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Chris Peters | | January 26, 2018

North Dakota-Denver, Cornell-Harvard highlight packed weekend

Cornell has lost only twice this year and is currently on an eight-game unbeaten streak.

It seems that we’re at that point in the season where every weekend feels like a big weekend, but particularly so this week with a number of high-profile games on tap. It just so happens that a few of these games or series also feature pretty good rivalries as well.

The jockeying for position in the standings is a season-long battle, but there are a few games that could create some significant movement. So let’s get right to it: 

All Times ET

Friday, Jan. 26

Cornell at Harvard, 7 p.m.

It’s always fun when these two get together, but Harvard is in need of a big win as they welcome the No. 2 Cornell Big Red. Cornell has lost only twice this year and is currently on an eight-game unbeaten streak. One of their 16 wins overall this season came against Harvard in rather dramatic fashion as Cornell’s Alec McCrea scored with just three seconds left in regulation to secure the 3-2 victory.

MORE: Cornell's Galajda leads Men's Three Stars

Beyond the rivalry, however, this game has big implications in the standings, too. Cornell is currently tied with Clarkson for the top spot in ECAC, while Harvard is just two points behind both of them. The Crimson have been pretty strong of late as they’re also on an eight-game unbeaten streak, however they have three ties in the mix. In fact, Harvard has seen seven games so far this season go to overtime. So we should probably expect another tight affair in this one. With that in mind, it should be pretty interesting to see how red-hot Harvard junior Ryan Donato, who leads the nation with 20 goals, fares against the nation’s stingiest team again.

Friday-Saturday Jan. 26-27 series

Friday: Providence at Northeastern, 7 p.m. (ESPN 3)
Saturday: Northeastern at Providence, 7 p.m.

These two schools just so happen to be the only two Hockey East teams currently in the top 16 in the Pairwise rankings. They’re also the two teams within striking distance of Boston College, which sits in first place in Hockey East with a 12-4-0 record. The Huskies are just a point behind, while the Friars trail by four, so this is a big series with it being a Friday-Saturday home-and-home.

Both of these clubs sure know how to fill the net. Northeastern has two of the top five scorers in the country in Adam Gaudette (36 points) and Dylan Sikura (34 points), while Providence’s Erik Foley has 29 points to put him among the top 20 scorers nationwide. With as talented as both teams are, this one could come down to the goaltenders and both teams have good ones. Junior Hayden Hawkey has been particularly good in-conference for Providence, with a .926 save percentage against Hockey East foes. The same goes for freshman netminder Cayden Primeau, who has a .922 save percentage overall and a .934 mark in 14 Hockey East games. With stakes as high as they are, this could be the best series of the week.

Bracketology: NCHC heavily represented, led by St. Cloud State and Denver

Friday: Michigan at Ohio State, 7 p.m. ET
Saturday: Michigan at Ohio State, 8 p.m. ET

It’s going to be awfully tough for any team to catch Notre Dame for first place in the Big Ten, but the winner of this weekend’s big rivalry series has a chance to come out with the No. 2 spot in the conference. Michigan is rolling with wins in their last four. The offense is clicking and they’ve put themselves back in the national tournament picture. Ohio State, meanwhile, has been excellent for much of the season. With only two regulation losses in their last 14 games, the Buckeyes are firmly among the top 10 teams in the country right now. They should also have a lot of confidence coming into this series after sweeping Michigan in Ann Arbor two months ago.

This game will also be a battle between Philadelphia Flyers draft picks performing at an extremely high level this year. Ohio State’s Tanner Laczynski has been one of the top performers in the country this season with 34 points in 24 total games. Meanwhile, Michigan is led by Cooper Marody who has 31 points this year. Not too shabby for a couple of guys that were picked in the sixth round a year apart.

Denver at North Dakota, 8:37 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
Denver at North Dakota, 7:07 p.m. (Fox College Sports)

There are a few great series in the NCHC this weekend that should get a lot of attention, but this one will have the national spotlight. DU currently holds the top spot in the incredibly competitive NCHC. North Dakota, meanwhile, sits in fourth and the Fighting Hawks are coming off of a disappointing road sweep at Minnesota Duluth. Having earned a split at Denver earlier in the season, UND knows it can hang with one of the nation’s top teams, though.

In that split, Denver got some great performances out of two of its top players. Henrik Borgstrom, currently second in the country with 35 points, and soon-to-be Olympian Troy Terry had five points apiece over that weekend. North Dakota will probably be looking for a big performance from top defenseman Christian Wolanin, who is tied for the team lead with 21 points. He’ll probably end up with a lot of ice time trying to slow down Denver’s big guns. The entertainment value should be high for this series.

Northeastern's Nolan Stevens notches hat-trick

Other notable games on TV this week:

Friday, Jan. 26
Notre Dame at Minnesota, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Boston College at UMass-Lowell, 7:15 p.m. (NESN)
St. Cloud State at Minnesota Duluth, 8:07 p.m. (Fox Sports North)
Penn State at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

Saturday, Jan. 27
UMass-Lowell at Boston College, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

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