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by Ken Schott

Parting Schotts

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Ken Schott blogs about college hockey & more
 

College Hockey Slap Schotts Week 19 — Simpson's wake-up call

By Ken Schott
Monday, February 25, 2013

When I spoke with Union coach Rick Bennett after Friday night’s 4-1 loss to Colgate, the last question I asked him was going to make any lineup changes for Saturday’s game at Cornell.

He said yes, adding, “We’ve got to find out who cares on this team.”

When the lineup for the Cornell game was announced late Saturday afternoon, there was one name missing that stood out. Senior forward Wayne Simpson, the Dutchmen’s top goal scorer, was not on the line chart.

It was the first time that Simpson had been kept out of the lineup for the first time in his Union career. He had played in 151 straight games. The benching came after Simpson was a minus-2 and didn’t get a point against Colgate.

Simpson is having a decent season. He has a team-leading 13 goals, and is tied with Kyle Bodie for the lead in points with 29. But I believe Simpson hasn’t had a dominating year like he should have.

Coming off a career-high 18 goals last season, Simpson was expected to pick up some of the slack that was lost when Jeremy Welsh signed with the Carolina Hurricanes after the Frozen Four. And while Simpson does lead the team in goals, he hasn’t had that breakout, dominating game when he has lit the lamp several times. In fact, he hasn’t had a multigoal game all season. He has had six multipoint games, but it seems he Simpson should have had more. Since a one-goal, two-assist effort against Merrimack Dec. 30, Simpson has just four goals and six assists in his last 14 games, and only one goal in the last seven games he has played.

Simpson has a devastating shot. But the biggest problem with Simpson’s game is that he still has a habit of trying to overhandle the puck and not shoot. It has been a problem since his freshman year, and it was a subject I spoke about with Simpson and Bennett in early January as Simpson approached 100 career points.

“I expected to score goals,” Simpson said. “The coaches were all over me. They took me aside. We worked on shooting more. It was just an adjustment I had to go through.”

“Sometimes, when you have a skill level of that, and I think it’s pretty elite — his skill set, his hands — and, sometimes, he’s trying to find the fine line of when to use the happy hands and when to shoot the puck,” Bennett said at the time. “When you have a great shot, too, sometimes it becomes a detriment trying to figure out when do I try to stick handle around a guy, or when do I shoot through the guy.

“I think he’s figured that out. That just comes from his overall evol­ution as a player.”

I can’t imagine Simpson was too pleased that he had to watch from the Lynah Rink stands. And it appeared his teammates were stunned by not having Simpson in the lineup for the critical game against Cornell. Falling behind, 3-0, in the first period, was proof enough. The Dutchmen played better over the final 40 minutes and closed to within 3-2 in the third period. But it was too little, too late. Cornell held on for a 4-2 win.

How Simpson handles his benching will go a long way in determining how long the Dutchmen’s season will last. If he channels his anger on the ice and starts dominating games, then the Dutchmen could have a long run. If he pouts and gives little effort, then the Dutchmen’s season will be over in a couple of weeks.

The clock is ticking. With the Dutchmen still in the hunt for an ECACH tournament first-round bye, Union fans hope Simpson responds to the alarm call this weekend against St. Lawrence and Clarkson at Messa Rink.

A step back

The 10th season of Union Division I women’s hockey came to an end Saturday with a 4-0 loss to ECAC Hockey regular-season champion Cornell.

The Dutchwomen’s overall record was 7-23-4. The team improved by three wins over last season’s 4-26-4 mark.

But looks can be deceiving. The Dutchwomen failed to win an ECACH game this season, the sixth time in the program’s Division I history that they went winless in league play. Union went 0-18-4. Also, Union closed out the season on an 0-12-1 skid. If Rhianna Kurio hadn’t scored with 16 seconds left in regulation against Yale Feb. 16, it would have been 13 straight losses.

Goaltending hasn’t been a problem. Sophomore Shenae Lundberg posted a 2.85 goals-against average this season.

The big issue has been the lack of goal scoring. Union scored 41 goals overall, down 10 from last season. In league play, the Dutchwomen had just 15 goals, eight fewer than last year.

The Dutchwomen finished without a double digit goal scorer for the sixth straight season. Freshmen forwards Jessica Kaminsky and Courtney Turner led the way with six each. The last time Union had a player score 10 or more goals in a season was in 2006-07, when Elise Nichols scored 12 and Suzy Pocock had 10. That is unacceptable.

People who follow the program don’t expect the Dutchwomen to join the elite status of Cornell, Harvard and Clarkson, teams that are consistently near the of the conference. But the Dutchwomen should be able to beat the conference’s middle-of the-road teams. That hasn’t happened.

Coach Claudia Asano and her staff need to do a better job of bringing offensive players to the team. If they don’t, then the program will just stumble along at the bottom of the league.

ECACH tournament ranges

In case you didn’t see this early Sunday morning, here’s the latest ranges of where 11 of the 12 ECACH teams can finish. There are two games left in the regular season.

RPI (10-7-3, 23 points, second place) can finish anywhere from second to sixth. The Engineers clinched home ice for at least the first round by beating Colgate, 3-2, in overtime. They need two points to clinch a bye, the first under coach Seth Appert. RPI hosts Clarkson on Friday and St. Lawrence on Saturday.

St. Lawrence (9-7-4 22 points, third place) can finish anywhere from second to seventh. Despite losing to Dartmouth, 3-2, the Saints clinched home ice for at least the first round. They need four points to clinch a bye. The Saints face Union on Friday, and RPI on Saturday.

Yale (10-9-1, 21 points, tied for fourth) can finish anywhere from second to eighth. The Bulldogs clinched home ice for at least the first round with their 4-3 win over Princeton. They need four points to clinch a first-round bye. Yale hosts Colgate on Friday and Cornell on Saturday.

Dartmouth (9-8-3, 21 points, tied for fourth) can finish anywhere from second to ninth. The Big Green need one point to clinch home ice. They host Princeton on Friday and Quinnipiac on Saturday.

Union (8-8-4, 20 points, sixth place) can finish anywhere from second to 10th. The Dutchmen need two points to clinch home ice. Union hosts St. Lawrence on Friday and Clarkson on Saturday.

Clarkson (8-8-4, 19 points, seventh place) can finish anywhere from third to 11th. The Golden Knights need two points to clinch home ice. They are at RPI on Friday and Union on Saturday.

Brown (6-8-6, 18 points, eighth place) can finish anywhere from fourth to 11th. The Bears need four points to clinch home ice. They host Cornell on Friday and Colgate on Saturday.

Cornell (7-10-3, 17 points, tied for ninth) can finish anywhere from fourth to 11th.

Princeton (7-10-3, 17 points, tied for ninth) can finish anywhere from fifth to 11th.

Colgate (6-11-3, 15 points, 11th place) can finish anywhere from seventh to 12th.

Harvard (5-13-2, 12 points, 12th place) will either finish 11th or 12th.

ECACH Power Rankings

My weekly ECACH Power Rankings each week. WARNING: You may agree, or disagree, with my picks.

Team Last week’s ranking


1) Quinnipiac 1
2) RPI 2
3) Yale 5
4) Dartmouth 6
5) St. Lawrence 4
6) Union 3
7) Brown 7
8) Cornell 10
9) Clarkson 9
10) Princeton 8
11) Colgate 11
12) Harvard 12

PairWise Rankings

RPI is 16th. Union, amazingly, is tied for 20th. This may change after Monday night’s Penn State-Wisconsin game.

The PairWise Ranking is a system which attempts to mimic the method used by the NCAA Selection Committee to determine participants for the NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament.

Rank Team PWR W-L-T Win % Win % Rank RPI RPI Rank vs. TUC TUC %

1 Quinnipiac 30 23-4-5 .7969 1 .5813 1 14-3-4 .7619
2 Minnesota 29 21-6-5 .7344 2t .5651 2 10-5-3 .6389
3 Miami 28 21-8-5 .6912 4 .5553 3 14-6-4 .6667
4 Boston College 27 18-8-3 .6724 5 .5472* 5 9-4-3 .6562
5 New Hampshire 26 17-8-5 .6500 8 .5482 4 11-7-3 .5952
6 North Dakota 25 17-9-6 .6250 10 .5461 7 10-9-4 .5217
7 Minnesota State 24 20-9-3 .6719 6 .5471* 6 9-9-1 .5000
8 Niagara 22 21-6-5 .7344 2t .5422* 8 2-2-0 .5000
9 Western Michigan 21 18-8-8 .6471 9 .5385 11 9-5-4 .6111
10 St. Cloud State 20 19-12-1 .6094 11 .5418* 9 13-10-1 .5625
11t Massachusetts-Lowell 18 18-9-2 .6552 7 .5408 10 5-7-0 .4167
11t Yale 18 14-10-3 .5741 16 .5282 14 6-8-3 .4412
13t Denver 17 16-10-5 .5968 13 .5369 12 9-9-4 .5000
13t Notre Dame 17 19-12-3 .6029 12 .5331 13 7-9-3 .4474
15 Dartmouth 16 13-10-4 .5556 21 .5215 17 9-6-2 .5882
16 RPI 14 15-12-5 .5469 24t .5201 18 9-9-4 .5000
17t Wisconsin 12 14-10-7 .5645 17t .5217 16 5-10-3 .3611
17t St. Lawrence 12 16-12-4 .5625 19 .5151 21 6-7-2 .4667
17t Alaska 12 14-14-4 .5000 28t .5063 26 10-8-2 .5500
20t Nebraska-Omaha 10 18-12-2 .5938 14t .5241 15 6-10-1 .3824
20t Union 10 15-12-5 .5469 24t .5143 22 7-6-3 .5312
22 Boston University 9 14-14-2 .5000 28t .5100 25 9-9-1 .5000
23t Merrimack 8 14-11-6 .5484 23 .5153 20 6-8-2 .4375
23t Ferris State 8 15-13-4 .5312 27 .5118 23 5-9-2 .3750
25t Robert Morris 7 18-12-2 .5938 14t .5106 24 4-3-1 .5625
25t Northern Michigan 7 14-16-4 .4706 35 .5017 30 10-11-3 .4792
27t Providence 6 13-10-7 .5500 22 .5196 19 4-8-5 .3824
27t Ohio State 6 13-14-7 .4853 31 .5037 27 6-9-6 .4286
29 Colgate 5 14-14-4 .5000 28t .5031 28 6-9-2 .4118
30 Colorado College 1 12-15-5 .4531 40 .5031 29 6-12-3 .3571
31 Brown 0 10-11-6 .4815 34 .5005 31 1-10-5 .2188

*-Team’s RPI has been adjusted to remove negative effect from defeating weak opponent.

RPI just misses

For the second straight week, RPI just missed out on making the top 20 in the USCHO.com/NCAA hockey poll.

The Engineers, who lost at Cornell and won at Colgate over the weekend, got 57 points. Providence, led by former Union Nate Leaman, got the 20th spot with 80 points.

Union’s return to the poll was brief. The Dutchmen, ranked 20th last week, were bounced after losses to Colgate and Cornell. Union got 14 points.

ECAC Hockey-champion Quinnipiac remains No. 1 for the third straight week. Other ECACH teams in the poll are Yale (15th) and Dartmouth (18th).

USCHO.com/NCAA poll

Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll
1 Quinnipiac (37) 23- 4-5 975 1
2 Minnesota (10) 21- 6-5 948 2
3 Miami (2) 21- 8-5 907 3
4 Boston College (1) 18- 8-3 835 4
5 New Hampshire 17- 8-5 770 5
6 North Dakota 17- 9-6 734 6
7 St. Cloud State 19-12-1 670 7
8 Western Michigan 18- 8-8 650 8
9 Minnesota State 20- 9-3 635 9
10 Denver 16-10-5 515 10
11 Notre Dame 19-12-3 489 11
12 UMass-Lowell 18- 9-2 487 12
13 Nebraska-Omaha 18-12-2 356 14
14 Niagara 21- 6-5 335 16
15 Yale 14-10-3 323 13
16 Wisconsin 14-10-7 237 18
17 Merrimack 14-11-6 199 17
18 Dartmouth 13-10-4 119 19
19 Boston University 14-14-2 112 15
20 Providence 13-10-7 80 NR
Others receiving votes: RPI 57, St. Lawrence 36, Union 14, Ferris State 12, Alaska 3, Robert Morris 2.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine 2012-13 Men’s College Hockey Poll

(First-place votes in parentheses)
Rank School Last Week’s Ranking 2012-13 Record Weeks in Top 15
1 Quinnipiac, 506 (30) 1 23-4-5 12
2 Minnesota, 471 (3) 2 21-6-5 21
3 Miami (Ohio), 447 (1) 3 21-8-5 21
4 Boston College, 406 4 18-8-3 21
5 New Hampshire, 368 5 17-8-5 18
6 North Dakota, 333 6 17-9-6 21
7 Minnesota State, 261 9 20-9-3 8
8 Western Michigan, 260 7 18-8-8 21
9 St. Cloud State, 257 8 19-12-1 9
10 UMass-Lowell, 179 12 18-9-2 12
11 Denver, 166 10 16-10-5 21
12 Notre Dame, 134 11 19-12-3 21
13 Niagara, 107 15 21-6-5 4
14 Yale, 82 14 14-10-3 12
15 Nebraska-Omaha, 50 NR 18-12-2 12
Others receiving votes: Merrimack, 24; Providence, 12; Dartmouth, 8; Wisconsin, 6; Boston University, 2; RPI, 1.

My vote

I have a vote in the USCHO.com poll. Here is how I voted:
1) Quinnipiac
2) Minnesota
3) Miami
4) Boston College
5) New Hampshire
6) North Dakota
7) St. Cloud
8) Western Michigan
9) Minnesota State
10) UMass-Lowell
11) Denver
12) Notre Dame
13) Neb.-Omaha
14) Yale
15) Niagara
16) Wisconsin
17) Boston U.
18) Merrimack
19) RPI
20) Dartmouth

Daily Gazette Stick Salutes

Time for my weekly awards.

Player of the Week — Greg Miller, Cornell

The senior forward had a pair of two-goal games for the Big Red as they beat RPI and Union. Miller had a short-handed tally in Friday’s 4-1 victory over the Engineers. He had a power-play goal, which turned out to be the game-winner, in Cornell’s triumph over Union. Miller also had an assist in that game.

Goalie of the Week — Andy Iles, Cornell

The junior netminder made 29 and assisted on Miller’s short-handed goal against RPI. Iles stopped 36 shots against Union.

Rookie of the Week — Greg Gozzo, Harvard

The freshman forward scored twice, including the game-winner, as the Crimson rolled to a 6-2 win over Clarkson on Saturday. The goals were the first of Gozzo’s collegiate career.

Team of the Week — Cornell


The Big Red were the only ECACH team to win twice over the weekend.

If you have any comments, post them below, or e-mail them to me at schott@dailygazette.com. You can follow me on Twitter (@slapschotts) Also, please become a fan of two Facebook pages — The Daily Gazette On Ice, and my "Slap Schotts" college hockey segment page.

Good Monday! Good Hockey!

 
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