Week In Review
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Michigan Tech swept North Dakota on the road for the first time in almost 20 years. No one currently associated with the program has ever even defeated North Dakota in a game. For sure, it punctuates North Dakota's struggles, but let's give credit to the Huskies, bouncing back after four straight home losses. Remember, Tech was a program that won three national championships in the 1960s and 1970s, then gradually declined. This year's start was its best in over a decade. But the four straight home losses put a damper on things.
This weekend over the Sioux, regardless of North Dakota's struggles, shined a light back on the Huskies' program.
Now, as for North Dakota, the last two years it has struggled out of the gate under Dave Hakstol, only to recover, get hot, and make the Frozen Four. But these struggles seem worse. With Jonathan Toews at the Team Canada evaluation camp for the World Juniors, and fellow first-rounder T.J. Oshie continuing to struggle mightily, North Dakota has been unable to score. Now, for the upcoming tournament at Dartmouth over the holidays, the Sioux will lose Taylor Chorney and Brian Lee to the U.S. World Junior team, too.
The WCHA was the one league with a healthy amount of games this weekend, and on that note, elsewhere, Denver also had a road sweep, over the enigmatic Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. Is this Denver awakening from an early-season slumber, or is it UAA coming back down to Earth?
And speaking of slumbers, Minnesota State and Minnesota-Duluth have both been struggling, with their coaches coming under some heat. But it was MSU that came out on the better end, sweeping the weekend from the last-place and floundering Bulldogs.
The schedule was light everywhere else. The only CCHA team to play was Western Michigan, which lost to Wayne State, a CHA team. The CHA league games included a Bemidji State sweep of Alabama-Huntsville, which keeps the Beavers on a nice roll, moving just two points back now of first-place Niagara.
There was one ECAC league game, a 3-2 triumph by Harvard over Dartmouth, a sorely-needed win for the flailing Crimson.
The ECAC also got a nice boost when New York's Capital District counterparts, Rensselaer and Union, which have both been struggling, defeated Hockey East team Massachusetts-Lowell on back-to-back nights.
Hockey East exacted some revenge, however, in the marquee non-league matchup of the weekend, when Vermont blanked St. Lawrence, 4-0. The stingy Vermont defense has helped catapult the Catamounts back in the top 10 in the rankings.
WHO'S HOT/WHO'S NOT
1. Peter Rouleau, Michigan Tech — After scoring no goals last season, he has emerged this year. Had a goal and two assists, including a game winner, in the weekend sweep of North Dakota.
2. Joe Fallon, Vermont — The junior goaltender has his goals against down to 1.50, and picked up his third shutout this week.
3. Luke Erickson, Bemidji State — The senior has five goals in his last five games for the surging Beavers.
1. Philipe Lamoureux, North Dakota — The goaltender is merely the most prominent face on a defense that's struggling.
2. Matt Niskanen, Minnesota-Duluth — He's put in more offensively this season from the backline, and has three goals in the last three weeks, but he's also a team-worst minus-17 for the last-place Bulldogs.
3. Boston College — Not hot because the Eagles aren't playing. Off since early December, they will have gone almost a month between games. Unusual.
NCAA TOP 10
The Top 10 is by order of the KRACH Ranking. "KRACH" is a sophisticated mathematical ranking tool that is endorsed by College Hockey News (details on how and why it works can be found at collegehockeynews.com). College Hockey already uses a system that completely removes the human element from selecting teams to the NCAA tournament, so our opinion is that College Hockey should therefore use the best ranking system. KRACH is best because it eliminates many of the flaws in the current system.
1 Minnesota (15-1-3)
2 New Hampshire (13-2-1)
3 St. Cloud State (10-3-3)
4 Maine (10-3-2)
Tied its only game, 1-1 with Mercyhurst, of all teams, dropping the Bears down a spot
5 Notre Dame (14-3-1)
6 CC (11-6-1)
7 Denver (12-6-2)
A meteoric rise into the rankings for Denver, with Michigan being bumped off the bottom.
8 Vermont (10-5-1)
Won its only game of the week, 4-0 over St. Lawrence, to move up two spots.
9 Miami (14-5-1)
10 Boston College (9-5-1)
idle until January
GAMES TO WATCH
Games are few and far between this week. Next week, we will take up this space by discussing the slew of post-Christmas holiday tournaments, many of which are very intriguing, and some which have a long history.