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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    Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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    The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

    “Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

    “That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

    More on the statue from the Devils:

    The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

    Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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    The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

    Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

    The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

    Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

    “It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

    “You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

    “We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

    The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

    Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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    In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

    After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

    The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

    — He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

    — From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

    — Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

    He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

    Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

    The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

    The Islanders also have a game in hand.

    Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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    The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

    As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

    Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

    In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.