Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers have announced two deals today, signing forward Mark Arcobello and free agent defenseman Jordan Oesterle to contracts.

Arcobello has posted 18 points in 41 games with the Oilers this season, mainly in a limited role. Currently the all time points record holder in Oklahoma City Barons team history, the centreman has managed to record 10 goals and 28 points in just 15 games this season. Arcobello was sent down to the AHL in early February after sitting out three games as a healthy scratch after recording only two points in his final ten games.

During his college hockey career, Oesterle played three seasons with Western Michigan, accumulating 34 points in 113 contests. Last year, Danny DeKeyser a former defense partner of Oesterle’s, was signed by the Detroit Red Wings in what was considered one of the biggest college free agent signings of the year. A few years prior, the Oilers won the Justin Schultz sweepstakes after the defenseman chose not to sign with his draft team, the Anaheim Ducks.

“I’m very excited to be joining the Edmonton Oilers,” Oesterle said in a press release. “It has been a dream of mine and I want to thank everyone involved here at Western Michigan. Without them this couldn’t be possible.”

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

0
North Dakota forward Connor Gaarding scores the 2OT GWG over Ferris State to clinch his team a ticket to the Frozen Four. (Photo by Al Behrman/AP)

Four teams remain standing in the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey tournament. Boston College, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Union (N.Y.) will meet at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA April 10-12.

Top ranked Minnesota will take on North Dakota in a semifinal match on April 10. The Golden Gophers have had an easy trek to Philly with wins over Robert Morris (7-3) and St. Cloud State (4-0) in the first and second rounds, respectively, in Saint Paul this past weekend.

Meanwhile, the Fighting Sioux punched their Frozen Four ticket as a third seed in their region, defeating Wisconsin 5-2 in the first round and Ferris State 2-1 in double overtime in the second round. Connor Gaarder broke the 1-1 tie at 1:28 of the second overtime. Goaltender Zane Gothberg made 44 saves in the victory.

On the other side of the bracket is the match between Boston College and Union on April 10. The Eagles rolled over first round opponent Denver 6-2. Ian McCoshen broke the 3-3 tie with the eventual game-winner over UMass-Lowell 11:16 into the third period to win the Northeast Regional. Boston College is highlighted by 2013 Team USA World Juniors Championship forward Johnny Gaudreau and goaltender Thatcher Demko.

Union, led by Matt Hatch and Max Novack, defeated Vermont 5-2 in their opening round match, then won 3-1 over Providence in the second round.  Hatch and Novak scored four of the team’s eight goals this tournament.

The winner of their respective matches will play for the national championship April 12.

0

The NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey bracket was announced Sunday with the fortunate sixteen schools competing to play in the National Championship game on April 12 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers receiving the top overall seed after finishing 25-5-6 overall. They are the host of the West Regional, being played in St. Paul.

Receiving automatic bids for winning their conferences are Robert Morris (Atlantic Hockey), Wisconsin (Big Ten), Union (ECAC Hockey), UMass-Lowell (Hockey East), Denver (NCHC), and Minnesota State (WCHA).

Denver and Robert Morris had to win their respective conferences because they were not in the top 16 of the final PairWise Rankings. Those schools took the spot of Michigan and either Northeastern, Cornell, or New Hampshire.

With this being the case, below is the rankings of the 16 teams in the tournament.

  1. Minnesota
  2. Boston College
  3. Union
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Ferris State
  6. Quinnipiac
  7. UMass-Lowell
  8. Notre Dame
  9. St. Cloud State
  10. Minnesota State
  11. Providence
  12. Colgate
  13. Vermont
  14. North Dakota
  15. Denver
  16. Robert Morris

Number one seeds were handed to Minnesota, Boston College, Union, and Wisconsin. Seconds seeds were given to Ferris State, Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell, and Notre Dame. Third seeds to St. Cloud State, Minnesota State, Providence, and Colgate. Fourth seeds to Vermont, North Dakota, Denver, and Robert Morris.

The bracket is as follows (all times EST):

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)

4) Robert Morris vs 1) Minnesota – March 29, 5:30pm on ESPN2

3) St. Cloud State vs 2) Notre Dame – March 29, 9pm on ESPNU

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, OH)

4) North Dakota vs 1) Wisconsin – March 29, 4:30pm on ESPN3

3) Colgate vs 2) Ferris State – March 29, 8pm on ESPNU

Northeast Regional (Worcester, MA)

4) Denver vs 1) Boston College – March 28, 4pm on ESPNU

3) Minnesota State vs 2) UMass-Lowell – March 28, 7:30pm on ESPNU

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)

4) Vermont vs 1) Union – March 28, 2pm on ESPNU

3) Providence vs 2) Quinnipiac – March 28, 5:30pm on ESPNU

—————————————————————-

Hockey East has the most representatives in the tournament with 6. Following behind the ECAC with 3; Big Ten, NCHC, and WCHA with 2; and Atlantic Hockey with 1.

0
Photo via Marc Brunengraber
Photo via Scott Olivenbaum

When you think about hockey powerhouses, Israel doesn’t usually come to mind. Currently ranked 39th in the IIHF world rankings, the country has never been ranked better than 28th at any point in their lifespan. Regardless, with the the help of many people from around the world, the game continue to grow and will only get better in the pursuit of hockey supremacy. Just recently, Israel won gold at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Division II Group B World Championships in Hungary, earning promotion to Division IIA.

On March 1st, 2014, a team made of some of the best players from Israel will travel to North America to play against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Division II college team. Among those involved in bringing the event to fruition is goaltender Marc Brunengraber, one of the biggest promoters of the game in the country. Marc was kind enough to take the time for an interview about Saturday’s game, in which he hopes will benefit the team in a major way for the future.

THH) Introduce yourself for those who don’t know you, and maybe explain your role in hockey in Israel.

MB)  I’ve been involved with helping to promote Israeli hockey for about nine years.  I’m a native New Yorker, and a proud American, but Jewish by faith and background, and Israel is accordingly very important to me.  I am 42 years old, and am an attorney in private practice.  I played club high school hockey in West Islip, NY, club hockey at Binghamton University, and on various men’s travel teams.  I nearly went to Israel to play in the Israeli League after law school and had offers from two Israeli league teams (the top domestic league ranges from solid rec-level players up through Junior B level or so, with the occasional guy who has had better experience, and the age ranges from teenagers through guys into their fifties…..it’s a small pool of players and most teams have only three lines).  However, I went on to become an attorney and always regretted not taking a year or two to play in the league.  I have not played much in the past eight years, though, aside from the odd beer league game, and I am coming off of major finger surgery… a puck shattered my knuckle in September.  I have seen pucks fired at me exactly one time since.  Once.  That’s it.  The reality is that I’m not here on merit (laughing)… it’s basically a “thank you” from Israeli hockey, as I’ve done a lot of promotional work for them over the years, including at the International Hockey Forums.  At IHF, the Israel forum is the world’s most active place to discuss Israeli hockey in English, and share stats, video and pictures.  It has been my pleasure to try and help promote Israeli hockey.  It’s nice to be able to portray Israel and the Jewish people in a positive light, away from the ever-constant Middle East conflict, through the game that I love.  It combines two things that are very dear to me.  I just hope that I don’t embarrass myself or the program out there on Saturday night as the old man in goal.  I will, however, play my heart out and do my best, and try and enjoy the ride for the time I am in there.  I am always glad to promote Israeli hockey and help show a side of Israel – and Israelis – through sport that is criminally ignored by mainstream media in both North America and Europe.

THH) How popular is the sport in the country?

MB) Hockey is unknown to most Israelis.  It has some presence in the far north, due to Israel’s only full size rink being located in Metula.  The Canada Centre, as it is called, contains Israel’s only regulation size hockey rink, which hosts the current Israeli A-league, B-league, junior leagues, & recreational hockey.  It has also been the site of Maccabiah hockey in 1997 and 2013, and the two World Jewish Cups of hockey in 2007 and 2009.  It was financed and given by a group of Canadian Jews as a gift to the people of Israel, and contains other sports facilities besides the rink.  Hockey is also known among the Russian descended population of Israel, which numbers over a million people.  In addition, many Israelis are familiar with inline hockey.  And the national team program and domestic top league occasionally get some minor press and TV coverage.  So the possibility to grow the sport of ice hockey in Israel is definitely there.

THH) What has the growth been like in the past ten years in terms of players?

MB)  Israel’s zenith in terms of national league strength was back in 2005 and 2006, when the team made it to Division I of the IIHF, right below the level of countries like Canada, the USA and Russia.  However, the team relied heavily on dual passport holding Canadians and Russian Jewish who had immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union.  Those players are mostly gone now, or are in the twilights of their careers.  Israel’s head coach for the past decade or so is Jean Perron, who coached the 1986 Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup championship.  Dusan Kralik, a former Slovak pro who currently trains the likes of John Tavares, PK Subban and Steve Stamkos, is the assistant coach.  Notable players include Max Birbraer (a 2000 NJ Devils third round pick, #67 overall, who now plays in the UK Elite League for the Cardiff Devils), Eliezer Sherbatov (who plays professionally in Kazakhstan & has played pro in France), Daniel Spivak (ECHL pro, former RIT captain in NCAA D.I), Oren Eizenman (AHL/ECHL/Asia League pro), Daniel Erlich (ex-London Knights in major junior, current Western Ontario CIS player), and Evgeni Gussin, now 45 years old but the longtime #1 goalie for Israel who is now President of the Israeli Ice Hockey Federation, and who played professionally in Russia’s equivalent of the AHL.

THH) How do players train for hockey over in Israel? I would imagine it’s a bit different than in Canada.

MB)  Israel has one full sized regulation rink in Metula, a half sized rink in Holon, and a rink that is roughly 1/3 regulation size in Maalot.  It is very hard for players to get ice time.  However, there are the Israeli leagues & teams, the grass roots programs and youth hockey schools in the country, and the men’s and U18 national teams and programs.  They make due with very little funding, and very little available ice time.  That’s why an event like this Saturday is so important in attempting to raise critically needed money and awareness among the North American Jewish community and other friends of Israel.  There is a link here where people can donate, and Friends of Israel hockey is able to provide 501(c)(3) receipts to those who want them.   many people have chosen to send checks and donate anonymously; that can be arranged by emailing the webmaster at the aforementioned link. 

THH) You spent a lot of time trying to organize the event between Israel and MIT. How did you go along with the process of doing that, and are you happy with the result?

MB)   Saturday’s match up came about due to Israel’s captain, Avishai Geller.  Geller is an MIT alum who played there from 1997-2001 and captained the team in his final two seasons.  He recently moved back to Cambridge from Israel, as his wife is now attending MIT.  The game is a chance to help promote and raise money and awareness among American Jews and other friends of Israel for the Israeli national team program, and grassroots hockey in Israel, as well as to help raise the profile of and money for MIT’s long established university club hockey team.  So far ticket sales are going well.  As for success, hopefully that comes on two fronts.  First, hopefully we raise a good amount of money for the program.  Secondly, hopefully the team wins, or is at least competitive, and people enjoy watching us, which will lead to more interest and support.

THH) Is there any talk of having any future matches with teams in North America?

MB)  We are working on future events for both New York and Toronto, to take place within a year, year and a half.  Opponents are yet to be determined.  I’ve had some talks about the New York event with ex-NHL/AHL player Chris Ferraro about putting together a game against ex-pros.  We’re still in the discussion stages.

THH) Last year, Israel came in as the second lowest ranked team in the Division IIB World Championships. By the end, they were victorious, earning advancement to Division IIA. What do you expect the team to do this year?

MB) The immediate goal of the Israeli national team is to survive (i.e., not be relegated) in the upcoming IIHF Division 2A world championships in April, where they will face the likes of Estonia, Serbia, Iceland, Belgium, and Australia.  If they don’t get at least one win, and likely two, they will get relegated back to IIHF Division 2B, where they won gold last year to achieve promotion to the 2A level.  

THH) Outside of any exhibition games, what is being done to improve hockey back home?

MB)  The rink in Metula was just recently completely renovated due to the generosity of several NHL team owners and Gary Bettman himself.  And the half size rink in Holon was just completed within the past year.  Israel’s ice hockey federation exists on a shoestring budget, though, and desperately needs monetary support to operate grassroots hockey schools, and run the Israeli leagues and national team program.

THH) Where do you expect hockey in Israel to be in five years?

11.  Hopefully, we wilI see the team relying less on dual passport holders, and more on native born and resident Israelis who learned the game in Israel, and developed there.  Getting a regulation rink in Tel Aviv is the key for that to happen.  This is more a long term goal.  As for the remaining dual passport guys age out, we may see a step back before we see a step ahead.  Player development in Israel is the key, but that takes time and funding.

For more info on hockey in Israel, check out the official website for the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel here.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

0
IIHF Photo
IIHF Photo

On March 1st, 2014, a team made of some of the best players from Israel will travel to North America to play against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Division II college team. With the country still continuing to develop thanks to help from around the world, Israel won gold at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Division II Group B World Championships in Hungary, earning promotion to Division IIA. The exhibition game against MIT will be a huge step in the right direction for the country, who hope the game will help promote and raise money for hockey in Israel.

NumberNamePosition
1Ilan KilimnikGoalie
2Marc BrunengraberGoalie
3Lowell SimpsonDefenseman
6Ryan RosenbergDefenseman
7Ron OzDefenseman
12Yuval Rosenthal Defenseman
14Tal AvneriDefenseman
15Jonathan RebiboDefenseman
4Matan GellerForward
5Lawrence SprungForward
8Itzhak Levy Forward
9Daniel Mazour Forward
10Benjamin PulleyForward
11Marc SteigerwaldForward
13Shlomo Levy Forward
17Ely OosterhuisForward
18Evan LevyForward
19Avishai GellerForward
21Felix KozakForward

The Montreal Canediens have signed former Princeton University goaltender Mike Condon to a two year entry level contract.

In 24 games with the ECAC’s Princeton Tigers in 2012-13, Condon displayed a record of eight wins, 11 losses and four ties. The goaltender maintained a 2.48 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Condon spent four seasons with the Tigers, playing a total of 53 games with a record of 18-22-8 along with a 2.65 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

Condon played very well for the Houston Aeros of the AHL this year, going 3-0-0 in five regular season games with a 2.39 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. He also played in three games for the team during the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs after Darcy Kuemper was forced into action with the Minnesota Wild due to an injury to Niklas Backstrom.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

The day after his college team Quinnipiac lost the NCAA championship game, Eric Hartzell has signed a one year entry level deal worth $925,000 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 6-foot-4 netminder was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top college hockey player this season after posting a 30-7-5 record, 1.57 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in 42 starts. The top goaltending prospect in this college free agent class this season, Hartzell led Quinnipiac University to the school’s first-ever Frozen Four final appearance this year. The young goalie won the 2013 ECAC Player of the Year, ECAC Hockey Ken Dryden Goaltender of the Year, a selection to the ECAC First-Team All-Star squad, a spot on the All-New England All-Star team and a selection to the CollegeHockeyNews.com’s First-Team.

Hartzell had such a good season this year that he earned a spot as a Hobey Baker Award finalist as the top player in college hockey, losing out to St. Cloud State’s Drew LeBlanc — who has since signed with the Blackhawks. Hartzell was also a three-time ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Month as well as a two-time ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Week.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

The Philadelphia Flyers have signed University of Minnesota defenseman Mark Alt to an Entry Level Contract will report to the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL on an ATO for the remainder of the season.

Acquired prior to the NHL season this year in a package that also brought Brian Boucher to Philly from Carolina, the 21-year-old Alt posted seven points (all assists) and 20 penalty minutes, including a career-best plus-minus rating of +19 in 39 games for the Golden Gophers this past season.  The St. Paul, Minnesota native will forego his final season of collegiate eligibility to turn professional next season, tying to make the Flyers squad who could possibly lose Matt Walker, Kurtis Foster and Kent Huskins to unrestricted free agency, and have already lost Andreas Lilja to Sweden next season.

Alt recorded 7 goals and 32 assists in his career at Minnesota over 117 games. He played as more of a shutdown defender for the Gophers this year and was not relied on to produce as much offensively as he was the past two seasons. Just like his father, John, Mark was a standout football player in high school winning a state championship with Cretin-Derham Hall High School as a quarterback, but chose hockey over football. Good choice there, kiddo.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

0

The first USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Top 15 poll has been released, and we have a tie atop the rankings.

The defending national champions from Boston College and the team they beat in the national semifinals a year ago, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, each received 476 total votes from the voting panel. The Eagles get the nod for the top spot by virtue of their 20 first-place votes (the Gophers received 12).

Jerry York’s Eagles will look to win their fourth title in six years and reach their ninth Frozen Four since the year 2000. In third place are the Michigan Wolverines, who received 408 votes and the other two first-place votes. The Wolverines are just one point ahead of the perennial powers from North Dakota. Union, fresh off the school’s first appearance in the Frozen Four, sits fifth, with Cornell, UMass-Lowell, Denver, Miami and Notre Dame rounding out the top 10.

Western Michigan, Minnesota Duluth, Boston University, Ferris State and Wisconsin were slotted 11-15 in the poll. Harvard, Maine, Quinnipiac, Michigan State, Colorado College, New Hampshire, Ohio State, St. Cloud State, Merrimack, Providence, Yale, Air Force, Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech all received at least one vote.
Prior to the season, which kicks off in October, we’ll break down each team in Division I and keep an eye on Division III and the women’s side of things as well.