Here are this weeks View From Center Ice “Performers and Underperformers” for the weekend of February 28 / March 1:
- University of Alaska Nanooks – One thing is for sure, the Nanooks opened some eyes this weekend and gave notice that they look to do some damage in the WCHA playoffs. A sweep of top ranked Ferris on the UA home ice lifted them to a third place tie in the WCHA standings. On Friday, despite being outshot 37-19 Sean Cahill was tough in goal turning away all but a PP goal late in the second. Nolan Huysmand netted the GWG in the 4-1 win. On Saturday, Alaska badly outshot the Bulldogs 41-24 and broke open a 2-2 tie with 3 straight goals in the third en-route to the 5-3 win and sweep. Brandon Morley got the GWG and Sean Cahill another win in goal. For their efforts in toppling top ranked Ferris, the Alaska Nanooks are my Team Performer of the Week. Congrats to the Nanooks.
- Union College Dutchman – Union continues to prove they are one of college hockey’s top teams. They were undefeated the last 10 games and in the month of February. They finished the regular season schedule with wins over defending national champion Yale and Brown University – on the road. On Friday, Sam Coatta got the GWG at 1:55 of the first period but it wasn’t that easy. Yale outshot Union 49-36 and goaltender Colin Stevens had to turn away 20 SOG in the second period. The final in this hard fought battle was 2-0 Union. On Saturday, Union traveled to Providence to face Brown University. A scoreless game after two periods was finally busted open by the Dutchman with three straight goals including an EN. Daniel Carr scored his second goal of the weekend and Alex Sakellaropoulos stopped all 26 SOG in the win. Union wins the ECAC title and moves on to the playoffs and NCAA tourney.
- Providence College Friars– The Friars had a tough last two months losing 6 games. They finished the Hockey East regular season with a solid road sweep of the University of Maine. On Friday, Providence took the early 2-0 lead then held on for a 4-2 final. The GWG was scored by Nick Saracino at 11:55 of the second period. In the rematch, Providence won 3-2 in a nail biter. The Friars were outshot 37-33 but Jon Gillies turned away 35/37 in the win. The Friars have now won 4 straight, finished third in the Hockey East standings and have some momentum going into the playoffs.
- University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs – The Bulldogs most recently lost four straight games after a seven game winning streak. So, It was anyones guess what the outcome to their trip to Oxford, OH would be. Low and behold the Bulldogs got back on track with a sweep of perhaps the most disappointing squad in college hockey in the Miami RedHawks. They picked up two one-goal wins but hey, they were conference road wins-not an easy task in the NCHC. On Friday, in a see-saw battle tied three times by the end of the second, it was finally won on a short-handed goal by Adam Krause at 1:05 of the third period for a 5-4 Bulldog victory. On Saturday, in a defensive battle, a goal at 9:05 of the second period by Kyle Osterberg turned out to be the GWG. These were two badly needed wins by UMD and placed them back in contention for home ice in the playoffs.
- Minnesota State University-Mankato Mavericks – The Mavs have been stalking the Ferris State Bulldogs for weeks. They needed two wins on the road vs Lake Superior State for any chance in catching the Bulldogs for first-place in the WCHA. After blowing out the Lakers 5-0 Friday they earned the sweep with a 4-3 win Saturday. Friday was no contest with MSU out shooting the Lakers 40-14. On Saturday, the Mavs again put 40 SOG but had to grind out a 4-3 win. Combined with two losses by Ferris to Alaska, the Mavs find themselves tied with Ferris for first place in the WCHA…inconceivable 2 months ago.
- Boston University Terriers – Entering this series with Northeastern, the Terriers had one win since December 1st. As such, the odds of sweeping #9 Northeastern in this home and home were practically nil. In a head shaker, BU scored a solid victory at home on Friday 4-1 and then proceeded to double up the Huskies with a 4-2 win on the Northeastern rink Saturday. Danny O’Regan netted the GWG on Friday and Doyle Somerby earned the honors Saturday. The Terriers nearly doubled their conference wins in one weekend.
- University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks– The Mavericks are like the obnoxious neighborhood kid who just won’t go away. Just when you think they are out of the picture they pull off another sweep and lift themselves into a solid third place in the NCHC standings. Entering the final weekend of play, they still have SCSU and UND looking over their shoulder at them. They rolled over the Colorado College Tigers 6-0 Friday with the usual cast of characters piling up points – Archibald, Zombo and Montpetit. In a surprising defensive battle on Saturday it took an overtime goal by Michael Young to dispatch the Tigers by a 2-1 score. This sets up an interesting battle in Duluth this weekend for Omaha.
- Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers – The Tigers have to be the worst 11 win team in college hockey. Their wins are a who’s who of the bottom feeders in the Pairwise rankings including this past weekends sweep of hapless Canisius. But, it was a sweep so here they are…..on the “performer” list this week. They edged the Griffins 1-0 on a third period goal by Danny Smith on Friday and 3-1 on a GWG by Brandon Thompson on Saturday. Yawn.
- University of Minnesota Golden Gophers – The Gophers swept Penn State on their home rink to solidify their position on top of the BIG 10 conference standings. PSU jumped out to the early lead 1-0 but inevitably it was all Gophers after that piling up 5 straight goals in the 5-1 Friday win. On Saturday, it was moral victory time for Penn State as they held the Gophers to two goals but still lost 2-1. I’m just not sure teams are taking the Nittany Lions that seriously yet.
- Quinnipiac University Bobcats – After three straight losses, the Bobcats dusted themselves off and put a whooping on St. Lawrence 8-0 Friday. Really, St. Lawrence? 8-0 on your home ice? To top it off, the Bobcats scored on 5 of 6 power play opportunities for an incredible 83% success ratio. A thoroughly embarrassing effort for the home squad. How about a ticket refund? On Saturday, just down the road in Potsdam, NY the Bobcats found a competitor in Clarkson and had to settle for a 1-1 OT tie. The Bobcats enter the playoffs on a positive note.
- University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Notre Dame finished off the Hockey East regular season on a high note defeating then #1 Boston College 2-1 in OT. They’ve struggled in Hockey East play finishing in seventh place in the standings. However, they’re undefeated in their last 6 conference games. They defeated the Eagles in a defensive battle limiting them to a single power play goal. Vince Hinostroza got the GWG for the Irish in OT. This was perhaps Notre Dame’s most satisfying win of the season.
- Bentley College Falcons -The Falcons swept American International by scores of 5-1 and 4-1 for a sweep of the weekend. The Falcons finish second in the Atlantic and are one of the favorites to win the Atlantic playoffs for a berth in the NCAA tourney. You’ve got give them credit for their 18 win season.
- Mercyhurst University Lakers – The Lakers won the Atlantic conference and finished the season with a tie and win over intrastate rival Robert Morris. However, they’ll need to win the Atlantic playoffs in order to advance to the NCAA tourney. It’ll be an interesting and wide-open playoff in the Atlantic.. Stay tuned.
- Ferris State University Bulldogs – The once high-flying Bulldogs have a record of 9-7 over the past two months. Suddenly, they look vulnerable after being swept by Alaska by scores of 4-2 and 5-2 on the road last weekend. Two months ago it looked as though they would run away with the WCHA lead. Now, they are tied for first place with Mankato entering the last week of play. One win could have wrapped things up for Ferris last weekend. However, it didn’t happen and the league title is up for grabs this weekend.
- Northeastern University Huskies -This was a shocker. #9 Northeastern gets swept by Boston University in a home and home series. They lose 4-1 on the Terriers home ice Friday and rather than bounce back on their home ice drop another 4-2 to a team that had one win since December 1st. A classic case of underperforming.
- University of Maine Black Bears – The Black Bears ride into the playoffs with a three-game Hockey East losing streak after getting swept at home 4-2 and 3-2 by Providence. Getting swept at home is an automatic inclusion on this list.
- Lake Superior State University Lakers – The Lakers have been dreadful since January 1. They’ve gone 6-10 including two one-goal wins over Huntsville to pad the win column. This past weekend they were swept at home by Mankato getting drilled 5-0 on Friday and getting edged 4-3 Saturday. They allowed 80 SOG over the weekend. They could help Mankato even further win a win over Ferris this weekend. However, that “ain’t ” going to happen. Guaranteed.
- Brown University Bears – For a while in January it appeared Brown had their act together and was in a position to make some end of the season noise. They were 4-2-2 in January and then collapsed in February with a 2-6 record. This past weekend they dropped two more games by identical 3-0 scores to RPI and Union. It appears this squad has run out of gas.
- Miami University RedHawks – The most disappointing team in college hockey dropped two more games to UMD on their home ice. Picked to finish first in the NCHC, this squad will finish last in the league. An amazing tailspin for a team that was touted to be one of the top teams in college hockey in 2013-14. An ugly, ugly season for the RedHawks.
- Penn State University Nittany Lions– The Nittany Lions were pounded 5-1 Friday by #1 Minnesota and picked up another moral victory on Saturday in a one goal loss. I doubt there’s been a team in the history of college hockey that’s received more national exposure than this squad from “Hockey Valley”. They have 2 conference wins and a 6-22-2 record. I guess a $90M donation not only buys you a rink but also a lot of national attention. I can just imagine the PR machine if they were actually winning games.
- Colorado College Tigers – I still contend Colorado College is the best “6” win team in college hockey. They are an enigma as they have some top-end players on this squad. It doesn’t surprise me that they were blown out by offensive dynamo UNO 6-0 on Friday. However, the one-goal loss on Saturday seemed to be more consistent with my expectations for this team on the road. This will be a season to forget for the Tigers.
- Canisius College Golden Griffins– The Griffins have 12 wins overall but 11 of them have come against Atlantic Conference opponents and that “ain’t” saying much. They were swept by RIT another struggling squad which just exemplifies how tough things are for the Griffins. Getting one goal all weekend against a weak RIT team pretty much says it all.
- American International University– Yellow Jackets- Coach Gary Wright has coached this team in 883 games. He’s witnessed 525 losses. That’s a lot of futility over the years. He’s added to the misery in the 2013-14 season with another 23 losses including two more this past weekend vs Bentley. They were outscored 9-2 over the weekend and netted one goal each night. That is Grade A genuine futility.
Congratulations to the Alaska Nanooks. In recognition of their home sweep of WCHA leading Ferris State they are this weeks “View From Center Ice” Team Performer of the Week.