Three things: Feb. 8

Saturday saw us wrap up an abbreviated weekend slate of action of four games involving five NCHC teams. The league’s weekly dance card will be full each week from next weekend through the end of the regular season, but here are three things that stuck out to me from the last round of games.

Denver again topples CC

Two down, two to go. That’s the approach Denver will be taking now halfway through its season series with in-state rival Colorado College.

DU housed the Tigers 8-1 at home back on Nov. 14, and the Pios were favored to do the business again when they traveled to meet CC in Colorado Springs on Saturday. Denver didn’t disappoint, winning again by a 3-0 count.

A Danton Heinen goal 11:45 into the game at World Arena held up the rest of the way as the game-winner. Heinen also picked up a pair of assists on third-period insurance goals, both scored by DU teammate Trevor Moore.

The Pioneers have two games left this regular season against CC, first in Colorado Springs on Feb. 20 and then back in Denver the following night. CC currently holds the teams’ Gold Pan traveling trophy, and it would continue to if it picks up a pair of wins in that two-game set later this month by virtue of having split the season series.

DU (16-9-1, 9-7-0-0 NCHC) is on the road next weekend for another big rivalry series against No. 2 North Dakota. UND will be coming off of its final idle weekend of the season.

CC (5-19-1, 1-14-1-0) plays host next weekend to No. 8 Miami.

UMD defends the realm

No league has had a better non-conference record this season than the NCHC, and seventh-ranked Minnesota-Duluth bolstered further that reputation this weekend with a home sweep of Northern Michigan.

Duluth opened the teams’ series at Amsoil Arena with a 3-1 victory over the Wildcats on Friday night. DJ Vandercook gave NMU an early lead just 2:52 into the game, but three different UMD goalscorers put Northern down over the final 40 minutes of play.

UMD then came out on the right side of a nine-goal game on Saturday, defeating the Wildcats again by a 6-3 count. The Bulldogs again spread their scoring out in the rematch, with six different Duluth skaters finding the back of NMU’s nets.

The Bulldogs (17-10-1, 9-6-1-0) are at home again next weekend when in-state rival St. Cloud State comes up north.

Miami wins nearly three-hour outdoor game

Those that wonder if outdoor hockey games are worth the effort will find their case strengthened by what slowly took place in Chicago on Saturday.

Soldier Field played host for a second time to the Hockey City Classic – an annual event that ought to make the middle part of its name plural considering it took place in Minneapolis last year – on Saturday for games pitting Miami against Western Michigan and, later on, Michigan with arch-rival Michigan State.

The event’s two NCHC teams held court in the first game of the day, and Miami took home the league points on offer after outlasting WMU 4-3. The RedHawks scored each of the game’s first four goals before the Broncos from WMU made things interesting with three third-period tallies.

It was a sloppy affair which started 95 minutes late due to poor ice conditions that never really got better over the course of the game, which lasted for nearly three hours. Ice crews were sent out several times to repair affected spots on the ice on a day in which Chicago enjoyed 42-degree weather, a rarity there in February.

Michigan defeated MSU 4-1 in the event’s second game, which didn’t get started until 8:45 p.m. local time.

Miami (16-9-1, 9-6-1-1) will visit CC next weekend, while Western (11-11-4, 4-8-4-3) makes its first-ever NCHC trip to former CCHA rival Omaha.