Week In Review
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Jeff Frazee is starting to look like the goaltender he was projected to be, and he's another example of a player showing up big on the World Junior stage and then returning with more confidence. Jim O'Brien's first-period goal stood up, and Frazee stopped all 30 shots he faced, as Minnesota responded from losing their unbeaten streak the night before to defeat Wisconsin, 1-0. This followed a 2-1 loss Friday, when the Gophers' 22-game unbeaten streak ended. The Gophers looked tired in that game, and still in need of getting back in sync. The offense disappeared this weekend, despite getting all their players back, but the Badgers' style — and the play of Brian Elliott in the Wisconsin goal — had plenty to do with that. Typically, the winning coach was happy about his team's effort, and the losing coach wasn't. "The question was put to the boys, how can we come to a game, say all the right things and start like that when we know what's coming and we have a tremendous opportunity tonight to do something special, to take a step as a team?" Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves told the Capital Times. "As much as I can applaud their effort in the second half of the game, I can equally say to them how disappointing it was that we came out that way."
Another big streak, the 15 unbeaten and 12-game winning streak for St. Cloud State, came to an end Friday with a huge thud. The Huskies blew a 4-1 third-period lead at home. The next night, the teams tied.
Philippe Lamoureux's shutout Saturday over Alaska-Anchorage gave North Dakota a 3-point weekend. But the Sioux's Rylan Kaip and UAA's Chad Anderson each picked up fighting DQs and will miss the next game.
Tim Kennedy scored in overtime to give Michigan State a win over Alaska-Fairbanks on Friday. Afterwards, the two coaches — veteran Rick Comley and Alaska's Tavis MacMillan — got into a shouting match, which led to a fight and four game disqualifications. Alaska believed MSU was intentionally running its goaltender. Alaska's Ryan Muspratt and T.J. Campbells, and MSU's Brandon Gentile and Chris Lawrence, all were given five for fighting and game DQs, and missed Saturday's game. "(Comley) took exception to (my assertion about running the goalie) and one of their players grabbed me by the shoulder and our players didn't like their coach getting grabbed," said MacMillan to the Lansing State Journal. ... For his part, Comley denied his team did any intentional running of the goalie, but agreed things got rough. "Coaches don't need to be going after each other. That was an unfortunate incident," Comley told the Journal. "There was traffic around both goaltenders all game and the referee has to step in and eliminate it. ... We're college coaches. This is not the East Coast League and we have to have some class. You take a tough win or a tough loss and shake hands, but you don't incite players because nothing good happens."
Cooler heads prevailed Saturday, as MSU really took care of business and kept the Nanooks in their swoon. Despite a 37-12 shot edge, though, for the Spartans, it was only 2-2 after two periods. But Jim McKenzie scored early in the third to put MSU up for good. With the win, MSU moved ahead of Michigan into third place in the CCHA.
Notre Dame held three different one-goal leads before winning in overtime against Lake Superior on Friday, then completed the sweep Saturday. This put the Irish two points ahead of Miami in the CCHA with two games in hand, because Miami only got a split with Western Michigan.
Mike Santorelli scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season and Bill Zaniboni stopped 36 shots, as Northern Michigan picked up a weekend split at Yost with a 2-1 win Saturday. Friday, though, Wolverines coach Red Berenson earned his 600th win, all with Michigan. He has the most wins in college hockey in the time span since he started at Michigan, in October 1984. At 600-286-63, he is eighth on the all-time win list, and second among active coaches in winning percentage (at least five years of service), behind Notre Dame's Jeff Jackson. Berenson was the first NCAA player to jump straight to the NHL, when he went from Michigan to the Montreal Canadiens in 1962. He had a 17-year playing career, and also coached the St. Louis Blues, winning a Coach of the Year Award in 1981, before going back to college. At 67, he's also the oldest head coach in college hockey.
Boston University followed a wild 6-5 win on Friday, a game in which Maine rallied from down 6-2 behind Josh Soares' hat trick, with a 3-0 win Saturday to secure a sweep on the road. This is the kind of statement weekend that BU coach Jack Parker has been looking for, and to get it at the expense of Maine is truly huge for the Terriers. Obviously, the Black Bears will see things from the exact opposite perspective, as they got handled pretty good at home, and dropped into a fifth-place tie in Hockey East with Massachusetts. Maine's impeccable non-league record will be a boon vis-a-vis the NCAAs, but in league, it's in danger of not even getting home ice in the playoffs. The power plays were fairly even, but Maine was whistled for four misconducts in this game, to BU's none, showing, perhaps, a deep frustration. In the first period, Keith Johnson was given a misconduct and minor for shooting after the whistle. Soares had the same thing tagged on him in the third, and later, Brent Shepheard got a five for fighting and Game DQ. After the game, the "Bench" was given a misconduct by referee Scott Hansen.
New Hampshire defeated Dartmouth, 4-2, in a single non-conference game. These teams always manage to play some wild games when they get together for the annual intra-state battle. This time, Dartmouth had a 17-2 shot edge after one period, but it was 0-0. It was 1-1 after two, and Dartmouth had 19 shots in the third period, only to allow three goals and lose. Kevin Regan made 43 saves for the Wildcats.
Brian Boyle, who had his captaincy stripped recently for missing classes, and who has been in a general funk most of the season, broke out with a goal and four assists in a 6-1 win over Merrimack. Meanwhile, Massachusetts-Lowell lost to Providence, 3-2, and is now winless in 15 straight.
Clarkson played a pair of 1-1 ties this weekend, to Cornell and Colgate, despite playing better than its opponent in both games. Saturday, Cornell hang on for dear life at times. The Big Red did play better than the previous night's loss to SLU, after getting reamed out by coach Mike Schafer. But with four freshman home for the weekend for reported disciplinary reasons, and Schafer imploring his seniors to show some leadership, and the power play hurting, it's starting to look more and more like it will be a step-back year for the Red. Clarkson, meanwhile, didn't hurt itself much with the ties, and stayed in the Top 10.
St. Lawrence jumped all over the shorthanded Big Red on Friday, taking a 3-0 first-period lead and rolling from there. Cornell was 0-for-12 on the power play in the game. The usually strong Cornell special teams has had a bad season in that regard. St. Lawrence completed a strong weekend with a 5-0 win over Colgate, and stayed five points behind first-place Quinnipiac in the ECAC with five games in hand. Five different players scored, Alex Petzian picked up the 19-save shutout, and Colgate's PP was 0-for-9, meaning the SLU penalty killers were 21-for-21 on the weekend.
Brandon Wong continues to go under the radar around the country, but this is a truly impressive player for Quinnipiac. He scored two more nice goals in a 6-2 win over Yale and set up another, giving him 16 goals on the season.
Bemidji State came into the weekend having had five prior wins against WCHA teams this season, and riding that into an eye-opening top 10 spot in the Pairwise — meaning it was looking in good shape to get an at-large NCAA bid. Not easy for a CHA team. But with two losses at Michigan Tech — in the teams' first-ever meetings — the Beavers suffered a big setback.
Likewise, Niagara came into Denver prepared and pesky, but unable to get a win, including 5-2 Saturday and Friday's heartbreaking OT loss. That means Denver finishes its non-league schedule this year at 8-2, a far cry from last year when its poor mark left it out in the cold come NCAA time. Freshman Tyler Ruegsegger netted two goals and freshman Brock Trotter and junior Ryan Dingle added one goal and one assist each. "I was very pleased with the way we finished around the net tonight," Denver coach George Gwozdecky said. "Ruegsegger's goal in the second period is exactly the type of goal we've been looking for."
WHO'S HOT/WHO'S NOT
1. Brandon Wong, Quinnipiac — Four goals and six points for the freshman phenom over the weekend.
2. Mike McKenzie, St. Lawrence — The freshman, the son of well-known Canadian columnist Bob McKenzie, has picked things up with 4-3—7 in his last nine for the streaking Saints.
3. Brian Elliott, Wisconsin — The senior goalie has been a bit inconsistent, but he played great in allowing just two goals to Minnesota last weekend.
1. Kyle Okposo, Minnesota — Two weeks does not a season make, and the freshman has been on the "hot" list before, but he had a bad junior tournament, and has struggled since returning from it.
2. Byron Bitz, Cornell — Part of an anemic Cornell power play, the senior didn't score in five straight before being sat for the last game against Clarkson.
3. Kyle Greentree, Alaska-Fairbanks — The Nanooks' leading scorer is just 1-2—3 in his last six. But he's not the only one slumping; the team has lost seven straight, and nine of 10.
NCAA TOP 10
1 Minnesota (20-2-3)
The NCAA's Pairwise Comparisons, the system used by the NCAA to determine selection and seeding of the tournament, is the only system to have Minnesota No. 2. That's because one factor there is record against common opponents, and New Hampshire crushed Maine, while Maine is one of the Minnesota's only two losses.
2 New Hampshire (17-3-1)
Still not ready to be No. 1, despite what the aforementioned system says.
3 St. Cloud State (14-4-4)
Dropped a spot after a one-point weekend.
4 Notre Dame (19-4-1)
Takes advantage of Maine getting swept to move up.
5 Maine (14-5-2)
Still strong overall, but a tough two losses at home to BU.
6 Denver (17-7-2)
Two wins against pesky Niagara at home. Nice, but nothing special. Minnesota is on the schedule this weekend.
7 CC (14-9-1)
Running in place.
8 Clarkson (12-5-3)
Two ties, not much movement.
9 Michigan State (14-8-1)
Replace Miami after two wins over Alaska-Fairbanks.
10 Michigan (15-9-0)
Bemidji State drops out after a brief stay, replaced by the Wolverines, even though they split with Northern Michigan.
GAMES TO WATCH
Boston College at Vermont
Both teams are desperate to get on rolls.
Denver at Minnesota
Denver's last chance to make a move on first place.
Ohio State at Miami
The teams play the first of the home-and-home on Friday in Columbus.