Full Story: Thanksgiving Weekend of Nov. 25-27 to Showcase Variety of WCHA and Non-Conference Matchups;
League Series Feature CC at UND, UAA at MSU, UNO Hosting SCSU
The Pioneers host the Denver Cup Classic this weekend
MADISON, Wis. – Ten of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s 12-member men’s team will be in action over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend of Nov. 25-27, with six of those engaged in conference play. The three league series will feature No. 4-ranked Colorado College at North Dakota, Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota State and No. 19-ranked Nebraska Omaha hosting St. Cloud State.
The Tigers (7-2-0, 5-2-0 WCHA) and defending WCHA/MacNaughton Cup-champion Fighting Sioux (4-7-1, 2-6-0 WCHA) will hook up at Ralph Engelstad Arena (11,634) in Grand Forks on Friday evening at 7:37 pm CT and Saturday night at 7:07 pm CT. This is the only regular season series between CC and UND.
The UAA Seawolves (4-7-1, 1-7-0 WCHA) will do battle with the MSU Mavericks (3-9-0, 2-6-0 WCHA) in Friday (7:37 pm CT) and Saturday (7:07 pm CT) games at Verizon Wireless Center (4,832) in Mankato. Alaska Anchorage and Minnesota State will then meet again on Feb. 10-11 at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
And in the third conference series of the holiday weekend, the UNO Mavericks (6-6-2, 5-3-2 WCHA) will entertain the SCSU Huskies (6-6-2, 4-3-1 WCHA) at CenturyLink Center (15,959) in Omaha on Saturday night at 7:07 pm CT and Sunday afternoon at 2:07 pm CT. These will be the only regular season meetings of the two foes.
Four other league clubs – Denver, Michigan Tech, Minnesota and Wisconsin – will look to boost the WCHA’s collective 20-14-4 (.579) non-conference record this season in a variety of Nov. 25-26 non-conference matchups. The No. 9/10-ranked Pioneers will host Princeton (ECAC Hockey), Providence (HEA) and Miami (CCHA) for the Denver Cup Classic at Magness Arena (6,025), Michigan Tech travels to St. Lawrence (ECAC Hockey), No. 2/3-ranked Minnesota visits No. 20 Michigan State (CCHA) and Wisconsin welcomes Mercyhurst (AHA). The Denver Cup Classic will open on Friday with Miami (6-6-2) playing Providence (6-4-1) at 4:37 pm MT followed by DU (5-3-3) against Princeton (2-6-1) at 7:37 pm MT. On Saturday, the tournament will feature Princeton vs Providence at 4:07 pm MT and Denver vs Miami at 7:07 pm MT.
No. 18-ranked Michigan Tech (7-4-1) will continue a two-week road trip when the Huskies head to St. Lawrence (4-6-0) for a Friday (7:00 pm ET), Saturday (4:00 pm ET) set. Tech will then have criss-crossed the U.S. twice, after playing at Alaska Anchorage last weekend.
In East Lansing, WCHA leader Minnesota (11-3-0) will take on Michigan State (7-5-0) in a pair of 7:05 pm ET engagments on Friday and Saturday.
And in Madison, Wisconsin (5-8-1) returns home to host Mercyhurst (6-5-1) at the Kohl Center (15,325) on Nov. 25 at 7:07 pm CT and Nov. 26 at 8:07 pm CT.
Through games of Nov. 21, Western Collegiate Hockey Association-member teams are a combined 20-14-4 (.579) in 38 non-conference games. Conference teams are 7-0-0 (1.000) vs the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA), 5-7-0 (.417) vs the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), 3-2-1 (.583) vs ECAC Hockey (ECACH) and 5-5-3 (.500) vs the Hockey East Association (HEA).
Idle from competition over Thanksgiving are Bemidji State (5-8-1) and defending national champion and No. 6-ranked Minnesota Duluth (9-3-2).
After the first six weeks of league play, Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth run 1-2 in the race for the WCHA regular season championship. The Golden Gophers are 8-2-0 (10 gp) with 16 points while the Bulldogs stand 7-2-1 (10 gp) wth 15 points. Nebraska Omaha is currently third with a 5-3-2 mark (10 gp) and 12 points, while Denver (4-2-3, 9 gp) and Michigan Tech (5-4-1, 10 gp) are tied for fourth with 11 points although the Pioneers have played one fewer game. Colorado College (5-2-0) is sixth with 10 points, but the Tigers have played the fewest league games to date with seven. Tied for seventh this week with nine points apiece are St. Cloud State (4-3-1, 8 gp) and Wisconsin (4-7-1, 12 gp), although the Huskies have four games in hand on the Badgers. Bemidji State (3-6-1, 10 gp) stands ninth with seven points, Minnesota State (2-6-0, 8 gp) and North Dakota (2-6-0, 8 gp) are tied for 10th with four points and Alaska Anchorage (1-7-0, 8 gp) is 12th with two points. The race for the MacNaughton Cup consists of 168 games, with each league club playing 28 contests (14 home and 14 away).
The top six ranked teams at the conclusion of the regular season will earn home ice for the first round of men’s WCHA playoffs. Those best-of-three series will be contested the weekend of March 9-11.
The six first round playoff winners will then earn berths in the 2012 Red Baron™ WCHA Final Five, set for March 15-17 at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn. At the Final Five, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams will receive a first-day bye. There will be two games played on Thursday at 2:07 pm and 7:07 pm CT, and then two semi-final matchups on Friday at 2:07 pm and 7:07 pm CT. On Saturday, the Broadmoor Trophy championship game will be played at 7:07 pm CT. The winner of the Final Five receives the WCHA’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
In action last weekend – one of only four weekends during the 2011-12 that feature all 12 member teams engaged in league play (others occur Jan. 13-14, Feb. 17-18 and March 2-3) – Minnesota Duluth and Colorado College recorded sweeps, Denver banked three points, and three series ended in splits.
At AMSOIL Arena in Duluth on Nov. 18 and 19, the host UMD Bulldogs prevailed by 5-2 and 7-3 scores over league rival Minnesota State. In the series opener, the line of left winger Caleb Herbert (2g, 1a), center Travis Oleksuk (1g, 1a) and right winger J.T. Brown (1g, 1a) led the way for Minnesota Duluth. In game two, Brown (1g, 2a) and center Jack Connolly(1g, 2a) each had three points for the Bulldogs. The two wins improved UMD’s unbeaten streak to a nation’s best 10 games at 8-0-2.
At Colorado Springs World Arena last weekend, Colorado College powered past visiting Wisconsin by 4-2 and 4-1 scores. In game one last Friday, center Nick Dineenpotted two goals, including the game-winner, while on Saturday, the Tigers received two-point games from right winger Jeff Collett (1g, 1a) and defenseman Gabe Guentzel (2a) while Dineen again netted the game-winner.
At Magness Arena in Denver, the host DU Pioneers took three of four points from Nebraska Omaha by virtue of a 7-3 victory and 3-3 (ot) tie. On Nov. 18, center Nick Shore scored a pair of goals and defenseman Joey LaLaggia had three points (1g, 2a) for the Pioneers. On Nov. 19, UNO jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead following a power-play goal by defenseman Michael Youngat 19:38 before DU rallied for three straight, including a game-tying PPG from left winger Beau Bennett at 5:34 of the third.
In a home-and-home WCHA set last weekend, St. Cloud State downed visiting Minnesota 4-3 on Nov. 18 before the host Gophers battled back for a 5-0 shutout win on Nov. 19. In the series opening win for SCSU at the National Hockey Center, linemates Ben Hanowski(LW, 1g, 2a) and David Eddy (RW, 3a) each had three points while Ryan Faragher had 40 saves between the pipes. Back at Mariucci Arena last Saturday, Minnesota was led by center Nick Bjugstad’s three-goal hat trick and a UM school record sixth shutout of the season by goaltender Kent Patterson, who stopped all 30 shots on goal.
Up at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, the host Seawolves split with Michigan Tech, with UAA gaining it’s first league win of the campaign in a 3-1 triumph last Friday and the Huskies skating to a 5-0 victory last Saturday. On Nov. 18, defenseman Corban Karl notched the game-winner for the Seawolves, defenseman Scott Warnercontributed two assists, and Chris Kamal had 18 saves in nets. On Nov. 19, the Huskies received a 23-save shutout performance by goaltender Josh Robinson and a goal and two assists from left winger Ryan Furne.
And at Sanford Center in Bemidji last Saturday and Sunday, the host BSU Beavers split with North Dakota. In a 5-2 Sioux victory in game one, left winger Brock Nelson scored twice, defenseman Dillon Simpson added a pair of assists and left winger Mario Lamoureux provided the game-winner in the third period. In game two, Bemidji State prevailed 1-0 behind a second period, power-play game-winner from right winger Jordan Georgeand 26 stops from Dan Bakala between the pipes.
Looking ahead to the first weekend of December (Friday, 2nd and Saturday, 3rd), two-game WCHA series will have Minnesota Duluth visiting Michigan Tech, St. Cloud State hosting Bemidji State, North Dakota traveling to Alaska Anchorage, and Minnesota entertaining Minnesota State. In a single league matchup, Colorado College will host Denver on that Friday. Outside the conference, Nebraska Omaha will take on host Alabama-Huntsville in a pair of games to be held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
In the lastest USCHO.com Div. 1 Men’s College Hockey Poll for Nov. 21, Minnesota is ranked No. 3 nationally, Colorado College is No. 4, Minnesota Duluth is No. 6, Denver is No. 10, Michigan Tech is No. 18 and Nebraska Omaha is No. 19. Also receiving votes was St. Cloud State.
And in this week’s (Nov. 21) USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Div. 1 Men’s College Hockey Poll, Minnesota is at No. 2, Colorado College is at No. 4, Minnesota Duluth is No. 6 and Denver is No. 9. Also receiving votes in the poll was Michigan Tech.