College Hockey Weekend Preview – January 23-24

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Western Michigan is 7-1-2 in their last 10 games (photo prout)

 

Here’s a quick read of intriguing college hockey games to keep an eye on this weekend and the reasons why :

  1. Yale University Bulldogs (11-4-2 PWR #10) @ St. Lawrence University Saints 11-10-2 PWR #23t) –  Yale has been good…very good for the past two months holding an 11-3 record. The 4-1 win over highly ranked Harvard 4-1 on January 10 was an eye opener but not a surprise. The first meeting between these two squads on November 8th was a 4-0 shutout by the Saints. SLU’s goaltender Kyle Hayton was outstanding then and he continues to be a factor now as evidenced by his performance last weekend in the road sweep of Dartmouth and Harvard. He stopped 82/85 SOG over the weekend. St. Lawrence has little room for error with a Pairwise ranking of #23 and Yale needs to continue its strong play as they chase the ECAC crown and an NCAA berth. On Saturday, Yale travels to Potsdam to take on Clarkson while SLU has a home game with Brown University. Prediction: Yale in a close game vs SLU 
  2. Harvard University Crimson (11-3-2 PWR #7) @ Cornell University Big Red (7-8-2 PWR # 30) / Colgate University Red Raiders ( 14-7-1 PWR #16t)- Highly ranked Harvard has been tripped up twice in the last three games – first by Yale 4-1 and then by St. Lawrence 5-1 last weekend. The Crimson need to shake their head and get back on track. They placed 47 SOG and we can blame the SLU loss  to outstanding goaltending. On the other hand, Harvard did yield 5 goals on 22 SOG including two power play goals. This weeks opponent, Cornell doesn’t score a lot averaging less than two goals a game. However, their goals against is as stingy as it gets only allowing 1.65 goals per game. Harvard needs to prove they are one of college hockey’s top teams on the road vs Cornell and Colgate. After a marginal November, Colgate seems to be hitting their stride winning 5 of their last 6 games. These two teams have been nearly dead even on Colgate’s rink over the past decade. This one looks to be a toss-up. Prediction: Harvard with a two-goal win over Cornell and a overtime tie vs Colgate 
  3. Boston University Terriers ( 13-4-4 PWR # 8) @ University of Vermont Catamounts ( 15-6-2 PWR # 12t)This key Hockey East series in Burlington, Vermont features two teams with mixed results as of late. The Terriers are 2-1-3 in the past five including a tie vs two-win Wisconsin, a loss vs Boston College and an overtime win vs Lowell. The Catamounts have lost three of their last five games with losses to Providence, Yale and Northeastern. Vermont has a very difficult schedule  the balance of the season as they try to hang on for an NCAA berth. If they are to prevail in this series they’ll need another outstanding effort from goaltender Mike Santiquida .944 SV% / 1.51 GAA). BU is averaging 3.43 GPG so something has to give. Prediction: UVM gets the goaltending they need  Friday in a one-goal win. Saturday, the BU offense gets untracked in a three-goal win.
  4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish ( 10-11-3 PWR #34 ) @ Northeastern University Huskies  ( 8-11-4 PWR # 27t) – This series is intriguing mainly from the standpoint of the Huskies.  After a horrendous start to the season, the Huskies have been one of the hottest teams in college hockey with a 8-3-3 record since November 15th. With their PWR currently at #27 it’s unlikely their schedule will allow them obtain an at large NCAA berth. However, they’ll make life miserable for the contenders in Hockey East along the way. They need to concentrate on playing good hockey and making their impact in the playoffs. Notre Dame continues to flounder as they’ve done all season. They won’t be an impact team in the Hockey East playoffs and won’t be this weekend.  Prediction: Northeastern sweeps the Irish at home  
  5. Providence University Friars (14-8-1 PWR #14) vs UMass-Lowell River Hawks (15-5-3 PWR #9) – This home and home Hockey East battle with be one of the top series in college hockey this weekend. These are two well-coached squads battling for position in the Hockey East standings. Both teams are 7-3 in their last 10 games and both are trying the right the ship after recent losses. The Friars have lost their last two games – 5-3 to rival Brown University and 2-1 to New Hampshire. Lowell has lost two of the last three to Connecticut 2-0 and Boston University 4-3 in OT. This game features a Lowell offense scoring 3.61 GPG vs  Providence that allows 2.04 GPG. Providence will play a physical in your face game and features goaltender Jon Gillies .933 SV% and 2.02 GAA. Prediction: Both teams win on home ice
  6. University of Alaska Nanooks ( 12-11-1 PWR #26 ) @ Michigan Tech University Huskies (16-7-1 PWR #11) – We’ll see how much resiliency the MTU Huskies have at home vs the Alaska Nanooks. The Huskies, who started the year 10-0 have gone 6-7-1 since and look nowhere near the juggernaut they were the first half of the season. Sitting at #11 in the PWR,  they can no longer feel comfortable with the thought of having an at large berth wrapped up for the NCAA tourney. On paper, they will be the favorite in 5 of their final 6 series. However, they need to prove their early season success was not a fluke and it starts tis weekend. The Nanooks are not a pushover but are coming off a disappointing sweep at the hands of Anchorage in the Alaska Governors Cup. On paper, this is a series for MTU to walk away with. Prediction: Sweep Michigan Tech
  7. Denver University Pioneers ( 13-7-1 PWR 12t ) @ Miami University RedHawks (14-8-0 PWR #6) – These two squads are battling for a top four position in the NCHC. Miami had the week off to lick their wounds after they were swept on the road by SCSU. Denver has some jump in their step after a home sweep of that same SCSU team. On paper, this is a relatively even matchup however, the RedHawks are 8-2 at home thus far this season while Denver has been a marginal road team with a 3-4-1 record. Both teams are scoring over 3 GPG so I expect the lamp will be lit this weekend. Prediction: Most likely a split with a DU win on Saturday
  8. Minnesota State University Mavericks ( 18-4-1 PWR #1 )  vs  University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-7-2 PWR #19  ) – These two teams battle for state bragging rights in the North Star Cup played at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN. This is one of the few times in MSU hockey history that they will be the favorite in a game vs the Gophers. Mankato has lost twice since November 1 and are breezing through their opponents in the WCHA. They have an experienced, potent offense and good goaltending in Stephon Williams (1.71 GAA, .922 SV %). Highly regarded entering the season, the Gophers have been a disappointment, seemingly struggling in games they shouldn’t and compiling a 4-7-2 record since November 14. Obviously, there is pressure on the Mavericks to validate their #1 ranking this weekend vs the Gophers and possibly the UMD Bulldogs on Saturday. Prediction: I’m giving MSU-Mankato the nod in this game by a three-goal margin including an EN goal.   
  9. Western Michigan University Broncos ( 10-9-3 PWR #21) @ St. Cloud State University Huskies ( 9-12-1 PWR #23t ) – All those good feelings the Huskies had  after sweeping Miami at home two weeks ago disipated quickly after being swept the following week on the road at Denver. Meanwhile, the Broncos, now two points up on the Huskies in the NCHC standings, have really turned things around having lost just once in the past 10 games and that was to a tough Colgate team. Last weekend, they secured 5 huge conference points on the road vs the 7th ranked UMD Bulldogs.  The Huskies earned a win and tie vs the Broncos in November. But this is a different WMU team currently. On paper, it looks to be a tightly contested weekend. However, if the Huskies continue to depend on the man-advantage to do their scoring it could be lights out again for SCSU. Prediction: Most likely a split with WMU winning Friday and SCSU on Saturday. 

Have a great weekend!

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