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College Hockey:
Hockey East, Robert Morris and a little blemish

It was a very interesting weekend in Big Ten play. I was lucky enough to see Boston University play against Michigan and Michigan State — and I’m thinking that coach David Quinn may pay me to stay out of the building when his team plays.

Here are three things I took away from the weekend.

1. Hockey East owns the Big Ten.

Hockey East claimed victory in the first Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge, and I have to say that I am not surprised at all. For the last decade, teams from the CCHA and WCHA have struggled against Hockey East teams, and HEA teams have given even top programs in those leagues plenty of trouble.

A points system was used to help determine the outcome. Teams earned two points for a win, one point for a tie and an additional point for a road win. For example, Massachusetts-Lowell earned six points for its road wins against Michigan State and Michigan.

In points, Hockey East won this challenge 18-11.

I like the challenge very much and I know that fans of Big Ten teams enjoyed seeing such high-level nonconference play early in the season. The Friday night Boston University-Michigan game felt like an NCAA playoff game. It was outstanding — and so good to see in October.

Some of what transpired in this challenge will affect teams for post-season play. It will be interesting to see come March.

2. Ohio State beat Robert Morris — and it matters.

The Buckeyes swept the Colonials in a home-and-home series, giving Ohio State its first wins of the season and its first win ever over Robert Morris in Columbus. In three previous meetings between the teams in Columbus in recent seasons, the Colonials were 3-0-0 over the Buckeyes. Friday night, the Buckeyes overcame a 2-0 deficit to score five unanswered goals, two by Nick Oddo, two others on the power play.

“It didn’t start out pretty tonight,” said coach Steve Rohlik. “What I liked about our team tonight was [that] they weren’t going to let it happen again. We competed hard and bounced back, and good teams find a way to win.”

The Buckeyes were up 4-0 after the second period of Saturday’s rematch in Pittsburgh but allowed three in the third period.

Freshman goatlender Matt Tomkins had both wins for the Buckeyes.

3. One small blemish … and then a lot of goals.

By the five-minute mark in the first period Friday night, Minnesota led visiting Boston College, 2-0. The Eagles came back to score three to make it a 3-2 game after one, and the Golden Gophers tied it up in the second. The game ended tied, 3-3.

By the 5:10 mark in the first period of Sunday’s game, the Gophers again led 2-0, but they learned something from Friday night’s contest. By the end of the first period, the Gophers were up on the Eagles 4-0 and Minnesota won that game 6-1.

Minnesota coach Don Lucia said that he thought the game was closer than the score and Boston College coach Jerry York conceded that the Gophers took advantage of nearly every BC mistake.

Lucia said after Sunday’s game that it was defense was key for offense.

“It started out great for us, obviously, when you score four goals in the first period,” said Lucia. “Our defense did a great job all weekend long, really got involved offensively. Nice plays off the rush to score some goals.”

The tie is the only blemish on Minnesota’s record (5-0-1) so far this season. The Gophers are averaging 4.83 goals per game. Sophomore Adam Wilcox (.938 SV%) played both games for Minnesota.

One more thing.

Michigan’s Zach Nagelvoort (1.47 GAA, .947 SV%) showed signs of being absolutely the real deal against Boston University and Massachusetts-Lowell. Agile. Quick glove.

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