Week In Review
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
The big game of the weekend came Sunday, when New Hampshire throttled top-ranked Maine, in Orono, 8-2. That knocked the Black Bears from the ranks of the unbeatens, the last to have had that distinction. It was a bit of a stunning butt-whooping after how well Maine has played all year.
New Hampshire had just tied Boston University on Friday, continuing its own solid play, and continuing BU's kiss-your-sister trend. The Terriers are now 2-1-4. Also Friday, Vermont upended Providence, after it had lost four straight games by one goal each. Coach Kevin Sneddon talked about how he liked his team's improvement, but there was nothing to show for it. Well, Torrey Mitchell got a goal and two assists, and the Cats got back in the win column, building off an exhibition win over Ottawa. Mitchell was teamed with Dean Strong and Viktor Stalberg for the first time in that exhibition game, and here again in this one. A new combo that is obviously clicking immediately.
Cornell was the last unbeaten and untied team to go down, losing Saturday to Dartmouth, 3-2. The Big Red had a 37-23 shot edge, but didn't score until the closing minute of the game, when they got two extra attacker goals 20 seconds apart. But they couldn't get the miracle tying goal in the closing 32 seconds. That followed Friday's thrilling win over rival Harvard. The Big Red got two late-third-period goals to overtake the Crimson, avenging last year's 6-2 trouncing by the Crimson in the ECAC championship game, which followed a rare Harvard win at Lynah.
Cornell figured to go through a "rebuilding" year, at least relatively, after losing a lot to graduation and the NHL. One of its most skilled recruiting classes ever was coming in, but they were raw and the conventional wisdom held that they would need a lot of time to adjust to Cornell's system. Well, the Big Red will still need to be tested over the long haul, and have a ways to go to get back to their third straight NCAA Regional final — but this thrilling come-from-behind win over its archrival bodes well for Cornell.
Clarkson completely succumbs to the Team of the Week jinx, following up a 6-1-1 start and two impressive road wins by getting swept at home by Princeton and Quinnipiac. Friday, two of the highest scoring teams in the country hooked up, and the Bobcats got the upper hand. Talking to Clarkson coach George Roll this week, one theme was, of course, avoiding this trap. After winning two games on the road — something the Knights couldn't do last year — it returned home and couldn't avoid that trap, getting heavily outshot. Bryan Leitch scored twice for QU, including a penalty shot in the third period that made it 5-3. Saturday's loss to Princeton just compounded the woe.
Colgate lost two games. Friday, Mark Dekanich was pulled in this game after falling behind 5-0, in his own building, after two periods-plus. OK, not to gloat over a poor guy's early-season struggles, but in the spirit of shamefully tooting my own horn, I think I was the only media member to select Quinnipiac's Bud Fisher for preseason first-team all-ECAC over Dekanich.
Freshman Rhett Rakhshani scored with 15 seconds left in OT to give Denver the two-game road sweep over Wisconsin. Denver has a great track record in this building, for some reason; it is the alma mater, after all, of Denver coach George Gwozdecky. Ryan Dingle added two goals, and assisted on the game winner Saturday. "We battled hard and got a big goal in overtime to earn this sweep," George Gwozdecky said. "I really like the way that our team is coming together. We had several strong individual performances, but it took a total team effort in a tough environment." Friday was a 2-0 win. Wisconsin is clearly struggling, especially offensively. It's not just early-season rust at this point, but a clear indication that the Badgers have a lot of work to do. Plenty of time to recover, no doubt, but it is an issue.
Michigan Tech is 6-3-1 after a win and tie over Minnesota-Duluth, and head coach Jamie Russell needs to start getting a lot of credit for awakening this long-dormant program. There's a long way to go for this alum, who honed his coaching skills at Cornell, but he has things going pretty well right now. Friday's tie was 0-0, the first time that happened in Houghton, Mich., since 1968. Michael-Lee Teslak only needed 16 saves for the Huskies, but on the other end, UMD freshman Alex Stalock, the 2005-06 USHL Goaltender of the Year, recorded his first NCAA shutout with 27 saves. "I don't know if the score illustrated the kind of game this was tonight," said Russell after Friday. "It felt a lot like the Northern Michigan game we played in to start the year. Both teams had chances and the goaltending was excellent. Obviously, we would have liked to have gotten the win, but a 3-0-1 mark to start the home season is something to build on."
Notre Dame ran its unbeaten streak to eight games (7-0-1) Saturday, led by senior goaltender David Brown's 28-save shutout and a pair of goals by sophomore Erik Condra. The eight-game unbeaten streak is the longest for Notre Dame since a 14-game winning streak in the middle of the 1987-88 season. "I thought we played much more in control," said head coach Jeff Jackson, comparing Saturday's win to Friday's over Bowling Green. "We dictated the tempo better. It wasn't a free-for-all with odd-man rushes. We made a lot of progress tonight over (Friday) and it was just a matter of playing smart with the puck, not giving up the odd-man rushes or making bad decisions with the puck."
Michigan swept reeling Nebraska-Omaha. Brandon Naurato scored twice in Saturday's win. Friday, the Wolverines got a hat trick from Kevin Porter (10), as it was another rough game in net for UNO's Jerad Kaufmann.
Ohio State's goaltending problems continued when Joe Palmer allowed seven goals on 24 shots in Thursday's 8-5 loss to Western Michigan. He was able to bounce back Friday, and picked up a 2-2 tie. Still, just one point for OSU at home in this series was not what it wanted, now sitting at 2-6-2 on the season.
Army has been the story of Atlantic Hockey so far this season, running its league record to 6-0-1 with a Friday win over Bentley. Alas, the Knights lost to Bentley on Saturday to end the run.
Niagara has three of the top five scorers in the nation, Les Reaney, Ted Cook and Sean Bentivoglio, its top line. They were put together after a 10-1 loss at Nebraska-Omaha. Since then, Niagara is 4-1-2 with the loss coming the next day to Lowell in that tournament. That line has totaled 19-26—45 in those seven games. In the five games before they were put together, the three players totaled 8-11—19. Still not too shabby. Of course, a big difference being there were non-league games before hand, and since then, it's been CHA games. But it's still impressive.
WHO'S HOT/WHO'S NOT
1. Kevin Porter, Michigan — He had goals in five straight games (nine goals in that span) before being held scoreless Saturday. But he did have an assist in that game. He has a point in all but one game this year.
2. Trevor Smith, New Hampshire — He'd scored in every game this season until Friday's tie with BU, then came back with three more points in Sunday's thumping of Maine.
3. Les Reaney, Niagara — See above. He's the nation's leading scorer.
1. Jerad Kaufmann, UNO — His struggles are reaching epic proportions after Friday's 6-4 loss to Michigan.
2. Geoff Paukovich, Denver — Still without a goal in 10 games.
3. Brian Boyle, Boston College — A 22-goal scorer last year, he's gone six straight games without a goal.
NCAA TOP 10
1 Maine (8-1-1)
Despite Sunday's blowout, it's still a 1-1 weekend for the Black Bears, and enough to keep them here.
2 Minnesota (8-1-2)
Two ties with St. Cloud. Neither team played great Friday, with the Gophers blowing a two-goal third-period lead. They should get a pass for now, considering how well they've played.
3 Miami (8-4-0)
A split with Lake Superior State.
4 Notre Dame (8-1-1)
While every other team in last week's top 10 either tied or lost games, two CCHA teams pulled off sweeps — Michigan and the Irish. And we're going to finally get the guts to jump the Irish over all of them.
5 Michigan State (5-2-1)
Three points against Ferris State, and everything is clicking for the Spartans.
6 Michigan (7-3-0)
A sweep of Nebraska-Omaha. One good game, and one not so good game out of goaltender Billy Sauer, who is still a work in progress.
7 Boston College (6-3-0)
A bad 4-0 loss to Harvard last Tuesday, was salved by a gimme win over Merrimack over the weekend.
8 North Dakota (6-3-1)
The Sioux were idle this weekend. The biggest news for them was the injunction the school won against the NCAA in court to continue using the Sioux logo during NCAA events.
9 Boston University (2-1-4)
This team remains strange.
10 New Hampshire (5-2-1)
There's a big clump between 4 and 10 in the rankings and this team could easily fit in the middle of it.
GAMES TO WATCH
Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
A home-and-home. This is shaping up to be a knock-down, drag-em-out affair for early-season CCHA supremacy.
Clarkson at St. Cloud State
Key non-league series, with both teams needing victories.
Wisconsin at Minnesota
Can Wisconsin use these rivalry games to get things back in order? It will help if Jack Skille returns to the lineup for this one.
Mike Machnik also contributed to this report.