immediately as John Mitchell scored 1:27 into the game to give Wisconsin a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.  Rangers prospects Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh teamed up to make it 2-0 halfway through the first.  The second period would see things unravel fast for RIT as goals by Jordy Murray and a power play goal from Justin Schultz (thanks to help from instant replay) would make it 4-0. 

Wisconsin would add a couple more power play goals courtesy of a five-minute major handed out to RITs Mark Cornacchia for hitting from behind.  Michael Davies and Hobey Baker finalist Blake Geoffrion added those goals to make it 6-0 and the Badgers would not look back. Tyler Brenner scored late in the second for RIT on the power play to stop Scott Gudmandson’s shutout bid, but this one was already over as Wisconsin proved that both they and RIT are exactly who we thought they were.

Wisconsin set out in the third period to keep the game under control and they did just that in the methodical, blood-letting kind of way you’d expect from a defensively sound team that has a five goal cushion. RIT had some power play opportunities but were stonewalled before even gaining the zone.  RIT goaltender Jared DeMichiel was pulled after Kyle Davies scored to make it 7-1 late in the third. Backup goaltender Jan Rapponen allowed a goal to Derek Stepan, his second, to provide the final number. Wisconsin will face the winner of Miami University and Boston College which is set to drop the puck shortly.

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    Andrew Hammond to start Game 5 for Avalanche

    AP
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    When the Colorado Avalanche hit the ice in Nashville on Friday night they will be facing elimination. They will also need to rely on their third-string goalie to help get them a win if they are going to extend their season.

    The team announced on Thursday that Andrew Hammond will be getting the start, replacing Jonathan Bernier who had to leave Wednesday’s game after two periods with a lower body injury. Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Bernier’s injury has been a nagging one and that he could still be available off the bench on Friday if needed.

    The Avalanche had been starting Bernier because their regular starter, Semyon Varlamov, is out for the remainder of the season due to a lower body injury of his own.

    Obviously, this puts the Avalanche in a pretty tough spot. Not only because they have to go on the road against the Presidents’ Trophy winning Predators, but also because they have to turn to a goalie that, including Wednesday’s brief relief appearance, has appeared in just eight NHL games over the past two years. He has faced only 127 shots in those appearances and managed only an .874 save percentage.

    [NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

     Hammond’s career has been a fascinating one to this point.

    Late in the 2014-15 season he came out of nowhere as a 25-year-old rookie to lead the Ottawa Senators on an improbable late season run (where Hammond put together a 20-1-2 record) to qualify for the playoffs. Nicknamed “the Hamburglar,” his initial run in Ottawa was highlighted by fans throwing hamburgers on the ice to celebrate his wins.  That run earned him a contract extension with the Senators and a bunch of free hamburgers from McDonalds. It was a crazy year.

    After that, though, injuries and a decline in his production have limited him to just a handful of appearances in the NHL.

    The Avalanche acquired him from the Senators earlier this season as part of the Matt Duchene trade.

    Now he has to jump into the crease in an elimination game.

    ————

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Predators’ Ryan Hartman to have hearing after illegal check to the head

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    Ryan Hartman had a tough night at the office on Wednesday night and will have to answer to the NHL’s Department of Player Safety because of it.

    Hartman’s hearing stems from a charging penalty he was assessed after lining up Colorado Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg‘s head with his shoulder at the 4:42 mark of the third period.

    Soderberg was forced to leave the game after the play.

    Earlier in the game, Hartman tried to line up Sven Andrighetto from a mile out in the second period but missed, prompting the latter to come and give Hartman some business, which included a stick below the belt to Hartman.

    The Predators took Game 4 by a 3-2 margin, holding off a third-period comeback attempt from the Avalanche to take a 3-1 series lead.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Seinfeld’s Puddy attends Devils game to ‘support the team’

    NJ Devils on Twitter
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    The man known affectionately as Puddy (aka actor Patrick Warburton) was in New Jersey last night trying to rile up the Devils prior to Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    You’ll remember Puddy, the face-painted Devils fan from the hit TV show Seinfeld, for such lines as, ‘We’re the Devils… The Devils’ and ‘Don’t mess with the Devils. We can beat anybody.’

    That’s pretty much it, but he didn’t need to say much else to become an instant cult classic among Devils fans.

    Warburton resurrected the character on Wednesdat night, doing his best to get the Devils and their fans amped up prior to the game.

    Unfortunately for New Jersey, the tactic didn’t pay off as the Lightning took a 3-1 series lead on the back of a 3-1 win.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    PHT Morning Skate: Ducks wake-up call; Crosby passes Lemieux

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    Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.
    • For Ducks, getting swept should be a wake-up call (Los Angeles Times)

    • Takeaways: an unlikely hero emerges as Sharks sweep Ducks (San Jose Mercury News)

    Sidney Crosby passes Mario Lemieux for Penguins’ playoff points lead (USA Today)

    • The Penguins are still too much for the Flyers (SB Nation)

    • Hey, Saint Patrick. It’s a sin you missed how Avs refused to quit in 3-2 loss against Nashville. (Denver Post)

    • In defying odds, Golden Knights’ success is not so good for sports books (USA Today)

    Marc-Andre Fleury‘s ex-teammates with Penguins happy for his success in playoffs (NHL.com)

    • Bodog: Golden Knights are Cup favourites (TSN.ca)

    • Foligno brothers savouring first simultaneous NHL post-season (Toronto Star)

    Blake Wheeler‘s path to being an elite player in the NHL took a winding road (Winnipeg Sun)

    • How a financial advisor became the NHL’s only active black official (Sportsnet)

    • Bill Peters has the inside track in Calgary, but there’s a lot of local blood to consider (The Hockey News)

    • Von Miller just discovered hockey and he is WAY into it (The Loop)

    • Humboldt Broncos tribute concert aims to bring in NHL players, alumni (Sportsnet)

    • Town puts ‘giant hockey stick on our porch’ in Humboldt tribute (CBC)

    • The case for each Vezina Trophy finalist — and a few snubs (The Hockey News)

    • Why the Stanley Cup gets names removed every 13 years (Sportsnet)

    • Up top, watch how the Penguins are coming alive in the postseason and the energy being displayed by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin should be worrying their opponents.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck