Monday, November 12, 2012

College hockey round-up, Week 5

The defending champion Boston College Eagles maintained their perch atop the Division I standings in unanimous fashion thanks to another successful weekend, sweeping a pair of contests against marquee opponents.

In a prelude to the gridiron Holy War, BC and then-No. 7 Notre Dame squared off at Conte Forum, with the hosts taking away a 3-1 victory. South Jersey native and sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau netted a pair of goals while Parker Milner turned away 19-of-20 shots.

Less than 48 hours later, the Birds rolled into Agganis Arena and dealt the rival BU Terriers -- then ranked 11th overall -- a 4-2 defeat, which set several milestones: the 100th victory for the current senior class, and the 50th in the career of Milner, the senior backstop who made 25 saves and was named Hockey East  defensive player of the week. Destry Straight opened the scoring 43 seconds in and Gaudreau added another tally and for his three-goal weekend, was tabbed top overall player of the week.

“Certainly it’s a really big weekend from our perspective," BC head coach Jerry York said. "Of course this is our chief rival, but Notre Dame also is a pretty big rival of ours. We looked at the weekend and thought this was gonna test us a little bit, and it certainly did. I’m very aware that we could’ve lost both games. Both teams that we played were excellent teams.”

With eight wins in a row, York's charges have improved to 8-1-0 on the year and have won a staggering 27 of their last 28 games stretching back to last January. There are at least two league matchups remaining with the possibility of a Beanpot clash and Hockey East tournament meeting between the Commonwealth Avenue campuses.

“They’re very similar to us in many ways, as far as age, class," said Terriers head coach Jack Parker. "We have a bigger freshman class this year than they do. You look at their first two lines, they are two terrific first lines. It’s hard to determine who’s the number one line. … We’ll see them again later on. This game will make us grow up. This game will help us. Either way, this game was gonna help us. I thought we hung in there and played pretty well against the number one team in the nation.”

Boston University failed to capitalize on the momentum gained in a 3-1 victory at Merrimack on Friday evening.

The Warriors, perpetually trying to muscle in on the territory staked out by BC, BU, Maine and New Hampshire within Hockey East, feature a pair of local kids who flew under the radar: freshman forwards Bryan Christie (from West Chester, PA) and Vinny Scotti (hailing from Vineland, NJ). They look to follow in the footsteps of Vince Clevenger, also out of West Chester, who played in North Andover from 1997-2001.

Back onto the local D-I scene, Penn State continued its early-season success, by splitting a pair at the 'Peg against Air Force. In the opener on Friday, the Falcons stunned the hosts with a 5-1 victory. Five different goal scorers punctured PSU netminder P.J. Musico, with Justin Kirchhevel netted the lone marker -- which happened to be the school's first-ever short-handed tally.

One day later, the script and result was flipped in a positive decision for the Nits. AFA goaltender Jason Trof was blitzed by five different Nittany Lions scorers (Casey Bailey, Luke Juha, David Glen, Michael McDonagh and Connor Varley) while Matt Skoff came up with 31 saves.

Here's PSU head coach Guy Gadowsky after Saturday's win:

At 6-3-0, the boys in Blue will rest for this coming weekend and head to upstate New York for a pair of ECAC tussles against last season's Frozen Four entrant Union College on November 24 and 25. 

The only other Orange and Black still on the ice near Philadelphia, the Princeton Tigers used the comforts of home to pick up two wins against Ivy League foes.

On Friday, against No. 4 Cornell, Rob Kleebaum, Andrew Calof and Andrew Ammon tallied inside the final five minutes to erase a one-goal deficit and get the hosts a 5-3 decision. On Saturday afternoon, it was defense and goaltending at the forefront, as senior netminder Mike Condon turned away 22 shots in a 4-0 victory over Colgate. Mike Ambrosia, Michael Zajac, Tyler Maugeri and Michael Sdao turned on the red light at Baker Rink.

Princeton heads to upstate New York to play back-to-back games this weekend with St. Lawrence and Clarkson.

As for the remainder of the rankings, Denver and Minnesota flip-flopped after the Pioneers swept Minnesota State (4-3, 3-2) and the Gophers won (4-0) and tied (2-2) in Anchorage. Miami of Ohio moved up one slot to fourth after a win and tie (5-2, 2-2) over Northern Michigan. New Hampshire surged from 9th to 5th spot by blanking Vermont, 4-0. Previously fourth-ranked Cornell slid all the way down to 10th with losses to Princeton and Quinnipiac.

Dartmouth and Nebraska-Omaha entered the top 20 at 12 and 18, respectively. The Mavericks returned to form with victories of 3-2 and 6-3 against Minnesota-Duluth on Homecoming weekend. Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz continues to be sidelined in favor of John Faulkner, who picked up a pair of wins in net.
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