Weekend Preview: Keep an Eye on these College Hockey Games

 

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Will Colorado College get it’s first win of the season this weekend? (Photo Prout)

 

Here’s a selection of College Hockey games to keep an eye on this weekend:

 

  1. AIR FORCE ACADEMY FALCONS ( 4-6-2) vs COLORADO COLLEGE TIGERS (0-12-0 – Obviously the intrigue of this home and home series (besides being a local rivalry) is whether the Tigers can finally capture their first win of the season. On the other hand, there’s not a heck of a lot to get excited about with the Falcons. They’ve had mixed results with an overtime win over Denver University in October. This extended dry spell by the Tigers compounds the futility of the current coaching staff whose record now stands at 6-38-3 since the start of the 2014-15 season. With 6 goals in the last 8 games it’s been downright brutal for the Tigers offense. However, I’m giving the Tigers the benefit of the doubt this weekend and predict they’ll get their first win of the season on Saturday following a set back on Friday on the Falcons home ice.
  2. UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING HAWKS ( 10-2-2) @ MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY SPARTANS ( 4-5-2) – #5 North Dakota travels to East Lansing to face Michigan State in a non-conference series. UND faced SCSU in a classic NCHC battle last weekend and earned a split. The Fighting Hawks goaltenders were victimized in the 6-1 loss on Saturday but should turn things around vs the Spartans. MSU had difficulty with Michigan Tech last weekend earning only a tie. Their 3.36 goals per game allowed is glaring and spells trouble against a team with one of the top offensive lines in the country in Boesser / Caggiula / Schmaltz. I fully expect the ‘Hawks to sweep this series against this marginal BIG 10 squad.
  3. ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY HUSKIES  (9-3-0) @ UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (4-5-0) – The unranked Gophers should have their hands full with the #2 PWR Huskies this weekend at Mariucci Arena. The Huskies have not fared well on the Gophers home ice over the years earning only 10 wins since 1990. However, the Huskies continue to impress despite the second  toughest schedule in college hockey. SCSU’s strength is from the goaltender on out as evidenced by allowing only 1.67 goals per game. They have a balanced scoring attack that has produced 25 goals in the last four games. The Gophers are still looking for some scoring beyond Hudson Fasching, Justin Kloos and Leon Bristedt. The lack of scoring depth and an untested blueline corps could spell trouble for the Maroon and Gold this weekend.
  4. HARVARD UNIVERSITY CRIMSON ( 4-1-1) vs UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (5-3-4) – There simply isn’t enough of a body of work by Harvard to draw any conclusions about this team. The Crimson’s Jimmy Vesey is a genuine star and already has 11 points in four games. Yet, they were dismantled by Quinnipiac 4-1 and couldn’t overcome rival Yale on home ice so it’s hard to know how much of a killer instinct they have. On the other hand, Notre Dame’s results have been less than impressive, defeating only one team with a winning record thus far this season. This is game one of the Shillelagh Tournament and a tough one to pick. On paper, Harvard is superior in nearly every statistical category. The Crimson’s offense beats a suspect Irish defense in this one.
  5.  WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY BRONCOS (4-6-1) vs  RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE ENGINEERS ( 7-4-2) –  The big question for Western Michigan is how do you respond after four straight losses, getting outscored 16-3 in your last series and having two weeks off to think about it.  This is the other opening game in the Shillelagh tourney in South Bend. Quietly, RPI has compiled a very respectable record with wins over Boston College, Union (sweep), St. Lawrence, Yale and New Hampshire. They’ve won five games by a goal but this is more a reflection of the stiff competition they’ve faced. These are two teams heading in opposite directions and as such I give RPI the nod in this one.
  6. YALE UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (5-1-2)  @ PROVIDENCE COLLEGE FRIARS (8-0-3) – This game features a stingy defense vs a potent offense. Yale’s paltry 1.38 goals allowed per game, 94% penalty kill and 24% power play will test the undefeated defending national champs. The Friars offense is clipping along at 4 goals per game so something has to give in this contest. Until the champs get knocked off their perch I “ain’t” betting against them.  This is a two-goal win for the Friars.
  7. CORNELL UNIVERSITY BIG RED (6-1-1) @BOSTON UNIVERSITY TERRIERS ( 7-4-2) – The ECAC is blessed with a half dozen high quality teams. One team turning heads is the Cornell Big Red whose only  blemish is an overtime loss to ECAC power Quinnipiac. Cornell’s success is coming from both ends of the ice scoring 3.00 goals per game while only allowing 1.63 goals per game. Boston University has had mixed results, getting two ties with #1 ranked Providence but also losing to Union and Connecticut, two sub .500 teams. This game is a toss-up and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a tie. Regardless, it’ll be a good measuring stick for both squads.

Enjoy the games!

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