by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
It was a week where Hockey East once again flexed its muscles in out of conference play, but also had some notable hiccups to ECAC teams that were just getting started. We saw a couple juggernauts keep on going, and the games of the week were in Wisconsin, pitting two teams who last met in that state six months ago for a national title.
Meeting for the first time since Peter Harrold's shot clanged off the post with 1.5 seconds remaining to preserve Wisconsin's national championship, Boston College took it to the Badgers in their building for two second straight nights. It's a small consolation perhaps for losing last year's national championship game to the Badgers in Milwaukee, but it's still something. And couching in terms of this year only, these are enormous road out of conference wins for the Eagles, that will help tremendously in the Pairwise. In fact, this makes SEVEN non-league ROAD wins by Hockey East teams over WCHA teams this year, including three by Maine and two by UNH. Friday, it was a rare 3-on-5 shorthanded goal by Nathan Gerbe in the first period that set the tone.
Meanwhile, a team that has struggled in recent years, got another big road win for the league. Northeastern went to Michigan's hostile Yost Arena for two games, and despite losing a heartbreaker Friday, rebounded to win Saturday, 3-2. Northeastern still struggled in Year 1 of Greg Cronin taking over the program last year, and this year, while there were optimistic signs early, there still wasn't anything proof-positive Huskies fans could hang their hat on. Now they can. Friday's OT loss at Yost could've been devastating, but Northeastern came back and defeated Michigan this time, a big step forward for Northeastern, something it now must build on, however. ... The shots were 47-20, Michigan, but whatever works, the Huskies will take it. Brad Thiessen made 45 saves for Northeastern. Kevin Porter's OT goal won Friday's game for Michigan. In that game, however, the Huskies Mike Morris, who missed all of last season, scored his first two goals since returning.
Elsewhere, Boston University and Providence lost again. It's particularly tough on the Friars right now, who lost to Merrimack on Friday. Merrimack was outshot 35-22, but rallied from 2-0 to pick up its first win of the season (1-4). Providence coach Tim Army promised changes after his team's rough start, but this was not the change he had in mind. Another home loss, to boot.
Alaska-Anchorage had an emotional and strong weekend the week before against Alaska-Fairbanks, but instead this weekend was caught napping by a Michigan Tech team doing very well. Tech blitzed the Seawolves, 9-0, on Friday, followed by a 5-3 win on Saturday. Tyler Shelast scored twice in the third for the Huskies on Saturday, as they went to 5-1 on the season. Friday, Peter Rouleau picked up the hat trick, and Michael-Lee Teslak had the shutout. It was the Huskies first hat trick since Chris Conner in October 2003, and it's the team's best start since 1994.
Minnesota is likely steaming along, crushing Colorado College in a pair of games this weekend. We've seen it before, where early-season juggernauts wind up with a hiccup somewhere down the road, and things change quickly. But right now, the Gophers look awesome, with the opening-night defeat to Maine remaining the only blemish. Saturday, it was New York Islanders first-round pick Kyle Okposo picking up the hat trick, in what's becoming an embarassment of offensive riches for the Gophers. But Minnesota, unlike perhaps other years at this stage of the season, has not foresaken the defense — it outshot CC 34-12. Friday, Jay Barriball scores again, his sixth, clinching it in the third period.
Denver and Minnesota-Duluth split a pair. Rhett Rakhshani and Ryan Dingle scored twice each Saturday, as Denver rallied for a road win after Friday's tough OT loss. Friday, Jason Garrison wins it for the Bulldogs in overtime. The Pioneers were 0-for-7 on the PP Friday, and have struggled this season, but got two PPGs on Saturday. Denver coach George Gwozdecky is still trying to figure out whether to stick with a goalie rotation that's lasted two years, but both Glenn Fisher and Peter Mannino got a start this weekend, and played well.
Michigan's Saturday home loss to Northeastern was the league's blemish this weekend, but Notre Dame took care of business. The Irish did what it had to do, following up last week's big road sweep of Hockey East teams by avoiding a letdown in the inaugural Lightning College Hockey Classic in Tampa Bay, Fla.
Ohio State, off to a poor start, came out with a purpose and outshot Northern Michigan, 39-14, on Saturday. The goaltending is a major sore spot, however, and that continues to be the case. The Buckeyes should've had this one put away, but NMU scored two third-period goals to make it 3-2. Joe Palmer only had 12 saves in the game. The night before, fellow freshman Nick Filion made only 14 saves in a 2-0 loss.
Two other teams had conference sweeps — Miami, including Jeff Zatkoff's 34-save shutout of Bowling Green on Friday, and Nebraska-Omaha, which scored 13 goals in two wins over Western Michigan. Of note for UNO is that, after goalie Jerad Kaufmann allowed five goals on 21 shots Friday, Saturday's start went to Jeremie Dupont, who turned in a 24-save shutout.
Yale gets its first real test under new coach Keith Allain, and picks up a big, but controversial, win after a quick whistle in OT denied New Hampshire the winning goal. Yale then went right back and scored. What kind of mixed emotions have been going through the head of Tim Taylor? Taylor, the 28-year head coach of Yale, was let go after last season, but watched long-time student and friend Allain take over his program. Then he decided to become a volunteer assistant at UNH, and watched this game as "his" players and "his" coach earned one of their biggest wins in a while, against his new team.
Dartmouth started its season off right, too, as the Ivy League teams got into action finally this weekend. The traditional ECAC opener was played against Harvard, and the Big Green won that one. Then, it was a border rival game against former ECAC foe Vermont, and the Green took that one as well, 3-2 on Saturday. The game featured 26 minor penalties, which frustrated Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. "It confusing. We've seen so many different (officiating) styles, that we're just a little bit confused," Sneddon told the Burlington Free Press. "It's hard for us to coach our guys right now. It's hard getting our athletes to understand what is the standard of play because it's different every night."
Bentley fell behind to Princeton, 2-0, on Friday, then rallied for a 3-3 tie. The next night, Bentley pulled off the win, 4-3. Perhaps this could be the kind of kick start that Robert Morris got last year from defeating Princeton — though assuredly Princeton is not enjoying being the booster for these mid-major teams.
RIT, meanwhile, won again Friday to go to 3-0 in their first season in Atlantic Hockey. Too bad the Tigers aren't eligible for the NCAA tournament.
WHO'S HOT/WHO'S NOT
1. Cory Schneider, Boson College — The Eagles' goalie went to Wisconsin's house and allowed just one goal on the weekend in a two-game sweep.
2. Kyle Okposo, Minnesota — He's got plenty of help from fellow freshmen, but this first-rounder is piling up points.
3. Mike Devine, Dartmouth — The Big Green goalie netted two wins for his team this weekend.
1. Chad Rau, CC — The Tigers needed him to step up from 13 goals last year, but he has none this year with a minus-5 in eight games.
2. Geoff Paukovich, Denver — He finally picked up an assist this weekend, but is still scoreless in eight games.
3. T.J. Oshie, North Dakota — His team is doing OK, his linemates are doing OK, but the highly-touted sophomore has just one goal himself in eight games.
WODON'S TOP 10
1 Maine, 6-0-0
One game this week, a win over Massachusetts. No need to play with the Black Bears' ranking.
2 Minnesota, 6-1-0
Tough call as to which team to put here, but Minnesota's only loss is to Maine, so it's hard to complain about it.
3 Boston College, 4-1-0
After dropping to No. 7 following the loss to Notre Dame last week, the Eagles responded more than adequately in sweeping Wisconsin on the road.
4 Miami, 6-2-0
This is a very good team that's getting better.
5 Wisconsin, 3-3-2
Yes, two losses, but to a great team, and the teams below didn't exactly light it up.
6 Boston University, 2-1-1
Only game played was a loss to Massachusetts-Lowell where the Terriers had 18 shots.
7 Michigan, 4-2-0
Home loss to Northeastern was a blemish.
8 North Dakota, 5-3-0
Finally strung together two nice wins, though missing Philippe Lamoureaux in net is hurting.
9 Notre Dame, 5-1-0
Took care of business with wins over Army and Air Force this weekend.
10 Michigan Tech, 5-1-0
Last week's team that snuck into the poll, UNH, dropped two games
GAMES TO WATCH
Michigan at Michigan State
Always one to watch. The teams switch places on Nov. 4.
Dartmouth vs. Clarkson and St. Lawrence
The 2-0 Big Green will get a nice home test in the first full weekend of ECAC play.
Maine at BU
The Terriers need to bounce back from some inconsistent play.