Dodge Holiday Classic
Arena • Minneapolis, Minn.
Boston College vs. Air Force, 5:07 p.m.
RIT at Minnesota, 8:07 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 30
Air Force/BC vs. RIT, 5:07 p.m.
Air Force/BC vs. Minnesota, 8:07 p.m.
Fox Sports Net North will carry Minnesota's games
Minnesota looked all but unstoppable
at this time a year ago, beating Alabama-Huntsville
and Ferris State to win the Dodge Classic and improve
to 17-1-3 at the time. Ferris State and UMass opened
the tournament with a 1-1 tie, which was “won”
by the Bulldogs in a shootout. The host Gophers peppered
Chargers goalie Marc Narduzzi with 48 shots in the
second game, getting three past him in a 3-1 win.
The Chargers rebounded with a 5-2 win in the third
place game, while Minnesota did what the host team
is supposed to do, and won its own show with a 5-2
triumph over the Bulldogs in the final. Defenseman
Alex Goligoski, who had a goal and two assists in
the title game, was named the tournament MVP.
In the first period of last year’s
semifinal game with Alabama-Huntsville, with his team
leading 2-0, Minnesota forward Tyler Hirsch was whistled
for tripping. We didn’t know it at the time,
but that notation on the score sheet would be the
last evidence we’d see of Hirsch in a Gopher
uniform. Despite being one of the team’s leading
scorers at the time, Hirsch was out of the lineup
for the tournament’s title game and was dismissed
from the team shortly thereafter.
The last time the Eagles played in this
tournament made for some great hockey in 2002 when
the defending national champion Gophers (en route
to their second title in a row) got an overtime goal
from Troy Riddle to overcome a 39-save performance
by Matti Kaltiainen and win the title game.
Air Force senior forward Eric Ehn apparently
hasn’t let all the hype of being the first Falcon
to gain Hobey finalist status go to his head. In his
final season of college hockey, Ehn leads Atlantic
Hockey with 21 points thus far, as the Falcons are
leading the conference. The biggest question, one
would think, for the Falcons is the potential for
the first-round matchup with Boston College being
a bit of a “look ahead” game, what with
a good chance for a rematch with Minnesota in the
title game. In case your memory banks automatically
get erased after seven months, that was Ehn and the
Falcons putting the fear of God into Minnesota last
March in the NCAA tournament opener. Air Force led
3-1 with 10 minutes to play before a Minnesota rally
abruptly ended the Falcon’ season
HOW WE SEE IT
There’s a dearth of good news
in Minneapolis these days, what with the cold, the
snow, and the Vikings’ playing their way out
of what looked like a sure playoff spot just a week
or so ago. And then we have the Gophers, who were
ready to pass out candy canes and open gifts secure
in the knowledge that they were over .500, were coming
off a big win at North Dakota, and were about to get
Mike Carman back in uniform. That was before Garth
Snow played the role of the “Grinch Who Stole
Okposo,” and suddenly more and more Twin Cities
clinics are treating college hockey fans for cases
of seasonal affective disorder. We see no reason that
Minnesota won’t get past upstart RIT in the
opener, but it makes sense to pick the revenge-minded
Falcons to reach the title game and beat a confidence-challenged
Minnesota team on its own rink Sunday night.
— Jess Myers