This Week in the WCHA: Nov. 25, 2009

Not as deep or as long this week, due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

The point spread between first and last in the league is now down to nine (13 points for first; four for last).

Red Baron WCHA Players of the Week

Red Baron WCHA Co-Offensive Players of the Week: Joe Colborne, DU; Jerad Stewart, MSU, M.
Why: Colborne scored two goals and had two assists to help his Pioneers sweep the visiting Fighting Sioux. Stewart scored a career-high five points (4g, 1a) in MSU, M’s 8-2 victory over the Seawolves.
Also Nominated: Bill Sweatt, CC; Jack Connolly, UMD.

Red Baron WCHA Defensive Player of the Week: Marc Cheverie, DU.
Why: Returned from injury to help his Pioneers sweep North Dakota, pitched one shutout and did not allow an even-strength goal all series.
Also Nominated: Kris Fredheim, CC; Brad Eidsness, UND.

Red Baron WCHA Rookie of the Week: Mike Lee, SCSU.
Why: Stopped 38 of 39 shots in the Huskies’ win over Wisconsin.
Also Nominated: Andrew Hamburg, CC; Drew Shore, DU; Danny Kristo, UND.

Living Up to the Hype

I caught all of Friday’s North Dakota-Denver game and most of Saturday’s game and in my opinion, the games lived up to the No. 2-vs.-No. 3 hype.

Despite Friday night being a 1-0 game, it was an exciting 1-0 game, filled with chances, typical Pioneer-Sioux tussling, two goaltenders playing outstanding and the loudest I’ve heard Magness Arena (due to both Denver AND North Dakota fans, the latter of which had a strong presence, in typical Sioux fashion). Saturday was a special teams game, with over half the game played with one of the teams on a man-advantage of some sort. Both nights had goals reviewed and disallowed.

The stories from the weekend were many, the biggest probably being the return of Cheverie from injury, pitching a shutout in his first game back and then staying strong to hold on for the DU sweep. It was the first time UND had been swept in just under three years.

The games also showed how much the Sioux miss a player some people were referring to as the best in college hockey at the beginning of the year in Chay Genoway. Genoway’s status, by the way, is still uncertain. According to the team, his status has not changed from “out indefinitely.”

Other thoughts from the weekend include, “wow, Denver’s fast,” “imagine if both these teams were at full strength (which, by Saturday, meant, imagine if Genoway was playing)” and “it’s going to be fun when these two teams meet up again in Grand Forks.”

Around the WCHA

Thanks in part to some recent injuries due to hits to the head, the NCAA is re-emphasizing its position on contact to the head penalties. League commissioner Bruce McLeod had a teleconference call with the coaches Wednesday to make sure they understand the new emphasis.

Though there already is a zero-tolerance policy on contact to the head, oftentimes hits don’t get called — for example, the Seawolves elbow that broke Minnesota’s Nick Leddy’s jaw. According to the new emphasis, any contact to the head in any situation, incidental or not, accidental or not, will warrant at least a two-minute penalty; actual severity will be up to the referee’s discretion.

MSU, M: The Mavericks got hit with a big injury this past Friday night, losing junior forward Andrew Sackrison to a broken leg. Sackrison doesn’t think the injury will keep him out the entire season, however, but that will still remain to be seen.

Match-Ups By the Numbers

There’s a lot of hockey on the plate for this weekend — three conference series, UND in the Subway Holiday Classic and Minnesota and Wisconsin in the College Hockey Showcase.

Alaska Anchorage @ #5 Colorado College
Overall Records: UAA — 5-9-0 (3-7-0 WCHA). CC — 9-2-1 (6-1-1 WCHA).
Head-to-Head: CC leads the overall series, 48-12-3.

St. Cloud State @ #2 Denver
Overall Records: SCSU — 5-5-2 (4-3-1 WCHA). DU — 8-3-1 (6-1-1 WCHA).
Head-to-Head: DU leads the overall series, 36-20-4.

Michigan Tech @ Minnesota State
Overall Records: MTU — 3-7-0 (2-6-0 WCHA). MSU, M — 4-7-1 (2-7-1 WCHA).
Head-to-Head: MSU, M leads the overall series, 20-12-3.

North Dakota vs. Ohio State, #1 Miami
Overall Records: UND — 7-4-1 (5-4-1 WCHA). OSU — 5-8-1 (4-5-1-1 CCHA). MU — 9-1-4 (6-1-3-1 CCHA).
Head-to-Head: UND leads the overall series with both teams, 2-0.

Minnesota @ Michigan, #8 Michigan State
Overall Records: Minnesota — 4-7-1 (3-6-1 WCHA). Michigan — 5-7-0 (3-5-0-0 CCHA). MSU — 9-3-2 (6-2-2-0 CCHA).
Head-to-Head: UMTC leads both overall series; over UM, 127-116-14 and over MSU 100-41-11.

#15 Wisconsin @ #8 Michigan State, Michigan
Overall Records: UW — 7-4-1 (5-4-1 WCHA). MSU — 9-3-2 (6-2-2-0 CCHA). UM — 5-7-0 (3-5-0-0 CCHA).
Head-to-Head: MSU leads the overall series, 45-40-3 and UM leads the overall series, 63-51-7.

Future WCHA Team Watch

Bemidji State swept conference foe Alabama-Huntsville last weekend and next faces Miami and Ohio State in the Subway Holiday Classic up in Grand Forks, N.D. Nebraska-Omaha, on the other hand, got swept by Northern Michigan. Up next for the Mavericks is Western Michigan in Omaha.

#6 BSU: 10-1-1 overall, 1-1-0 vs. WCHA
#19 UNO: 5-4-3 overall, 0-0-0 vs. WCHA

Giving Thanks

In a year that’s been topsy-turvy for most of us, I’ve got a few things to be thankful for:

• Having three jobs while many others still have none. Granted, none of them pays a whole heck of a lot, but I enjoy each one.

• My family, who support me in so many various ways.

• Circumstances that have shown me who will be there for me, no matter what happens.

• My wonderful fiancé, who is always there for me.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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