Monday, October 22, 2007

WCHA Weekend Recap - 10/22

Four games into the season and the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves are undefeated. After topping Wayne State and tying Boston University to open the season, the Seawolves defeated the Alaska Nanooks twice in the first of four games in the battle for the Governor's Cup. On Friday night, freshman Tommy Grant scored his first collegiate goal with less than four minutes left in the 4-3 victory. On Saturday night, fellow freshman Winston DayChief scored two goals as the Seawolves completed the home sweep with a 5-3 win. Sophomores Josh Lunden and Kevin Clark continued their strong play, as they both have eight points in four games. Alaska Anchorage opens up WCHA play next weekend by playing host to Minnesota State

After winning a pair of exhibition games the previous two weekends, the Colorado College Tigers used a great weekend of goaltending by freshman Richard Bachman to sweep the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the World Arena and putting themselves in a three-way tie for first place in the WCHA. The Tigers were very impressive on Friday night, as they cycled the puck in the Minnesota end for much of the game, and yielded just 11 shots to the Gophers over the final two periods. Eric Walsky, the former Alaska Anchorage player who wanted to transfer to Minnesota but was denied by the UAA administration, scored the game-winning goal early in the second period for the Tigers, who won 3-1. On Saturday, Bachman was the story in the Tigers’ 2-1 overtime win. He stopped 38 shots – including 21 in the third period – and Chad Rau, an Eden Prairie, Minn. native, scored both goals for the Tigers, who travel out to New Hampshire for a key non-conference series this upcoming weekend.

The Denver Pioneers have to be happy, as they open WCHA play with a 3-1 non-conference record against Maine and Notre Dame. This past weekend, the Pioneers split with the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind. In the first contest on Thursday night, the two teams combined for just 38 shots but accounted for seven goals. DU was 0-4 on the power play, which likely cost them the game as they lost 4-3. Sophomore Brock Trotter had two points for DU, while freshmen centers Tyler Bozak and Kyle Ostrow each scored. On Saturday, the DU power play was again poor, going 0-6, but senior netminder Peter Mannino made 19 saves as the Pios captured a 3-1 win. Freshmen Anthony Maiani notched the game-winning tally midway through the third period. DU returns to the Mile High City to take on Minnesota Duluth this weekend.

In another somewhat surprising turn of events, the Michigan Tech Huskies are currently are in a three-way tie for first place in the WCHA after sweeping Minnesota State in Houghton last weekend. On Friday night, Michael-Lee Teslak made 23 saves to earn the shutout in the 2-0 victory, while Jimmy Kerr and Alex Lord scored the Husky goals. The Tech goaltending was again key in Saturday’s 7-1 victory, as Rob Nolan made 35 saves. Malcolm Gwilliam, a junior forward, had a career-night, scoring two goals and chipping in three assists. The Huskies will try to prove they are for real when they host North Dakota, the No. 1 team in the country, this weekend.

It was a very tough weekend for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who dropped a pair of games to Colorado College. The WCHA Blog was in Colorado Springs for both games, and Friday’s effort was as poor of a showing by the Maroon and Gold as I can remember in quite a while. There wasn’t much energy and they generated very few scoring chances. The defensive core had a very tough time getting out of their own zone and turned the puck over several times, and the forwards were unable to generate many scoring chances at all. Freshman Cade Fairchild scored his first collegiate goal in the 3-1 loss. Saturday’s effort was much better, but the end result was another loss while scoring one goal. The defense again had its’ issues, giving up a pair of two-on-zero breaks. Junior Jeff Frazee, the team’s MVP thus far, made a phenomenal save on the first break, but was unable to thwart Rau’s first goal of the night on the second break. The power play really cost the Gophers on Saturday, as it was 0-7. Minnesota has won a lot of games over time via the power play, and it will need to improve as the season goes on. Thankfully for Gopher fans, Don Lucia coached teams generally have a very good power play, and it should improve this season as some of the freshmen defensemen improve. Minnesota will play their first two regular season games of the season at Mariucci Arena this week, as they host Ohio State on Thursday and Friday. They then take on the U.S. NTDP on Saturday night in an exhibition game.

I mentioned earlier the Michigan Tech is in a tie for first in the WCHA, and one of the teams they are tied with is the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, who got a little bit of retribution on St. Cloud State for their heart-breaking defeated of UMD in last year’s WCHA playoffs by sweeping the Huskies at the DECC this weekend. The Bulldogs used a pair of power play goals on Friday night to propel the Dogs to a 2-1 win. Despite giving up two power play goals on Saturday and going 0-5 with the man-advantage, UMD got third period goals from Jason Garrison and Andrew Carroll to complete the sweep with a 4-2 win. Sophomore goalie Alex Stalock was between the pipes for both victories. The Bulldogs travel to Denver this weekend for a pair of games against the Pioneers.

The Minnesota State Mavericks’ season got off to a very rocky start, as they were swept by Michigan Tech and outscored by a 9-1 margin on the weekend. In Friday’s 2-0 loss, Mike Zacharias played very well in net and kept the Mavs in the game, stopping 30 of 32 shots. Junior Dan Tormey got the nod on Saturday, but was pulled after giving up four goals on 11 shots. Zacharias played okay on Saturday, stopping 16 of 19. Sophomore Trevor Bruess scored the lone goal on the weekend for Minnesota State. The Mavericks have a pair of long roadtrips ahead of them – at Alaska Anchorage this weekend and then at Alabama-Huntsville the following weekend – before playing their first home game of the year against Minnesota on Nov. 9.

It was certainly an odd weekend for the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, who left the Boston area with a win and a tie, but only played five periods of hockey. The story of the weekend happened on Friday night, where UND took on Boston College in a much anticipated early-season matchup. The start of the game was delayed by 15 minutes due to fog on the ice after a power outage. BC’s arena, the Conte Forum, has had issues in the past with fog and soft / wet ice. So, after the teams played to a 0-0 tie after two periods, the game was called and will go in the record books as a tie. On Saturday night, North Dakota went across town to take on Northeastern, and emerged with a 3-0 victory. Senior goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux has not allowed a goal all season, having shutout Michigan State last weekend in Grand Forks. The Huskies shut down the T.J. Oshie / Ryan Duncan line, but the Sioux got goals from Andrew Kozek, Rylan Kaip, and Brad Miller, who was filling in for injured freshman Brad Malone, who was injured his shoulder in Friday night’s contest. North Dakota travels to Michigan Tech this weekend.

After beating and tying Canisius at home, the competition got cranked up a notch this past weekend, as St. Cloud State traveled to Duluth to take on the Bulldogs. Unfortunately for the Huskies, they were swept by UMD, losing 2-1 on Friday and 4-2 on Saturday. The power play cost SCSU on Friday night, as they went 0-8. Sophomore Ryan Lasch scored the lone Husky goal with less than seven seconds left in the contest. The power play clicked for SCSU on Saturday night, going 2-9, but that wasn’t enough to overcome a pair of third period UMD goals. The Huskies return to the National Hockey Center this weekend to host Bemidji State in non-conference action. They also play the U.S. NTDP on Sunday night in an exhibition game.

The Wisconsin Badgers split the first two games of their season against Notre Dame (win) and Ohio State (loss), and then returned home this past weekend and proceeded to rough up a Robert Morris team that topped Boston University the weekend before. Freshman Kyle Turris and sophomore Ben Street each had two goals and two assists in Friday’s 7-2 victory. Junior Shane Connelly got the win for the Badgers, stopping 24 Colonial shots. Freshman Scott Gudmandson got his first collegiate start on Saturday night, and played well in stopping 25 of 27 shots faced. Turris continued his red-hot start to his season, putting up another four points. Sophomore Blake Geoffrion had one goal and four assists on the night. The Badgers take the upcoming weekend off before hosting Michigan Tech at the Kohl Center on Nov. 2-3.