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NCAA Men's Hockey Review: 1/5-1/9

It's the first review of the New Year! It was an exciting first hockey weekend of 2024, even though the top team in the country, Boston College, had the weekend off, along with other ranked teams like eighth-ranked Michigan St., ninth-ranked Providence, 14th-ranked St. Cloud State, 15th-ranked Michigan, and 16th-ranked Cornell.

Without further ado, here's a look at how all the ranked teams did this weekend (along with a short look into the coming week).

No. 2 Boston University

The Terriers didn't play this weekend, but they did play on Tuesday evening against Northeastern in a game they eventually won 4-3 in overtime after surviving an upset bid from the Huskies. In the game, Boston University scored the first two goals before Northeastern tied it 2-2 with two goals within a minute of each other; both teams would score again early in the third period, and Jeremy Wilmer would knock in the game-winner 1:18 into overtime.

Scoring for the Terriers were Sam Stevens, Lane Hutson, Macklin Celebrini, and Wilmer.

Looking forward, the Terriers will host No. 16 New Hampshire on Saturday before playing two games at Vermont the following weekend; the final week in January promises to be one of the best weekends of hockey this year, with the headliner being a home-and-home between the Terriers and No. 1 Boston College on the 26th and 27th.

No. 3 Quinnipiac

The third-ranked Bobcats traveled to Boston on Saturday to play Northeastern and skated to a somewhat disappointing 3-3 tie, especially considering the fact that Northeastern entered the contest at 6-9-1 on the season. Quinnipiac's offense looked good, with goals coming from Charles-Alexis Legault, Victor Czerneckianair, and Cooper Moore, but the defense was rusty, as they allowed Northeastern to outshoot them 43-37.

The Bobcats needed the game as a warm-up before they jump back into ECAC action for the rest of the season. The defending national champions will likely need to run the table or lose one game at most the rest of the way to secure a top seed in the NCAA Tournament; the ECAC as a whole has been down this year, with only Quinnipiac, Cornell, and Clarkson looking like potential tournament teams.

This weekend, the Bobcats will have a home-and-home with Princeton before they travel to Central New York to face Colgate and Cornell the following week.

No. 4 North Dakota

This weekend, North Dakota played two games on Friday and Saturday against Alaska Fairbanks and won both games, with Friday's game ending in a 6-4 margin and Saturday's game finishing with a 6-2 score; ironically, despite the lopsided score, Saturday's game was the closer contest. On Friday, Alaska Fairbanks jumped out to a 1-0 lead after the first period, but North Dakota would respond with five straight goals to lead 5-2 after two periods; the Fighting Hawks scored again early in the third before Alaska Fairbanks scored two goals late, one after they pulled the goalie, to make the final score a more respectable 6-4.

On Saturday, the Fighting Hawks came out strong, scoring two goals in the first 12 minutes before Alaska Fairbanks scored two goals in just over a minute to tie the game at two-apiece entering the second period. North Dakota would score one goal in the second period, and then the third period saw them score three goals to reach the final score. Scoring on the weekend for the Fighting Hawks were Owen McLaughlin (3), Riese Gaber (3), Cameron Berg (2), Hunter Johannes (2), Louis Jamernik V, and Jayden Perron.

Looking forward, North Dakota has a two game homestand against Omaha, which should be a decent test, and then they will go on the road for a two-game stretch at St. Cloud State.

No. 5 Denver 

Denver hosted Atlantic Hockey bottom dweller Niagara for a two game set on Friday and Saturday, and Denver came away with two dominant wins by scores of 5-2 and 6-1. On Friday Denver led 3-2 after two periods before adding two goals late to reach the final score; on Saturday, the Pioneers jumped out to a 3-1 lead after two periods and added three goals in the third period.

Scoring for the Pioneers on the weekend were Jack Devine (2), Carter King (2), Tristan Broz (2), Kent Anderson, Rieger Lorenz, Miko Matikka, Jared Wright, and Aidan Thompson.

Next weekend, the Pioneers will host St. Cloud State in two games, and the following weekend, they will go on the road to face Omaha.

No. 6 Wisconsin

On Friday and Saturday, the Badgers traveled to South Bend to face Notre Dame in two Big Ten contests and won both, with Friday's game ending at 2-1 and Saturday's game ending at 7-4. In Friday's game, Wisconsin scored the first goal halfway through the second period and the Fighting Irish would tie it up 1-1 near the end of the second period; the Badgers would score courtesy of Charlie Stramel in the middle of the third period, and Wisconsin would end up with the victory despite being outshot.

On Saturday, the goals came early and often, with Wisconsin scoring three goals in the first 12 minutes and taking a 4-1 lead at the end of the first period; early in the second period, the Badgers would make it 5-1 before Notre Dame scored three goals in four minutes, including two within 15 seconds of each other, to make it 5-4 entering the third period, where the Badgers would score two goals to reach the final score.

The Badgers' nine goals on the weekend came courtesy of Mathieu De St. Phalle (2), Owen Lindmark, Stramel, William Whitelaw, Zach Schulz, Simon Tassy, Ben Dexheimer, and Carson Bantie.

Next weekend, Wisconsin, who has moved up to No. 3 in the USCHO rankings, has a two game homestand against Lindenwood, who might be the worst team in the country, before they have a weekend off and then travel to Ann Arbor to play Michigan in two games.

No. 7 Maine

The Black Bears faced Colgate at home in two games on Friday and Saturday, and they came away with a 3-1 win on Friday and a 4-4 tie on Saturday. On Friday, Maine took a 3-0 lead late in the second period and held on after a late comeback attempt by Colgate to reach the 3-1 final score, and on Saturday, Maine fell behind early, allowing the Raiders to score three goals in the first 12 minutes before scoring shortly after the third goal and two goals in the last minute of the second period to tie it 3-3 after two periods; in the third period, Colgate would score early before Maine scored with 2:23 left to tie it again, and neither team would net a shot in overtime.

Scoring for the Black Bears on the weekend were Thomas Freel (2), Bradly Nadeau, Harrison Scott, Ryan Hopkins, Donavan Villeneuve-Houle, and Sully Scholle.

Going forward, Maine will head to Storrs to play UConn next weekend before they host UMass-Lowell in two games that will give them some reprieve before a challenging end to the season.

No. 10 Minnesota

Minnesota hosted Colorado College in a rare Sunday-Monday doubleheader this weekend, and the two teams ended up splitting the two games, with Colorado College winning the first contest 6-4 and Minnesota avenging their loss 6-2 on Monday. In Sunday's game, neither team scored in the first period, and the Golden Gophers scored early in the second period before Colorado College scored three straight to make the score 3-1 after two periods; the two teams would trade goals in the third period, with both teams answering the other and the final goal coming with less than 10 seconds left in the game thanks to an empty-netter from the Tigers.

On Monday, Colorado College scored just over a minute into the game, but Minnesota would answer shortly after to tie it at 1-1 after the first period; after that, it was all Minnesota, with the team outscoring the Tigers 5-1 over the final two periods thanks to a hat trick from Jimmy Snuggerud and two goals from Rhett Pitlick.

Scoring for the Golden Gophers on the weekend were Snuggerud (5), Pitlick (2), John Mittelstadt, Brody Lamb, and Charlie Strobel.

The next two weekends, Minnesota will be at home for two games against both Robert Morris and Ohio State before getting a weekend off.

No. 11 UMass

The Minutemen hosted UConn for one game on Friday night, and the game ended in a 3-3 tie, though UConn would win the shootout 1-0 for Hockey East seeding purposes. Neither team scored in the first period, and UMass opened up the scoring early in the second period, but UConn would score two before the period was over; in the third period, UMass took a 3-2 lead with 6:43 left, but UConn would score with two minutes left to send it to overtime. Jake Flynn would eventually sink the shootout winner in the fourth round, and UMass couldn't answer it.

UMass's goalscorers in the game were Jack Musa, Kenny Connors, and Aydar Suniev.

The Minutemen host Merrimack in two games next weekend before playing at Northeastern in one game the following weekend.

No. 12 Western Michigan

The Broncos traveled to Missouri to face Lindenwood in two games this weekend, and they handled the Lions fairly easily, winning a close game Friday evening 3-2 and thrashing the Lions Saturday 6-1. In Friday's game, Western Michigan took a 1-0 lead after the first period before Lindenwood scored two goals within three minutes of each other to lead 2-1 after the second period; in the third period, Western Michigan tied it early before scoring the game-winner with 2:17 left. 

On Saturday, the Broncos came out firing on all cylinders, scoring two goals in the first 3:28 of the game to take a 2-0 lead after one period. Lindenwood scored eight minutes into the second period, but Western Michigan scored three straight power play goals, and finished with a penalty goal with 13 seconds left in the game to reach the 6-1 final score. 

Scoring for the Broncos on the weekend were Dylan Wendt (3), Sam Colangelo (2), Alex Bump (2), Zak Galambos, and Ethan Phillips.

Looking ahead, the Broncos will visit Miami (OH) for a two game series next weekend, and the following two weekends they will host Minnesota Duluth and Colorado College. 

No. 13 Arizona St. 

The Sun Devils hosted Harvard and Omaha over the weekend as part of their Desert Hockey Classic, and they won both games (and the tournament), defeating Harvard 5-2 on Friday and defeating Omaha 2-1 in overtime on Saturday. 

In Friday's game, Arizona St. started out strong, taking a 2-1 lead after the first period, with the second goal coming with 0.1 seconds left in the period; in the second period, both teams scored one goal, and the Sun Devils would score two goals in the third, with the second goal being an empty-netter with just under two minutes remaining. On Saturday, the Sun Devils scored a come-from-behind win over Omaha, who scored the first goal of the contest with just over five minutes remaining in the first period; Arizona St. wouldn't respond until just over two minutes into the third period, and they would score the game-winner 1:43 into overtime. 

Arizona St.’s goalscorers on the weekend were Ryan O'Reilly (3), Kyle Smolen (3), and Cole Gordon.

The Sun Devils have homestands coming up the next two weekends, first against now-No. 18 Cornell and then against Augustana.

No. 17 New Hampshire

New Hampshire hosted Princeton for a two game set on Friday and Saturday and walked away with two wins over the Tigers by scores of 5-2 and 3-1, respectively.

On Friday, the Wildcats started off strong, scoring the first three goals of the game and controlling the game from there, never letting the Tigers close within two; the final goal of the game came on an empty-netter with just over 90 seconds left. On Saturday, New Hampshire again started strong, taking a 2-0 lead early in the second period before Princeton scored to close the deficit to one going into the third period; in the third period, the Tigers couldn't get much going, only firing five shots on net the entire period, and New Hampshire netted a shot halfway through the period for good measure.

Scoring for the Wildcats were Ryan Conmy (2), Morgan Winters (2), Marty Lavins, Cy Leclerc, Liam Devlin, and J.P. Turner.

The Wildcats play at No. 2 Boston University on Saturday evening, and then they will have two games against UConn the following weekend; one in Storrs on Friday, and then one in Durham on Sunday.

No. 18 RIT

RIT stayed home this weekend, facing two foes from the ECAC in Clarkson and St. Lawrence on Friday and Saturday, respectively. On Friday, the Tigers defeated Clarkson 4-0, and then on Saturday, they skated to a 1-1 tie with the Saints.

Against Clarkson, RIT started strong, scoring three goals in the first period and controlling the game from there, with their fourth goal coming in the final minute on an empty-netter. Against St. Lawrence, the game turned into a cat-and-mouse game between the Tigers and Saints, with both teams taking tons of shots and daring the goaltenders to let one in; both goaltenders relented once, with RIT scoring in early in the second period and St. Lawrence scoring early in the third.

The Tigers had goals from Gianfranco Cassaro (2), Matthew Wilde, Grady Hobbs, and Elijah Gonsalves.

On Thursday evening, RIT will go to Buffalo to face Niagara, and then on Saturday they will face Canisius at home; the following weekend the Tigers will go on the road to play Robert Morris in two games.

No. 19 Penn State

The Nittany Lions only played one game this weekend, but it was a barnburner. On Saturday, they hosted Army in State College and ended up coming away with a hard-fought 7-6 victory.

In the game, Penn State scored the first goal two minutes into the first period, but the period would end with Army ahead 3-2 after three straight goals within two minutes of each other in the middle of the period; the second period would continue where the first period left off, with Army scoring three goals in the first 5:16 to take a 6-2 lead, but after that, the game turned in the favor of the Nittany Lions. Penn State would tack on two goals before the end of the second period to make the score 6-4 going into the third, and they would score two goals early in the period to tie the game at 6-6 before scoring the game winner with 9:59 left in the game, capping off their improbable comeback, the largest in program history. The fourth, fifth, and sixth, goals of the game for the Nittany Lions went to Ryan Kirwan, who had a hat trick, his first of the season.

In the game, goalscorers for the Nittany Lions were Kirwan (3), Aiden Fink (2), Simon Mack, and Reese Laubach.

This upcoming weekend, Penn State will host No. 8 Michigan St. in a two game series that will be important if the Nittany Lions are going to have any chance of making the NCAA Tournament. After that, they will have a relative reprieve with two games on the road at Notre Dame and then two games at home against Ohio State.

No. 20 Colorado College

Colorado College played at No. 10 Minnesota on Sunday and Monday, and they came out on Sunday and looked great, winning 6-4, before falling somewhat flat on Monday when they lost 6-2.

On Sunday, the Tigers scored three goals in the second period to take a 3-1 lead after two periods (neither team scored in the first), and in the third period, Minnesota tried to make a comeback, but every time the Golden Gophers scored to close the deficit to one, Colorado College would respond by pulling the lead back out. On Monday, Colorado College seemed to pick up where they left off early on, scoring the first goal of the game just 1:20 into the first period, but after that, the game was all Minnesota; Minnesota would tie it at 1-1 at the end of the first period, they would score two goals in the second period to make it 3-1 entering the third, and despite a comeback attempt from Colorado College where they made the score 3-2 early in the period, Minnesota continued to pull away, scoring three goals in a span of just over three minutes to reach the final score.

Scoring goals for the Tigers on the weekend were Bret Link (2), Gleb Veremyev, Tyler Coffey, Zaccharya Wisdom, Noah Laba, Logan Well, Ryan Beck.

Looking forward, the Tigers will go on the road to face Minnesota Duluth in two games before hosting Miami (OH) in two games. After the Miami games, they'll go on the road for two games against No. 10 Western Michigan, which will prove pivotal if Colorado College is going to make a run at the NCAA Tournament.

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