In the college sports world, you won’t find two programs that draw your attention more than Michigan and Notre Dame and the same applies when it comes to college hockey.
Michigan’s legacy as one of the top programs led by a legendary coach in Red Berenson is well known through all levels of hockey. The Wolverines, ranked 10th by USCHO, take on the relative new kids on the dominating block in coach Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is ranked 7th in the nation and this coaching battle helps make tonight’s match-up (7:30 p.m. ET) the must-see game on the NCAA schedule.
Michigan heads into South Bend unbeaten in their last nine games (7-0-2) and have just gotten New Jersey Devils prospect Jon Merrill back from a team-imposed suspension. In four games the defenseman has four assists. That’ll do, kid.
Leading the way for the Wolverines is Coyotes prospect (and former Team USA World Junior gold medalist) junior Chris Brown, freshman and Stars prospect Alex Guptill, and senior Devils prospect David Wohlberg. Brown leads in points while Guptill and Wohlberg are tops in goals scored and now they all play on a line together.
The man to watch in goal for Michigan is Shawn Hunwick, brother of Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick. Hunwick led Michigan to the National Championship game last year before falling in overtime to Minnesota-Duluth and he’s been rock solid again this season.
Notre Dame is looking to right the ship after being swept last weekend by Western Michigan. Having to deal with the Wolverines won’t be easy, but they have the weapons to counterattack.
The Fighting Irish are led by Blue Jackets third round pick and sophomore T.J. Tynan with 31 points. Tynan’s performance this season should have Columbus heads turning as he’s been huge all year long. He along with Isles prospect, and fellow sophomore, Anders Lee have been Notre Dame’s best players this season as Lee leads the team with 14 goals. Having Red Wings prospect Riley Sheahan and undrafted senior Billy Maday give the Irish a fearsome foursome to watch offensively. Unfortunately the Irish will be without Sheahan tonight as he’s serving a suspension for delivering a head shot last weekend.
In goal is where things get a bit nervous for Notre Dame as starter Mike Johnson has had his ups and downs. When he’s good, he’s very good, but when he’s off the Irish offense has to step up big to help out. Considering that Johnson faces just barely over 20 shots per game, staying sharp behind a tough Irish defense can be difficult.
Anaheim has added two assistants to Randy Carlyle’s coaching staff — longtime NHLer Steve Konowalchuk, and AHL Manitoba assistant Mark Morrison.
Konowalchuk, 44, comes over after a successful stint as the bench boss in WHL Seattle. Last year, he led the Thunderbirds to a league title and a spot in the Memorial Cup. He has history with Carlyle from their days together in Washington — Konowalchuk as a player, Carlyle as an assistant coach.
Konowalchuk also has NHL experience, having served two years as an assistant in Colorado.
Morrison, 54, has spent the last six years with the Moose/IceCaps, Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate. Prior to that, he was the head coach of ECHL Victoria.
Today’s moves after the Ducks parted ways with Paul MacLean. He’d been with the organization for two seasons, serving under both Carlyle and Bruce Boudreau.
It’s been an interesting few weeks to say the least for the Ottawa Senators and Dion Phaneuf.
He was asked to waive his no-movement clause ahead of the expansion draft, which would’ve left him unprotected had he agreed to that request. There were also reports of trade interest in Phaneuf, who is 32 years old and with four years remaining on a pricey seven-year, $49 million contract.
Phaneuf denied Ottawa’s request to waive, and the Senators ended up losing Marc Methot to Vegas, which then flipped him to Dallas in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick and prospect goalie Dylan Ferguson.
Now, it’s been reported, the Senators plan to keep Phaneuf after the market for him apparently to cool off.
What has transpired over the past few weeks likely makes for some awkward conversations down the road.
“They’re not easy conversations when you ask someone (to waive a no-move clause), but he understood,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion told Sportsnet.
“It was a man-to-man conversation. There was no bulls**t. When we talked to him I explained to him: ‘I said it’s not that you’re the fourth-best defenceman on this team, Dion.’ It’s ‘we want to try to top keep our top-four intact.’”
Phaneuf played in 81 regular season games for Ottawa in 2016-17, scoring nine goals and 30 points. He scored one goal and five points in 19 playoff games.
The Senators currently have six defensemen under contract for next season, with their star Erik Karlsson facing a four-month recovery from offseason foot surgery. With Methot gone, prospect blue liner Thomas Chabot should also have quite an opportunity to crack the Senators’ lineup next season.
Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis made an appearance on a Hamilton, Ont., television station Wednesday, sporting a large brace running almost the full length of his right leg.
Ellis left Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final with an undisclosed injury and didn’t return in what was a blowout loss to the Penguins. He did, however, return to the lineup for Game 6, but Nashville’s playoff run came to an end on home ice with a stunning 2-0 loss.
During his appearance on CHCH, Ellis said he had a “minor procedure” done on his right leg.
“It looks worse than it probably is,” he continued. “Hopefully be back on the ice in no time.”
Predators general manager David Poile had acknowledged in the days following the Stanley Cup Final loss to Pittsburgh that Ellis undergoing surgery was a possibility.
From The Tennessean:
Ellis played in each of Nashville’s 22 playoff games, but coach Peter Laviolette said following the team’s season-ending loss Sunday that Ellis’ ailment was “pretty serious.” Poile said that more should be known next week.
The Predators made the playoffs as the second wild card team in the West, but swept Chicago in the first round and surged all the way to the final. Their top-four defensemen, including Ellis, played such a pivotal role in the team’s historic postseason. Ellis finished third on the Predators in playoff scoring, with 13 points in 22 games.
After a breakout campaign, Brock McGinn has cashed in with the Hurricanes.
McGinn has signed a two-year, $1.775 million extension, the club announced on Wednesday. The deal carries a $887,500 average annual cap hit, and comes on the heels of a campaign in which he scored 16 points in 57 games, averaging 12 minutes per night.
“Brock took a step forward last season and was a regular presence in our lineup,” GM Ron Francis said in a release. “He is a young player who plays a physical, but smart brand of hockey, and can contribute offensively.”
McGinn, 23, is the youngest of the McGinn brothers. Tye spent last year with Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse, while Jamie wrapped the first of a three-year deal in Arizona.