Rick Comley, Michigan State’s ever-quotable head coach, gives us a good summation of the CCHA weekend: “I leave this weekend saying, ‘You know what? We can play with really good teams.’”
Sure, he was talking about how his team performed against visiting Maine, but the line can stand for just about the whole league this weekend. Just about.
Let me start with the Maine-MSU series, since I was able to watch both games, Friday’s in person.
The games couldn’t have been more different. In Thursday’s contest, the Spartans scored first and played catch-up for the rest of the contest after allowing three unanswered goals in the second half of the first period, two on the power play. It took goaltender Drew Palmisano a good little while to settle into that contest, but once he did, he was solid. Mike Merrifield’s shorthander tied the game early in the third.
The Spartans watched a 2-0 lead evaporate within a 10-second span Friday with Spencer Abbott’s two power-play goals, the first with a two-man advantage, the second five-on-four. Dustin Gazley responded, however, less than four minutes later to put MSU back on top, and Palmisano was in control the whole game.
Afterward, Maine coach Tim Whitehead called the series a “wake-up call” for the Black Bears, but it was a bit of a herald for the Spartans, too. MSU was persistent and the Spartans didn’t panic in either game. Also, the defense improved in front of Palmisano as the series progressed.
Dustin Gazley will have a career season. Mark my words.
This is another series that saw two games that couldn’t have been more different. And, for the record, congratulations Coach Bergeron on your first collegiate win.
Friday’s result was Clarkson, 4-0. Saturday’s was BGSU, 3-0. The games were on the road for the Falcons, so that is no small thing. Add to that the fact that Jordan Samuels-Thomas did not score one of the three BG goals, and that looks good, too. Sophomore Mark Rodriguez, junior James McIntosh and senior David Solway netted the goals. While Solway is familiar to CCHA fans, Rodriguez’ goal was just his fourth career tally, and McIntosh’ was his second.
Sophomore Andrew Hammond got the shutout in his first career win.
The Wolverines went to New Hampshire for one game and tied, 3-3, with Shawn Hunwick making 45 saves in the effort. That’s a long way for a lot of work, but couple it with what MSU accomplished, and it’s a rare good weekend of the CCHA vs. Hockey East.
The Wolverines scored all three of their goals on the PP, and UNH tied the game with a four-on-three goal by Paul Thompson with less than five to go in regulation.
As usual, Michigan gave its opponent plenty of opportunities on the power play. “That’s when you really need your goalie,” said UM head coach Red Berenson. “He was as good as it gets.”
UM had six penalties for 12 minutes (with no game misconducts, which is an improvement) to UNH’s four minors. “We can’t be taking those penalties,” said Berenson.
With a pair of 2-1 wins over Union and Colorado College, the Nanooks successfully defended their Brice Alaska Goal Rush title.
Goaltender Scott Greenham, the tourney’s MVP, said that the Nanooks had the Kendall Classic from the weekend before to motivate them.
“For every guy on the team, we mentally approached this from Monday,” Greenham told the Fairbanks News-Miner. “We had a sour taste in our mouths and I think that had something to do with it.”
The Bulldogs swept visiting St. Lawrence in two games. Pat Nagle stopped 26 in Saturday’s 3-0 shutout.
The Broncos went to Erie, Pa., to sweep Mercyhurst. Sophomore Nick Pisellini made 28 saves in the 1-0 shutout Saturday.
The RedHawks went to St. Cloud where they beat the Huskies, 6-3, before tying, 1-1. Carter Camper had three goals on the weekend, including the only goal Saturday. Cody Reichard got Friday’s win, Connor Knapp the tie.
The Buckeyes provide the sole (and perhaps predictable) disappointment in nonconference play, losing 4-3 to Robert Morris(!) at home Friday.
“Not much went right,” said OSU senior John Albert. “We had a lot of turnovers. They out-competed us. We had a lot of shots, which was good, that is about it.”
Lake State vs. Notre Dame
The only league action was a Thursday-Friday series in South Bend, in which the Irish swept the Lakers with two 4-2 decisions. The Thursday game was ND head coach Jeff Jackson’s 300th career win, a feat that Jackson dubbed “overrated” in the South Bend Tribune.
“It’s such a culmination of all the coaches and players,” said Jackson.
With four goals and two assists, rookie Anders Lee is off to a fast start for the Irish. Sophomore Mike Johnson was in net for both ND wins.
Well, for the weekend, the league went 9-2-3 in nonconference play (9-2-4, if you count NMU’s 4-4 tie with MTU last Tuesday), with an uncharacteristically strong showing against Hockey East. The teams that are expected to be in the top tier of the league performed especially well, including Notre Dame. The CCHA’s ranked teams performed well against nonconference ranked teams.
It was a good weekend. We’ll see what this week brings.