North Star College Cup Preview

The North Star College Cup is once again upon us. The tournament consists of four of the five Division I teams in Minnesota meet at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul for a tournament for Paul Bunyan’s Chalice (unofficial term).

The defending champion happens to be the Bemidji State Beavers, which won fairly easily with a 4-0 win over Minnesota Duluth and a 3-1 victory against WCHA foe Minnesota State.

This year, it’s Minnesota Duluth’s time to spectate. The tournament moved to a Saturday-Sunday afternoon format, instead of the traditional Friday-Saturday.

Much has been discussed about this change, so I may as well add my two cents. I think it’s a good move. By changing the dates and times, you encourage fans from outstate to watch the tournament. Fans of Bemidji won’t have to take off work on Friday and spend two nights in the Twin Cities. Instead, fans can come down on Saturday morning and only spend one night before heading back on Sunday night.

I’m certain players and coaches are also not happy about having to be outside of their normal routine. My main problem with that line of thinking is due to the NCAA tournament and how those game times will be out of your routine. May as well get some experience with it.

Changing topics to the actual games to be played, this will be a very interesting tournament. All teams have been playing very well lately and have good reasons they will take the trophy. Let’s get to the contestants.

St. Cloud State Huskies           20-5-1

The favorite in the tournament has to be St. Cloud State. The Huskies have lost one game since December 11th and is coming off a series where they lit up Western Michigan for 15 goals.

Why they will win: The Huskies have five players, all seniors, that are averaging at least point per game. The defense has been rock solid as well, with junior Charlie Lindgren providing the team with great stability between the pipes. The power play is also one of the best in the country, clicking at 30.6 percent.

Why they won’t win: If there is one weak spot for the Huskies, it is on the penalty kill. While is has been a little bit better lately, overall the Huskies only kill off 78 percent of the time. There is no clue to tell how the referees will call the game, but if it is tight and the Huskies get into penalty troubles, it could be disastrous. In all five losses, they have allowed at least one power play goal.

Key Stat: The Huskies are 34-4 when senior David Morley scores a goal in his career.

Minnesota State Mavericks        13-8-5

It’s been an up and down year for the Minnesota State Mavericks. After starting the season with four losses where they only scored a combined two goals, the Mavericks have torn through the WCHA competition and currently sports a 12-3-5 in conference.

Why they will win: The Mavericks have only two losses since November 13th. The scoring woes that plagued them earlier this year have seemed to sort itself out as the Mavericks scored 13 goals last weekend against Lake Superior State.

Why they won’t win: With the first game against St. Cloud State, the Mavericks clearly don’t have the depth to compete. No member has reached double digits in goal scoring. Sophomore C.J. Franklin leads the team with nine goals on the season and senior Teddy Blueger leads team with 21 points. To put that into context, the Huskies have six players over 21 points.

Key Stat: The Mavericks only have one non-conference win on the season, come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win to Minnesota. And speaking of… (sweet segue, if I do say so myself!)

Minnesota Golden Gophers      13-10-0

Much has been made of the Minnesota Golden Gophers this season. Whether the team will be torn apart from it or will come together stronger is yet to be seen. But there is no doubt this team is playing better as of late, winning its last five games.

Why they will win: Plenty of players have stepped up in the scoring column during the five-game winning streak. During that stretch, the Gophers have scored an amazing 38 goals. Junior Michael Brodzinski has provided the team with much needed offense from the blue line, scoring a hat trick in his last game.

Why they won’t win: The Gophers have been having trouble stringing together complete games all season. In fact, they have a negative goal differential during the second period throughout the season. A full 60-minute game effort will go a long way to taking the tournament.

Key Stat: Junior Hudson Fasching has 15 goals on the season, but 11 of them have come in the last 12 games. If any team is going to slow them down, they will need to keep him off the score sheet.

Bemidji State Beavers           10-10-5

The Beavers also has been playing every well as of late, going 5-1-2 in the last eight games. In that stretch was a four-game stint where they battled both Alaska teams and going 3-0-1 on that road trip. Any current or former WCHA fan is aware how hard it is to string two good games together on Alaska trips, and the Beavers did that on back-to-back weekends.

Why they will win: The Beavers have the incredible knack to turn any game into a defensive slog. They play well in the neutral zone and can smother teams defensively. Opponents only average about 24 shots per game against the Beavers, so you need to make sure your shots count.

Why they won’t win: While sophomore Gerry Fitzgerald leads the team with 12 goals on the season in four few teams than many players on the team, no one else has more than six on the season. If teams focus on Fitzgerald, the Beavers don’t have many other players to step up. The goaltending tandem of sophomore Michael Bitzer and junior Reid Mimmack may have impressive goals against average, but the save percentage of .915 and .908, respectively, doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Key Stat: Of the 10 losses this season, six of them are one-goal losses and another one was a two-goal loss with an empty net. This team isn’t one to get blown out and will always fight to the end whistle.

That’s it for me. This will be a fun tournament and I hope it really takes off in popularity. Make sure you watch a game this weekend. My shift is over.

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Five Thoughts: Red Lamps Get A Workout

There were goals aplenty all over college hockey last weekend. Here are my five thoughts:

  1. Minnesota Crushes in Border Battle

The Minnesota Golden Gophers put up a total of 13 goals in the sweep against the Wisconsin Badgers. Sophomore defenseman Michael Brodzinski had an assist on Friday and capped off Saturday’s game with hat trick in the rout.

As much as the Gopher offense should be the headline for the series, the focus will be on what happened to freshman Tommy Novak.

Novak took two hits that eventually earned suspensions from the Big Ten, the second of which may have Novak sitting out at least for the North Star College Cup.

Junior Aidan Cavallini will sit one game and senior Eddie Wittchow will miss a total of three.

With all the new studies shown about the long-term effects of concussions, I do think stiffer penalties need to be in place at all levels for these types of plays (and when you punch someone while they are lying down on the ice).

Special thanks to twitter user @cjzero. Seriously. Follow him.

Minnesota is currently on a five game win streak heading into the North Star College Cup against Bemidji State.

  1. St. Cloud State Drills Western Michigan, Again

The St. Cloud State Huskies proved the last series against Western Michigan was no fluke as the Huskies 8-2 and 7-3 over the weekend, including six goals on the power play.

Senior Joey Benik was named the offensive player of the year for the NCHC have a monstrous two goal, five assist weekend.

As much as this looks like a massacre, there were actually key moments in each game that really turned the momentum toward St. Cloud.

On Friday’s game, the Huskies were up 1-0 when the Broncos had a golden 5×3 opportunity for 1:04 late in the first to take the lead.

Even though the Huskies’ penalty kill sitting at a poor 78 percent, they were able to stay strong and kill the penalties. Shortly after the penalties expired, the Huskies rattled three goals by the time the five-minute mark of the second period was reached.

Saturday’s key moment happened at the end of the second period with the Huskies up 6-3. It appeared the Broncos scored, but was eventually reviewed and disallowed being ruled the puck was played with a high stick before entering the net. I was surprised it was overturned by the TV cameras, but maybe the official have access to a different angle. The Huskies scored another and clamped down defensively to make sure another didn’t get past junior goaltender Charlie Lindgren.

I would imagine the Broncos are privately hoping not to play the Huskies in the first round of the playoffs as the Huskies have outscored the Broncos 31-8 in three games.

  1. North Dakota Survives Friday Scare Against Colorado College

The first 15 minutes couldn’t have gone any better for the Fighting Hawks in last Friday’s game. Up 4-0, it would seem like losing senior Drake Caggiula and freshman Nick Schmaltz wouldn’t be a problem at all.

The Tigers came roaring back and scored five straight to take the 5-4 lead in Grand Forks and had the lead until the last minute.

After a few failed empty net attempts that turned into icings against the Tigers, the Fighting Hawks kept up the pressure and finally tied it up with about 32 seconds remaining by freshman Rhett Gardner.

The Tigers have been playing very well recently, so it was no surprise to see them push the Fighting Hawks to the limit. The depth scoring is something the Fighting Hawks really need as the season goes on, and coming back Friday and winning 5-1 Saturday is a welcome sight for them.

  1. Omaha Falling Faster than the Canadian Dollar

Things were rolling along just fine throughout the season, but the Mavericks momentum hit a brick wall the last three series.

The Mavericks are just 1-5 in its last six game and just got swept in very ugly fashion to Miami.

It was just a few weeks ago where they were sitting in the fifth spot in the pairwise and flirting with a one seed. This recent slide has them fallen to ninth with a trip to a much improved Colorado College squad next weekend.

Fans should be very worried about the Maverick’s conference performance. While they are a perfect 10-0 in non-conference play, they are just 5-8-1 against NCHC foes and sitting outside home ice.

A lot has to do with the loss of freshman goalie Evan Weninger, who was injured when this slide started. He is easily the best choice in goal, but three of the losses the Mavericks were shutout or only scored one. Hard to win that way.

  1. Minnesota State Finds the Net Often Against Lowly Lake Superior State

If you remember the start of the season, Minnesota State was shut out in three of the first four games of the season. They had no such problems against the Lakers with 8-0 and 5-1 victories.

In Friday’s 8-0 shellacking, 15 different players found the score sheet and fired 42 shots on net. Only one of those goals came on the power play, which isn’t usually the case when one team dominated on the score sheet. Usually they are aided by a few power play goals.

The 5-1 game on Saturday saw Minnesota State leading goal scorer sophomore C.J. Franklin score two goals and senior Teddy Blueger add two assists.

Minnesota State is feasting on WCHA competition with a 12-3-5 record and is sitting at the top, three points ahead of Bowling Green. It looks like the WCHA will be a one-bid conference, so seeding position will be very important come tournament time.

Minnesota State has only lost twice in the last 15 games.

That is all for this evening. I’ll have a North Star College Cup preview. All four teams are playing well, so it will be a very fun tournament. My shift is over.

 

Tough Keeping Bobcats Down; Full NCHC Slate

It’s an interesting weekend in college hockey. I don’t really see any games that really jump out and say “marquee matchup”. Don’t take this the wrong way; plenty of good games are to be had this weekend. Harvard against Cornell should be a good game. The Minnesota-Wisconsin border battle is always intriguing. But as far at the top teams, many are playing in ho-hum games.

These types of weekends are my favorite. With so many top teams playing middle of the road teams, upsets are bound to happen. It’s your typical trap weekend and I can’t wait to see which teams avoid it.

First, let’s talk about the big game that just wrapped up.

Rensselaer 2 Quinnipiac 2 OT

The Bobcats keep refusing to lose.

Junior Sam Anas scored the game-tying goal with just nine seconds remaining in regulation for salvage a tie for the top-ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats.

The Rensselaer Engineers senior goaltender made 46 saves in the tie, including 17 in the second period alone.

The Engineers drew first blood late in second period when senior forward Zach Schroeder scored his third of the season. Minnesota Wild draft pick Lou Nanne got the assist, which was his 11th on the season.

The lead extended to two when senior Mark Miller scored his fifth of the season at the 5:06 mark of the third period.

The two-goal lead didn’t last long as senior Soren Jonzzon scored his fourth of the season just 31 seconds later. That set the stage for Anas.

While no team enjoys being down by two, it doesn’t seem to bother the Bobcats.

They have faced a two-goal or more deficit in seven games this season and have only lost one of them. If your team plays them in the NCAA tournament, I’m sorry.

There is a full slate of games in the NCHC this weekend. I predict a lot of movement in the middle of the standings

The most intriguing series in the conference will be taking place in Magness Arena as the Denver Pioneers host the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.

The Pioneers, ranked 14th in the Pairwise, haven’t lost a conference game to a team that isn’t North Dakota or St. Cloud State, who are leading the conference. They are coming off a win and a tie against the Western Michigan Broncos.

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, lost and tied St. Cloud State last weekend and are really trying to get the offense firing on all cylinders. Despite the struggles, things aren’t all that bleak for UMD as they are currently 17th in the Pairwise.

One-Timers:

  • The Colorado College Tigers stunned St. Cloud State with a 5-2 victory on Saturday. They will look to continue the good play at North Dakota, who split last weekend against Omaha.
  • Cloud State hosts Western Michigan in a sort of redemption series for the Broncos. The Huskies decimated the Broncos by a combined 16-3 in the series earlier this year. St. Cloud leads the series all time at 5-3-2, but all three losses came at home. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Broncos win a game this weekend.
  • In the CBS Sports series, the Miami Redhawks travel to newly built Baxter Arena in Omaha for a showdown against the Mavericks. Omaha is on a bit of a slide lately, going 1-3 in its last four.

I’m thinking there will be some upsets this weekend. My shift is over.

 

 

Saturday Recap: Fighting Hawks Split, Huskies/Bulldogs Tie

The top of the NCHC got a little bit tighter after Saturday’s games. Here is a quick rundown.

Omaha 1 North Dakota 5 Highlights

The North Dakota Fighting Hawks earned a split with a hard earned 5-1 victory in Grand Forks.

The Fighting Hawks went 2-for-3 on the power play and sophomore goaltender Cam Johnson stopped 28 shots in the match. Freshman Brock Boeser added a goal and an assist while senior Bryn Chyzyk had two assists in the third period to put the game away.

Junior Kirk Thompson took the loss for the Omaha Mavericks, dropping to 4-4-1 on the year. He allowed three goals on nine shots and was relieved by last night’s victor freshman Alex Blankenburg.

Omaha drew first blood on the power play when junior Jake Guentzel found sophomore Tyler Vesel on the back door to get the 1-0 lead.

In the waning seconds of the first period, senior Drake Caggiula made a nifty backhand to forehand move in front of the net to put it past a diving Thompson.

However, Caggiula would not see a lot of ice time after his goal. While killing a penalty in the second period, Caggiula delivered a big open-ice hit to freshman forward Steve Spinner. Caggiula finished his shift, but was clearly favoring his right side. I would assume it is a shoulder injury, but Fighting Hawks coach Brad Berry wouldn’t disclose the injury.

The Fighting Hawks only managed 23 shots on goal in the victory and Omaha went 1-for-6 on the power play. Omaha’s junior forward Justin Parizek was suspended for the game after a hitting a North Dakota player in the head in Friday’s game.

St. Cloud 1 Minnesota Duluth 1 Highlights

Junior Charlie Lindgren made 38 saves for the St. Cloud State Huskies and senior Joey Benik scored his 13 goal of the season his 100th point of his career.

Minnesota Duluth junior Dominic Toninato scored an end-to-end highlight reel goal for his eighth of the season. Sophomore goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo stopped 21 shots to earn the tie.

The Bulldogs applied a lot of pressure all game, really utilizing the team’s speed and keep the Huskies’ defense on its heels. Sophomore Karson Kuhlman had seven shots on goal and created a few great chances.

Lindgren was up to the challenge. His save percentage increases to .931 on the season and has a stellar 1.91 goals against average.

Sophomore Patrick Russell scored in the 3×3 overtime for the extra conference point.

At this moment, St. Cloud State sits on the top of the NCHC standings with 32 points. North Dakota is in slightly better position at 30 points but has two games in hand. These teams do not play each other the rest of the season so that makes the race for the Penrose Cup even more tantalizing.

The only other team over .500 in conference play is the Denver Pioneers who are sitting at 6-4-2 and has 20 points. Games in hand are always a tricky to forecast. They look good on first glance due to the potential points gained, but unless those games are victories they mean nothing.

Games won’t even out until the weekend of January 29th, when St. Cloud plays in the North Star College Cup and Duluth, which also has 14 games played so far, plays a non-conference game against Northern Michigan. Once that date passes, we can have a clearer projection on the standings.

One-Timers:

  • As you can tell by the highlights, the first period of the Omaha-North Dakota on NCHC.tv had the FCS feed. I’m happy this was changed back to the Midco feed for the second period. The resolution was much better once the change was made.
  • St. Cloud, North Dakota, and Omaha are all 1-1 against each other.
  • Miami beat Bowling Green 2-1 on a goal with two seconds left from junior Anthony Louis.
  • Boston University and Boston College tied 1-1 last night. Eagles coach Jerry York still sits at 999 wins for his career.
  • It’s becoming increasingly likely that the WCHA will only have one representative in the NCAA tournament. League leading Minnesota State is t19 and second place Michigan Tech sits t21. Bowling Green is also t24.

Friday Recap: Vesey’s Hatty, NCHC Showdowns

Vesey takes over and some movement in the NCHC standings. Friday’s games had a lot to offer.

St. Lawrence 2 Harvard 3

Senior Jimmy Vesey strengthened his Hobey Baker credentials with a natural Hat Trick in the third period as the Harvard Crimson pulled away from the St. Lawrence Saints.

Vesey showed tremendous poise on all three goals. As one of the most dangerous scorers when you leave him in open ice (especially in the slot), Vesey has 26 points in just 15 games, averaging 1.73 points per game. That is good for second in the nation in points per game, behind sophomore Andrew Poturalski from New Hampshire has 37 points in 21 games.

One thing that would hurt Poturalski’s chances is the team that he plays on. Hobey Baker voters tend to shy away for voting for players on mediocre teams. Currently, New Hampshire sits at 8-9-4 and eighth in Hockey East.

Is it right? Not at all. Is it how Hobey Baker voters trend? History would lend us to believe so. I’ll go into my Hobey Baker award thoughts (and changes that should be made) when the 10 finalists are announced.

St. Cloud State 3 Minnesota Duluth 1 Highlights

Senior Kalle Kossila notched a goal and an assist and junior goaltender Charlie Lindgren made 28 saves. Kossila’s game-winning goal came on the power play as his shot in the slot beat fellow Finn sophomore Kasimir Kaskisuo.

The referees really got into the game as a total of 11 penalties were called. Bulldog fans were not happy about the interference call on freshman Neal Pionk behind the play that likely cost a goal that would have evened the game at two.

Sophomore Blake Winiecki got the insurance goal on a bad angle shot.

I was really impressed with Minnesota Duluth’s speed and forecheck. They create a lot of turnovers in the offensive end and are able to create a lot of chances. The Huskies really need to work on supporting teammates when they break out. Look for that change in tonight’s rematch.

Junior Kyle Osterburg didn’t play in the third period with an undisclosed injury and will be doubtful for tonight’s game.

Omaha 4 North Dakota 3 OT Highlights

Junior Austin Ortega was the hero again for the Omaha as the Mavericks with in overtime at Ralph Englestad arena.

Ortega roofed his seventh game-winning goal of the season and freshman Alex Blankenburg made 26 saves in his debut.

While “California Hot Sauce” got the game winner, junior Jake Guentzel was the star of the game. He factored in every goal for Omaha with one goal and three assists.

There was a lot of eyebrows raised when Omaha coach Dean Blais pulled a Blais and started Blankenburg instead of junior Kirk Thompson, who has played in 10 games his season.

The gamble paid off, but what does this mean going forward for the Mavericks? Freshman Evan Weninger is having a great season but is currently injured. Will Blais rotate all three? Will just the freshman rotate? Knowing Blais, it could be any, all, or a third option that I don’t know about.

With two games in hand, the St. Cloud State Huskies jumped to the top of the NCHC standings.

One-timers:

  • I really like the NCHC.tv deal. I have mostly had good experiences with the stream. Really excited to see Minnesota Duluth make the jump to HD. But having ads before highlights when you already pay for the service is pretty bad.
  • Ohio State has quietly been on a good stretch, now unbeaten in its last five games.

I’ll be back tomorrow with recaps of Saturday’s games. My shift is over.

Five Thoughts: Tigers Goalie Finds His Roar

College hockey surprises were out in full force last weekend, but the top team in the land still stays hot. Here are my five thoughts.

  1. Colorado College Stuns Saint Cloud State, Tiger goalie Jacob Nehama stops 81

You have to hand it to Jacob Nehama. The freshman goaltender had a very active weekend but stood tall to earn the split in Saint Cloud.

Friday’s game started almost got ugly very quickly for the Tigers as the Huskies scored two shortly after the 12-minute mark of the first period. But then Nehama took over. Sure, he didn’t get the win Friday as the Tigers fell 2-1, but Nehama stifled the relentless Husky attack and his squad held the potent Husky power play to 0-for-5 on the night.

Saturday night was all Nehama as he stopped 47 or 49 shots, including 19 of 20 in the third period to beat the Huskies 5-2. Junior Sam Rothstein pitched in a goal and an assist.

Quietly, the Tigers have really turned it around. After starting an atrocious 0-13 on the season, the Tigers have won a respectable five out of the last nine. This team is has 13 freshman and have looked to have turned the corner. This team played very tough along the boards all weekend and won a lot of battles. They will only continue to get better as the season continues.

  1. Quinnipiac Still Firing On All Cylinders

Not a lot has rattled the Quinnipiac Bobcats this season. The top squad in the Pairwise rattled off a total of 10 goals in a 5-0 against Union and a 5-4 OT win against Harvard.

I went a little bit more in depth in last Thursday’s blog, so I’ll talk more about the game against Harvard at Madison Square Garden. The Bobcats took a 4-0 lead into the first intermission, including a 12th from senior Travis St. Denis and number 13 from junior Sam Anas. The Bobcats scored three in a span of 36 seconds and added a fourth later in the period.

However, the Crimson clawed back into the game answering with three goals of in the second and added another in the third to force the game into overtime.

The Bobcats hero would end up being junior defenseman Derek Smith who scored his third goal of the season to give the Bobcats the win.

This team shows no sign of slowing down. They currently sit at 19-1-3. They have won tight games, blowouts, given up leads and battled back, seemly every way possible. A couple of good tests remain on the schedule, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they enter the ECAC tournament with only one loss.

  1. Harvard Drop Two Versus Strong Competition

On the flip side of the showdown at MSG, the Harvard Crimson had a tough weekend against premier competition. The losses to Boston University and Quinnipiac dropped Harvard to fourth in the Pairwise.

While that doesn’t sound like much of a drop, losses for Ivy League schools are always magnified due to the fewer games they play. For instance, Harvard will only play 29 games this year, one of the least in college hockey.

Harvard gave up 11 goals on the weekend, which is very uncharacteristic of them. Harvard only gives up an average of 2.23 goals per game, but has shown shakiness in net.

  1. Denver Rebounds With Weekend Sweep of Omaha

Omaha suffered its first home loss of the season (and first in its brand new arena) in 3-0 and 4-3 decisions to the Denver Pioneers, but those two games weren’t the biggest loss for the Mavericks.

Freshman goalie Evan Weninger, who has had a terrific season between the pipes for the Mavericks, suffered an ankle sprain in the first period of Friday’s game and will not make the trip to North Dakota this weekend. He has been a huge part of the Mavericks success this season.

Junior Kirk Thompson will in all likelihood get the nod against the Fighting Hawks, and his .889 save percentage doesn’t exactly stem confidence.

  1. Minnesota Scores Three Shorthanded in Rout of Penn State

Minnesota and Penn State split their Big Ten battle. Penn State got out to a 2-0 lead in the second period of Friday’s game only to give up two in the third. Freshman defenseman Vince Pedrie scored his fourth of the season in overtime to get the victory.

The Golden Gophers answered back in force on Saturday afternoon, putting up seven on the Nittany Lions and cruising to an easy 7-1 victory. Junior Hudson Fasching scored two goals; both shorthanded, and junior Justin Kloos added a shorthanded goal and three assists to pick up the victory.

According to the official Golden Gopher men’s hockey twitter account, the last time the team tallied three shorthanded goals was an 8-2 victory against Michigan in 2006.  It’s actually pretty impressive it was that recently.

I remember one time I had former Minnesota State Maverick Zach Harrison on my bench in a fantasy hockey league and he scored a shorthanded hat trick.  Let’s just say it would have been worth a lot of points if I would have started him. No wonder I don’t play fantasy sports anymore.

One-Timer:

There are rumblings that Amanda Kessel, sniper for the Minnesota women’s hockey team, has been skating with the Gophers and may return for her last semester of eligibility. The Olympic silver-medalist and Patty Kazmaier award winner has been battling concussion symptoms since the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

That’s it for me. I’ll update everyone Thursday. My shift is over.

Weekend Preview: Buckle Up; Sprint to the Finish Starts Now

College hockey is back in full force. Plenty of top-tier teams face-off and we may see a little Pairwise shuffling after this weekend. Sounds like the perfect way to jump-start the second half of the season. Here is my weekend preview.

First off, since this blog is going up Thursday night, I’ll dip my toe into some major games that just concluded.

Boston University 6 Harvard 5

In a game that really lived up to it’s billing, the Terriers score three goals in the final 3:58 to give Harvard its second loss of the season.

Seniors Danny O’Regan scored three goals and Ahti Oksanen added the game winner with only 1:49 left to top Jimmy Vesey and the Crimson. Jimmy Vesey has 10 goals and 12 assists in just 13 games on the season.

The loss drops Harvard to fifth in the Pairwise.

Harvard has a very tough weekend that started with tonight against Boston University. After tonight, Harvard plays the Quinnipiac Bobcats at Madison Square Garden in a rematch from November 13th, there the Crimson suffered its only loss of the season.

Over the next few games, we are going to really see what type of team Harvard is. After Quinnipiac, Harvard hosts St. Lawrence and Clarkson, before playing at Colgate and at Cornell. That isn’t an easy stretch of games. Harvard will have a huge crimson target on its back.

Union 0 Quinnipiac 5

Quinnipiac had no trouble picking apart Union with help from senior Travis St. Denis’ two goals and an assist. The Bobcats went 2-for-4 on the power play.

Quinnipiac still has only one loss on the season, a 4-1 decision to Boston University.

The Quinnipiac and Harvard meeting on Saturday is a game I wish would be broadcast on a national stage. These two teams play an exciting brand of hockey and feature some of the top players in the game.

Quinnipiac is loaded with scoring talent. Juniors Sam Anas, Tim Clifton, and St. Denis are all averaging over a point per game. The Bobcats come at you in waves and they never let up just as tonight shows you.

Union is an intriguing team. The Dutchman had a terrible stretch where they went 1-6-1 in eight games, but followed that up with a 6-0-1 stretch until tonight’s loss to Quinnipiac. Union has winnable games against Princeton and Colgate before a battle against Cornell. Look for them to be a bubble team the rest of the season.

Heading west, the big tilt in the NCHC involves the Omaha Mavericks hosting the Denver Pioneers.

The Pioneers have lost the last four conference games and have not looked good in any of them, being outscored a combined 20-5 against North Dakota and Saint Cloud State. They hosted Notre Dame and the series ended in two ties.

Denver has been in a scoring black hole, as only three players have five goals and that is the most on the team. If Denver looks to make a good run in the second half of the season, they need a lot more from junior Trevor Moore and senior Quentin Shore only have a combined seven goals.

The Pioneers have a tall task at hand playing a series at Baxter Arena in Omaha, where the Mavericks are a perfect 8-0 in their own barn. Junior Austin Ortega is second in the nation in goals with 16. Junior Jake Guentzel, the Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick, leads the team with 26 points and has 99 on his career.

Sophomore Avery Peterson, who had a great freshman season with 21 points, had only one assist so far this season and has transferred to Minnesota Duluth to be closer to his family.

The Big Ten conference has one really intriguing series with Minnesota traveling to Happy Valley to take on Penn State.

The Penn State Nittany Lions are an impressive 12-3-3 on the season, but many of those games have been against fairly poor competition. This game will be a good test to see what we can expect from Penn State as we enter Big Ten conference play.

The Golden Gophers are a team that really likes to control the pace. For the most part, the Nittany Lions have imposed their will on lesser quality teams like American International and Sacred Heart. I expect to see a high scoring series and one that will have Hockey Valley rocking.

That does it for me. I’ll have my five thoughts and what I imagine is a very different Pairwise ranking. My shift is over.