Feb. 5, 2009

By Bo Rottenborn

A Look Back at Last Week's Highlights
Upsets were the order of the weekend, as eight of the nation's top nine teams suffered defeats. On Friday alone, five of the top six teams in last week's national rankings dropped their matchups, ranked squads taking on unranked opponents were just 4-5-2, and the lower-ranked team prevailed in three of the four games between ranked schools.

Then-No. 1 Notre Dame suffered a loss for the first time in more than three months, losing 2-1 at home to then-No. 8 Michigan on Friday to end a 20-game unbeaten streak. The Fighting Irish bounced back the following evening to hold on for a 3-2 road win against the Wolverines. No. 3 Northeastern lost 6-4 to Massachusetts, but the most eye-popping result from Friday was an 8-1 victory by St. Lawrence against then-No. 4 Cornell (see below for details). The Big Red then skated to a scoreless tie against Clarkson on Saturday.

Freshman Blake Kessel scored a goal in the waning minutes of regulation to hand New Hampshire a 3-2 triumph over Vermont, while Yale prevailed 3-1 against Princeton in another matchup of ranked teams on Friday. The Bulldogs are now 6-1-0 vs. nationally-ranked opponents this season. Wisconsin and Minnesota Duluth split a series in Madison, with the Badgers earning a 3-1 victory before the Bulldogs notched a 1-0 shutout on Saturday.

Minnesota State was one of the most-impressive teams of the week, as the Mavericks recorded their first-ever sweep of then-No. 5 Minnesota. MSU won 6-2 on Friday in Mankato and then took a 3-1 decision in Minneapolis. Friday's other upsets saw St. Cloud State shut out North Dakota 3-0, and Alaska earn a 4-1 triumph against Ohio State. The surprises on Saturday featured Alaska Anchorage knocking off Denver by a 3-2 score, and Mercyhurst win by the same tally against Air Force.

Boston University was one of the few top teams to take care of business over the weekend, as a 3-1 win over Merrimack on Friday was good enough to vault the Terriers to the national No. 1 ranking on Monday. But BU almost was bitten by the upset bug on Monday, as Harvard jumped out to a 2-0 lead and eventually netted what would have been the game-tying goal in the final second - but the Crimson score was ruled to have come after time had expired, and the Terriers escaped with a 4-3 win in the opening game of the Beanpot Tournament. Northeastern then pounded Boston College 6-1 in the other semifinal.

This Week's Top Matchups
The nation's elite teams - many of them fresh off upset defeats last weekend - will face more stiff tests this week, as five of the top six teams in this week's poll have at least one contest against a ranked team on the horizon. The marquee matchup will come on Monday evening (8 p.m. ET on NESN) in the championship game of the Beanpot Tournament, when top-ranked Boston University (20-5-1) will face No. 3 Northeastern (18-6-2). BU is aiming for its fourth Beanpot title in the last five seasons and its 29th overall in the 57-year history of the event. The Huskies - whose last three Beanpot titles have come as the result of victories over BU in the final - are looking for their first championship since 1988. The teams met at BU on Nov. 16, and the Terriers claimed a 3-0 victory.

A week after having its 20-game unbeaten streak snapped, No. 2 Notre Dame (20-4-3/14-3-3-3) will face another stiff conference test (Friday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS College Sports; Sunday at 2 p.m. ET), this time in the form of a road series with No. 15 Ohio State (17-8-3/10-7-3-3). The Fighting Irish are the top defensive team in the country, allowing 1.59 goals per game, while the Buckeyes are the CCHA's highest-scoring squad (3.57). The ECAC features a big matchup on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET, as No. 5 Cornell (14-3-4/9-2-3) plays host to No. 10 Princeton (15-6-0/9-5-0). The teams hooked up in the season opener in Princeton. The Tigers held a 43-19 advantage in shots, but junior Ben Scrivens stopped every shot he faced, and senior Tyler Mugford found the back of the net in the third period to give the Big Red a 1-0 win.

There are also a pair of big series in the WCHA. The conference leader, No. 6 Denver (16-8-3/12-6-2), heads to No. 17 Minnesota Duluth (14-8-6/8-7-5) for a pair (Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. CT on Charter). It will pit the top two goaltenders in the WCHA against each other, as junior Alex Stalock from UMD is the league's leader in both goals-against average (2.15) and save percentage (.925). DU sophomore Marc Cheverie - who led the Pioneers to a home sweep of the Bulldogs in November - is tied for first in the WCHA in winning percentage (16-8-3; .648) and is second in GAA (2.40) and save percentage (.915). No. 9 Minnesota (12-7-5/9-6-3) and No. 16 Wisconsin (14-11-3/11-7-2) will play two in Minneapolis (Friday on Big Ten Network; Saturday on FSN North and FSN Wisconsin; both at 7 p.m. CT) on the same weekend that their women's hockey teams will play a No. 1-vs.-No. 2 series there (see details below). The Gophers got a win and a tie in Madison in October.

This Week's Televised Games
Friday, February 6
Maine at No. 11 New Hampshire, 7:30 p.m. - NESN
Ferris State at Michigan State, 7:30 p.m. - FSN Detroit
No. 6 Denver at No. 17 Minnesota Duluth, 8 p.m. - NHL Network/Charter
No. 2 Notre Dame at No. 15 Ohio State, 8 p.m. - CBS College Sports
No. 16 Wisconsin at No. 9 Minnesota, 8 p.m. - Big Ten Network
Alabama-Huntsville at Bemidji State, 8:30 p.m. - Charter
St. Cloud State at Alaska Anchorage, 11 p.m. - GCICable
Saturday, February 7
Lake Superior State at No. 4 Michigan, 7:30 p.m. - Comcast TV
No. 6 Denver at No. 17 Minnesota Duluth, 8 p.m. - Charter
No. 16 Wisconsin at No. 9 Minnesota, 8 p.m. - FSN North/FSN Wisconsin
Alabama-Huntsville at Bemidji State, 8 p.m. - Charter
St. Cloud State at Alaska Anchorage, 11 p.m. - GCICable
Monday, February 9
No. 1 Boston University vs. No. 3 Northeastern, 8 p.m. - NESN (Beanpot Championship)
(Times are Eastern)

An Accomplishment or Milestone
On Friday, St. Lawrence posted an 8-1 home victory against Cornell. It was the highest scoring output and largest margin of victory of the season for the Saints, who now have five wins over nationally-ranked teams. But the more noteworthy aspect of it was that it came against the fourth-ranked Big Red - who came into the game as the top scoring defense in the country. Cornell had been surrendering just 1.42 goals per contest (27 total) and had allowed more than two tallies on just two occasions in 19 games. Plus, Big Red goaltender Ben Scrivens - was the national leader in both goals-against average (1.32) and save percentage (.950). But the Saints - now 6-1-1 in their last eight - jumped out to a 4-0 advantage and then added four more goals in the third period (despite being outshot 22-10 in the final frame). Senior defenseman Jared Ross was the only multiple goal scorer for St. Lawrence, though junior Travis Vermeulen and freshman Brandon Bollig both accounted for a goal and two assists. Senior Casey Parenteau and junior Alex Curran notched three helpers apiece.

Statistics Worth Noting

Wisconsin (24-1-3/18-1-3-1) and Minnesota (23-3-2/18-2-2-2) are not just the top two teams in the NCAA Division I women's hockey national rankings. The Badgers and Gophers - who meet for a pair of games this weekend in Minneapolis (Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. CT) - also are the two highest-scoring squads in NCAA DI women's hockey and feature the top two goaltenders in the country. The top-ranked Badgers are averaging 5.25 goals per game on the season (6.33 on their current six-game winning streak), while the Gophers come in next at 5.18 (including seven games with eight or more goals). Wisconsin senior netminder Jessie Vetter is tops in the nation in all three major goaltending categories, boasting a 23-1-3 (.907) record to go with a 1.15 goals-against average and .942 save percentage. Minnesota freshman Alyssa Grogan is second in the nation in the latter two categories, at 1.17 and .942, respectively. The first installment of this season's Border Battle - which has culminated with UW wins over the Gophers in the NCAA tournament in two of the last three years - was a two-game series in Madison in October, in which the teams skated to a 1-1 tie (Minnesota took the shootout) before the Badgers earned a 2-1 victory.

Spotlight on Former College Players in the NHL
New Jersey's Zach Parise (North Dakota, 2002-04) is in the midst of his best season in the National Hockey League. In 2007-08, he established career bests in goals (32), assists (33), points (65) and plus/minus (+13), but Parise is currently on pace to better all of those marks. He stands fourth in the NHL in goals (29) and seventh in points (59) and already has accounted for 30 assists and a plus-21 rating. Plus, his Devils are atop the Atlantic Division with a 32-16-3 mark (67 points). In his fourth season in the NHL, Parise has 106 goals, 112 assists and a plus-30 rating in 295 games. He's also accounted for nine goals and nine assists in 25 postseason contests. Parise, a Minneapolis native, was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in both of his seasons at North Dakota. As a collegian, he accumulated 49 goals and 67 assists (116 points) and a plus-58 rating in 76 games. Parise - who was selected by New Jersey as the 17th pick in the first round of the 2003 draft - helped the Fighting Sioux to a pair of NCAA tournament berths and a regular-season WCHA title.