In the Midwest, No. 1 Wisconsin plays host to No. 3 Minnesota in the annual “Border Battle” this weekend.
The Badgers (15-0-0) have 11 shutouts this season and now face one of the most potent offenses in the country in the Gophers (15-1-0).
Minnesota is the defending national champion and its lone loss came with its top line playing without freshman Sarah Potomak.
Another storyline is brewing on the East Coast where U.S. Olympic teammates Alex Carpenter of Boston College and Kendall Coyne of Northeastern are both just three and four points away from breaking Hockey East’s all-time scoring record.
Coyne already owns the league record for goals with 72, set two weeks ago and Carpenter needs just eight goals, nine assists and four points to move into first place in all of those categories.
Coyne has 72 goals and 59 assists — 131 points — for her career. Carpenter sits at 65 goals and 65 assists for 130 points. Sam Faber of New Hampshire holds the current assists record at 133, while Kelli Stack of Boston College owns the career points record at 133.
Barring injuries, Carpenter and Coyne will battle for the career records all season long. What’s more, both schools are ranked in the top five in the country.
Boston College (17-0) beat No. 4 Northeastern (11-4-1) last weekend 6-1 and 4-2 in their first meeting. They should see each other at least four more times this season.
In other words, get your popcorn ready — the women are ready to roar.
ASN'S COLLEGE HOCKEY NIGHT IN AMERICA
After a week off, college hockey returns to ASN this weekend in a huge way.
It all starts Friday at 6:30 p.m. (ET) with the annual “Battle of Whitney Ave” — No. 3 Quinnipiac traveling down the street to take on rival Yale.
The Bobcats (13-0-2) are 1-0-3 against the Bulldogs (5-2-2) over the past three seasons and still feel the sting of losing the 2013 Frozen Four title game, 4-0 to Yale.
Yale is coming off a 4-3 loss to No. 1 Providence. Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig will be gunning for his school-record 60th win.
That’s Game 1.
The nightcap features Miami (5-7-2) at Colorado College (1-13). The RedHawks are catching the Tigers at a risky time: CC won its first game of the season on Saturday to split the weekend series against cross-town rival Air Force, each game ending in 4-3 scores. Sam Rothstein tallied two goals to lead Colorado College, which was the last of the 60 men’s teams in Division I to earn a victory this season.
ASN will also telecast a Sunday matinee game (1 p.m. ET) when Connecticut (3-10) travels to fifth-ranked UMass Lowell (10-14).
Hey, you there with the scruffy face. Yeah, you growing the caterpillar above your lip.
Those mustaches, from thick to thin and light to dark, have brought NCHC donations for Movember to new heights.
Movember, you remember, is the mustache-growing event for the month of November that brings awareness to men’s health issues.
Last week ASN ran a story about NCHC officials and players who are taking part, and NCHC official Don Adam said donations have grown from $900 last year to over $4,523 this season. The NCHC officials now rank 348th nationally regarding teams raising money on the Movember site.
“I’m ecstatic with our staff’s effort this year,” said Don Adam, director of officiating for the NCHC. “Hopefully we’ll tack on a few more dollars in the next few days.”
There is still time to donate.
BEASTS OF BELFAST
It’s a safe bet that C.J. Smith has never earned “Man of the Match” honors prior to UMass Lowell topping Brown in the title game of the Friendship Four holiday tournament last weekend in Belfast, Ireland.
Then again, this was the first NCAA tournament to be held overseas, and the more than 4,500 fans who turned out for the historic holiday hockey were entertained by UMASS Lowell earning the title in cardiac-kid like fashion, rallying late and winning its first game in overtime and its second in an overtime shootout.
Brown freshman Tommy Marchin was named Player of the Tournament for notching four goals and two assists in two games, while Smith earned his recognition for sending the title game into overtime when he scored with 39 seconds remaining and an extra attacker on the ice. Teammate Dylan Zink scored the lone goal of the shootout following a scoreless overtime.
The NCAA, incidentally, will count it as a draw in the standings, but the news fans in the United Kingdom will look at the River Hawks, 10-1-4, as the first champions of their inaugural tournament. Brown is now 2-4-3 on the season.
Talk about a tough crowd, Boston College won its 11th consecutive game last weekend and leads the country in scoring (4.538 goals per game) and goals-against average (1.23), but dropped from second to third in the USA Today/USA Magazine Poll. The Eagles, 12-1-0, remained at No. 2 in the USCHO Poll.
Providence is the clear No. 1 with 34 first-place votes in the USCHO poll and 21 in the USA Today/USA Magazine poll. Quinnipiac gathered six and 11 first-place votes respectively, while BC received 10 and 2. Providence, BC and Quinnipiac are 1-2-3 in the ASN Eight.
For the second consecutive week no other teams received first-place votes, but there was plenty of shifting. Most notably, North Dakota edged past UMASS Lowell into fourth place and Merrimack took the biggest drop from 13th to 18th in the USCHO poll. Bowling Green moved from unranked to No. 15 in the USA Today/USA Magazine poll.
In the Pairwise power rankings, the top three teams are Quinnipiac, Harvard and Providence followed by St. Cloud State, Omaha and Boston College.
Lots of hockey left to play.
Black Friday gives way to Conference Friday this week. Now that it’s officially OK to talk about Christmas leagues are settling in this week with the gift of conference play.
- In Hockey East, No. 1 Providence hosts Merrimack and No. 2 Boston College hosts Northeastern.
- In the NCHC, the two marquee matchups are Denver at North Dakota and Omaha at St. Cloud State.
- The WCHA’s top matchup looks to be Minnesota State at Bowling Green, and the ECAC has the No. 2 Quinnipiac showdown at Yale, plus Harvard at RPI, St. Lawrence at Cornell and a potential stumble game Saturday when Qunnipiac travels to two-win Brown.
- Wisconsin at Michigan leads the Big Ten matchups, and Mercyhurst at Holy Cross highlights a very level Atlantic Hockey conference.
IF IT AIN’T BROKE …
The past week of scouring Google and college hockey websites have found very little support outside of the Big Ten for a change in college hockey’s policy of lowering the age limit for incoming recruits from 21 to 20.
Hopefully, when the NCAA votes on the rule change in April they’ll see it that way, too.
Adam Wodon of College Hockey News did a great job outlining the controversy. Similar stories have popped up across the Internet.
Our take? Leave it alone.
College hockey players tend to be older, but thanks to juniors they’re more prepared for the college grind on and off the ice. And they graduate, many working on their masters while competing at the top level.
From Wondon’s story:
In a memo obtained by College Hockey News, college hockey coaches voted 49-11 in a straw poll against the legislation. That poll has no bearing on the NCAA vote, but it demonstrates the mindset of the college hockey community as a whole. The specific 11 to vote for it is unclear, though six are presumed to be the Big Ten coaches.
The criticism has come on two levels: 1. That the legislation will only give Big Ten schools more advantages than it already has, while hurting those schools that rely upon older players for competitive balance; and 2. That the legislation was not discussed among the larger college hockey community before being introduced to the NCAA.
"College hockey is unique and I think that's one of the beauties of it," Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. "They are more mature coming to us as student athletes, and that makes for better hockey. It's not their first time away from home and they're less distracted academically and socially. ... We're at an all-time high producing NHL players. Why change things?”
- Omaha’s Jake Guentzel and Austin Ortega continue to be the dynamic duo for the Mavericks. Both juniors had big weekdends. Guentzel scored a career-high five points in Saturday’s 6-4 win over Ohio State while Ortega, his linemate and roommate, added three goals in the weekend sweep to give him 12 on the season, tops in the nation and his five game-winners also rank No. 1. Guentzel’s 14 assists are tied for third in the country and his two shorthanded goals are tied for second.
- Teddy Blueger was a machine for Minnesota State last weekend, having a hand the Mavericks first five goals in a 6-2 win over Alaska Anchorage. WCHA officials announced that Blueger tied a WCHA record with four assists in a single period, becoming the ninth player in league history to accomplish the feat and the first since Wisconsin’s Joe Pavelski on Jan. 14, 2006.
- Minnesota State freshman goalie Jason Pawloski stopped 36 of 38 shots in the weekend series and is 5-0-2 on the season.
- St. Cloud State freshman David Morley had two goals and three assists in a weekend sweep over Minnesota.
- North Dakota’s Nick Schmaltz leads the nation with 19 assists, while New Hampshire’s Andrew Poturalski and Tyler Kelleher ranked 1-2 in points with 25 and 23, respectively. Zac Lynch of Robert Morris leads the nation with four shorthanded goals.
- Boston College leads the nation in scoring (4.5 per game) and goals-against (1.2), but Robert Morris has used the top power play in the country (33.3%) to move into second in goals-for (4.49). Top penalty killing team? Miami (Ohio) at 94.3%.