Performers / Underperformers #7…

MTU

Here’s my ranked “Performers” and “Underperformers” for the weekend of November 29/30:

Performers:

  1. Michigan Tech Huskies – The Huskies began their Alaska road trip on December 19 for a two-game series with Alaska Anchorage. They remained in Alaska for the Thanksgiving holiday and concluded the 13 day road trip with a conference series with the Alaska Nanooks. It’s a tough road trip from a travel standpoint and even more difficult  to find success once you get there. On Friday, they prevailed 3-2 after falling behind 1-0 early. They scored three straight in the second period including two from  Alex Petan for the win. On Saturday, a PP goal from Shane Hanna and a shorthanded goal from Tanner Kero in the second gave them a 2-0 lead and they held on for a 2-1 win. Phoenix Copley picked up both wins in goal in this conference sweep. There’s really no other choice. The Michigan Tech Huskies are my team “Performer of the Week”. Congratulations.
  2. University of New Hampshire Wildcats – After a humbling 6-3 loss to Harvard on Tuesday, the Wildcats traveled to Colorado Springs for a series with the Tigers, a 1-8-2 team in the midst of a tough schedule and poor results. On Friday, the game Tigers had a 2-1 lead in period two and were starting to look like they turned the corner. Think again – the Wildcats exploded for the next 5 goals and a 6-2 win. Nick Sorkin picked up his 8th and 9th goals of the season and Casey DeSmith turned away 31 shots in the win. On Saturday, it was Sorkin with the GWG on the power play and Kevin Goumas added two more for good measure in the 3-0 win. Casey DeSmith was strong once again, turning aside all 32 CC SOG.
  3. Union College Dutchmen – #15 Union made the trip to State College, PA for a Saturday/Sunday series with BIG 10 member Penn State. In a close game Saturday, Union jumped out to a 3-0 lead only to see the Nittany Lions pile on three of their own to tie the game at 3-3. It took a Max Novak goal at 13:10 of the third period to seal it for the Dutchmen. In a wild one on Sunday, Union’s failure on special teams  led to 2 PP goals and a shortie for Penn State and a  4-1 lead midway through the game. Union then went to work outshooting Penn State 34-15 over the final two frames and scoring 4 straight goals including the game winner by Daniel Ciampini with three seconds remaining in regulation. Shane Gostisbehere netted two consecutive power play goals in the win. Nice sweep for Union.
  4. Lake Superior State University Lakers – The Lakers picked up two gritty wins in a key weekend conference home series with Bowling Green. In a very low penalized game on Friday, the Falcons nevertheless made the Lakers pay going 2/3 on the power play and holding a 3-2 lead in the third. However, the Lakers struck twice in the third including the GWG by Gus  Coreale for a 4-3 win. On Saturday, it was more of the same as LSSU had to rally for two goals in the last 9 minutes of the third period for another 4-3 win. The Lakers are now 9-4-1, in third place in the WCHA and seem to be a team whose program has been revitalized by the change in conference.
  5. University of Minnesota Golden Gophers – Two long time rivals played their first series in the newly created BIG 10 conference at Mariucci Arena. On Friday, the Gophers spotted the Badgers an early first period goal but that was it as the #1 ranked Gophers rang up the four next goals in the 4-1 win. Seth Ambrose got the GWG and an empty netter as Minnesota outshot UW 45-25. On Saturday, the Badgers stepped it up playing a much more  physical game and holding a 2-1 edge after period one. But, Seth Ambrose tied the game with his 3rd goal of the weekend at 17:51 of the second and Brady Skjei  gave the Gophers a 3-2 lead at 3:44 of the third.  UW’s Michael Mersch “lit the lamp” at 10:37 of the third to tie the game at 3-3  but extinguished it 9 minutes later on a turnover deep in the Badger zone. Seth Ambrose took advantage and buried the GWG (his 4th of he weekend) with 26 seconds in regulation for a 4-3 win. Adam Wilcox of the Gophers picked up both wins in the sweep.
  6. University of Vermont Catamounts – In a “non-conference” series between these two Hockey East teams, the ‘Cats  doubled up the Black Bears with a weekend sweep at home. On Friday, Vermont responded to a 2-1 deficit in the second period with two goals including the GWG by Chris Muscoby for the 3-2 win. On Saturday, Vermont jumped out to a 3-1 lead and added two empty net goals for a 5-2 win and a sweep of the series. After a tough start to the month of November the ‘Cats have now won four straight.
  7. Minnesota State University – Mankato Mavericks – After digging themselves a hole in the WCHA the Mavericks are clawing their way back into contention after a weekend sweep of the UAA Seawolves. The Seawolves were probably feeling pretty good about themselves after going 3-1-2 and earning 8 league points in the previous six games. On Saturday, the Seawolves were a train wreck falling behind 4-1 at the end of the first, yielding 5 power play goals and ultimately getting routed 7-3.  Jean Paul Lafontaine and Johnny McInnis both snared two goals in the contest. The Mavericks suddenly find themselves tied for third place in the WCHA.
  8. Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers – Maybe the Tigers have turned the corner. After dropping 4 of 5 games to start the month of November, RIT defeated a good St. Lawrence team 6-4 and now a weekend sweep of Sacred Heart by a combined score of 9-2 on the Pioneers home rink. The Tigers broke open a close game Friday by scoring three times in the third for a 5-2 win. Greg Noyes had 2-1-3 on Friday. In a penalty filled game on Saturday, the teams racked up 16 penalties for 64 minutes and RIT won the special teams battle going 2/6 in the 4-0 win. Danny Smith scored the game winner at 2:52 of the first period. Mike Rotolo earned the shutout and is now 3-0-0.
  9. Mercyhurst University Lakers – Although the strength of schedule won’t leave anyone aghast,  the fact remains the Lakers were 6-2 during the month of November after their road sweep of AIC this past weekend. On Friday, they outshot AIC 50-29 despite yielding 8 PP opportunities for AIC. Daniel Bahntge had a career offensive game with a hat trick – all goals 5×5 and was +4 in the 6-3 win. On Saturday Mercyhurst stayed out of the penalty box and totally dismantled the Yellow Jackets 6-1. The Lakers piled up 6 straight goals before AIC got on the board in the third period. Jimmy Sarjeant picked up the win improving his record to an impressive 7-3-1.
  10. Michigan State Spartans – I’m not convinced 2 wins over American International to start the month or a 4-1 win over Princeton to end the month of November mean all that much. Add to that a 8-2 drubbing over Princeton on Sunday and you have a sweep and an addition  to this list. On Friday a 4-0 lead was too much to overcome for the offensively challenged Tigers. On Saturday, it was 5 straight goals before Princeton got on the board. Greg Wolfe and William Haag combined for 4 of the 8 Spartan goals Sunday. I’m blaming a marginal Princeton squad with making the Spartans look much better than they’ve proved thus far this season. Let’s see what they do vs Minnesota next weekend.
  11. Holy Cross University Knights – I struggled somewhat with the positioning of the Knights but this was an impressive win over an obviously tryptophanic Boston College Eagles at Conte Forum. Really, what else can you blame other than an overdose of turkey the day before by the Eagles squad?  The Knights ran up a 5-1 score on the #7 ranked Eagles before they snapped out of their coma and rallied only to fall 5-4. Mike Barrett scored twice in handing Boston College their first loss ever to an Atlantic team. “To come here and beat them is special” commented coach Paul Pearl.  Great win for Holy Cross (see underperformers below).
  12. Ferris State University Bulldogs – You’d think Ferris would let their foot off the peddle a bit during the month of November. Not so – this highly underappreciated squad finished the month undefeated going 8-0-2 after a win and tie vs Northern Michigan in Marquette, MI. On Friday, they withstood a penalty filled second period with 11 infractions handed out to forge a 4-0 lead before the Wildcats could get on the board. The Bulldogs were 2/7 on the PP, Zach Dorer netted the GWG and C. J. Motte stopped 31/33 SOG for the win. On Saturday, the teams traded power play goals in period two in the 1-1 draw. The Bulldogs keep rolling along…
  13. Providence College Friars – In a college hockey marquee game on Wednesday, the Friars travelled to Quinnipiac for a battle between the #4 Friars and #5 Bobcats. Outshot 48-22, the Friars hung in there buoyed by Ross Mauermann’s 12th goal of the year and Brooks Behling’s GTG at 3:53 of the third in the 3-3 tie.  Saturday had the Friars competing for the Mayors Cup with intra-city rival Brown University. In an expected tight game, the Friars broke a 2-1 game in the third period with the GWG by Derek Army and ultimately winning 3-2 after a late goal by the Bears. John Gillies picked up his 10th win of the year in goal.
  14. Northeastern University Huskies -the Huskies traveled to South Bend, Indiana to take part in the “Shillelagh” tournament hosted by Notre Dame. In game one of the tourney vs Western Michigan, the teams traded power play goals before battling to a 1-1 OT tie. The Huskies were awarded the win via  a 1-0 shootout  advantage on a goal by Dalen Hedges. In the championship match, the Huskies faced home ice favorite Notre Dame. After yielding a 2-0 lead to the Irish after a PP and a shorthanded goal by Stephen Johns, the Huskies rallied for three straight goals and a 3-2 win and the trophy. Once again, Dalen Hedges was the game hero netting the GWG at 17:18 of the third period.   Clay Witt earned his 7th win of the season in goal.
  15. Miami University RedHawksMiami had a short week returning from a trip to Omaha and then a long road trip to Bemidji to take on the Beavers of the WCHA. Having lost 4 of the previous 5, the RedHawks needed to get back on track.  They had the legs early on Friday jumping out to a 4-1 lead  but fizzled down the stretch yielding 3 goals in the third period settling for a 4-4 overtime tie. On Saturday, the RedHawks looked sleepy and uninspired early and found themselves in a 3-3 battle at the end of two periods.  A goal by Alex Wideman 5 minutes into the third gave them  some jump and a SH goal by Riley Barber after a 5 minute major to Miami  a two goal lead. Wideman closed it out with another late goal for a 6-3 Miami win. Big guns Austin Czarnik, Riley Barber and Alex Wideman combined for 3-8-11 on the evening.
  16. Bentley University Falcons – After a 1-6 October, Bentley has made progress, particularly after a weekend win and tie vs a solid Air Force squad in Colorado Springs.  They finished November 4-2-1 and find themselves tied for second in the Atlantic. In a very tight game Friday, the two squads battled to a 2-2 tie after two periods. Brett Switzer netted the GWG at 16:16 of the third and they added an empty net goal for a 4-2 win. On Saturday, Bentley parlayed 2 power play goals into a 2-2 overtime tie and a three point road weekend. A nice conference performance for the Falcons.
  17. Quinnipiac University Bobcats – On Wednesday, QU battled Providence to a 3-3 overtime tie in a marquee match between two highly ranked squads after badly outshooting the Friars 48-22. On their lone game of the weekend, they throttled a sleepy UMass -Amherst squad outshooting them 34-10, converting 3/10 on the power play and scoring 6 straight goals. Scoring was spread over 6 different players and the Jones brothers netted two of the six. Total domination by the Bobcats.
  18. Canisius University Golden Griffins – The Griffs earned a win and a tie vs another mid-level Atlantic squad Connecticut.  They earned a 3-1 win Friday and leveraged two power play goals to salvage a 2-2 tie on Saturday.  I can’t get excited about either of these two but Canisius did earn three league points…

Underperformers:

  1. Boston College Eagles – The Eagles have to be here.  A loss by #7 ranked Boston College to a 3-9 Atlantic is underperforming by major proportions.  Simply an unacceptable loss on BC’s home ice. Sure, the Eagles rallied for three goals in the third to make it a one-goal loss. However, they sleep-walked through the first two periods as Holy Cross  rang up a 5-1 lead. This was the first loss ever to an Atlantic team. The Eagles have too much talent and depth to allow this to happen. If the Eagles don’t take a major tumble in the rankings this week there is something wrong with the voting.
  2. University of Alaska Nanooks – Getting swept at home by a Michigan Tech team on a 13 day road trip 2500 miles from home easily earns you a prominent position on the “underperformers” list. The Nanooks lost two close games  3-2 on Friday and 2-1 Saturday. But again, when conference points are on the line and you are facing a travel weary team you should be expected to  salvage some points. Not good.
  3. Colorado College Tigers – Ranking a 1-10-2 team this high on this list only means I still feel the squad should be better than they’ve been. Nevertheless, they let a close game slip away badly in the third period on Friday vs UNH in a 6-3 loss. On Saturday they were shutout 3-0 on their home ice. Things are going badly for Colorado College and it’s hard to figure they’ll be able to recover to be a factor in the NCHC.
  4. Penn State Nitanny LionsPenn State has not defeated a team with a winning record thus far this season. The streak continued on Saturday/Sunday vs #15 Union. They rallied from a 3-0 deficit only to lose 4-3 on Saturday and again on Sunday were edged by the Dutchmen 5-4. However, on Sunday, the shoe was on the other foot. Penn State racked up a 4-1 lead midway through the game  only to cough it away allowing four straight goals including 2 power play goals to the Dutchmen. PSU was outshot 34-15 in the final two frames and 43-23 in a game played on their home ice. The GWG with 3 seconds remaining was particularly painful.
  5. Sacred Heart Pioneers – It’s all relative. A weak Sacred Heart team gets swept by a relatively average RIT squad. Average wins out. A 5-3 Friday loss was followed up by a 4-0 shutout on Saturday. The Pioneers record falls to a dismal 4-10-0.
  6. American International College Yellow Jackets – AIC showed very little as they were swept in a conference series by Mercyhurst. In the process, they were outscored by a combined score of 12-4 and outshot by a combined 103-55. Now that’s underperforming! Good luck vs Mass-Lowell on Tuesday.
  7. Princeton University Tigers – Getting drilled twice by a marginal Michigan State squad proves how weak this Ivy squad is this season.  They were defeated 4-1 on Friday and embarrassed 8-2 on Sunday. Princeton falls to 3-10-0 on the season. Ouch.
  8. University of Wisconsin BadgersMinnesota vs Wisconsin is a rivalry series described as a “border battle” and includes many Minnesota born players on each squad. As such, you’d expect a high energy, physical series on Friday right? Wrong. Wisconsin put forth a rather uninspired effort getting beat 4-1 and getting outshot 45-25 in the process. On Saturday, admittedly the Badgers finally got the message and played much more physical and with energy. After battling back to forge a 3-3 tie midway through the third period, they proceeded to cough up the puck on an unthinkable pass deep in the zone with 26 seconds left in the game. Of course, the Gophers converted for a 4-3 win. Two games and two losses to start off conference play.
  9. Bowling Green University Falcons – Suddenly the Bowling Green Falcons are reeling. They are winless in 6 of their last 7 games after being swept by the LSSU Lakers this past weekend. They were defeated both nights by a 4-3 score and surrendered 4 points in a league that is very congested between #1 and #10. On the bright side, they have Alabama-Huntsville on the schedule next.  Great timing for a team that is struggling for wins.
  10. University of Maine Black Bears – The wildly inconsistent Black Bears traveled to Vermont and were swept on the road by inter-state rival Vermont by scores of 3-2 and 5-2. Fortunately, these were scheduled as “non-conference” games. Maine compiled a 3-4-1 record in November. Time to pick it up…
  11. University of Alaska Anchorage -The Seawolves are falling into their usual pattern – win a few games at home and drop games on the road.  UAA was winless on the road in November going 0-5-1 including two losses to MSU-Mankato this past weekend. On Friday it was a close game resulting in a 3-2 loss followed by a drilling 7-3 at the hands of the Mavericks on Saturday. The Seawolves return home to face arch rival Alaska next weekend in a battle of this weeks “underperformers”.
  12. University of Massachusetts Minutemen – Thankfully, the Minutemen had one scheduled game this past weekend. However, the one loss and the way  they lost earned them a spot here. They travelled to Quinnipiac to face the #5 Bobcats with predictable results. They mustered 10 shots on goal the entire game, allowed success on 3 of 10 Bobcat power play opportunities and were throttled 6-1. This is the template to use for underperforming. They fall to 3-10-2 .

The  Michigan Tech University Huskies are the “View from Center Ice” Performers of the Week based on their road sweep of  the University of Alaska Nanooks.  Congrats to the road warriors.

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