Notre Dame Fighting Irish

College hockey: Notre Dame set to join Hockey East in 2013-2014

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College hockey’s ever-changing landscape this summer had another shoe fall today as Notre Dame announced they’ll be leaving the CCHA and joining Hockey East starting in the 2013-2014 season.

Notre Dame’s move doesn’t come as a surprise as the CCHA was losing schools in 2013-2014 thanks to the development of both the Big Ten Hockey Conference and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in that season. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Miami University, and Western Michigan are all headed for new homes in those conferences while Bowling Green will be going to the rebuilt WCHA.

The NCHC announced the other day that they would be starting their season in 2013 with just eight teams and not expanding any further, shutting the door on the Fighting Irish. Hockey East was also in pursuit of Notre Dame and won out. The payoff for Hockey East is that Notre Dame will be arriving with a television deal in place with NBC Sports Network to carry Notre Dame home games beginning in that season. Getting a national television deal in college hockey is a game-changer as there’s not much in the way of national cable TV coverage for the sport (ESPN and CBS College Sports also have smaller deals). Notre Dame being able to bring the NBC name to college hockey helps in a big way.

Hockey East is now set to have 11 teams starting in the 2013-2014 season. A conference with an odd number of teams is rare (the CCHA is currently at 11) which means that Hockey East is likely on the prowl for a 12th team. There are a number of candidates ranging from Rensselaer and Quinnipiac in the ECAC to Connecticut, Holy Cross, and Robert Morris in the Atlantic Hockey Association. For more thoughts on that, Rensselaer hockey fan blog Without A Peer has that discussion covered.

For now, Notre Dame joining Hockey East is the last huge move to be made after seeing the carnage that’s happened this offseason. Notre Dame with coach Jeff Jackson brings a lot of clout to an already loaded conference and bringing the national stage courtesy of NBC Sports Network helps make Hockey East perhaps the preeminent college hockey conference starting in 20

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.

Islanders believe Boyle should be suspended for hit before OT goal

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Thomas Hickey is involved in a controversial hit, yet the greater debate may revolve around the one he received rather than the one he delivered.

In the second period, the New York Islanders defenseman connected for a thunderous hit on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, which sidelined Drouin for a chunk of Game 3.

Many believe that hit was legal:

The Islanders are upset about the Brian Boyle hit on Hickey in overtime, which came moments before Boyle scored the game-winning goal. You can see the full sequence here, with the hit happening around the 50-second mark:

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano believes that it was a suspension-worthy hit.

You’re not going to believe this, but the Lightning disagree.

Boyle clearly didn’t receive a penalty on that sequence, yet one would imagine that the league will at least take a look at that hit.

Lightning take dramatic OT win vs. Islanders, go up 2-1 in series

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Brian Boyle was part of the fight before Game 3 even started … and then he ended it in overtime.

In a Tampa Bay Lightning win in which they just kept rolling with the New York Islanders’ punches, it only seems fitting that Boyle battled to land a big hit and then score the clinching goal for a 5-4 overtime victory.

This gives the Lightning a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4.

Also fitting? Boyle landed a big hit on Thomas Hickey, the guy who sidelined Jonathan Drouin for a chunk of this contest.

That sequence prompted a brief goal review, but it ultimately stood:

(Was that Boyle hit on Hickey dirty, by the way?)

Drama was in the air from the beginning, yet Drouin really stole the show when he came back from what some believe was a concussion to assist on Nikita Kucherov‘s last-minute goal, which sent the game to overtime.

In some ways, this win feels like a microcosm of the Lightning’s season. They keep getting hit in the mouth with injuries and near-injuries, yet they just won’t stay down.

The Islanders saw three leads disappear in this contest, but one would think that they won’t roll over, either.