College Hockey Slap Schotts: My top-10 stories of 2013
It was a memorable year in 2013. We saw Union win another ECAC Hockey tournament championship, Quinnipiac crushing everyone on its way to the ECACH regular-season title, a coaching legend pass away, an outstanding performance by a rookie goalie and an historic national championship.
Here are the College Hockey Slap Schotts top-10 stories of 2013.
1. Yale wins NCAA title, ending drought for ECAC Hockey.
Heading into the 2013 Frozen Four, the last ECACH team to win the NCAA title was Harvard in 1989. The last time the conference had a team reach the final was Colgate in 1990. The conference’s NCAA tournament woes became an embarrassment to the point that the league was nicknamed EZAC.
But on April 11, the EZAC moniker was given a game disqualification as Yale and Quinnipiac won their semifinal games to give the NCAA title contest an all-ECACH flavor, as well as an all-New Haven, Conn. area flavor. Yale ousted UMass-Lowell, 3-2, in overtime, and Quinnipiac defeated St. Cloud State, 4-1.
Prior to the title game, Quinnipiac had beaten Yale three times, including in the ECACH tournament third-place game. The Bobcats were favored to make it four wins.
But the Bulldogs didn’t let that happen. Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm outplayed Quinnipiac netminder and Ken Dryden Award winner Eric Hartzell with a 36-save effort, and Clinton Bourbonais’ goal with 3.5 seconds left in the second period snapped a scoreless tie to propel Yale to a 4-0 championship win.
2. Union repeats
Union was seeking a third straight ECACH regular-season title and a second consecutive ECACH tournament championship. The Dutchmen didn’t get the former, but did win the latter.
The Dutchmen earned the fourth seed in the tournament on the final night of the regular season and got a first-round bye. They took on fifth-seeded Dartmouth in the best-of-three quarterfinals and swept the Big Green by scores of 4-1 and 5-2.
In the semifinal, the Dutchmen dominated Yale in a 5-0 win. In the final against Brown, Max Novak scored twice to lift the Dutchmen to a 3-1 victory.
Goalie Troy Grosenick, who stopped 68 shots in the championship round, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
3. Tim Taylor dies
Two weeks after Yale won the NCAA title, its former coach lost his battle with cancer.
Tim Taylor, who coached the Bulldogs for 28 seasons, passed away April 27 at the age of 71. He won a school-record 337 games, the last coming March 4, 2006, in the epic 3-2, five-overtime victory over Union to win the ECACH tournament first-round series in two games.
Taylor was also a fixture at USA Hockey. He was an assistant coach on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, and was the head coach 10 years later. After he was fired by Yale after the 2005-06 season, Taylor worked was director of player personnel for the U.S. Junior National Team.
4. Quinnipiac dominates ECACH
Over the last few seasons, the ECACH regular-season title was usually decided on the final weekend of the year.
Not last season. Quinnipiac easily won its first Cleary Cup title, going 17-2-3. The Bobcats had a 10-point lead over RPI in the final standings.
Quinnipiac won its first 10 league games and went unbeaten its first 16 (14-0-2).
5. Grosenick, Jooris leave Union early
The Dutchmen saw two players give up their final years of college eligibility to turn pro. One was expected, the other was not.
Shortly after Union’s season ended in the NCAA tournament East Regional, Grosenick signed with the San Jose Sharks. Grosenick played in 71 career games, and had a 39-16-9 record with a 1.89 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage and seven shutouts. With Grosenick in goal, the Dutchmen won the last two ECACH tournament titles.
“It was a real tough decision,” said Grosenick, who is playing for the AHL’s Worcester Sharks. “Leaving a group of brothers in the locker room is, mainly, the hardest part. I owe a great deal to those guys. I love every single one of them.
“As far as why now, I just felt like it was the right opportunity and the right time. I talked with my family about it, and I talked to other people that I respect. I just got the feeling it was the right time for me to move on, and I went with it.”
The one signing that was a shock was forward Josh Jooris. After participating in the Calgary Flames’ development camp, Jooris signed with them on July 30.
Jooirs, who is with the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat, had 29 goals and 59 assists in 117 career games.
“I think it caught a lot of people off guard, including myself,” Jooris said. “Going into this summer, I wasn’t expecting anything out of this camp. Never in my dreams did I think that I would be getting this opportunity to play.
“When you go into a development camp, you want to show that you can play, and you want to show your stuff. They liked the way I played. They liked what I brought on and off the ice, and they said they were going to offer me a contract.”
6. Union beats Boston College in NCAAs
By winning the ECACH tournament title, Union earned its third straight NCAA tournament berth. The Dutchmen’s opponent in the first round of the East Regional on March 30 was defending NCAA champion Boston College.
The Eagles never had a chance.
Jooris scored twice, and Union used a three-goal second period to overpower BC, 5-1. Jooris gave Union a 1-0 lead in the first period. He and Cole Ikkala scored in the first 1:04 of the second to make it 3-0. Shayne Gostisbehere closed out the scoring in the second with a power-play goal. Daniel Ciampini added a third-period goal.
Johnny Gaudreau, BC’s top player, scored late in the third to ruin Grosenick’s shutout bid.
Union’s hope for a second straight trip to the Frozen Four ended the next night when Quinnipiac cruised to a 5-1 win.
7. Jason Kasdorf
RPI goalie Jason Kasdorf had a great freshman season. His sophomore year ended after two games.
Kasdorf was named ECAC Rookie of the Year after helping the Engineers to a second-place finish, their highest since Seth Appert became head coach in 2006. Kasdorf posted a 12-2-2 in ECACH play. He finished with the best goals-against average in the league at 1.39, and was second in save percentage at .945. He had three shutouts.
But after playing in RPI’s first two games this season, Kasdorf suffered a dislocated right shoulder during a drill prior to a practice. He had season-ending surgery to repair the injury.
8. Golden Gostisbehere
Gostisbehere helped Team USA win the gold medal in the World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, in January. Gostisbehere had a goal and an assist in six games. He also had a game-winning overtime goal against Sweden in a WJC pre-tournament game.
9. Appert extension
After being interviewed for the University of Denver head coaching job following the firing of his former boss, George Gwozdecky, Appert signed a three-year contract extension with RPI on April 13. The deal runs through the 2020-21 season.
10. East Regional returning to Albany
On Dec. 11, the Times Union Center learned that it will be hosting the 2016 NCAA hockey tournament East Regional. It will be the ninth time the regionals will be in Albany, and the first time since 2010.
Honorable mentions: ECACH tournament third-place game eliminated; Big Ten, NCHC and new-look WCHA make debuts; Union coach Rick Bennett gets contract extension; Minnesota women go undefeated en route to NCAA title.
I didn’t receive enough responses from the readers on what they thought were the top stories of 2013. If I get enough by Sunday, I will post them on my net College Hockey Slap Schotts blog. Email me your choices to Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can send me one choice, two choices or up to 10. In order to be published, you will need to have your name and where you are from attached to it. As always, keep it clean.
Good Tuesday! Good Hockey! Happy New Year!