NCAA on NBCSN: No. 4 Notre Dame hosts Merrimack

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 college hockey season tonight when the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish host the Merrimack Warriors at the Compton Family Ice Arena with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can also catch the game online at NBC Sports Live Extra

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish came out of last weekend with a split against the No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers and now they’ll turn their attention to Hockey East conference play when they face Merrimack this weekend.

Both teams are early on in the conference schedule with the Irish being 1-1-0 and the Warriors sitting at 0-2-0. Things haven’t gone as well for Merrimack outside the conference either as they’re 3-5-0 there.

Merrimack started off their Hockey East schedule last weekend being swept by a very tough Providence College team. If they’re going to avoid an even tougher start in conference play, they’ll have a pair of players to count on.

Saturday night’s game between these same teams will be streamed on NBC Live Extra on NBCSports.com at 7 p.m. ET.

Senior forward Mike Collins and junior defenseman Dan Kolomatis have led the way in scoring with Collins leading the team with nine points. Kolomatis’ seven points from the blue line are encouraging, but they need more if they’re going to compete in conference. Freshman forward Chris LeBlanc is an Ottawa Senators draft pick (sixth-round 2013) and is off to a quiet start with a goal and two assists.

Where it counts for the Warriors is how they break things up in goal. Senior Sam Marrotta and junior Rasmus Tirronen have split starts this season with Marrotta having a slight 5-4 edge in games played. Tirronen has slightly better numbers, although his save percentage is a bit better than Marrotta’s. Both guys could see time against the Irish this weekend.

Speaking of the home team, freshman Vince Hinostroza (Chicago) and sophomore Mario Lucia (Minnesota) had strong weekends against the Gophers. Hinostroza had three assists in the two games and Lucia had two goals and an assist in Saturday’s 5-4 loss. Factor in defenseman Stephen Johns’ goal and two assists on the weekend and that makes for a strong performance all around.

Hinostroza’s week was so good he was named Hockey East rookie of the week. That’ll look good on the resume.

Update (12:50 p.m. ET): You can forget all the talk about Hinostroza, he’ll be out with a knee injury.

The Irish will have to hope senior goalie Steven Summerhays can bounce back strong form Saturday’s tough overtime defeat. He played outstanding last Friday stopping 31 shots in the Irish’s 4-1 win, however. This season, however, he’s been quite good (7-2-0 .928 SV% 1.81 GAA). With how Merrimack’s offense has struggled, if the Fighting Irish can solve their two-headed goalie attack, things should turn out well.

NHL Draftees

Notre Dame – Forwards: Vince Hinostrosza (Chicago), T.J. Tynan (Columbus), Austin Wuthrich (Washington), Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh), Jeff Costello (Ottawa), Mario Lucia (Minnesota), Steven Fogarty (NY Rangers), Thomas DiPauli (Washington).

Defense: Robbie Russo (NY Islanders), Stephen Johns (Chicago), Kevin Lind (Anaheim)

Merrimack — Forward: Chris LeBlanc (Ottawa)

Leafs’ Marleau becomes 18th NHL player to reach 1,500-game milestone

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Patrick Marleau’s three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs will end two months before his 41st birthday, a summer when many believe his NHL career will come to an end.

But as he celebrated game No. 1,500 Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings, the veteran forward was talking about reaching another kind of milestone.

“I’m going to keep going as long as I can,” he said Wednesday morning via Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I don’t know if my wife’s ready to have me at home full-time yet. If I feel good and still think I can contribute then I’ll keep it going.”

Marleau is the 18th player in NHL history to reach the 1,500 game mark. Should he stay healthy and play the entire 82-game slate or close to that, he’ll enter the 2018-19 season 11th all-time in that category. Gordie Howe holds the record with 1,767 games played.

Health has helped the 38-year-old Marleau reach the mark in his 20th NHL season. He hasn’t missed a regular game since the 2008-09 season and hasn’t played fewer than 74 games in a full season in his entire career.

Marleau has gone from being the youngest player in the league to the sixth-oldest in the span of 20 years and considering his history of good health, better fitness regiments of players and treatment by training staffs, challenging Howe may not be a crazy idea.

Of course, that is unless Jaromir Jagr sticks around. If that happens then Marleau would likely have to settle for No. 2.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Blues

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This week’s edition of NBCSN’s Rivalry Night will feature a central division clash between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.

It’s still early days, but the two sides are battling atop the Central, with the Blackhawks powered by great starts from a number of players including Brandon Saad and Ryan Hartman. The Blues, meanwhile, are looking to halt a two-game skid after winning their first four games of the season. The game also features the return of NHL on NBC analyst Ed Olczyk to the booth.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Blues get Alexander Steen back against Blackhawks

Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk’s ‘best medicine’

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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Former NHL agent Stacey McAlpine charged in fraud case

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Former NHL agent Stacey McAlpine has been charged with fraud in a case involving former Ottawa Senators players Dany Heatley and Chris Phillips.

Winnipeg police said Wednesday that the 54-year-old McAlpine bilked Heatley and Phillips out of $12 million between January 2004 and June 2011. McAlpine is charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000, two counts of theft over $5,000 and laundering proceeds of crime.

Heatley and Phillips sued McAlpine and McAlpine’s parents, claiming money was being invested in unapproved real estate deals, including an Ottawa condominium. CTV Calgary has reported that Heatley was awarded more than $6 million by an Alberta court.

Rask hurt in Bruins practice; Spooner out 4-6 weeks

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Well, the good news regarding injuries and the Boston Bruins didn’t last very long.

Earlier this week, PHT noted that forwards Patrice Bergeron and David Backes are expected to return in the near future, possibly as soon as Thursday. That’s great, but Wednesday turned out to be lousy thanks to one injury scare and one sure-thing that’s a negative.

The biggest concern is that of Tuukka Rask, and it’s something that might not clear up for a while. Rask was helped off the ice during practice today after being “bowled over” by young forward Anders Bjork.

The Bruins might dodge a bullet there, which would be huge if their backup work in anyway resembles the woes of 2016-17.

While we don’t know the severity of Rask’s issues just yet, there’s flat-out bad news for Ryan Spooner.

The Bruins estimate Spooner’s window of recovery at four-to-six weeks for a (cringe) “right groin adductor tear,” which he suffered on Oct. 15. Adam McQuaid suffered an injury in that same contest, so that could go down as a costly date for a Bruins team that has been fairly described as top-heavy.

Spooner, 25, was off to a slow start so far this season. He didn’t score a goal and managed one assist in five games, averaging 13:17 TOI per game. Even during that time, he was deployed in a very protected way, so the B’s can’t really claim that this is more than a body blow.

Even so, the Bruins might sport a patchwork lineup if Bergeron and/or Backes can’t play on Thursday. They’ll likely chalk it up as a win if Rask avoids anything significant, though.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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