February 5, 2007
THE BIG STORY
Hensick is the nation's leading scorer with 50 points
in 30 games.
Notre Dame has been the feel-good story
of the college hockey season thus far. And odds are
tilted in the Fighting Irish's favor as far as winning
their conference's regular-season championship is concerned.
But this is the CCHA we're talking about
here. Regardless of which up-and-comer tries to plant
its flag at the summit of the league mountain –
be it Ferris State, Ohio State, Miami, or Notre Dame
– they'll have to climb past Michigan and Michigan
State. The conference's perennial powers, while not
likely to track down Notre Dame, are getting hot at
the right time.
The Wolverines, fresh off a sweep of Western
Michigan, have won six in a row and eight of nine since
Jan. 1. Not only is Michigan winning, but they're scoring.
A lot. Over their last nine games, the Maize and Blue
have scored five or more goals seven times.
Leading the charge during that stretch
are linemates T.J. Hensick (7-9--16) and Kevin Porter
(4-11--15), who are the country's first- and second-leading
scorers with 50 and 48 points, respectively. Sophomores
Andrew Cogliano (6-7--13) and Jack Johnson (8-6--14,
five-game goal streak) have been sizzling since coming
back from the World Junior Championship. What's more,
oft-maligned goaltender Billy Sauer has turned the corner,
giving up two goals or fewer in seven of his last nine
An hour to the northwest in East Lansing,
Michigan State extended its unbeaten streak to seven
(6-0-1) – tied with North Dakota for the best
current stretch in nation – with a win and a tie
at Nebraska-Omaha. The Spartans, who are 10-1-1 in their
last 12 games, haven't been quite as potent offensively
as their in-state rivals. But they've been stingy on
defense (allowing two goals or less in all but three
of their last 12) and shown a knack for winning close
games (half of the team's last 10 wins have been by
Winning as of late has been a family affair
at MSU, propelled by the cousins Lerg. Jeff, a sophomore
goalie, has reverted to the form that made him the CCHA
Rookie of the Year last season. Junior forward Bryan,
meanwhile, has been both prolific, with at least one
point in all but one of MSU's last 14 games, and clutch,
with an NCAA-best seven game-winning goals, including
the difference maker in each of State's last victories.
Oh, by the way ... Michigan and Michigan
State meet at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Saturday, the
final regular-season contest between the two teams.
Speaking of feel-good stories, Northeastern
winning the 55th annual Beanpot Tournament, which gets
underway at TD Banknorth Garden tonight, would definitely
fit in that category. Given the way the Huskies have
played lately, it's also an entirely realistic premise.
Northeastern, which opens the Beanpot
against Boston University, has won four of its last
five games and are 6-2-2 in its last 10 contests following
Friday's 1-0 overtime defeat of Merrimack at Mathews
Arena. Sophomore forward Joe Vitale scored the game's
lone goal with 50 seconds remaining in overtime. The
Huskies – behind the stellar play of freshman
goaltender Brad Thiessen (2.43 GAA, .920 save pct.)
– have allowed three or more goals just once during
over its last 10 games.
Don't be surprised if the Huskies-Terriers
tilt goes into OT. Six of Northeastern's last 10 games
have extended beyond regulation. BU, meanwhile, has
an NCAA-high eight ties, and 10 of the team's 25 games
have been overtime affairs.
From the Where Do We Start? Dept:
So much to report from Durham, N.H. Saturday, where
New Hampshire salvaged a split with Maine with a 2-1
win against the Black Bears at Whittemore Center. Goaltending
was a big story – the Wildcats' Kevin Regan made
a career-high 46 saves in the win. Maine's Ben Bishop,
meanwhile, left the contest early in the second period
with a groin strain after a collision with UNH forward
Another UNH forward, Mike Radja, made
headlines by scoring the game-winning goal in his second
game back after missing four weeks with a knee injury.
It was a chance the Yorkville, Ill., native sounded
almost embarrassed to have buried.
"I think Hellen Keller could have
scored that one," Radja told Al Pike of Foster's
From the Isn't That Special? Dept.:
Minnesota Duluth scored three power-play goals and two
shorthanded tallies in its 6-4 win at Denver Saturday.
The Pioneers had one PPG and one shorty.
Wins this past weekend that'll look good in March
With league series against St. Cloud State,
Minnesota, and Denver looming in the headlights and
disappointing results in series against Minnesota Duluth
(split) and Michigan Tech (one point) in the rearview
mirror, Colorado College's two-game set against visiting
Wisconsin this past weekend had must-win written all
over it, especially given the Tigers' bubble status
for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The situation looked bleak late in the
third period of Friday's opener as the Badgers' Brian
Elliott appeared to be on his way to making a 1-0 lead
hold up. But forward Andreas Vlassopoulos evened the
score with just under seven minutes left in reguation
and Mike Testwuide scored a little more than two minutes
into overtime to give the Tigers a 2-1 win. Third-period
heroics weren't necessary Saturday as the Tigers scored
four goals in the game's first 23 minutes – including
a Cody Lampl tally 21 seconds after the opening faceoff
– en route to a 4-2 triumph.
IT HAPPENED IN ...
... Air Force Academy, Colo. (Friday-Saturday):
Air Force outshot Mercyhurst by 95-43 margin during
the weekend series, but the Lakers outscored the Falcons
7-5 on Friday and earned a 3-2 overtime decision Saturday.
... Anchorage, Alaska (Friday):
Forward Jay Barriball and defenseman Derek Peltier each
scored two goals as Minnesota snapped out of a mini-slump
with an 8-2 win against Alaska Anchorage. Forward Kyle
Okposo added a goal and two assists for the Golden Gophers,
who erased a 1-0 Seawolves lead by scoring six unanswered
goals during a 22-minute span of the second and third
... Big Rapids, Mich. (Friday-Saturday):
Ferris State swept visiting Ohio State by 4-2 and 6-2
scores, marking the Bulldogs' first back-to-back wins
since winning three straight from Oct. 13-20.
... Cambridge, Mass. (Friday-Saturday):
Forward Alex Meintel scored four goals and defenseman
Dylan Reese added four assists as Harvard won games
against Union and Rensselaer. Meintel scored three times
in Friday's 5-2 defeat of Union. The Crimson are 6-3-1
in its last 10 games getting out to a 3-9-0 start.
... Chestnut Hill, Mass (Friday):
Goaltender Jon Quick stopped 33 shots as Massachusetts
beat Boston College, 5-3. It's the first time in Minutemen
history they've captured the season series from the
... Fairbanks, Alaska (Friday):
Aaron Lee's goal with 1:24 remaining in overtime gave
Alaska a 2-1 win against Miami. The RedHawks' Matt Christie
scored with 23 seconds left in regulation to send the
game into OT.
... Hamilton, N.Y. (Friday}:
Linemates Marc Fulton, Tyler Burton, and Jesse Winchester
eached scored four points in Colgate's 6-2 win against
visiting St. Lawrence. Winchester netted three goals
and an assist, Burton added two goals and two assists,
and Fulton contributed four assists.
... Milford and Storrs, Conn.
(Friday-Saturday): Connecticut goaltender Beau
Erickson stopped 66 of 68 shots he faced this weekend
as the Huskies swept a home-and-home series from Sacred
Heart by 2-1 and 5-1 scores. UConn's Cole Koidahl scored
2-2--4 in the series.
... Moon Township, Pa. (Friday-Saturday):
Forwards Kyle Frieday and Sean Berkstresser eached scored
2-3--5 in Robert Morris's weekend sweep of Niagara.
Goaltender Joe Tuset made 30 saves in Friday's 7-1 win,
while netminder Christian Boucher stopped 39 shots in
a 5-2 win Saturday.
... Omaha, Neb: (Friday):
Bryan Lerg had two goals and an assist to lead Michigan
State to a 5-1 win against Nebraska-Omaha Friday in
a game in which no penalties were called.
... Providence, R.I. (Saturday):
Brown broke a 2-all game open by scoring three times
during a 3:17 stretch of the third period en route to
a 6-3 win over Quinnipiac. Ryan Garbutt scored three
goals for the Bears, who got 35 saves from goaltender