Archive for the 'WCHA' Category

WCHA Power Rankings: 2/27/13

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

With just two weekends left in the season, the race for the MacNaughton Cup is still wide open. St. Cloud State is two points clear of the field, but Minnesota, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota and Minnesota State are all within four points of the Huskies. Denver and Wisconsin are long shots at six points back, but they have a battle of their own going on for the final home ice spot. In this week’s power rankings, I take a look at each team’s postseason situation, both in the WCHA and in the Pairwise.

1. Minnesota (21-6-5, 13-6-5 WCHA) — Last week: 1
Minnesota took three of four points from UMD and moved into second place in the league. Erik Haula scored twice in Friday’s 5-3 win, while Adam Wilcox made 35 saves in Saturday’s 2-2 tie. The Gophers are now just two points out of first with a home series vs. Denver and a road series at Bemidji left on the schedule. They’re still second in the Pairwise, and they should lock up a one-seed with just a few more wins.

(more…)

The Takeaway: Minnesota wins 5-3 despite 2 goals from UMD’s Austin Farley

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS- The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs began the third period in great shape Friday night at Mariucci Arena. They were ahead in the shot department and scored 3 goals in the second period – including Austin Farley’s second of the game with 44 seconds left in the period – to tie the game at 3.

But as has been the norm lately for UMD, it wasn’t enough over the final 20 minutes.

Gopher sophomore Kyle Rau scored the game-winning goal with 6:35 remaining as Minnesota (21-6-4, 13-6-4 WCHA) defeated the Bulldogs 5-3 in the first of a two-game series. The loss left Minnesota-Duluth (10-7-4, 8-13-4 WCHA) winless in their last 8 games and looking to once again right the ship.

Nate Condon began the scoring for Minnesota 4:05 into the game when his shot trickled past Bulldogs goalie Matt McNeely and crossed the line on a second effort. That was followed by a shorthanded goal by Erik Haula 7:50 into the second before Justin Crandall evened things out 27 seconds later on the same power play. The two teams once again traded quick goals 5 minutes later as Farley tied the game at 2 and Sam Warning responded to give the Gophers back the lead before the UMD freshman’s second of the game near the end of the period.

Giving up a goal in the last minute of a period can be a rallying cry for the team who scores but Minnesota never allowed that. Instead, they out-shot Minnesota-Duluth 16-4 over the final 20 minutes and made McNeely, who made 29 saves, work. Their persistence was eventually rewarded with Rau’s 14th goal of the season and first in 8 games. Haula then added his second goal of the game on an empty-netter with 5.4 seconds remaining to seal the deal.

(more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: 2/19/13

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

With St. Cloud off over the weekend, the race for the MacNaughton Cup got a little tighter. The top seven teams are all within six points of each other now. Things got a bit tighter in my power rankings as well, although not a whole lot changes in terms of positions.

1. Minnesota (20-6-4, 12-6-4 WCHA) — Last week: 1
Minnesota split a pair of 3-2 games with Wisconsin, but neither of my next two teams played over the weekend, so the Gophers’ hold on the top spot is still pretty strong. They’re actually tied for fourth in the league, three points out of first, but they’re still second in the Pairwise. Erik Haula, Nick Bjugstad and Seth Ambroz each had two points in the series. The Gophers lost Sunday’s game at Soldier Field despite outshooting the Badgers 38-19.

2. St. Cloud State (18-11-1, 15-6-1 WCHA) — Last week: 2
The Huskies had the weekend off, so they stay at two. They have a one-point lead over second-place UNO, and they also have two games in hand. St. Cloud is currently ninth in the Pairwise.

(more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: 2/11/13

Monday, February 11th, 2013

It was certainly an exciting weekend in the WCHA, as all 12 teams were in action. The top three and bottom three teams in my rankings stay where they were, but the six teams in between are all on the move. A split between the top two teams allowed North Dakota to gain a little ground, while the two Mavericks both made big moves — just in opposite directions.

1. Minnesota (19-5-4, 11-5-4 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers split with St. Cloud, so nothing changes at the top. Erik Haula scored twice in Friday’s 4-2 win, then tallied two assists in Saturday’s 4-3 loss. He has points in 19 of his last 20 games and is now tied for first in the WCHA and fourth in the country with 1.40 points per game. Adam Wilcox gave up four goals on 21 shots Saturday, marking just the fourth time this season he’s allowed four goals in a game.

2. St. Cloud State (18-11-1, 15-6-1 WCHA) — Last week: 2
Friday’s loss to Minnesota ended a six-game unbeaten streak for the Huskies, but they bounced back to win on Saturday. Drew LeBlanc scored two goals in the series, including what proved to be the game-winner on Saturday. He now has 40 points on the season, tying him for second in the league. Ryan Faragher surrendered seven goals on the weekend, but he also faced a ton of shots — 81 to be exact.

(more…)

Three Things I Think, February 7: WCHA

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

As the finish line to the regular season begins to come into focus, so does the race for the MacNaughton Cup. Five teams are within five points of the WCHA lead, currently held by St. Cloud State, with many of those schools still having to play one another.

After the break,the effect of outdoor games in the conference race,  a fan in Bemidji wears a bag on his head and Minnesota-Duluth sees their chances of home ice slip away.

(more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: 2/4/13

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Our top team was idle this weekend, but there’s plenty of movement in the rest of the top six. The No. 2 team pulled a little closer to the top, and teams three through six are all in a different position than last week. The bottom half continues to be much less chaotic, as teams seven through 12 all stand pat for the second week in a row.

1. Minnesota (18-4-4, 10-4-4 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers had the weekend off, so they stay at the top. They remain second in the Pairwise, but St. Cloud has opened up a five-point lead on them in the race for the MacNaughton Cup. Minnesota does have two games in hand, though.

2. St. Cloud State (17-10-1, 14-5-1 WCHA) — Last week: 2
The Huskies outscored Bemidji 8-1 in a weekend sweep, extending their unbeaten streak to six games. They also now have a three-point lead over second-place UNO, and they’ve climbed to eighth in the Pairwise. Ryan Faragher saved 24 shots on Friday to earn his second shutout of the season, then stopped 21 of 22 on Saturday. Drew LeBlanc notched a goal and two assists in the series, while Jonny Brodzinski scored a pair of goals. LeBlanc leads the WCHA with 30 assists and ranks second in points with 38.

(more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: 1/29/13

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Looking at the Pairwise, it’s hard to figure out if this is a strong year for the WCHA or a down year. They have seven teams in the top 23 in the Pairwise, but just one in the top eight. Their 44-31-5 inter-conference record is the best in the country, but their 28-31-3 record against the other “Big Four” conferences is the worst among that group.

Looking ahead, we have a great race for the MacNaughton Cup, with St. Cloud State, Minnesota and Nebraska-Omaha gaining a little bit of separation from the rest of the pack. We also have a bunch of teams on the Pairwise bubble. Denver is 13th, Minnesota State 16th, UNO 21st and Wisconsin 23rd.

1. Minnesota (18-4-4, 10-4-4 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers stay in first after splitting with Minnesota State. They had their 10-game unbeaten streak snapped in Friday’s 2-1 loss, but they bounced back to win 4-1 the next night. Adam Wilcox stopped 57 of 60 shots on the weekend, while Nate Schmidt scored a pair of goals. Erik Haula and Zach Budish each had a goal and an assist on Saturday. The Gophers lead the WCHA in offense, defense, power play and penalty kill.

(more…)

The Takeaway: Minnesota State knocks off Minnesota 2-1 with a last minute goal

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS- Minnesota State only led for a grand total of 44 seconds Friday night at Mariucci Arena, but that didn’t really matter. They were last 44 seconds.

Mavericks freshman Brett Knowles buried the rebound from a Zach Palmquist shot past Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox to give the visiting Minnesota State (16-8-3, 10-8-1 WCHA) a 2-1 win to snap a ten-game unbeaten streak. The goal was just Knowles’ second of the season and rewarded Mavericks goalie Stephon Williams for his 37 save performance against the Gophers.

Minnesota (17-4-4, 9-4-4 WCHA) got off to a slow start, being out-shot 12-8 in the first period, yet got on the board first. Following a scoreless first, defenseman Nate Schmidt pinched in towards the net. He then simultaneously settled down a Nate Condon pass and shot the puck over Williams for a 1-0 Gopher lead 7:48 into the second period.

That held up for almost 9 minutes when the Mavericks tied the game up on the power play. Sophomore Matt Leitner caught the opposing defense napping in front of the net and set up junior Johnny McInnis for his 11th goal of the season. Although Minnesota more than doubled their shots on goal from the first 40 minutes in the third period, out-shooting Minnesota State 20-8, both teams had chances to win before Knowles’ game winner. (more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: 1/23/13

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The gap between first and second widens, two other top-six teams make big moves in opposite directions, and the bottom six stays pretty steady. Let’s get right to it.

1. Minnesota (17-3-4, 9-3-4 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers strengthened their hold on first by taking three of four points from North Dakota in the rivals’ final regular-season meetings for the foreseeable future. They won 5-1 on Friday before tying 4-4 on Saturday. Nate Condon tallied five points on the weekend, while Erik Haula, Nick Bjugstad and Zach Budish each had three. Haula, who missed the previous three games with an upper-body injury, has a 16-game point streak.

2. North Dakota (13-7-4, 8-4-4 WCHA) — Last week: 2
Despite taking just one point against Minnesota, UND hangs onto second. Clarke Saunders gave up four goals for the second straight start on Friday, while Zane Gothberg surrendered four for the third time in five starts on Saturday. Corban Knight had a point in each game to extend his point streak to 19 games. UND still sits sixth in the Pairwise and tied for third in the conference standings.

(more…)

The Takeaway: Gophers run away against North Dakota with 3 goal third period

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS- For the second straight Friday, Ben Marshall scored a game-winning goal in the final seconds of a period. Only this time the Gophers defensemen was aided by three additional goals in the final twenty minutes to turn what was a close game into a lopsided result.

Minnesota (17-3-3, 9-3-3 WCHA) scored five goals by five different players Friday night and Adam Wilcox made 24 saves as the Golden Gophers defeated sixth-ranked North Dakota (13-7-3, 8-4-3 WCHA) and extended their unbeaten streak to nine game.

North Dakota got on the board first following a scoreless first period. Sophomore forward Michael Parks found a way to get the puck over Wilcox while on their second powerplay of the night. Their lead, however, lasted a total of 2:32 as Minnesota forward Zach Budish found himself the benefactor of a Sam Warning pass and sniped it past UND goalie Clarke Saunders.

Then it was Marshall, who scored the game-winning goal with under a minute left against Alaska-Anchorage, with another. The sophomore defenseman pinched in on the power play to slam home a puck lying in traffic  with 5.8 seconds left. That goal proved to be the difference as Nate Schmidt, Nate Condon and Erik Haula (suiting up as a wing after missing 3 games with an “upper body injury”) each scored in the third period to give the Gophers comfort room. (more…)