Jan. 30, 2009

 

By Bo Rottenborn
Special to NCAA.com

With top-ranked Notre Dame idle, No. 2 Boston University stepped up to make a statement with a dominating sweep (5-0, 3-1) of then-No. 11 New Hampshire in a home-and-home series in action during the last full weekend of January. The Terriers killed all 14 power play chances they gave UNH, and freshman goaltender Kieran Millan made 51 saves in the series and ended the Wildcats' streak of 75 straight games without being shut out (which had been the longest in the nation). In the other marquee series, North Dakota hammered then-No. 4 Denver by an 8-3 score on Friday, but the Pioneers salvaged a 2-2 draw the next night to maintain a one-point margin over the Fighting Sioux - who are 6-0-2 this month - for first place in the WCHA.

Elsewhere, two long unbeaten streaks ended. Yale outshot then-No. 3 Cornell 36-20 in a 4-3 upset - the Bulldogs' first victory in Ithaca since 1999. The Big Red had been unbeaten in 10 straight, while Ohio State had a 13-game streak without a loss prior to falling 4-1 to Western Michigan on Saturday after the teams tied 2-2 on Friday (OSU won the shootout). Colorado College also had a tough weekend, garnering just one point (4-4, 1-6) in a home series with St. Cloud State.

WHAT'S IN STORE
We are on the verge of what looks, on paper, to be one of the best weeks of action remaining in the regular season. It features a tough test to the unbeaten streak of the nation's top-ranked team, the start of the Beanpot, and a total of five different matchups between ranked squads. No. 1 Notre Dame has gone 20 games since its last defeat (Oct. 25), but the Irish have a home-and-home series with defending CCHA champion No. 8 Michigan - which has nine wins in its last 10 games - on Friday at 8 pm ET in South Bend on CBS College Sports Network and Saturday at 7:30 pm ET in Ann Arbor on FSN Detroit.

Another series between ranked teams will take place in Madison, where No. 15 Wisconsin plays host to No. 16 Minnesota Duluth Friday and Saturday (both games at 7 pm CT and on MyMadisonTV). The pivotal struggle could be the Bulldogs power play - ranked third in Division I (22.2 percent) - against the Badgers' fourth-ranked penalty kill (89.9 percent). UW got the better of the matchup en route to earning three points in Duluth in November, as UMD scored twice in 16 power-play chances.

There are two other attractive matchups, both in New England, on the Friday slate. No. 6 Vermont (14-5-4/9-4-3) heads to No. 13 New Hampshire for a 7 pm ET game as part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Hockey East. It will be a clash between two of the top teams in the ECAC in New Haven, when No. 9 Princeton and No. 18 Yale meet at 7 pm ET.

The 57th annual Beanpot Tournament gets underway on Monday in TD Bankworth Garden. No. 2 Boston University (18-5-1) will face Harvard at 5 pm ET in the first semifinal, while No. 3 Northeastern and No. 11 Boston College will matchup at 8 pm ET (both games are on NESN). A year ago, Harvard scored twice in the final 10 minutes of regulation to force overtime in the championship game, but BC's Nick Petrecki potted his second goal of the game at 7:07 of OT to give the Eagles - who also needed overtime to beat BU in the semis - their 14th Beanpot title.
 
WHAT TO WATCH
This Week's Televised Games
Friday, Jan. 30
Bowling Green at No. 10 Miami (Ohio), 7:30 pm - NHL Network
No. 11 Boston College at Providence, 7:30 pm - NESN
Northern Michigan at Western Michigan, 7:30 pm - FSN Detroit Plus
No. 8 Michigan at No. 1 Notre Dame, 8 pm - CBS College Sports
No. 12 North Dakota at St. Cloud State, 8 pm - Charter
No. 16 Minnesota Duluth at No. 15 Wisconsin, 8 pm - MyMadisonTV/Wisconsin Public TV
No. 5 Minnesota at Minnesota State, 8:30 pm - FSN North
Alaska Anchorage at No. 7 Denver, 9:30 pm - FSN Rocky Mountain
Saturday, Jan. 31
Quinnipiac at No. 18 Yale, 7 pm - NESN
No. 1 Notre Dame at No. 8 Michigan, 7:30 pm - FSN Detroit
Northern Michigan at Western Michigan, 7:30 pm - Comcast TV
Minnesota State at No. 5 Minnesota, 8 pm - FSN North
No. 12 North Dakota at St. Cloud State, 8 pm - Charter
No. 16 Minnesota Duluth at No. 15 Wisconsin, 8 pm - MyMadisonTV/Wisconsin Public TV
Alaska Anchorage at No. 7 Denver, 9 pm - FSN Rocky Mountain
Sunday, Feb. 1
Massachusetts at Maine, 4 pm - ESPNU
Monday, Feb. 2
No. 2 Boston University vs. Harvard, 5 pm - NESN
No. 3 Northeastern vs. No. 11 Boston College, 8 pm - NESN
(Times are Eastern) 

LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE
RIT registered a road sweep of Canisius last weekend for its 10th and 11th consecutive victories - the longest current such streak among Division I teams (no other DI school has won more than four in a row). The Tigers began the season with a 1-4-1 mark in their first six games and stood 5-9-1 following a 2-0 loss against Air Force Dec. 5. But on the following evening, senior Brennan Sarazin scored with two minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime, and sophomore Andrew Favot found the back of the net in the extra session to give RIT a 3-2 upset of the Falcons - who came into the game ranked 10th nationally with a 14-1-0 record. The Tigers have won every game since then, outscoring their opponents by a 53-26 margin during the stretch. RIT - playing Division I hockey for just the fourth season - now sits atop the Atlantic Hockey Association standings with 31 points (Air Force - which visits Rochester for a series in the final weekend of the regular season - has 29 points, but also two games in hand). The Tigers, 16-9-1 overall and 15-4-1 in league action, play an exhibition game this weekend before playing host to Sacred Heart Feb. 6 and 7.
 
BY THE NUMBERS
Quinnipiac senior Bryan Leitch has posted nine points over the past two weekends and now holds somewhat sizable leads among the NCAA Division I leaders in both points and assists. Leitch has nine goals and 32 assists for 41 points, while Garrett Roe of St. Cloud State is next in total points with 36. Leitch's average of 1.71 per game is far ahead of second-place Ryan Stoa from Minnesota (1.43). His assist numbers are even more impressive, as he has eight more assists than anyone else in Division I (Roe has 24), and - at 1.33 per game - he is the only player averaging over 1.00. Leitch is on pace to post the highest points-per-game mark in six years (since Peter Sejna from Colorado College averaged 1.95 points per game in 2003), and his current assist average is better than any Division I player has posted in a campaign since 1996, when Connecticut's Ryan Equale averaged 1.64 per game. Leitch has been particularly effective of late, notching at least one point in 16 of his last 17 contests (and multiple points in 11 of those).

AT THE NEXT LEVEL
Nine former NCAA players took part in the National Hockey League All-Star Game last weekend and Boston's Tim Thomas (Vermont, 1993-97) stopped both attempts he faced in the shootout to earn the victory for the Eastern Conference in a 12-11 decision. Thomas - who played the third period and overtime and made 19 saves while allowing three goals - became just the fifth goaltender to earn the win in the NHL All-Star Game in back-to-back seasons (the first since Martin Brodeur in 1997 and '98). His former collegiate teammate, Martin St. Louis (Vermont, 1993-97) of Tampa Bay, was one of the East's offensive leaders, posting three points (2 G, 1 A), putting six shots on goal and finishing with a plus-3 rating. New Jersey's Zach Parise (North Dakota, 2002-04) scored a goal and was plus-3 for the East, while Dany Heatley (Wisconsin, 1999-2001) of Ottawa also notched a goal. Montreal's Mike Komisarek (Michigan, 2000-02) - a starter for the winners - became the first player since 2000 to be called for a penalty in an NHL All-Star Game when he was whistled for hooking in overtime. Thomas Vanek (Minnesota, 2002-04) from Buffalo also contributed to the victory. Keith Tkachuk (Boston University, 1990-91) of St. Louis netted the first goal of the game at the 1:13 mark of the opening period and finished with a plus-2 rating for the West. San Jose's Dan Boyle (Miami, 1994-98) had a goal and an assist and put a team-high seven shots on goal, while Chicago's Jonathan Toews (North Dakota, 2005-07) started the game and scored a goal to put the West ahead 10-9 early in the third.

Three other former college players participated in the NHL Youngstars game, and Boston's Blake Wheeler (Minnesota, 2005-08) had four goals and an assist to lead the Rookies to a 9-5 win over the Sophomores and earn the MVP award. Vancouver's Mason Raymond (Minnesota Duluth, 2005-07) accounted for a goal and an assist for the sophomores, and Andrew Cogliano (Michigan, 2005-07) from Edmonton added an assist. Cogliano also won the NHL Fastest Skater competition.