Archive for the 'WCHA' Category

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…)

WCHA All-First Half Team & Other Awards

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Before the second half of WCHA conference play begins, I feel like it would be a good opportunity to step back and reflect upon the first half of the season. There have been some ups and downs along the way. Players who have expected to dominate have struggled while a few teams have exceeded every expectation from the preseason. Most importantly, the play continues to live up to the high standards of the WCHA. It’s a treat to watch all 12 teams every weekend and with 6 teams within 4 points of first place, the final second half of the conference as we know it cannot get any better.

So without further adieu, here are my WCHA first-half awards. Winners receive nothing except for the praise of seeing their name on the internet. Those excluded will have others make arguments for them because this is the internet. (more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: 1/10/13

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

The holidays are over, and that means we’re back to conference play. Although I didn’t have time to write up last week’s blog entry, I did tweet out my rankings. So the “Last week” does actually refer to last week and not pre-break.

1. Minnesota (14-3-3, 6-3-3 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers beat Notre Dame 4-1 on Tuesday to extend their unbeaten streak to six games. Prior to that, they outscored Air Force and Boston College 12-1 en route to winning the Mariucci Classic. Nick Bjugstad had two goals and four assists in the tournament, while Sam Warning, Nate Condon and Zach Budish each had two points in Tuesday’s victory over the Irish.

2. North Dakota (12-5-3, 7-2-3 WCHA) — Last week: 2
UND extended its unbeaten streak to seven games by sweeping Holy Cross over the weekend, winning 5-2 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday. They outshot the Crusaders 78-34 in the series. Corban Knight registered two goals and four assists on the weekend and is now tied for third in the country with 29 points on the season. He has a 15-game point streak, and has multiple points in each of the last five.

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Three Things I Think, January 9: WCHA

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

A lot has happened in the two weeks since the last “3 Things” was written; enough so where it feels like I could cover 8 things and not do the conference justice. Since the holiday break the WCHA went through some doom and gloom.  St. Cloud State lost to RPI, Minnesota-Duluth fell to Maine and Nebraska-Omaha saw themselves swept by Quinnipiac. With so few non-conference games, their importance in the PairWise grow and each loss takes its toll.

But following the doom and gloom, the WCHA also went through some prosperity. Minnesota State, Michigan Tech and Minnesota won holiday tournament titles alongside sweeps by Denver and North Dakota over Cornell and Holy Cross, respectively. The Gophers joined the Pioneers, who earlier defeated Boston University 6-0, in routing Boston schools when they blew out a Johnny Gaudreau-less Boston College 8-1.

With that win comes a statement, as goaltender Adam Wilcox said, “when [teams] look at it and see ‘Gophers 8-1′ it puts our name on the board.” It’s hard to argue with that.

The top-ranked Gophers had another chance to make a non-conference statement when they faced #2 Notre Dame last night in a rare Tuesday night college hockey game. On a national stage, Minnesota defeated the Fighting Irish 4-1 to finish their non-conference schedule an undefeated 8-0; a remarkable feat given other teams’ issues outside of the conference.

More importantly, their positive non-conference experience helps the Gophers – currently 6th in league play – as they put their focus on the second half of the season. With 2 games in hand over 4 of the 5 teams ahead of them and only 4 points out of first, the gap between first and sixth cannot be smaller.

After the break, first-year players dominate the discussion. From Pheonix Copely and Stephon Williams to Anthony Stolarz and Nicolas Kerdiles, all 3 things cover WCHA freshmen. (more…)

The Takeaway: UNH Survives for OT Win Over Bemidji

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Hanover, NH- In the consolation game of the Ledyard Bank National Classic, Bemidji State took an early 1-0 lead two minutes, 12 seconds into the game on a goal by Markus Gerbrandt. UNH would respond 13 minutes later, as Grayson Downing would get a feed from Trevor van Riemsdyk in the right circle and he stayed true to tie the game at 1. The Wildcats would score the lone goal in the second period, as Jay Camper would send the game into the third period a 2-1 game in favor of UNH.

The third period was much different than the first two, as Bemidji made it a game when Jordan George tied the contest at two nine minutes into the third period. That tie would hold and send the game into overtime where Trevor van Riemsdyk fired a shot from the high slot past Bemidji goaltender, Andrew Walsh to give UNH a much needed win. UNH improves to 12-3-2 on the season, while Bemidji State falls to 5-10-3. (more…)