North Star College Cup Champions Bemidji State University (photo prout)
Here’s this weeks “Performers and Underperformers” for the weekend of January 23-25:
- Bemidji State University Beavers – From the dog house to the penthouse. Two weekends ago was very tough for the Beavers and goaltender Michael Bitzer getting swept by the LSSU Lakers. Talk about redemption. In the North Star College Cup, the Beavers shut down the #7 ranked UMD Bulldogs 4-0 Friday using a highly effective defensive game and riding a 28 save performance by freshman Michael Bitzer. The GWG was provided by Matt Prapavessis at 12:58 of period one. In the championship game, the Beavers were matched up with WCHA leader MSU-Mankato who had defeated the U of MN Golden Gophers 4-2 the previous day. Once again, Tom Serratores Beavers put the clamps on a high scoring Mankato offense allowing a single power play goal in the third period en-route to winning the North Star College Cup by a 3-1 score. Gerry Fitzgerald netted the GWG, Kyle Bauman scored his second goal of the weekend and Michael Bitzer stopped 26/27 SOG. Outstanding weekend for the Beavers, our “Performer” of the week.
- Providence College Friars – How about those Friars. They put forth a near perfect game in dismantling Lowell on their home ice on Friday by a 7-3 score. The Friars were 3/3 on the power play, added one SH goal and Jon Gillies stopped 24/27 SOG. Nick Saracino, Noel Acciari and Trevor Mingola all had a three-point night for Providence. Providence completed the sweep on their home ice Saturday by a 4-1 score in a physical game with 17 penalties whistled. The Friars fell behind 1-0 early but buried the River Hawks with four second period goals with the GWG by Acciari. This was a huge sweep for PC.
- St. Lawrence University Saints – Suddenly the Saints are one of the hottest teams in the ECAC winning four straight after a weekend sweep of Yale and Brown University. The Saints battled a solid Yale squad toe to toe and earned the GWG in overtime on a goal by Mike Marnell, his fourth of the year. Kyle Hayton put forth another quality performance in goal for SLU. Saturday, the Saints outshot Brown 42-31 and skated away with a 5-2 win. Marnell netted another goal and Joe Sullivan scored the GWG. Hayton picked up lucky win number “13”.
- Boston University Terriers – The Terriers solidified their lead in Hockey East with two hard fought wins on the road vs #12 Vermont. BU scored the first three goals of the game including the GWG by Evan Rodrigues then held on for the 4-2 (EN) win. On Saturday, Rodrigues scored the GTG at 17:42 of the third period and Jack Eichel, GWG in overtime to edge UVM 2-1 for the weekend sweep.
- Clarkson University Knights -The Knights swept the weekend first throttling Brown 6-0 and then earning a hard fought 1-0 shut out of Yale. Kevin Tansey’s first goal of the season in period one was the GWG as the Knights shut down a struggling Brown University squad. On Saturday, in an upset of sorts Clarkson rode the lone second period goal by Sam Vigneault to a 1-0 win. Greg Lewis stopped all 25 Bulldog shots and picked up his second shutout of the weekend.
- Michigan Tech University Huskies – The second place Huskies have a huge series looming with MSU-Mankato on February 27/28. However, in the meantime, they need to take care of business as they attempt to stay within reach of the Mavericks. It was not easy, but they did so in sweeping Alaska at home this past weekend. On Friday, they had to battle from a 3-1 deficit with two goals 40 seconds apart in the third to tie the game at 3-3. Blake Pietila then netted the GWG at 2:46 of the overtime session in the 4-3 win. Once again on Saturday they had to overcome a 2-1 first period Alaska lead to earn a 3-2 win. Blake Pietila’s second period PP goal and Tanner Kerro’s GWG at 12:38 of period three were the difference in the Huskies weekend sweep.
- Northeastern University Huskies – Look out. Jim Madigan’s Northeastern squad continues to climb the ladder in Hockey East after their home ice sweep of Notre Dame. They’re 7-1-3 since December 6 and 5-1-3 in January. On Friday, they outshot the Irish 40-25, were 1/4 on the PP and broke a 2-2 third period tie with the GWG by Dalen Hedges. On Saturday Zach Aston-Reese scored two consecutive goals in period 3 including the GWG as the Huskies earned hard fought 4-2 win. A big test looms on 2/2 vs Boston College.
- Robert Morris University Colonials – Atlantic leader Robert Morris has won 4 of the last 5 games after their weekend sweep of Holy Cross. On Friday, Cody Wydo netted his 15th and 16th goals of the season including the GWG as Robert Morris won 4-2. Holy Cross outshot the Colonials 37-14 and the game featured a SH goal by each team. On Saturday, Robert Morris completed the sweep on the back of goaltender Terry Shafer who stopped 38/39 SOG in the 2-1 win.
- University of Michigan Wolverines – Suddenly, the Wolverines have jumped to #12 in the Pairwise and taken over the Big 10 lead by a margin of five points. This past weekend they dominated a 2 win Wisconsin team on the road outscoring them 13-4 including a 6-0 shut out on Saturday. On Friday, UW had an early second period lead of 4-1 after two consecutive PP goals. Michigan then unloaded 6 straight goals including an empty netter for the 7-4 win. Justin Selman had the hat trick and a four-point game for the Wolverines. Saturday was no contest as Michigan whooped up on the Badgers 6-0 outshooting them 44-17. Zach Nagelvoort picked up the shut out and Zach Hyman scored twice in handing UW their 15th loss of the season.
- University of Maine Black Bears – I haven’t written much about the Black Bears this season because …well, there hasn’t been much to write about. However, they’ve made some noise in January with a 6-2 record including a sweep of New Hampshire this past weekend. The Black Bears went 2/4 on the PP and Devin Shore scored the GWG in a 6-4 win on Friday. On Saturday, Maine was outshot 40-21 yet they burned UNH starter Adam Clark for four goals in the 4-0 win. Maine goaltender Matt Morris stopped 40/40 in a strong outing.
- Union College Dutchmen – In the Mayors Cup battle between RPI and Union in Albany, NY things did not look encouraging for the Dutchmen as they fell behind 3-2 to RPI in the second period. In a crazy comeback for Union they scored one goal to narrow the score to 3-2 by the end of period two and six more in period three for an 8-3 win. Mike Vecchione was 2-3-5 and Daniel Ciampini 3-3-6 to lead Union to this thrashing of arch rival RPI.
- Michigan State University Spartans -It’s been a struggle for the Spartans this season but not a home vs Ohio State as they swept the Buckeyes by scores of 4-1 and 2-0. The Spartans jumped out to a 2-0 lead and Jake Hildebrand stopped 33/34 SOG in the 4-1 win. On Saturday, Ryan Keller’s first period goal was all that was needed in a 2-0 shut out as Hildebrand picked up his 9th win on the season.
- University of North Dakota – UND picked up six conference points in a tough sweep of last place Colorado College at the “Ralph”. UND was taken to task Friday as they were outshot 31-28 and needed a SH goal by Michael Parks in period three to prevail 2-1. On Saturday, North Dakota overcame two CC power play goals and an EA goal late in the third for a 5-3 (EN) win. Drake Caggiula was 1-1-2 on the night.
- Canisius College Golden Griffins – A late season surge by the Griffs has them making things interesting in the Atlantic. They’re undefeated in the last seven games after a 4-1 and 6-4 sweep of Niagara on the road. A three-goal third period and solid night of goaltending by Keegan Amundson was enough for the Friday win. Niagara made things interesting in the rematch scoring three times in the third period as Canisius prevailed 6-4. Ryan Schmelzer and Ralph Cuddemi combined for 4 goals and 7 points in the contest. Canisius faces league leader Robert Morris on February 6/7 in a battle for first place in the Atlantic.
- Air Force Academy Falcons – The Falcons have won six straight conference games beating up on the bottom dwellers in the Atlantic. This past weekend they swept American International College 2-1 in overtime and 6-2 on the Yellow Jackets home ice. On Friday the Falcons outshot AIC 38-28 and Cole Gunner netted the GWG in the 2-1 overtime win. Conner Girard earned his second win of the season in goal. On Saturday, it was no contest as the Falcons outshot AIC 37-20 and rode two goals apiece by Scott Holm and Erik Baskin in the 6-2 win. Conner Girard picked up win #3 on Saturday.
- UMass Lowell River Hawks – The River Hawks took quite a beat down at the hands of the Providence Friars in a key Hockey East matchup this past weekend. They were drilled 7-3 on their home ice on Friday and had to know the Friars were licking their chops for a sweep in Providence. Not to disappoint, the Friars yielded a first period goal but then scored four times in the second in the 4-1 win. The River Hawks struggled defending the Providence PP as the Friars were 5/12 on the weekend. A surprising and dominant performance by Providence vs a typically very solid team.
- University of Vermont Catamounts – The Cats are sucking air right now and with their schedule for the balance of the season I’m not sure they can be revived. They needed to prove they can win some games against the top teams and the opportunity was there on home ice vs Boston University. Losing two one-goal games is certainly not an embarrassment. Far from it. However, they’ve won once in the last seven games and with Merrimack, Boston College and Lowell looming at the tail end of their schedule it’s going to be difficult.
- Yale University Bulldogs – Yale stumbled twice in two close games in northern New York to St. Lawrence (3-2 ot) and Clarkson 1-0. The concern is the lack of offense the Bulldogs were able to present. Two goals in two games is a GPG average that will not lead to success. A disappointing weekend for a squad that had been playing some darn good hockey. The Bulldogs get a reprieve with Princeton on Friday 2/6 but then face arch rival Quinnipiac at home the following night.
- Colgate University Red Raiders – After a disappointing 2-2 overtime tie with Dartmouth the Raiders had to face a determined Harvard squad that also faced disappointment the night before in a 3-2 loss to Cornell. After a scoreless first period, Colgate scored early in the second period for a 1-0 lead but it was all downhill from there as Harvard laid on six straight goals. Not a good weekend for the Red Raiders.
- University of Minnesota Golden Gophers – Probably the biggest enigma in college hockey, the Gophers continued their struggles in the North Star College Cup. On Friday, the Gophers lost game one to in-state foe and #1 ranked Mankato 4-2. Saturday, they faced another in-state rival, UMD who tagged another loss on the Gophers 2-1. Minnesota is 4-9-2 since November 14. 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. This team has dropped to #20 in the Pairwise and may need to win the Big 10 tourney to have any chance at the NCAA tournament.
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers – In a colossal melt-down, the Engineers watched a 3-1 second period lead over Union in the Mayors Cup implode as the Dutchmen scored six times in the third period for a 8-3 win. Union outshot RPI 31-13 in a game that saw 10 penalties whistled on RPI. Union took advantage going 3/7 on the man-advantage. This was quite a beat down in a rivalry game.
- University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish – The Irish have won once in their last 7 games after being swept at Northeastern 3-2 and 4-2. This is another team with a very tough schedule down the stretch. It’s unlikely they’ll salvage much out of the balance of this season and should dip further from their current seventh place position in the Hockey East standings.
- Ohio State University Buckeyes – For some reason, I find myself yawning as I ponder this teams season thus far. Maybe it’s their lack of success against anyone in the top twenty of the Pairwise. The results this past weekend vs Michigan State didn’t help either as they were swept 4-1 and 2-0 to another mediocre squad. Hmmm, one goal on the weekend. Certainly well worthy of underperformer status.
- University of New Hampshire Wildcats -This has been a season to forget for Dick Umile and his 8-14-2 Wildcats. It was another weekend to forget as the Wildcats were swept in a home and home series with the UMaine Black Bears. On Friday, the Wildcats coughed up a 3-1 second period lead and watched Maine score four straight goals in the 6-4 loss. In the rematch, on the Wildcat’s home ice, UNH outshot the Black Bears 40-21 yet couldn’t solve Maine goaltender Matt Morris who completed the shut out in the 4-0 Black Bear win. The Wildcats are tied for last in Hockey East
- Colorado College Tigers – I’ll agree, the Tigers are making progress winning twice in 7 games in January. Yet, they still have one conference win and most likely will remain in the NCHC cellar the balance of the season. They battled UND hard last weekend losing two one-goal games 2-1 and 5-3 (EN). Following the weekend series with UND the Colorado Springs Gazette headline was “CC hockey tires of moral victories”. That pretty much says it all.
- Holy Cross College Crusaders – The Crusaders have watched their season disintegrate losing 6 consecutive games. It’s not that they haven’t competed – they have as all 6 losses were by one goal. This past weekend it was two more one-goal losses to league leader Robert Morris by scores of 4-3 and 2-1. In fact they outshot the Colonials 76-44 over the weekend. Next up is Niagara. That should help.
- Mercyhurst University Lakers – The Lakers are 8 points behind league leader Robert Morris with two games in hand. They can’t afford to lose points in series they are the favorite. However, they did just that vs Sacred Heart. On the road at eighth place Sacred Heart they survived being outshot 38-22 and the Pioneers failing on 7/8 PP chances to hang on for a 2-2 tie. On Saturday, they were thoroughly destroyed 5-1 by the Pioneers losing two more key points. The Lakers are still within reach but now have to count on league leaders Robert Morris and Canisius to falter down the stretch. It doesn’t appear that will happen.
- University of Wisconsin – The woeful Badgers continue to be stuck at two wins after being schooled by Michigan this past weekend. They had enough game on Friday to surge to a 4-1 lead only to see Michigan score the next 6 goals in a 7-4 loss. In the rematch on the Badgers home ice, they were thoroughly destroyed being outshot 44-17 and losing 6-0. UW is 2-15-3 on the season.
- American International College Yellow Jackets – The Atlantic’s 10th place team is a regular here. Their overall record now stands at 3-18-5 after taking two more on the chin vs Air Force on AIC’s home rink. They lost 2-1 in a close contest on Friday in overtime and were dominated in the rematch getting outshot 37-20 and outscored 6-2. The end of the season can’t arrive soon enough for this squad.
- Niagara University Purple Hawks – Niagara has not won a game since November 22 going 0-10-2. They lost two more to a surging Canisius team by scores of 4-1 and 6-4. This team won’t lose 30 games this season but will come awfully close. Things are that bad at Niagara right now.
Congrats to the Bemidji State University Beavers for their outstanding performance in the North Star College Cup defeating both #7 UMD and #1 MSU-Mankato to win the tourney championship. They are our “Performer” of the week.