WCHA weekend rewind: Jan. 30, 2012

As always, we leave you with a few things which stood out from the weekend’s action across the WCHA.

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard

Cliché as it is, the adage applies to Michigan Tech’s dismantling of Minnesota-Duluth over the course of the final 100 minutes of their series in Duluth this past weekend to leave town with three out of four points. Work ethic or lack thereof in UMD’s case was the prevailing theme uttered by those interviewed by the Duluth News-Tribune’s Kevin Pates for both of his Friday and Saturday night USCHO recaps.

“We got outworked for 60 minutes and it showed on the scoreboard. It was unacceptable,” UMD senior defenseman Brady Lamb said to Pates on Saturday night.

Coming back from four goals down to salvage a tie is an arduous task no matter the circumstance, but to do so on the road against the nation’s No. 1 ranked team as the Huskies did after the first period on Friday is another thing altogether.

Apparently no one, particularly MTU coach Mel Pearson, bothered to inform the Huskies that escaping Duluth with a point was a moral victory in itself. Michigan Tech’s improbable 5-0 win on Saturday meant the Huskies outscored the nation’s highest-scoring team 9-0 over the last five periods of the series and gave UMD its worst loss since an 8-2 loss, also at home, to St. Cloud State on Feb. 11, 2011.

“I’m proud and happy for our players,” said Huskies head coach Mel Pearson in a recap on the team’s web site. “To play the No. 1 team in the country in their building and come out with three points is a big statement for our team. “We were able to continue tonight in the way we finished last night’s game. We converted our opportunities and got good goaltending. That’s a big formula for success.”

The last time the Bulldogs were shut out by the Huskies was a Nov. 10, 2006 scoreless tie between the two teams and Michigan Tech had not posted a shutout win over UMD since Nov. 27, 1999 when MTU downed UMD 3-0 at the DECC.

In addition, not only did MTU end UMD’s Jack Connolly’s 22-game point-scoring streak, it did something no single team had done since Connolly’s freshman season: keep him off the score sheet in consecutive games in one weekend. The last to accomplish that was Minnesota in a Feb. 27-28 2009 series at Mariucci Arena

To be clear, no one is insinuating the one-point weekend is a sign of anything more than a bad weekend for UMD or that Connolly’s seat at the Hobey Baker ceremony isn’t safe. Let’s face it, the Bulldogs and Connolly were more or less due for a game, or even a couple of games like these for that matter after the run they’ve been on.

If nothing else, the weekend’s game footage ought to provide Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin and his staff plenty of teaching material in the days ahead.

“All the nice goals were created from hard work, and transitioning and attacking, and then we quit working,” Sandelin told Pates after Friday’s tie. “We got outworked for the next 40 minutes.

Unfortunately for Sandelin, that became an even hundred.

The returns of Brittain and Lee give Denver and St. Cloud State rosters a much-needed boost

Denver’s Sam Brittain and St. Cloud State’s Mike Lee were both cleared to return to game action last week and both goalies started their next following their respective doctors’ blessings. Lee got the start Friday at Minnesota and showcased his skill with the glove, stopping 24 of 26 shots in a 2-1 loss. Freshman Ryan Fargher started Saturday and it will be interesting to see how the goalie situation plays out at SCSU. Faragher has been hot lately, giving the Huskies a chance to win in every game, plus his numbers are better than Lee’s.

Brittain started Saturday after Adam Murray played Friday’s game for Denver at Alaska-Anchorage. Brittain made 24 saves on 27 shots in his first game back since the 2011 Midwest Region final. Murray and Juho Olkinuora have done a nice job filling in with Brittain out.

Wisconsin can’t win outside of Madison

The Badgers won their first game away from the Kohl Center eight days ago at Minnesota State and they’ve lost three more road games since then, bringing Wisconsin’s road record to 1-8-1. They’ve averaged only two goals per game in those eight losses and 4.38 goals against. Their special teams have been especially bad on the road. Wisconsin’s power play has scored just five power-play goals in 38 opportunities and has killed off only 68.5 percent of the penalties it’s committed on the road.

It’s supposed to be three things, but we’re tossing in an extra one this week.

Gophers stymie St. Cloud attack 

Minnesota took advantage of UMD’s hiccup this weekend by beating SCSU twice to earn its first WCHA series’ sweep since taking two from Minnesota State on Dec. 2-3. The wins extend the Gophers’ conference lead to five points over the Bulldogs. But things easily could have gone the other way for Minnesota. Despite outshooting the injury-depleted Huskies by a  combined 72-25 margin, the Gophers were forced to claw their way to a pair of one-goal victories in the home-and-home series by scores of 2-1 and 3-2. Credit for that goes to the newly re-formed St. Cloud State goalie tandem of Lee (24 saves) and Faragher (43 saves) and Ben Hanowski’s scoring acumen (all three of his team’s goals in the series).


  1. The Huskies were lucky to be in two close games. Minnesota must have hit 5 or 6 posts throughout the weekend. Not to mention Lucia rotating all 4 lines throughout the whole weekend. The Huskies are no pushover when they are playing at National hockey center. Good Saturday night win to cap off the sweep, and another solid weekend for Patterson.

    • I don’t disagree but you can’t discount SCSU’s goaltending as a significant factor. And don’t forget that Prochno hit the post as square as two round objects can meet late in Saturday’s game. A fraction to the right and that’s a  tie game with a huge momentum shift in a raucous building. It’s all woulda, coulda, shoulda, I know, but, despite how well they played, the Gophers were fortunate too that a bounce or two didn’t go the wrong way for them.

      • Totally true and  spectacular play by Faragher on Saturday night kept a game close that shouldn’t have been.  But as much as the Prochno shot hit the post, so did 3 Gopher shots hit the post or crossbar that night and toss in the non-call where Condon was hooked and slashed on a breakaway that directly led to an SCSU goal and it is fitting that the Gophers won.  SCSU got the bounces that kept them in the game that easily could have been 6-2.

  2. Its nice to have that 5 point lead in the conference but next weekend I would expect that Sandelin is going have his team ready to head to Alaska and get 4 points!  This is going to keep the pressure on MN to keep up the hard work!  

    A five point lead in the WCHA is like a 2 goal lead in a game, you can’t get to comfortable!  The Gophers are in the driver seat, just gotta keep in heading in the right direction!  

    Great weekend for the Golden Gophers!

    • Yes, the Gophers have to keep playing hard.  Trips to Denver and Nebraska-Omaha will not be easy.  The home series are not pushovers either.  Bemidji State is down, but playing everyone tough and Wisconsin is always a heated series.  The Gophers need to keep playing strong everynight to stay where they are!

  3. The Mich Tech Huskies have played very well in Minnesota this year – a split at Mariucci arena and now 3 points at AMSOIL.  They deserve a little more recognition that just a bad weekend for the dogs.

      • Teach did get quite a bit of respect in the early part of the year but lost it towards the break!  They sure stood up this weekend and said “Hey remember US!”  great win!  

        Now they sit only one point out from a home playoff series in the WCHA, could end up seeing Tech at the Final Five!  A great turn around from last year, hope to see them in March at the Xcel!

    • You are absolutely right, Tech Fan. When I wrote “no one is
      insinuating the one-point weekend is a sign of anything more than a bad weekend
      for UMD” the point I did a poor job of conveying was that the sky isn’t falling
      in Duluth despite losing three of four points. Although it clearly came off
      that way, slamming Tech was not at all on my mind at the time it was written.

      It was written, not taken, out of context and I can’t fault anyone for
      interpreting my words the way they did, if that makes any sense.

      My choice of headline was not meant to be an indictment of
      Michigan Tech’s talent but an acknowledgment of UMD’s recent success. MTU is
      obviously talented but sometimes two teams play at their very best and one team
      happens to lose while other times it takes two to tango in determining an

      I think there’s no question the Huskies had to have played
      outstanding to be as dominating as they were in those final five periods, but I
      also think it’s unrealistic to think UMD’s play wasn’t a factor. Likewise, I
      find it hard to believe the Huskies played as well as they could in losing 5-2 to
      Northern Michigan the previous weekend and that NMU is simply that much better.

      Anyone close to me will tell you I have been raving about
      coach Pearson since I first spoke to him back in October and admire the way the
      players have bought in so quickly and turned their college careers around.

      Michigan Tech is a good college hockey team, one that anyone
      would be foolish to want to play in the postseason.

  4. Jim thinks Maine is having a “year of destiny”, but is afraid they cannot win the backside of the weekend versus Northeastern?  Good grief do you read this column before it’s published?!

  5. Come on! Just because the Black Bears lost once to the Minutemen doesn’t mean they are not up to par with BC, BU, UML, and Merrimack. Maine is sitting solidly at an 8th place tie in the PairWise rankings, while Northeastern is tied for 30TH in the PairWise. I pick Maine to get home ice, not because I am a Maine resident and Maine hockey season ticket holder, but because Maine is really coming around. They have an amazing first line with Spencer Abbott, Brian Flynn, and Joey Diamond (who by the way, has learned not to take so many penalties.) Maine has also started to generate scoring outside the first line from a promising freshman class with Cerretani, Higgins, and Parker. Maine can also score on the power play now. They have solid defense; Will O’Neil and Ryan Hegarty. Not to mention sophomore goaltender Dan Sullivan can really play. I wouldn’t count Maine out yet Dave.

    • As a BU alum, I agree that there are FIVE closely-matched teams, BU, BC, Lowell, Merrimack and Maine in no particular order.

      If forced to rationally choose (which is hard for a BU fan to do with respect to BC), I would say that right now, BC is the favorite. After that, the rest of the top five can win out all the way to the Hockey East title to flaming out in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. All five teams are flawed, but it appears that BC has possibly figured its major flaw, goaltending.

    • you don’t think maybe Diamond is taking fewer penalties because it is near the end of the season and the refs have kinda swallowed their whistles?

    • Yes, the team is playing well, the recent UMass debacle notwithstanding.  And they could conceivably finish anywhere from 2nd through 5th in HEA.

      However, I have to strongly disagree with you re: Sullivan.  He is not a DI-quality goalie and certainly not up to Maine’s standards.  Wait till next year when you get a look at Matt Morris and you’ll see what I mean –

      • WOW!!!!!! Seams like the first positive things we have heard from BBear all season. And there is even an indirect kudos to Tim Whitehead in there in your excitement about his goalie recruit Matt Morris!! And they have some great offensive potential coming up next season too. Maybe the present and future for this team is not so dismal after all. As far as the all important present, BlacBear Fan sums it up pretty well. LETS GO BLUE!! Take care of business on the road tonight!!! Finish strong. 

        • Matt Morris was recruited to Dubuque by Jim Montgomery, where he was in very poor shape – much like Dan Sullivan.  However, aftyer a major committment from Coach Montgomery and Grant Standbrook (yes, that Grant Standbrook) he’s developing nicely.  Nothing to do with Timmay everything to do with Jimmy (and Grant)…

      • Are you stupid? Dan Sullivan not a d1 quality goalie. Ok are we talking about the same dan sullivan that as a freshman broke maine’s record of consecutive shutout time? passing the great jimmy howard? the same dan sullivan that is 17-7-3 rightnow? you are a fool. I agree he has his struggling points, but to say that he is not a d1 goali you are just dumb. he has beat bc, bu, umass lowell. has he been a little shaky sure, but what goalie isn’t?? he beat 2 of the best goalies in the nation ( carr from umass-lowell, and kieran millan from bu) bc’s goalies have struggled this year so I can’t say he beat a better goalie in those games. But before you make such an absurd statement look at the facts fool

        • Wow, easy little fella.  If you can’t handle a differing opinion without acting like a 3rd-grader, then don’t post here –

          Being the nice guy that I am, and very knowledgeable on all things college hockey (haha), I will say this. Sullivan COULD BECOME a DI goalie, if he had someone actually coaching him. David Alexander a goalie coach? Surely you jest…

      • was lookin at the stats sullivan is not in top-27 for gaa or top-23 for save %.  uscho doesn’t show anymore.  sullivan also tied for 33rd in shut outs so he not in top 50% of goalies in country based on stats. 

        remember king delguidice snow dunham allison michaud howard bishop boy those guys were solid in net we need that type goalie again. hope morris pans out.

  6. BBear 94: Yes, Sullivan may not be D1 quality, but he has played some very good games.

    TylerDurdenMaine: Yes I have to agree with you on that. Did you see Diamond getting the extra minutes for cross-checking the referee? Maybe I stand corrected.

    One of the reasons why Maine lost the Saturday night game is because of the poor Hockey East Officiating. Fyrer and Keenan were not calling obvious penalties, and they were making bad calls against Maine. Of course, Hockey East Officials always know how to ruin a great game. The four Hockey East schools outside of Massachusetts always suffer against teams from Massachusetts because of the refs. Here is a list:

     Kevin Shea (overuses the EMBELLISHMENT call)
     Dave Hansen
     Scott Hansen
     Tom Fyrer
     Kevin Keenan
     Chris Aughe
     Bob Bernard
     Mark Sullivan

    Fair Referees (All the referees on this list, the Boston schools think are unfair just because the Boston schools are always used to being favored.)
    3. John Gravallese: I might have ranked him a bit higher if he reffed a few more Maine games, always keeps the calls fair and minimal.

    2. Jeff Bunyon: Keeps the calls fair. Also met him in person; a really nice guy.

    1. Tim Benedetto: Really nice guy, keeps the calls fair and minimal for ALL teams.


  7. Are you serious?!?!?!?!? Of course, the Black Bears get Kevin Shea and Scott Hansen as referees (read my other post.) Of course, the officials know how to ruin the game, call a penalty on Maine in the final minute, and Northeastern scored on the power play. The officiating is a disgrace to the Hockey East association. I am the last person to criticize officials, but you officials should be ashamed of what you have turned Hockey East into. Other conferences shake their head in disgust at Hockey East officiating. Have you ever wondered why you never see Hockey East officials in the NCAA tournament. They have turned Hockey East into a favoritism game. I’m sorry for anyone who read through my anger, but I am disgusted by the performance by Shea and S. Hansen tonight. Disgraceful.

    •  Ummmmm, HE officials did 2 out of 3 FF games last year, obviously they can’t officiate a game where a HE team is playing.
      I do agree though, the officiating is very suspect at times… read my post a couple of weeks ago after the BC/UNH series.  I am also not one to criticize officiating, but that weekend, I had to post, just as you did tonight.  Very frustrating sometimes.  You are trying to secure home ice and UNH is just trying to get in, every point counts and I look back at that BC series and know they deserved better than a 4-3 loss (2 goals in the final 3+ minutes, last on on a PP with :51 left) and a 3-2 OT loss after a penalty in OT.
      Good luck tomorrow!

  8. “Wait until next year”  This seems to be the war cry for Maine and UNH every season. 
    A BC win this afternoon combined with a BU loss would make for smooth sailing to the HE title next friday
    Go Eagles! 


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