Here’s my ranked “Performers” and “Underperformers” for the weekend of October 25/26:
- UMass-Lowell River Hawks : Redemption. A week after being swept by #9 Quinnipiac in a key home and home series the #18 River Hawks needed to get back on track. However, the task was not going to be an easy one traveling to the state of Michigan to play single games with Michigan State and #4 Michigan in the Big Ten / Hockey East Challenge. After a convincing 4-1 win on Friday vs Michigan State the “Hawks relied on two power play goals as a result of checking from behind penalties to grind out a 2-1 win and a sweep of the Michigans. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck stopped 97% of the shots he faced in the “Challenge” to pick uo both wins. For their effort, the UMass-Lowell River Hawks are my “Performer ” of the Week.
- Cornell Big Red – After mopping up York University 7-1 in an exhibition primer, the ECAC’s Big Red traveled to Omaha to begin the season with a two-game series vs the UNO Mavericks. Despite being outshot 31 to 20, the Big Red converted 3/8 power play opportunities and had five different players score to earn a 5-3 win Friday. It was more of the same Saturday as Cornell converted 4 /7 power play opportunities despite being outshot by a ridiculous 40/13 margin and chalking up another 4-3 win. It’s quite elementary – if you score on 46% of your power play chances odds are it’ll be tough to lose. Sweep.
- St. Cloud State University Huskies – The Huskies made the trip to upstate New York to face the Colgate Red Raiders in a non-conference series. Junior Nick Oliver scored the GWG and added an assist to key the Friday 4-2 win. On Saturday, the Huskies looked to be in cruise control with a 4-0 first period lead only to see it fizzle to a one goal lead late in the third. However, they hung on to win 4-3 and earn the sweep and remain unbeaten at 3-0-1. First -year forward Ryan Papa scored twice in the series and Colgate’s Kyle Baun had a 4 point weekend including three goals.
- Maine Black Bears – After being swept by St. Lawrence and edging Bentley by a goal, the Black Bears needed to get back on track in their home series vs conference rival Massachusetts. This was a start of four consecutive games vs the Minutemen. They did indeed get on track by winning 3-2 in overtime on Friday and buried UMass 8-4 on Saturday for the home ice sweep. A six goal barrage on Saturday in the second period gave them an insurmountable 6-2 lead. The two teams face each other again this weekend in Amherst,, MA.
- Providence Friars – in a key non-conference series #3 ranked Miami Redhawks faced unbeaten Providence on the Friars home ice. After falling behind 2-0 Miami scored two power play goals in the third to knot the game only to fall in overtime on a Providence power play goal by Niko Rufo. The power plays were clicking on Saturday with Miami 2/5 and Providence 2/3 in a 4-4 overtime tie. The Friars were outshot 41-28 on Saturday but held on for the tie to remain unbeaten at 4-0-1.
- Brown University – The Bears participated in the Liberty Invitational at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ with fellow Ivy Leaguers Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth. Brown walked away as the “Winner” of this invitational upending defending National champ Yale 4-1 on Friday and Dartmouth 5-3 on Saturday. The Bear’s Mark Naclerio had three goals including two on Friday in the win over Yale.
- Clarkson University – Clarkson improved their record to 6-1-1 with an impressive weekend sweep of Colorado College at Cheel Arena in Potsdam, NY. An Alan McPherson power play goal in the second period turned out to be the game winner in the Friday 2-1 win. Goals were at a premium on Saturday as the squads skated to a 0-0 regulation tie only to have Clarkson’s Joe Zarbo net the game winner in OT for a sweep of the Tigers.
- University of Minnesota – In what was to be the flagship series of the Big Ten / Hockey East Challenge, the Boston College Eagles made the trip to Minnesota to battle the Gophers. Friday’s 3-3 OT tie set up an interesting rematch on Sunday at Mariucci Arena. However, it turned out to be a one-sided affair with the Gophers scoring three times on their first six shots for a 3-0 first period lead. They never looked back as they cruised to a convincing 6-1 win. So much for hype.
- Ohio State University Buckeyes – The Buckeyes got back on the winning track with a sweep of Robert Morris in a home and home series. OSU outshot the Colonials 82 to 54 in series and earned the early season sweep with 5-3 and 4-3 wins.
- Quinnipiac University Bobcats – #9 Quinnipiac keeps on rolling with a home and home sweep of Holy Cross 4-2 Friday and 4-1 on Saturday. QU has now reeled off 6 straight wins to improve their record to 6-1-0. Holy Cross on the other hand remains winless at 0-5-0 and earns a spot on the “Underperformers” list (see below).
- Air Force Falcons – The Falcons put together a solid weekend of hockey with a Friday 3-2 win over Canisius and Sunday win over Niagara University 7-4. Frank Serratore’s Falcons should be a force to contend with all season in the Atlantic.
- Bemidji State University – Two former College Hockey America rivals met in Huntsville in the first WCHA matchup between the two schools. It was all Bemidji on Friday as the Beavers mopped up the Chargers 6-1. Markus Gerbrant was the star on Friday with the hat trick for BSU. The Chargers dug their heels in on Saturday despite being outshot 24-13 but were unable to generate any offense in the 1-0 loss. Huntsville remains winless at 0-4-0.
- Alaska Nanooks – the Nanooks continue to prove that it’s difficult for opponents to win at the Carlson Center as they defeated visiting Mercyhurst 5-4 Friday and settled for a 3-3 OT tie on Saturday. The Nanooks improve their record to 3-1-2.
- University of Nebraska – Omaha Mavericks – Despite the details it’s never good to be swept on your home ice particularly if you outshoot your opponent 71-33 over the weekend. However, the other side of the coin is that the Cornell power play absolutely ate them up going 7/15 over the weekend. You simply won’t win with special teams statistics like that.
- Boston University Terriers-It’s hard to predict what you’ll get out of Boston University based on their play thus far in 2013-14. This past weekend was a good example. Despite being ranked #13 the Terriers did nothing to uphold that ranking losing to #4 Michigan 2-1 while being outshot 44-19 and to Michigan State (another underperformer as of late) 3-1 in the Hockey East / Big Ten Challenge.
- University of Massachusetts Minutemen – all the good feelings this program had after sweeping Michigan State last weekend came crashing down as they were swept by Maine losing 3-2 in OT Friday and then getting torched 8-4 Saturday. They’ll try for redemption this weekend as the same two teams face-off in Amherst.
- Colgate Red Raiders – Despite playing a competitive series vs St. Cloud State they lost both games by 4-2 and 4-3 scores. The fact that it was on their home ice merits underperformer status. The Red Raiders made a nice comeback on Saturday but the 4-0 early first period deficit was just too much to overcome. One bright spot is the emerging play of sophomore forward Kyle Baun who had three goals vs SCSU.
- Colorado College Tigers – The Tigers have now lost three games in a row and the sweep at the hands of the Clarkson Knights has to be a major disappointment. At the least, it’s an early indication that Clarkson is quite solid or that the Tigers have a lot of work to do.
- Miami RedHawks – The highly touted and #3 ranked RedHawks had their hands full with undefeated Providence losing in overtime on Friday 3-2 and settling for a 4-4 OT tie on Saturday. The RedHawks simply have not lived up to their pre-season ranking in the victory column and thus earn underperformer status.
- Boston College Eagles – Apparantly the Friday night game was college hockey at it’s finest. I attended Sunday’s game and it was a yawner from the start. Boston College fell behind 4-0 and ultimately lost the game 6-1. They were overwhelmed by the Minnesota offense and certainly did not live up to the expectation that the Eagles would scratch and claw to get a road win. This couldn’t have been the same team that defeated Wisconsin 9-2. On the other hand, it was probably the team that was waxed by RPI 7-2.
- University Of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers- It was not a good sign that the winless Chargers lost to former CHA rival Bemidji by a score of 6-1 on Friday. It was compounded further by the fact they were shut out and swept on Saturday. It looks to be a long year for UAH. The travel schedule and lack of depth will take a toll on this squad in their first year of WCHA play.
- Dartmouth University Big Green – Dartmouth lost both games in the Liberty Invitational to Ivy League rivals Princeton (3-2 OT loss) and Brown (5-3). It’s too early to draw any conclusions on the Big Green but nevertheless you don’t want to start the season 0-2 especially in rivalry games.
- Union College Dutchmen – There’s something wrong here and it’s most likely goaltending. This is a solid squad but badly outshot Lake Superior State and were swept last weekend and outshot Connecticut 44-23 and had o settle for a 2-2 tie. Will give them some slack because they were on the road but the fact remains they have underperformed in the win/loss column for the last three games.
- Denver University Pioneers – For the second straight week the Pioneers make the underperformers list. Granted, they defeated Niagara 5-1 Friday but then dropped an egg on Saturday in their 4-1 loss at home to Canisius. This was a legitimate win by Canisius over a team picked to finish 4th in the NCHC. DU simply isn’t getting the job done right now.
Team of The Week: University of Massachusetts – Lowell RiverHawks