At long last, all NCAA hockey programs are finally underway playing at least non-conference games that matter. The last few ECAC clubs saw their first meaningful action over the weekend and now we'll start to see if the lofty rankings (despite inactivity) for teams like Cornell, Yale and Princeton are justified or not.
To start with, here is how the Top 20 looked on Friday morning and the results from the weekend (1st place votes are n brackets... someone explain to me how Yale, ranked 7th and yet to play a game, can receive a 1st place vote!)...
1 Miami (26) 2-0
2 Denver (20) 1-0-1
3 North Dakota (1) off week
4 Boston University 1-1
5 Michigan 2-0
6 Cornell 1-0
7 Yale (1) 1-0
8 Notre Dame 1-0-1*
9 Mass.-Lowell 1-1
10 Vermont 0-1
11 Princeton 1-1
12 Nebraska-Omaha 1-0-1
13 Boston College 1-1
14 Bemidji State 2-0
15 Colorado College off week
16 Alaska 2-0
17 Massachusetts 1-1
18 Quinnipiac 1-1
19 Wisconsin 2-0
20 Michigan State 2-0
We start at the top where the #1 ranked Miami RedHawks took care of business against Northern Michigan by handing the Wildcats a pair of losses in their own barn. Miami scored four second period goals (which was one more than the three that they allowed in the third period) to steal a 4-3 win on Friday night. Justin Vaive (ANH) netted a pair in that one for Miami and Mark Olver (COL) did the same in a losing effort. Miami needed a power play goal from Tommy Wingels (SJ) to slip past their hosts by a narrow 2-1 margin n Saturday's rematch. My weekly Carter Camper update: just a single point this weekend, the lone helper on Saturday's GWG.
#2 Denver hand their hands full with the Mavericks from Mankato on the weekend. Jesse Martin (ATL) scored twice and added an assist on Friday for DU plus the Pioneers welcomed back Joe Colborne (BOS) to the active roster. Horrible news for Denver though as starting netminder, and one of the best keepers in NCAA hockey right now, Marc Cheverie (FLA) left the game with a laceration to his left calf. Cheverie (pictured) was taken off the ice on a stretcher after the skate of Justin Jokinen (BUF) sliced him late in the second period. The goalie will be sidelined for "a number of weeks"... scary news indeed. Struggling freshman Adam Murray finished that game and played on Saturday which ended in a 4-4 "tie" even though there was a shootout which the mavericks won. I'm not sure what the point of having a shootout is if the team that scores more goals during it doesn't get a tick in the win column. Both Denver and Minnesota-State record the game as a tie... perhaps one of our illustrious friends south of the border can enlighten me and (a) tell me if that's accurate and if so (b) how that makes any rational sense. A Mavericks freshman with the unfortunate name of Tyler Pitlick (says the guy named GUY FLAMING) notched a pair on Saturday in his club's half-win.Denver blueliner Patrick Wiercioch (OTT) recorded 3 assists on the weekend.
#3 North Dakota was off this weekend so the next team on the totem poll (pardon the pun) was the Boston University Terriers who split again, this time with against Mass.-Lowell. The Colorado kids combined for the overtime winner as Colby Cohen's goal (with Kevin Shattenkirk assisting) gave BU a 5-4 victory on Friday. Kieran Millan (COL) made 32 saves in the win while Lowell got goals from 4 different scorers in the loss. Saturday's rematch ended up going River Hawks' way with a 3-2 final.
I would expect that Michigan will vault past BU when the new poll comes out because while the Terriers split their games, the Wolverines scored 11 goals in their 2-game sweep of Lake Superior. Friday's 5-1 result featured 6 different goal scorers and Saturday wasn't much different as only Mike Brown scored twice during the 6-3 goal-fest.
Now the two ECAC top-10 ranked teams in #6 Cornell and #7 Yale. The Big Red were able to squeak out an overtime win against Niagara who hasn't won yet through 7 games this year. Colin Greening (OTT) had a goal and an assist for Cornell and 1st round pick Riley Nash (EDM) registered a pair of helpers. Yale played an exhibition on Friday night against someone called Ontario IT... I've honestly never heard of that school and only assume that they are based out of a post-secondary institution in Ontario Canada but I'm not surprised at all that Yale beat them 8-0. Yale took on the Princeton Tigers on Saturday, a legitimate test, and beat them 5-2. Netminder Ryan Rondeau faced 42 shots and Broc Little had two points in the win. Both Cornell and Yale should cruise through their next two opponents and then will meet each other on November 13th for their first real competition.
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame haven't had much luck so far this year and again they weren't able to get much positive momentum going as they beat and "tied" Ohio State. It was a 3-1 win on Friday night with 9 players picking up a single point for the Irish. Saturday the teams tied 2-2 but Ohio State won the shootout which actually does matter in the standings in the CCHA. Senior Kyle Lawson (CAR) had a goal and an assist for Notre Dame as did 2010 eligible Riley Sheahan (seen here with St. Catherines last year).
#10 ranked Vermont's disappointing year continued this weekend with a shocking loss to Maine. The Black Bears had only won once through six games but posted a 4-1 glove in the face to the Catamounts. Freshman Adam Shemansky scored twice to lead Maine in the victory.
Nebraska-Omaha remains unbeaten in regulation time but they did drop a shootout loss to Bowling Green on Friday. The Mavericks pounded Falcons netminder Andrew Hammond with 46 shots but in the end it was Bowling Green that won the 3-3 shootout on a very controversial goal from freshman Jordan Samuels-Thomas. The controversy is well documented here but the short and sweet of it is that the player was in the penalty box and the end of the game so should not have been allowed to take part in the shootout. Nebraska-Omaha exacted revenge on Saturday with a 3-1 win. Bowling Green only managed 36 shots through the two games combined while The Mavericks had almost 80. Junior Rich Purslow accounted for 3 of Nebraska-Omaha's 6 goals.
The Beavers continue to win as Bemidji State's record now stands at 5-0-1 after narrowly sweeping Alabama-Huntsville in back-to-back 2-1 overtime games. Matt Read had 3 of the 4 Beaver goals in the weekend series including the GWG on Saturday. The Chargers outshot Bemidji State on both nights but Beavers goalie Dan Bakala only allowed 2 goals against through the two games.
#16 Alaska took home a pair of wins against visiting Ferris State but how much it will help their climb up the poll will be interesting to see.
The Hockey East team leading that conference in the standings is the #17 ranked Massachusetts Minutemen. Mass split the weekend with Providence as the Friars continue their impressive start to 2009-10 as well. Mass has an overall record of 4-0-1 and the Friars look good with at 5-2. Junior James Marcou leads the Minutemen in scoring with 11 points in 5 games. I first saw Marcou at the Viking Cup in Camrose back in 2004 while he was still in the USHL with Waterloo. I remember that I interviewed and wrote a profile on him for ISS back then. I'm glad to see that he's having success as there aren't many who believed a 5'7, 155 lb forward could be an impact player in the NCAA. He was an invite to the summer camp held by the New York Islanders last June.
#19 Wisconsin took it to New Hampshire this weekend by the tune of 4-1 and 6-1. The Badgers fired 51 shots at Brian Foster (FLA) on Friday and Derek Stepan (NYR) scored twice in the lopsided victory. Foster faced 34 more on Saturday before being yanked. He allowed 8 of the 10 Wisconsin goals. Jordy Murray scored 2 and added an assist in the 6-1 drubbing while defenceman Brendan Smith (DET) had 3 helpers of his own. Smith leads the team in scoring with 9 points.
#20 Michigan State should move up some more after a sweep over Western Michigan. 2-1 and 5-3 scores gave the Spartans the decisions on Friday and Saturday respectively. Oiler fans will smile knowing that junior Jeff Petry (EDM) is on pace for a career year as he continues to produce at a point per game pace.
Of the non-ranked programs, the one that keeps jumping out at me this year is Merrimack. I'm sure some of my heightened interest is because of where I'm based (Edmonton) and the NHL team I cover the most (Edmonton) has a freshman with the Warriors (Kyle Bigos) but let's be honest - this team is doing impressive things this year. They were swept in North Dakota on opening weekend but since then have gone 5-1 with wins over Vermont and Boston College, Stephane DaCosta, their French import player seen above, posted a 5-point night and they currently share 2nd place in the Hockey East Conference standings. Can they keep it going? I don't know but I'm starting to cheer for them in the same way I started cheering for Air Force last year - as a program no one talks about who is trying to make some noise and get some respect.
Finally, don't look now but the Golden Gophers have figured out which end of their sticks belong on the ice. Minnesota ripped up Alaska-Anchorage with 5-1 and 4-1 scores in games played way up North. Tony Lucia (SJ) gave his dad a pair of goals on Friday and the coach got another one from his son on Saturday too. In all it was a 5-point weekend for Lucia who leads to Gophers in scoring. 1st round pick Jordan Schroeder (VAN) has yet to find the back of the net but has 4 assists through 6 games. Minnesota's schedule gets tough again next week and stays that way all November. On the horizon for the Gophers are Wisconsin, red-hot Bemidji State, equally hot Minnesota-Duluth, Michigan and Michigan State.
(Photos Courtesy: Denver Pioneers, Dennis Pause, Merrimack Warriors, Notre Dame)