Weekend Preview: NCHC Teams Jostling for Position

Thank you to everyone who gave positive feedback about the podcast that was put up yesterday. It was a lot of fun and I would like to do more in the future. If you haven’t had a chance to give it a listen, I encourage you to do so even if you aren’t a St. Cloud State fan. We went through the NCHC, Big Ten, and WCHA conferences.

Due to that podcast, this is going to be a short blog. I don’t want to risk repeating myself.

First a little recap with the non-conference game on Tuesday night.

Bemidji State 2 Minnesota Duluth 1

Coming off a three game win streak, the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs caught a bit of a snag with a loss to the Bemidji State Beavers. The game was a make up from earlier in the year when Amsoil Arena suffered a power outage.

The loss was utter devastation for the Bulldog’s at-large chances, dropping to a tie for 26th in the pairwise.

They do have four games with North Dakota and St. Cloud left, all on the road. So while the light is dimming, I don’t think it’s burnt out quite yet. But they would have to run the table.

Senior Markus Gerbrandt scored the game-winning goal for the Beavers with ten minutes remaining and sophomore goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 25 of 26 shots to secure the victory.

The Bulldogs were playing a little shorthanded due to injuries (and suspensions). They are off this week, so this break comes at a good time for them. They have some very important games coming up.

Shifting the focus to this weekend, two key matchups highlight the NCHC as North Dakota travels to take on Denver and Western Michigan travels to Omaha.

In Denver, the Pioneers have been playing very well as of late. They are 6-1-3 in the last 10 games. During the stretch, the Pioneers have only allowed 20 goals.

Trying to break the Pioneers will be North Dakota, where the Fighting Hawks have been playing well since the start of the season. They haven’t lost since January 15th, where they fell 4-3 in overtime to Omaha.

Aided by the bye week, the Fighting Hawks got some well-needed rest for some of its star players, as senior Drake Caggiula and freshman Nick Schmaltz will both be back for this weekend. Their scoring touch will be a big welcome back, as they only managed to score four goals last weekend (three from freshman Brock Boeser).

North Dakota easily swept Denver earlier in the series by 5-1 and 4-0 results.

Moving to the other series, the Omaha Mavericks look to stop the bleeding that has occurred during the second half of the season. The Mavericks have gone 2-6 in the last eight games, including some lopsided losses to Colorado College and Miami. Omaha has had its fair share of troubles in conference play, going 6-9-1 and fighting for home ice. They are also being outscored 56-44 in those conference games.

The Western Michigan Broncos are sitting in the seventh spot in the conference and hasn’t won a conference game since beating Colorado College on December 12th.

It’s tough to look at this series without thinking about what happened earlier this season. The Mavericks were a perfect 6-0 heading into the first conference games of the season and just got ran out of Kalamazoo by 4-2 and 6-1 scores. Of the three goals the Mavericks were able to post, junior Jake Guentzel scored two of them.

I can’t see that happening against this series, especially with home ice points on the line for Omaha and being in front of the home crowd. However, the Broncos played North Dakota very tightly last series, so don’t be surprised if they manage to steal one.

I went though this and plenty more during the podcast, so please give that a listen. Both NCHC games are on CBS Sports Network on Friday, so check them out. My shift is over.

 

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Weekend Preview: Minnesota Teams in Pivotal Series

Big games highlight the three conferences in the West. With precious conference titles and Pairwise positioning is on the line, some of the conference leaders can’t afford to stumble.

St. Cloud State at Miami

Last meeting: Huskies sweep 3-0, 3-1

Without a doubt, there is much more on the line in this series for the Redhawks. Sure, the Penrose Cup would be nice, but in many sports, the regular season championship is the hardest to win but the least celebrated. The Huskies are in very good position for the NCAA tournament.

Miami will be the more desperate team. They are currently tied for the last home ice spot in the conference with Minnesota Duluth and Omaha. At 22 in the Pairwise, the Redhawks are running out of time to push for and at-large bid and really need to set themselves up for a post-season push. Home ice would be the best way to do that.

The Redhawks have been doing that as of late. They are 4-1 in the past five games, averaging 3.6 goals per game during that stretch. The Redhawks are getting more consistent play from some of the top players like senior Sean Kuraly and junior Anthony Louis. The two freshmen, Jack Roslovic and Josh Melnick, are a threat to score every game.

I’m not a huge fan of the goaltending, however. Seniors Ryan McKay and Jay Williams save percentages of .905 and .900 don’t exactly scare anyone.

On the other side of the ice, the Huskies are fresh off winning the North Star College Cup and have nearly every part of the game clicking. Freshman Mikey Eyssimont was named the tournament MVP with three goals and two assists on the weekend and has added even more depth to a team that has nine players with at least 19 points. Expect Miami’s defense to be very busy all weekend long.

One key match-up will be the potent Huskies power play (31.7 percent) against the Redhawks penalty kill (93.1 percent).

Bowling Green at Minnesota State

Last meeting: 2-2 ties, both games

The top two teams in the WCHA look to take command of the ship as we enter the final leg of the season. If this series is anything like the one that was played early in the season, nothing will be solved.

The Bowling Green Falcons have had an up and down year. The highlight has come in the middle when the team went nine games without a loss. However, taking just one point from third-place Michigan Tech last series puts them in a position where they need to make a jump.

Enter Minnesota State. The Mavericks lost a back and forth game against St. Cloud State last weekend and beat the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The top Maverick players are playing very well and have improved quite a bit throughout the year.

The Falcons don’t have a lot of players that jump out on the stat sheet. Sophomore Brandon Hawkins leads the team with an even split 18 points while senior Mark Cooper leads the team with 10 goals. But a respectable 11 players have reached double digits in points. Nothing to sneeze at.

The main strength of the Falcons’ game comes from goaltender Chris Nell. The sophomore has an impressive 11-5-6 record and an even more impressive .937 save percentage and 1.64 goals against average. Both stats are in the top five in the nation.

The Mavericks will have its hands full. The home ice will be an advantage for the purple, as they are 9-4-0 at home. If the game stays close, the Mavericks have the advantage, as they are 7-2 in one goal games. The leaders of senior Teddy Blueger and sophomore C.J. Franklin played very well and the team will look for them to continue to this important conference tilt.

Both teams are on the outside looking in when it comes to the Pairwise bubble. Bowling Green enters the weekend at 25 whereas Minnesota State sits at 17. The Mavericks can get firmly on the bubble with a sweep this weekend.

Penn State at Minnesota

Last meeting: Split. Penn State won 3-2 OT, Minnesota won 7-1

The Minnesota Golden Gophers were playing very well until the two losses at the North Star College Cup. It felt like junior Hudson Fasching, the team leader in goals and points, disappeared for the two games last weekend, as Bemidji State and Minnesota State were able to shut him down. He was instrumental in the Gophers hot streak and the maroon and gold hopes he gets back on the score sheet.

The Penn State Nittany Lions has slipped a little bit since they got into the meat of the Big Ten schedule. They have lost the last three games and have given up an average of six goals against in those losses.

The majority of the Nittany Lions schedule is on the road from here on out. In fact, they have had only one conference series away from Hockey Valley, a split with Ohio State. Eight of the last ten games are on the road.

A pair of freshmen lead Penn State in goals with Andrew Sturtz with 13 and Chase Berger with 11. They love to put shots and pressure the goalie as they average almost 44 shots on goal per game, so you know Gophers freshman goalie Eric Schierhorn will be busy.

The Gophers are currently tied with the Michigan Wolverines with 24 points in the Big Ten Conference. Penn State sits at third.

In the pairwise, both teams are outside looking in. The Nittany Lions have the edge at 17 to the Gophers placement at 20.

One-timers:

  • It’s great to see Gopher women’s hockey senior Amanda Kessel back on the ice. She hasn’t played since the 2014 Olympics due to concussion issues. She has been cleared by the doctors and will add much more depth to an already dangerous team.
  • The Quinnipiac Bobcats, a team that sits at 20-1-5 and somehow isn’t a consensus number one team according to the polls that shan’t be named, has been playing with a little bit of fire lately. Last Friday against Dartmouth, the Big Green had a 4-1 lead before the Bobcats roared back and ended up winning 7-5. If they fall behind again to Cornell this weekend, I’m not sure the Bobcats will be able to climb back. Cornell is too good defensively.

That is it for me. Enjoy the games this weekend. 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.

 

Weekend Preview: I94 Rivalry Resumes

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. There are a lot of non-conference games this weekend, which means there are plenty of Pairwise implications up for grabs.

In fact, there are only nine conference match-ups on Friday and five of them take place in the WCHA; including the second game of the most unique rivalry in college hockey.

If the non-conference tilts, one series really stands out. The St. Cloud State Huskies travel down I-94 to face-off against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a Friday-Sunday series.

Last series, the two split a home-and-home series with each team defending its home ice. The Huskies took the first game at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center 4-1 and handed the Gophers its first loss of the season. While the Gophers got revenge the next night in a 4-3 overtime bout.

This year, both games will be played at Mariucci Arena, a place where the Huskies haven’t won since a 5-2 victory on October 22, 2010. Looking at the box score, it feels like it was even longer than that. Gopher goalie Alex Kangas let in all five goals on 23 shots and was pulled in the second period for Kent Patterson. Garrett Roe had a goal and two assists for the Huskies and Mike Lee made 40 saves to earn the win.

The Gophers got goals from Mike Hoeffel and Taylor Matson. Mark Alt and Kevin Wehrs had assists. Feels like forever ago.

The teams are both coming off splits that feel very different from each other. The Huskies split at home to a highly ranked North Dakota Fighting Hawks squad, losing 4-3 the first night and coming back with a 6-1 drubbing the next night. The Gophers split in a home-and-home series with Minnesota State winning the first night at the Verizon Wireless Center and blowing a 2-0 lead the following night at home losing in overtime.

The Gophers have been spinning its tires starting the season, only scoring one goal in the first three games. In the wins, the Gophers have managed four goals in each of them.

Freshman Eric Schierhorn has taken control of the reigns after Adam Wilcox left after his junior year. The Gophers found stability in net, which was the biggest question mark coming into the season. Schierhorn has kept the Gophers in every game this season, sporting an impressive .931 save percentage and a 2.11 goals against average.

The Gophers have been a bit stymied and averaging 2.43 goals per game, which is 38th in the nation and sandwiched in between Western Michigan and Bentley. Leon Bristedt leads the team with five goals, already matching last year’s total.

If the Gophers are going to win, converting on what few chances they get against the Husky defense will be crucial. Minnesota has been able to generate an average of 26.4 shots per game, but the Huskies have the sixth best team defense in the nation, averaging only 1.67 goals against per game.

While goals have been hard to come by for the Gophers, the defense has played very well. The Gophers have given up an average of 2.22 goals per game. When a team defense is that low, it’s only a manner of time before the offense gets rolling.

One of the more compelling aspects of the series will be on special teams. The Gophers penalty kill is clicking at 90.6%, allowing only three power play goals all year. The Huskies power play is very active in creating lanes and is currently at 23.4 percent. Huskies captain Ethan Prow commands the power play on the point and the power play suffered greatly when he was not able to play during the Quinnipiac and Miami series. In fact, the Huskies went 0-for-14 on the power play during those games when Prow was out. With the Sauk Rapids native in the line up, the Huskies power play is at 33.3 percent.

Usually these two teams both play an up-tempo, high offense style, but don’t think that will be the case with how well both defenses are playing. Charlie Lindgren has been nothing short of fantastic in goal, stopping 93.7 percent of the shots he faces.

The Huskies like to eliminate shots from the home plate area, giving Lindgren the easy save. Just take a look at last game against North Dakota, while they may have had 29 shots on goal, but many were from bad angles or from the point. Defenseman Troy Stetcher had six shots on goal for the Fighting Hawks and the lone goal, where he was the trailer and got the puck in a prime spot.

Whatever team can capitalize on the prime changes, which there will be few, will come out ahead in the series.

One WCHA series will end tonight and it happens to me the most interesting rivalry in college hockey. Bemidji State takes on Alabama-Huntsville in the final game of their series. Bemidji State took the first game 4-1 is a game that was much closer than the score indicates with an empty netter and a goal with eight seconds left in the game.

Make no mistake about it; these two fan bases hate each other. It goes back to when the teams were Division II powerhouses. Both teams are looking to claw back into the WCHA race.

Everyone enjoy some hockey this weekend. My shift is over.

 

 

Weekend Preview: Familiar Foes Face-off For NCHC Lead

The summit of the NCHC is up for grabs when the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (9-1-2) travel to St. Cloud for a battle with the St. Cloud State Huskies (8-2-0).

This is the only scheduled time this season where these former WCHA natural rivals will meet. The last time these two teams have only had one series against each other was back in the 2001-2002 season. In the last 10 match-ups, the series is tied at five wins each.

The Fighting Hawks offense has been soaring this season, averaging 3.53 goals per game. Both games last weekend were above that mark, with a 6-2 waxing of Miami on Friday and a character building 4-3 overtime victory on Saturday to earn the sweep.

The Huskies scored a NCHC record 11 goals against Western Michigan Saturday. Combined with a 5-2 victory (two empty net goals, so the game was actually much closer than the score indicates), the offense is clicking on all cylinders. The Huskies currently sit at sixth in the nation with 4.10 goals per game, but that is obviously skewed with last Saturday’s result. Without that game, the Huskies are averaging 3.33 goals per game.

While both teams clearly have enough firepower to keep the scorekeeper busy all night, but both goaltenders are more than capable of keeping the scores low.

Walk-on Matt Hrynkiw has filled in the 6’x4’ hole left when Zane McIntyre left early last year. Hrynkiw has been the surprise of the NCHC, posting 1.81 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. He has started all four conference games and remains unbeaten in those games.

Huskies netminder Charlie Lindgren has been an enigma in the crease. He is second in the nation in shutouts with four and has a .944 save percentage. His goals against average sits at 1.49, which is sits at sixth in the nation and is also an undefeated 4-0 in conference play.

Even more impressive is how well he as played at home, where he has three shutouts in four games. In fact, he has only allowed one goal at home so far this season. The Huskies are third in the nation in team defense, giving up an average of 1.50 goals per game.

Because of how well both goalies are playing this early into the season, I don’t expect a shootout either night. While it’s tempting to pick the Huskies to have the edge after scoring 16 goals last weekend and Hrynkiw gave up three goals on 14 shots last game, Fighting Hawks coach Brad Berry will make sure his squad plays much tougher in its own zone.

Usually, a raucous crowd greatly favors the home team. In this series, especially Friday night, I’m not so sure that is the case. St. Cloud has averaged 3,910 fans per game. Friday’s game will be standing room only; an atmosphere the Huskies haven’t played in during many games. North Dakota, on the other hand, regularly has over 11,000 per game.

Sometimes the atmosphere can work against the team. The Huskies freshmen have never, and probably will never again this season, experience a setting like this. Sometimes you can get too pumped up and anxious for a game, which can allow for uncharacteristic mistakes.

As well as the three freshmen defensemen have played this season for the Huskies, they are still freshmen. In the series against Quinnipiac, the defense inexperience showed as many of the Bobcats’ goals came in bunches.

In the nine victories for the Fighting Hawks, seven had them scoring the first goal. Of that seven, four came with the Fighting Hawks scoring in the first five minutes of the puck drop. The ability for them to start quickly, a new atmosphere, and an inexperienced blue line may spell trouble for the Huskies.

It’s odd for me to say this, but the Huskies may benefit from a boring start. That way, the Huskies can relax, get comfortable in the environment, and play the game the Huskies have been able to play all year. Eliminating mistakes will be the key for the Huskies this series.

Both teams have a lot of firepower, great depth, and ability to skate up and down the ice. I expected a high shooting series, but not necessarily high scoring. Both goalies are just too good.

That’s all I have for this week. Enjoy hockey this weekend. My shift is over.

Weekend Preview: Omaha Looks to Rebound, Huntsville Charges Forward

Great games on tap this weekend in college hockey. Here is what I’m looking forward to this weekend.

The premier matchup in the NCHC this weekend takes place as newly christened Baxter Arena were the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs take on the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks.

Huge blow came down on the Bulldogs earlier this week when it was announced that leading scorer Tony Cameranesi would not make the trip to Omaha as he is nursing an upper-body injury. He suffered the injury in the third period of last Saturday’s game against Mass.-Lowell. Cameranesi leads the Bulldogs with eight points on the season and is seven points shy of the century club.

On the other side of the rink, the Mavericks will be a determined team after a horrendous trip to Western Michigan, which saw the Broncos score a staggering 10 goals on the weekend.

This weekend will rely on the defensive effort Omaha. Coach Dean Blais was not happy with how the team played and responded with a very tough practice throughout the week. Sure, Cameranesi is out, but the Bulldogs still have plenty of depth to wreck havoc in the Omaha end.

Both teams have nearly identical team stats. Offensively, the Mavericks are averaging 2.88 goals per game while the Bulldogs are averaging 2.65 goals per game. Defensively, the Bulldogs have been slightly better than the Mavericks, 2.37 to 2.38 goals against per game. Two very strong teams will have a heavyweight bout, which usually means this will end up being a split.

While looking at early season results, you may be surprised to see how many teams in the WCHA are off to strong starts. Last year, it was a three-team race between Minnesota State, Michigan Tech, and Bowling Green. So far this year, seven teams are at or over .500 with only Bemidji State, Alaska, and Lake Superior State below that line.

One of the surprising teams above .500 is Alabama-Huntsville at 3-2-1. Now, I know they haven’t had the most daunting of schedule, but it’s easy to forget that this team nearly dropped completely out of hockey just a few years ago. Top two scorers for the Chargers are Brennen Saulnier and Max McHugh; both sophomores

The Chargers will get a good test this weekend when they host a team at the .500 mark, the Michigan Tech Huskies. The Huskies haven’t been able to string together solid efforts on back-to-back nights as they have three splits, two with Ferris State and one with Northern Michigan. Jamie Phillips has started every game so far this season for the Huskies, posting a 2.64 GAA and a .917 save percentage.

I really hope things work out for the Chargers. Not necessarily this weekend, or even this season, but the emotions the players and the supporters had to go through had to have been nerve-wrecking. So far, it looks like they are on the right track.

Other series that have caught my eye:

  • Minnesota at Notre Dame: The last of the Lucia Bowl, as father Don faces his son Tony for the last time in the regular season. Quietly, Notre Dame has a 3-1-2 record, with those two ties coming against the Bulldogs. Minnesota has underachieved to say the least.
  • Wisconsin at North Dakota: These teams have had some fun battles in the past so I’m hoping the spark is still there. The results have been lopsided, as Wisconsin hasn’t beaten North Dakota since October 22nd, 2011.

That’s all for now. Make sure you catch a game this weekend. My shift is over.

Weekend Preview: Bracco Bolts, NCHC Conference Starts and Other Games of Interest

…And the age old battle rages on.

Highly touted Boston College forward Jeremy Bracco has decided to forgo his NCAA eligibility when he decided to sign with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League of the CHL.

Bracco, a second-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, had played in five games for the Eagles. He compiled three assists, all in last Friday’s win over Colorado College.

I have a few feelings about this topic. First, I want to preface this by saying I am a big fan of a school where this type of departure doesn’t happen often. I can name a few cases, but usually they came from not being able to make grades during a semester break.

I don’t view the CHL as the big, bad enemy; the Lex Luthor to college hockey’s Superman. It’s a different option for players and for some, it’s the best option. The presence of the CHL is why the NCAA recruiting landscape is the way it is. There are pros and cons to both.

However, it is a one-way street. Players can sample college hockey all they want, but once you go CHL, you can never come back. The NCAA views CHL as professionals. Why shouldn’t they? For instance, TVA reporter Renaud Lavoie tweeted how much the New York Islanders are paying Anthony Beauvillier to stay play in Quebec for the Shawinigan Cataractes. If that isn’t considered professional, I don’t know what is.

Many people are upset by his departure and for different reasons. Bracco was the subject of many rumors coming into the season on whether or not he will honor his commitment to BC. He even sent out a tweet denying those rumors. Many BC fans feel betrayed/lied to by his departure. Many feel it’s a trend with the National Development Program that many players decide to go the CHL route. Here is the thing; it’s an option for every player under 20. Both ways have proven to be successful.

What we have to remember that these are 18-year-old players, sometimes younger,  making career decisions. They have many people talking to them from all different areas. Agents, family, friends, etc. They don’t need some anonymous fan or alum harassing on twitter for something they don’t know much about. Let him make his decision. If it’s not one that you like, shrug your shoulders and move on.

The timing is very peculiar. Usually CHL departures happen after the semester break when grades aren’t up to par. Sometimes they happen when players feel they aren’t getting the playing time they deserve. They don’t often leave five games into the season.

I feel this is only a big blow for BC for one reason; a waste of a scholarship spot. BC has had a very soft schedule up until this point with wins over Colorado College twice, Wisconsin and Army. The lost was against a struggling RPI squad. That’s hardly enough time to gel with teammates or get used to the season. His loss isn’t that big of a blow to Boston College.

But losing a scholarship opportunity to a player who played for only five games is a harsh mistake. The Eagles would have loved to have him make that decision a few months ago, instead of sending out a tweet reinforcing a decision that didn’t turn out to be true. BC scratches talent players that may be on the second line on another team.

Shrug; and move on. The team plays Denver this weekend in a high profile clash on Friday. The Charmin schedule gets a lot more like sandpaper this weekend. The team doesn’t need the distraction.

Plenty of action this weekend as the NCHC starts conference play, the Ivy schools finally drop the puck, and the WCHA has a strong slate of games.

Miami University takes on the St. Cloud State Huskies at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in a rematch of last year’s NCHC championship game. The teams have developed a series of close games over the past few years. Huskies defensive captain Ethan Prow is doubtful for this season, as he is still recovering from a concussion he sustained from the Minnesota State series.

Omaha looks to continue a hot start when it heads to Kalamazoo to face Western Michigan. Omaha has scored in the first period in every game this season; four of six games within the first ten minutes. That has led to a lot chatter on twitter about Omaha’s fancy stats and how they aren’t sustainable. I say wait until they are in a position to play in a close game before those assumptions are made. Omaha has only one game that ended by a one-goal margin, but they were up 4-1 earlier during that game. Everyone is going to focus on playing sound defensive hockey before stretching the lead.

North Dakota heads to Colorado College for a pair. The Tigers haven’t scored a goal since the middle of the second period against Mass-Lowell. Yes, they played a series last weekend.

The Tigers will have to try to solve Matt Hrynkiw (I barely know how to type it, much less pronounce it), has posted a .933 save percentage. It looks to be a long season for the Tigers.

Added note: Shane Gersich (Washington Capitals) is on the trip and may play in the series for North Dakota.

Other series that caught my attention:

– The premier matchup in the WCHA is an early season rematch between Ferris State and Michigan Tech. These teams split in Big Rapids two weeks ago. Early season rematches usually bring a lot of hatred with it, so get ready to count the penalty minutes.

– Arizona State heads to Madison to face the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers are a shell of what they used to be. Arizona State is the new program on the block. I am really interested to see just how bad things are in Madison. If, somehow, the Sun Devils sweep, I’ll be shocked if coach Mike Eaves is still there. Granted, I’m not sure Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez is even aware hockey still exists in Madison.

– The Ivy schools drop the puck this weekend and many eyes are on Harvard standout Jimmy Vesey, who led the NCAA with 32 goals last year. He is the preseason frontrunner for Hobey Baker.

Anywhere you are, try to catch a game. I couldn’t get to all the games I like this weekend. Halloween weekend is my favorite time to go to a game. College students come up with the most creative costumes. Atmosphere this weekend will be top notch, no matter where you go. My shift is over.