Here’s my ranked “Performers” and “Underperformers” for the weekend of November 15/16:
- Union College Dutchmen – In the top rivalry game of the weekend in college hockey, the Dutchmen tagged two losses on route 7 rival RPI by scores of 4-3 and 4-1. On Friday, Union staked a 4-1 early third period lead then held on for a 4-3 win. Union’s Nick Cruice picked up the GWG. On Saturday, in Troy, NY it was over early as Union got the game winner from Daniel Carr at 5:37 of period two. The Dutchmen were 3/9 on the power play, outshot RPI 26/18 and held RPI scoring machine Ryan Haggerty without a point. Shane Gostibehere netted two goals in the win. This was a huge sweep for Union College and this entitles them to be named the View from Center Ice “Performer of the Week”.
- Colgate University Raiders – Well, well… after a rough and inconsistent start to the season, the Raiders hit the road and had quite a weekend vs two previously very hot teams in St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Colgate dethroned last weeks “Performer of the Week” SLU on Friday 5-3 on the Saints home ice. After falling behind by a goal early in the second period ‘Gate methodically rallied to score 4 of the next 5 goals (including an empty netter) for the win. Tylor Spink had two goals and Ryan Johnston picked up the GWG – his first of the year. On Saturday, they ventured to nearby Potsdam , NY and found themselves down by a 3-1 score to start the third period. Once again, Colgate got offensive in period three scoring three times to defeat Clarkson 4-3. Darcy Murphy got the game winner and Charlie Finn picked up his third win of the year in goal. Very, very nice weekend for the Colgate Raiders.
- Providence College Friars- Too bad for Vermont. They had the task of facing one of the college hockey’s hottest and most underappreciated teams in the Friars. Having won 9 of 10 coming into this series, Providence put two more wins on the board ….on the road. On Friday, despite being outshot 39-26, the Friars got on the board first with consecutive goals by Ross Mauerman, his 8th and 9th of the season. They finished the Cats with a short-handed goal by Noel Acciari at 5:16 of the third period – exactly what good teams do. John Gillies was strong in goal stopping 37/39 shots for the win. It was another tight contest on Saturday but the Catamounts simply couldn’t get any offense going in the 3-0 shutout. It was Gillies, again, with his 8th win of the season and Mauerman with his 10th goal of the season and game winner. The Friars continue with their impressive hot streak.
- University of Minnesota Golden Gophers – It was suggested in-state rival Mankato might steal one from the once beaten Gophers on their home ice. Not to be, as pre-season WCHA favorite MSU-Mankato dropped both games at Mariucci Arena. Despite being outshot 35-30 by the Mavericks Friday the game was never in doubt as the Gophers jumped to a 3-0 lead before Mankato could get on the board at 12:48 of the third period. That turned out to be their only tally of the weekend. Goaltender, Adam Wilcox picked up his seventh win of the season. On Saturday, the Gophers gave goaltender Wilcox a rare day off. No problem – backup Michael Shibrowski obliged stopping 25/25 shots on goal for his first win of the season. First year players Jake Bischoff and Hudson Fasching netted goals in the shutout of the Mavericks.
- University of New Hampshire Wildcats – One of the early season underperformers, the Wildcats apparently have righted the ship and have now won five straight games after outscoring Northeastern 7-1 in the weekend home and home sweep of the Huskies. It was a 3-0 whitewash on Friday at Mullins Rink as the Wildcats scored once in each period. Nick Sorkin nailed the game winner at 4:26 of the first period and Casey DeSmith picked up the win. On Saturday in Durham, the Wildcats were 3/4 on the power play. That’s pretty much the story as Sorkin added another goal and Casey DeSmith evened his record to 4-4 with the win. This sets up an interesting showdown in Providence next weekend for the Wildcats.
- Denver University Pioneers – Crazy stuff. After taking 5 points from CC last week and 6 points from Western Michigan this week, the Pioneers find themselves in first place in the NCHC. The erratic Pioneers won the battle of special teams going 2 for 5 winning Friday 5-3. The Broncos two goal lead vanished when Denver laid four goals on them in period two. Trevor Moore scored twice for the Pios. In a defensive battle Saturday, the Pioneers David Mokowski netted a second period power play goal and DU rode that lone goal to a 1-0 win. Sam Brittain recorded the shutout win. From the doghouse to the penthouse for the Pioneers.
- Lowell University River Hawks – The expectations for the River Hawks are high this season and despite being on the road the expectation was for a successful weekend vs this Big Ten newcomer. On Thursday, the Nittany Lions put up the effort outshooting Lowell 37/28 but couldn’t bury the puck. Adam Chapie got the UMass-Lowell GWG at 1:51 of the first period and Derek Arnold scored twice in the 4-0 shutout. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was strong in the shutout win. On Friday, once again, close but no cigar for Penn State. It became a shooting gallery with both squads placing a combined 81 shots on goal. However the River Hawks sharp shooters were better scoring three times in the first (including a power play goal) for a 3-1 lead. PSU scored the only other goal in the next 40 minutes and Lowell held on for a 3-2 win. Doug Carr carded the win in goal Friday for Lowell.
- Quinnipiac University Bobcats – This squad has made a habit of winning and notched two more at home vs Harvard and Dartmouth, two teams struggling for success. On Friday, Harvard made a game of it scoring twice in the last two periods but fell short 3-2. Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored his 6th of the season early in the third as the game winner. On Saturday, same old story for the Big Green – fall behind by 3 goals, get a token marker in the second and lose to the Bobcats 3-1. Jordan Samuels-Thomas picked up his 7th of the season Saturday.
- Ohio State University Buckeyes – You’d think Ohio State joined the Atlantic considering the number of games they’ll be playing opponents from that conference this season. This past weekend they had Canisius to munch on. Canisius had a big win at Denver but have totally fallen off the radar since. Well, as expected, OSU polished their record further with a sweep of the Golden Griffs. Friday 3-0 and Saturday 3-1. Somebody please tell the Buckeyes this schedule “ain’t” helping their PWR.
- Bentley College Falcons – Hmmm Bentley. It’s their first appearance here and only because it was their turn for wins against Connecticut and Holy Cross. Their only victory to date has been Army so lets just say it hasn’t been an impressive start for the Falcons. However, I can’t ignore two conference wins so here they are. Friday, their power play led them to a 3-1 win and Saturday they dominated 40-23 in the shots department but had to rally for a 3-2 OT win over Holy Cross. Balanced scoring was on the menu for the Falcons as three different players notched goals. The wins placed them solidly in third place in the Atlantic.
- Niagara University Purple Eagles – I’ve been rough on this struggling team. As I wrote last week, drawing Army this week was just the tonic the Purple Eagles needed. They decidedly won both conference games 5-0 and 8-3 in Niagara Falls, NY. I’m not dwelling on this series further as Army gets taken to the woodshed quite often making it easy to pad the statistics.
- Maine University Black Bears – Maine played one game this past weekend but absolutely throttled Boston University 7-0. The fact that they did so in such a lopsided manner against rival BU merits mention here. BU coach David Quinn admitted a BU 5X3 penalty advantage swung the game to Maine – odd analysis but true. An unassisted shorthanded goal by Ben Hutton gave Maine a 3-0 lead and they added 4 more by games end to hand Boston University their worst defeat in 18 years. Brian Morgan had a three-point night for Maine. A painful Terrier loss.
- Bemidji State University Beavers – The Beavers earned three points in a conference series with Alaska Anchorage. Friday was a convincing 4-1 win and Saturday a draw in a see- saw battle resulting in overtime. The three points place them alone in second place in the WCHA and that means they are “performing”. Nice job Beavers.
- Notre Dame University Fighting Irish – This is another squad that picked up key conference points this past weekend. They shut out Merrimack 4-0 on Friday in their first ever conference game and skated to a 2-2 OT tie on Saturday. We’re not breaking out the band but it is three valuable conference points for the Irish.
- Rensselaer Polytechnic University Engineers – I’ve made it a weekly ritual to seek out the Seth Appert weekly press conference. It’s usually a meandering dialogue full of cliché. This week prior to a key conference series against their biggest rival, Union, he was referencing how “champions” prepare for series. He stated (re: the games with Union) “It’s an emotionally charged series and you have to play with emotion but not emotional”. I see. On Friday, they traveled to Schenectady and lost an admittedly close game 4-3. No problem. Get over it, regroup and take care of your rival at home – right? Remember that thing about “emotion”? Well, RPI racked up 20 penalties for 94 minutes, allowed 3 power play goals on nine opportunities and were defeated at home by a 4-1 score. So again, what was that thing about harnessing emotion? Classic. Can’t wait for next weeks press conference.
- St. Lawrence University Saints – Yikes. What happened here? Our most recent “performer” of the week did a total about face and floundered in two games to conference rivals Cornell (5-2)and Colgate (5-3) on their home ice. Shame on the Saints for tantalizing us with their successful run and then underperforming the next week. Particularly disappointing was the convincing loss to Cornell on Saturday 5-2.
- University of Vermont Catamounts – The ‘Cats had the difficult task of hosting the red hot Providence Friars at Gutterson Arena this past weekend. Difficult yes, but, c’mon boys it’s on your home ice, a conference rival and you have shown the ability to compete with North Dakota, Notre Dame and Maine. Is it too much to ask to garner at least a league point out of the weekend? I Guess so as the Catamounts dropped two games to a very good Providence team. On Friday, the ‘Cats outshot the Friars and froze out their power play. Yet, the Friars still prevailed 3-2. No problem, let’s get them on Saturday- right? Wrong – the Friars locked it down and shut out Vermont on Saturday 3-0.
- Northeastern University Huskies – We were deceived by the 5 game win streak to start the season. Upon further review it included two wins over Huntsville and two vs Holy Cross so it’s much clearer now. A road win vs St. Lawrence did create some short-lived credibility. Since that time, the Huskies have dropped 3 of 4 games with one quality win over UMass-Lowell sandwiched in between. After an anemic performance on Friday getting outshot 39-22 and getting shut out 3-0 they traveled to Durham, NH for game two. It was a better effort on Saturday but allowing 3 PP goals in 4 opportunities pretty much sealed it for the Wildcats. They’ve now lost 5 of their past 6 games. Ouch.
- Penn State University Nittany Lions – It’s not easy to start a Division I hockey program and the Penn State squad is finding out it’s a battle every week. And, the conference schedule hasn’t even started. Facing a team like Lowell is daunting even if it’s at home for a fledgling program like Penn State. It was a credible effort both nights but still PSU was swept 4-0 and 3-2 by the visiting River Hawks. The next two weekends find Union and Wisconsin on the schedule. Good luck…
- Boston University Terriers – Getting throttled by Maine 7-0 labels you as an underperformer. This was the worst loss in the past 18 years for this traditional hockey power.
- Western Michigan University Broncos – maybe I expected more out of a team that had only lost once in the previous 6 games. Particularly against a Denver team that has really struggled out of the chute to start the season. WMU totally blew up Friday coughing up a 2-0 lead and allowing 4 straight second period goals and then lost a defensive battle Saturday. It’s maybe a little harsh to call it an underperforming weekend but they were swept by a team that has not been a picture of success thus far.
- Minnesota State University-Mankato – The Mavericks have done nothing to uphold the lofty expectations set for them as pre-season WCHA favorites. Granted, they were playing the number #1 ranked Gophers on the Minnesota’s home ice. Yet, scoring one goal over the entire weekend and being shut out by the U of MN backup goaltender has to have them questioning where their offense has gone. They are now 4-6-0 and travel to Bowling Green for a defining series next week.
- Dartmouth University Big Green – Much like Quinnipiac making a habit of winning, the Big Green are making a habit of losing. It was no different this past weekend as they dropped two more conference games – their seventh and eighth in a row to Princeton (in OT) 5-4 and the QU Bobcats 3-1, both on the road. Dartmouth is on the verge of becoming irrelevant in the ECAC race and its not even Thanksgiving.
- Holy Cross University Knights – The Crusaders were fortunate to have Sacred Heart and Army on the schedule in early November. It broke up a 5 game losing streak. They’ve now started another, dropping three games in a row including two more this past weekend to conference foes American International and Bentley. Let’s all shake our heads and move on.
- Canisius University Golden Griffins – The Griffs got us all excited with their convincing win at Denver on October 26. Since then they’ve lost 5 of 6 including a pair to Ohio State University this past weekend. They scored once vs Ohio State and really weren’t a factor in either game losing 3-0/3-1. The best hope for Canisius is to get into conference play.
- University of Alabama -Huntsville Chargers – Huntsville makes this list not because they lost twice (as expected) to St. Cloud State but in the manner they lost. They got totally dismantled 10-0 on Friday and then put a serious scare into the #3 ranked Huskies on Saturday outscoring them 2-1 in the third period before falling 4-3. The problem with UAH is consistency. They’ve lost 5 games by 5 goals or more and then 4 by a goal. After Friday’s loss, their coach admitted they played like the worst team in college hockey. That’s an interesting endorsement by your own coach. It’s a shame they don’t have Army on their schedule this season. On a side note, I was there and I give their pep band an “A” for effort. That group is solid.
- Army Black Knights – Another weekend and two more losses by a combined score of 13-3 to a not so impressive Niagara team. Army needed to schedule Huntsville. Nuff said.
- Connecticut Huskies – The Huskies lost to Bentley 3-0 and were then beat up by a Boston University team licking its wounds from being thrashed 7-0 by Maine. They were outshot by the Terriers 41-29 and defeated 4-1. It’s going to be a long season for this squad.
This weeks View from Center Ice “Performer of the Week” is Union College. They stepped up to the plate in a home and home series with their arch rival RPI and swept the Engineers. Congrats on a great effort.