Three things: Ownage

In my picks column Friday, where I picked No. 7 St. Cloud State to emerge with a sweep on the road against in-state rival Minnesota, I used the word “ownage” to describe the NCHC’s record versus the Big Ten this season.

That certainly seems to be the case. This weekend, Omaha swept Big Ten opponent Ohio State, North Dakota swept Big Ten opponent Michigan State on the road, and St Cloud swept Big Ten opponent Minnesota on the road. The NCHC now owns a 14-1-1 record against Big Ten opponents this season.

Overall, the NCHC is 4-0 against Michigan State (Denver and North Dakota), 4-0 against Ohio State (Miami and Omaha), 2-1-1 against Wisconsin (win and loss by North Dakota, win and tie by Denver), and 4-0 against Minnesota (Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud).

Minnesota might get one more crack at the NCHC in January, depending on the results in the first round of the North Star College Cup. However, that is the only possible game between the NCHC and Big Ten, unless teams from the conferences meet in the NCAA tournament.

CC picks up first win
Entering Saturday’s home game against crosstown rival Air Force, Colorado College was 0-13. The Tigers had just lost Friday at Air Force, 4-3, a game in which the Falcons struck three times in the first 10 minutes of the second period to rally from being down a goal at the end of one period, and then after CC had tied it at three on a power-play goal at six minutes of the third, they gave up the game-winner to Air Force with just 35 seconds left in the game on a goal by Jordan Himley.

When Air Force scored just 77 seconds into the game Saturday, it seemed CC’s streak of futility might continue. Instead, CC capitalized on the power play twice to rally twice from one-goal deficits, getting a goal at 18:54 of the first on a power play from Luc Gerdes to tie it at one and a power-play goal from Sam Rothstein at 12:42 of the second to tie the game at two.

Rothstein then gave CC a lead with a goal at 4 minutes of the third, and Cody Bradley scored what proved the game-winner at 9:39 to give CC its first win of the year.

Of course, it was up in the air till the end, as just 12 seconds after Bradley’s goal, Ben Kucera got one back for Air Force, but CC played strong defensively, limiting the Falcons to just seven total shots in the third period en route to their first win of the year.

Road woes continue for Broncos
Western Michigan is a tough team to figure out. The Broncos sit at 4-8-1 overall, yet own a sweep of No. 6 Omaha and a win over No. 15 Bowling Green. When the Broncos swept Omaha, the Mavericks were No. 2 in the country, and Bowling Green was No. 10 when Western Michigan beat them.

You wouldn’t think the Broncos would have a record like they do considering some of their wins, but one thing has worked against them: road games.

After losing to Rensselaer and Notre Dame this weekend in the Shillelagh Tournament, games that were not technically road games but might as well have been, Western Michigan is now 0-6-1 away from the friendly confines of Lawson Arena.

In the games against RPI and Notre Dame, Western Michigan could only muster a goal in each, losing to RPI, 4-1, and Notre Dame, 3-1. That continues a trend of the offense going on walkabout on the road. In the seven games away from Lawson, Western Michigan has never scored more than two goals, and in five of them, has only scored one. Compare that to home, where Western Michigan has scored three or more goals four times.

The task doesn’t get any easier next weekend, as the Broncos are on the road against Minnesota-Duluth.

NCHC pick: Nov. 28

Sat. Nov. 28

Western Michigan vs. Notre Dame
Candace: Western didn’t look that great against Rensselaer, and I have to think home ice carries the Fighting Irish through. Notre Dame 4-2
Matthew: I really want to take Western here, but i can’t see Notre Dame losing twice in its own tournament this year. Notre Dame 3-2

NCHC picks: Nov. 27

Thanks to Minnesota-Duluth, I got another game on Matthew in our season picks race. Last week, I went 5-2-2 to move to 45-24-8 on the year, while Matthew went 4-3-2 to move to 42-27-8.

Some interesting nonconference matchups this week. Let’s see how we do. Unfortunately for Matthew, we see eye-to-eye this week.

Western Michigan versus Rensselaer (Friday in South Bend)
Candace: I still don’t understand how RPI isn’t ranked; what do the Engineers have to do? They’ve beaten three ranked teams and tied a fourth. The only bad results were the Alaska trip. Western will try to regroup from its shellacking against St. Cloud two weeks ago to defend its title in this tournament, but I don’t see it happening, especially on the road, even if it is a neutral site. RPI 4-1
Matthew: I want to go with Western here, but RPI is 6-0-2 in its last eight games and I think they get a seventh win in that stretch here. RPI 4-2

Ohio State at No. 6 Omaha
Candace: Mavericks nation might hate me, but I don’t see any way to pick a split. Besides, the last time I picked Omaha to sweep, they did, so … Omaha 4-2, 3-1
Matthew: I think UNO will keep up its undefeated home record against a Buckeyes team that has yet to win on the road. Omaha 3-1, 3-1

Colorado College versus Air Force home-and-home
Candace: Air Force hasn’t been great this year, though CC is worse, and is the only team without even a tie, let alone a win. However, I have to believe it changes this weekend. If it doesn’t, the Tigers might finish the first half with a perfect losing record. Air Force 3-2, Colorado College 3-1
Matthew: I keep wondering when CC’s going to pick up its first win of the season. This might come back to bite me, but I’m going back to the well again here. Home teams win. Air Force 3-2, Colorado College 3-2

No. 5 North Dakota at Michigan State (Friday-Sunday)
Candace: Michigan State is a better team than its record, judging by what I saw in Denver last month, and is a good home team, but I like North Dakota to emerge with a sweep. North Dakota 3-2, 4-2
Matthew: MSU has been mediocre so far this season, but I can see them stealing a game here. I’ll take the homer pick, though. North Dakota 3-1, 3-2

No. 7 St. Cloud State at Minnesota (Friday-Sunday)
Candace: This was a split last year, but I think St. Cloud is better and Minnesota worse, so I’m going for the NCHC sweep and continued ownage of the Big Ten, though in two close games. St. Cloud State 3-2, 3-1
Matthew: How is this not a home-and-home? The schools are 70 miles apart and there’s a day off between games. Sort it out, people. Anyway, I’m taking the Huskies to sweep. St. Cloud State 3-2, 4-2

Three things: Nov. 22

Three of the bigger NCHC talking points from the weekend just gone:

Huskies, Hawks share spoils

Many thought the weekend series between No. 4 North Dakota and No. 7 St. Cloud State would be a split. Lo and behold, that’s what happened.
UND, playing its first hockey game under their new Fighting Hawks nickname, eked past homestanding SCSU Friday in a 4-3 win. A Drake Caggiula hat trick hat trick saw the visitors through, and 35 saves from goaltender Matt Hrynkiw were just enough.
St. Cloud then bounced back in a big way Saturday, rolling to a 6-1 win. Three consecutive Huskies goals helped to get Hrynkiw yanked in the second period, and Hawks backup Cam Johnson just as many goals in his 27:29 on the ice.
The Huskies did an excellent job of spreading out their scoring Saturday. Six different SCSU icers found the back of the Hawks’ net, and 10 Huskies picked up assists.
SCSU (9-3 overall, 5-1 NCHC) will face Minnesota this Friday and Sunday. UND (10-2-2, 5-1) also has a Friday-Sunday set away to Michigan State.

Bulldogs hit CC for 11 goals

Things were already looking bleak for Colorado College heading into this weekend, with the Tigers having lost each of their first 10 games of the season.
That streak now stands at 12 games after No. 17 Minnesota-Duluth gave CC a pair of poundings Friday and Saturday in Colorado Springs. UMD won the series-opener 5-0 before hitting the Tigers for even more Saturday in a 6-0 rout.
Three Bulldogs goals in Friday’s third period bookended tallies from Austin Farley in the first and third periods. Farley then scored twice more Saturday while picking up as many assists.
UMD (5-5-3, 2-3-1-1) is off until the Bulldogs host Western Michigan Dec. 4-5. CC (0-12, 0-6) is back at this next weekened in a home-and-home with Air Force.

RedHawks show strength in 3-on-3 session

Miami got back on track Friday against sixth-rankedOmaha, taking an extra point in a new 3-on-3 second overtime period the NCHC installed for this season’s league games.
After the RedHawks and Mavericks skated to a 3-3 tie through 65 minutes, Miami scored what for league purposes was considered a game-winner. After Louie Belpedio shot a puck into UNO goaltender Kirk Thompson’s chest, Belpedio snagged his own rebound and fired home under Thompson’s glove.
Omaha got its own back Saturday in another game that went to overtime. Jake Randolph found a game-winner for the Mavericks 3:14 into the first and only extra session.
Miami (5-7-2, 2-5-1-1) is now off until it visits Colorado College Dec. 4-5. Omaha (9-2-1, 3-2-1) is back home later this week to take on former CCHA rival Ohio State.

NCHC picks: Nov. 20

Matthew and I again split our results last week, so I’m hanging on to a tenuous two-game lead in our season picks race. We both went a very respectable 4-1-1 (.750). On the year, I am 40-22-6 (.632) while Matthew is 38-24-6 (.602).

No. 17 Minnesota-Duluth at Colorado College
Candace: It wouldn’t surprise me if CC snuck a win in here, but there’s really no percentage in picking it. Minnesota-Duluth 3-1, 3-2
Matthew: With UMD struggling as it has lately, I’m going to kind of go out on a limb and say CC finally picks up its first win of the season this weekend. Prove me right, Tigers. Colorado College 3-2, Minnesota-Duluth 3-1

No. 6 Omaha at Miami
Candace: Possibly the hardest series to pick on the weekend. Miami has been good at home, and I have trouble seeing them lose three in a row, though they did on the road earlier. Miami 3-2, Omaha 3-2
Matthew: UNO’s coming into Oxford fresh to play against a Miami team that’s been in a yo-yo pattern the past few weeks. The RedHawks have been good at home early on this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Omaha wins both here. Omaha 3-1, 3-2

No. 4 North Dakota at No. 7 St. Cloud State
Candace: The marquee series of the weekend has split written all over it. St. Cloud State 3-2. North Dakota 3-2
Matthew: SCSU scored 11 goals in its last game but won’t come anywhere near that this weekend, probably not even in the entire series. UND will have its hands full, too, though, in what will probably end up as a split. St. Cloud State 4-2, North Dakota 4-2

No. 9 Denver at Wisconsin
Candace: Wisconsin showed signs of life by beating North Dakota, but I like the Pioneers in this one. Denver 3-1, 2-1
Matthew: DU has been very good lately, but it’s coming up against a Wisconsin team that’s coming off a bye week after coming up with a boosting upset at UND. I’ll take Denver in both games, but they’ll both be close. Denver 2-1, 3-2

Three things: offensive explosion

Offensive explosion
St. Cloud State exploded for 16 goals on the weekend in a sweep of Western Michigan on the road, with a closer-than-it-looks 5-2 win on Friday and an 11-1 romp on Saturday. Sophomore Patrick Russell had an empty-netter in a 5-2 win Friday and then added two goals Saturday, while Joey Benik had four goals Saturday and a goal Friday. Benik’s output Saturday was the first time a St. Cloud player scored four goals in a game since 2002, when Mark Hartigan did so. The power play was particularly potent for the Huskies, who notched six power-play goals on the weekend. St. Cloud now has the sixth-best offense in the country, and is tied with North Dakota for the NCHC conference lead. Goaltender Charlie Lindgren played both games, and now has a 1.48 goals-against and a .944 save percentage.

Goals still a challenge
Home ice didn’t prove a cure for what ails Minnesota-Duluth, as the Bulldogs could only muster one goal on the weekend in a series against No. 8 Denver. The goal proved enough to get a tie Saturday, and the Bulldogs did gain a point with the three-on-three OT goal. It was the first time ever that the three-on-three format was employed in the NCHC, and  Tony Cameranesi, who had tied the game at 6:17 of the third, scored 2:45 into the three-on-three session. Denver goalie Tanner Jaillet made 45 saves on the night before the three-on-three session, and his teammate Evan Cowley made 27 saves in Friday’s 3-0 shutout. Duluth hasn’t won a game outright in November, last winning against Mass.-Lowell on Oct. 30. The Bulldogs only have one win in their last eight games.

North Dakota rebounds
After suffering its first loss last weekend against Wisconsin, North Dakota has won three straight. This weekend, North Dakota swept a conference series against Miami in two very different games. Friday, North Dakota struck three times in first period and another two times in the second period in a 6-2 win. Saturday however, Miami got two second-period goals to take a 2-1 lead, and then Josh Melnick scored at 14:21 to give Miami a 3-2 lead. Nick Schmaltz scored a goal with the netminder pulled at 18:26, and then Luke Johnson won it for North Dakota in OT with a goal that banked in off Miami goaltender Ryan McKay just 1:23 in. Junior Matt Hrynkiw, who had never played a minute in net for North Dakota before this year, is now 8-1-1 after making 19 saves Friday and another 11 on Saturday. North Dakota will next face the conference’s other undefeated team when it travels to St. Cloud State this weekend.

NCHC picks: Nov. 13

I thought after Friday that I might put a little distance between Matthew and I, but we both ended up going 5-3 (.625). On the year, I am 36-21-5 (.620), while Matthew is 34-23-5 (.588).

The NCHC action is all conference games this weekend, so let’s see how we do.

Friday-Saturday, Nov. 13-14

No. 8 Denver at No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth
Candace: I think this is a split, but dang are the nights hard to pick right. Minnesota-Duluth 3-2, Denver 3-1
Matthew: A rejuvenated Denver team visits a UMD team that needs to pick itself up after being swept last time out in Omaha. This has split written all over it, which is bad for me because I never know which team to take on which night in this sort of situation. Denver 2-1, Minnesota-Duluth 3-1

No. 17 Miami at No. 3 North Dakota
Candace: Somehow, I think North Dakota rebounds en force after the loss to Wisconsin last week. North Dakota 3-1, 4-2
Matthew: I’m tempted to go with a split here, but I’ll take UND to figure the RedHawks out and pick up a couple wins. North Dakota 3-2, 3-1

No. 9 St. Cloud State at Western Michigan
Candace: Western has been far better at home, but I am thinking St. Cloud might get the sweep. St. Cloud State 3-2, 3-1
Matthew: Western will hope to get back on track after falling twice last weekend at Miami, and I think they’ll get one win here. The Huskies are too talented to drop both of these games, though, unless WMU catches fire. St. Cloud State 3-1, Western Michigan 3-2

Three things: Nov. 9

A few of the bigger talking points from this past weekend in NCHC play:

Omaha gets back on track

A week after picking up its first two losses of the season, Omaha bounced back well at home this last weekend against a top-10 opponent.
Sixth-ranked Minnesota-Duluth made its first visit to Baxter Arena to take on the No. 8 Mavericks in one of the nation’s spotlight series of the week. Ultimately, only Omaha came away happy after picking up a pair of 4-2 wins over the Bulldogs.
UNO gained the upper hand early in Friday’s game and stayed ahead. Brian Cooper opened the scoring 24 seconds into the game before three other Mavericks also found their way onto the score sheet.
Saturday’s rematch was a different story, with UNO and UMD heading into the right minutes of the game tied at 1-1. Three consecutive Mavericks goals, however, quickly put the Bulldogs under.
Omaha (8-2-0, 2-2 NCHC) is off this week before visiting Miami on Nov. 20-21. UMD (3-4-3, 0-2) is back at home this weekend to take on ninth-ranked Denver.

Pioneers go panning, strike gold

Speaking of DU, the Pios will enter Minnesota this weekend with momentum on its side after Denver picked up a series sweep of in-state rival Colorado College.
On Friday at Denver’s Magness Arena, three second-period goals helped see the Pioneers through in an eventual 5-3 victory. The next night, DU walked out of Colorado Springs’ World Arena with a 3-1 win over the Tigers.
DU used its solid goaltending tandem to pick up the sweep. Evan Crowley stopped 20 shots on Friday night in the Colorado capital before Tanner Jaillet made 19 saves in the rematch.
Denver (5-3-0, 2-0) will look to keep rolling this weekend against UMD. CC fell to 0-10 on the season last weekend and will have almost two weeks to prepare for a visit from Duluth on Nov. 20-21.

UND made to work for home split

North Dakota came into last weekend looking for a pair of non-conference wins against a Wisconsin team that had been mediocre at the start of the season. What UND ended up getting was somewhat unexpected by the faithful in Grand Forks.
A North Dakota team that went into the weekend ranked No. 1 in the country will find itself further down the ladder Monday after falling 3-1 to the Badgers Friday night. Luke Johnson gave UND an early 1-0 lead 7:31 into the game, but three unanswered UW goals gave the Badgers a surprise victory.
What UND fans like to think is normal service was resumed Saturday when the home team beat the Badgers 3-1. Two third-period goals from Shane Gersich and Drake Caggiula, the latter of whom was suspended for Friday’s game, allowed UND to salvage a split.
UND (7-1-2, 2-0) is at home again this weekend to take on Miami (5-4-1, 2-2), which swept Western Michigan last weekend in Oxford, Ohio.

NCHC picks: Nov. 6

Well, Matthew and I tied again, as I correctly picked Minnesota-Duluth to win its first game against Mass.-Lowell, but incorrectly picked Miami to get the second game of its series with St. Cloud State. Matthew and I both went 6-4 (.600), hardly stellar. On the year, I am 31-18-5 (.620), while Matthew is 29-20-5 (.583).

On to this weekend, where I have a chance to put more space between us, or fall behind.

Friday-Saturday, Nov. 6-7

Colorado College vs No. 9 Denver home-and-home
Candace: Colorado College good at times last week, but inconsistent, and at least last year, the Tigers didn’t get up for this series the way they did under Scott Owens. Denver 4-2, 3-2
Matthew: Colorado College is going to finally get into the win column eventually, but it might not happen this weekend against a strong DU team. I am going to go out on a limb, though, and take CC to win on Saturday. Denver 4-1, Colorado College 3-2

Western Michigan at No. 19 Miami
Candace: Miami is off to a really rough start so far. Western Michigan hasn’t been good on the road. Which will give? Miami 3-2, Western Michigan 3-2
Matthew: This could be a very tight series. Miami needs to get back on track after getting swept at St. Cloud State last weekend, but I think Western will carry some momentum from its own pair of wins last weekend into this series. Western Michigan 3-1, Miami 3-1

No. 6 Minnesota-Duluth at No. 8 Omaha
Candace: This is going to be a split, and I’ll be bold, unlike Matthew, and try to call it correctly. I will just say to RedArmyUNO that my split call had nothing to do with last weekend. Omaha 3-2, Minnesota-Duluth 3-2
Matthew: Can the Mavericks stay undefeated at Baxter Arena? I have a feeling the Bulldogs will take one of these games, but only as I can’t decide who wins which game, I’ll take Omaha to win both. Omaha 3-1, 4-2

Wisconsin at No. 1 North Dakota
Candace: Remember when Wisconsin was a team to be feared? Not so much right now. I guess North Dakota could lose if it comes out flat-footed, but I don’t see that happening at the Ralph. North Dakota 4-2, 4-1
Matthew: UW has been mediocre early on this season, and North Dakota knows that it needs to pick up wins in non-league play. UND will have to get through Friday without the suspended Drake Caggiula, but I don’t see UND losing either of these games. North Dakota 3-1, 3-1

Three things: It’s going to be a dogfight

Dogfight ahead
No. 2 Nebraska-Omaha had started the season 6-0, including impressive road sweeps of Minnesota State and Vermont, and a home series sweep of Air Force.

This weekend, the Mavericks started NCHC conference play, and things didn’t go so well, as they were swept by Western Michigan, 4-2 and 6-1. The Broncos got 31 saves on Friday from Colin Olson, and Sheldon Dries scored the game-winner at 13:30 of the second, while Aaron Hadley added an insurance goal early in the third.

On Saturday, Lukas Hafner stopped 37 shots in the 6-1 win and the Broncos got scoring from five different players. Omaha’s vaunted offense was almost completely shut down, including three power play chances killed.

Omaha is certain to drop from its No. 2 spot in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll, though how far is uncertain. Meanwhile, the Broncos showed a nice recovery from being swept by Clarkson the weekend before.

Breaks not kind
No. 5 Denver traveled to Boston this weekend and dropped a pair of heart-breakers, losing 4-3 to No. 4 Boston College Friday on a goal by Matthew Gaudreau with 36 seconds left in the game, and then dropping a 5-4 overtime decision Saturday afternoon to No. 8 Boston University, with Ahti Oksanen scoring the game-winner just 21 seconds into the OT, after Denver had scored twice in the third to tie the game.

One interesting note is that Denver had won twice in its last outings two weeks ago against Michigan State, then had a bye week. Earlier in October, Western Michigan won twice at home, had a bye week, then went on the road and got swept. Perhaps NCHC teams should decline rest weekends?

Home sweep home
After one month of play, one thing has become clear: NCHC teams prefer to play at home. The road, on the other hand, has not been kind. Only two NCHC teams have a winning road record. Three are winless on the road.

NCHC teams currently boast an overall mark of 31-23-6. Of the 23 losses, 17 have been on the road, an astonishing 74 percent, while five of the six ties have been on the road.

Here’s the breakdown:

Colorado College: 0-4 home, 0-4 road
Denver: 3-0 home, 0-3 road
Miami: 1-1-1 home, 2-3 road
Minnesota-Duluth: 2-1 home, 1-1-2 road
North Dakota: 1-0 home, 5-0-2 road
Omaha: 2-0 home, 4-2 road
St. Cloud State: 4-0 home, 2-2 road
Western Michigan: 4-0 home, 0-2-1 road

BNY Mellon Wealth Management