Before we get into our prospect update, here's a little information on the televised schedule for the NCAA. Unlike college football and basketball, NCAA hockey receives comparatively little national media coverage; and somewhat rightfully so given the disparity in the markets for the different sports.
However, ice hockey has been making quite the comeback in the U.S in the past few years in terms of national media attention thanks to the U.S Olympic team's wonderful run to overtime of the gold medal game against Canada in Vancouver in 2010. The hype of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classics and the 24/7 HBO series, some wonderful Stanley Cup Finals appearances from classic and new American powerhouses, and the general excitement of the sport have also contributed to hockey's coverage at all levels increasing.
The NCAA seems to have taken the hint that it's time to put hockey on a wider national stage. So, along with the expanding NHL coverage on NBC, the network is also airing 20 collegiate hockey tilts throughout the season. On top of that, local coverage of the NCAA has expanded greatly; so for those of you who may live near a few solid college hockey programs, keep an eye out on your local sports networks for some games.
Here's is a link to the full television schedule of NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey for this season: http://collegehockeyinc.com/tv-schedule
Now, for the update.
Devin Shore finally broke through on the scoresheet, and did so with authority, during the University of Maine's first victory over the University of Massachusetts this past weekend. Both of his points were primary assists on power play goals and the second one set up the game winner.
For his first assist, which came on a 5-on-3 power play, Shore received the puck on the half-wall and danced around with it a bit, looking for space. After faking what looked like a play to go back up to the point, he swiveled into the right face-off circle, faked a shot, and slid the puck to his teammate on the door-step who lifted the puck into the net.
On his second assist of the night, Shore entered the zone on the forecheck and eventually gets the puck from a teammate. He then takes the puck towards the net and makes a nice move through two UMass defenders. Instead of jamming the puck right at the net, he makes a sharp turn and goes around behind the net; from there, he dishes the puck out to the goal scorer.
On both goals, Shore shows a great presence of mind and the confidence to beat defenders one-on-one. While you'd like to see more even strength production from him, it's good to see that he's still being put out on the ice in situations where his team needs a goal, and his creativity is evident. On both goals, he uses his great blend of size and skill to draw defenders away from the net and then put the puck past them to waiting teammates. If these two assists are any indication of how he's been playing in general, then it's only a matter of time before he starts piling up some great numbers.
The game was an overall success for Shore. On top of those two beautiful assists, he went an impressive 11 for 17 in the faceoff circle and put five shots on net.
Maine went on to beat UMass in decisive fashion, 8-4, the next night, so it seemed like it was Shore's opportunity to continue his good play from their first match up. Unfortunately, he didn't find the scoresheet in that game and went just 7-20 on the faceoff dot to accompany 2 penalty minutes and a -1 rating. It would have been nice to see him cash in on a weak effort from UMass, but from the looks of it, one of Maine's lines did most of the damage that game.
Full highlights of Shore's two point game can be found here at Hockey East's youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVCDrNgm3Jc#t=256
Alex Guptill just keeps on doing what Alex Guptill does -- score. He completed Michigan's comeback 2-1 victory over Boston University on Friday night with a penalty shot at 8:46 of the third period.
After taking a pass up ice and breaking in on the Matt O'Connor of Boston University, Guptill drew a hook on the Terrier's sophomore No.11 Mike Moran. It was a bit of a phantom hooking call, but Guptill used his speed to create an offensive opportunity which was only stopped by a penalty, so he got to take a shot. That's great hustle, and great awareness by Guptill to force the defender to either take a penalty on him or allow him a breakaway opportunity.
On the penalty shot, Guptill opted to keep things simple. He came in on O'Connor with speed, made a little stutter-step move and wired a great snap-shot past the goalie, giving Michigan the eventual game winner.
While he failed to score a point in Michigan's next night loss to Lowell, Guptill has shown a lot of positive signs to begin this season. He's operating at about a point per game pace for Michigan right now and has really stepped into a leadership role on the team.
He continues to be a big offensive catalyst for Michigan and it always seems like he could easily have more points than he does. He fired 7 shots on net against Boston University and added another 3 to his weekend total against Lowell. So, even though he didn't exactly set the world on fire with scoring this past weekend, he continued to do what he had to do to get opportunities, and that's all you can really ask for.
After coming into the season with a lot of questions about his commitment and the possibility that he may see his ice time cut because of off-ice antics, Alex Guptill has given his critics no reason to criticize him in the early going. If he can keep this up he'll have a tremendous season and be poised for a jump to the American Hockey League.
Highlights of his games can be found at http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-hockey/mich-m-hockey-body.html they're right on the front page.