College Hockey Recap: Week 1
Photo courtesy of Boston College Athletics
By Andrew Weiss (@WeissFC)
From a last month that included player ineligibility and suspensions, college hockey followers collectively were excited to officially kick off the 2012-13 hockey season this weekend. While the weekend lacked big games on paper, some turned out a lot different than teams had hoped when scheduling their opening weekend.
Despite this being the first weekend, several trophies were handed out including the Ice Breaker tournament trophy to Notre Dame and Minnesota taking back the Mariucci-Bessone traveling trophy from Michigan State.
Below is a look at some of the noteworthy team and individual accomplishments in the opening weekend of the 2012-13 season.
The Gophers Are Golden
Simply put, the #1/#2 Minnesota Golden Gophers proved they are the best team in the nation this weekend. The Gophers had a convincing sweep over #16 Michigan State beating the Spartans 5-1 in Friday’s season opener and 7-1 on Saturday. Last year’s top scoring forwards all picked up their points with Zach Budish (Nashville 2009 2nd) notching four assists and Erik Haula (Minnesota 2009 7th), Nick Bjugstad (Florida 2010 1st), and Kyle Rau (Florida 2011 3rd) all collecting three points each, but more impressive was the fact that of the nineteen total skaters who dressed for Minnesota this weekend, only three failed to record a point.
No Slow Start for Notre Dame
Heading to last season as the top team in the nation, Notre Dame by all standards got off to a very slow start. The Irish went 5-2-2 and slid to sixth in the USCHO poll in the first month of the season. The mediocrity set the tone for the season as the team ended the year one game above .500.
Irish fans may have a flash back to last season after an average showing at best in last weekend’s exhibition beating the U18 National Team Development Program 2-1 in a shootout, but the team put all questions aside at the Ice Breaker Tournament. #14/#13 Notre Dame snuck by #20 Maine 1-0 in Friday’s contest and beat Nebraska-Omaha 3-2 in Saturday’s championship game. Junior goaltender Steven Summerhays played very well on the weekend playing both games and posting a .962 save percentage.
Looking ahead, the team has two tough tests playing #13 Minnesota Duluth next weekend and #9 Western Michigan on Nov. 2 and 4.
Tough Weekend at the Top
Aside from Minnesota’s sweep on Michigan State, the NCAA’s top teams got off to a bit of a rocky start. On Saturday, #1/#2 Boston College was bested in their only game of the weekend losing toNortheastern 3-1.
#3 Michigan was also upset in their opener losing to RIT 5-4 in overtime Friday. More disappointing to Wolverine fans was the fashion in which they lost. Michigan was up 4-2 at the 14 minute mark in the third period, but allowed two unanswered goals to tie the game and another 14 seconds into overtime.
Penn State’s Inaugural Weekend
Penn State’s first games as a NCAA hockey program got underway Friday and Saturday against American International. Friday’s game resulted in a 3-2 overtime loss with freshman Casey Bailey recording the program’s first ever goal. Saturday’s game saw the Nittany Lions pick up the program’s first win with a 4-3 overtime win. Max Gardiner (Saint Louis 2010 3rd) recorded an assist in Saturday’s win. The team travels to play Division III Buffalo State and RIT next weekend.
The transition period for some of the top freshmen in the country proved to be a fairly easy one through the first weekend of games.
Michigan’s Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg 2012 1st) was one of the few bright spots defensively for the team in Friday’s loss and ended the weekend with two goals and an assist. Trouba’s play was encouraging and will elevate much more upon the return of likely defensive partner Jon Merrill in five weeks.
Kevin Roy (Anaheim 2012 3rd) did not commit to Northeastern until August, but was all in for the Huskies’ upset win over #1/#2 Boston College. Roy had the game winning goal and recorded four shots on the team’s second line.
Providence had big contributions from incoming freshmen Jon Gillies (Calgary 2012 3rd) and Mark Jankowski (Calgary 2012 1st). Gillies started both games for the Friars this weekend going recording a win and a loss, a 1.80 goals against average, and a .939 save percentage. Jankowski had two goals in his first college game on Friday against Sacred Heart.
Paired on the top pairing all weekend, Minnesota’s Brady Skjei (NY Rangers 2012 1st) looked good defensively and showed his offensive ability scoring his first college goal and adding an assist on Saturday.
Weiss’ Top 5
- Minnesota (2-0-0): Look for the Gophers to stay atop the rankings for a while as the team does not play another ranked team until Nov. 16 when they play #15 Wisconsin (who was swept this weekend).
- Boston College (0-1-0): The Eagles had a loss on their season opener, but will surely bounce back next weekend at home for their banner raising game against Massachusetts on Friday and a rematch against Northeastern on Saturday.
- Michigan (1-1-0): The team lost a tough one Friday night against RIT, but they played like the a top team in nation winning 7-2 and dominating all aspects of the game on Saturday. Jon Merrill’s broken vertebrae will definitely test the team’s back end with a tough weekend against #8 Miami in two weeks.
- North Dakota (0-0-0): The team played well in their exhibition against the National Team Development Program’s Under-18 team winning 6-4, but there is only so much one can take away from it. With top players sitting in next weekend’s opening games, at Alaska Anchorage and at Alaska, do not be surprised if North Dakota their season off to a rocky start much like the two teams perched above them.
- Cornell (0-0-0): The team played an intersquad game this weekend and will play the NTDP Under-18 team and Canadian Brock University next weekend. Not exactly a good strong schedule to start the season. First weekend opponent Colorado College (Oct. 26 and 27) will already have four games under their belt, including one against #6 UMass-Lowell, before heading into Ithaca, N.Y.