And the award for the best men’s college hockey team in Minnesota this season goes to … St. Cloud State.
The Huskies earned the wooden trophy that goes to the winner of the North Star Cup Challenge this past weekend when they rolled to a 5-2 win against Bemidji State in the title game of the annual intra-state competition.
The Huskies’ title run marks the third time in the three-year history of the tournament that it has had a new champ. (BSU last year; Minnesota in the inaugural season).
But there’s more to St. Cloud’s claim to ruling the state than earning the wooden trophy.
The Huskies are 7-0-1 against in-state competition with only an NCHC showdown against Minnesota Duluth remaining at the end of the month.
The Bulldogs, 2-2-1 against in-state competition, didn’t play in this year’s Cup because the tournament rotates between the five teams.
SCSU didn’t play in it last year when the Beavers won, but BSU made it back to the title game after defeating Minnesota, 4-2, on Saturday night. The Beavers are now 2-3 against fellow Minnesota teams and will play Duluth Feb. 9 and Minnesota State in the regular-season series finale March 4-5.
The Mavericks are 2-5 against in-state rivals.
So that leaves inaugural cup winner Minnesota, which dropped both games at the Challenge and finished its in-state competition with a 1-7 record, worst of all five teams.
The Gophers are 1-12 in their last 13 games against state opponents and dropped to 20th in the PairWise rankings.
Meantime, the Huskies are rolling.
With their win over BSU, NCHC teams are 18-3-2 against the WCHA. SCSU ranks second in PairWise and trails North Dakota by three points for first place in the NCHC.
Freshman Mike Eyssimont of SCSU was named the tournament MVP with three goals and two assists. He now has eight goals and 11 assists. The Huskies are 18-2 when scoring first.
Big Blue shines big time
On the biggest stage the most dynamic offense in college hockey didn’t disappoint last week in the inaugural Super Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Playing fast and furious in front of 13,749 fans, Big Blue rolled past Penn State, 6-3, two days after hanging a 7-4 loss on the Nittany Lions.
The 13-goal outburst is not an anomaly. In 15 of their 23 games, the Wolverines have scored six or more goals and their 4.9 goals per game average is a more than a half-goal better than No. 2 St. Cloud State (4.3).
Michigan has the top two goal scorers in the country in junior Tyler Motte (22 goals) and freshman Kyle Connor (20), while fellow freshman JT Compher ranks second in the nation in assists with 27. (Connor also leads the nation with 42 points).
The dazzling offensive display ended a successful doubleheader for both Michigan and the Big Ten. Michigan also beat the Penn St. men’s basketball team, 79-72, as total fan attendance reached 27,387.
Next year’s Super Saturday will take place Jan 28, 2017: The Rutgers men’s basketball team will host Wisconsin, while Ohio State’s hockey team will play the Badgers at MSG.
On Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, Minnesota will take on Ohio State on the basketball court and Michigan State on the ice, also at The Garden.
The more things change …
The more things stay the same when it comes to the historic Beanpot competition. Either Boston University or Boston College has won the title in each of the past 20 seasons, and Monday they’ll battle again for the championship.
The Eagles used two power play goals and killed off both Harvard power play chances in their 3-2 win in the first semifinal. The Crimson put two shots on net in the first 10 minutes of the game but still took a 2-1 lead into the second period before Zach Sanford and Collin White scored power play goals to secure the win.
It wasn’t much easier for Boston University. Up 2-0 entering the third, things got tight with just under four minutes remaining when John Stevens scored for Northeastern.
It wasn’t until Doyle Somerby scored with 41 seconds remaining that a BU-BC rematch was secured.
North Dakota sophomore goalie Cam Johnson registered his fifth shutout of the season Friday night in a 2-0 win against Western Michigan to move into a tie with Charlie Lindgren of St. Cloud State for fourth most in the nation.
Yes, fourth. That’s how strong goalie play has been this season.
Johnson, leading the nation in save percentage (.948) and goals-against average (1.31), trails in shutouts to Boston College’s Thatcher Demko (8), Quinnipiac’s Michael Garteig (7) and UMass Lowell’s Kevin Boyle (6).
Seventeen goalies have at least three shutouts and another 12 have at least two.
Stats of the week
- Denver junior forward Trevor Moore (right) registered his 100th career point Saturday in DU’s 5-3 win at Miami (Ohio). He now has 40 goals and 60 assists in 106 career games.
- Robert Morris holds a narrow lead (32.43% to 32.35%) over St. Cloud State for the nation’s best power-play percentage. RMU also leads the country in power play goals with 36, while SCSU is second with 32.
- Best penalty-killing percentage: Miami (Ohio) at 93.10% followed by Yale at 91.38%.
- The three C’s — Clarkson, Colgate and Cornell — got together this past weekend with Clarkson winning both games behind sophomore defenseman Terrance Amorosa’s back-to-back game winners. Each of his goals came on the power play and gave Clarkson its first sweep of the C’s in 15 seasons.
- The Quinnipiac women are doing everything they can to keep up with the men’s team. The Bobcats ran their unbeaten streak to 20 games behind Melissa Samoskevich’s back-to-back game winners over Harvard, 1-0, and Dartmouth, 2-1. Both came on the power play.
- The battle for the women’s national scoring title continues to be intriguing. Northeastern’s Kendall Coyne leads with 64 points, with rival Alex Carpenter of Boston College three back with 61. The next closest scorer is Minnesota’s Dani Cameranesi with 53.
Tweets of the week
Miami (Ohio) football coach Chuck Martin posted a seven-second video of an incredible save by Red Hawks goalie Jay Williams as he was being bowled over during a Denver rush Friday night. Miami won, 3-1.
— Chuck Martin (@MARTIN_MIAMI_HC) January 30, 2016
There is a reason Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald is regarded as one of the top college hockey beat writers in the country, and it’s for nuggets like this tweet following John Scott’s improbable MVP run in the NHL All-Star Game last weekend. (Scott played at Michigan Tech from 2002-2006).
Was curious who John Scott scored against in college. His 7-career goals came vs. Minnesota (3), Wisco (2), UND (1), UAA (1).
— Brad E. Schlossman (@SchlossmanGF) February 1, 2016
Now you know.