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Patrick Donnelly | NCAA.com | November 17, 2022

No. 2 Minnesota vs. No. 3 Michigan is this week's top men's college hockey series

The top college hockey storylines for 2022-23

This week's men's hockey schedule features a couple massive conference rivalries, including a pivotal top-five matchup in the Big Ten.

Here's what you need to know, and how to keep up with the action:

Big Ten brawl: No. 2 Minnesota visits No. 3 Michigan

This could be the game of the week in any league in North America, if we're being honest. Both the Golden Gophers and Wolverines are absolutely loaded, whether it's talented veterans or high-flying freshmen.

Minnesota dropped from No. 1 in the polls after splitting with Penn State, while Michigan stayed put after a split with Notre Dame.

The Gophers (8-4-0, 4-2-0 Big Ten) have dealt with a difficult schedule early on, but have faired well. In the split with Penn State, Minnesota rallied behind two third-period goals from Bryce Brodzinski to come back for the win in Game 2. The senior forward had three goals on the weekend.

Freshman forward Jimmy Snuggerud leads the team in goals (eight) and points (12), while sophomore Matthew Knies is right behind him with seven goals and four assists. Freshman Logan Cooley has also had a nice start with 10 points (3g, 7a) in 12 games. Justen Close has locked it down in the crease with a .923 save percentage, a 1.88 goals-against average and two shutouts.

On the flip side, Michigan (9-3-0, 2-2-0 Big Ten) dominated the Fighting Irish on Friday before blowing a 2-0 lead in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss. It was the second split in a row for the Wolverines, who did so with Penn State the previous weekend. Prior to that series, Michigan had won four straight.  

Sophomore forward Mackie Samoskevich (2g, 2a), sophomore defenseman Luke Hughes (3a) and freshman forward Adam Fantilli (3a) had strong showings against ND. On the year as a whole, Fantilli has been other-worldly, leading the nation with 23 points (9g, 14a) in 12 games to begin his collegiate career. Samoskevich is right there too with 19 points (10g, 9a). In goal, Erik Portillo has been serviceable with a .909 save percentage and 2.59 goals-against average.

Michigan boasts the nation's highest-scoring offense with 4.42 goals per game, while Minnesota is no slouch either with the eighth-highest total (3.58). This week's series should be wildly entertaining, given the amount of talent on both sides. 

Beanpot rematch: No. 11 Boston University faces No. 18 Northeastern

The Battle of Comm. Ave between BU and BC might grab the headlines as far as Boston rivalries go, but this cross-town rivalry between the Terriers and Huskies has been right there with it in recent seasons. 

These two sides have met in two straight Beanpot finals, three of the last four and four of the last seven, going back to 2015. BU took last season's tournament after losing out to the Huskies in 2020 and 2018. That's not to mention meetings in the Hockey East tournament in 2017 and 2019, as well as a number of recent nail-biting regular-season matchups. 

The Terriers (6-3-0, 4-2-0 HEA) come into the series in the midst of a three-game winning streak, fresh off a sweep of then-No. 11 UMass this past weekend. BU outscored the Minutemen 12-3 across the two games. BU has had one of, if not the strongest schedule in college hockey so far with ranked opponents in Michigan, UMass Lowell, UConn, UMass and now Northeastern. The Terriers have gone 5-3-0 in that stretch since Oct. 14. They'll also face Notre Dame next week with UConn and Harvard on the horizon before the new year. 

Freshman forward Ryan Greene is coming off a massive weekend for BU with three goals and three assists. He shares the team lead in goals (five) and is second in points (11) behind senior forward Matt Brown (5-8--13). Junior goaltender Drew Commesso holds a .952 save percentage in three games since returning from an injury sustained a rough outing in BU's 9-2 loss at Michigan.

Meanwhile, Northeastern went winless (0-1-1) against BC last weekend. The Huskies (6-3-3, 5-3-2 HEA) have struggled with injuries early on and will now be without their two best players in captain Aidan McDonough and defenseman Jayden Struble for Friday's contest. The two were each suspended one game for their roles in a postgame scrum with the Eagles on Sunday. In their two meetings against ranked opponents in Providence and Lowell, NU is 0-2-0. 

McDonough leads the team in scoring with 16 points (7g, 8a). Behind him, junior forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine (4g, 10a) and sophomore Justin Hryckowian (8g, 6a) each have 14 points. Goaltender Devon Levi has continued his dominant form from last season, posting a .941 save percentage and 1.88 GAA with two shutouts.

Last season's series went 1-1-1 between both teams, with each game coming down to the wire (1-0 in overtime on Nov. 19, 2-2 on Nov. 20 with NU taking the shootout and 1-0 in the Beanpot final on Feb. 14). This weekend should be another great matchup between these dogs. 

Surprise showcase: No. 6 Penn State hosts No. 17 Michigan State

The Nittany Lions and the Spartans are undoubtedly two of the biggest surprises this season.

Both were picked to finish at the bottom of the Big Ten entering the season, with MSU coming in last behind PSU. Now, here we are early in November with both teams on a roll and in the rankings. 

Penn State (10-2-0, 4-2-0 Big Ten) opened the season with nine straight wins and upset the No. 1 team in the nation two weeks in a row with back to back splits against Michigan and Minnesota. The Nittany Lions feature a top-five offense in Division I, averaging four goals per game, which becomes more impressive when looking at their middling power play, scoring on just 11.8 percent of opportunities. 

PSU has gotten contributions from each regular in the lineup with senior forwards Ture Linden (4g, 7a) and Connor McMenamin (3g, 8a) leading the way with 11 points each. Senior forwards Kevin Wall and Connor MacEachern each have 10 points, and lead in the goal-scoring department with six and five, respectively. Junior netminder Liam Souliere has been strong with two shutouts, a .932 save percentage and a 1.81 GAA to his credit. 

Looking at the Spartans (8-3-1, 4-1-1 Big Ten), they've rattled off four straight wins with sweeps of Wisconsin and then-No. 10 Ohio State last time out. Against ranked opponents in the Buckeyes, UMass Lowell and Notre Dame, MSU is 3-2-1. 

Freshman forwards Daniel Russell (1g, 3a) and Karsen Duwart (1g, 2a) had strong weekends against OSU. Russell has had a big start to his NCAA career, leading the Spartans with 15 points (4g, 11a). Senior forward Joshua Jagger (5g, 5a) is among five skaters behind Russell with 10 points apiece. Graduate goaltender and former Quinnipiac fixture Dylan St. Cyr has been key for Michigan State's early success with a .936 save percentage, 2.00 GAA and one shutout. 

Penn State's struggling power play will go right up against the ninth-best penalty kill in DI as the Spartans have killed off 86.7 percent of opposing man-advantages.

This weekend continues a tough stretch for the Nittany Lions, and it is also a massive measuring stick for Michigan State.

Hockey East clash: No. 7 UConn battles No. 13 UMass Lowell

This series features two of the hottest teams in Hockey East as the River Hawks have won five of their last seven, while the #IceBus has rolled right along, going unbeaten in five straight. 

UConn (9-1-3, 6-1-2 HEA) skated to two ties with No. 9 Providence in their most recent series with a 1-1 result before a 6-6 draw. The Huskies took the extra point in the shootout both nights. Saturday's high-scoring affair saw the Huskies come back from an early 3-0 hole before again rallying in the third period, coming back from a 6-4 deficit to force overtime. 

Juniors Ryan Tverberg (2g) and John Spetz (1g, 2a) came up big for UConn in that raucous Game 2. This season, Tvererg has been a force for the Huskies with nine goals and 13 points. Junior defenseman Andrew Lucas (1g, 11a) and freshman forward Matthew Wood (5g, 6a) have also been productive. Sophomore netminder Logan Terness seems to have taken hold of the crease, sporting a .954 save percentage and a 1.25 GAA in seven starts. 

UMass Lowell (7-4-0, 4-2-0 HEA) is coming off a tough 3-2 loss to Boston College on Tuesday after a sweep of Vermont that saw junior goaltender Henry Welsch post back-to-back shutouts.

Although the River Hawks may not be a super high-scoring team, averaging 2.7 goals per game, senior forwards Carl Berglund (4-5--9) and Brian Chambers (2-6--8) are having solid seasons once again, while freshman Scout Truman (4-3--7) has stepped in nicely. Welsch boasts a .952 save percentage and 1.34 GAA this season. As we've come to expect, Norm Bazin is getting the most out of his team, and has UML firmly in the mix once again. 

Two of the best penalty kills in Division I will go right up against each other with UConn working at 91.2 percent (fourth) and Lowell at 87.5 (eighth). For UConn, it'll be a tough weekend to try to get their struggling power play going, scoring on just 13 percent of opportunities. 

Also on the radar: No. 12 Ohio State takes on No. 20 Notre Dame (7 p.m. ET Friday and 5 p.m. ET Saturday; Value City Arena, Columbus, O.H.; Friday and Saturday on B1G+ – subscription required)

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