HAT TRICK | Zamboni breakdown ices Northeastern-Notre Dame game

Three observations from the college hockey weekend:

A building as old as Northeastern’s Matthews Arena will, eventually, see just about everything that can happen in a hockey game. Having been home to over half a dozen collegiate and professional hockey teams over the years, it would only stand to reason that the old barn had seen everything.

Until this weekend, however, the building once known as Boston Arena had never seen a hockey game called after two periods because of a broken Zamboni.

When one of the famous machines stopped working between the second and third periods of Sunday’s contest between Northeastern and Notre Dame, it took long enough to tow it away that the ice was no longer in playing condition. The game was suspended, with a decision still pending about whether the game will be picked back up and when. The score was tied 0-0 through two periods.

Notre Dame won the earlier game in the weekend series 5-2, on the strength of a very strong third period. Northeastern might feel lucky that they avoided another third period with a team that has proven to be a scoring machine in the latest parts of the game, as Notre Dame has outscored opponents 17-6 in the third this season including the 3-0 margin on Saturday night.

The suspended game was also the first start of Jake Theut’s collegiate career. The Northeastern goaltender was making the afternoon start after Ryan Ruck gave up five goals in Saturday night’s loss. Theut, a junior, is part of a three-man mix in net for the Huskies, with Ruck and Curtis Frye. He had stopped 22 shots in the two periods that were played.

The Fighting Irish will host UMass-Lowell on Thursday and Friday nights this week, while Northeastern has a home-and-home set on Friday and Saturday with Providence. It will be interesting to see if Anders Bjork and Joe Gambardella can both build off their strong starts in the matchup against one another’s teams this weekend.
The biggest inter-conference matchup of the week was Big Ten leaders of the moment Michigan hosting Hockey East powerhouse Boston University for two games.

Friday night’s game could not have gone much better for the Wolverines, as Tony Calderone scored twice and Will Lockwood added a goal and an assist to lead Michigan to a 4-0 victory. The Terriers outshot the Wolverines 30-21, but Hayden Lavigne was up to the task.

Boston University would come roaring back on Saturday night, riding three points from Charlie McAvoy (a goal and two assists) and a 27-save performance out of Jake Oettinger to a 4-2 victory and a tough split on the road in one of the toughest venues in college hockey.

From here, Michigan goes on to an exhibition next weekend at home against the USA Under-18 team. BU, meanwhile, has a home-and-home series with a tough Connecticut team coming off of one point last weekend in two games at Ohio State.
On Friday night, to begin the biggest series of the weekend, North Dakota and visiting Denver skated to a 1-1 tie. After the 1-1 tie was completed, the two teams played a 3-on-3 extra period that resulted in a Fighting Hawks goal.

The official way to count this is that it was a tie. However, in terms of conference play, North Dakota earned the extra point. It is the second year of the NCHC’s new overtime rules that seek to make their conference games that much more interesting. A shootout ensures that someone will win every conference game. It was the first time this year, and the seventh time overall, that a NCHC conference game has gone to this extra period.

After Denver pulled off the win on the road on Saturday, taking a 3-2 victory on Henrik Borgstrom’s game-winning second period goal, North Dakota now sits in seventh place in the conference without a traditional conference win. Of course, the defending national champions have more than enough talent to brush off a slow start.

North Dakota visits St. Cloud State this coming weekend, while Denver hosts Miami. St. Cloud State will come into their matchup with the Fighting Hawks looking strong after a pair of three-goal victories over Colorado College. Miami will travel to Denver still winless in conference play.

Tim Williams is a freelance writer based in Boston. Follow him on Twitter at @TimWritesSports.

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