Here’s my ranking of the college hockey team ”Performers and Underperformers” for the weekend of November 8 and 9:
- St. Lawrence University Saints – The Saints edged out St. Lawrence County, NY rival and playing partner Clarkson University for my “Performer of the Week”. These two schools, a mere 11 miles apart, were both worthy candidates and it came down to a near coin toss to pick this one. The Saints are off to their best ECAC start since the 2006-07 season and are undefeated in their past five including four games on the road. They dispatched Dartmouth and Harvard this past weekend in league play – both wins on the road. On Friday vs Harvard they jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, outshot the Crimson 30-19 and went on to a business-like 3-1 win. On Saturday, the Saints recovered from two 5 minute majors and game misconducts in the first period to somehow end the period knotted at 2-2. They piled on 6 more goals in the next 2 periods to win a wild one 8-5. Linemates Gunnar Hughes and Patrick Doherty combined for 4 goals and 8 points and St. Lawrence has improved their record to 6-2-2. For their effort, St. Lawrence University is my team “Performer of the Week”.
- Clarkson University Knights – The Knights are becoming a college hockey story in the early season losing only once (to Yale) in the last nine games. They edged Dartmouth 3-1 and Harvard 2-1 to improve their record to 9-2-1. Clarkson survived two second period power play goals by the Big Green and posted one of their own by Ben Sexton, the GWG to win Friday. In another nail biter full of penalties – nineteen to be exact Clarkson’s Allen McPherson scored the game winner, his fifth of the year at the 18:00 mark of the third to defeat Harvard 2-1.
- University of New Hampshire Wildcats – One of college hockey’s most unpredictable teams thus far, the Wildcats doubled up another reliably unpredictable team in UMass in a home and home series. They did it in convincing fashion outscoring the Minutemen 13-1 over two games including a 9-0 bashing on Saturday in Amherst, MA…embarrassing. Defenseman, Trevor Van Reimsdyk had a nice weekend with 2 goals and three points and Grayson Downing had the hat trick in Saturday’s romp. The tandem of Steve Mastalerz and Casey DeSmith picked up wins in goal and third-stringer Jamie Regan added 6 minutes of help on Saturday.
- Providence College Friars – The Friars are another feel good story this season thus far improving their record to 7-1-1 with a weekend home and home sweep of Merrimack. They edged the Warrriors 1-0 Friday riding a second period goal by Noel Acciari for the win. On Saturday in Providence, RI the Friars overcame a 2-1 deficit to score three times in the third including an empty netter to secure a 4-2 win. Mark Jankowski scored twice and John Gillies backstopped PC to his second win of the weekend improving his record to 6-1-1.
- Ferris State University Bulldogs – One of the good guys in college hockey – coach Bob Daniels had another successful weekend as the Bulldogs swept Bemidji State and took over sole possession of first-place in the newly configured WCHA. It wasn’t without a battle as the Beavers took Friday’s game to overtime after a see-saw battle for three periods. Jason Binkley netted the game winner at 1:28 of OT to secure the win in Big Rapids, MI. On Saturday, Ferris scored four 5×5 goals in period one and withstood two Bemidji PP goals in the second frame to win 5-3. Scott Czarnowczan scored twice for the win. Ferris is now 4-0-0 in the WCHA.
- Michigan Tech University Huskies – The host Huskies methodically defeated Michigan State on Friday in a “no-contest” outshooting them 30-19 and shutting them out 3-0. MTU goaltender Phoenix Copley earned the shutout win. In another solid effort on Saturday, MTU outshot the Spartans 38-19 and Alex Petan got the GWG in the third period defeating big brother 3-2. I suspect there was a lot of celebrating at the Downtowner in Houghton after this sweep.
- Ohio State University Buckeyes – Sweeping the Atlantics is not like sweeping (insert conference) but the Buckeye’s are getting the job done under new coach Steve Rohlik. This weeks victim was Niagara quickly becoming a weekly “underperformer”. OSU outscored Niagara 10-2 in the weekend romp. Goaltending failed NU on Friday and on Saturday it was special teams allowing a shortie and two PP goals. Ohio State has lost once in the past seven (that to UMD) and has improved their record to 6-4-0.
- University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves – I know, I know it’s a sweep of UAH. Combine the awful itinerary to get to Anchorage plus a weak Huntsville team and it was difficult to expect anything less than a sweep. Nevertheless, it’s two conference wins for the Seawolves placing them in a solid four-way tie for fourth in the WCHA. On Friday they outshot UAH 33-14 and rode two PP goals to a 3-1 win. On Saturday, after spotting the Chargers a 1-0 lead, UAA scored the next 6 goals including five PP goals to blitz UAH 6-1. Hmm, the Seawolves power play at 45%? Rob Gunderson picked up two wins in goal.
- Yale University Bulldogs – It may have been tough to keep their focus but the Bulldogs warmed up for their highly publicized rematch with Quinnipiac with a 5-2 win at Princeton. The Bulldogs rang up four straight goals on Ivy rival Princeton including the unassisted game winner from Stu Wilson. On Saturday, Yale made the 15 minute trip to Hamden to play QU in a rematch of the 2013 Frozen Four finalists. An encyclopedia of penalties including 2 cross-checking, 1 slashing, 1 elbowing 2 high sticking and 2 roughing pretty much sum things up – 16 penalties in all. QU scored the first two then Yale the next three for a 3-2 Bulldog lead going into the third. Matthew Peca rescued the Bobcats with a game tying goal at 15:08 sending the game to OT. Despite an overtime PP opportunity Yale couldn’t capitalize and it ended in a 3-3 draw with February circled on the calendar for the re-match. I would have loved to have been at this game.
- Quinnipiac University Bobcats – The Bobcats warmed up for the Yale Bulldogs with a 3-0 shutout of Brown University. They outshot Brown 48-20 and Cory Hibbler scored the game winner at 11:52 of the first period. Game two of the weekend pitted the host Bobcats against the defending national champion Yale Bulldogs. See above recap. QU is now 9-1-1 and has every right to suggest they have earned the #1 ranking in college hockey.
- Northern Michigan University Wildcats – The “other” team from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan traveled to Kalamazoo for a Saturday/Sunday series with Western Michigan in a WCHA/NCHC battle. Despite falling behind 3-1 at the end of one period, the Wildcats persevered and laid three second period goals on WMU to take a 4-3 lead. The two teams traded third period goals and the Wildcats managed a 5-4 win despite being outshot 45-22 in the contest. Stephan Vigier scored his 8th and 9th goals of the season and netminder, Mathius Dahlstrom turned away 37 shots in the win. In Sunday’s matinee, WMU leveraged their power play into an early 2-0 lead only to see NMU make another comeback to tie the game at 2-2 on Stephen Vigier’s 10th goal of the season at 17:13 of the third period. It all added up to a win and tie for the Wildcats in a key non-conference series.
- Denver University Pioneers – I’ve been pretty tough on Denver and their very rocky start to the 2013-14 season. They’ve got to be breathing a sigh of relief after their 5 point – yes 5 point weekend vs intra-state rival Colorado College. They earned two points for the OT 1-1 tie and shootout win in the ‘Springs on Friday and three points for the outright win 2-1 Saturday. I won’t editorialize about my dislike for shootouts here. This game looked to be in the bag for CC until DU defenseman Joey LaLeggia scored his 6th goal of the year at 18:38 of the third. DU then took the shootout 2-0. On Saturday in Denver the Tigers were the aggressor outshooting the Pios 40-24 yet, it was the DU power play that sealed it going 2/5 to earn a 2-1 win. Denver’s Josh Thorimbert turned away 39 of 40 shots for the win. Congrats to the Pioneers. They are out of the dog house.
- Miami University RedHawks/St. Cloud State University Huskies – This was a weekend split. However, the intensity of this series has to give them mention this week. This was college hockey at it’s finest and pitted two squads that met in the regional finals in Toledo earlier this year. Speed, energy, goaltending and solid defensive play exemplified the excitement college hockey has to offer. Miami earned a 2-0 win on Friday and SCSU rebounded for a 2-1 win Saturday. Congrats to both teams for a fine weekend of clean hockey between these squads.
- University of Massachusetts Minutemen – I don’t think there will be any argument from any fan, player or coach on this choice. This unpredictable squad was thoroughly destroyed by New Hampshire this past weekend being outscored 13-1. The worst part of it is the 9-0 drilling was on the Minutemen’s home ice. Mind you, it was 7-0 after the second period with only 1 UNH power play goal. Congrats to Steven Iacobellis for snaring the UMass lone goal on Friday. I can’t imagine what practice will be like this week.
- Dartmouth University Big Green – Despite being categorized by RPI coach Seth Appert as having the best “size and talent” in the league they continue to lose again…. and again. This past weekend, they dropped games to Clarkson 3-2 and St. Lawrence 8-5. It’s not embarrassing to lose to these two teams it’s just underperforming to drop two more games on your home ice.
- Harvard University Crimson -Another Ivy squad that dropped two games this past weekend to St. Lawrence 3-1 and Clarkson 2-1. Again, these were both losses on the Crimson’s home ice. Harvard has now lost three straight and have the pleasure of facing Quinnipiac in Hamden next weekend. Enjoy.
- Michigan State University Spartans – Ah yes, we come to the Spartans. This squad is now 3-5-0 thanks to the respite weekend with American International where they won twice. But, back to the present. Little sister Michigan Tech hosted the Spartans and sent them home with two more losses. After being dismantled and shut out 3-0 and outshot 30-19 on Friday they recovered enough to lose 3-2 in overtime on Saturday. Their only high water win this season was Boston University at home and that ‘ain’t” saying much.
- Princeton University Tigers – Is it the Tigers were overwhelmed in two home losses this past weekend or are they just an underwhelming team. Friday Yale was too much in a 5-2 win at Princeton and Saturday it was Brown University picking up a 6-2 win …on the Tigers home ice. Princeton has lost five straight games. Wish I could find something positive to say here. Oh wait… Princeton is an elite school.
- Merrimack College Warriors – This is a squad I expected to see more out of this season simply by virtue that they have 16 upperclassmen and experienced goaltending. However, they’ve been a total disappointment thus far. Unfortunately, they had to face a confident Providence team in a home and home dropping both games by scores of 1-0 and 4-2. It doesn’t get any easier as they face Notre Dame for two in South Bend next weekend.
- Niagara University Purple Eagles – This is simply a struggling team that has lost four straight and and now sits at 1-6-1 for the season. Ohio State outscored them 10-2 over the weekend. The defense has been porous and the offense nil. On the positive side, they face Army next weekend. A tonic for any struggling team.
- University of Alabama-Huntsville – Two positives from their series with UAA. 1. They traveled all the way from Alabama to Alaska and only lost 3-1 on Friday. 2. They carried an early 1-0 lead on Saturday before getting stomped 6-1. Now for the bad news – they get to face St. Cloud State next weekend albeit at home. Maybe the Huskies can loan Huntsville native Nic Dowd to the Chargers for the weekend. Huntsville is now winless in nine games.
Based on their weekend performance, the St. Lawrence Saints are this weeks “View From Center Ice” Team of the Week. Congrats you deserve it.
- Bobcats Rally To Tie Yale, Retain The Heroes Hat (ajcosgrove.wordpress.com)