Another week in Hockey East kicked off on Thursday, when Notre Dame beat Northeastern 3-2 in South Bend. The rest of the league schedule kicks into gear tonight. Here are this week’s 12 thoughts on Hockey East’s 12 teams …
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Another full weekend of conference games will again help us to sort out the contenders from the pretenders. The highlight of the weekend will indeed be Quinnipiac and Harvard in Hamden on Friday night. The two heavyweights will battle in what could ultimately be a title match preview. The other highlight of the weekend, pits the North Country rivals, SLU and Clarkson, against each other. In all honesty, it is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, rivalry in the league. Those are just two of the premier matchups that dot the schedule this week, without further ado here are some thoughts for the upcoming weekend.
Harvard at Quinnipiac
We should learn a lot about these two in this game. Harvard has looked good in its minimal action so far and it will take on an unblemished Quinnipiac team that is now 8-0-0 on the season. For Harvard, this will probably be the toughest test for them to date because unlike Yale, QU has a dangerous offense that sends a ton of great chances toward the net. We all know that Harvard has the offense, but whether or not its defense will hold up against a team like QU, is something that we have no idea about yet. It looked good against Yale, but there wasn’t much in the way of dangerous up and down play in that game. This will also be the Crimson’s first big road test, against a good team. For Quinnipiac, it still needs a tough road test to quell the juries. This home game, however, could go a long way in telling us if they belong in the tier as Yale and Harvard.
Prediction: 5-2 Harvard (more…)
This is one of the last weekends of non-conference play, as Big Ten contests will be underway soon. The conference fared better last weekend but have still really struggled. Wisconsin, which upset North Dakota on Friday, is off this week.
Much of the Big Ten play this week is against Atlantic Hockey, with Michigan playing Niagara, Penn State hosting Sacred Heart and Ohio State facing Canisius. The Spartans also travel to Boston College while Minnesota faces Minnesota State.
The first full weekend of the conference slate always tells us a lot, but it also tells us that we shouldn’t overreact to some of the results. Rensselaer took three out of four points in the North Country, while Union took a pair of points against SLU. The results were the most surprising in the league last weekend, as I really like both St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Both are going to be strong teams in the league this year. The three points, gives RPI seven out of eight possible points in ECAC play. It is an impressive start for a team that I put seventh in preseason but has struggled , save a win against Boston College. But lets not forget that last year, RPI raced out of the gates to lead for a while then dropped off. This year it seems more sustainable because of the lack of injury bug that it found last season.
The three elite teams, in Harvard, Yale and Quinnipiac all had come from behind victories over the weekend to Brown, Dartmouth and Cornell respectively. I was flying cross country that night and left Chicago knowing that Cornell had a 3-0 lead when I took off, while Yale trailed Dartmouth 2-0. QU and Yale both scored four unanswered to take home the wins. It seems as though both Yale and Harvard took a bit to come out of the emotional high that was the game at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center on Friday night. I will talk about that more below, but without further ado here are some thoughts.
I would also like to take this time, seeing it is Veterans day, to thank all my readers that have served in the armed forces. It is much appreciated what you have done and I hope you hear this a bunch today or this week.
Big Ten hockey’s weekend was highlighted by an upset win from Wisconsin over North Dakota. The Badgers ended the series with a split. Penn State played Niagara to a 1-1 tie, Michigan State’s offense broke out in a sweep of New Hampshire and Minnesota split with Notre Dame.
(After the jump: Luke Kunin OHL rumors, the term “Upset” and the Gophers aren’t there yet.) (more…)
Friday’s action involving NCHC teams included league wins by Denver, UNO, and Miami — all of whom were playing at home — in addition to a North Dakota loss in Grand Forks to Wisconsin. North Dakota was undefeated (6-0-2) prior to the 3-1 loss to the Badgers.
1. Tape to tape
After three consecutive road losses during which the RedHawks were outscored 11-4, Miami returned home with a 2-1 win over CHN’s Team of the Week, Western Michigan. Freshman Jack Roslovic, a native of Columbus, Ohio, scored his sixth goal of the season — most among rookies nationally. His power play goal in the second period tied the game for Miami and was an impressive example of how to open up passing lanes on a power play. Louis Belpedio at the left point and Roslovic in the right circle combined on multiple tape to tape passes, stretching the space between the WMU penalty-killers (particularly junior forwards Aidan Muir and Michael Rebry) and allowing for the opportunity for one-timer by Roslovic. As a team, Miami was notably more accurate with its passing compared to its most recent road losses, and the RedHawks have a chance to move back over .500 with another win tonight.
2. Backing off
Colorado College’s woes were compounded on Friday, as the Tigers dropped to a dismal 0-9-0 following a 5-3 loss at Denver. CC joins Army, Niagara, Brown, and Maine as the only winless teams in the country, and Tigers head coach Mike Haviland now has just six wins in 44 games behind the bench for CC. In the rivalry contest on Friday, the CC defense looked alarmingly passive in its own zone, setting the stage for multiple DU goals. With the game tied 1-1 in the second, the Pioneers put the game out of reach with three goals — by Danton Heinen, Will Butcher, and Trevor Moore. On the first two of those goals, Heinen and then Grant Arnold were able to gain the zone with easy along the left wing (Arnold set up Butcher for his goal), and on the third goal of the period, Moore gained the zone on the right wing with similar ease. It’s been a long, rough journey for CC already, but the defensive effort will have to improve if the Tigers plan on trying to build any momentum at all within arguably the toughest conference in the country. Moreover, CC has the worst penalty killing unit in the NCHC but continues to lead the league in overall penalty minutes per game.
3. Score early, score often
Nebraska-Omaha stayed unbeaten in its new home facility, Baxter Arena, following the Mavericks’ 4-2 defeat of Minnesota-Duluth. UNO scored two first period goals, continuing its trend of fast starts. The Mavericks have now scored 14 goals this season (more than any other NCHC team in the game’s opening 20 minutes), while scoring 13 in the second and third combined. Austin Ortega (who else?) scored the ultimate game-winner, and leads the nation in goals. His goal, which at the time put the Mavericks up 3-1, came on the power play thanks to a textbook down-low passing play in which Ortega and freshman Steven Spinner made sure their sticks were on the ice for re-directions that led to the goal. Freshman Evan Weninger earned the win, and remains in the top 10 nationally in both goals-against average and save percentage.
Hockey East enters another weekend with some home-and-home conference games as well as UNH and Merrimack hitting the road for non-conference action. Here are 12 thoughts on the 12 teams throughout the league …
Four Big Ten teams will play this weekend – Wisconsin, Minnesota, Penn State and Michigan State, while Michigan and Ohio State both have a bye. None of the Big Ten teams have fared well in out-of-conference, non-Atlantic Hockey matchups this season.
All six Big Ten teams have struggled this season, especially the Badgers and Buckeyes. Wisconsin has the biggest out-of-conference test this week as the young squad travels to NorthDakota, while the Gophers will be challenged by Notre Dame. The Spartans have also struggled to win, making their series against the Wildcats one to watch.
But aside from that, the non-conference schedule isn’t asvict bad for the Big Ten this weekend.
The opening of ECAC league play, came with bangs as both Rensselaer and Harvard picked up sweeps. Harvard was probably not a surprise, but RPI certainly was. The Engineers have gotten off to a weird start to its season, at 1-4 but its win came against a strong Boston College team that has since gone 5-0-0. The weekend was certainly what the doctor ordered and I will talk about it more in depth below.
The ECAC again had a solid weekend in non-conference action, as it went 5-3-1 on the weekend. St. Lawrence picked up a win and a tie on the road against Penn State, Cornell swept Niagara, Brown lost a long game to Holy Cross and Colgate was swept by Providence. For all intensive purposes, the week was a success mainly because Princeton and Yale swept their respective Hockey East opponents at the Capital City Classic. Yale thrashed a previously unbeaten UMass team and Princeton defeated struggling Maine. The league still holds a .651 win percentage in non-league tilts, but are only 15-11-3 against the league’s other than the Atlantic. (more…)
This weekend saw the Big Ten’s out-of-conference record fall even further. The conference recorded a 4-3-1 weekend, which included a sweep by Wisconsin over Arizona State. The Badgers weren’t the only Big Ten team to finally earn a win, as Ohio State defeated Mercyhurst 5-1 on Saturday night.
Penn State tied St. Lawrence the first night and then dropped a 4-2 decision. The powerful Nittany Lion offense stalled, which wasn’t surprising against St. Lawrence’s defense. The Wolverines split their series against Robert Morris, which included a shutout in a 4-0 loss on Saturday night. The Buckeyes also split their Atlantic Hockey series against Mercyhurst.
It’s still really early in the season, but it’s evident this will be another difficult year for the conference.
(After the jump: Inconsistency again, Michigan’s less-known rookie scorer, non-conference woes – again)
Last year this was a big issue, particularly for Minnesota and Michigan. Inconsistency was more noticeable with those two teams, as they fight each other for the conference title all season long. It’s still early in the season, butI it seems neither team has solved inconsistency issues. That makes sense for a very young Minnesota team relying on freshmen each night, but is worrisome for Michigan.
The Wolverines do have some rookie scorers – like Kyle Connor and Cooper Marody – but they still have a good group of veterans. And last year I thought inconsistency would solve itself with a veteran-laden Gopher team, and it never did. So it’s something to watch for Michigan as the season goes on.
Michigan’s freshman scorer who isn’t Kyle Connor
There was a lot of hype around Kyle Connor, Michigan’s freshman forward, after his standout year in the USHL. Before the season, I also wrote a feature on Connor, and it was clear that Red Berenson knew Connor would be one of the team’s top scorer. He is, and he’s tied for the team lead with seven points.
But alongside Connor is fellow draft pick, but certainly lesser-known, freshman Cooper Marody. Marody, who was taken in the sixth round, has kind of flown under the radar. He’s a player to watch for, especially as he develops at Michigan. The freshman has had three multi-point games this season and has seven points so far.
Ah, my favorite topic. I think I write about this every week – or at least I did last year. But it’s too big of an issue to ignore. While it’s way too early to think about PairWise rankings, the non-conference losses that are happening right now will really hurt the conference at the end of the year. Most likely, the Big Ten is only getting one team into the NCAA tournament.
There’s still time for the conference to start winning against its non-league opponents, but that probably won’t happen. Both the Badgers and Buckeyes are really going to struggle to win, while Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota and Michigan State have had a hard time winning out of conference. And when the teams do win, it’s typically against Atlantic Hockey opponents.