Welcome to the college hockey stock report, where we take a look at what’s going on throughout the NCAA men’s hockey landscape.
Right now, college hockey finds itself back from the holidays and entering a brand new decade. Teams, with few exceptions, begin finishing up non-conference play. The stretch run can be seen in the distance. Top-10 battles between East and West teams, such as this past weekend’s hotly contested and full of shenanigans series between Denver and Massachusetts that saw the Pioneers sweep, will be put on pause until March.
Still, there’s plenty to discuss. This week’s stock report looks at trends to see who is doing well, who is on their way down, and which trends should be followed or forgotten, in addition to the best thing that happened this week.
Up: Boston College
Not even the holiday break, or being without star rookie goaltender Spencer Knight, slowed down Jerry York’s club from entering 2020 as one of the hottest teams in the country. At 12-4-0, no team has currently won more consecutive games than the Eagles. Boston College’s winning streak hit double digits with an 8-3 victory over Vermont, which saw senior Ron Greco score his first career hat trick.
The win was a return to another trend moving up for the Eagles, conference play, after being out of conference since before Thanksgiving. Boston College has played a conference-low eight Hockey East games.
Down: Bowling Green
It’s been a rough few weeks for the Falcons. Four straight losses, including one to its old coach Chris Bergeron against Miami, put Bowling Green on a downward slide, along with BGSU’s NCAA tournament hopes. The Falcons went from seventh in the Pairwise on Dec. 11, to 25th at the moment. The path to returning into at-large contention does not get any easier. Bowling Green's next six games come against teams in the top four of the WCHA, with the only home game against conference leader Minnesota State.
Up: College Hockey Games Out West
December and January featured an upward trend of college hockey in the American Southwest. Taking away games regularly hosted by Arizona State in its home state, NCAA games were played in California (between the Sun Devils and Harvard) and Nevada in recent weeks.
The latter saw four of the top 20 teams in the Pairwise last weekend compete in the Fortress Invitational, highlighted by Providence sophomore Jack Dugan (a Las Vegas Golden Knights draft pick), adding to his national scoring lead and getting the game-winning goal in a shootout against Cornell. Dugan now has 37 points (seven goals, 30 assists) in 21 games.
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Up: Host Teams Winning Midseason Tournaments
Dugan’s feat occurred on his future home ice in the NHL. Minnesota won its own tournament, the returning Mariucci Classic, on its current home ice. Honoring former head coach Doug Woog, who recently passed, the Gophers kept in-state bragging rights (all four teams were from Minnesota) in Dinkytown thanks to wins over Bemidji State and St. Cloud State.
Joining Minnesota in this trend were Vermont (Catamount Cup), Dartmouth (Ledyard Bank Classic), and Michigan Tech (Great Lakes Invitational host). The Big Green and Huskies had not won their tournaments since 2008 and 2012, respectively.
Down: Nobody Having Coached 1,000 Games As An ECAC Head Coach
Speaking of the Big Green, Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet became the first ECAC men’s hockey coach to be behind the bench for 1,000 games. Gaudet’s feat came in Friday’s 4-3 overtime win over Princeton, which saw sophomore Drew O’Connor scoring the overtime winner in his home state.
Gaudet won’t be alone for long. Colgate’s Don Vaughan can join the club late this season or early in the 2020-21 season.
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Up: Tyler Madden
With points in 10 of his last 11 games, and 15 goals on the season (one behind Northern Michigan’s Griffin Loughran for the NCAA lead), the Huskies sophomore continues to play better as the season goes along.
More importantly, Madden’s offensive prowess comes with victories. The Huskies, like Madden, play quietly consistent. Northeastern is 9-2-0 over those 11 games, moving from outside the NCAA tournament bubble to ninth place in the Pairwise after beating Bentley.
Hold: Arizona State
The Sun Devils, meanwhile, dropped to being an NCAA tournament bubble team following a 1-3-1 stretch facing teams mostly in the same level of competition. Despite missing out on an opportunity to follow up on winning and tying with Denver, Arizona State has a good opportunity to put its pitchfork in the right direction if the Sun Devils can maintain success against lower levels of competition. Ten of ASU’s final 12 games come against teams in the bottom half of the Pairwise rankings, beginning with a series against a Brown team entering Wednesday on a seven-game losing streak.
Down: Harvard’s Scoring Touch
The Crimson also find itself trying to regain momentum following a 6-0-0 start. Since then, Harvard has gone 1-5-2 and have been unable to maintain an elite offensive pace entering this weekend’s Rivalry on Ice Game against Yale at Madison Square Garden. When scoring four or more goals, the Crimson are 5-0-1. However, that has only happened twice since Thanksgiving. Harvard has scored 3.0 goal per games over its past five contests, down from 4.2 per game over its first nine (only North Dakota had more).
Up: Sacred Heart’s scoring depth
Only 19 players have scored 11 or more goals this season. Four of those represent Sacred Heart. Jason Cotton has 14 goals, Austin McIlmurray has 12, and both Matt Tugnutt and Vito Bavaro are at 11. Only two Pioneers scored more than 11 goals last season.
Slightly Down: Army’s NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid Hopes
Only once has an Atlantic Hockey team earned an NCAA tournament at-large bid. Army’s hopes to join Niagara in 2013 took a hit last weekend with its final two non-conference games not going the way of the Black Knights. Participating at the Fortress Invitational, Army kept with Providence and took No. 6 Ohio State into overtime, but lost both games and currently sit 21st in the Pairwise.
The path still exists. However, Army can’t afford bad losses, and it’s going to get more difficult, given that every remaining opponent currently sits in the bottom half of the Pairwise. For that reason, the Black Knights' hopes are trending slightly downward.
Up: Coles In The NCHC
The past month has been a good stretch for NCHC sophomores named Cole. Both Cole Koepke (Minnesota Duluth) and Cole Guttman (Denver). Guttman has six goals in his five games, including the game-winning goal in both of Denver’s wins last weekend. Koepke is keeping pace with five goals over his last four games as Minnesota Duluth won all four.
Who Won The Week:
Second Runner-Up: The Four Year Cycle
New decade or not, the beginning of 2020 shares a familiar feeling to the end of 2016.
The four Frozen Four teams in Tampa four years ago, North Dakota, Quinnipiac, Boston College and Denver, find themselves among the hottest teams. Over their past five games, the group has gone a combined 19-0-1. Of the group, Quinnipiac helped itself the most. Highlighted by a 5-1 home win over Dartmouth that had major ECAC stakes, the Bobcats moved back into NCAA tournament contention.
First Runner-Up: Jordan Kawaguchi’s Between The Legs Goal
North Dakota’s 13th straight home win set a new record for most consecutive victories at Ralph Engelstad Arena. While it will stand in the record books, the game itself will be known for Jordan Kawaguchi’s between-the-legs and behind-the-back, highlight-reel goal.
In a season where the Fighting Hawks lead both the NCHC and NCAA, and one which sees Kawaguchi emerging as a Hobey Baker candidate (he was named NCAA.com’s first half winner), it’s a given that the highlight-reel goal will be on several Hobey packages over the next few months.
Winner: Cale Morris & Not Allowing Western Michigan To Get A Michigan
Cale Morris had himself a week. The Notre Dame senior stopped 82 of 84 shots and was named NCAA First Star of the Week along with his 14th career Big Ten Three Stars honor. For most people, a 0.976 save percentage would a solid week. For Cale Morris, it’s almost expected at this point.
In fact, it’s the third-most impressive part of Morris’ weekend. Among the 82 saves were a pair of penalty shots by Western Michigan, who went nearly four years without one before getting two in three days. Beyond that, Morris also stopped an attempt by Broncos forward Rhett Kingston to become the latest player to pull off a lacrosse-style goal.
In a time when the “Michigan” or “Svechnikov” is hotly trending upward and more players successfully pull off the move, even Morris can shut down the unexpected. For that and everything else, Cale Morris wins the week.