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Patrick Donnelly | | December 1, 2022

An Ivy League rivalry headlines this week's men's college hockey games to watch

The top college hockey storylines for 2022-23

The storied Ivy League rivalry between No. 7 Harvard and Cornell is the headliner of this week's men's college hockey games to watch.

Here's what you need to know and how to watch.

Ivy League rivalry: No. 7 Harvard at Cornell

Yale might be Harvard's big foe on the gridiron, but on the ice, the bad blood really lies between the Crimson and the Big Red in a rivalry with roots going back to the early 20th century. 

No. 7 Harvard (7-1-1, 6-0-0 ECAC) enters the showdown fresh off an 0-1-1 weekend at No. 5 Michigan as the Wolverines ended the Crimson's unbeaten start to the season. Michigan also posed the toughest matchup to Harvard through their first nine games. 

The Crimson are averaging 3.8 goals per game while surrendering 2.0. Both special teams units have been key to their early success as the power play is working at a 27 percent clip, and the penalty kill clicking at 96.4 percent.

LATEST RANKINGS: Click or tap here for the latest USCHO poll

Four skaters are over a point per game for Harvard with junior forward Sean Farrell (4g, 9a), sophomore forward Matthew Coronato (6g, 6a), senior defenseman Henry Thrun (3g, 9a) and junior forward Alex Laferriere (6g, 5a) leading the way. In goal, senior netminder Mitchell Gibson has had a nice stretch to open his year with a .927 save percentage, 1.97 goals-against average and one shutout. 

Cornell's first 10 games haven't gone exactly as planned as the Big Red (6-4-0, 4-2-0 ECAC) have slipped out of the rankings. In three contests against ranked opponents in Minnesota Duluth, Quinnipiac and UConn, Cornell is 1-3-0. The Big Red come into Friday on a four-game winning streak, most recently taking down the then-No. 6 Huskies 6-0 at Madison Square Garden last Saturday. 

Their scoring and defensive baselines have been similar to Harvard, however, as Cornell averages 3.1 goals per game and allows 1.9. The power play (22.2 percent) and penalty kill (87.2) have both been solid. 

Cornell may not boast the same amount of high-flying producers as the Crimson, but have gotten solid contributions from a number of skaters, including freshman forward Dalton Bancroft (4g, 4a) and senior forward Max Andreev (3g, 5a). Sophomore goaltender Ian Shane has taken most of the workload in net, posting a .933 save percentage, 1.54 GAA and one shutout in nine appearances.

In the all-time series, the Big Red are 79-67-13, including 5-3-2 in their last 10 matchups. However, last season, Harvard came back in Game 1 to win 3-2 before winning the shootout in a 2-2 tie. 

Big Ten brawl: No. 4 Minnesota at No. 13 Michigan State

  • When: 6:30 p.m. ET Friday | 6 p.m. ET Saturday
  • Where: Munn Ice Arena, East Lansing, Mich.
  • How to watch: Big Ten Network Friday and Saturday

After a big top-three sweep against Michigan two weeks ago, Minnesota struggled to a split against Arizona State last time out, winning 3-2 before dropping the rematch 6-5 in overtime. The loss saw the Gophers blow a 5-4 lead late in regulation. 

It doesn't get any easier this weekend as the Spartans pose another tough challenge.

Minnesota (11-5-0, 6-2-0 Big Ten) has been pretty steady on the whole this season, averaging 3.9 goals per game and allowing 2.6. Meanwhile, the power play (24.1 percent) has been solid, but the penalty kill has been nothing more than all right at 80 percent. 

Freshman forward Jimmy Snuggerud has burst onto the scene with 10 goals and 10 assists, leading the team with 20 points. Behind him is fellow freshman Logan Cooley (5g, 11a) as well was sophomore scorer Matthew Knies (9g, 7a). Between the pipes, senior goaltender Justen Close holds a .910 save percentage, a 2.22 GAA and two blank sheets.

As for Michigan State (11-4-1, 5-2-1 Big Ten), they've been one of the biggest surprises in college hockey this season after being picked to finish last in the Big Ten.

Against ranked opponents in UMass Lowell, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State, the Spartans are 4-3-1, including a sweep of the Buckeyes earlier this month. MSU has won three in a row coming into this weekend, including a big 7-3 win at Penn State for the series split on Nov. 19. 

LATEST SCORES: Click or tap here for the latest scores around Division I men's hockey

Both Spartan special teams units have been decent with the power play at 21 percent and the PK at 84.4 percent. Individually, a pair of freshman forwards pace MSU between Daniel Russell (6g, 12a) and Karsen Dorwart (7g, 10a). Former Quinnipiac standout Dylan St. Cyr has been strong in net with a .934 save percentage, 2.13 GAA and two shutouts.

Minnesota has a key opportunity to bounce back, while the Spartans find themselves facing another proving ground.

Hockey East clash: No. 8 UConn vs. No. 12 Merrimack

Speaking of surprises, file Merrimack, and even UConn to a certain extent, under that category, too. The Warriors were picked to finished eighth in Hockey East this Season, one spot behind the Huskies. 

Mike Cavanaugh's UConn teams have developed a reputation of being in the mix over the last few seasons, but surged out of the gates to a 11-3-3 record (8-2-2 HEA) and a top-10 ranking. The run continued in UConn's and Merrimack's first meeting of the week, a 3-1 Huskies win on Tuesday.

In ranked matchups against OSU, BU, Providence and UMass Lowell, the Huskies are 3-2-3.

Junior forward Ryan Tverberg leads the way with 17 points (10g, 7a) in 17 games, while freshman forward Matthew Wood (5g, 8a), junior blue-liner Andrew Lucas (1g, 11a) and Hudson Schandor (2g, 10a) follow. In net, Logan Terness and Aresenii Sergeev have had similar workloads, but Terness has had the edge with a .930 save percentage, a 1.94 GAA and one shutout. 

As for Merrimack, they've struggled to gain ground in the conference over the last several years, but have been strong so far, climbing back into the rankings en route to a 10-4-0 record (6-2-0 HEA). 

In their lone series against a ranked team in UMass, the Warriors went 1-1-0 with both games going to overtime. They're scoring 3.2 goals per game, and giving up just 1.8. 

HISTORY: Every Division I men's hockey champion since 1948

Junior forward Alex Jefferies is the go-to guy once again with five goals and 11 assists for 16 points in 14 games. Forwards Matt Copponi (7g, 5a) and Ben Brar (6g, 6a) lead the team in goals. In net, both Hugo Ollas (.925 SV%, 1.80 GAA, 2 SO) and Zachary Borgiel (.934 SV%, 1.60 GAA, 1 SO) have both been dependable. 

The Huskies look to complete the sweep Friday as the Warriors hope to get back on track. 

Also on the radar: No. 1 Denver vs. Arizona State (9 p.m. ET Friday and 8 p.m. ET Saturday; – subscription required), No. 6 Penn State vs. No. 17 Ohio State (7 p.m. ET Friday and 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday; B1G+ – subscription required)

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