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.”