Jan. 15, 2009

By Bo Rottenborn

A Look Back at Last Week's Highlights
Three top-10 teams failed to register a point last weekend, while Michigan was one of the big winners, sweeping Miami (5-1, 4-0) at home (despite one of the games being moved from Friday to Sunday due to structural damage at Yost Ice Arena). Since the Wolverines - who moved up four spots to No. 6 in this week's poll - lost two to the RedHawks in November, they are 7-0-1, having outscored their opponents 36-12. North Dakota also registered an impressive home sweep, taking down then-No. 3 Minnesota 6-3 and 6-1. The Fighting Sioux are 8-2-0 in their last 10 (51-26 goal differential) and moved back into the national rankings at 17th. Also, Princeton lost to both Union (3-2) and Rensselaer (5-1) heading into its annual academic break.

Vermont gained three points at home in its Hockey East showdown with defending NCAA champion Boston College, skating to a 3-3 draw and then winning 4-2. Meanwhile, No. 1 Notre Dame kept rolling with a pair of shutouts of then-No. 19 Alaska (2-0, 3-0) to move to 16-0-2 in its last 18. No. 2 Boston University defeated Maine (4-1) on Saturday, but then had its eight-game unbeaten streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-2 home defeat against Providence - which has now won three straight following an 11-game winless stretch.

This Week's Top Matchups
Hockey East treats us to a couple of intriguing matchups this week, headlined by a series between league-leading No. 3 Northeastern (14-4-2/10-2-1) and No. 8 Vermont (12-4-3/7-3-2) in Boston (Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. ET). The Huskies prevailed by a 5-3 score against the Catamounts on Nov. 14 in Burlington. It will be a matchup of one of the elite power-play units against one of the top penalty-killing squads. Vermont ranks fourth in Division I on the man-advantage, with a 21.8% success rate, while NU is tops in Hockey East and fourth nationally in killing penalties at 90.5%. On Saturday, No. 2 Boston University (14-5-1/7-5-1) will play host to No. 12 Boston College (9-6-3/5-5-3) at 7 p.m. ET on CN8. It could feature the top goal scorer in the conference trying to get the puck past the league's top goaltender. BC's Brock Bradford leads Hockey East in goals per game (0.78; 14 in 18 games), while BU freshman Kieran Millan is 10-1-1 on the season with a conference-best 1.66 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. Bradford did pot a goal against Millan in a 1-1 tie on Dec. 5 at BU. The Terriers gained a 3-1 road victory the following night.

Two of the league's elite also will match up in the WCHA, as No. 11 Colorado College (12-7-5/8-5-1) heads to No. 16 Wisconsin (12-9-3/9-5-2) for a series in the Kohl Center (7 p.m. CT on Friday; 6 p.m. CT on Saturday on FSN Wisconsin/FSN Rocky Mountain/WPT). Junior defenseman Jamie McBain - who shares the Division I lead in assists (23) - and the Badgers will have the task of trying to beat 2008 WCHA Player of the Year Richard Bachman, who currently leads the league in save percentage (.925) and is second in GAA (2.22).

The Battle for the Riverstone Cup presents the week's most-enticing non-conference showdown, as No. 13 New Hampshire (10-6-4) and No. 18 Dartmouth (10-6-0) will play at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. Top-ranked Notre Dame (18-3-2/12-2-2-2) looks to extend its unbeaten streak to 20 this weekend, as it will play two (Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. ET) at Lake Superior State (6-9-7/3-6-5-1).

This Week's Televised Games
Friday, January 16
Bentley at Maine, 7 p.m. - WABI
UMass Lowell at No. 12 Boston College, 7 p.m. - NESN
No. 5 Cornell at Union, 7:30 p.m. - NHL Network (U.S.)/Time Warner Albany
St. Cloud State at No. 7 Minnesota, 8 p.m. - FSN North
Michigan State at No. 9 Miami, 8 p.m. - CBS College Sports
Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota State, 8:30 p.m. - Charter
Saturday, January 17
No. 6 Michigan at Bowling Green, 5 p.m. - Comcast/NHL Network (Canada)
Michigan State at No. 9 Miami, 5 p.m. - CBS College Sports
No. 7 Minnesota at St. Cloud State, 6 p.m. - FSN North/Charter
No. 12 Boston College at No. 2 Boston University, 7 p.m. - CN8
No. 5 Cornell at Rensselaer, 7 p.m. - Time Warner Albany
No. 11 Colorado College at No. 16 Wisconsin, 7 p.m. - FSN Wisconsin/FSN Rocky Mountain/WPT
No. 13 New Hampshire vs. No. 18 Dartmouth, 7 p.m. - WMUR
Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota State, 8 p.m. - Charter
Sunday, January 18
Holy Cross at Army, 4 p.m. - ESPNU
(Times are Eastern)

An Accomplishment or Milestone From the Past Week
Plattsburgh State went longer than anyone else before losing a game this NCAA hockey season, but the Cardinals - ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division III with a 12-1-2 mark - fell 5-3 on Tuesday at Skidmore. Plattsburgh State had won seven in a row following back-to-back ties in late November. The Cardinals' previous defeat had come against St. Norbert in last year's NCAA final (2-0). Meanwhile, the Wisconsin women's hockey team suffered its first defeat on Saturday following an 18-0-2 start, falling 4-0 to Minnesota Duluth in a rematch of last year's NCAA title game (also won by the Bulldogs by the same score). The last unbeaten in NCAA Division III women's action was Amherst, which began the season 6-0-0 before losing 3-0 at Gustavus Adolphus on Jan. 2. Air Force was the final Division I men's team to taste defeat this season, having lost 4-1 at Denver on Nov. 29 following a 13-0-0 start.

A Statistic Worth Noting
Despite having gone 2-4-1 following the 13-game winning streak to open the season, Air Force remains, statistically, the most-prolific offensive squad in the country. The Falcons - ranked 15th with a 15-4-1 mark - are tops in the nation with a 4.05 goals per game average (Ohio State is next at 3.73). Air Force also ranks first in scoring margin (+2.30 per game; Notre Dame is second at +2.00) and power-play conversion (26.8%; Boston University is second at 23.5%). The Falcons are led by sophomore Jacques Lamoureux, who leads NCAA Division I in goals per game (0.85), power play goals (11) and game-winning goals (5), while ranking second in points per game (1.50). In fact, four of the top five scorers in the Atlantic Hockey Association wear the Blue and Silver. That group includes senior Greg Flynn - the Division I leader in points per game among defensemen (1.20).

Spotlight on a Former College Player in the NHL
Chicago center Jonathan Toews (North Dakota, 2005-07) was voted to be one of the starters in the National Hockey League All-Star Game in Montreal, which takes place Sunday, January 25 at 6 p.m. on Versus. Toews, the third overall selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, wasted no time in making an impact in the NHL. He jumped straight from the Fighting Sioux to the Blackhawks, scored a goal on his first shot in his first NHL game and then put together the second-longest point-scoring streak (10 games) ever to start an NHL career. Toews was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy and was named to the NHL All-Rookie team after a 2007-08 campaign in which he led all rookies in goals (24) and totaled 54 points and a plus-11 rating in 64 games. Toews, 20, was named an alternate captain just two months into his rookie season and was tabbed as the Blackhawks team captain in the offseason - making him the third-youngest captain in NHL history. This season, he has 34 points (12-22), a plus-7 rating and a team-best 52.6% faceoff winning percentage in 41 games. His squad - which hasn't qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2002 - currently stands as the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. Toews played two seasons at North Dakota, compiling 85 points (40-45), a plus-38 rating and a 56.7% faceoff winning percentage in 76 games. He helped the Fighting Sioux reach the NCAA Frozen Four in both 2006 and '07.