Archive for the 'WCHA' Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…)

Three Things I Think, January 16: WCHA

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

For the second time in two weeks a head coach lambasted WCHA officials. Whether it’s Dave Shyiak, who played college hockey in the WCHA at Northern Michigan in addition to coaching, an outsider like Cornell’s Mike Schafer or whoever speaks their mind next week, this seems to be picking up. I don’t know if it’s because this is the final year before college realignment takes place or the line between protecting player safety and letting them play grows smaller, but it seems like officials have become more of a scapegoat this season from people other than fans.

After the break, this week’s “3 Things” discusses the growth of Johnny nicknames in sports, Nebraska-Omaha’s troubles in Denver and my thoughts on the Minnesota-North Dakota series.

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WCHA Power Rankings: 1/16/13

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

It was certainly another interesting weekend in the WCHA. Minnesota strengthened its hold on the top spot, while Wisconsin’s sweep of Minnesota State made things much more interesting in the middle of the pack. At the bottom, Alaska-Anchorage still isn’t making much noise on the ice, but coach Dave Shyiak certainly made some in front of the mic.

1. Minnesota (16-3-3, 8-3-3 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers extended their unbeaten streak to eight by sweeping UAA over the weekend. They needed two late power-play goals to get the 4-3 win on Friday before cruising to a 7-1 win on Saturday. Nick Bjugstad scored twice on Friday, Kyle Rau recorded a hat trick on Saturday, and Nate Schmidt tallied six assists on the weekend. The Gophers went 5-for-11 on the power play and 6-for-6 on the penalty kill. They lead the league in both categories.

2. North Dakota (13-6-3, 8-3-3 WCHA) — Last week: 2
UND’s seven-game unbeaten streak came to an end with a 4-3 loss to CC on Friday, but they bounced back with a 5-3 win on Saturday. Danny Kristo registered three goals and two assists in the series to pull within one of linemate Corban Knight for the team lead in points. Speaking of Knight, he extended his point streak to 17 games with an assist in each game, making it the longest by a UND player since Dixon Ward in 1990-91.

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The Takeaway: Denver Steals Win from Nebraska-Omaha

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Despite being outshot 42-22, and 21-6 to start the first frame, Denver defeated Nebraska-Omaha Friday evening at the Magness Arena, 7-4. Pioneer’s Matt Tabrum and Zac Larraza each recorded two goals on the night; the latter of which was credited with getting the game-winner. Maverick Ryan Walters put home his NCAA leading 14th goal, while also notching his 34th and 35th points. Nebraska-Omaha goaltender John Faulkner stopped just 15-of-21 shots.

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The Takeaway: Marshall goal caps a wild Minnesota comeback over Alaska-Anchorage

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS- After defeating Boston College and Notre Dame, two top-5 teams, in a span of 9 days by a combined 12-2 score, Friday’s WCHA game against Alaska-Anchorage (3-12-4, 1-11-3 WCHA) was an easier match-up on paper for the top-ranked Gophers.

But of course that forgets one little detail: hockey is not played on paper.

After Seawolves sophomore Scott Allen gave his team a 3-2 lead with 5:47 remaining in regulation, Minnesota (15-3-3, 7-3-3 WCHA) scored power play goals by Nick Bjugstad, his second of the game, and Ben Marshall, with 50.8 seconds left, to defeat Alaska-Anchorage 4-3. Both goals occurred during a questionable five minute major to Tyler Currier for checking Gopher captain Zach Budish from behind with 4:08 remaining in regulation.

It was the second time Minnesota had to come back. Earlier, Quinn Sproule scored on Adam Wilcox, who made 17 saves, 5:17 into Friday’s game and UAA was the first team to hold a lead on the Gophers since November 30th. The Seawolves controlled play for much of the first 10 minutes, however, a power play goal by Kyle Rau and even-strength shot by Bjugstad gave the Gophers a 2-1 lead after two periods. That set the stage for Alaska-Anchorage forwards Daniel Naslund and Allen to score 4 minuets apart in the third period before Minnesota’s drastic comeback. (more…)