ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 09: The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs celebrate the win after the championship game of the 2011 NCAA Men's Frozen Four on April 9, 2011 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs defeated the Michigan Wolverines 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Much like their parent club, the Lake Erie Monsters are fighting for a playoff spot. The conclusion of the college hockey regular season is quickly approaching. Clubs in the Canadian Hockey League are positioning themselves for the playoffs. The Avalanche added a couple of prospects at the trade deadline to help restock the system. Grab your popcorn and get ready for another fun edition of TWIAP!
After a brief recall to the Avalanche, Cedrick Desjardins made his return to the Lake Erie Monsters lineup after a two month absence. In a 4-3 win over the Hershey Bears this past Thursday, Desjardins stopped 27 shots. Patrick Rissmiller, Patrick Bordeleau, Zach Cohen, and Peter MacArthur all scored for the Monsters.
Lake Erie was not as fortunate on Friday night against rival Grand Rapids. The Griffins pounded six goals past Desjardins in a 6-1 victory. The Monsters were held to just 18 shots in the game. Greg Mauldin had the lone tally for Lake Erie.
On Saturday, the Monsters fell in an epic 15 round shoot-out to the Rochester Amerks. In the 4-3 loss, Evan Brophey, Eric Hunter, and Ryan Stoa had the regulation goals. Hunter and Justin Mercier scored in the shoot-out. Gerald Coleman started the game for the Monsters and made a combined 24 saves in regulation and overtime.
The Monsters find themselves in 11th place in the Western Conference with 59 points; trailing eighth place Peoria by four points. Lake Erie has 19 games left in the season. The Monsters visit the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday and play host to the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.
In college hockey, Boston College found themselves in second in the PairWise rankings after a weekend sweep of Providence. Paul Carey scored his 12th goal of the season in Friday's 3-0 win. The Eagles will finish the regular season this weekend against Vermont as they close in on the Hockey East regular season title.
Boston University trails BC by two points in the Hockey East standings. Over the weekend, BU swept Vermont and sit tied for fourth in the PairWise. Kieran Millan started in Saturday's 3-2 overtime win over the Catamounts and made 22 saves. The Terriers conclude the regular season this weekend against Northeastern.
The Michigan Wolverines split a weekend set with Bowling Green and finished the regular season second in the CCHA behind Ferris State. Michigan earns a bye into the second round of the CCHA Tournament. Luke Moffatt earned his first point in six games, an assist,in Michigan's 3-0 win on Saturday night. The Wolverines currently sit third in the PairWise.
The Minnesota Gophers have a two point lead over Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA standings, heading into the final weekend of the regular season. The Gophers will visit Wisconsin this weekend. This past weekend they earned a pair of 3-2 wins over Nebraska-Omaha.
Kent Patterson now has 23 wins in 35 starts. His goals against average ranks 11th in the nation at 2.09 and save percentage is 28th at 0.917. Nate Condon had one assist in the series. Minnesota is currently seventh in the PairWise.
In the Canadian Hockey League, the Shawinigan Cataractes have secured a playoff spot and currently hold the second best record in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) at 41-13-3-4. Defenseman Dillon Donnelly has a goal and 10 assists in 54 games for Shawinigan, but is currently sidelined with a concussion.
The Plymouth Whalers find themselves second in the Western Conference of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and have clinched a playoff berth. Garrett Meurs has slowed a bit offensively. He has 18 goals and 30 assists in 58 games. Yet, only 13 points have come in 22 games since the beginning of January.
The Portland Winterhawks recently saw a nine game winning streak come to an end, but the club has already cemented a playoff spot. Troy Rutkowski has had a solid month offensively for the Winterhawks, recording three goals and six assists in 12 games.
Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the addition of two new prospects to the Avalanche farm system in Mike Connolly and Michael Sgarbossa. We'll get to know more about these players in the coming weeks, but both players were undrafted free agent signings by the San Jose Sharks.
Before signing with the Sharks, Connolly spent the last three seasons with Minnesota-Duluth (WCHA). In 2010-11, he had 28 goals and 26 assists in 42 games for the Bulldogs during his junior season. It was a dream season for Connolly and his teammates as the school won its first NCAA Division I Men's Hockey title.
Connolly has had a solid first season as a professional with 10 goals and 20 assists in 40 games with the Worcester Sharks (AHL). Once inserted into the Lake Erie Monsters lineup, he'll automatically become the team's second leading scorer. A most welcome addition for a team in a tight playoff chase.
Perhaps the most intriguing player in the Avs five player deal with the Sharks, is junior forward Michael Sgarbossa. Sgarbossa signed an entry-level contract with the Sharks in September of 2010 after appearing in the YoungStars Tournament; recording four points in two of the games in which he appeared.
Listed at 5-11, 175 lbs, Sgarbossa began his OHL career with the Barrie Colts, before moving on to the Saginaw Spirit in 2009. In 2010, he was deemed expendable by Saginaw and was shipped to the Sudbury Wolves in a package to obtain forward John MacFarland.
With the Wolves, Sgarbossa blossomed, scoring 29 goals and recording 33 assists in 37 games during the remainder of the 2010-11 season. This year, he's upped the ante and is currently second in league scoring with 41 goals and 43 assists in 57 games.
That's all for this week folks! I am pushing back my discussion regarding prospect signings until next week, due to the trade deadline. Also next week, a preview of conference playoff action for some college hockey teams. A recap of the Monsters weekend and look-ins on Canadian Hockey League clubs.