Monday, March 28, 2016

What did I miss?

I've been off the grid (sort of) for the last few days, so here's a little college hockey housekeeping from a long weekend away ...

Frozen Four set
The Frozen Four field was decided over the weekend, with North Dakota, Boston College, Denver and Quinnipiac advancing out of the regionals. The biggest surprise of the tournament was the WCHA's Ferris State knocking off St. Cloud State in overtime on Saturday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center. The Bulldogs proved their last-season run, which included Final Five victories over WCHA co-champs Michigan Tech and Minnesota State, were not flukes. They hung with Denver until the third period before bowing out. On April 7 in Tampa, Fla., NCHC rivals North Dakota and Denver will play each other in one semifinal, and Quinnipiac and Boston College will play in the other. The championship will take place on April 9.

Nelson makes NHL debut
Who would have guessed at the beginning of the college hockey season that the next banner to go up honoring an MSU hockey alum playing in the NHL would be that of Casey Nelson? But there will be one next year. Nelson was in the lineup for the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday and got his first NHL point, assisting on a goal by former Minnesota player Hudson Fasching, who also signed with Buffalo last week. The Sabres play again tonight (Monday) on NBC Sports Network, if you're interested in watching him play.

Blueger, Gervais turn pro
Teddy Blueger and Bryce Gervais made their professional debuts this weekend, too. Blueger, who signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins but is starting out with that team's AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He played two games over the weekend. Gervais signed with the AHL's Chicago Wolves and played in his first two games, assisting on a goal in the first game and scoring one in the second.

Reports: Wisconsin lands a coach
USCHO and other outlets reported on Sunday that Wisconsin is set to hire alum Tony Granato as its new coach, replacing Mike Eaves, who was fired after 14 seasons. Granato, who played for the Badgers from 1983 to 1987, is currently an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings (he did have a head-coaching stint with the Colorado Avalanche). USCHO reported that Granato could be hiring his brother, Don Granato, and former Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki, both Wisconsin alumni and both mentioned as head-coaching candidates, as his assistants.

Referee dies
Finally, in the saddest news of the weekend, referee Oliver "Butch" Mousseau died on Friday, a week after suffering a critical head injury after falling to the ice during the WCHA Final Five in Grand Rapids, Mich. He was 48. Mousseau died at Mercy Health St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids. The WCHA issued a statement following his death. But I'll quite a bit of his bio from the statement: Mousseau was a full-time WCHA referee for 16 seasons, beginning with the 2003-04 campaign, and a part-time official in the NCHC since the league's inception in 2013-14. He was also a USA Hockey official since 1998 and had pro assignments in the ECHL, AHL and CHL. As the first Native American to work a game at the top level of the sport, Mousseau's National Hockey League officials' sweater and skates are in the league's Hall of Fame in Toronto. Mousseau is survived by his wife, Macaire; their three children Sam, Abbie and Olivia; his parents and four siblings. In a College Hockey News story, Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said, "How many guys do you know that can put a smile on your face for so many different reasons? Every time I was around him, when I walked away, I always thought 'I need to be better.' I'm going to miss him."

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