Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Great Northwest Showcase Preview:


The 2014 Great Northwest Showcase kicks off on Friday, January 3rd, at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre in Burnaby, BC.

The second annual Showcase once again features four teams – the host Simon Fraser University Clan (BCIHL), the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds (CIS), the University of North Dakota (NCAA) and Princeton University Tigers (NCAA) - who will battle for bragging rights.

Tickets are very affordable, starting as low as $10 per game, but there is a four-game package available for just $48. Tickets are available online at GreatNorthwestShowcase.com or at the door, however only cash will be accepted if you're buying tickets at the door. If you buy tickets online, enter the promo code "Burnaby" and save 20 percent on the ticket price.

In addition, myself and Brady Trettenero will have the call of all four games available on Fast Hockey pay-per-view at FastHockey.com.

The Showcase format sees the two Canadian-based teams play each of the two U.S.-based teams over two days. Last year, UBC finished 2-0 after an 8-2 win over Arizona State University and a 4-3 overtime win against the University of Oklahoma. SFU had a 1-1 record at the inaugural event after shellacking OU 4-0 on opening day before falling 5-3 to ASU the next day.

Here’s a look at the four teams who will take the ice for the 2014 Great Northwest Showcase, courtesy of myself (stats) and colour commentator Brady Trettenero (write-ups):

SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY CLAN (BC Intercollegiate Hockey League)
Head Coach: Mark Coletta
Assistant Coach: Jimmy Camazzola

2013-14 Record: 10-2-0, 20pts

2013-14 BCIHL Ranking: 1

Last game: Saturday, December 7th (7-0 win over Eastern Washington University)
Streak: Won 2
Last ten games: 8-2-0

Average age: 22.04 years
Average height: 6'0"
Average weight: 182.6 lbs.
 
Goals For: 68 (Avg. 5.67) 
Goals Against: 28 (Avg. 2.33)

Power play: 15/66 (22.73% - 3rd in BCIHL)
Penalty kill: 54/64 (84.38% - 2nd in BCIHL)

2013-14 Top Scorers:
F - Nick Sandor (12gp-14g-16a-30pts)
F - Jono Ceci (12gp-11g-18a-29pts)
F - Aaron Enns (12gp-7g-13a-20pts)
D - Jared Eng (11gp-3g-10a-13pts)
F - Josh McKissock (11gp-5g-7a-12pts)

Team Scope: The SFU Men’s Hockey team currently leads the BCIHL with a 10-2-0 record.  Through 12 games on the season, the Clan have scored 68 goals.

The team has been powered by offensive catalysts Nick Sandor and Jono Ceci. Sandor leads the league in scoring with 30 points, while Ceci sits in third place with 29 points in 12 games.  The two powerhouse forwards combine with rookie Graham Smerek to form one of the most productive lines in the BCIHL.

SFU has been getting scoring from throughout the lineup, making it tough for opposing teams to completely shut down the Clan’s offense. SFU currently has seven players who are averaging a point per game, including two defensemen.

In net, the team has seen solid performances from the dynamic duo of Graeme Gordon and Andrew Parent.  Gordon, in his third season in the BCIHL, is 6-0-0 with a league-leading 1.50 GAA and 0.945 save percentage.

The Clan are coming off back-to-back wins over Eastern Washington University in early December and will be eager to get back into action after a long rest.

Key Stat: SFU has a power play that has scored in two straight games. Discipline is always needed when facing the Clan, as they have many options up front that can make you pay on the man advantage.

Who to watch: Nick Sandor is on a tear in his second season in the BCIHL, scoring 14 goals in 12 games. He is hot as of late, compiling eight points in his last two games, and is one to keep an eye on as opposing teams look to shut down the dynamic duo of Sandor and Ceci.

UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA THUNDERBIRDS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport)
Head Coach: Milan Dragicevic
Assistant Coach: Tyler Kuntz

2013-14 Record: 5-10-1, 11pts

2013-14 Canada West Ranking: 7

2013-14 CIS Ranking: 28

Last game: Saturday, November 30th (3-1 win over University of Lethbridge)
Streak: Won 2
Last ten games: 4-5-1

Average age: 22.28 years
Average height: 6'0"
Average weight: 185.1 lbs.

Goals For: 51 (Avg. 3.19)
Goals Against: 64 (Avg. 3.97)

Power play: 14/69 (20.30% - 11th in CIS)
Penalty kill: 62/76 (81.60% - 19th in CIS)

2013-14 Top Scorers:
F - Cole Wilson (16gp-7g-12a-19pts)
F - Anthony Bardaro (16gp-3g-12a-15pts)
F - Brad Hoban (16gp-4g-10a-14pts)
D - Neil Manning (16gp-4g-10a-14pts)
F - Nate Fleming (16gp-2g-11a-13pts)

Team Scope: The UBC Thunderbirds haven’t had an ideal season, currently sitting seventh in the CIS with a 5-10-1 record, giving up an average of four goals per game.

The team has a balanced offensive attack, led by Cole Wilson and Anthony Barbado. Wilson sits fourth in CIS scoring with 19 points, while his teammate Barbado has 15 points on the year. Wilson has followed up an impressive point per game season in 2012-2013 with an even better campaign in 2013-2014.

Despite the lackluster record for the Thunderbirds, the team is coming off a confidence-boosting sweep of Lethbridge in late November.

UBC took down Lehtbridge 9-2 on Saturday November 29th before going on to defeat them 3-1 the night after.

Captain Cole Wilson compiled four points over the weekend, while youngster Luke Lockhart made waves on Saturday, notching a hat-trick before adding an assist in Sunday’s win. What was even more remarkable was the fact all Lockhart’s goals came shorthanded, setting a new Canada West record.

The UBC Thunderbirds, as with the SFU Clan, will be eager to get back into action after a lengthy rest.

Though the 'Birds won’t face SFU this weekend, they did defeat the Clan 6-2 and 5-2 in two exhibition games earlier this season.

Key Stat: As with the SFU Clan, the Thunderbirds take great pride in the ability of their power play. Despite sitting seventh in league standings, the Birds have the third-best power play, operating at 20.3%. Cole Wilson and Neil Manning lead the charge with three power-play tallies apiece.

Who to Watch: It may be hard to keep your eye off captain Cole Wilson and the flashy Anthony Barbado, but the 20-year-old Luke Lockhart deserves some attention too. Coming off a weekend in which he registered a hat-trick, Lockhart now is tied for the team lead in goals with seven. Luke had spent his past five seasons in the WHL, racking up 75 goals, 165 points and 146 penalty minutes in 345 career games with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA (NCAA Division I)
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol
Assistant Coach: Brad Berry
Assistant Coach: Dane Jackson
Assistant Coach: Karl Goehring

2013-14 Record: 9-7-2, 20pts

2013-14 NCAA Div. I Ranking: Tied-23

2013-14 NCHC Ranking: 3

Last game: Saturday, December 14th (3-1 win over Northern Michigan)
Streak: Won 5
Last ten games: 6-3-1

Average age: 20.85 years
Average height: 6'0"
Average weight: 189.9 lbs.

Goals For: 50 (Avg. 2.78)
Goals Against: 52 (Avg. 2.89)

Power play: 17/83 (20.48% - 25th in NCAA Div. I)
Penalty kill: 78/93 (83.87% - 21st in NCAA Div. I)

2013-14 Top Scorers:
F - Rocco Grimaldi (18gp-6g-11a-17pts)
F - Drake Caggiula (18gp-5g-6a-11pts)
F - Luke Johnson (18gp-4g-7a-11pts)
F - Michael Parks (18gp-3g-8a-11pts)
D - Jordan Schmaltz (17gp-2g-8a-10pts)

Team Scope: North Dakota is an NCAA powerhouse that has not only won 15 conference titles, but also captured seven NCAA titles.
 
Many elite hockey players have played for the University of Dakota, including current NHL stars Jonathan Toews, Zach Parise, and T.J Oshie.

The university has a knack for developing elite talent. Ed Belfour and Garry Valk are just two of many retired NHL players who spent time earlier in their careers playing with UND.

UND boasts a 9-7-2 record on the season, but have won their past five games, meaning they are coming in hot to the Bill Copeland Sports Centre. They have been led all season by Florida Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi, who has 17 points in 18 games on the year.

Grimaldi played in the 2013 World Junior Championship tournament, scoring two goals, including the game winner, in the championship game vs. Sweden.

There is plenty of other talent to go around on the UND roster, including a top tier goalie that will make scoring goals a difficult task for UBC and SFU.

Boston Bruins prospect Zane Gothberg has been a rock in net, going 7-5-2 with a .917 save percentage and 2.36 GAA.

UND closed out their first half of the season with back-to-back wins over Northern Michigan, and Gotherberg was a big part of each victory.

Gothberg earned wins on December 13th and December 14th, stopping a total of 37 shots and allowing just two goals as his team cruised to 4-1 and 3-1 victories, closing out a non-conference series sweep over Northern Michigan.

Jordan Schmaltz (St. Louis Blues 1st round draft pick) finished the series with three points, while Luke Johnson (Chicago Blackhawks draft pick), Paul LaDue (Los Angeles Kings draft pick), and Michael Parks (Philadelphia Flyers draft pick) all finished the weekend with two points.

The team boasts numerous NHL prospects who are ready to showcase their talents to British Columbia.

Key Stat: There are 15 NHL draft picks currently on the UND roster. Though the Showcase is simply exhibition play, UBC and SFU need to focus on their own game and forget the high-caliber of the opposing players they are taking on.

Who to watch: While you can’t really go wrong with 15 NHL draft picks, goaltender Gothberg is a can’t-miss. Through his recent five-game win-streak, the Bruins prospect is sporting a .938 save percentage while allowing, on average, just 1.60 goals per game.

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (NCAA Division I)
Head Coach:Bob Prier
Assistant Coach: Scott Garrow
Assistant Coach: Greg Gardner
Assistant Coach: Matt Farris

2013-14 Record: 3-14-0, 6pts

2013-14 NCAA Div. I Ranking: 57

2013-14 ECAC Hockey Ranking: 12

Last game: Sunday, December 29th (3-2 loss to University of New Hampshire)
Streak: Lost 6
Last ten games: 2-8-0

Average age: 21.33 years
Average height: 6'0"
Average weight: 190.5 lbs.

Goals For: 33 (Avg. 1.93)
Goals Against: 67 (Avg. 3.94)

Power play: 10/66 (15.15% - 44th in NCAA Div. I)
Penalty kill: 58/76 (76.32% - 50th in NCAA Div. I)

2013-14 Top Scorers:
F - Tucker Brockett (17gp-2g-9a-11pts)
F - Andrew Ammon (17gp-6g-2a-8pts)
F - Aaron Kesselman (15gp-3g-5a-8pts)
F - Jonathan Liau (14gp-1g-7a-8pts)
F - Jack Berger (17gp-4g-3a-7pts)

Team Scope: Princeton is another NCAA powerhouse, but has struggled this season with a 3-14-0 record. Despite struggling in their league, the Princeton Tigers have a great reputation for producing elite hockey players.

The Princeton men's hockey team has seen 23 of its players drafted in the National Hockey League's entry draft since the draft began in 1963.

The team has won two ECAC Hockey Championships, in 1998 and 2008. Success has been harder to come by this season though, as the team last lost four straight games heading into this upcoming weekend.

Junior Tucker Brockett leads the charge offensively with 11 points in 17 games on the season.

Andrew Ammon is having another good season in his third year with Princeton, leading the team with six goals.

Key Stat: Through 17 games this season, Princeton has only managed to score five first-period goals. Getting the first goal against Princeton will be crucial for SFU and UBC.

Who to Watch: Senior Andrew Calof is always a pleasure to watch. Calof has only played seven games this season due to injury, but has still picked up four assists in that span. He picked up one of those helpers in the Tigers’ most recent game, a 3-2 loss in the consolation game of the Florida College Hockey Classic at Germain Arena. Over his career with Princeton, the senior has 40 goals and 106 points in 102 games.

2013 Great Northwest Showcase Schedule (all times listed are PST):
Game 1 – Simon Fraser University vs. Princeton University; Friday, January 3; 4:00pm
Game 2 – University of British Columbia vs. University of North Dakota; Friday, January 3; 7:00pm
Game 3 – University of British Columbia vs. Princeton University; Saturday, January 4; 4:00pm
Game 4 – Simon Fraser University vs. University of North Dakota; Saturday, January 4; 7:00pm

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