Preview: It’s a Blockbuster Night for College Hockey

Scott Perunovich (Photo Prout)

St. Cloud, MN – A college hockey schedule like tonight makes my streaming services – and an incredible bargain. On my viewing list, I have the luxury of watching perhaps seven NCAA tournament teams competing in some high-powered non-conference matchups. To be honest, it’ll be difficult to settle on a single contest which will force me to surf from game to game. Fortunately, a few of the games will be staggered due to time zone differences. With that said, here’s what captures my interest on Friday, October 18.

University of Minnesota-Duluth (1-1-0) at University of Wisconsin (1-1-0)

7;00 PM CT – Kohl Center, Madison, WI

The two-time defending national champs got out of the gates slow last weekend with a split vs UMass-Lowell on home ice. They laid a total of 72 shots on goal but could only make two count each game. A little concerning was the lack of success on the power play capitalizing on one of nine opportunities. They’ll need a strong defense to step forward against a Wisconsin squad that appears to have some firepower this season. However, the Badgers have shown issues defending allowing five goals per game vs Merrimack in a win and Boston College in a loss. They’ve got a lot of talent in youngsters Cole Caufield, Alex Turcotte and Roman Ahcan at forward. The Bulldogs will need a strong weekend from Hunter Shepard and they’ll need to score more than two goals per game.

Choice: Minnesota-Duluth     Result: Wisconsin 6 UMD 2

Boston College (2-0-0) at Denver (4-0-0)

8:07 PM CT – Magnuss Arena, Denver, CO

Emilio Pettersen (Photo Prout)

Boston College has some top-flight freshman in Marshall Warren and Matt Boldy but it’s the upperclassmen that are leading the way to start the season. Senior Julius Mattila and David Cotton have combined for four goals in two games and they’ll lead the charge on their road trip to Denver. Freshman Spencer Knight has been spectacular so far in goal with a .95 SV%. Denver will answer with some awfully good youngsters as well in Emilio Pettersen, Cole Guttman and first-year phenom Bobby Brink. Denver too, has had a nice start from senior Liam Finlay at forward and junior Ian Mitchell at defense. Much like BC’s Knight, Denver’s Magnus Chrona has equally been up to the task in goal. This is an intriguing series.

Choice: Denver   Result: Denver 3 Boston College 0

University of North Dakota (2-0-0) at Minnesota State University-Mankato (2-0-0)

7:07 PM CT – Verizon Wireless Arena, Mankato, MN

(Photo Prout)

The MSU Mavericks have one of the most experienced teams in college hockey with 14 upperclassmen and will not at all be intimidated by the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota. Balanced scoring and strong on defense, the Mavericks rarely lose at home. Sophomore Dryden McKay has stopped 39 of 40 SOG and hasn’t been beaten five on five in two games. This will be a big test for UND who hasn’t been to the NCAA tourney in two seasons against a certain NCAA team this season. North Dakota counters with eight upperclassmen and high expectations for first-year players   Harrison Blaisell, Shane Pinto and Judd Caulfield. Goaltender Adam Scheel is a veteran but he’ll be tested.

Choice: Minnesota State   Result: Minnesota State 4 North Dakota 4 OT

Niagara University (0-0-0) at University of Minnesota (1-1-0)

7:00 PM CT – Mariucci Arena, Minneapolis, MN

(Photo Prout)

Coach Motzko doesn’t think his team is quite there yet but they squeaked out a win last Saturday on the road vs Colorado College and it allows them to enter this weekend on a good note. They lost their top three scorers from a season ago and both their goaltenders. Their defense is young and learning. They have a true star at forward in Sammy Walker and they’ll be counting on youngsters Blake McLaughlin, Bryce Brodzinski and Nathan Burke. Sampo Raanta needs to step up and meet expectations. After several years of struggling, Niagara was pegged to finish second in Atlantic Hockey this season.  They’ll be led by Ludwig Stenlund, a goal scorer at forward and senior Noah Delmas, a scorer at defense. In goal, Brian Wilson brings some veteran leadership. No longer a league to disregard, so far this season RIT has defeated Bowling Green, Mercyhurst  topped ASU and Holy Cross knocked off Providence.

Choice: Minnesota   Result: Minnesota 3 Niagara 2 OT 

American International College (0-2-0) at Sacred Heart University (0-2-1) 

6:05 PM ET – Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, CT

(Photo Prout)

American International is 0-2-0 but lost two close battles in a home and home with Quinnipiac last weekend. Sacred Heart outshot and gave Penn State a run for their money in a one-goal loss Saturday on PSU’s home ice. This is a crucial early season battle in Atlantic Hockey. AIC is no longer going to surprise anyone with their all-around team balance and high-level offensive players in All-American Blake Christensen and Tobias Fladeby.  Janis Jaks leads a deep core of defenseman and Zacharius Skog is an athletic netminder.  A seasoned team, Sacred Heart has eleven upperclassmen and even though just a sophomore Josh Benson saw 24 games in goal last season. Junior Matt Tugnutt already has four goals in three games and Jason Cotton is another reliable scorer. The Yellow Jackets need to rebound from last weekend and the Pioneers need to prove they can skate with AIC.

Choice: American International   Result: American International 2 Sacred Heart 1


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