Who: Colgate (7-6-4), Niagara (3-10-2), No. 6 North Dakota (9-6-3), No. 20 Notre Dame (8-8-4)
When: Saturday, Jan. 2 and Sunday, Jan. 3
Where: Sears Centre, Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Tickets: Click here (new window)
Saturday’s games: Niagara vs. North Dakota, 3 p.m. Central; Colgate vs. Notre Dame, 6 p.m.
Sunday’s games: Niagara/North Dakota vs. Colgate, 3 p.m. Central; Niagara/North Dakota vs. Notre Dame, 6 p.m.
Approaching late November, Colgate looked like it was back among ECAC Hockey’s Powers to be Reckoned With. The Raiders were 5-2-4 overall and 3-0-1 in league play, demonstrating consistent offense and a flair for the dramatic — a couple of traits that had been sorely lacking in recent editions of Hamilton Hockey.
Since then, Colgate has looked slightly less powerful. On a 2-4-0 slide, the defense has begun to wear thin. The lethal scoring line of 2009 Hobey Baker Award candidate David McIntyre (14 assists), Brian Day (11 goals) and Austin Smith (24 points) is still producing despite the best intentions of wary opponents, and production from the rest of the roster has been reasonable. Rookie striker Robbie Bourdon has impressed, earning a point in nine of his last 12 games, and classmate Thomas Larkin (1-9–10 from the blue line) has also been a revelation. Junior Francois Brisebois is tied with McIntyre for second on the team with eight goals, but the defense and penalty kill have been a big letdowns for the Raiders: the PK is killing only two-thirds of all penalties in ECAC play, and the team as a whole is allowing over 3.5 goals a game.
The Purple Eagles stumbled mightily in the first half, starting out 0-8-2, but have since won three of their last five games.
And it’s not as though their schedule has been a cakewalk. When Niagara takes on North Dakota Saturday, it will be the seventh game against a ranked opponent during the first 16 games of the season.
NU has been led offensively by Ryan Olidis’ nine goals and Chris Moran’s 15 assists among 18 points. In net, Adam Avramenko has struggled, as evidenced by his 2-3-2 record and below-average 3.28 goals-against average and .898 save percentage.
About North Dakota
This year’s edition of North Dakota can be described in two time frames: B.G.I. and A.G.I — Before Genoway’s Injury and After Genoway’s Injury.
Before senior defenseman Chay Genoway went out due to a concussion, the Sioux were 8-1-1. Since he got injured, the Sioux have gone 2-5-2, with all of those losses coming by one goal.
Since Genoway went down, the defensive slack has been picked up by sophomore Ben Blood and junior Jake Marto, with sophomore goaltender Brad Eidsness picking up where they leave off.
Offensively, the Sioux are led by freshman Danny Kristo (out at World Juniors), junior Evan Trupp, senior Chris VandeVelde and sophomore Jason Gregoire. One wild card to look out for, if he plays in the tournament, will be junior Matt Frattin, last year’s third-leading goal scorer, recently reinstated to the team
About Notre Dame
As the first half of the season ended, the Fighting Irish were a little short defensively. Notre Dame had already lost sophomore Sean Lorenz before a series against Miami on Dec. 4-5. In those games, in which the Irish were outscored 5-0, ND also lost junior Ian Cole and sophomore Eric Ringel to head injuries and freshman Sam Calabrese, who broke his ankle in the first game.
Both Calabrese and Ringel will sit out this tournament; Ringel’s concussion makes him day-to-day.
That costly weekend helped to give Notre Dame a 1-3-0 record in December, the lone win a 2-0 shutout of Michigan to finish the first half.
In spite of the breaks for the ND defense to end 2009, the Irish still have one of the tightest defenses in the country, allowing 1.93 goals per game, third nationally behind Miami and Ferris State. The Notre Dame penalty kill is also third in the nation (90.6). The Irish held opponents to two or fewer goals in 12 of their 20 first-half contests. Freshman Mike Johnson (1.87 GAA, .934 SV%) has seen the bulk of play for ND, but junior Brad Phillips (2.53, .919) has eight decisions and even senior Tom O’Brien (0.83, .950) has seen some action.
It’s offensively where the Irish are struggling. Not only have the Irish struggled to score goals this season (2.05 per game, 53rd in the nation), but they seem uncomfortable shooting the puck. Junior Calle Ridderwall (11-4–15) leads the Irish in goal scoring.