With the NHL, teams and players trying to figure out how and when the season will begin, hockey in another form has returned to the ice. Hockey East was in action on Black Friday and with multiple upsets and Colorado Avalanche prospects on the docket, it was a pretty interesting day in “cawlidge hawkey”.
Boston College and the University of Massachusetts tangled in the game that would’ve marked top Colorado Avalanche prospect Alex Newhook;s first of the season if not for Newhook preparing with Team Canada for the World Juniors Championship (WJC) national team. The matchup still marked the first game of the season for fellow Avalanche prospects and teammates Colby Ambrosio and Drew Helleson. Ambrosio picked up an assist to go along with five shots on goal in the four to three victory for the Eagles. It’s too bad that Newhook missed the game, as he would’ve looked really sharp in these Boston College uniforms.
The other matchup involving future potential Avalanche players saw a struggling Notre Dame squad pick up a big first victory of the season at the expense of Michigan. The Wolverines came into the match ranked number four in the nation, but that didn’t matter against a Fighting Irish team stocked with three Colorado prospects. Ryder Rolston was held off the score sheet, but Nate Clurman and Nick Leivermann both tickled the twine to pace Notre Dame to a three to two victory.
The men weren’t the only collegiate hockey athletes to skate out, as there were two top 10 tilts last night in the WCHA. Top ranked Minnesota and Ohio State picked up victories, as did St. Cloud State, the only remaining unbeaten team in the league. All three teams are back in action this afternoon (WCHA schedule).
Since there’s no NHL season to keep track of, many hockey writers have been pumping out lists - top 10 for each position, top 25 under 25 and power rankings galore have hit the blogosphere in recent weeks. This week the Athletic put out their yearly “future power rankings”... power rankings. As expected, Colorado ranks quite highly. Author of the piece Craig Custance loves what Joe Sakic has done with the Avalanche roster;
“This franchise has (almost) everything. A smart front office that consistently makes intelligent yet understated moves. High-end star talent. A young defense that is especially dynamic. Good contracts. Everything is set up for the Avalanche to be one of the NHL’s most dominant teams for the next several years assuming it gets good goaltending.”
With outstanding marks in talent, management and cap situation, the Avalanche finished tied for first with the Toronto Maple Leafs. A low score in ownership and market was the only thing that prevent the Avalanche from being first by a wide margin.
In more sobering news, New York Islanders defender Johnny Boychuk retired from the NHL on Friday due to an eye injury he sustained during the 2019-20 season. Boychuk, originally drafted by the Avalanche way back in 2002 played in 725 games during a career that saw him play for three teams and lift the Stanley Cup in 2011 with the Boston Bruins. His retirement came as a shock due to his recovery from the initial incident where he took the skate of Artturi Lehkonen to his right eyelid on March 3, 2020. The following is the 36 year old discussing his decision to hang up the skates.
Johnny Boychuk getting emotional talking about the news today. Damn.— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) November 25, 2020
It wouldn’t be 2020 without bad news; as if the Boychuk retirement wasn’t enough, the COVID-19 pandemic has popped up once again in the hockey world with two teams in the NHL and members of team Canada’s WJC camp testing positive. The NHL teams, Columbus and Vegas, both saw positives when the teams began to meet for pre-season non-mandatory skates. The team Canada news could potentially throw a wrench in the works for an extremely talented bunch, as camp was required to close for an undisclosed amount of time due to two players testing positive. Events like this will surely play into any decision being made by the NHL to start the 2020-21 season.
As one of the best follows on Twitter, Rex Chapman, would say “2020 on brand...”
Have a great Saturday!