Thursday, October 11, 2007

Weekend Preview: Oct. 12-14

Each week during the season, the WCHA Blog will look at each WCHA team and what’s in store for them during the upcoming weekend. I’ll also point out any big matchups from around the country.

Alaska Anchorage
Friday – vs. Wayne State
Saturday – vs. Boston University

Per usual, the Seawolves host the Nye Frontier Classic to start the season. Its setup is similar to the College Hockey Showcase, in that the second-day opponents are predetermined. On Friday, Alaska Anchorage plays Wayne State, while BU takes on Robert Morris. Then, on Saturday, the Seawolves and Terriers will play, while Wayne State and Robert Morris duel. This tournament is a good way for the Seawolves to start the season, as they take on a team they should beat on Friday, and then go up against a BU team that is currently No. 9 in the Division I Men's Poll.

The UAA Hockey Fan Blog has a good preview of the weekend.

Colorado College
Friday – vs. U.S. National Team Development Under-18 Team

After a 4-3 win in exhibition play last weekend versus the University of Calgary, the Tigers have one more exhibition game before opening up WCHA play next weekend in Colorado Springs against Minnesota. The Under-18 team always presents a good challenge to college teams these days. Last weekend, Maine defeated them by a 5-3 score despite being outshot by a 23-22 margin.

Friday & Saturday – vs. Maine

Speaking of the Black Bears, they travel to Denver this weekend to take on the Pioneers. Both teams are a little bit further down in the preseason polls than usual: Maine is currently the No. 12 team while the Pios are No. 13. Like Denver, Maine is very young, as their roster features 10 freshmen and four sophomores. Both teams return proven netminders in the form on Ben Bishop for Maine and Peter Mannino for the Pioneers.

Let’s Go DU has a series of entries covering the matchup.

Michigan Tech
Friday – vs. Northern Michigan
Sunday – vs. Lake Superior (4:30 p.m. CST, ESPNU)

It’s been a very long time since expectations in the U.P. were this high for the Huskies. Michigan Tech will take on a pair of non-conference rivals as part of the Superior Cup in the form of Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State. Both of Tech’s CCHA opponents this weekend should present good challenges for the Huskies.

Friday – vs. RPI (7:30 p.m. CST, FSN North)
Saturday – vs. Michigan / Boston College (7:30 p.m. CST, FSN North)

In what is annual one of the top tournaments in college hockey, Minnesota plays host to RPI, Boston College, and Michigan as part of the 2007 Ice Breaker Invitational, which will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Gophers take on RPI on Friday, with Michigan and Boston College played in the previous semifinal. The winners and losers of each game will play on Saturday, with the Gophers playing in the 7:30 p.m. game regardless of the outcome of Friday’s game. RPI defeated a not-so-good Bentley team yesterday, and should present a nice test for a young Gopher team. The Eagles or Wolverines will certainly challenge the Minnesota defensive core in Saturday’s game.

Minnesota Duluth
Friday – vs. Lake Superior State
Saturday – vs. Northern Michigan

The Bulldogs are the fourth team taking part in the Superior Cup. UMD was picked to finish near the bottom of the WCHA, so it will be interesting to see how they stack-up against two middle-of-the-road CCHA teams. The Bulldogs beat Northern Michigan in both contests last season. According to the Duluth News Tribune, UMD senior winger Mike Curry will sit out this weekend’s games because of a violation of team rules last spring.

Minnesota State
No Games

North Dakota
Saturday – vs. Michigan State

In the marquee matchup of the weekend, the Fighting Sioux play host to the annual U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game. They will welcome the defending NCAA champion Michigan State Spartans to Grand Forks. UND currently pits atop the USCHO poll, while the Spartans are third (Boston College is second). North Dakota received 13 first place votes while the reigning champs got 11. This should be a great game, as both teams return a ton of talent from a pair of Frozen Four teams from a year ago.

St. Cloud State
Friday and Saturday – vs. Canisius

The Huskies open up with what should be a fairly easy home series against the Canisius Golden Griffins, who finished in ninth place last season in Atlantic Hockey. However, their two leading scorers and top goalie last season were freshmen, so there is reason to believe the team could be improved this season. For SCSU, they will likely get two of their three goalies time in these games, and it will be interesting to see how the defensive core plays after losing the likes of Casey Borer, Just Fletcher, and Grant Clafton from last year’s team.

Friday – vs. Notre Dame
Saturday – vs. Mercyhurst / Ohio State

Sporting the top recruiting class in the WCHA, the Badgers travel to Dayton, Ohio to take part in the Lefty McFadden Invitational. They will take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in their first game, while Mercyhurst and host Ohio State play in the other semifinal. The winners and losers of each game will play on Saturday. Both the Badgers and Irish are debuting new starting goalies this weekend after losing Brian Elliott and David Brown from last year’s teams. Whoever wins this game will be the favorite to take home the tournament title.

Other Notable Games
Vermont at Miami (Fri/Sat)