Archive for the 'WCHA' Category

Three Things I Think, December 19: WCHA

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Sometimes it isn’t easy to be a college hockey fan. As much as our passion for the sport bleeds through, few outsiders would know that and that’s disappointing. If the NHL is a niche sport in the United States then college hockey is a niche of a niche. You could say we’re the hockey fans of hockey.

So it is satisfying to see when fans of locked out teams check out games on NBC Sports Net and double viewership from last year. The same is true when Peter Richmond gives Sports Illustrated readers a chance to experience the passion of a North Dakota game and Grantland’s Katie Baker writes nearly 5000 words on the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry at Mariucci Arena. The things WCHA fans experience on a weekly level that normally stay inside are  out there for the rest of the world to see.

It’s even more rewarding when college hockey polls make the bottom line of major sports networks or John Buccigross casually drops scores in the middle of a Sportscenter or to his 111,000 Twitter followers. Many of these things don’t mean much in the long run but as fans that aren’t used to any attention, the effort is appreciated. It’s much better than watching intermission reports that have nothing to do with college hockey.

Along with them and everyone who works hard day-in and day-out to bring more attention to college hockey, I’m thankful for this great sport we all love.

After the break, I continue to celebrate college hockey and the holiday season with bad puns. There’s also Bemidji State helping Denver crash to rock bottom, North Dakota rising to the top and thoughts on Minnesota State’s split with Nebraska-Omaha, but mostly bad holiday puns. (more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: 12/19/12

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Well, we’ve arrived at winter break. The top two teams in these rankings are exactly who we thought they’d be before the season, but there have been plenty of surprises after that. Minnesota State, under first-year head coach Mike Hastings, has overcome a slow start to emerge as a top-five team. Elsewhere, Denver has dropped from one of the top teams in the country to the middle of the pack, and Wisconsin hasn’t even come close to meeting preseason expectations that, in hindsight, were probably too high in the first place.

1. Minnesota (11-3-3, 6-3-3 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers had the weekend off, so they stay at the top heading into break. North Dakota certainly closed the gap a bit, though. Minnesota leads the league in both defense (2.00 goals allowed per game) and special teams net (+9), and ranks fourth in offense (3.35 goals per game). Erik Haula enters the break riding a 12-game point streak, and he currently ranks seventh in the league with 22 points on the season.

2. North Dakota (10-5-3, 7-2-3 WCHA) — Last week: 2
North Dakota pulls right up to Minnesota’s bumper after outscoring Michigan Tech 10-2 in a weekend sweep. Corban Knight and Danny Kristo led the way with six points apiece in the series. Knight now has a 13-game point streak, and his 23 points on the season are tied for fourth in the conference. Clarke Saunders stopped 65 of 67 shots and is now fourth in the league with a .925 save percentage.

Three Things I Think, December 12: WCHA

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

As the seasons change and a foot of snow welcomes me outside on 12/12/12, so does the WCHA. And things are getting interesting with the changes.

Yesterday’s top dog Denver has gone from a runaway leader last month to seeing their lead cut down to a single point. Several teams have taken advantage of their recent six-game winless streak and the top half of the WCHA are all within 3 points. That includes the Pioneers’ opponent this weekend, North Dakota, who outshot them twice en route to taking three points and are beginning to look capable of making that near-annual second half run. Although they have failed to sweep an opponent in the WCHA, neither has second-place Minnesota, whose third-period collapse Saturday kept that streak alive.

Regardless, what once looked to be a battle for second has heated up into a second half battle for the final MacNaughton Cup as we know it.

After the break, I discuss the hottest team in the WCHA faces a tough challenge this weekend, Rylan Schwartz is proving his worth and St. Cloud State’s freshmen. (more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: 12/12/12

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

For the first time since Nov. 7, we have a new entry in the top six. Minnesota State pulled within striking distance last week, and now they make the move after extending their winning streak to six games. Now the attention in the middle of the pack shifts to whether or not Colorado College can fight its way back, and whether or not anyone else will be able to crack the top seven.

1. Minnesota (11-3-3, 6-3-3 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers stay at the top after taking three of four points from Colorado College to improve to 5-1-1 in their last seven. Sam Warning, Erik Haula and Zach Budish each registered two points in Friday’s 4-2 win, while Seth Ambroz, Travis Boyd and Nate Schmidt each had two in Saturday’s 4-4 tie. The Gophers continue to lead the WCHA in special teams net, as they are first on the penalty kill (89.5%) and second on the power play (21.2%).

2. North Dakota (8-5-3, 5-2-3 WCHA) — Last week: 4
UND moves up two spots after taking three of four points from Denver. They tied 2-2 on Friday before picking up a big 6-3 win on Saturday. Carter Rowney had five points on the weekend, Rocco Grimaldi had four, and Corban Knight and Drake Caggiula each had three. Knight now has an 11-game point streak. UND outshot the Pioneers 66-43 on the weekend, marking the second straight weekend they’ve allowed fewer than 50 shots.


WCHA Power Rankings: 12/5/12

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

There’s a new No. 1, and eight other teams are also in a different spot than last week. Let’s get right to it.

1. Minnesota (10-3-2, 5-3-2 WCHA) — Last week: 2
The Gophers pulled right up to Denver’s bumper last week, and a split with UNO, combined with Denver dropping three of four points to Wisconsin, is just enough for them to make the pass this week. They continue to play strong defense, as they lead the league with 1.87 goals against per game and haven’t allowed more than 27 shots in any of their last eight games. Erik Haula had three points in the series and extended his point streak to 10 games.

2. Denver (9-4-1, 7-2-1 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Pioneers drop out of the top spot after mustering just one point in a home series against Wisconsin. They came close to not getting any points, but Joey LaLeggia scored with 1:16 left in regulation to force overtime (and the tie) on Friday. They’re now 0-3-1 in their last four games. After scoring three or more goals in nine of their first 10 games, they’ve scored just one in three of their last four.


Three Up, Three Down, WCHA: Dec. 4

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012


1. Caleb Herbert, Forward, Minnesota Duluth

Following a three-point opening night against Ohio State, Herbert had only recorded one assist in his last 11 games, and, before last weekend’s series against Michigan Tech, he had zero goals. Luckily for Herbert and the Bulldogs, he ended his goalless streak against the Huskies, scoring a goal each night and adding two helpers on the weekend to give himself a four-point showing in a three-point weekend for Minnesota Duluth.

2. Landon Peterson, Goalie, Wisconsin

While Peterson’s 1-2-1 record won’t drop any jaws, his other numbers – especially the ones he’s racked up on the road – should. In 283 total minutes, Peterson boasts a .933 save percentage and a 2.12 goals against, but, away from Kohl Center, he’s compiled a .945 save percentage in 184 minutes, including a 1-0-1 record against Minnesota and Denver. In those two games, he’s seen a combined 79 shots and only yielded three goals.

3. Drake Caggiula, Forward, North Dakota

North Dakota has had another up and down start to the season, something that has become kind of normal in Grand Forks. But UND will obviously be looking to make its post-Christmas charge again this year, and, in order to do just that, guys like Caggiula will have to step up and make an impact on a nightly basis. Caggiula, just a freshman, made his impact known in UND’s series against Colorado College, notching three goals on the weekend, including Saturday’s game-winner in overtime.


1. Nick Shore, Forward, Denver

Shore flew out of the gates and quickly compiled 16 points in Denver’s first 10 games, a big reason why the Pioneers made a charge up the rankings and asserted themselves early on. Since then, however, he’s cooled of a bit. In his past four games, Shore has slipped into a bit of mini-slump, only collecting two points (a goal against Yale and an assist against Wisconsin).

2. Kevin Genoe, Goalie, Michigan Tech

In the first 263:05 he played this season, Genoe had given up 11 goals, was 3-1-0 and had a shutout. In the 73:33 he played against Minnesota Duluth last weekend, Genoe let seven pucks past him, including three on just eight shots before getting yanked on Friday night.

3. Ben Kinne, Forward, Bemidji State

After failing to record a point in Bemidji State’s first game, Kinne had been on a bit of a hot streak – he’d popped in a pair of goals and had five helpers over a six-game stretch. But Kinne has now failed to find the score sheet in three straight, and thats a big part of the reason that the Beavers are 0-3-0 in those contests.

WCHA Power Rankings: 11/28/12

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The top three remain the same, but eight of the nine teams to follow are in a different spot than last week. Although the top three didn’t change, things certainly got more interesting at the top thanks to Denver being swept.

1. Denver (9-3-0, 7-1-0 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Pioneers had a comfortable enough lead over Minnesota that they remain at the top despite losing a pair of nonconference games over the weekend. They lost to Yale 2-1 in overtime on Friday, then blew a 3-0 lead en route to a 6-4 loss to New Hampshire on Saturday. Friday was just the second time the Pioneers scored fewer than three goals in a game, and Saturday was the second time they allowed more than three. Denver went 0-for-10 on the power play in the two games.

2. Minnesota (9-2-2, 4-2-2 WCHA) — Last week: 2
The Gophers closed the gap between first and second by sweeping Vermont with a 5-1 win on Friday and 3-1 win on Saturday. Adam Wilcox stopped 48 of 50 shots in the series and now ranks second in the conference with a .931 save percentage. Kyle Rau tallied three points on the weekend, while five others registered two. The Gophers went a perfect 8-for-8 on the penalty kill. (more…)

The Takeaway: Minnesota Wins 5-1 in First Trip to Vermont

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Spurred by a three-goal second period, Minnesota beat Vermont 5-1 in its first game ever at Gutterson Fieldhouse and its first regular-season game out east since 2005. Seth Ambroz gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead 7:52 into the game when he cut to the middle from the right side and slid a backhander past Brody Hoffman (30 saves). The Catamounts (2-6-2) tied it with 4:34 left in the first when Matt White found Brett Bruneteau alone at the top of the crease, but the Gophers retook the lead three minutes later when Kyle Rau capitalized on a Vermont turnover at the side of the net.

Minnesota (8-2-2) put the game out of reach with three straight goals in the second. Zach Budish scored on the power play 2:26 in when he pulled the puck out of a scrum in front and fired past a down-and-out Hoffman. Ten minutes later, Nick Bjugstad scored on a breakaway just after exiting the penalty box. Mike Reilly made it 5-1 when he beat Hoffman with a shot through traffic for his first career goal. Adam Wilcox stopped 22 of 23 Vermont shots to improve to 7-1-2 on the season.


Three Things I Think, November 21: WCHA

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Sorry for the belated nature of this week’s “3 Things.” Hopefully you still enjoy it between Thanksgiving courses.

The University of Denver once again finishes a weekend being the talk of the WCHA following their sweep of in-state rival (and previously unbeaten in the WCHA) Colorado College to gain a foothold for The Gold Pan. This comes a week after the now 9-1-0 Pioneers swept Minnesota State on the road.

It is easy to say things are going well for them – Denver now has a four point lead in the conference over Minnesota – but the challenges only get tougher. DU-CC is one of the more underrated rivalries in the country and sweeping the Tigers is no easy task. However, they have a chance to make a major statement this weekend when 8-1-1 New Hampshire visits Magness Arena Saturday. The Wildcats, who swept St. Cloud State earlier in the season, have given up one goal in their last four games and Denver’s tenacity to score faces a challenge in sophomore Casey DeSmith. Something has to give.

It may not count in the WCHA standings but if the Pioneers can beat New Hampshire, they have a legitimate argument to be the top team in college hockey.

After the break, more on what was a contradictory weekend in the WCHA, Adam Wilcox and I settle the age-old argument of which is better to watch between a line brawl and goalie fight. (more…)

WCHA Power Rankings: 11/21/12

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Going into Thanksgiving, we still have a clear top six and a clear bottom six. Within those two bands, there continues to be plenty of movement, aside from at the top, where Denver has put some space between itself and the rest of the pack.

1. Denver (9-1-0, 7-1-0 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Pioneers strengthened their hold on the top spot by sweeping Colorado College, winning 6-5 on Friday and 6-2 on Saturday. They’ve scored three or more goals in all but one game, and they now lead the country with 4.50 goals per game. Ten different players registered multipoint weekends, with Chris Knowlton’s three goals and two assists leading the way. Knowlton now has eight goals in the last five games. Denver went 3-for-7 on the power play in the series.

2. Minnesota (7-2-2, 4-2-2 WCHA) — Last week: 2
The Gophers stay at two after taking three of four points from Wisconsin. They tied 2-2 on Friday before coming away with a 3-1 win Saturday. Adam Wilcox stopped 38 of 41 shots on the weekend and now ranks third in the conference with a .924 save percentage. The Gophers are first in the WCHA in team defense with a 1.91 goals against average. Erik Haula registered a goal and two assists in the series and is now tied for second in the league with 14 points.