Monday, February 10, 2014

College Hockey Round-Up, Week 13

Thanks to Centre Daily Times
For just the second time all season, the Minnesota Golden Gophers will not sit atop the national rankings, as a familiar face in the top 5 recently has been picked to knock them off that perch.

Boston College was an overwhelming favorite to gain the #1 overall spot, only the second team other than the Big Ten stalwart to wear the crown (St. Cloud State) this year.

More on that, and the rest of how the top 10 fared later in the column.

We'll switch to a local hockey team which finally accomplished something a long time in coming. Penn State finally put its nine-game losing streak stretching back into calendar year 2013 to rest on Saturday night at Pegula Arena, beating then-No. 10 Michigan with a clean sheet, 4-0 victory which also served as its first-ever Big Ten conference win.

Matt Skoff earned his stripes with a 32-save effort, his third career shutout, while Zach Saar, David Glen and Casey Bailey essentially put the game out of reach by scoring within a span of less than eight minutes in the first period. Ricky DeRosa added a tally late in the third period to remove all doubt.

The victory was just the second since early November for Guy Gadowsky's squad, who are still in the midst of a 2-15-0 slump since then. Below is the full post-game press conference:

One night previous in University Park, the hosts erased a 2-0 deficit after one period with goals from Casey Bailey and Eric Scheid 61 seconds apart within the first four minutes of the second. However, the Wolverines reeled off five of the next six goals to take a 7-3 victory.

Andrew Copp began the barrage by putting Michigan back on top 1:52 later, then Zach Hyman and Michael Downing followed, then Hyman and Copp put the game away on tallies in a 50-second span late in the contest after Saar scored to cut PSU's deficit to 5-3. Eamon McAdam and P.J. Musico each allowed three goals in the setback. 

Now, with Glen back after his heroic efforts with bone marrow and an important win in their back pocket, the Nits' (5-18-1) gauntlet continues this coming Friday and Saturday at the 'Peg when the Michigan State Spartans come to town.

Meanwhile, Princeton's slide into oblivion amongst the Ivies and the rest of the ECAC Hockey continues, thanks to a pair of losses over the weekend against foes from Upstate New York in the confines of Baker Rink.

St. Lawrence came through with a 7-1 drubbing of the Tigers on Friday and Clarkson netted a narrower, but still positive, 4-3 decision which left the visitors with a five-game losing skid since beating RPI on January 10.

The Saints bombarded Colton Phinney with 50 shots and the freshman was good on 43 of them, but it wasn't nearly enough. Patrick Daugherty led the visitors with two goals and one assist in the rout. The Golden Knights were victorious thanks to goals from James Howden late in the second and Allan McPherson early in the third to snap a 2-2 tie. Senior Andrew Ammon, who has slid off the radar in the Hobey Baker chase, tallied a pair of goals in the setback.

Princeton (4-19-0) will have a Southern New England Ivy road trip on tap this weekend, with stops in Providence and New Haven to face Brown and defending-champion Yale, respectively.

And now for the Pot of Beans at the end of Commonwealth Avenue...

The 62nd annual Beanpot concludes tonight at TD Garden on Causeway Street in Boston, where the newly-crowned #1 Boston College Eagles take on the upset-minded No. 12 Northeastern Huskies.

Jerry York has guided his kids to a 13-0-1 record since late November, which included a 3-1 victory against rival Boston University in last Monday's prime-time semifinal. Johnny Gaudreau, junior forward and Calgary Flames prospect who also reigns as the national player of the week, is carrying a nation-best 23-game point streak while topping the entire country with 56 points (24G, 32A). The top line of Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold have combined for 145 points in only 28 games.

The Eagles are looking to be the first school to reel off five straight tournament championships since BU won six straight from 1995 to 2000 under Jack Parker.

Jim Madigan has his club on a 6-3-1 run since late Decembe, but still has to find a way to coax the best performance of the season out of his charges. Northeastern hasn't won the Beanpot since 1988, and has come up short in its last two cracks at BC. The Huskies have made the premier matchup on the final Monday seven times in the last 26 years and has come up empty in all of those contests.

Sophomore Kevin Roy, who was profiled on and on NHL Live last week, tops the scoring list with 33 points (15G, 18A) and has released a team-high 111 shots on goal. Senior goaltender Clay Witt has been subject to an awful lot of frozen vulcanized rubber this season, and has come up huge with a 1.95 goals-against average, ranks first with a .946 save percentage and is second in the country with four shutouts, including a 6-0 whitewash of Harvard in the first semifinal last week. He was named co-defensive player of the week in Hockey East for his efforts.

The rest of the story

So what did BC do and Minnesota fail to accomplish for this swap at the top? The Eagles, in addition to taking down the Terriers, ripped Merrimack by a 6-1 count on Friday. Arnold notched his first career hat trick while Gaudreau added three assists, while freshman Thatcher Demko came up with 23 saves.

The Gophers' 14-game unbeaten string came to an end thanks to dropping a pair of 2-1 games on the road against Wisconsin. On Thursday, Jake McCabe's tally with just over six minutes left in regulation handed the visitors their first-ever Big Ten defeat, then one night later it was Nik Kerdiles' strike just after the 4 1/2 minute mark of the final stanza which sent the #8 Badgers to the narrow decision.

Union surged up to No. 3 on the strength of its back-to-back wins at Messa Rink against Ivies Brown and Yale. Shayne Gostisbehere provided the lone assist on Max Novak's winner in a 4-3 decision Friday night, then on Saturday, tallies from Theo DiPauli, Daniel Carr, Matt Hatch and Matt Wilkins erased a 2-1 deficit and turned it into a 5-3 triumph over the Bulldogs. Gostisbehere ranks fourth on Union with 21 points and leads the team with 118 shots while placing second at plus-12.

Check out Philly native Ken Schott's blog after the Yale victory.

Ferris State rose one slot to No. 4 after recording wins of 7-1 and 2-1 on home ice against Northern Michigan, while Quinnipiac fell one spot into fourth as well by beating Clarkson and falling to St. Lawrence in Hamden. The aforementioned St. Cloud State Huskies were cemented in sixth with a 2-2 tie and 4-2 win over No. 18 Denver, and UMass-Lowell also stayed put at #7 with a tie against BU and two-goal win at UMass in Amherst.

On the strength of their weekend with Minnesota, Wisconsin rose from 12 all the way up to eighth, Providence sank one level to #9 thanks to a bye week after two straight losses, and clocking in at No. 10 is Michigan, who stayed put despite a split at Penn State. Cornell fell out of the top 10 to No. 12.

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