Elliot Olshansky, NCAA.com
It’s not every weekend you get a chance to knock off the No. 1 team in the nation, but no fewer than three different teams will have that chance this weekend.
Two of those teams are Buffalo State and Fredonia, who will host No. 1 Oswego this Friday and Saturday, respectively. The third? Wisconsin-Eau Claire, some 850 miles west of Buffalo, who will travel to No. 1 St. Norbert for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday in Green Bay.
The Lakers and the Green Knights are tied atop this week’s USCHO.com Division III poll, with each team collecting 10 first-place votes and 10 second-place votes. St. Norbert, which opened 2011 atop the rankings, asserted its dominance with a 6-0 win against St. John’s (Minn.) and a 5-1 defeat of Concordia (Minn.) in non-conference play. Sophomore Cody Keefer recorded four points on the weekend with a goal and an assist against St. John’s and a pair of goals against the Cobbers.
“Cody Keefer was the best player on the ice for either team, both nights,” head coach Tim Coghlin told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “His feet right now, he’s absolutely flying on the ice.”
Oswego, after being dislodged from the top spot following a loss to Hamilton on December 30, shut out Skidmore and Curry for a pair of non-conference wins. With junior goaltender Paul Beckwith still out of action with an injury, sophomores Dan Jones and Andrew Hare both shined in the Laker net, with each goalie recording a shutout on the weekend.
With the wins, both the Lakers and the Green Knights finished out their non-conference schedules, and will turn their attention to conference play, starting with SUNYAC games at Buffalo State and Fredonia for the Lakers and a visit from the Blugolds for the Green Knights.
Need to Know
• After overpowering the opposition all season long with a high-octane offense, top-ranked Yale was forced to get it done with defense on Friday night against Dartmouth. The Big Green’s James Mello, who currently sits second in Division I in save percentage (.940) and fifth in goals-against average (1.85), stopped 35 of 37 shots, putting the pressure on goaltender Ryan Rondeau and the Yale defense to stifle a Dartmouth team that scores more than three goals per game in its own right. The Bulldogs were equal to the task in their own end, though, as Rondeau stopped 32 of 33 shots in a 2-1 win. A night after being held to their lowest goal total of the season, the Bulldogs stepped up their offense in a 4-2 win against Harvard, keeping their place atop the USCHO.com Division I Poll.
• Yale athletic director Tom Beckett confirmed Monday this about forward Chris Cahill: “that every standard pertaining to the collegiate eligibility of Chris Cahill has been met to the satisfaction of the Yale and Ivy League compliance staffs.” Reports over the weekend had questioned Cahill’s eligibility based on a French junior league he played in while academically ineligible last season.
• Behind the two No. 1 teams, Norwich was Division III’s biggest mover this week in the USCHO.com Poll, jumping from seventh to third. After a tough loss to Manhattanville at the Northfield Bank Tournament on New Year’s Day, the Cadets returned to ECAC East play on a mission, defeating Bowdoin, 5-3, and Colby, 7-2. Chad Anderson led Norwich against Bowdoin with a pair of goals, while Tim Houston had two for the Cadets against Colby.
• The Ohio State Buckeyes achieved a major milestone under first year under head coach Mark Osiecki when they swept their in-state rival, then-No. 7 Miami, in a pair of games at Value City Arena. Junior goaltender Cal Heeter made 40 saves in a 1-0 win against the RedHawks on Friday, while John Albert scored two goals and assisted on a third during Ohio State’s five-goal third period on Saturday. The wins leave OSU sixth in the CCHA heading into this weekend’s series at Western Michigan.
With Yale’s quartet of high-scoring forwards relatively stifled on the weekend, New Hampshire junior forward Paul Thompson made a strong run up the national scoring chart. Thompson posted a hat trick and an assist on Friday in a 5-2 win against UMass-Lowell, then added another goal and assist the next night in a 3-1 win at UMass. With 15 goals and 16 assists in 19 games, Thompson is third in the country in scoring average with 1.63 points per game. … Middlebury forward Martin Drolet was named NESCAC Player of the Week on Monday after scoring twice and assisting on three other goals during a 1-0-2 week for the Panthers. With 10 points in eight games this season, Drolet ranks 14th in the NESCAC in points per game. … Adrian senior Shawn Skelly was named MCHA Player of the Week after scoring two goals in a 7-5 win against Buffalo State on Friday. The Bulldogs, who sit second in the MCHA, return to conference play this weekend with a major opportunity, hosting conference-leading Milwaukee School of Engineering on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. … Notre Dame freshman forward T.J. Tynan was named CCHA Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season. Tynan scored a goal and added three assists in a pair of wins at Northern Michigan. Tynan leads the No. 8 Irish in scoring with 15 goals and 18 assists in 24 games, ranking 13th in the nation in points per game (1.38). … North Dakota senior forward Matt Frattin added two more goals to bring his national-best total to 20 this past weekend, scoring a goal in each of the Fighting Sioux’s wins against Robert Morris. Friday’s goal, during an 8-0 win, might not have been particularly necessary, but his unassisted tally during Saturday’s 2-1 victory brought an end to nearly 56 minutes of scoreless hockey and gave the Sioux a lead they would not relinquish. … Merrimack made a statement on Saturday with a 7-1 win against then-No. 9 Maine. The Warriors leapfrogged the Black Bears to move to fourth in the Hockey East standings with the lopsided win, which featured two goals and an assist from last season’s National Rookie of the Year, Stephane Da Costa. The No. 13 Black Bears will look to bounce back this weekend when they host Providence on Friday and welcome No. 3 Boston College to Orono on Sunday night for a nationally-televised game on CBS College Sports (7:00 p.m. ET).