For Miami (Ohio) senior forward Marc Hagel, the past 12 months has been a blur.
Last February he was a senior captain of the Princeton Tigers, putting the finishes touches on a career which saw him make one trip to the NCAA tournament and rack up 34 career points. A couple months later he was donning a graduation cap and gown while graduating with a bachelor’s degree in politics from one of the nation’s premier academic institutions. Several months later he was in Oxford, Ohio starting his master’s degree in politics while also starting play as a member of the RedHawks hockey team.
Now, he is one of the mainstays of a Miami team which is currently in first place in the CCHA and ranked third in the nation. He has tallied 13 points on four goals and nine assists as the RedHawks have put together a 19-8-5 record heading into this weekend’s series at Lake Superior State.
“Everything happened so fast,” Hagel said. “It was just a whirlwind of a year. I have been so fortunate to be able to have been at two great places and I will consider both places my alma mater. It’s a completely incomparable difference between the two schools in so many ways. I have really had the best of both worlds at the two places. ”
Hagel’s stay at Princeton was interrupted just three games into his junior campaign when an injury forced him to miss the remainder of the year. That injury allowed him to be granted a medical hardship waiver to let him spend an additional year at the college level. Ivy League policy encourages student-athletes to graduate in four years and does not allow them to continue participating as graduate students if they have already completed eight terms, so Hagel knew he would have to look for a new school to play his final year of eligibility.
“During Christmas break last year I decided I really wanted to try and play pro hockey,” Hagel said. “I knew I was going to graduate and with the injury I would have an extra year. When I came back from break I talked with my head coach (Bob Prier) about my best options and he sent out some feelers for me. Miami showed interest and he talked with Coach (Enrico) Blasi and gave me a glowing recommendation. The rest is kind of history.”
His transition to Miami has been almost seamless.
“Marc has been a great addition in the locker room and has fit right in,” said Blasi. “He’s a smart guy who’s brought both experience and leadership to the team after being a captain last year. He’s a hard worker who does the little things, such as blocking shots. He’s also killed a lot of penalties for us this season.”
With the RedHawks sitting in a great spot for an NCAA tournament berth with only four regular season games left, Hagel and his teammates are focused on one thing.
“Entering the year our goal was to win a national title, and that is still our goal,” Hagel said. “We have a lot more steps to make that a reality, but we are on track. Its exciting to be a part of the CCHA, especially in the final year and I just want to contribute any way possible.”
When his dream of playing hockey finally ends, whenever that may be, he will always have his degree from Princeton to fall back on.
“Going to Princeton was the best decision I ever made in my life,” Hagel said. “It was just a very special place. Walking around campus just makes you feel special to be a part of it. Being around so many smart people is really a great feeling.”
St. Lawrence’s Greg Carey is the nation’s leader in career goals scored with 61. He is narrowly ahead of North Dakota’s Danny Kristo, who is just one behind. Anders Lee of Notre Dame is third with 58 goals, while Joey Diamond of Maine, Jordan George of Bemidji State and Ben Hanoski of St. Cloud State are all tied in fourth with 57.
Rensselaer started the season 1-5-2, and during that stretch allowed at least three goals in six of those games. Since that time, the Engineers have gone 13-6-3 and allowed more than two goals only seven times. Not coincidentally, Rensselaer is 2-5 in those games. Overall, the Engineers are 2-10-1 in games in which they allow more than two goals and 12-1-4 when they keep the opposing team from hitting at least three on the scoreboard.
Niagara has locked up the Atlantic Hockey regular season crown, while Quinnipiac won its first ECAC Hockey regular season title. In other conference races, Miami (Ohio) has a two-point lead over Western Michigan in the CCHA, while Notre Dame is only one point back of the Broncos. In Hockey East, Merrimack stands atop the leader board with 27 points, with Boston College lurking back in second just one point behind. New Hampshire is still very much in the race just two points behind, while Boston University and Providence are also within striking distance at three points back. In the WCHA, St. Cloud State leads Nebraska-Omaha by one point, while Minnesota State-Mankato is only two points back and North Dakota and Minnesota are tied for fourth just three points out of the lead.
Merrimack and Boston College meet Friday night in a battle between the top two teams in Hockey East. BC hosts the contest, where they have a 27-game home unbeaten streak against Merrimack. The Eagles last lost to the Warriors inside Conte Forum on Halloween Night 1997. Since then, Boston College is 24-0-3 against Merrimack at Kelley Rink. In addition, BC is 4-0-1 against Merrimack in their last five match-ups overall. However, Merrimack has yet to lose in February this year as they are 4-0-1.
Rensselaer and American International are both unbeaten in the last six games, the longest such active streak in the nation … Air Force is 8-1-3 in its last 12 games … Colorado College is 6-4 when the opposing team scores first, but only 5-10-5 when they do … Bowling Green’s next victory will be its 500th in CCHA play … North Dakota is 3-0-1 to start the month of February and has now gone 39-7-3 (.827) after January since 2009-10 … Lake Superior State will promote autism awareness during its final home series against Miami … Providence is 7-1-4 when leading after the first period … St. Cloud State’s Drew LeBlanc is just two away from reaching the century mark for career assists … Michigan State has yet to record back-to-back victories this season … Denver has allowed more than two goals in six of its last eight games and is 3-3-2 in those games … Bemidji State is 1-9-4 on Friday’s this season … Colorado College goalie Joe Howe is 3-1-3 during his last seven games, with a 2.47 goals-against average and .922 saves percentage … American International goalie Ben Meisner is 25th in the nation all-time with 3,459 career saves … Michigan Tech has scored 26 goals in the month of February –- second most of any team in the country … Northern Michigan is 0-8-1 when allowing four or more goals, but the Wildcats are 6-0-1 when scoring more than four goals.