Friday, October 19, 2007

Weekend Preview: Oct. 19-21

The WCHA Blog is live from Colorado Springs this weekend, as I'm in town for the Gophers / Tigers showdown from World Arena. I'll try to keep the blog updated over the weekend on events happening here in the Springs and around the league.

Alaska Anchorage
Friday & Saturday – vs. Alaska

The Seawolves got their season off on a good note last weekend, as they emerged unbeaten after the Nye Frontier Classic. They were arguably more impressive in tying Boston University 4-4 on Saturday night than they were in defeating Wayne State by a 5-2 score on Friday. This weekend, they play the first of four games against in-state rival Alaska. The Nanooks have yet to play an official game, but defeated Southern Alberta IT by a 4-2 score in exhibition play. The night prior to that game, the Seawolves defeated that same team by an 8-0 score. Having already played two official games and the game this weekend played in Anchorage should give the edge to the Seawolves.

Stay tuned to the UAA Hockey Blog for more coverage.

Colorado College
Friday & Saturday – vs. Minnesota (8:30 p.m. CST on Friday, 8 p.m. CST on Saturday on FSN North)

The Tigers will finally hit the ice for some real action after playing one exhibition game each of the last two weekends. Those two games should help them adjust to the Gophers, who of course played – and won – a pair of games last weekend in St. Paul at the Ice Breaker. The Tigers will be without Jimmy Kilpatrick, who is out until mid-November due to a hip injury. CC was swept at home late last season by the Gophers, a series which really killed the Tigers’ post season chances.

Thursday & Friday – at Notre Dame

After a very impressive sweep of the Maine Black Bears last weekend at Magness Arena, the Pioneers head to South Bend for a key non-conference series against Notre Dame. The Irish were upended by Wisconsin last weekend on Friday night, but rebounded to top Mercyhurst on Saturday. Sophomore Rhett Rakhshani should be back in the lineup for DU after suffering a concussion last weekend. Fellow sophomore Tyler Ruegsegger had three points for DU, while senior Peter Mannino allowed just one goal on 55 shots against Maine. The Irish are a talented team but lost a good deal of production from the blueline and goalie position from last season. Both teams feature very good forwards but play a defensive style, so it will be interesting to see how these games play out. The series being played on a Thursday / Friday basis because of the Notre Dame / Southern California football game on Saturday.

LetsGoDU has continuing coverage.

Michigan Tech
Friday & Saturday – vs. Minnesota State

After a split at home last weekend, Michigan Tech will look to get off to a fast start in WCHA play this weekend when they play host to Minnesota State. The Huskies lost to U.P. rival Northern Michigan by a 3-2 score on Friday night, but managed to defeat Lake Superior State by a 4-3 margin on Sunday. Senior forward Tyler Shelast and sophomore defenseman Drew Dobson each enter the weekend with three points. Both of Tech’s standout netminders – Michael-Lee Teslak and Rob Nolan – saw action last weekend, and the two figure to continue to share the duties until one emerges as the No. 1 netminder in Houghton.

Friday & Saturday – at Colorado College (8:30 p.m. CST on Friday, 8 p.m. CST on Saturday on FSN North)

It was a weekend of highs and lows for the Golden Gophers a week ago in St. Paul. After getting off to a terrible start against RPI on Friday, the team rebounded to win by a 4-3 score. The next night, they came out and took a 2-0 first period lead against Michigan and managed to hang on for the 4-3 win. However, that win came at a large price, as junior forward Ryan Stoa was lost for the season with a knee injury. Junior goalie Jeff Frazee played great last weekend, stopping 69 of 75 shots faced. He’ll need to continue his strong play with the young Gopher defensive core playing in front of him. Expect the CC forwards to test the Minnesota defensemen on the Olympic sheet at the World Arena.

Minnesota Duluth
Friday & Saturday – vs. St. Cloud State

The Bulldogs host the Huskies in a rematch of one of the most memorable WCHA first round playoff matchups of all time. The Bulldogs defeated SCSU by a 3-1 score on Friday night last season, only to lose in overtime the next two nights, including a triple overtime defeat on Sunday to end their season. You can expect this to be another heated series between these in-state rivals. UMD tied Lake Superior State by a 2-2 score last Friday, and then Alex Stalock made 21 saves as the Bulldogs shutout Northern Michigan by a 4-0 score on Saturday. Look for the South St. Paul native to be in net for both games this weekend for UMD.

Minnesota State
Friday & Saturday – at Michigan Tech

The Mavericks are the only WCHA team that has not played an exhibition or regular season game, though they did hold a team scrimmage. This will be a good early season test for the young Mavericks, as they travel to Houghton to play one of the older and more experienced teams in the WCHA. Minnesota State doesn’t play a home game until mid-November, so it will be important for them to get off to a good start on the road.

North Dakota
Friday – at Boston College (7p.m. CST, CSTV)
Saturday – at Northeastern

After thumping the defending NCAA champion Michigan State last weekend, the Fighting Sioux head east to take on Boston College and Northeastern. North Dakota is certainly the favorite in both of these games, and will be looking to payback Boston College for bouncing them from the Frozen Four semifinals each of the last two seasons. The Eagles, much like the Sioux, are a very talented team, but the difference could be in goal, where UND will likely start senior Philippe Lamoureux, while BC will probably start freshman John Muse. Northeastern is an improved team from recent years, but it would very surprising if they were able to hang with the Green and White.

St. Cloud State
Friday and Saturday – at Minnesota Duluth

The Huskies will face a much stiffer test this weekend after gaining a win and a tie at home last weekend against Canisius. Even in the disappointing tie against the Griffins, SCSU outshot them by a three-to-one margin, so they certainly controlled the play on both nights. As previously stated, the Bulldogs will look to avenge their postseason losses to the Huskies last year. The DECC is generally a wild atmosphere, so this will be a good test for a Husky team that is much younger than they were a year ago. How the SCSU goalies play (be it Jase Weslosky, Dan Dunn, or B.J. O’Brien) may determine how the weekend goes for both teams.

Friday & Saturday – vs. Robert Morris

The young Badgers witnessed mixed reviews last weekend, as they split their two games in the Lefty McFadden Tournament in Dayton, Ohio. On Friday night, they defeated Notre Dame by a 4-1 score and got one goal from each of their four lines. However, on Saturday, they fell to tournament-host Ohio State by a 5-3 score. Freshmen sensation Kyle Turris was able to put up 4 points on the weekend, and he will be counted on to score all season long, given the Badgers offseason losses up front. Shane Connelly will likely start Friday night’s game against the Colonials, while freshmen Scott Gudmandson could get the nod on Saturday. Robert Morris shouldn’t be taken lightly though, as they defeated Boston University last weekend in Anchorage as part of the Nye Frontier Classic, though they were outshot by a good margin.

Other Notable Games

Colgate at Michigan State

The Spartans will look to rebound off last weekend’s butt-kicking at Ralph Engelstad Arena as they take on Colgate. The Raiders defeated Sacred Heart and RIT last weekend.

Miami at Ohio State

Miami may be without senior center Nathan Davis, a preseason Hobey Baker candidate, as they take on their top in-state rival. Ohio State is coming off a two-win weekend and will look to take it to get a leg-up on the Redhawks early in the season.

New Hampshire at Boston University

The two teams play just one game on Friday night, but it’s a key early-season Hockey East matchup. UNH’s James vanRiemsdyk, who was the second overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, will make his regular season debut. He’ll be up against BU’s Kevin Shattenkirk, who was the 14th overall pick last summer by the Colorado Avalanche.