Performers / Underperformers #9…

Union

Here’s my ranked “Performers” and “Underperformers” for the weekend of December 13/14:

  1. Union College Dutchmen – Here’s a team that earned a come from behind 3-2 win at home on Wednesday vs Dartmouth then jumped an early AM jet to Minneapolis for a weekend series with #1 ranked St. Cloud State University. Jet lag? Tired legs? apparently not as the Dutchmen posted two first period power play goals, foiled a second period barrage by the Huskies and added two third period goals in a convincing 4-1 win over the top-ranked Huskies. Eli Lichtenwald scored the GWG and Mat Bodie picked up 1-2-3 for Union. Backup Alex Sakellaropoulos stopped 34 of 35 SOG for his third win of the season. On Saturday, Union yielded a first period goal by SCSU then rallied for three goals in the second period to jump to a commanding 3-1 lead. However, the game Huskies had a rally of their own scoring twice in the third including the game tying goal with 19.9 seconds remaining. A scoreless OT session  wrapped up a successful 4 day stretch for Union and a win and tie on the road vs SCSU. The resilient Union College Dutchmen are this weeks Center Ice View “Performer” of the week.  
  2. Bentley College Falcons – With a current PAIRWISE ranking at #43 I’m not convinced the Falcons are a powerhouse yet, they’ve got a seven game undefeated streak and currently sit in second place in the Atlantic. On Saturday, on the road vs Boston University they flexed some muscle and earned a 4-1 upset win over this  traditional Hockey East power. Skating toe to toe with the Terriers the Falcons scored the first three goals including a short-handed goal and GWG by Jared Rickord at 1:40 of the second period. They traded goals in the third- a PP by the Terriers and a empty net goal by the Falcons for the 4-1 win. Branden Komm turned away 42 of 43 SOG for his 8th win of the season. A solid win for Bentley.
  3. University of Massachusetts Minutemen – The Minutemen have been bashed on here routinely for some dreadful performances thus far this season. So, it’s a mild surprise to see the success they had on the road vs Colgate this past weekend.  On Friday, UMass outshot the Raiders 40-25 and shut them out on their home ice on the heels of a first period goal by Conor Sheary and a third period goal by Troy Power.  Saturday was a close encounter but again, UMass prevailed despite being outshot 35-22 and surviving a late third period goal by the Raiders. Steven Iacobellis scored the GWG – his 8th of the season. Nice weekend for the Minutemen. Didn’t expect to have to write that.
  4. University of North Dakota – Perhaps I’ve been giving Northern Michigan too much credit or North Dakota too little. In any case, UND earned their 4th and 5th wins in a row in a home sweep of the Wildcats. As expected, Friday’s affair included 15 combined penalties  resulting in two UND power play goals as they cruised to a 4-1 win. Luke Johnson and Dillon Simpson tallied PP goals in the second and Zane Gothberg stopped 24 of 25 SOG in the win. On Saturday, it was a tighter game with single digit SOG by each team through the first two periods. A PP goal by NMU’s Shane Sooth at 15:20 of the first held up as the only score until UND stepped it up in the third period. North Dakota parlayed 14 third period SOG into two even strength and one empty net goal and busted the game open for a 3-1 win. Gothberg added another win to his record.
  5. Denver University Pioneers – the Pioneers were maligned early in the season but have turned things around dramatically under new coach Jim Montgomery. DU traveled to Troy, NY to engage the RPI Engineers and former DU assistant Seth Appert. After a win and tie I think we can safely say the Pioneers are a squad to contend with as they’ve only lost once in the past 10 games. On Friday, the Pioneers outshot RPI 38-23 yet had to rely on an overtime goal by Emil Romig for the win. David Makowski scored the other DU goal and Sam Brittain picked up the win in goal. On Saturday, deja vu as Denver stifled the RPI offense limiting them to 19 SOG while pelting RPI goaltender Scott Diebold with 33 of their own.  Nevertheless, RPI hung in there pushing the game to an overtime 1-1 tie. I can’t wait to hear coach Appert’s weekly update.
  6. Bowling Green Falcons– the streaky Falcons were coming off a loss to winless UAH on their home ice so it was anyone’s guess as to the outcome of their trip to the Upper Peninsula to face the MTU Huskies. On Friday, they traded goals with the Huskies until the Falcons Kevin Dufour stepped forward and scored a late second period goal and an early third period goal, the GWG  in the 3-2 win. However, lets give credit where credit is due. The Falcons were outshot 41- 18 requiring Bowling Green goaltender Tommy Burke  to stop 39 of 40 SOG in the win. On Saturday, in a game that produced a combined 85 SOG the  Falcons were down 3-1 midway through the third period but rallied for 3 goals in a period that produced 6 goals and a 4-4 tie. The GTG was scored at 18:58 of the third by Bryce Williamson.  Despite a 7-2 shot advantage for the Falcons in OT the game ended in a 4-4 draw. Nevertheless, a nice 3 point weekend for the Falcons who have pushed themselves back to a tie for third place in the WCHA.
  7. University of Alaska Nanooks– The Nanooks had a trying November losing 6 of 8 games and were desperate for some success following a 1 goal win over UAA last Saturday. On Friday, at Bemidji, they put forth an all around solid game ending in a 3-3 overtime draw. Bemidji required an extra attacker goal by Matt Prapavessis at 18:20 of the third period to preserve the tie. On Saturday, Alaska outshot BSU 38-26, rang up the first 4 goals of the game and nailed down an impressive 5-1 road win. Michael Quinn had a three point night, Garrick Perry scored his second goal of the weekend and Davis Jones stopped 24 of 25 SOG for the win. This was a much-needed three-point weekend for Alaska heading into the holidays.
  8. Ferris State Bulldogs– Following a 2-2 overtime tie with Michigan on Wednesday, the Bulldogs traveled to East Lansing to participate in the United State Hockey Hall of Fame game. As expected, the Bulldogs did not disappoint imposing a tight defensive game on the Spartans, limiting them to 16 SOG the entire game and shutting them out 2-0. Chad McDonald scored the first period GWG and Justin Buzzeo added a PP goal, his 8th goal of the season in the win. Ferris improves their record to 14-2-3 and are undefeated in the last 15 consecutive games. What an impressive run by the WCHA league leading  Bulldogs.
  9. University of Maine Black Bears– The Black Bears had the luxury of a weekend home series with American International College. It was no contest on Friday as Maine had seven different players score in the 7-1 drubbing. And, oh by the way, the Black Bears outshot the stingless Yellow Jackets  59 – 21. On Saturday, it was more of the same. After spotting the ‘Jackets a 1-0 lead Maine rung up 5 straight goals in the 5-1 blowout. AIC’s record falls to 3-12-0. Maine put exactly 100 SOG in this series. Ugh.
  10. Minnesota State University  Mankato Mavericks– The surging Mavericks had the benefit of a weekend series at the University of Alabama – Huntsville. Beneficial as the Mav’s are doing their best to hang within reasonable striking distance of league leading Ferris. As expected, they did pick up the weekend sweep and a key 4 points. It doesn’t matter who the opponent – 4 points is 4 points right? They doubled up the Chargers winning  4-1 each night in the sweep. On Friday, a game knotted at 1-1 early in the third found the Chargers dispatched by 2 PP goals  and a 5X5 goal in the third for the 4-1 win. Mankato outshot UAH 47-24 and Cole Huggins picked up the win in goal. On Saturday, three power play goals were the difference in another 4-1 win. 2012-13 WCHA rookie of the year  goaltender, Stephon Williams evened his record at 4-4 with the win as the Mavs outshot UAH 46-18 .

Underperformers:

  1. Colgate University Raiders – Coming into the weekend, I never expected a 4-11-2 UMass team to have a chance at sweeping the Raiders on their home ice. Yet, it happened. On Saturday it was a convincing win for the visitors outshooting Colgate 40-25 and shutting them out 2-0. On Sunday, in the matinee game, Colgate did get their act together and played like a home team outshooting UMass 35-22 yet still dropping the game 3-2 with a “too little too late ” rally. Getting swept on your home ice will get you here. Getting swept on your home ice by one of this seasons routine non-performers  gets you the number one position.
  2. Boston University Terriers– Once again, it’s another “Boston” with an unimpressive non-conference loss to an Atlantic school. This time it’s the Bentley College Falcons beating up the Terriers on the BU rink. In a close game statistically, Bentley placed 34 SOG and were it not for a Terrier Power Play goal were on their way to a shutout.  There’s something going on at Boston University and it’s not “performing” as their record drops to 7-8-2 and they sit in 10th in Hockey East.
  3. Northern Michigan University Wildcats-Granted, getting swept on the road is not a surprise for this team who also dropped two at Mankato last weekend. However,  I expected more out of this squad after losing only  twice in November. They’ve now lost 6 of the last seven after being swept by North Dakota 4-1 / 3-1. It’s most likely a welcome holiday break for NMU but they have to hit the road at Bemidji for another league battle after the New Year. Good luck.
  4. Colorado College Tigers – There appeared to be hope for the Tigers after a win and tie vs a solid UNO squad last weekend. This weekend it was former WCHA rival Wisconsin in Madison, WI.   After a 4-1 loss on Friday, the Tigers goal was to salvage this road weekend. Things looked promising as the Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead on first period goals by Jeff Collett and Sam Rothstein. Leave it to the Badgers to destroy their party as UW scored three times for a 3-2 lead at the end of two.  Archie Skalbeck gave CC a lift with the GTG at 18:57 with the extra attacker. However, UW’s Tyler Barnes got the GWG at 1:41 of OT for the sweep. More disappointment for the Tigers.
  5. University of Alabama Huntsville Chargers– Buoyed by their first win of the season last weekend at Bowling Green the Chargers returned home invigorated only to … drop two more games to the MSUMankato Mavericks. The Chargers simply don’t have the depth to compete with a team like Mankato even on their home ice. It’s going to be a struggle the entire season for this squad.
  6. American International College– The Yellow Jackets were outscored 12-2 and outshot 100-30 for the series by Maine. Let’s tell it like it is – AIC was simply over their head vs a team like Maine.  Dismal.
  7. St.Cloud State University Huskies – The #1 ranked Huskies had a dramatic finish to their game Saturday scoring twice in the third period and snaring the GTG with an extra attacker with 20 seconds remaining in regulation. But, let’s look at the other side of the coin. Were it not for Jonny Brodzinski’s heroics late on Saturday, the Huskies were on the verge of being swept – on their home ice by the #9 ranked Union College Dutchmen who were at the tail end of 3 games in 4 days. On Friday, the Huskies were outplayed for two of the three periods and fell by a 4-1 score. On Saturday, they “salvaged” a 3-3 OT tie after outplaying Union 2 of the 3 periods. But allowing 3 consecutive goals in period two was a killer.  It was a tough weekend for the #1 ranked and #1 PAIRWISE Huskies and thus here they are.
  8. Bemidji State University Beavers– It wasn’t a horrible weekend for the Beavers. They salvaged a 3-3 OT tie on Friday with the Alaska Nanooks. You’d expect a pretty good performance in game two right? Wrong.  On Saturday they were outshot 38-26 and fell behind 4-0 before the home squad was able to get on the board. When key conference points are on the board – at home, to a marginally successful squad like Alaska, you’d expect a better response. It wasn’t there as Alaska left town with three conference points. Thus, the Beavers are here – on this list.
  9. Michigan Tech University Huskies– The formula is sweep conference games at home and split on the road and you’ll contend for the league title. It needs to be repeated to the MTU Huskies who surrendered 3 of 4 conference  points to the visiting Bowling Green Falcons. After a 3-2 loss on Friday, the disappointment was surrendering a 3-1 lead at home midway through the third period for a resultant 4-4 tie. MTU badly outshot the Falcons over the weekend but stats don’t win games goals do. In a very tight WCHA these were badly needed points and at a minimum a split expected.  Three points would have placed MTU solidly in third in the WCHA. They fall to 5th.

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