Feb. 20, 2009

By Bo Rottenborn

A Look Back at Last Week's Highlights
No. 18 Colorado College jumped out to a 3-1 lead against No. 8 Denver, but DU freshman Joe Colborne scored twice to help the Pioneers salvage a Friday-night tie - though the Tigers assured themselves of winning the Gold Pan Trophy for the third consecutive season. The other Friday showdown also did not disappoint, as junior Joe Gaudet scored in overtime to hand No. 19 Dartmouth a 5-4 victory against then-No. 6 Cornell. Both teams, though, were then dealt upsets the following day. Harvard came into the weekend with just one victory in its previous 17 games, but it capped off back-to-back wins with a 4-2 decision against the Big Red. Colgate, meanwhile, shut down the Big Green in a 1-0 decision.

Top-ranked Boston University trounced Maine 7-2 on Friday, but then had its nine-game winning streak ended in a 2-2 draw with the Black Bears. No. 2 Notre Dame took care of business in a sweep (9-5, 5-2) of Northern Michigan, which had a seven-game unbeaten streak coming into the weekend. Northeastern, ranked third last week, won 5-3 on Friday against Massachusetts - but the Minutemen struck back the following night to end a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 upset triumph.

Two ranked teams - No. 15 Boston College and No. 16 Ohio State - were able to manage just one point in a pair of games. The Eagles suffered their most-lopsided defeat since October of 2006 on Friday, losing 6-0 to UMass Lowell. The River Hawks then took a two-goal lead into the final period on Saturday, but BC rallied to earn a 4-4 tie. The Buckeyes skated to a 1-1 draw on Friday, but lost the shootout against Michigan State. MSU then won by a 2-1 count in the series finale.

Other upsets included Merrimack topping then-No. 5 Vermont 3-2 on Friday, plus St. Lawrence topping No. 9 Princeton 3-1. On Saturday, Bentley stayed hot with a 4-1 win against No. 20 Air Force in a battle of the Falcons. Bentley has six wins in its last seven games.

This Week's Top Matchups
Conference series take on even greater importance as the regular season winds down, and this weekend features some tremendous matchups - including five series pitting ranked teams against one another. The marquee series is a rematch of last week's Beanpot championship game, as No. 1 Boston University (23-5-2/14-5-2) takes on Northeastern (20-8-2/15-5-1) in a home-and-home. It could go a long way in determining the Hockey East regular-season champion. With six games remaining, the Huskies are atop the league standings with 31 points, while the Terriers have 30 (and no one else has more than 27). BU shut out Northeastern 3-0 in November and then used two third-period shorthanded goals on the same power play to ice a 5-2 victory in the Beanpot. The Terriers have won the last five games against Northeastern and are 10-1-2 against the Huskies over the last four seasons.

The ECAC also will have its top two teams play this weekend, as conference-leading No. 7 Yale (19-5-1/14-3-1) heads to No. 10 Princeton (18-7-0/12-6-0) on Saturday. The Bulldogs boast the nation's longest winning streak, having won eight in a row. Yale has allowed just a single goal or fewer in five of its last six games and has outscored opponents 31-13 during the winning streak. One of those victories was a 3-1 decision at home against the Tigers on Jan. 30.

The top two teams in the CHA are in the midst of a series, as well. Bemidji State (14-14-1/10-4-1) gave up the game's first goal on Thursday, but rallied for a 3-1 road win against Niagara (15-12-2/8-4-1). BSU currently holds a four-point advantage in the standings, though the Purple Eagles have two games in hand. The teams will meet for the sixth and final time this season (Bemidji State leads 3-2-0) on Friday in Niagara.

The WCHA features two power series this weekend. Two of the top three squads in the conference standings - No. 8 Denver (17-9-4/13-7-3) and No. 13 Wisconsin (16-11-3/13-7-2) - will meet in Madison for a pair. The Pioneers are tied for the conference lead with 29 points (though co-leader North Dakota has a game in hand), while the Badgers are just point back. The teams played a high-scoring series in Denver in October, with DU getting six points from sophomore Tyler Bozak en route to a sweep (6-5, 7-4). It'll be No. 14 Minnesota (13-9-6/10-8-4) against No. 18 Colorado College (14-9-8/10-8-5) playing two in Colorado Springs. The teams split a pair in December in Minneapolis, with the Gophers winning 4-1 on Friday before Richard Bachman backstopped CC to a 1-0 victory the following evening.

A set of traditional rivals having good seasons will face off in Columbus, as No. 16 Ohio State (18-10-4/11-9-4-3) plays host to No. 3 Michigan (23-9-0/17-7-0-0). The Wolverines look to be peaking at the right time, as they have won four in a row and are 14-2-0 since the start of December. The Buckeyes are heading in the opposite direction, sporting a 2-4-3 mark since having an 11-game winning streak ended. Michigan swept a series (4-3, 6-1) in Ann Arbor over Halloween.

Back east, No. 12 New Hampshire (14-9-5/10-7-4) and No. 17 Boston College (13-10-5/8-8-5) will play a home-and-home set. The teams played one of the highest-scoring games of the season on Nov. 15, with the Eagles rallying from a three-goal deficit for an 8-6 win.

This Week's Televised Games
Friday, February 20
#3 Michigan at #16 Ohio State, 7 p.m. - Big Ten Network
#7 Yale at Quinnipiac, 7 p.m. - WCTX/MyTV9
#17 Boston College at #12 New Hampshire, 7:30 p.m. - NESN
#8 Denver at #13 Wisconsin, 8 p.m. - NHL Network/My14/Wisconsin Public TV
#2 Notre Dame at Nebraska Omaha, 8 p.m. - CBS College Sports
#14 Minnesota at #18 Colorado College, 9:30 p.m. - FSN North/FSN Rocky Mountain
#9 North Dakota at Alaska Anchorage, 11 p.m. - GCICable
Saturday, February 21
Michigan State at Bowling Green, 5 p.m. - FSN Detroit
#8 Denver at #13 Wisconsin, 7 p.m. - FSN Wisconsin/FSN Rocky Mountain/Wisconsin Public TV
Rensselaer at Colgate, 7 p.m. - Time Warner Syracuse
#3 Michigan at #16 Ohio State, 8 p.m. - CBS College Sports
#14 Minnesota at #18 Colorado College, 9 p.m. - FSN North/FSN Rocky Mountain
Ferris State at Alaska, 9 p.m. - Comcast TV
#9 North Dakota at Alaska Anchorage, 11 p.m. - GCICable
Sunday, February 22
Merrimack at Providence, 4 p.m. - ESPNU
(Times are Eastern)

An Accomplishment or Milestone
St. Cloud State used a weekend sweep to move into this week's USCHO/CBS College Sports Division I Rankings, at 19th. The Huskies made it seven WCHA teams among the 20 teams listed in this week's poll. The WCHA - which has featured the NCAA champion in six of the last nine years - has no teams in the top five, but seven of the bottom 12 in the rankings are from the league. Denver and North Dakota lead the way, at eighth and ninth, respectively. Wisconsin comes in at 13th, while Minnesota is 14th, Minnesota Duluth ranks 15th and Colorado College is 18th. WCHA teams hold a 40-22-10 (.625) record in non-conference contests this season.

Statistics Worth Noting
Mercyhurst hit the road and registered 6-3 and 7-4 victories against Connecticut last weekend. That also moved the Lakers' season average of goals-scored per game up to 3.88 - which is the highest mark in the country (Boston University is right behind, at 3.87). Mercyhurst has been on a tear of late and is averaging 4.73 goals per game over its last 11, putting together a 9-1-1 mark during that stretch. Overall, the Lakers are 16-13-3 and stand third in the Atlantic Hockey standings with a 14-7-3 mark and 31 points. Mercyhurst also boasts four of the top five scorers in the AHA.

Spotlight on a Former College Player in the NHL
Scott Clemmensen (Boston College, 1997-2001) - one of the top goaltenders in NCAA Championship history - finally got his opportunity to be a No. 1 goalie in the National Hockey League, and he has capitalized on it. When Martin Brodeur - who has won four of the last five Vezina Trophies - went down with an arm injury in early November, Clemmensen stepped in and has been one of the most-effective netminders in the NHL this season. He ranks among the league leaders in wins (6th; 25-12-1 record), goals-against average (8th; 2.35) and save percentage (11th; .918). More importantly, he has helped the Devils to excel without Brodeur, as New Jersey currently sits atop the Atlantic Division with a 37-18-3 mark and 77 points (which is the third-highest total in the Eastern Conference). The Devils also rank fifth in the NHL in goals-against average (2.47). As a collegian, Clemmensen led Boston College to four consecutive Frozen Four appearances, three berths in the national-championship game and the Eagles' first NCAA title in 52 years in his final campaign in 2001. He still holds the NCAA tournament records for career victories (10-3 record) and saves (356) and has the Frozen Four record for career saves (208) and shares the mark for career wins (4). The Des Moines, Iowa, native also helped BC capture three Hockey East tournament titles and still ranks third in the NCAA Division I record book in career victories (99-35-10 record) and holds the third-longest shutout streak in the DI annals (254:23). Overall, he posted a 2.52 goals-against average and .899 save percentage to go with 13 shutouts.