On tap this weekend in college hockey:
ZACH ATTACK ON ASN
There is no player hotter in college hockey than Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese, who has 16 goals and 11 assists in the last 13 games and leads the country in goals (22), points (41), power play goals (11) and shorthanded goals (3). Teammate Dylan Sikura, this week’s Hockey East Player of the Week after scoring a goal and adding four assists against Merrimack, has 38 points. The high-scoring duo will be on display when Northeastern travels to seventh-ranked Mass Lowell in the first of two games Friday on ASN.
Minnesota Duluth put an exclamation point on its return to No. 1 Pairwise and No. 1/2 in the polls, including the ASN Elite Eight. Behind freshman goalie Hunter Miska the Bulldogs road swept North Dakota to run their win streak against the Fighting Hawks to five in a row. The impressive 5-3 and 4-0 wins were complete domination. Miska is 14-4-2 with a .920 save percentage and 2.13 goals-against average. The Bulldogs are looking a lot like North Dakota last season during its national title run.
NIPPED AT NO. 1
It ain’t easy being top dog. Boston University finally moved into the No. 1 spot in the latest USCHO poll, then proceeded to lose 3-1 Tuesday to Merrimack. The Warriors are now 9-13-3 overall and 3-7-3 in the Hockey East. The Terriers are winless in their last four trips to Merrimack. Shed no tears for the Terriers, now 10-2-1 over the past 13 games with an eight-game unbeaten streak before Tuesday’s loss. Prior to Merrimack they hadn’t given up an even-strength goal over the past four games and freshman highlight reel Clayton Keller has seven goals and 10 assists over the past 10 games. The last time BU won its first six games of January was during the 1977-78 season, when the Terriers won their third national title.
Starting this weekend the hockey world will get a clear indication of just how good the sixth-ranked Minnesota Gophers really are. On Friday Minnesota gets a shot at No. 1 Duluth in the fourth annual North Star College Cup along with Bemidji State and St. Cloud State. Minnesota, Duluth and Bemidji all lead their respective conferences. The following weekend the Gophers host last week’s No. 1 Penn State and then face Ohio State, which just tied and beat the Nittany Lions.
When Ferris State hosts Bowling Green in ASN’s doubleheader nightcap on Friday, keep an eye on Bulldogs skater Gerald Mayhew, No. 20. The senior forward is one of the grittiest players in college hockey and leads his team with 13 goals and 10 assist. Last season he led the WCHA in scoring with 41 points in 41 games, registering career highs in goals (16) and assists (25).
A FRIAR FIND
Providence is getting a boost from sophomore Scott Conway, who is getting a fresh start after being dismissed from Penn State following a freshman season where he was named to the Big Ten's all-freshman team. Conway’s ninth goal with the Friars’ season was the game winner in a 3-2 win over UMass Lowell on Saturday. He also had an assist.
Beware of the Big Red. Cornell is 10-1-1 in its last 12 games and 12-4-2 overall. It’s also played just six home games to date, lowest in the country. Ranked 14th, Big Red plays nine of its final 13 regular season games at home starting Friday with an ECAC/Ivy League showdown with No. 9 Harvard.
Fans are starting to come back Wisconsin hockey. Saturday’s Border Battle at Kohl Arena between Minnesota and Wisconsin drew 14,868 fans and over 12,000 on Friday. For the season, Wisconsin is now No. 2 in attendance in the nation averaging 9,601 fans per game Only North Dakota draws more at 11,576. No. 3 on the list ins Minnesota at 9,403. Colorado College is fourth at 6,307.
Dave Dondoneau is a freelance writer based in Honolulu. Follow him on Twitter at @DakotaHi.