Fear the Gopher.
Boston College just made history by becoming only the second team in women’s college hockey history to complete a regular season unbeaten. The Eagles did it with authority by outscoring Providence 16-2 in the final series.
BC is 34-0 with just six more wins between the Eagles and history.
If it were only that simple.
The Hockey East tournament starts this weekend. The Eagles, if they advance to the Frozen Four, will likely face ECAC champion Quinnipiac, Wisconsin or Minnesota to reach the title game and stay undefeated.
The foursome have been the class of women’s hockey this season but only Wisconsin and Minnesota have faced each other this season, each winning their home series.
The Gophers appear to be peaking at the right time and may have a little extra incentive to thwart the Eagles’ run to perfection: Minnesota became the first to accomplish the 42-0 feat in the 2012-2013 season and is the defending national champion.
After sitting in third in the women’s poll most of the season, Minnesota avenged two losses to Wisconsin last weekend. It’s no coincidence that U.S. Olympian and Patty Kazmaier Award winner Amanda Kessel’s return from a concussion that sidelined her all of last season has coincided with Minnesota’s late push to No. 2 in the polls.
BC has the goaltending and firepower to capture perfection this season, but if it does so it will have earned it on this title run.
Speaking of defending champs
Just like the Minnesota women, the Providence men seem to be peaking at the right time.
The defending national champions trail Boston College by one point for the Hockey East regular-season title after sweeping Notre Dame, now two points back of the lead.
The Friars (23-5-4 overall and 14-3-3 in the Hockey East) wrap up the regular season against UMass after running its winning streak to six games last weekend.
Dreams meet reality
There probably isn’t a player who has stepped foot on an ice sheet who hasn’t dreamed of being in North Dakota’s Austin Poganski’s skates Saturday night.
Game tied at 1, a season-high 11,912 fans on their feet screaming so loud you couldn’t hear a whistle and you, or in this case, Poganski, standing at center ice with Minnesota Duluth goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo alone on the other end.
“I don’t know how he was able to handle the nerves in that situation with 12,000 people watching for the game-winner,” teammate Coltyn Sanderson said. “That’s pretty impressive.”
Poganski handled it because he stuck to what he does every Thursday when practicing penalty shots and shootouts: he picked up the puck, skated in, deked to his forehand and pulled the puck across for a backhand that he lifted past Kaskisuo, who had sprawled.
“I was pretty nervous but it’s what you play for — the thrill and the excitement,” Poganski said. “It was tough to get my mind clear with all the fans screaming, but it’s one of my favorite moves.
Right away I knew I was going to do that. In that situation, don’t double-think yourself, just do what you do.”
The game-winning goal was Poganski’s fifth this season and how he scored was hardly a surprise to his teammates.
“Everyone on the bench knew it was coming,” Sanderson said. “ Or, at least we were hoping it was because he scores like that all the time on Thursday. He gets it up really quick and over. He’s a good threat to shoot and it’s just a quick movement.”
Carpenter edges Coyne
The women’s scoring race came down to the final weekend with Boston College’s Alex Carpenter edging Northeastern’s Kendall Coyne for the scoring title.
Carpenter finished with 38 goals and 38 assists of 76 points, averaging 2.24 per game. Coyne had 44 goals and 31assists for 75 points. Next closest was BC’s Haley Skarupa with 29 goals and 37 assists.
Coyne led the nation in goals, Carpenter in assists.
Wisconsin goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens earned top goaltending honors with a .956 save percentage and a .81 goals-against average. Quinnipiac’s Sydney Rossman was second a .950 save percentage and 0.89 goals-against average. Desbiens also led the country with 16 shutouts, one more than Rossman.
Meanwhile, in the men's race …
Kyle Connor is having a dream season for Michigan. The freshman leads the country with 24 goals and 27 assists while his linemates, J.T. Compher (11-34, 45 points) and Tyler Motte (28-16, 44) rank second and third.
The only person between a top-three sweep is New Hampshire’s Andrew Poturalski (22-26, 48).
Motte leads the country in goal scoring, while Compher is tied with Poturalski’s linemate TJ Kelleher with 34.
The goaltending race is also tight with Yale’s Alex Lyon (.941 save percentage, 1.51 goals against average) narrowly on top of North Dakota’s Cam Johnson (.940, 1.51).
Boston College leads the nation with nine shutouts.
The Lions didn't sleep this night
One of the coolest and one of the most grueling traditions took place at Penn State last weekend.
That old song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” wouldn’t play here.
Thousands of Nittany Lions, including players from the hockey and other athletic teams, didn’t sleep for 46 hours, dancing to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer.
The result of the fundraiser was $9,770,322.32 at the 44th IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (Thon) at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The year-long student fundraiser culminates with the traditional 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon.
The benefit has raised more than $127 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital since 1977.
The men’s hockey team lost the dance contest to the football team, but if you haven’t viewed the dances yet, click on the link above.
You will not be disappointed.
Northern Michigan surging
The WCHA team on the rise is Northern Michigan, thanks to the return of senior goalie Mathias Dahlstrom.
The Swedish goalie turned aside 33 of 34 shots in a weekend sweep of Alabama Huntsville to move to 6-0-0 since returning fro injury on Jan. 16. What’s more, NMU has moved into a fourth-place tie for home-ice for the opening round of the WCHA playoffs.
He had 19 saves in Friday’s 3-0 win and 14 in Saturday’s 3-1 victory. NMU, 15-11-6 overall and 12-8-4 in league play, plays Lake Superior State this week before finishing with second-place Michigan Tech, whom they trail by thee points for second. Minnesota State leads the league with 33 points.
Tweet of the week
Another dream also came true Saturday night at The Ralph Engelstad Arena, but this time for a fan.
UND has had a 50/50 drawing for its home games with half the money being raised for the school and half going to the winning ticket holder. The drawing topped $103,000 Saturday night, prompting this tweet:
We saw a @UNDmhockey sweep and Joshua Regorrah walked away with $51,595! Winning 50/50 number 0-383522. #NotBad pic.twitter.com/PnNSW6Qfmd
— RalphEngelstadArena (@TheREA) February 21, 2016
Tweet of the week II: The hat trick
Scoring doesn’t come easy for Western Michigan. The Broncos have the 50th ranked offense in the country at just 2.27 goals per game. That’s why we couldn’t pass up sharing WMMT sports anchor Brian Kaufman’s quick video of Greg Molino’s hat trick, the first for the Broncos in nearly two years.
Griffen Molino (.@griff_ball) with WMU's1st hat trick since 11/29/14. Here are all 3 goals in a 25 second clip! pic.twitter.com/9S18hM0MfH
— Brian Kaufman (@BrianKaufmanTV) February 21, 2016
Follow Dave Dondoneau on Twitter @DakotaHI.