Instead of traditional weekend previews, check this space on the CHN blog each Saturday for developing mid-weekend NCHC storylines and observations from Friday night games.
Friday’s results: three nonconference wins by NCHC teams over Big 10 foes (St. Cloud State over Minnesota, UNO over Ohio State, and North Dakota over Michigan State), while CC and Western Michigan continued to trend in the wrong directions with losses to Air Force and RPI, respectively.
1. Left wing locked down
UNO took control of its game in Omaha against the Buckeyes with a pair of second period goals, about five and a half minutes apart — first from Luc Snuggerud, then David Pope. Snuggerud (pinching in from his left defense position) and Pope both fired home shots from the left faceoff circle after finding open spots within a porous Ohio State defense — their first and second goals of the season, respectively. You wonder if it was a point of emphasis in the second period after the coaching staff potentially noticed a weak spot in the OSU defense. Regardless, it’s important for the players playing on the left side for UNO, especially with the playmakers they have at the center and right wing positions.
2. Welcome back, Cam
While Drake Caggiula continued to highlight the scoresheet for North Dakota, the big story for the Fighting Hawks was the strong play of Cam Johnson, who had been out since mid-October with a lower body injury before playing sparsely in relief last weekend. In that relief appearance though, things didn’t go too well — with Johnson giving up three goals on 13 shots. Last night in East Lansing, Johnson stopped 24 shots in a 3-1 win over the Spartans and appeared confident between the pipes, where Matt Hrynkiw had played superbly in Johnson’s absence. I’d expect Hrynkiw to continue finding a way to some playing time as Johnson works his way back into the rotation for UND, now 11-2-2 this season.
3. CC loses heartbreaker
Still searching for their first win, the Tigers found themselves in penalty trouble and allowed the Falcons to score the game winning goal in the final minute of the game. CC fell to 0-13-0 this season. Last week, CC head coach Mike Haviland told me that, despite the record, the attitude within the locker room has remained positive — which is impressive considering some of the varied ways the Tigers have lost. The rematch is of course tonight. Haviland said on Wednesday, ““You’ve got bragging rights for Colorado Springs. And that’s been the message. And also we can’t be looking too far down the road. We have to take one game at a time and break it down to one period at a time.” Check the main site for a full story on CC this Monday