It’s going to be a pretty busy week for anyone that loves college hockey. With a packed slate of games over the weekend, the Beanpot final on Monday and the start of the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament featuring current and former collegiate players next week, there might be a lot of couch time on the horizon.
Keeping things on this side of the pond, there are a pair of intriguing top-10 matchups coming up, including a big ECAC tilt between Cornell and Clarkson Friday night and a weekend series between Big Ten standouts Ohio State and Notre Dame. Then there’s the Beanpot final on Monday, which features Northeastern looking to win its first title in 30 years against a resurgent Boston University squad.
BRACKETOLOGY: Big Ten crowding tourney
In an increasingly intense national scoring race, the Beanpot is providing a big showcase for two of the nation’s most productive players. Adam Gaudette and Dylan Sikura of Northeastern have been among the leading scorers nationally for pretty much the entire season. Gaudette currently sits alone at the top in total points with 42 in 28 games. The junior forward also has 20 goals, which puts him one behind Harvard’s Ryan Donato, who will miss a few weeks while playing at the Olympics. Meanwhile, senior winger Sikura leads the nation with a 1.52 points-per-game average. He has 38 points in just 25 games.
Northeastern’s dynamic duo was a major factor in the 3-0 win over Boston College that sent the Eagles to the Beanpot final. Gaudette had a goal and two assists, while Sikura added a goal and assist of his own. It’s been the story all season, with senior Nolan Stevens also providing some heavy contributions with 18 goals as well. The three of those players account for 54.7 percent of the Huskies’ 95 goals this season. Each has already etched his name among the greats in Northeastern’s program history, but adding a Beanpot and perhaps some other hardware by season’s end should help further cement their legacies.
Gaudette and Sikura in particular are firmly in the Hobey Baker race, but it’s a pretty crowded field presently. Others like Colorado College’s surprise sophomore Nick Halloran, who is averaging 1.5 points per game, and Nebraska Omaha’s David Pope, who has 19 goals so far this season, have nudged their way into the discussion. Meanwhile, goalies look to be a bigger factor in this year’s race for top individual honors. None has a better shot than Notre Dame’s Cale Morris, who has a .952 save percentage in 25 appearances this year. A few defensemen could be in the mix as well, including St. Cloud State’s Jimmy Schuldt and Minnesota State’s Daniel Brickley, who have been playing key roles for two highly-successful teams.
It should be a thrilling race to the finish with many of these players putting their teams firmly in the mix for postseason hardware.
Here’s a look at some of the games to watch this weekend:
Cornell at Clarkson, Friday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m.
The highly-anticipated rematch between the top two teams in ECAC goes down Friday in Potsdam. Clarkson shut out Cornell on the road in the first meeting between the two teams. The Golden Knights’ leading scorer, Sheldon Rempal, had two points in that game, while goaltender Jake Kielly made 15 saves to earn the shutout. Clarkson was in the midst of a 15-game unbeaten streak last time around, but has just one win and a pair of ties in its last six games. The Big Red just had their 11-game unbeaten streak snapped against Rensselaer on Saturday.
Cornell has a three-point advantage on Clarkson in the ECAC standings with six games left in conference play for both, so this is a big one in the regular-season title race.
The top two teams in the Big Ten square off in what should be an entertaining weekend series. The Fighting Irish swept Ohio State on the road in the last series between these two teams, but those games were pretty tight. This matchup will also feature a pair of legitimate Hobey Baker candidate in Ohio State’s Tanner Laczynski and Notre Dame’s Cale Morris. Laczynski, who is a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick, is tied for sixth in the country with 36 points, while Morris is the top goalie in the country with a .952 save percentage, 1.68 goals-against average and 20-3-1 record.
Pretty much every series in the Big Ten is going to be important the rest of the way, but the Border Battle is always a big one, no matter what. The longtime rivals will square off after splitting the first series in Minnesota earlier in the year. Both games were decided by one goal, so you’d expect plenty of drama in this one as well.
The Badgers will be playing the series without head coach Tony Granato, who is in Pyeongchang, South Korea to lead Team USA at the 2018 Olympics. Additionally, it sounds like the Kohl Center is going to be rocking Saturday as the game is officially sold out.
Beyond all of that, Wisconsin is currently a bubble team for the national tournament, while Minnesota has been battling to stay in the hunt all season. The Gophers have won three of their last four games to get back on track, but both of these teams are going to need strong finishes. This weekend could be a springboard for whichever team manages to get the upper hand.
Beanpot Final: Boston University vs. Northeastern, Monday, Feb. 12,7:30 p.m. (NESN)
Northeastern has not won the Beanpot since 1988. If you’ve seen or read anything about the tournament this week, that factoid has been inescapable. With Gaudette and Sikura leading the charge, you’d think this is going to be the year they break that lengthy drought. Thirty years seems like long enough. However, they Huskies are going to have to play a red-hot Boston University team which is unbeaten in its last eight games.
Ty Amonte wins it for BU! It will be a dogfight between the BU Terriers and the Northeastern Huskies in the 2018 Beanpot championship. Tune in next Monday on NESN! pic.twitter.com/RisKQOa6e5— NESN (@NESN) February 6, 2018
The Terriers will put that streak on the line Friday night against UMass before going after their 31st Beanpot title Monday. They’ll be doing so without junior forward Jordan Greenway, who will be playing for Team USA at the Olympics. That’s a big void in the lineup, but after gutting out a double-overtime victory over Harvard in the semis last Monday, you know BU will be bringing their best against the Huskies.
Northeastern enters the final after defeating Boston College 3-0. Freshman goalie Cayden Primeau made 37 saves to earn the shutout. Primeau is 12-5-5 with a .925 save percentage in his first year. Despite all of Northeastern’s offensive firepower at the top of its lineup, the young netminder could be the X-factor as the Huskies seek their fifth Beanpot title.
Also on TV, streaming Friday
UConn at Northeastern, 7 p.m. ET, NESN
UMass-Lowell at Boston College, 7 p.m., ESPN3
Vermont at New Hampshire, 7 p.m., ESPN3
Maine at Providence, 7:15 p.m. ET, NESN+
UMass at Boston University, 7:30 p.m., ESPN3
St. Cloud State at Miami, 8 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Also on TV, streaming Saturday