Week In Review
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Last week was filled with the now-ubiquitous holiday tournaments. They are at dichotomy, at once a time when many key players are missing at the World Junior tournaments, or teams are coming off long layoffs; yet also, in most cases, the last non-league games teams will play this season, and extremely important in the NCAA tournament picture.
Clarkson won its first in-season tournament since 1995, defeating Lake Superior State, 3-2, and becoming the first ECAC team to ever win the Badger Showdown. The Golden Knights increased their winning streak to seven games. Clarkson, with the nation's No. 2-ranked power play, scored on its first two chances with the man advantage. And with killing off all five of the Lakers' power plays, Clarkson's dominant special teams formula is starting to hearken back to its early-to-mid-'90s glory days.
Also, Wisconsin's Shane Connelly shut out Providence, 5-0, but this was just a consolation win in its own tournament — not something Wisconsin is used to.
Friday was the key for Clarkson. Without Jack Skille (at the World Juniors), Wisconsin knew goals would be at a premium again, but Clarkson also took it to the home team offensively. Junior captain Nick Dodge had a hat trick.
Great Lakes Invitational
Michigan State scored three power-play goals and defeated Michigan in a GLI final, 4-1, for the fifth straight time. Each school has now won 11 GLIs, and Michigan's drought reached 10 years. Tim Crowder scored two power-play goals of rocket one-timers, and Bryan Lerg added a shorthanded goal. Michigan State seemed to have its way down low with Michigan's defense for large stretches of the game, and clamped down defensively when it built the lead. Wolverine Kevin Porter's point-scoring streak was snapped at 15 games.
Florida College Classic
Maine, the team with the nation's best power play did in a team, Cornell, that is traditionally strong killing them off, winning the final, 6-3. Maine had three more power-play goals, and had eight in the tournament. And Cornell was 0-for-7 on its own power play. The teams were trading goals until freshman Teddy Purcell (tournament MVP) scored his second of the game to give Maine a 4-3 lead. Mike Lundin added a PPG in the third, and Vince Laise scored the first of his career to seal it. Cornell coach Mike Schafer pulled starter Troy Davenport in favor of Ben Scrivens after allowing the fourth goal.
The night before, Maine defenseman Bret Tyler had a hat trick, all in the third period, and all on the power play. Also, Cornell had a huge win over New Hampshire, 5-2, with a three-goal third-period explosion that snapped New Hampshire's 12-game unbeaten streak. Cornell had not played a major out-of-conference opponent yet this season, let alone beat them, previously going 3-1 against CHA and Atlantic Hockey teams. Cornell squandered a lead in the last minute of the second period, but got a huge lift by getting it right back 23 seconds later on Ray Sawada's second of the game. That propelled the Big Red into the third, where it scored twice more.
Ohio Hockey Classic
Ohio State topped Miami, 5-3, in the final at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. It looked like Miami, in first place in the CCHA and having a much better season than OSU, had this one well in hand with a 2-0 lead early. But the Buckeyes scored four straight even-strength goals — three of them by defensemen — to take the lead and held off the RedHawks. "Their defense is a threat every time. They know how to jump in there," Miami coach Enrico Blasi told the Dayton Daily News.
The No. 10 Pioneers rode the stellar goaltending of senior Glenn Fisher and used a big play from freshman Rhett Rakhshani to defeat Massachusetts-Lowell, 2-1. Fisher stopped 36 shots and Rakhshani set up the game-winning goal as the Pioneers remain unbeaten in their last six games (5-0-1) and improve to 14-6-2 overall. "It wasn't pretty, but we got the job done," DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. "Glenn has been terrific all season and he turned in another strong performance tonight. Rhett has a knack for making big plays and he delivered (Saturday). We're looking forward to a big series against Wisconsin next weekend."
Dodge Holiday Classic
Already without five players at the World Junior tournament, and having just dismissed Tyler Hirsch — the player with the most points per game in the WCHA this season — the Minnesota Golden Gophers dressed just 10 forwards. But it didn't matter as they still easily handled Ferris State to win the tournament, and run their unbeaten streak to 20 games. ... The night before, Ferris won a shootout over Massachusetts to make the final, and was buoyed by the return to the lineup of Mark Bomersback, who had broken his leg early in the season.
St. Cloud State defeated host Vermont, 4-2. The unbeaten streak reaches 13 for the Huskies, as they hold off a Vermont rally. Nate Dey's pair of second-period goals proved to be the difference for SCSU.
North Dakota pulled away in the third period to defeat St. Lawrence, 4-2, and skates away with the trophy in a bit of sweet irony, if you will, following remarks by Dartmouth AD Josie Harper. Harper previously had apologized for inviting North Dakota because of its Native American-themed nickname and logo. Ryan Duncan scored the game winner, and added an empty netter. ... In the consolation game, BU bounced back from Friday's heartbreaker with a solid shutout performance. All three goals came in the third, including an empty netter by Kevin Schaeffer, who returned to the lineup after, remarkably, missing just one game after getting his face mashed in by a baseball bat in the well-publicized late-night fight in Boston a few weeks ago.
In the aforementioned semis, in a game between SLU and BU, the game ended in excitement and controversy. BU's Matt Gilroy was called by referee Alex Dell for intentionally pushing the net off its moorings, during the overtime period. The result: A penalty shot, which St. Lawrence freshman Mike McKenzie converted after a beautiful backhand move to give the Saints the win. Gilroy indeed knocked the net off — though he tried to sell it differently. The issue was that St. Lawrence had missed the net, and had the puck behind it, and was not in position to score. But once Dell committed to calling the delay of game, he had to call the penalty shot. ... Brock McBride, who had just one other goal on the season coming in, score all three of St. Lawrence's other goals, including the equalizer on a power play with 3:50 remaining in regulation.
The strongest words of the weekend came from an unusual source. Niagara coach Dave Burkholder is always one to speak his mind, and after defeating Canisius 6-2, in a game his team dominated and in which he felt Canisius was chippy, he didn't mince words about the "rivalry" of Western NY teams. "I do the scheduling and unfortunately my old boss (former Niagara Athletics Director Mike Hermann) makes me play this game," Burkholder told the Niagara Gazette afterwards. "But hopefully I can sit down with my new boss (Ed McLaughlin) and iron this out. Because I don't want to play this game." Canisius' Dave Smith, obviously, disagreed: "Is it a rivalry? Yes, because we're Western New York teams," Smith told the paper. "The perception is their program is ahead of ours, and tonight it was." McLaughlin may not agree with his coach when he factors in that it was the largest crowd ever at Dwyer Rink for a December game.
Things are really coming together for the Princeton Tigers, as they put together back-to-back one-goal home wins against major out of conference foes — Minnesota State and Nebraska-Omaha — and improved to 6-1-1 in the last eight. A day after scoring a goal 43 seconds into overtime to win, Princeton scored with 48 seconds left in regulation to defeat Minnesota State, from freshman Cam MacIntyre, his second of the game. ... The night before, Lee Jubinville scored in overtime to give Princeton a nice win at home over UNO.
Saturday in New Haven, UNO followed up the OT loss by rallying to score four goals in the final 17 minutes, overcoming a 4-0 deficit for a tie against Yale. Yale ended a five-game losing streak, but not the way it had hoped. It was a wild game with 24 penalties, numerous two-man advantages and 32 shots on goal by both squads. "When you think you've seen it all, something else happens. But stranger things have happened," said Yale coach Keith Allain. "Our execution was good (Saturday) and we played within the system." Freshman goalie Billy Blasé, making his first collegiate start, stopped 28 shots and looked sharp. "It felt great," he said. "I looked up at the banners before the game started and realized this is my dream coming true."
Notre Dame swept Northern Michigan in a Saturday-Sunday affair. Saturday's game was played at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind. Notre Dame's win streak is now six, and the Irish are technically in first place in the CCHA. Still, coach Jeff Jackson wasn't thrilled with Saturday's game. "We didn't play our best," said Jackson. "I'm sure the break had something to do with it, but Northern had the same break and they seemed to have a little more jump than we did early." ... "We have to start playing an entire game. I don't like trailing going into the third period." Erik Condra had the game winner. "The goal was a play that we work on in practice," said Condra. "(Kevin) Deeth did a nice job winning the draw right to me and I just shot it at the goal and it went in." ... This marks the latest the Irish have ever been in first place in the conference.
Colorado College and Bemidji State split a pair of games, with BSU winning on Friday to run its unbeaten streak to 10, the longest in the Beavers' Division I history. Shane Holman scored twice, and junior Matt Climie stopped 40 shots. It's the highest-ranked opponent BSU has defeated since joining D-I in 1999. Saturday, the wide shot disparity was too much for BSU to overcome.
Alaska-Anchorage officially took home this year's Governor's Cup by winning late Friday night against Alaska-Fairbanks, 4-1. It was an emotional triumph for UAA's seniors, who had lost the annual four-game series to Fairbanks each of the last three years, and UAA as a whole had lost five straight. They got their cup after Saturday's game. "It means everything," senior Justin Bourne told the Anchorage Daily News. "I've been outspoken in my dislike for that team and how important it is for me to win, so it wouldn't be worth very much if I wasn't worth very much to my team. ... It's been a really exciting weekend for us, and after years of brewing up hatred for an opponent, it's just really sweet to beat them and beat them convincingly." The Seawolves then sealed the deal with a 4-2 win at home Saturday, scoring the last four goals of the game.
WODON'S TOP 10
1 Minnesota (17-1-3) — Turmoil with the dismissal of Tyler Hirsch didn't affect play on the ice.
2 St. Cloud State (12-3-3) — Won the Catamount Cup and leapfrogged into second on this list. Has played the toughest schedule in the country, according to the computer.
3 New Hampshire (14-3-1) — A loss to Cornell in Florida snapped a 12-game unbeaten streak.
4 Maine (12-3-2) — Won one of the more challenging tournaments of the weekend.
5 Notre Dame (16-3-1) — Two wins over Northern Michigan, still no movement upward.
6 Colorado College (12-7-1) — One loss to Bemidji State in two games does not hurt its standing.
7 Clarkson (12-5-1) — The Golden Knights receive a nice boost out of their Badger Showdown championship.
8 Denver (14-6-2) — A relatively easy tournament win, so no big movement for the Pioneers.
9 Vermont (11-6-1) — No shame in losing to red-hot St. Cloud in the championship game of its own tournament.
10 Miami (15-6-1) — Loses to Ohio State in the Ohio Hockey Classic final.
GAMES TO WATCH
Michigan State at Miami
MSU is looking to keep the momentum going from the GLI win, and Miami is looking to get back into first place, after falling two points back of Notre Dame.
New Hampshire at Vermont
Vermont is in second place in Hockey East, eight points behind UNH with three games in hand. To make up ground, it needs at least three points here or UNH may run away and hide with the regular-season title.
North Dakota at Colorado College
Both teams may still be without players at the World Juniors, but it's an opportunity to find out more about them.