Mike Halford

Reminder: Last day to vote for the Kraft Hockeyville Top 4

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With just four towns left in the running and only a few hours left until voting closes, be sure to head over to the Kraft Hockeyville site, and cast your ballot for who advances to the final.

The two East rinks in contention are the Lakeview Arena in Marquette, Michigan and the Twin Ponds Family Complex East in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The two West rinks in contention are the Maysa Arena in Minot, North Dakota and the Rushmore Thunderdome in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Remember, voting closes today, so cast your ballot now!

Shaw apologizes for ‘insensitive remarks,’ Hawks say they’re ‘extremely disappointed’

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Both Andrew Shaw and the Chicago Blackhawks have addressed a controversial incident from Tuesday night, in which Shaw yelled a homophobic slur after receiving a late penalty in Chicago’s 4-3 loss.

You can read the full statements here.

Shaw — who initially claimed he didn’t know what he said — explained that, upon arriving home last night, he watched the video and “it was evident what I did was wrong.”

The 24-year-old then said he was “sincerely sorry for the insensitive remarks that I made,” before apologizing to the gay and lesbian community, the Blackhawks organization and fans.

“I know my words were hurtful,” Shaw said in closing. “I will learn from my mistakes.”

As for the Blackhawks, they said they were “extremely disappointed” in Shaw’s actions, noting his remarks “do not reflect what we stand for as an organization.”

The club went on to cite its support of the Chicago Gay Hockey Association and You Can Play Project — the latter of which took immediate issue with Shaw’s actions last night, prompting this tweet:

On Wednesday, the NHL confirmed an investigation into the incident. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said as much in an email to the Chicago Tribune, but noted the league “can’t comment on it until that process is complete.”

It’s unclear if the Blackhawks are considering a club-issued punishment for Shaw.

Ducks sign Thompson, meaning another North Dakota d-man goes pro

North Dakota defenseman Keaton Thompson (4) cuts between Quinnipiac forward Soren Jonzzon (18) and forward Tim Clifton during the first period of an NCAA Frozen Four championship college hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
AP

After the high of capturing the 2016 Frozen Four, North Dakota is now dealing with the ramifications of success.

On Wednesday, junior defenseman Keaton Thompson — Anaheim’s third-round pick in 2013 — signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Ducks, forgoing his senior season in the process.

Thompson, 20, scored a career-best 17 points in 43 games this year. The O.C. Register described him as a “defensive stalwart” and, according to the Grand Forks Herald, the school expected him to go pro.

Thompson’s departure comes just days after another UND junior — blueliner Troy Stecher — signed a two-year deal with Vancouver, forgoing his senior year as well.

Meanwhile, Frozen Four most outstanding player Drake Caggiula — a senior that was already leaving school — has begun his tour of interested NHL suitors. Per TSN, Caggiula has shortlisted six clubs: Philadelphia, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Chicago and Buffalo.

As for the rest of North Dakota’s key players? Well, freshman scoring sensation and (and first-round pick of Vancouver) Brock Boeser already said he’s going back to school, as did junior defenseman Gage Ausmus.

There’s still some uncertainty around junior d-man Paul LaDue, a L.A. Kings draft pick. It’s possible the 23-year-old will turn pro, rather than return for his senior year.

Goalie change: Neuvirth in, Mason out as Philly looks to avoid sweep

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For the third time in four nights, we have a starting netminder switch in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Philadelphia Flyers will park Steve Mason in favor of Michal Neuvirth for tonight’s potential elimination game against the Caps, per CSN Philly.

The decision comes after Mason had a great Game 1 — 29 saves on 31 shots — but then allowed 10 goals on 50 shots in Games 2 and 3, including this historically bad marker to Jason Chimera:

As mentioned above, this is just the latest in a sequence of goalie changes.

On Sunday, Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill parked Jimmy Howard in favor of Petr Mrazek after Howard started the two opening games — both losses — of the Tampa Bay series.

Mrazek posted a 16-save shutout in Game 3.

On Tuesday, Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau parked John Gibson in favor of Frederik Andersen after Gibson started the opening two games — again, both losses — of the Nashville series.

Andersen posted a 27-save shutout in Game 3.

Neuvrith had a pretty solid year, going 18-8-4 with a .924 save percentage and 2.27 GAA. He carried the starting load at times, but a torn meniscus in his left knee sidelined him at the end of the regular season.

Mason played almost exclusively down the stretch, and backstopped the Flyers in the to the playoffs.

All told, Neuvirth’s played just one game in the last four weeks — Philly’s season-ending win over the Isles on Apr. 10, in which he stopped 15 of 17 shots.

There is some history between Neuvirth and the Caps, which could give the 28-year-old some added juice for tonight’s tilt.

Neuvirth was drafted by Washington and spent his first six NHL seasons there, starting nine playoff games for the team during the 2011 postseason.

He eventually lost the starting gig to Washington’s current No. 1, Braden Holtby, and was dealt to Buffalo in 2014.

No hearing for Letang after Stalberg slash (Updated)

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Pens d-man Kris Letang has avoided supplemental discipline for his high stick on Rangers forward Viktor Stalberg on Tuesday night, per TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

Update: It’s official, there won’t be a hearing. An NHL spokesman has confirmed as much to PHT.

The incident occurred during the third period, shaking up Stalberg and forcing him to the bench. Letang wasn’t penalized on the play.

Some thought Letang would be called to the Department of Player Safety carpet, given it came down hard on ‘Hawks d-man Duncan Keith for his high stick to Charlie Coyle‘s face in late March. That incident netted Keith a six-game suspension, though it’s worth noting Keith had a history of high-stick fouls that played a factor in his punishment.

Letang’s lone run-in with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety came back in 2011, when he was suspended two games for boarding Winnipeg’s Alexander Burmistrov.