Jim: This past weekend presented some of the season’s most exciting games, and many of them took place at two schools: Denver and Colorado College. On Friday, the Tigers rallied from four goals down against New Hampshire while Yale knocked off No. 2 Denver in overtime. A night later, it was UNH’s turn to rally, coming back from 3-0 and 4-2 to win 6-4 over Denver, while Yale again used overtime, this time to beat CC. There’s a part of me that wishes I was in the Denver/Colorado Springs area for Thanksgiving this year.
Todd: Definitely. And the Colorado teams took quite a setback, even with CC improbably rallying against the best defense in the country on Friday. In that New Hampshire-Denver game on Saturday, the Wildcats got hat tricks from two players to account for their six goals. Grayson Downing got the first three, the final one making it 4-3 in the third period, and Kevin Goumas put up three in a row in the last 6:36 for the win. I don’t know what to make of this stat, but I thought it was interesting anyway: There were as many goaltending changes in those four games as power-play goals (three).
Jim: It certainly was a pretty crazy weekend in Colorado. Another interesting series between top-10 teams was the North Dakota-Notre Dame series. Notre Dame outshot NoDak in both games yet only came away with a single win thanks to a 35-save performance by Clarke Saunders on Friday night.
Despite that North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol has been platooning Saunders with Zane Gothberg much of the season, I was still surprised not to see Saunders get the start on Saturday. Gothberg faced a little more rubber and allowed five goals in the 5-2 loss, which makes me wonder if NoDak is going to get away from the platoon and settle on Saunders as a No. 1.
Todd: I think at some point we’ll see that happen but there are good reasons to keep giving Gothberg time in the net. If Saunders’ performance starts to slip at some point, you want to have a viable alternative, and giving Gothberg chances to play now helps build that.
We had talked a few weeks back about wanting to see Dartmouth play Boston College to find out whether it’s for real. Well, you got to see the Big Green rally to tie the Eagles at 3 heading into the final period last Saturday before BC pulled away for a 6-3 win. What were your impressions on Dartmouth?
Jim: I was pretty impressed by Dartmouth. The Big Green have good team speed and really took it to BC in the opening period (but came out tied 1-1). Even after BC struck for two quick ones in the second, Dartmouth, as you mentioned didn’t quit. In the end, BC’s top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Pat Mullane and Steven Whitney were simply way too much for Dartmouth, but it did take career games from Gaudreau and Whitney to earn BC the victory.
The win, of course, places Jerry York one win away from tying Ron Mason for most all-time Division I wins. It’s inevitable that he will tie and pass the record (and could do both this weekend against rival Boston University). But it seems like a reality, as well, that York will become the first coach to reach 1,000 wins. That’s pretty unbelievable.
Todd: As impressive as the win record will be for York, I think what will stay in my mind about his coaching career is how, even in his 41st straight season as a head coach, he has kept his techniques fresh and applicable to the players of today. That has to be one of the greatest challenges for a coach but he makes it look like no big deal, at least from the outside.
Mason and York’s careers are connected by Bowling Green: Mason coached there from 1973 to 1979 and York followed him, from 1979 until taking over at his alma mater in 1994. But one thing that Mason has on York: He reached 924 wins in 1,387 games; York will need at least 1,576.
Jim: Yes, Mason’s numbers certainly are impressive. The numbers that stick out for York, to me, come from his time at Boston College. Take a look at these:
In York’s first three years at BC, while rebuilding the program, the Eagles missed the NCAA tournament. Since then:
• BC has made 14 of 16 NCAA tournaments.
• Of those 14 tournaments made, 11 times BC has reached the Frozen Four.
• In those 11 Frozen Four appearances, York teams have reached the title game nine times, winning four.
You can add in nine Hockey East tournament titles as well. At least in Hockey East lore, those numbers are unmatched.
Todd: I don’t think the dynasty label is too much for the Eagles, and you start to wonder whether York’s impending ownership of the career wins record coincides with the best stretch for a program ever in college hockey. We could start comparing teams of different eras but it really gets into the subjective and matters of opinion, so it’s probably just best to leave it that Boston College is enjoying one of the best eras ever for a program.
Jim: I think when you look at where York took the BC program, a team that was in turmoil when he arrived, had its previous head coach Mike Milbury last less than two months and never coach a game, BC’s current run certainly seems even more impressive a dynasty than most.
Looking elsewhere in college hockey there was a lot of status quo during the light Thanksgiving schedule. That was evident in this week’s USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll, where there was little movement. No surprise, the only team to drop out was Michigan, which we talked about last week as being overrated. The Wolverines were replaced by aforementioned Yale.
Todd: Turning toward this week, we have seven games between ranked teams on the schedule. That’s highlighted by the games that could give us a new leader in the all-time coaching wins department, No. 1 Boston College against No. 9 Boston University. The Terriers host Friday’s game before the teams head to the Heights on Saturday.
No. 3 Minnesota hosts No. 13 Nebraska-Omaha and No. 7 North Dakota is at No. 18 Colorado College in WCHA play. And No. 8 Union hosts No. 16 Quinnipiac on Friday.