Monday, January 18, 2010

NCAA Update - January 18


It's been a while since I did a NCAA update, mostly because of the break over the holiday season but that has all come to an end now and so we're back at it again. In case you missed it, there was also an outdoor NCAA game at Fenway Park and the first round of candidates for the Hobey Baker Award have been released.

Here is a look at how the Top 20 looked coming into this past weekend:

1 Denver (45)
2 Miami ( 3)
3 Wisconsin
4 North Dakota ( 2)
5 Yale
6 Ferris State
7 Michigan State
8 Colorado College
9 Cornell
10 Minnesota-Duluth
11 Bemidji State
12 Boston College
13 Union
14 St. Cloud State
15 Mass.-Lowell
16 Maine
17 Quinnipiac
18 Vermont
19 Massachusetts
20 New Hampshire

Denver overtook Miami, the previous top seed for a few consecutive months, thanks to a pair of RedHawks losses 9 days ago. The Pioneers were off this week so who knows if they will hold onto the #1 ranking because Miami bounced back from their stunning losses to Robert Morris by stopping the Ferris State Bulldogs in their tracks. #6 ranked Ferris State had won 9 of their last 10 games heading into their series against Miami and certainly seemed poised to continue their streak while at home. However, Miami halted Ferris State on Friday with a 4-0 shutout, Cody Reichard recorded his 5th goose egg of the season. Saturday's rematch also went in Miami's favor but the outcome was in question as a third period comeback fell short and the RedHawks escaped with a 5-4 win. Tommy Wingels scored twice and added a helper while Carter Camper notched 3 assists to his season totals for Miami.

#3 Wisconsin also posted a 4-0 victory on Friday night. The Badgers took it to the #8 Colorado College Tigers and featured a 3-point night from WJC captain Derek Stepan. Former AJHL netminder Scott Gudmandson earned the shutout, his 2nd of the season. Saturday the tables were turned and Colorado College outlasted Wisconsin in an 11-goal red light festival. Gudmandson was yanked after the first period after allowing 4 goals on 17 shots against. Brian McMillin and Andrew Hamburg each scored twice for CC while several skaters recorded two points for the visiting Badgers.

#4 North Dakota was on the road against WCHA rival Minnesota and came away from the series without a win. The Golden Gophers scored a late goal on Friday and the game ended in a 3-3 tie. Saturday's game was no where near that close on the scoreboard as the home team took it to the Sioux. Minnesota scored five consecutive times on Brad Eidsness (another former AJHL goalie) and didn't look back. Five different gophers found the back of the net and Darcy Zajac was the only UND player to do so in the 5-1 loss.

Despite allowing 5 goals against from one of the weakest teams in NCAA hockey, #5 ranked Yale might move even higher up the ladder after they survived a 8-5 slugfest with Brown. Only Harvard has fewer wins this year than Brown; 3 including one just last weekend over Yale. The Bulldogs sit tied for third in the ECAC standings but somehow are ranked highest on the National pole. I am not convinced.

The Spartans of Michigan State had a chance to move up from their #7 position but faltered on Friday night when they were victimized by their hosts, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The Irish spotted MSU a 2-goal lead but scored the next five, getting two from both Nick Larson and Ryan Thang. Michigan State won the rematch the next night via a shootout which still shows up as a 4-4 final. Corey Tropp, held pointless on Friday, had 3 points for MSU while Thang did his... well, thang... and scored twice again for the Irish. It was a big weekend for Notre Dame who had fallen out of the top 20 but probably gets back in now after having success against the Spartans.

#9 Cornell beat Clarkson 3-1 but then tied St.Lawrence 1-1 the next night. Big Red keeper Ben Scrivens, yes another former AJHL goalie, made 53 stops on the weekend allowing just two pucks past him.

#10 Minnesota-Duluth got past Minnesota State in a pair of 1-goal games. Friday's 2-1 meeting ended in regulation time but Saturday's rematch went to extra time before Duluth pulled through courtesy of a Mike Connolly goal.

#11 Bemidji State split with Niagara after the Purple Eagles scored 6 times on Friday to welcome back the Beavers from a month away from their CHA rivals. The Beavers exacted revenge on Saturday with a 4-3 win but the loss will have a negative impact on their ranking (or it should).

Boston College is a team that should jump into the top 10 from their #12 spot after earning two victories in the last 6 days. First the Eagles beat Providence by a 4-1 margin last Tuesday and then really took it to Maine with a 6-1 spanking on Friday. Joe Whitney enjoyed a 5-point week for BC. It was a tough weekend for Maine, ranked #16 coming in, because they were beaten soundly by BC and then slipped up against Providence and 3-2. The Black Bears were enjoying a 9-game unbeaten streak but crashed back down to reality in a big way with the two losses.

They are who I think should be the top ranked ECAC program right now but #13 Union still has some work convincing people that their better record than Yale and Cornell should mean a better ranking. Well now perhaps with another win under their belt, against RPI, the Dutchmen might get a more favorable spot. Personally, I wouldn't have any of the ECAC clubs in the top 10 but it confuses me how the Bulldogs and Big Red are several positions ahead of Union after looking at the Conference standings. The three still have single games against each other over the next two months so at least it should be settled on the ice.

#14 St. Cloud and #17 Quinnipiac squared off with the Huskies taking both games from the Bobcats by 3-1 and 3-2 scores. A few St. Cloud players had a two-point weekend and goalie Mike Lee collected his 2nd consecutive win since returning to NCAA action after the gold medal win at the 2010 WJC.

#19 Massachusetts swept past #15 Mass.-Lowell with a 3-2 home win on Friday and a 2-1 edging on the road on Saturday. James Marcou held onto his NCAA scoring lead with a 3-point weekend.

In case you were living under a rock, Boston University beat Boston College 3-2 at Fenway Park in the Frozen Fenway game on January 8th (Photo: Barry Chin/Boston Globe). The Terrier Hockey Fan Blog did a terrific job of keeping up with the event and provides a ton of video, pictorial and written accounts of the goings on.

Also worth mentioning is that the NCAA has revealed their 70-man list of Hobey Baker award nominees. Now it's up to the fans to vote and whittle that number down to 10 names for the second round of voting. The 10 finalists will be revealed on March 18th with the Hobey Hat Trick of three finalists being announced on April 1st. The winner will be awarded College hockey's top individual prize on April 9th during the Frozen Four festivities in Detroit.

Notes from the ridiculously long list:

- Breakdown by position: 8 goalies... 14 defencemen... 48 forwards.

- 25 of the 70 players are Canadian, that would be 35.7% of the list. Roughly 25% of NCAA rosters are Canadian.

- There are 4 Europeans on the list including Michigan's Carl Hagelin of Sweden and Merrimack freshman Stephane Da Costa from France.

- There are 5 former AJHL players: Mike Schreiber (Union/Ft. McMurray), Justin Fontaine (Duluth/Bonnyville), Everett Sheen (Holy Cross/4 teams including Okotoks), Dion Knelsen (Alaska-Fairbanks/Drumheller), Ben Scrivens (Cornell/Calgary Canucks).

- Other notable Canadians include Denver goalie Marc Cheverie, Ohio State's Zac Dalpe, North Dakota captain Chay Genoway, Cornell's leading scorer Colin Greening, and Wisconsin blueliner Brendan Smith.

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