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NCHC Saturday March 12: Three Things

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

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.

The first night of the NCHC playoffs is in the books, and the home team emerged victorious in each of the quarterfinals: North Dakota (7-1 over Colorado College), St. Cloud State (4-3 over Western Michigan in OT), Denver (5-2 over Nebraska-Omaha), and Minnesota-Duluth (a come-from-behind 5-4 win over Miami). Game 2 of each series begins in a few hours, with the season on the line for all four road teams.

1. Montgomery and Blais post-game

Denver jumped out to a 3-0 lead with three early second period goals in a span of 2:22, but UNO controlled play for most of the final 30 minutes of the game, cutting the lead to 3-2 before a Danton Heinen shorthanded goal ended the Mavericks’ comeback bid.

On the goal that effectively put the game away, Heinen raced down the left wing and fired a shot over junior Kirk Thompson’s shoulder.

“‘Thank God he’s on our team,'” said DU coach Jim Montgomery. “That’s what I said when he let that shot go.”

Indeed, the 5-2 game one win was relief for Montgomery and the Pioneers, who despite the win (their 10th straight), were not content whatsoever with a lethargic performance.

Continued Montgomery, “I thought UNO was the better team. I thought we played a little nervous in the first. As the game wore on, we continued to make a lot of mental mistakes. We weren’t playing with good place. I thought our team was a little lethargic.

“We iced pucks on breakouts when guys were open. I couldn’t hear our team talking on the ice, and when we’re not communicating, you’re going to have icings and you’re going to have three-on-twos, and two-on-ones, and guys don’t know it.”

The Mavericks, meanwhile, have now lost seven straight and 11 of their last 14. But Dean Blais was encouraged by the performance of his team.

“We haven’t quit all year. We’ve lost five straight to Denver, and really, I thought our team played hard tonight, and that’s all I can ask for.”

2. Belpedio: the good and the bad

For a while, it looked like Miami would be the one road team in the league to leave Friday night with a win, but a 4-2 RedHawk lead in the third period turned dramatically into a 5-4 UMD win.

Miami sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio scored to put Miami ahead 4-2, showing how dangerous he can be on the power play. But the third period didn’t go as well for the Skokie, Ill., native. On UMD’s goal that cut the lead to 4-3, Bulldog freshman Adam Johnson faked out Belpedio on a rush through the neutral zone, turning Belpedio around to create some space for his shot that sailed over Miami goaltender Jay Williams. Just over a minute later,  on Carson Soucy’s game-winner, Belpedio struggled to locate the puck on an Austin Farley rush into the offensive zone, and Soucy collected the loose puck to score.

Belpedio made national headlines for his valiant diving save of a Providence empty-net goal bid in the NCAA tournament last year, and if Miami is to have a shot at returning to the tourney, the RedHawks must win in Duluth tonight. Miami is winless in five meetings against UMD this season.

3. The bounces

UND’s 7-1 win over CC, considering it was a one-goal game with four minutes to play in the second period, doesn’t necessarily reflect the Tigers’ effort for the first 40 minutes, prior to UND taking control of the game with superior special teams play. In the first period, Drake Caggiula impressively remained onside while trying to collect the puck out of his own skates at the blueline, setting up Nick Schmaltz for the eventual game-winner. The goal came with 22 seconds left in the first — an unfortunate bounce for CC that created a lead too large for its struggling offense to overcome. Caggiula, meanwhile, continues to create magical plays, and has exceeded the 40 point mark for the first time in his illustrious four year career in Grand Forks.

Elsewhere, St. Cloud created an opportunity for its own bounces, in overtime against the Broncos. The Huskies appeared to be a different team in the OT period, outworking Western Michigan and creating a goal thanks to freshman Patrick Newell’s heads-up play in OT. Newell recognized the need for traffic in front of goaltender Lukas Hafner and then managed to bat the puck out of the air (seemingly twice) to score the sudden-death game-winner. It was Newell’s first goal since January 22, a fitting big-time moment for a St. Cloud team that has relied on its upperclassmen all season — and a sign, perhaps, that something special is coming for Bob Motzko’s team.

NCHC Saturday March 5: Three Things

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

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.

One night remains in the NCHC regular season, and from a playoff seeding standpoint, all eyes are on the games in Denver and Colorado Springs. The stage was set on Friday night — North Dakota thumped Western Michigan 8-1 to win the Penrose Cup as NCHC regular season champions. Minnesota-Duluth’s 5-0 shutout of Miami locked those two teams into the 4/5 seeds, respectively, guaranteeing a rematch next weekend, with Duluth as the host for the best-of-3 quarterfinal round. Finally, Denver (3-0 over Omaha) and St. Cloud State (5-2 at CC) both won to remain in a tie for second place. The Huskies control their own destiny by holding the tiebreaker over Denver, so if both teams win the rematch again, St. Cloud will finish second and Denver third. The No. 2 seed will host Western Michigan next weekend, while the No. 3 seed will host Omaha. This also means that Denver fans will be rooting for CC tonight to beat St. Cloud in what will be the Tigers’ final home game of the season.

1. 8 in a row

Denver has won eight in a row now, shutting out UNO for the second time this season (the only two instances this year that the Mavericks have been held scoreless). The Pioneers got stronger as the game went on — which has been somewhat of a trademark for Jim Montgomery’s team since January 1. Denver, as above, has a chance to finish second in the league, and that’s potentially important considering the dropoff (on paper) in quality between what will be the No. 6 seed (UNO) and the No. 7 seed (Western Michigan).

“We’re rolling, there’s no doubt about it,” said senior captain Grant Arnold, who scored the first goal of the game, the eventual game-winner — his 10th of his career in his 146th career game. “But that was one game. We’ve got another one tomorrow. I think we can have a much better first period. I don’t think our first period was good enough tonight. Our mindset is ‘never satisfied.’ It takes a long time to engrain that in yourself.”

Arnold and the rest of the senior class at Denver will play in the NCAA tournament for their fourth time and are in the hunt for a second NCHC tournament title. This senior class also continued Denver’s run of 20-win season and will celebrate ‘senior night’ at Magness Arena on Saturday night.

2. 8 in a roll

Eight was a good number for North Dakota on Friday, too, as the Fighting Hawks scored early, and late, and often, to clinch the regular season crown. UND’s 8-1 win over Western Michigan marked the 10th time UND has scored five or more goals in a game this season, and incredibly, the sixth (SIXTH) time the Broncos have allowed 6 or more goals in a game. For the third time this season, WMU lost by a margin of seven or more. Only two teams in the nation (UMass and American International) have allowed more goals this season. For UND, obviously, it’s another step in what’s been a great first year for Brad Berry, with the Fighting Hawks headed towards another NCAA No. 1 seed. But for Western Michigan, you have to wonder what’s going on defensively. UND scored some spectacular, highlight-reel goals (as usual), but the CBS line et al. had free access to any area of the ice in the offensive zone that they wanted.

Western Michigan has trended down in the five years under Murray, and it’s hard to imagine a late season miracle in the NCHC first round next weekend, when the Broncos will travel to either Denver or St. Cloud State.

3. Final minute

The difference in last night’s St. Cloud/CC game was, simply, the Huskie’s unrelenting offensive zone pressure in the late stages of the first and second periods. Yes, St. Cloud outshot CC 55-24, but in each of the first two periods, it was a timely shot — each time, with less than 20 seconds remaining in the period — that resulted in a goal. The second occurrence, with less than a second left in the second period, was the backbreaker. As noted above, the Huskies control their own destiny: a win on Saturday will clinch the No. 2 seed as St. Cloud holds the tiebreaker (head to head) over Denver if the two teams finish tied in points.

Also worth watching: The NCHC regular season scoring title will be decided tonight as well. North Dakota freshman Brock Boeser (33 points) is four points clear currently, so it would take a big night from Denver (Danton Heinen, Trevor Moore, and Dylan Gambrell are all tied with 29) to catch the UND rookie.

NCHC Saturday Feb. 27: Three Things

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

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.

Friday’s action involved several games with big implications for the conference standings. Most notably, North Dakota won on the road at Minnesota-Duluth, 4-2, to separate itself at the top of the league table as St. Cloud State fell at home, 4-1, to Minnesota-Duluth. Omaha’s loss also kept them off the pace of Miami (3-0 win on Friday vs. CC) and Duluth in the battle for the final top 4 spot in the standings. With three games to go in the regular season, UND, St. Cloud, and Denver (5-1 win over WMU on Friday) are locked into hosting quarterfinal series when the playoffs begin. Denver may be the hottest team of all, by the way, as the Pioneers are 11-1-3 in their last 15 games and were quicker to all the loose pucks in their win over Western Michigan last night.

Meanwhile, UMD, Miami, or Omaha will get the final home ice spot, while Western Michigan and CC will finish seventh or eighth.

1. Poganski, again

A week after his overtime penalty shot goal gave North Dakota a somewhat controversial win over Minnesota-Duluth, UND sophomore Austin Poganski continued his hot play on Friday in Omaha. We know all about the CBS line, but Poganski (20 points this season) is the highest scoring forward after the CBS trio (Drake Caggiula, Brock Boeser, Nick Schmaltz). Friday, Poganski had two assists — each time befuddling the Mavericks defense and then delivering the puck to a goal-scorer (Luke Johnson in the second period, Caggiula in the third). On the Johnson power play goal, Poganski also provided a screen in front of the UNO net. The sophomore now has points in four of his last five games and is clearly a player to watch as North Dakota continues its run toward the Penrose Cup (NCHC regular season winner) and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament

2. Miami PK

Miami’s 3-0 shutout win on Friday over Colorado College was the now-.500 RedHawks’ fourth win in their last five games, and Miami fans can thank their team’s penalty killing units, again. Miami has killed 104 out of 112 (92.9%) opponent power play chances this season, which is the second best penalty killing percentage in the country. Only Yale (killing off 93.9%) has been better. On Friday, the RedHawks killed all seven CC man-advantage chances, including two five minute major power plays. Moreover, on the first major, the RedHawks scored a shorthanded goal — in fact, the second career goal from senior defenseman Taylor Richart. It was an outside shot from the point that solved CC netminder Jacob Nehama — one of two long-range shots Nehama allowed in the game. Timely special teams play like Miami displayed on Friday night in Oxford may be the reason the RedHawks — if they can — end up with that final home ice playoff spot, the No. 4 seed in the upcoming NCHC quarterfinals.

3. Kept at bay by Kaskisuo

St. Cloud tried to keep pace with North Dakota at the top of the NCHC standings, but ran into UMD sophomore goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo. The Finnish netminder had 44 saves in the Bulldogs’ 4-1 road win. UMD helped its goaltender out by allowing only two St. Cloud power play opportunities, and on the other end of the ice, seemed comfortable using the wider and more open ice to their advantage. Kaskisuo was in the zone all evening, and played even more confidently as the Bulldogs built up a big lead. Tonight is likely a must-win for St. Cloud if it wants a realistic chance at the regular season championship, so it’ll be intriguing to note if head coach Bob Motzko makes any adjustments as his team tries to beat Kaskisuo tonight. Kaskisuo’s 1.98 goals against average is currently ninth-best in the nation.

NCHC Saturday Feb. 20: Three Things

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

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.

Friday’s action saw St. Cloud State (4-1 at Omaha) and Miami (also 4-1, at Western Michigan) win on the road, while North Dakota won a 2-1 OT thriller in Grand Forks against Minnesota-Duluth in a game with plenty of conference standings and national [[Pairwise]] implications.  Meanwhile, reigning CHN Team of the Week Denver was idle following its Thursday night 4-1 win at Colorado College, as both teams practiced outdoors in anticipation for this evening’s “Battle on Blake” at the Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field — the only outdoor college hockey game this season, and the first in the long and storied Gold Pan rivalry. Check out NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton’s thoughts about the game, and other conference topics, here.

1. Penalty Shot?

The most talked about moment of last night’s NCHC action was the decisive call in overtime in Grand Forks, when UND sophomore Austin Poganski was awarded a penalty shot after Minnesota-Duluth junior defenseman Carson Soucy took out Poganski on a partial breakaway to the net. The play (of course) happened quickly, but with the benefit of slow-motion replay, it appears that at the time of Soucy’s tripping infraction, he was parallel with Poganski — and if that’s the case, the play doesn’t meet one of the four conditions that “must be met in order for the Referee to award a penalty shot,” namely, that the “infraction must have been committed from behind.”

The other required criteria are that the infraction must have taken place in the neutral zone or attacking zone (yes, it occurred as Poganski collected a turnover and raced into the offensive zone), the player in possession and control must have been denied a reasonable chance to score (yes, certainly*), and the player must have had no opposing player between himself and the goaltender (yes).

*Of note, the NCAA rulebook notes, with regard to this criteria, that “the fact that he got a shot off does not automatically eliminate this play from the penalty shot consideration criteria” (a common misconception).

Predictably, each head coach had different opinions regarding the correctness of the call. Sandelin told Matt Wellens of the Duluth Tribune: “I don’t agree with the call at the end. It was a penalty, but I don’t agree with the penalty shot at all. I don’t care if that gets me in trouble. It certainly was a penalty and they capitalized.”

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NCHC Saturday Jan. 16: Three Things

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

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.

Friday’s action saw St. Cloud State (3-1 at Duluth) and Nebraska-Omaha (4-3 OT thriller at North Dakota) win on the road, while reigning CHN Team of the Week Denver held serve at home with a 5-3 win over Western Michigan. All three series feature a second game tonight. In nonconference action, Miami takes on Bowling Green.

1. Troy Terry

In each of his three seasons as the Denver head coach, Jim Montgomery has had a freshman breakout star. Two years ago, it was Trevor Moore. Last season — Danton Heinen. This year, Dylan Gambrell entered this weekend as the Pioneers’ leading scorer. Last night, freshman forward Troy Terry stood out as one of the most impressive players on the ice, and earned two points (a goal and an assist) in the process. Terry, a product of the U.S. National Team Development Program, showed off a stunning wrist shot on his power play goal late in the first period. The goal, Terry’s fifth of the season, found a miniscule opening in the top corner of the net, above Western Michigan goaltender Lukas Hafner’s right shoulder — and it gave DU a lead that it wouldn’t relinquish. Terry’s quick one-two passing play with Quentin Shore in the second period was another notable example of Terry’s quality. The Denver, Colorado, native could be a key component as Denver continues to roll in the second half. The Pioneers have now won three straight, while Western Michigan continues to play inconsistently on defense. The Broncos are winless in three straight.

2. Second line

Much hype has surrounded North Dakota’s “CBS” line this year — and deservedly so, as Drake Caggiula, Brock Boeser, and Nick Schmaltz are each over 20 points this season already and are arguably the best line in the country. In last night’s loss to Omaha, another line for North Dakota seemed to stand out for entirely different reasons. Freshmen Joel Janatuiene (-2 last night) and Chris Wilkie (-3) played alongside Luke Johnson (-3), and all three were on the ice for the two most notable Omaha goals last night: Jake Randolph’s last-second goal in the second period, and Austin Ortega’s overtime winner. In each case, the line got caught too far up ice, and allowed quick rushes the other way. Ortega’s score came on an odd-man rush and was the latest in a long line of clutch goals for the junior forward from California. Ortega has seven game-winning goals this year, leading the NCAA, and with 19 GWGs in his career is just four behind the all-time NCAA record in that category. Ortega, clearly, can make any line in the country look bad, but last night’s concluding moments did highlight a potential weak point for an otherwise excellent UND team.

3. 0 for 20

Minnesota-Duluth fell at home to St. Cloud State last night, losing 3-1, and a subplot is the Bulldogs’ ongoing woes on the power play. Despite facing one of the nation’s worst (statistically) penalty killing units last night, UMD is now 0 for its last 20 on the man-advantage, a span that stretches five full games. That’s frustrating for UMD fans who saw an opponent score on the power play with such ease, as the Huskie’s Kalle Kossila convert on a perfectly executed St. Cloud power play last night — faceoff win, stretching the penalty killers out with a cross-ice pass, and finding an open player in the slot. All in less than 10 seconds. It’s not the first power outage in Duluth this season, but this one will need to be resolved just as quickly if the Bulldogs are to keep pace in a tough stretch run.

NCHC Saturday Dec. 12: Three Things

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

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.

Friday’s action saw St. Cloud State (5-2 at Denver) and North Dakota (3-0 at UMD) win on the road, while Western Michigan broke out of its prolonged offensive drought with a 7-3 home win over Colorado College. All three series conclude tonight, the final NCHC conference action of 2015.

1. Cam Again

Cam Johnson’s 18 save shutout in Grand Forks over Denver last week was impressive, but the North Dakota Fighting Hawks netminder’s performance last night — 40 saves in UND’s 3-0 win — was exceptional. Johnson is now undefeated in five starts since returning from injury, and North Dakota — led by opportunstic offensive talent of the likes of Drake Caggiula and Nick Schmaltz — looks downright scary. Johnson had 15 saves in the third period and held the Bulldogs off the scoreboard repeatedly, most notably on power play opportunities that clearly left the UMD players frustrated. Kasimir Kaskisuo didn’t play poorly per se on the other end, but may have to be perfect in tonight’s rematch if Johnson continues to stay locked in. UND is 15-2-2 overall and three points clear of St. Cloud at the top of the NCHC standings.

2. That Escalated Quickly

Coming off a 7-2 loss to Omaha, things weren’t looking terrific for St. Cloud State halfway through its game in Denver last night, trailing 2-0. The Pioneers then gave the Huskies their only power play opportunity of the night, which St. Cloud converted to cut the lead to 2-1… and the rest of the game looked as though St. Cloud had a man advantage. The persistence paid off in the third period when things completely fell apart for Denver. Joey Benik, Kalle Kossila, and David Morley all scored in span of 1:33 to turn a 2-2 deadlock into a comfortable 5-2 Huskies win. That trio of seniors, in addition to classmates Jimmy Murray and Ethan Prow, are arguably the top upperclassmen group in the country in terms of overall talent. They’ve also become impressive leaders on the ice, no longer making defensive lapses that cost the Huskies last year, and St. Cloud — like UND — has the look of a team ready to make a serious NCAA title run. Denver, meanwhile, has lost three straight behind an anemic offense, and their response tonight will be telling, one way or the other.

3. About time

Western Michigan shook off weeks of frustration with last night’s 7-3 win over CC, and the Broncos clearly wanted the win desperately — they forced turnovers, were quicker to loose pucks, and were determined in all phases. The final score isn’t as reflective of how close the game was for two periods, but things fell apart for CC late in the second period when the Broncos forced a turnover at the blueline from Tigers sophomore defenseman (and Nashville Predators draft pick) Teemu Kivihalme. Michael Rebry scored his first of the season to give the Broncos a 4-2 lead at the time, and Kivihalme contributed to another defensive zone turnover in the opening minutes of the third period — again leading to a Western Michigan goal. Truthfully, Western Michigan looked like a different team with renewed energy and purpose, while on the other end, it’s disappointing to see the Tigers regress after sweeping Miami last week — especially against a team that had to be desperate after entering the weekend with eight consecutive losses. Still, CC can climb out of the NCHC cellar with a win tonight since Miami is idle.

NCHC Saturday Dec 5: Three Things

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

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.

NCHC Saturday Nov. 28: Three Things

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

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

NCHC Saturday Nov. 21: Three Things

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

Again, 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: road wins by North Dakota (4-3 at St. Cloud) and Minnesota-Duluth (5-0 at Colorado College), and a pair of 3-3 ties (Nebraska-Omaha at Miami, and in the lone nonconference game of the night, Denver at Wisconsin). Though the game ended as a 3-3 tie for NCAA record purposes, Miami earned the extra NCHC standings point by scoring in the 3-on-3 OT period. As a reminder, NCHC conference games play a five minute 5-on-5 OT followed by a 5 minute 3-on-3 OT if the game remains tied (and then, if still tied, a shootout).

1. Slow out of the gates

It was an unfortunate opening minute for Colorado College last night, playing at home against Minnesota-Duluth At least three turnovers in the defensive zone led to groans around the World Arena in Colorado Springs, with fans looking for a one-time powerhouse to show some signs of life. CC came into the night with an 0-10-0 record and 1:12 into the first, fell behind 1-0 thanks to UMD’s Austin Farley’s seeing-eye wrist shot from the slot.

Certainly, UMD pressured the Tigers and came out of the gates looking for a goal as quickly as possible, but it was far from reassuring from a CC standpoint to see the Tigers start so slowly — all things considered. Netminder Tyler Marble had little chance on the goal, which is a shame considering the flashes of talent he still is able to show (one example was on a UMD breakaway in the second period). The Bulldogs put the game away in the second with three quick even-strength goals in a 4:14 span. The Tigers mustered just 19 shots on goal, fell to 0-11-0 (the last remaining winlesss team in the nation), and continue to test head coach Mike Haviland.

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NCHC Saturday Nov. 14: Three Things

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

Something a little different – 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: road wins by St. Cloud State (5-2 at Western Michigan) and Denver (3-0 at Minnesota-Duluth), and a dominant home win by North Dakota (6-2 over Miami).

1. Highlight Reel

Thanks in large part to a quick start from North Dakota (two fourth-minute goals, separated by 20 seconds), the ultimate result in the UND/Miami game in Grand Forks last night was essentially decided long before a pair of highlight reel third period goals, one by each team. Check them out here. But those goals are also notable for typifying the remainder of the game. First, for Miami, Josh Melnick scored his fourth goal of the season (second-most on the team) to pull the RedHawks within three — it was an impressive individual play below the left circle for the sophomore, who corralled the puck while falling down and sniped a wrist shot into the top left corner behind UND netminder Matt Hrynkiw.

Taking nothing away from Melnick’s outstanding goal, it typified Miami’s play on Friday by highlighting the reliance on individual plays, without few signs of the teamwork displayed just a week ago in the RedHawks’s sweep of Western Michigan. Less than 90 seconds later, Nick Schmaltz finished off a spectacular four-player passing play to punctuate UND’s win — after a dizzying series of five passes between Schmaltz, Brock Boeser, Troy Stecher, and Drake Caggiula. All night, UND played well as a unit — routinely situating two players in front of the Miami goaltenders (Jay Williams and Ryan McKay), and that teamwork was highlighted again with Schmaltz’s highlight-reel goal.

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