Each week during the season we look at the big events and big games around Division I men’s college hockey in Tuesday Morning Quarterback.
Todd: Not counting the six teams that haven’t yet played a game that counts against their record, there are five teams with perfect records so far this season and one more with only a tie as a blemish on its record. We probably could have figured preseason No. 1 as a likely inclusion before the season, but the others have a little bit of intrigue.
Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan and Vermont are 4-0 like the Gophers, and Boston University is 3-0 after rallying to beat Michigan last Saturday. Robert Morris is 5-0-1. Which of those teams has made the biggest statement to you so far?
Jim: I think Michigan Tech and its ability to sweep Ferris State last weekend is likely the most impressive. Allowing just a single goal in the two games, Mel Pearson’s Tech team is playing stingy defense right now.
That said, it is hard to overlook BU’s 3-2 win over Michigan in which it overcame a 2-1 third-period deficit. I saw Michigan’s juggernaut offense dismantle a pretty good Massachusetts-Lowell team a night earlier, scoring eight goals, so seeing the Terriers succeed against the Wolverines, particularly in comeback fashion, got my attention.
Do you agree?
Todd: I was impressed, too, by Michigan Tech’s defense in handing Ferris State its first home losses in over a year. Huskies goaltender Jamie Phillips stopped 67 of the 68 shots he faced in the two games, both of which were one-goal victories.
The Huskies are ranked 17th in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll going into what has to be one of the most anticipated series in Houghton in quite some time. Michigan comes to town this weekend, and tip your cap to the Wolverines for scheduling a series in the UP. Pearson matches up against his former boss, Red Berenson. There’s a lot of intrigue in these two games.
Jim: This is where the creation of the Big Ten benefits college hockey. As Alex Faust has pointed out in his pieces on nonleague scheduling, teams in the Big Ten and Hockey East can’t be as picky, particularly when it comes to playing road games as part of a two-year, home-and-home agreement. As you noted, the intimate venue in Houghton will be rocking this weekend. Definitely a series to watch.
Todd: There was an unfortunate ending to Saturday night’s game at Air Force, where the Falcons beat Rochester Institute of Technology in overtime after an icing call that appeared to be incorrect. Here’s the video of the disputed call:
Air Force scored a few seconds after the ensuing faceoff, with a tired set of RIT players on the ice. On the video, it seems pretty clear that the RIT player was still in the penalty box when the puck was sent down ice — you can vaguely see an orange sweater in the box as the camera pans down ice — so icing should have been waved off. But none of the four officials on the ice saw it, or if they did, they didn’t speak up. To me, this needs to be a lesson to the on-ice officials to get together to get these calls right.
Jim: I generally side with officials as I believe the game is fast enough that it is a very difficult one to referee. But this one, to me, seemed quite obvious that there was time remaining on the penalty clock when the puck was released.
But the question that is more relevant: Should the NCAA add icing to one of the calls that can be reviewed by video replay? In a case like this it seems to make sense, but where do you draw the line on reviewable plays?
Todd: That’s exactly the thing that I think keeps more things from being reviewable. The NCAA doesn’t want to make the entire game subject to a delay for video. They did a good job a few years ago of taking away time between the whistle and the faceoff, and I know they don’t want games to get longer again.
It seems like the penalty timekeeper or scoreboard operator could be helpful in this specific situation, but that would probably require a pretty extensive rewriting of the rules.
A quick note on something I’d like to see more of in college hockey’s future: Last Saturday, Wisconsin played St. Norbert in a scrimmage that ended up in a 3-3 tie. There are a lot of quality Division III teams that I know would love to get a chance to play Division I teams. The schedule usually doesn’t work out because D-III teams aren’t allowed to play until around the start of November, but I think it would be great to see these kinds of matchups, especially where geography makes it even more interesting.
Jim: That is interesting and seemingly makes more sense than playing Canadian teams for exhibition games where players on these Canadian clubs are typically older than the American counterparts and are often interested in playing a different brand of hockey that can include fighting. Plus, a local Division III team brings with it more interest and familiarity making it more appealing to the fans.
To Robert Morris senior Cody Wydo, who posted a hat trick in the Colonials’ 3-3 tie with Army on Saturday. Wydo made a name for himself last season as the nation’s second-leading goal scorer, and he has six goals in six games this season.
To the tape on the sticks at Northeastern. Something’s keeping the Huskies from scoring goals.
It’s another huge weekend for series between teams ranked in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll.
• No. 1 Minnesota plays a home-and-home series with No. 7 St. Cloud State.
• No. 5 Boston College plays at No. 11 Denver.
• No. 6 Boston University has a home-and-home series with No. 9 Providence.
• No. 10 Miami travels to No. 19 Minnesota-Duluth.
• No. 13 Vermont heads to No. 20 Notre Dame.
• And there’s the aforementioned series between No. 15 Michigan and No. 17 Michigan Tech.
Add to that the rivalry home-and-home series between No. 2 Union and Rensselaer, which had some postgame fireworks the last time around, and you have a high-level weekend on tap.