Week in Review
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
The weekend’s marquee matchup, believe it or not, was Michigan State and Notre Dame, and the teams split a home-and-home series, with the home team winning both.
Friday, a sellout crowd watched two Top 10 teams at the Joyce Center for the first time in over seven years, and saw the home team Irish victorious, running its unbeaten streak to nine (8-0-1). Senior center Jason Paige scored twice, while Justin White and Brock Sheahan each scored their first collegiate goals. David Brown made 26 saves for the win, including 19 in the second period. His numbers are an unconscious 1.18 GAA and 95.4 save percentage. ... "I felt we were confident going in. Everyone wants to make something out of the way we are playing, but this is a different team. We can compete with anyone if everyone plays the way we can," said ND coach Jeff Jackson. "I thought tonight would be a matter of our third and fourth lines outplaying their third and fourth lines. Their first two lines are extremely good and I don't think that we can match up with their first two lines. I thought we could overmatch them with our third and fourth lines and I think we did that to a degree."
Saturday was a bounceback 2-0 win for the Spartans. Big shutout for Jeff Lerg on 25 saves. He hadn't been playing well earlier in the season. Spartans coach Rick Comley eschewed the coach-speak, and flat-out told the team that it was a must-win game if the Spartans are to be an elite team. The fact that MSU responded speaks well for them — and the fact that Comley labeled this game as such also speaks volumes for how far the Irish have come, despite this loss. On the down side for MSU, it lost assistant captain Ethan Graham for about a month with a knee injury.
Miami swept struggling Nebraska-Omaha. Friday, the line of Ryan Jones, Nathan Davis and Jarod Palmer combined for 16 shots, four goals and nine points for Miami. It was 17-year old freshman Jeremie Dupont in net the whole way for the Mavericks; they could've pulled him, but for who? The defense/goaltending for UNO is in an official crisis. In a sigh of relief, though, sophomore Jerad Kaufmann did have a good game Saturday, but the Mavericks still lost 2-1. There was no scoring until the third, when the usual suspects come through for the RedHawks — Davis and Jones.
WMU coach Jim Culhane continues to ride freshman Riley Gill in net over incumbent Daniel Belissimo, and this has to be for more than performance reasons at this point. Last week, Culhane told Belissimo to stay home, so there's something extra going on. Gill allowed seven goals in Friday's loss, but still got the start Saturday, and won 3-2 in OT over Northern Michigan. He allowed two third-period goals as WMU blew a lead, but hung in to get the overtime victory.
Minnesota showed it could win low-scoring tight games, taking a 2-1 and 3-1 decision from Wisconsin in two of the weekend's key games. Wisconsin did all it could to play keep-away hockey considering how depleted its offense has been. But the Gophers charged out in the third on Saturday, scored three unanswered goals, and completed the weekend sweep. Tony Lucia's first career goal wound up being the game winner. Minnesota will be the new top-ranked team in the country. Meanwhile, the Badgers have lost four in a row — to Denver and Minnesota. Minnesota won these games without talented senior Tyler Hirsch, who sat out because coach Don Lucia was concerned about some academic issues.
Denver coach George Gwozdecky has continued to rotate goalies with both playing well, but considering just how well Glenn Fisher is playing, he may consider going to him full time. Not that Peter Mannino played poorly in Saturday’s game, a 3-3 tie with Michigan Tech, but Fisher has been incredibly tough to beat, coming off two straight shutouts. There was a point, two years ago, when most people thought Mannino would be the better of the two, as he played better down the stretch and Denver won its second straight national title. But Fisher has earned the right to be called "the man" for the Pioneers.
"Thank goodness for great goaltending, because Glenn Fisher was the reason we won the game," said Gwozdecky after Friday’s 1-0 win over Tech. "His performance tonight really showed why he's the best goaltender in the country. Glenn has really worked hard on his all-around game and is playing with a lot of confidence."
Alaska-Anchorage swept North Dakota, which was coming off a 12-day layoff. You couldn't ask for a more impressive weekend sweep than that. Two goals in the third broke open Saturday’s tie game, and Nathan Lawson stops 28 shots for the Seawolves.
St. Cloud State swept a weekend series from Clarkson, which has now lost four straight after a very promising start. For SCSU, it was a coming out party for the offense. Aaron Brocklehurst, a defenseman who was recently moved to forward, scored twice. Nate Dey, who had been held scoreless so far this season, also scored twice.
Maine went 115 straight games (109-0-6) dating back five years without blowing a third-period lead. But Sunday, in a battle of heavyweights, Boston College rallied from 3-1 down and won in overtime. It was the second straight loss — both at home — for the Black Bears, who will surely give up their top ranking to Minnesota now. Joe Rooney scored two goals for the Eagles, including the game winner. The win followed up Friday’s 3-3 tie with Northeastern, after the Huskies tied it on a Mike Morris goal with three seconds left in regulation.
New Hampshire swept Massachusetts-Lowell, with freshman Brian Foster getting a shutout Saturday in his first career start. We'll see if this earns him some more playing time, though junior Kevin Regan has had a nice bounceback year so far. UNH is 5-1-1 in the league, and in first place.
Last year, Providence brought Tim Army in to be head coach, and he vowed to open things up, let the boys play, give them freedom to operate. And it worked ... at first. When the euphoria died down, Providence came back to the pack. This year, the Friars have been on life support early on, and so Army, desperate to win games, is back to slogging it out. But it still didn't work. BU won 1-0 on Friday. The shots were 22-20 BU, and Chris Higgins scored the only goal of the game, in the third.
A weekend sweep for Yale, over Dartmouth and Harvard. The Bulldogs are now a rejuvenated 6-1 under new coach Keith Allain. Harvard, on the other hand, is struggling mightily at 2-6.
Colgate defeated Princeton 4-2 on Saturday for its first ECAC win. The Raiders were the preseason pick for first place. As for Princeton, at least it wasn't a one-goal loss for the poor Tigers (1-6-1); their five previous losses were by one goal. But it was perhaps more frustrating, since the Tigers put 51 shots on net. Colgate has a long way to go to climb out of its hole. Mark Dekanich, who has struggled in goal, made 49 saves for the Raiders.
Don't look now, but the Quinnipiac Bobcats are in first place in the ECAC, and the euphoria of opening a new arena hasn't even hit yet. That will come in January. It was the first-ever win for Quinnipiac over Cornell, 5-2 on Saturday, and the enthusiasm in the old building was tremendous.
WHO'S HOT/WHO'S NOT
1. Brandon Wong, Quinnipiac — The freshman has scored in four straight games and has seven in his last six.
2. David Brown, Notre Dame — He’s led the Irish up the national rankings with his hot play all year. He has a 1.26 goals against average, and .950 save percentage.
3. Jack Johnson, Michigan — He has a point in all but one game played this year, has stayed out of the box the last two weekends (well, 2 PIM in four games) and is a ridiculous plus-17.
1. Ben Street, Wisconsin — The sophomore was expected to fill a big hole offensively this season after his 10-goal freshman campaign. But even with Saturday’s goal, he only has two in 14 games this season, and he’s a team-worst minus-9.
2. Geoff Paukovich, Denver — Still without a goal in 12 games.
3. Bryan Ewing, BU — Just returning from a shoulder injury, he is scoreless in five games this season.
NCAA TOP 10
1 Minnesota (10-1-2)
The only loss remains the opener, against Maine, as the Gophers continue to dominate in every aspect – getting quality offense, defense and goaltending.
2 Maine (8-2-1)
A second straight loss finally knocks the Black Bears from the perch.
3 Miami (10-4-0)
Two wins over Nebraska-Omaha keeps things humming.
4 Notre Dame (9-2-1)
A split with our No. 5 team means both stay put.
5 Michigan State (6-3-1)
Rick Comley challenged his team and it responded on Saturday.
6 Michigan (9-3-0)
A sweep of Ferris State is not enough to jump them over two fellow CCHA teams that had a healthy split.
7 Boston College (7-3-1)
Big win over Maine, but there was the tie earlier in the week.
8 New Hampshire (7-2-1)
Two more wins gives the Wildcats a leapfrog up the rankings. Big game with BC on Wednesday.
9 Boston University (3-2-4)
The enigma continues.
10 Denver (7-4-1)
Back in the rankings with North Dakota falling out because of its two losses to Anchorage. Denver had a win/tie against Michigan Tech.
GAMES TO WATCH
Michigan State at Michigan
Michigan state survived last weekend, now gets Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin coming up.
Harvard at Boston University
Another Tuesday night game — Harvard has played its best against good teams this year.
New Hampshire at Boston College
Early-season intrigue and jockeying for Hockey East positioning against two teams that have shown flashes of greatness.