Sunday, January 24, 2010

NCAA Update - January 24th

Another interesting weekend of results in regards to the NCAA schedule and the impact on next week's Top 20 poll. No program in the top 10 (top 11 really) enjoyed a 2-0 weekend and that should lead to plenty of movement up and down the rankings next week. Here's a reminder of how things looked heading into games on Friday:

1 Denver (39)
2 Miami (11)
3 Wisconsin
4 Minnesota-Duluth
5 North Dakota
6 Yale
7 Colorado College
8 Ferris State
9 Cornell
10 Michigan State
11 Boston College
12 St. Cloud State
13 Union
14 Bemidji State
15 Massachusetts
16 New Hampshire
17 Vermont
18 Lake Superior
19 Mass.-Lowell
20 Maine

The feature match of the week pitted WCHA rivals Denver and Wisconsin against one another at the Kohl Center where just under 28,000 people saw the #1 and #3 ranked clubs battle it out. The home town Badgers outshot Denver 35-23 on Friday night but an Anthony Maiani goal with under two minutes remaining in the game helped the Pioneers steal a point. Goaltender Marc Cheverie made 32 saves for Denver in the 3-3 tie. Saturday's rematch was another close one but was won by Wisconsin thanks to a third period lamp-lighter from Michael Davies. Again the Badgers held the lead in shots, 38-33, but they were shutout on the power play while Denver went 2/5 with the man advantage. Wisconsin blueliner Brendan Smith (Photo: Jeff Schorfheide/Herald) continues to lead all rearguards in scoring for the entire NCAA with 9-21-30. So DU, who had 39 of 50 1st place votes, drops a game to Wisconsin... could we see a flip between the two programs on the poll?

The #2 Miami RedHawks went 1-0-1 against the Alaska Nanooks and actually won the shootout on Friday to gain a potentially valuable "SW" point in CCHA standings. The teams skated to a 1-1 tie on Friday but Miami took it to the Nanooks on Saturday night posting a 4-0 shutout of the home side. I suspect the RedHawks success coupled with a slip from Denver will see these two programs swap places with the Badgers holding down the #3 seed for another week.

#4 ranked Minnesota-Duluth was swept by Bemidji State in what would have to be called a pair of mild upsets. The Bulldogs were facing a struggling Beavers team that had only won 2 of their last 6 games after getting out to a ridiculously hot start to the season. Bemidji took Friday's game by a decisive 4-1 margin which feature junior Ian Lowe scoring twice and adding an assist for the Beavers. The second half of the home-and-home was played in front of a sold out scorwd of 5396 at the DECC. Lowe scored again for Bemidji but it was Jordan George who played the overtime hero as he scored to complete the Beavers comeback and weekend sweep. It was the first time this year that Duluth had gone 0-2 in a series.

#5 North Dakota played a pair of non-conference games against Cornell. Friday's 1-0 victory for the Big Red has been called one of the most boring games in recent memory and that's a complaint I've heard a lot surrounding Cornell's ultra-defensive strategy. Full credit to Ben Scrivens (Photo: Dennis Pause) who made 28 saves on the night but It's probably tough to argue that the best team won the game - Cornell managed only 15 shots on net in the game, just 2 in the first period. Saturday wasn't any better for Cornell; just 2 more shots in the opening 20 minutes again, just 5 in the third, and they ended with 16. That's 31 shots all weekend! The Sioux took Saturday's game by a 3-1 score, Jason Gregoire picked up a pair of points.

The ECAC always gives me fits. A lot of scouts have told me that it's brutal hockey (as in horrible, not super physical) and the little bits that I've been able to watch on TV or online haven't given me any reason to doubt that thought. I watched Yale and St. Lawrence last year in the playoffs... a was bored to tears. Maybe because of that game I've never been able to get on board with Yale. This weekend they were ranked #6 heading in and yet again they win one, lose one. Clarkson fell 3-2 to the Bulldogs on Friday but Saturday it was Yale that was victimized by the Saints of St.Lawrence. St.Lawrence's 4-2 win gives them a run of only 1 loss in their last 8 games. Maybe I'm not giving enough credit to Yale (or Cornell, Union, Quinnipiac, etc) because the Bulldogs do have a win against Ferris State and tied Wisconsin this year. I still would have a hard time thinking they'd be a .500 club if they were in the CCHA, WCHA or Hockey East. And that goes for all the ECAC programs. Great institutions for higher learning, no doubt about that, but I'm not a believer in them being on par with the other three conferences when it comes to producing hockey players.

#7 Colorado College was up north to take on the Seawolves of Anchorage and beat them soundly on Friday by a 6-1 score. It was stats night for the Tigers as 5 players had 2 points and goalie Joe Howe (photo) stopped 23 of 24 shots for the win. The Tigers power play went 4/7, and was clearly the difference in the game. Saturday though it was the host team that came away victorious as Alaska-Anchorage held on for a 2-1 win to split the series.

A weekend after being swept aside by Miami, the #8 Bulldogs of Ferris State was prepared to square off against another traditional CCHA power - Michigan. The Wolverines have had a difficult year on the ice and off the ice (several incoming freshmen have either decided to break their agreements or are still mulling it over). However, unbeaten in their last 5 games, Michigan was on a roll and took Friday's meeting to run that total up to 6. Luke Glendening's two goals were the only ones of the game as netminder Bryan Hogan earned the 22-save shutout. Ferris State pulled out a dramatic win on Saturday though as Zach Redmond's power play marker in the final minute was the game winner in a 3-2 nail-biter.

#10 Michigan State had a chance to make ground as they took on struggling Ohio State. The Buckeyes are below .500 this year but had won three straight heading into the series against the Spartans. Firday night ended as expected, with Michigan State on the winning end of a 5-2 score featuring Nick Sucharski's 3-point effort. However, Saturday it was Ohio State that blasted 47 shots at Drew Palmisano and captured a 4-2 win.

#11 Boston College lost both of their games on the weekend - the first a grudge match against the Boston University Terriers that ended 5-4 on Colby Cohen's overtime marker. Freshman Chris Kreider (Photo: Dennis Pause) scored twice in the losing effort that featured 46 shots fired at BU goalie Kieran Millan. On Saturday, the Eagles were beaten 3-1 by Mass.-Lowell while BU fell at the skates of New Hampshire.

#12 St. Cloud State posted two wins over the Minnesota Golden Gophers which should be enough to vault them over Boston College and into the top 10. The Huskies were led by Jared Festler who had 3 goals and 4 points combined on the weekend after 4-3 and 4-1 victories against the Gophers. The platoon system at St. Cloud appears to be working and both freshman Mike Lee and junior Dan Dunn are playing well. The Gophers got a 3-point weekend our of sophomore defenceman Aaron Ness.

Last week I said i thought Union deserved to be ranked higher than Yale and Cornell based on the comparison of their seasons. This we I got what I deserved for speaking favorably of a ECAC team - Union was swept by two opponents that have a combined 10 wins in 37 games this year. 5-10-3 Harvard won 4-1 on Friday despite being outshot 48-25. Saturday's game went 3-1 in favor of Dartmouth, again with Union holding a big edge in shots, 40-23. Union was 1/14 on the power play during the two games. Like Quinnipiac before them, Union might appear to have now hit their ceiling and may fall back down to reality however, they're still 1st place in the ECAC conference and take on Yale next weekend.

#15 Massachusetts beat #17 Vermont 3-1 on Saturday, they play again later today. Un-drafted Minuteman James Marcou (Photo: Dennis Pause) continues to lead the NCAA in scoring with 39 points in 23 games... #16 New Hampshire beat both Providence and Boston University so retain their 5-point lead atop Hockey East. Go figure, they're the 3rd highest ranked HE team on the poll... #8 Lake Superior State was spanked 6-1 on Friday by Notre Dame but the rematch ended in a 1-1 tie (with the Lakers getting the shootout point). Calle Ridderwall scored a natural hat trick for the Irish in just under 7 miuntes durng the blowout win on Friday...

1 comment:

Eric J. Burton said...

I couldn't agree with you more on the ECAC, their hockey is hard to watch. Cornell has a couple of nice players, the Nash Brothers are solid and so is their goaltender. The rest of the teams isn't that impressive.