Here’s my ranking of the college hockey team “Performers and Underperformers” for the weekend of November 1 and 2:
- St. Cloud State University Huskies – You are not going to find more hostile territory in college hockey than a road trip to Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, ND. The house is normally packed and raucous and North Dakota fans expect their team to win at home. Being swept at the REA is a rarity and not accepted by the fan base. It hadn’t been done in four years but that’s just what the Huskies did – coming from behind in both games to win on Friday 3-2 and Saturday 3-1. Two of the three goals on Friday were scored by defenseman including the GWG by Andrew Prochno and another By Kevin Gravel to tie the game. Ryan Faragher, who seems to have UND’s (6 wins vs UND) number stopped 29 of 30 shots for Friday’s win. On Saturday, the Huskies defense held UND to 17 SOG and again they rallied from a 1-0 deficit to score two goals within 12 seconds in the second frame for the 3-1 win. Kalle Kossila scored his second goal of the weekend, Nic Dowd got the GWG and Tim Daly added another for the defensive corps. For their effort, the St. Cloud State University Huskies are my college hockey “Performer” of the week.
- Quinnipiac University Bobcats – The Bobcats are rolling and are getting it done both on the road and at home. This past weekend they traveled to upstate NY and dispatched Colgate 7-2 on Friday and a tough Cornell squad 3-0 on Saturday. On Friday, they got it done in every conceivable way, 5×5, on the PP and short-handed. They were 50% on the power play and the Jones brothers picked up 5 points including 3 of the seven goals. To add insult to injury QU outshot Colgate 43-12. On Saturday, it was a much tighter game defensively with the Bobcats again relying on special teams with power play goals in the second and third frame to put the game out of reach. Final SOG were 23-23 and in contrast to Cornell’s success last weekend vs UNO they were scoreless on 6 power play opportunities. Connor Jones picked up his 5th goal of the season Saturday and Michael Garteig got the win to improve his record to 8-1-0.
- Union College Dutchmen– It was a tough month of October for Union going 1-2-2 despite playing pretty good hockey. They turned things around nicely this past weekend with a convincing 7-2 blasting of the Dartmouth Big Green on Friday and 4-2 over Harvard on Saturday. Both wins were on the road. On Friday, Sam Coalta scored the first two goals and the Dutchmen scored three more before the Big Green could get on the board. The final result was a 7-2 win outshooting Dartmouth 31-17. On Saturday, Daniel Ciampini scored twice within the first 4 minutes of period two to lead Union to a 4-2 win. The Harvard goaltender was peppered with 47 SOG …whew.
- University of Nebraska – Omaha Mavericks – Here’s another team that struggled in the month of October going 2-4 and most recently being swept at home by Cornell mainly due to some very poor special teams play. Something had to give as they traveled to Denver to take on the highly underperforming Pioneers to open NCHC play. Well, both games went the overtime route and the visiting Mavericks found a way to prevail both nights. On Friday Josh Archibald scored twice including the GWG in OT for the 3-2 OT win. Saturday was the same result – really, the same result as Josh Archibald got the game winner again in OT for a 3-2 win. “Same guy scored- that’s how we drew it up” laughed Coach Blais. On the other side, Jim Montgomery said ” I thought they outplayed us”. The Pioneers have now lost 4 OT games this season. Is it time to assemble the search party to locate Gwoz?
- UMass-Lowell River Hawks – The River Hawks are gaining momentum after being my college hockey “Performer of the Week” after last weeks games. After sweeping the Michigans in Michigan last week they made the trip to Durham , NH to battle the Wildcats of UNH. Credit the penalty kill for the win on Friday as the Wildcats could only muster 1 goal in 7 opportunities on the PP. Ryan McGrath’s unassisted breakaway goal in the third period was the game winner. The final score on Friday- 5-3. On Saturday, Lowell earned a gritty overtime win with Josh Arnold getting the GWG. After starting the season 1-5-1 Lowell has now won four straight while UNH has dropped 4 straight.
- Boston College Eagles – After getting overwhelmed by the University of MInnesota 6-1 last Sunday the Eagles re-grouped and tagged two losses on intra-city rival Northeastern by scores of 4-2 and 4-3 this past weekend. After being neutralized by the Gophers last Sunday, Johnny Gaudreau scored twice including a short-handed goal to lift the Eagles to a 4 -2 win Friday. In a see-saw battle on Saturday at the Huskies Matthews Arena, BC prevailed once again at 1:36 of overtime on a goal by Adam Gilmour, his first career goal. Thatcher Demko marked two more wins in goal for the Eagles.
- Western Michigan University Broncos – The Broncos opened their NCHC schedule with an important sweep of visiting Colorado College 3-2 and 5-1. The six league points gets them firmly off on the right foot in what should be a very competitive new conference. On Friday, after both teams scored twice in period one that was the end of the scoring until Kyle Novak got the GWG at 1:52 of overtime. On Saturday, Western Michigan reeled off 3 straight goals before the Tigers got on the board as Western Michigan cruised to a 5-1 win. Frank Slubowski stopped 28 of 29 shots for the win. The Tigers have now lost four straight including two in overtime and face arch rival Denver next weekend in a home and home.
- University of Michigan Wolverines – The Wolverines faced a real battle this past weekend in intra-state foe Michigan Tech University. Friday was simply an entertaining college hockey game, well battled which could have gone either way. Michigan prevailed 3-2 in OT on a Andrew Copp goal at 3:26 of OT. On Saturday Copp started where he left off the previous night with a first period power play goal -the first goal of the game. The teams traded goals in the third for a 2-1 Michigan win and a sweep of the pesky Huskies.
- Bowling Green University Falcons – Bowling Green University is quietly putting together a nice start to the season and tacked on two wins vs visiting Alaska- Anchorage this past weekend in the WCHA opening series for both teams. Blame it on jet lag or a solid power play as Bowling Green leveraged 3 PP goals into a 6-1 win Friday. On Saturday, it was a defensive battle with the Falcons prevailing on a first period goal by Brent Tate for a 1-0 win. UAA heads back home to face UAH next weekend with the hopes that the Chargers have a case of Jet lag for the Friday game.
- University of Massachusetts Minutemen – After facing the University of Maine last weekend in Orono, ME the Minutemen faced this Hockey East rival once again for the third and fourth time. After getting swept by the Black Bears including an 8-4 debacle last Saturday. UMass got their act together and earned a 1-1 OT tie on Friday before squeezing out a 2-1 win Saturday. Ray Pigozzi scored the GWG on Saturday and UMass goaltender Steve Mastalerz carried a shutout into the third period until Maine scored their lone goal of the night. I think these two have seen enough of each other for awhile…
- Miami University RedHawks – After a convincing win at Denver last weekend the Miami squad needed to pay attention to the visiting Griffs right? I guess they did as Miami blanked Canisius 3-0 on Friday and doubled them up with a 5-2 win Saturday. So much for another Canisius upset. On Friday they methodically dismantled the Griffs getting a goal in each period and outshooting them 40-20. On Saturday, 5 of the 7 goals scored were on the power play. Once again Miami proved to be too much for the visiting Griffins opening up a 3-1 lead and ultimately winning 5-2. Austin Czarnik netted two for the RedHawks. Miami now gets ready for a showdown with the SCSU Huskies next weekend.
- University of Wisconsin Badgers – You’ve got to hand it to the Badgers. They appeared to be on the way to a Friday night defeat at the hands of the Lakers and then suddenly turned the switch on in the third period to earn a well deserved 3-3 OT tie against the #12 Lakers. On Saturday, the Lakers were outshot (44-22), outplayed and outscored 8-1 to make it a laugher. Will the real Wisconsin hockey team please stand up?
- Ferris State University – Not much commentary needed here. Ferris State was expected to win both games this weekend despite being on the road and they did by scores of 5-0 and 3-2. We’ll move on.
- University of Connecticut Huskies – I guess you are a “performer” if you sweep your opponents and that they did defeating both Army (4-2) and Sacred Heart (4-2) both at home. Neither Army or Sacred Heart have shown much to be impressed with thus far but wins are wins….
- Dartmouth University Big Green – Last week I felt it might be a little early to pre-judge this Ivy League squads performance. However, after dropping a pair this past weekend by scores of 7-1 to RPI and 7-2 to Union they are upholding the true description of an underperformer. Congrats, you get this weeks prize.
- Denver University Pioneers- Denver has now lost 5 of their last six games – three of their last four on home ice including the two OT losses to Omaha. Yes, I realize four of the last 5 losses were in overtime. Nevertheless, it’s been an awful start for new coach Jim Montgomery. I’m not sure a home and home with a struggling Colorado College is what the doctor ordered but it could be. They simply need to get things turned around soon.
- University of New Hampshire Wildcats – UNH has now lost 4 in a row and were swept on their home ice by a surging UMass-Lowell. Lowell is hitting their stride and suddenly UNH is heading in the opposite direction. It’s never good to get swept on your home ice particularly in Durham with the home ice advantage they typically enjoy.
- Northeastern University Huskies – The Huskies were tantalizing us in the early going with their success. It came to an abrupt end this past weekend in a home and home series with Boston College, a team that got drilled by Minnesota last Sunday. Certainly a 4-2 loss on the Eagles home ice is not a surprise but failing to rebound on your home ice by losing Saturday (to an intra-city rival) gets you on this list.
- Canisius College Griffins – On the heels of a well deserved upset win over Denver University in Denver the Griffs dropped two to the NCHC’s MIami University. Canisius scored two power play goals over the weekend but were otherwise shut out 5 x 5. They lost 3-0 on Friday and 5-2 on Saturday.
- University of Alaska – Anchorage Seawolves – Same old same old for the Seawolves. I’m sure the horrendous itinerary from Anchorage to Toledo is a killer and it showed this past weekend. They got drilled 6-1 on Friday and then re-grouped only to lose 1-0 on Saturday. On the bright side they get to play UAH next weekend.
- Sacred Heart Pioneers – How this team defeated Lowell early on perplexes me. They’ve lost four in a row and this past weekend dropped games to Holy Cross and Connecticut. Expect to see this squad on this list regularly throughout the season. No sense in inserting the dagger any further.
- University Of Alabama – Huntsville Chargers -This is another squad that may become a regular here. Losing twice to Ferris doesn’t make them an “underperformer” but the fact that it was a sweep on their home ice makes it so. At least they rebounded from the 5-0 loss on Friday to make Saturdays game close (3-2 loss). They make the trip to Anchorage (see above) next weekend. Should be interesting?
- Army Black Knights – Army was swept by Connecticut and Bentley with the loss to Connecticut on their home ice. They are now winless in four games and if they don’t win against Connecticut on Friday they “ain’t” winning vs Boston College on Sunday.
This weeks “View From Center Ice” Team Performer of the Week : St. Cloud State University Huskies