What I Think: Week 21

You can’t help but being a little bit heartbroken if you’re an American hockey fan, but I’ll preface this week by saying this: The two best teams were in the gold-medal game, and I don’t think it was coincidence that it needed overtime to separate them.

With that done, here’s this week’s edition:

* I’m not surprised Denver is skating away with the WCHA’s MacNaughton Cup this season. I am, however, surprised that the Pioneers took care of things this weekend.

They had built enough of a buffer on the rest of the league that it was only a matter of time before they wrapped things up. Needing a sweep at Minnesota State this weekend to clinch, I was skeptical. Denver has been playing phenomenally in the second half of the season, but getting two wins in Mankato is a tall order for anyone.

The Pioneers needed overtime on Saturday — and almost all of it at that — to get the second win. Now 13-1-2 in 2010, the Pioneers get you thinking there might be something special going on in Denver this season.

* I mentioned a while back that I didn’t think North Dakota was a top-10 team at that point. Times sure change, don’t they? Look at the Sioux now: Winning five in a row against the likes of St. Cloud State, Minnesota-Duluth and Colorado College alters the landscape.

* New Hampshire can wrap up the Hockey East title with a win or a tie against second-place Boston College on Friday. Never would have thought that would have been the case back when I saw the Wildcats play Wisconsin. Then, they were a disorganized group that seemed to be looking for a break that wasn’t coming.

I wouldn’t suggest now that they’ve got it all figured out, but to be in the position to which they’ve ascended in Hockey East, things have to be pretty well along the path.

Boston College, meanwhile, can steal away the Hockey East title by sweeping the home-and-home series next weekend. It’s not out of the question, folks.

* We’re getting a little bit of a glimpse into the WCHA’s procedure for dealing with potential suspensions, and it’s not sitting well with a lot of people.

Basically, the league decides on a suspension, but it can’t announce it until the three-day window for an appeal passes without action by the player or the team, or until after the appeals process concludes.

That’s why we haven’t heard anything official about St. Cloud State’s Aaron Marvin, whose unpunished hit on Wisconsin’s Blake Geoffrion was being scrutinized.

I do not like that we have to referee games after the fact, but if we do, it should be done in a quick manner. I’m sure there are concerns about a player being deemed guilty before being afforded a hearing — especially considering we’re talking about academia here — but I really think concessions need to be made there. By this point, so long after the fact, the impact of announcing a suspension is a little muted.

* The stunning stat of the weekend: Minnesota-Duluth’s 3-0 victory over Minnesota on Saturday was the first time the Bulldogs had blanked the Gophers since Nov. 14, 1980.

* Here’s how I voted in this week’s poll:

1. Denver

2. Miami

3. Wisconsin

4. St. Cloud State

5. Boston College

6. North Dakota

7. Bemidji State

8. Yale

9. New Hampshire

10. Minnesota-Duluth

11. Ferris State

12. Michigan State

13. Alaska

14. Cornell

15. Vermont

16. Colorado College

17. Maine

18. Northern Michigan

19. Nebraska-Omaha

20. Union


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