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.
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