Week in Review
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
North Dakota is the team of the week after sweeping Minnesota on the road, including Saturday's 7-3 trouncing. The sweep was North Dakota's first in Minneapolis since 1980 — when the fathers of current Sioux players Taylor Chorney and Philippe Lamoureux were members of the team that went on to win a national championship. It's been well documented that sophomores T.J. Oshie and Jonathan Toews have not piled up numbers like many thought they would this season, but they are definitely warming up. And linemate Ryan Duncan remained red hot with two more goals, giving him 21 on the season. So the scoring issue appears solved for now. The Gophers have now lost four of six. It shows why you can't anoint national champions in January, no matter how good the team looks. The Gophers are in a major funk, first offensively, and now defensively. The old goalie concerns, which had been muted most of this season, and which it appeared might finally have been taken care of for good, are rearing their ugly head again. Minnesota didn't score an even strength goal on the weekend.
Saturday, North Dakota went up 2-0 early, Minnesota stormed back with three power-play goals, as play got rough. But the Sioux tied it before the end of first period on a play that completely changed everything — UND defenseman Robbie Bina, while killing off a penalty, cleared it down the ice from 190 feet, and the puck bounced a few times before bouncing over Jeff Frazee's stick and in. Frazee did not come out to challenge the puck and it cost him. He was eventually replaced by Kellen Briggs, who didn't fare any better. Not having Tyler Hirsch anymore as a playmaker is clearly hurting Minnesota, but can it really mean this much?
Denver and St. Cloud State split in a battle for No. 2 in the WCHA, but also what could be a battle for a top seed in the NCAAs. Denver won 2-0 Saturday as junior goaltender Peter Mannino stopped 24 shots. Geoff Paukovich was the sleeping giant who has emerged as a force recently, once again, netting his sixth goal and his fourth game winner. He had no goals as recently as a month ago. With the junior heating up, that adds a huge dimension to the Pioneers' game and makes them a real threat. He also had to receive stitches after the game to close a cut on his ear, suffered while blocking a shot to preserve the shutout. Mannino had missed the last six games with a groin injury, though some just figured Glenn Fisher won the No. 1 job outright. "We played as complete a game as we've played all year," said Denver coach George Gwozdecky. "We're very pleased with the way the team responded after last night's game. There were many times when we gathered possession in the offensive zone tonight and we wouldn't give it up."
Wisconsin split with Minnesota State, with Jack Skille scoring a hat trick Saturday. He had only two goals on the season prior to that, as the talented sophomore has been slowed by injury and he missed time at the World Juniors. Shane Connelly got the win for Wisconsin, though his shutout streak ended at 175 minutes, 5 seconds.
Did you know that, with a losing record, Michigan Tech is still on the cusp of making the NCAAs if the season ended today? Rob Nolan had a 25-save shutout and Tyler Shelast scored his 10th of the year for the game's only goal, as Tech defeated CC, 1-0, Saturday. The Huskies blew a 2-0 lead and settled for a tie on Friday.
After a 4-1 loss Friday to Notre Dame — in a series that Irish coach Jeff Jackson billed the biggest in the school's history — Miami showed a lot of fortitude in getting out in front 2-0 on Saturday. But Notre Dame really has it all going on this season, as evident by the blitz it put on in the third period, finally breaking through on Jeff Zatkoff for the tie. Mark Van Guilder and Kevin Deeth scored, continuing to show why the Irish might be the most balanced team in the country. "It's frustrating playing against a good goaltender like that," said Deeth. "We just tried to put whatever we could on the net. We were making nice plays, but he kept coming up big for them. We finally got one to go on the power play." The power-play goal by Van Guilder came with about seven minutes left, making it 2-1. "With seven minutes left we were getting pretty frustrated, especially on the power play," said Van Guilder. "They came real hard with pressure on the penalty kill and we didn't handle it very well. We just needed one little spark to get us going and we got that on the power play."
Freshman Ryan Thang (15) scored twice in Friday's win for Notre Dame. "Ryan (Thang) is what he is," said Jackson. "He's a physical, power forward with good hands and he's smart. That power-play goal was impressive. He went short side and top shelf. That's a pro shot. He's been consistent like that all season. When he has a good game, you better keep your head up because he can shoot the puck with the best of them."
Michigan dominated Ferris State in two games. Jack Johnson had five goals on the weekend, including a hat trick and two shorties on Friday. Andrew Cogliano added his 18th. Last year, Cogliano had a great first half, but only one goal in the second half after returning from the World Juniors. But this year, he was hot when he left, and after not scoring in his first game back, has returned to being hot again ever since.
Northern Michigan lost two games, but Mike Santorelli continues to be a bright spot for the Wildcats. He scored the team's only two goals Friday and now has 25 to lead the nation (tied with Niagara's Ted Cook).
Alaska defeated Bowling Green on Friday, and tied Saturday. Three third-period goals Friday allowed Alaska to break a nine-game losing streak, at the expense of the last-place Falcons, whose losing streak reached seven. The Nanooks had a 42-18 shot edge. Curtis Fraser scored twice, 49 seconds apart, to give UAF the lead. The goals came on a 6-on-4, and then the subsequent 6-on-5. The only downside — goalie Chad Johnson started for the Nanooks and allowed two goals on the first two shots he faced, and was pulled. And the second of those two shots didn't come until the second period. Wylie Rogers got the win. The other down note — Bowling Green is still the only team UAF has beaten since Nov. 25 against Lake Superior State.
After losing to BC at home on Friday, BU rallied from a 3-0 deficit to get a tie against a UMass team that has the best home record in college hockey (9-1-2). It got the tie thanks to a fluke goal, when outstanding UMass goalie Jon Quick misplayed a puck and it deflected off himself and in. Remember, of course, it was Quick that was awarded an actual goal for never touching the puck in a game against Merrimack recently, when the Warriors put it in their own net on a delayed penalty. BU then withstood what could have been deja vu, when Karson Gillespie stopped a penalty shot by Kevin Jarman with 16 seconds left in regulation. BU lost a game earlier this season when St. Lawrence was awarded a penalty shot for the same reason — a BU player knocking the net off — and scored. "From our perspective that was a bizarre game, which started off well for us and then we got completely out of sync," UMass coach Don Cahoon told The Republican. "It finished in such a way that made me proud of the team because we put ourselves in such a hole, and such a downward spiral, that a lot of teams with less character would have tanked that game." The Minutemen remained two points behind Vermont for the last home-ice spot in Hockey East.
Still without Mike Radja, New Hampshire got a boost when Jacob Micflikier returned from a shoulder injury. Micflikier scored the tying goal in the second period Saturday against Providence, awakening the Wildcats from a slumber on the way to a 2-1 win. Combined with Minnesota's loss, UNH is tops in the Pairwise right now. It would take a small collapse to prevent the Wildcats from being the top seed in their home arena at the Northeast Regional come NCAA time.
Back-to-back 1-1 ties for Vermont and Merrimack — not what Vermont was looking for following up two wins over BC, but not horrible either considering it could have been worse. Jim Healey made 37 saves for the Warriors. "I feel as good as I can be after two frustrating 1-1 ties," UVM coach Kevin Sneddon told the Burlington Free Press. "We played much better (than Friday). We were much more physical and we had a much more complete roster playing well. ... We had scoring opportunities. All in all, we must have hit nine posts this weekend, and Healey was great; he had a fabulous weekend. He was the difference." For his part, Vermont's Mike Spillane made his first Hockey East start and stopped 27 shots, including one on Carmen Posteraro in overtime that saved the tie.
Bret Tyler made a nice move and set up Teddy Purcell for the game winner in overtime, giving Maine a weekend split with Northeastern. It could've been a disastrous weekend, but the Black Bears salvaged something after Friday's 6-1 loss. The win snapped a three-game home losing streak. Maine is 7-0-1 in non-league games, but barely in sixth in Hockey East. But that non-league record puts Maine up high in the national picture. "There's no question this (weekend) was a learning experience for us," Maine coach Tim Whitehead told the Portland Press-Herald. "The longer I'm in the game the more I realize you sometimes have to relearn the same lesson. There's such a fine line between success and failure."
Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, was on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck, as Quinnipiac's new on-campus arena, TD Banknorth Center, was christened with all the pomp and circumstance it rightfully deserved. Then the home team went out and buried Holy Cross, 7-0. It was a prideful day for all those involved in making it happen, and also emotional for all of those who have been there ever since Quinnipiac was a Division II team. Now, it's a bona fide D-I caliber team that continues to improve, with legitimate star players like Reid Cashman and Brandon Wong, the ECAC's leading goal scorer among freshmen. After a scoreless first, the Bobcats finally broke through in the second with four goals, including two shorthanded on the same penalty kill. Seven different players scored, though none were Cashman or Wong. The big story, though, is still, after years playing at a town rink off campus, a sold-out crowd of 3,286 chanting "This is our house" got to see the Bobcats right at home.
Mike Schafer finally became the winningest coach in Cornell history with a win over Colgate on Saturday, surpassing Dick Bertrand. The Big Red had to kill off a five-minute major for the last four and a half minutes to hold on.
A three-goal third period, including the game winner by Matt Beca with 1:24 remaining, gave Clarkson a 4-2 win over Harvard and kept it within two points of St. Lawrence for first place. And Clarkson's Pairwise standing is in very good shape. If the Golden Knights can string together a really hot homestretch, they can target a No. 1 seed in the nearby Rochester, N.Y., Regional. But there is little margin for error.
St. Lawrence cements its hold on first place, at least for this week, in the tightly-packed ECAC, with another solid performance all-around, defeating Dartmouth, 4-1. There's still a sense that the Saints a year away from greatness, and may need to win the ECAC tournament to even make the NCAAs, but this has been a good run.
WHO'S HOT/WHO'S NOT
1. Mike Santorelli, Northern Michigan — His seven-game goal-scoring streak ended Saturday, but not before he had 10 goals in those seven games. He has six multi-goal games on the season.
2. Ryan Thang, Notre Dame — Had a seven-game point-scoring streak snapped Saturday.
3. Jack Johnson, Michigan — After going scoreless in seven straight, he's turned it around with 6-5—11 in his last four games.
1. Scott McCulloch, Colorado College — After a hot start, has just one goal in his last eight, and none in the last five.
2. Kyle Greentree, Alaska — Has cooled off considerably, along with the rest of the team. Has just one goal in his last seven, after getting 16 prior to that.
3. Michel Leveille, Maine — With a goal Friday, he snapped a four-game pointless streak, and a nine-game goal-scoring drought.
NCAA TOP 10
The Top 10 is by order of the KRACH Ranking.
1 Minnesota (21-5-3)
In the Pairwise, which is the system the NCAA uses to objectively select teams for the tournament, Minnesota has dropped to second with the two losses this weekend. But here, the Gophers are still on top.
2 St. Cloud State (17-5-4)
A split at Denver does nothing to diminish the Huskies.
3 New Hampshire (19-4-1)
A single win, and no movement.
4 Notre Dame (21-5-2)
A win and a tie against Miami, to maintain position.
5 Denver (19-9-2)
Denver looking strong in a split with St. Cloud State.
6 North Dakota (15-11-2)
Comes from out of nowhere to bolt into the rankings, with two road wins against Minnesota.
7 Michigan State (16-8-1)
8 CC (14-10-2)
Just one point on the weekend, drops the Tigers two spots.
9 Michigan (19-9-0)
Two gimmes against Ferris State
10 Clarkson (16-6-4)
Maine and Vermont are out, Clarkson sneaks in after a three-point home weekend.
GAMES TO WATCH
Clarkson at Cornell
Clarkson goes into very hostile territory looking to keep rolling.
Wisconsin at Colorado College
Both teams have had ups and downs. If one team comes out of this bloodied, it might seriously damage NCAA hopes.
Maine at New Hampshire
Maine was embarrassed by UNH at home. Let's see if it can return the favor.