College hockey's Frozen Four comes to Pennsylvania in 2013 & 2014

ncaa-logo.jpgThe NCAA today announced two future dates for college hockey’s Frozen Four and if you’re living in the northeast you may want to start gearing up to spend a lot of time in the Quaker State come 2013 and 2014.

The NCAA has awarded the 2013 Frozen Four to Pittsburgh and the 2014 event to Philadelphia, marking the first time each site has been selected to host college hockey’s signature event.

It’s the first time the Frozen Four will be in the same state in consecutive years since 1973 and 1974, when the tournament was in Boston.

“The number of quality bids submitted made the process of choosing the host sites extremely difficult for the committee,” Bill Bellerose, chair of the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee, said in a statement. “We are extremely pleased with every aspect of both winning bids — from the venue, to the community support to the cities themselves, everything will be first-class. We are confident both sites will put forth the ultimate championship experience for the student-athletes and fans alike.”

Choosing Pittsburgh is an inspired selection as the Pittsburgh Penguins have gotten the city excited about hockey once again but also the host school, Robert Morris University, has hosted a college hockey showcase at the Igloo the last few years to drum up interest in the sport there. Having it be at the new Consol Energy Center with all sorts of new amenities therein helps make the choice a no-brainer.

Philadelphia is a bit more of a curious selection as no college hockey program is located in eastern Pennsylvania. With the ECAC as the host for the 2014 event, it’s clear that the league’s ties to Atlantic City for their tournament and Princeton University in northern New Jersey are helping make it a bit more logical. Then again, the NCAA hasn’t worried about team locations much in the past having held it the Frozen Four in Anaheim and St. Louis and will hold it in Tampa Bay in 2012. At least next year’s Frozen Four makes sense as it’ll be at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The mention of Massachusetts being the last state to host back-to-back Frozen Fours is at least a little eyebrow-perking on its own because the city of Boston hasn’t hosted a Frozen Four since 2004. Before that it was 1998 when it wasn’t even referred to as the Frozen Four. Considering that Boston is the home of three major college hockey programs (Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University) and Harvard University is across the river in Cambridge it might feel logical to have it there more often than not. Now, it’ll be at least until 2015 until Boston gets another shot to host.

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    PHT Morning Skate: Legendary broadcaster Doc Emrick sits down with HBO Real Sports

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    The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

    Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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    It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

    But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

    “There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

    Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

    Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

    Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

    In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

    Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


    After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

    Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

    Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

    Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

    While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

    Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

    McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

    Todd McLellan

    Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

    Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

    In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

    Some of the more choice quotes:

    “I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

    “When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

    It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

    Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

    They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

    Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

    “We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”