Tuesday, January 21, 2014

College Hockey Round-up, Week 10

The second half of the Division I college hockey season kicked into gear this past weekend, with a majority of students returning to campus for their Winter term, but there was still no change at the top of the national rankings revealed yesterday.

Minnesota retained its perch, and for the second time this season was rewarded with all 50 first-place votes, thanks to a pair of victories over Big Ten rival Ohio State, which came to Minneapolis for a two-game set which included the "Hockey City Classic" at TDF Field on Friday night. The Gophers claimed a 1-0 decision in the outdoors on Friday night, then followed up with a 4-2 triumph at Mariucci Arena thanks to Sam Warning's hat trick.

Rising up to #2 in the rankings was Boston College, which attained its highest perch since being named preseason No. 1 by taking down rivals Boston University and Maine at Conte Forum. On Friday, it was a 6-4 decision fueled by three points from Adam Gilmour and two scores from Johnny Gaudreau. One night later, a 7-2 rout of the Black Bears featured 10 combined points between Gaudreau (5A) and Kevin Hayes (3G, 2A). Hayes ended up being named Hockey East's top offensive performer.

Union College surged from sixth to third this week, on the strength of back-to-back impressive road wins at New Hampshire, both by 3-1 counts. Flyers defensive prospect Shayne Gostisbehere failed to record a point in the set, now with just 16 points in 22 games. Nonetheless, the Dutchmen improved to 12-1-1 in their last 14 games since early November.

Quinnipiac moved up one slot to No. 4 after splitting two at Merrimack, winning 6-1 and losing 6-3 to snap its seven-game unbeaten string, meaning St. Cloud State -- a contender in December for the top spot in the country -- slid to #5 after tying and losing against Western Michigan to extend a slide to 2-3-2 since mid December.

Ferris State saw the biggest tumble in the top 10, sliding down from No. 2 to No. 6 by failing in both road tests against Minnesota State. Once owners of the longest unbeaten string in the land at 16 games, the Bulldogs fell to 2-3-0 since it concluded.

Providence remained static at #7 thanks to surviving back-to-back road games at Colorado College, winning 7-2 and tying 2-2. Those performances earned Team USA WJC goalie Jon Gillies Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week honors. Conference rival UMass-Lowell got bumped up from 10th to eighth after tying Maine (1-1) and beating BU (3-1) on friendly ice at Tsongas Arena.

Wisconsin stayed in place at #9 due in large part to having a bye week after taking down rival Michigan twice two weekends ago at Kohl Center. Yale swapped places with 2013 Frozen Four opponent Lowell, dropping two slots despite a weekend split in Upstate New York -- losing at Clarkson and winning at St. Lawrence.

On the local scene...

Penn State (4-14-1) opened up its Big Ten slate in earnest two weekends ago, and have gone 0-for-4 despite not being blown out by either Minnesota at the 'Peg or at Michigan State this past weekend.

The Nits' recent slump has reached 11 losses in their last 12 games after dropping decisions of 3-0 and 3-2 in East Lansing. On Friday night, PSU poured 48 shots on Jake Hildebrand, but he was equal to all of them, with Dean Chelios, Lee Reimer and Greg Wolfe punctured Matt Skoff, who stopped 26 shots in defeat. The next night at Munn Arena, Taylor Holstrom and Eric Scheid scored for the visitors, but Reimer netted the winner at 3:41 of the final period.


Slowly, yes. The only thing for certain in the Big Ten this season is that Minnesota will finish first and Penn State last. Yet, with the stakes apparently as high as they are since Penn State is Penn State, how much longer after this year will it be acceptable? Patience is in great need and great order with this club, only in Year 2 of D-I action.

Things don't get easier for Guy Gadowsky's squad, with a rematch against Boston College on home ice this coming Saturday. BC ripped PSU by an 8-2 count to win the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh just before the new year.

As far as Princeton is concerned, the program is going through its second 20-day break in the span of a little more than a month. After pausing from December 7-28, the Tigers have been away from meaningful action since January 11 and won't take the ice again until resuming their Ivy League slate against Harvard at Bright Center on 1/31.

Thus far in 2014, the local college Orange and Black split two exhibitions against Canadian colleges, whipping Simon Fraser (8-1) and losing to the University of British Columbia (0-1), then topping RPI (2-1) and falling to Union (0-3) two weeks back.


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