THE BIG STORY
|Stickin' it to the Wolverines:
Freshman Jim O'Brien had two goals and an assist
– his first points of the season – in
Minnesota's 8-2 romp over Michigan.
The notion that any team is too young
to score has been thrown out the window after the results
of the College Hockey Showcase. Minnesota's über-talented
rookies accounted for six of the goals in the Gophers'
8-2 spanking of Michigan on Saturday. Coupled with Friday's
5-4 win over Michigan State, and earlier sweeps of Ohio
State and Wisconsin, Gopher fans may be celebrating
the school's first Big Ten title in a revenue sport
in about 25 years.
Plenty of offense was necessary on Friday,
as Michigan State took advantage of sub-par Minnesota
defense and goaltending to stay in the game. The Gophers
beat Sparty by taking away Jeff Lerg's eyes, sending
big bodies to the front of the net and getting three
goals on tips.
Saturday it was early defense that may
have earned the win for Minnesota – extending
the Gophers' unbeaten string to 14 games. Kellen Briggs
stopped the Wolverines top line on a 2-on-1 break just
81 seconds into the game to keep the Gopher crowd involved,
and unheralded freshmen Jim O'Brien and Mike Carman
each scored twice in a game that got out of hand late.
The lone bright spot for the Wolverines
was goalie Billy Sauer, who stopped a career-high 44
shots while facing 50-plus for the first time as a collegian.
Here's a simple scouting report on Niagara:
Stop the top line of Les Reaney, Ted Cook, and Sean
Bentivoglio. Game-planning to do that is easy. Actually
accomplishing it is proving to be very difficult.
Led by that top line, the Purple Eagles
won the Rensselaer/Bank of America Holiday Tournament
over the weekend and extended their unbeaten streak
to seven games. Bentivoglio scored a short-handed goal
in each win — a 5-3 victory over RPI on Friday
and a 3-1 triumph over Colgate on Saturday.
Bentivoglio and defenseman Pat Oliveto
are the only seniors that are a part of Niagara's regular
lineup. This team is playing very well right now, and
has the potential to keep getting better.
From the Don’t Know What
You Got ‘Til It’s Gone Dept.: Clarkson’s
coaching staff, in an effort to snap the Golden Knights’
four-game skid, made the team practice with wooden sticks
and took away access to the players lounge and locker-room
radio last week. The message: Such things are luxuries
that are earned. The result: Clarkson won twice, beating
visiting Bowling Green and Miami.
Native American imagery is bad, but binge drinking
From the Do We Have To Take This
From a School Whose Unofficial Mascot is a Keg? Dept.:
In a recent letter to the school’s newspaper,
Dartmouth athletic director Josie Harper said she regrets
inviting North Dakota to the Big Green’s holiday
hockey tournament because of the Fighting Sioux nickname
“I must offer a sincere apology
to the Native American community, and the Dartmouth
community as a whole, for an event that will understandably
offend and hurt people within our community," Harper
wrote to The Dartmouth, calling North Dakota’s
position on the matter “offensive and wrong.”
Harper added that when North Dakota was
extended an invitation to the Ledyard Bank Classic two
years ago, the school’s mascot and nickname were
not considered. Perhaps the prospect of an arena filled
to capacity with paying customers on hand to see one
of the nation’s top college hockey programs clouded
her view back then. While First Shift has no position
regarding NoDak's mascot/nickname, we are squarely anti-hypocrisy.
Wins this past weekend that'll look good in March
Remember Vermont? The team that looked
oh so impressive in season-opening wins against Colgate
and Miami? The following weekend, the Catamounts tied
Northeastern, then lost four in a row to drop to 2-4-1
Well, UVM has regrouped, winning its fifth
straight game by beating Maine, 3-2, in Burlington Saturday.
As one might expect, goalie Joe Fallon (six goals in
his last five starts) has played a big part in the resurgence.
So, too, has forward Dean Strong – the sophomore
has scored a goal in each of the Cats’ last five
games and has eight points during that stretch. Torry
Mitchell, Vermont’s leading scorer with 16 points,
has three goals and nine points in the team’s
Should UVM’s streak end this week,
it may be fatigue that does them in. The Catamounts’
docket includes a trio of road games – at Harvard
(Tuesday), at UMass Lowell (Friday), and at second-ranked
New Hampshire (Sunday).
IT HAPPENED IN ...
… Boston, Mass. (Wednesday):
New Hampshire’s line of Matt Fornataro, Jerry
Pollastrone, and Trevor Smith combined for three goals
and seven points as the Wildcats earned a 6-3 win at
Boston College. Fornataro and defenseman Chris Murray
each posted 1-2—3 lines. Smith’s goal was
his 11th of the season.
Mass. (Saturday): Matt Gilroy’s goal
nine seconds into overtime was the difference as Boston
University eked out a 2-1 win against Yale. The Terriers’
Karson Gillespie made 23 saves in his first start of
N.Y. (Friday): Miami and St. Lawrence combined
for 85 shots on goal in a game won by the RedHawks,
4-3. Miami goaltender Jeff Zatkoff made 45 saves while
Nathan Davis, who has at least one point in 13 of the
RedHawks’ 16 games this season, contributed a
goal and an assist.
… Grand Forks, N.D.:
Colorado College and North Dakota split a two-game WCHA
series. On Friday, the Fighting Sioux regained the services
of goalie Philippe Lamoureux, who hadn’t played
since Oct. 21 due to injury. But CC’s Scott McCulloch
ruined his return by scoring the game-winning goal with
59 seconds left in regulation to give the Tigers a 4-3
win. Lamoureux earned his first win since Oct. 13 the
following night, stopping 15 shots in the Sioux’s
N.Y. (Saturday): Wayne State built a 3-0 lead
during a four-minute span of the first period en route
to a stunning 5-4 win against Cornell at Lynah Rink.
The Warriors, who got a goal and two assists from Jason
Baclig, have scored a total of 18 goals in their three
wins this season and a combined 10 goals in their 10
… Storrs, Conn. (Friday):
Scott Tomes turned aside 36 shots as Connecticut downed
visiting Sacred Heart, 4-1. The loss ended the Pioneers’
seven-game unbeaten streak, and snapped the seven-game
scoring streak of Sacred Heart forward Pierre-Luc O’Brien
– he had scored nine goals and 22 points during