The ECAC meat grinder rolls along and sees the defending conference champions Union looking to stay hot as they go up against Dartmouth.
No. 18 Union Dutchmen (13-8-4) vs. No. 16 Dartmouth Big Green (11-7-2) — 7:30 p.m. ET
Union College’s season following their first Frozen Four appearance in school history has seen them face a bit of a hangover. At one point they had a stretch of five games that saw them go winless going 0-2-3 winding up the first half of their ECAC schedule and losing to a struggling Vermont team. Lately, things are on the upswing. They’ve won three in a row with conference wins over Colgate and Harvard and winning the inaugural Mayor’s Cup over rival Rensselaer. Coach Rick Bennett hopes his team has turned the corner in time for a crucial battle for third place in the ECAC with Dartmouth.
The Big Green, meanwhile, are just two spots ahead of Union in the USCHO.com Top 20 poll but even they’ve had some struggles lately. They’re 3-2-0 in their last five with wins over weaker teams like Brown, Clarkson, and Harvard. Meanwhile the losses are to second place Yale and an improving St. Lawrence squad. Coach Bob Gaudet’s squad started off hot this season and they’re hoping they can get that back starting tonight.
NHL prospects to watch
Each team has but one player per side who’s been drafted by an NHL team.
For Union, you’ve likely heard all about sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (Philadelphia – 2012 3rd Round). He was a part of this year’s Team USA World Junior Championship squad that took home gold in Ufa, Russia. He and senior blue liner Greg Coburn (Braydon Coburn’s little brother) are their biggest threats to score and set up offense on the blue line.
Others: Troy Grosenick (JR – G; 9-6-4, 2.22, .921), Wayne Simpson (SR – F; 12-16-28), Kyle Bodie (SR – F; 6-20-26)
For Dartmouth it’s senior forward Dustin Walsh (Montreal – 2009 6th Round) to take note of. Walsh is fourth on the team in points and we watched him have a big game earlier this season on NBCSN scoring two goals in a 4-2 win over Vermont. For some perspective, he’s got just seven goals this season.
Others: Tyler Sikura (SO – F; 9-16-25), Matt Lindblad (JR – Dl 9-14-23), Eric Robinson (JR – F; 10-6-16)
Brent Burns, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson have been named finalists for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, but the debate about who should win is likely to persist right through to June 22 and the annual NHL Awards.
Not only did Karlsson, last year’s Norris winner, lead all blue liners is points with 82, he led the league in assists with 66 and finished tied with Joe Thornton for fourth in the entire NHL in total points. Those lofty offensive totals could make the Ottawa Senators star the clear favorite to claim the award for a third time in his career.
Karlsson is the first NHL defenseman to score at least 82 in a season since Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers (85 points) and Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins (82 points) in 1995-96.
Burns — is there an award for most outrageous beard? — is also coming off an impressive regular season, finishing just shy of the 30-goal mark with 27 and 75 points in 82 games for the Sharks. He’s also had a strong showing in the post-season, as well, with eight points in the opening round versus L.A.
Doughty’s offensive numbers don’t match up with the production from Karlsson or Burns, with 51 points in 82 games for the Kings. There were eight defensemen ahead of him in overall point production. But he’s often recognized for logging hefty amounts of ice time, averaging 28:01 in the regular season, on a Kings team that often dominates puck possession at even strength.
“If you’re going to win, I don’t care how good you are, you’re going to have to play the other side of the puck,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi recently said to the Associated Press.
“You’re going to have to make those little plays that aren’t going to show up on the highlights. (Doughty’s) defensive partners — the little things he’ll do just to get his partner time to make a play. He’s three steps ahead of everything, and because he is that, he makes it look easy.”
They were the top teams in the Western Conference during the regular season, with 109 and 107 points, respectively. And now, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues clash with a second-round series in the playoffs. You can catch Game 1 between these Central Division foes on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Some links to check out for tonight’s game:
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Nine days after getting prized prospect goalie Thatcher Demko under contract, the Vancouver Canucks have inked another college puck stopper.
The Canucks have signed college free agent goalie Michael Garteig to a one-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. Garteig recently completed his senior year with Quinnipiac University, which won the ECAC championship but lost the NCAA championship game to North Dakota earlier this month.
Garteig, 24, posted a 32-4-7 record with a .924 save percentage and a career best eight shutouts this season. He was also once again nominated for the 2016 Mike Richter Award.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.
Larsson was eligible to become a restricted free agent once his contract expired this summer. The Swedish-born player is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 10 goals, 17 points and 74 games. He also finished tied with rookie center Jack Eichel in scoring five game-winning goals.
Overall, he has 16 goals and 21 assists in 142 games for the Sabres.
Buffalo acquired Larsson in a trade that sent former Sabres captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in April 2013. The Wild selected Larsson in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Contractual details, per the Buffalo News: