Sunday, October 18, 2009

NCAA Weekend Story

The early season upsets continued this weekend as several teams stumble out of the gate at the hands of "lesser programs". As a result the Top 20 ranking will take another beating and look completely different in a couple days from now.

Here is how the Top 20 looked with the results from the weekend:

1 Miami 1-0-1
2 Boston University 0-1
3 Denver 1-1
4 North Dakota 1-0-1
5 Michigan (did not play)
6 Cornell (did not play)
7 Notre Dame (1-1)
8 Yale (did not play)
9 Minnesota (0-1-1)
10 Princeton (did not play)
11 Vermont (play later tonight)
12 Boston College (play later tonight)
13 Wisconsin (0-1-1)
14 Mass.-Lowell (did not play)
15 Bemidji State (did not play)
16 Nebraska-Omaha (1-0-1)
17 Alaska (1-0-1)
18 Quinnipiac (1-0)
19 St. Cloud State (1-0-1)
20 Northeastern (1-0)

The first thing I noticed was that no team went 2-0 on the weekend and that there were a bunch of ties. Ties suck... will the NCAA join the 21st century and move to league-wide overtime/shootouts like the rest of the world or continue to do things their own way even when it makes no sense?

Let's start at the top where the Miami RedHawks grabbed 3 of 4 points on the road against New Hampshire beginning with a 6-3 pasting of the Wildcats on Friday night. Tommy Wingels (SJ) recorded 3 assists and junior Carter Camper (UFA) scored twice in the win. Saturday the teams combined for 10 goals in a 5-5 sister-kisser. Peter Leblanc had 3 assists and Bobby Butler scored once and added two helpers for UNH. Miami starter Connor Knapp (BUF) was yanked at the midway point of the game after giving up 5 goals on 21 shots .

Defending champion Boston University only played once on the weekend but have a rare Tuesday night game coming up this week. The Terriers lost their season opener against Massachusetts as the Minutemen got a 3-point performance from freshman Rocco Carzo and earned a 3-2 victory. Alex Chaisson (DAL) scored both goals for BU. Interestingly, Carzo and Chaisson (pictured) were teammates last year in the USHL with the Des Moines Buccaneers.

The previously #1 ranked Denver Pioneers not only lost a game this weekend but also one of their top players as Joe Colborne (BOS) broke a finger and is now sidelined indefinitely. Denver blanked Ohio State 2-0 on Thursday but were doubled up 4-0 in the return game Friday night. Freshman goalie Adam Murray is now 0-2 and has a .836 save percentage and 4.72 GAA. You have to wonder how long coach George Gwozdecky will go with the platoon system when junior Marc Cheverie (FLA) continues to play strong and successful hockey (2-0, .931 sv%). The Buckeyes got a 39 save shutout from sophomore Cal Heeter on Friday are are being led by defenceman Shane Sims who has 4 points.

North Dakota will improve their ranking after posting a 4-0 blanking of Minnesota on Friday and holding the Gophers to a 3-3 tie on Saturday. The Sioux's balanced attack produced 4 different goal scorers on Friday with captain Chay Genoway (UFA) ending the weekend with 3 goals after scoring twice in the second game of the series. Mike Hoeffel (NJ) scored twice for Minnesota.

Notre Dame continues to struggle as they were surprised by the Providence Friars who posted a 3-2 win over the Irish on Thursday. The Friars couldn't complete the sweep though as they dropped the Friday game by a 2-0 score. Notre Dame search for a goalie continued this weekend as they have now used 3 goalies in four games. David Brown (PGH) is long gone and Jordan Pearce (DET) graduated at the end of last season leaving a huge question mark between the pipes. One can fairly wonder how much of the success the Irish have enjoyed the last few years was due to solid netminding because they are clearly struggling now.

The Badgers of Wisconsin also played to a split on the weekend in their tilt with Colorado College. The Tigers stole Friday's game 3-2 after allowing 41 shots on net and scoring three unanswered goals. The Badgers scored the comeback on Saturday in a 1-1 tie. Joe Howe was in net for the Tigers in both games while the Badgers went the platoon route and played both Brett Bennett and Scott Gudmandson.

Some early success for Alaska-Fairbanks has teams taking notice of the Nanooks. Alaska beat Robert Morris and Rensselaer to now have a 3-0-1 record. The Nanooks outshot Robert Morris 49-18 on Friday night.

How about unbeaten Quinnipiac who are now 3-0 after getting another win, this time over Bentley in overtime. Senior Brandon Wong now has 6 points after 3 games.

Alabama-Huntsville might be the early surprise of the year as they continued their impressive start by sweeping the disappointing Air Force Eagles. UAH posted a pair of 4-2 road wins this weekend as Air Force just can't seem to get rolling this year. Goalie Andrew Volkening has been pulled twice already this season. UAH goalie Cameron Talbot made a total of 74 saves of 78 shots over the weekend.

Duluth, who somehow isn't listed on the top 20, is proving they deserve a little more respect from the voters. The Bulldogs scored a pair of road wins in a sweep over Minnesota State. Team AJHL conitued to play well with Justin Fontaine (pictured) scoring 4 goals on the weekend and Mike Connolly adding 2 goals and 2 helpers as well. Fontaine has 6 goals so far this season and holds the NCAA lead in that category.

The Merrimack Warriors collected a pair of wins starting with a 3-1 vicotry over Holy cross followed by a 6-3 drubbing of Army. Saturday's game featured a 5-goal explosion from Stephane Da Costa which included a natural hatty as the freshman scored three straight first period markers to open the contest.

J.J. Crew scored a hat trick for Western Michigan in a 5-1 win over Mercyhurst on Friday.

Top 20 prediction: Miami - North Dakota - Boston University - Michigan - Denver... then it's a mash of ECAC teams that don't play for a couple more weeks and programs that have disappointed so far. Minnesota-Duluth should be in the top 20, so should Alabama-Huntsville.

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