In place 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.
Last night’s NCHC action featured all eight league teams in conference action, and home ice advantage was the story, with Minnesota-Duluth (7-0 over Western Michigan), Colorado College (2-1 over Miami), St. Cloud State (4-1 over UNO), and North Dakota (5-1 over Denver) all earning wins at home.
1. Win streak
Earlier this week, we featured a story on Colorado College and the optimism within the team despite 13 consecutive losses to open the 2015-16 campaign. Suddenly, the Tigers have now won two in a row, following up their defeat of Air Force last Saturday with another one-goal win last night, this time against Miami. In both wins, CC has taken control of the game in the third period — an impressive trend for a young team that put together arguably its best defensive performance of the season last night. Hunter Fejes scored both CC goals in the third period to turn a 1-0 deficit into the 2-1 win, but the turning point came halfway through the final period when Fejes, a senior, stole the puck from the usually sure-handed Matthew Caito, Miami’s senior defenseman who was carrying the puck out of the RedHawks defensive zone. That resulted in a breakaway for Fejes, who tied the game and swung the momentum for the rest of the evening in Colorado College’s favor. It was a great opportunistic moment for Fejes, but a dreadful play by Caito, a leader for a Miami team that has suddenly lost four of its last five.
2. Play of the night
With all due respect to North Dakota’s Brock Boeser, who showed off his impressive ability to pick top corners in North Dakota’s dismantling of Denver in Grand Forks, the clear play of the night came at St. Cloud, where the Huskies’ Ethan Prow floated a pass from his defensive zone to teammate Jimmy Murray at the opposite blue line, setting up a goal that put St. Cloud up 3-1. The goal came shortly after Huskies netminder Charlie Lindgren stopped UNO leading point-scorer Jake Guentzel on a two-on-one, payback for a goal Guentzel scored earlier in the night — a play which culminated in the forward’s momentum knocking down Lindgren for several moments. Opponents will have to figure out how to limit the Huskies’ offense, as St. Cloud has now scored three or more goals in a game for nine straight contests.
3. Early and often
UMD scored at will last night against Western Michigan, winning by a touchdown, 7-0. The Broncos have given up an alarming 25 goals over four games now, and it was easy to see why. The Bulldogs took the lead on a shorthanded goal from Austyn Young just 9:01 into the first period, but on the play, WMU netminder Lukas Hafner failed to hold on to the puck sent in from essentially the blueline. Hafner gave up a rebound, and Young capitalized, and for the remainder of the night, the Bulldogs didn’t look back. In fact, they were relentless, getting in front of Hafner’s eyes on multiple subsequent goals, including the goals that extended the lead to 2-0 and 3-0. When Dominic Toninato doubled the Bulldogs lead just three and a half minutes after Young’s goal, senior Austin Farley took away Hafner’s line of sight — a great example of a contribution that doesn’t show up on the scoresheet.