Three things: Jan. 22

Earlier this season, Minnesota-Duluth swept North Dakota at home for the first time since 1992, and it was the first time the Bulldogs had swept North Dakota in a weekend series since 1995. This weekend, the Bulldogs did something no Bulldogs team had ever done, sweeping the four-game season series with a 5-3 win Friday and a 4-0 shutout Saturday. On Friday, North Dakota scored first, but the Bulldogs then scored four straight goals, including three in the second period. Riley Tufte scored Duluth’s first goal and last goal of the game. Saturday, Tufte scored again, and also assisted on a power-play goal by Willie Raskob at 12:15 of the first period. A Dominic Toninato short-handed goal at 2:07 of the third period killed any hope of a North Dakota comeback, as goalie Hunter Miska made 29 saves in the win.

Coupled with a win last season in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, Minnesota-Duluth has now won five consecutive games against the Fighting Hawks, a Bulldogs program record. The last team to do that was Denver in 2004-05. Miska also became the first goalie to shutout North Dakota twice in a season since Denver’s Marc Cheverie in 2009-10.

Saturday’s game marked the first time North Dakota had been shutout at home since Oct. 28, 2011, against St. Cloud State. The sweep at Ralph Engelstad Arena was the first home sweep suffered by North Dakota since 2013. North Dakota is now in fifth in the NCHC standings, out of a home-ice spot; if that stays, the Hawks would have to go on the road for the first round for the first time since 2001. North Dakota is now 2-5-1 at home in NCHC games; luckily, many of the games remaining are on the road. North Dakota was also without first-line forward Tyson Jost and second-line forward Joel Janatuinen Saturday, as both were injured Friday. There was no word on their status for next weekend.

Minnesota-Duluth is in first place in the NCHC and now has a six-point lead on second-place Denver. Miska recorded his fourth shutout of the year, and is now one behind the program record for a season held by Kasimir Kaskisuo, Alex Stalock, and Brant Nicklin.

Western Michigan stays hot
Western Michigan looked impressive in sweeping Colorado College, winning 4-2 Friday and then earning a 3-0 shutout Saturday. The Broncos are now 5-1 in the second half, and have won six of their last seven. The streak has moved the Broncos into third place in the NCHC standings, ahead of Omaha by one point, and three points ahead of fifth-place North Dakota. Though his team won Friday, coach Andy Murray thought they played sloppily at times, and would need to be a lot better. In Saturday’s shutout win, Ben Blacker made 25 saves, and the Broncos got all their goals on special teams. Sheldon Dries started it with a power-play goal at 9:04 of the first, Griffen Molino got a four-on-four goal at 14:28 of the first, and Aaron Hadley got a short-handed goal at 11:49 of the second. The Broncos killed off seven Colorado College power plays in the win.

Omaha earns success at home
Like North Dakota, Omaha has struggled at home this weekend. Facing a hot Miami team, the Mavericks rallied Friday to earn a 3-3 tie after letting a two-goal lead slip, but did lose the extra conference point in a the three-on-three OT when Scott Dornbrock scored at 2:50 of the OT period. Saturday night, goalie Evan Weninger made 30 saves and the Mavericks got a goal and assist from Steven Spinner in a 2-0 win, with Fredrik Olofsson getting a power-play strike at 18:16 of the first period and Spinner scoring short-handed at 13:14 of the second. The shutout was Weninger’s second of the year, and moved Omaha into fourth place in the NCHC standings, in possession of the last home ice spot.

“I thought we blocked shots, we got gritty, we won board battles, we got the puck out of the defensive zone when we had to, so that means guys were going to get hit,” said Omaha coach Dean Blais.

With Miami having gotten hot and getting two points on Friday, only five points separate third-place Western Michigan from seventh-place Miami, so the final month is shaping up to be extremely competitive.

69 COMMENTS

  1. Dutchmen will need to leash a pair of Bulldogs to get to St. Paul. My biggest concen about A.C. was its distance from most of the league schools.

    • The ECAC did not lay an egg…..since it is a cow barn, you’ll never find chickens in a cow barn……hence, no egg!!!

      That being said…..the venue was a helluva lot better than the Times Union Center. If you think Atlantic City was a cow barn with ice, then playing at the TUC was an outhouse and the ice surface was the frozen……you get the picture.

      Atlantic City has a lot of potential for the ECAC to grow their fan base….since there current fan base does not travel and are tight wads when it comes to spending money!!! I was there as a fan of ECAC hockey, even though my team was not. Had a great time….except the Championship game was a yawner…..good thing they were serving beer!!!

      • Definitely a yawner, 6-0 and it wasn’t that close. Thanks from a Red fan to Yale for not running up the score even more.

        • Yeah…you could tell Yale didn’t want to run it any higher after Iles got pulled (what was Schafer thinking?), and that the 6th goal came only because they wanted some clean revenge for the hit on Trentowski.

          Also will agree with AC Fan…I thought AC was a great venue. There is almost literally nothing to do in Albany. The city is a ghost town in the weekend. Since attendance was basically the same as I saw in Albany two years ago (don’t have exact numbers though, so can’t say for sure), why not give AC more credit for at least being entertaining between and after games.

          • I’ll agree on Albany being a dud, particularly for the younger crowd without kids. AC does have more to do, but the only real down time for the family crew is the morning and early afternoon on Saturday. I can’t see taking the kids to the casino for a few hours of post-game blackjack. I just think there were better alternatives, and if there weren’t, I wish the ECAC would share a little more info on why not.

          • Iles just had a bad night. His stats were identical to Garman’s all year long and he was better than Garman most of the season in Lynah (from the games I saw). I don’t know what happened with him on Saturday, but the kids got a bright future with perhaps a Dryden award coming

      • There is lots of potential in AC, in the sense that there is zero there now, so nowhere to go but up. It’s kind of like when I try to resuscitate a pt in cardiac arrest, at least I can’t make him worse…

        I will admit to being a bit of a tightwad, but when you’ve got a family to transport and house, things add up quickly.

  2. I can’t comment on AC per se as I wasn’t there, but for me that’s the problem. Between myself, family and friends, we usually have a good dozen people in Albany if Cornell is there (and they usually are). The prospect of travelling all the way to AC and paying roughly 2-3x the hotel rates compared to Albany deterred all of us from going. Say what you want about Albany being boring (I admit, it is), but it’s a much better atmosphere for families than AC. I also watched both the Cornell/Dartmouth semi and the final on TV and would estimate 20% of seats were filled. Definitely did not look like a third to me, although I would defer to the official numbers of course. The heat is a problem, as is the ice. You could see it on the players in the interviews – they were soaked. And the ice was soft and chippy, multiple comments on that, and I watched a number of players go down inexplicably from the surface being so terrible. Who cares about the acoustics?! It’s not a concert for christ’s sake! I hope this experiment ends up where it deserves to be, on the trash heap. If you don’t like Albany, the ECAC could have gone to Hartford, Springfield, Bridgeport or any number of other cities in NY/NE. That’s where the fan base is for ECAC hockey, not southern NJ.

    • But I think that’s kind of the problem. Would you really want to bring your kids to Springfield, Bridgeport, or Hartford? None of those cities exactly scream “family-friendly.” And as you admit Albany is an awful city to do anything aside from watch the games. Yes, the games are number one in importance, but there should be more to do than go back to your hotel afterward.

      Brian’s right though in that the TV didn’t do a good job showing the fans…there were a lot of fans in the “visitor” (cross-ice from benches) side of the arena, which weren’t on a good angle for the tv to pick up.

      • I used to live in Springfield and there actually are some nice kid-friendly things to do there during the day, Basketball HOF, Seuss memorial, nice science museum. Similar stuff in Hartford, don’t know much about Bridgeport. Plus there’s plenty of nightlife in either city for the younger crowd. And much more accessible travel wise. I mentioned those 3 cities because they all have AHL teams and strong hockey traditions.

  3. I’ve been an ECAC fan since I was 5 years old (and the league was 3 years old), and I always wished the tournament would draw more people in Albany, but in Atlantic City, I was quite frankly hoping for the truly dismal attendance that they got. Venue payments aside, I hold out hope that really awful attendance numbers will make the league brass return to sanity and move the tournament back to Albany, or at least to someplace that has something remotely to do with the ECAC. It should be in a location that lots of fans can get to reasonably. Atlantic City was an absolutely ridiculous idea, and the sooner they move back north where they should be, the better.

  4. I think Lake Placid is by far the best place theyve ever had it. Best atmosphere in the rink, best atmosphere outside the rink, and just flat out fun. The WHOLE place was ECAC hockey. Move it back to Placid!!!

    • I wouldn’t mind that, Lake Placid is a gorgeous area and very hockey friendly. An ECAC tournament would basically fill the area with fans.

    • Agreed. If you’re not going to have a city with things to do outside of the arena, than have it in a place where the festivities in the arena will carry over all day long. I’d love to go to Lake Placid again.

    • BACK TO PLACID!!! ORDA (Olympic Assn.) wants it back and it a little sour about losing it. Great town, great weekend. I saw many ECAC tourney’s there and they were best it’s ever been. LP is set up for the tourney and the town has plenty for fans to do. AC is at least an hour south of the southern most ECAC team (princeton). Two more years of this garbage. Cornell must have put up a huge stink for having to play on olympic ice.

  5. We have some new info Brian posted here……..we had heard rumor’s there was “no charge” for the Arena. Now he is saying/hearing the ECAC actually got “paid” to have the event here. I’m not condoning the location but that’s a huge difference.
    Brian……..perhaps you could host a Q and A with Hagwell or have us write in questions. I assume he will be in Bridgeport with two ECAC teams there. The first one to obviously clear up is…….was the ECAC actually “paid” to have the event in A/C??
    I don’t know what our deal was with Albany and how much we had to pay if anything. More transparency on behalf of the ECAC would sure be welcome.

    I live in CT so Atlantic City isn’t unbearably far away but I would have to fuss with NY City and lower Fairfield County, CT traffic and depending on the time of day down or back that can add an hour or more to the trip.

    This was my first year not attending since 1999 and it was all because I had no desire to go to AC.

    Reasonable accomodations can be had (as LTsatch posted) if you go outside the Boardwalk area, but like most posters have stated…..it’s just not a location that is near the bulk of the teams/the league or it’s fan base.

  6. Dartmouth had practically no one there. Colgate had more than the Big Green. Cornell had the most fans, and Yale did pretty well from my perspective.

    • It used to be YWWB for Hockey (Winter Wonder), with the on-ice, on-skates show between the 2nd and 3rd periods. They *need* to send the band to Minnesota. (With or without the team)

    • I must have run off to the press conferences too urgently! That makes me happy and sad all at the same time… I’ll have to hope for another Yale W next weekend, and take a little more time in leaving my seat.

  7. Unless Clarkson and Cornell are in the tournament you wont have good attendance. They are the only two teams that travel well. Union ups the ticket prices when those two teams come to town because it is two of the three times we sell out all year, RPI being the 3rd. It doesn’t matter where you play it, you wont fill the arena.

    • Interesting note on ticket prices. ECAC is not a premier league, and college hockey is not the big draw it is in the midwest and west, so you’re never going to sell out. I think the ECAC would do much better to focus on marketing through the alumni associations of the member schools. If you had social events directed at the schools planned around the wkend and advertised it to alums I bet you’d get a lot more people coming.

    • I can’t say one way or the other, but are you sure that those teams travel that much better, and it’s not just that you’re listing all the closest schools?

      • Can’t say about Clarkson, but having been to most ECAC venues (I’ve only missed on Princeton, Colgate and the 2 N Country schools) for Cornell games I can tell you that the Big Red traveling fans almost always outnumber the home fans, usually by a hefty margin.

    • This year could be a good year for Unon to grow into Div. I. They evenhave a live band instead of a disk jockey. They are only 4 wins from a crown…..

  8. I was psyched to find out the tournament was in AC – it’s not too bad a drive from CT and there’s lots to do. It’s also the first year I’ve gone. We got there early on Friday and spent only a few hours gambling, the rest was watching ECAC hockey, NCAA basketball, and enjoying the best weather of 2011. I’m not sure what cities the tournament could go to that would have better things to do in the area. Certainly not Bridgeport, unless you’re spending your nights somewhere else. Being able to walk the boardwalk to the arena was a big plus for me. All that said, the arena was disappointing. Couldn’t bring in food, water, or a good camera, and at first it seemed there was no re-entry (for a 6+ hour event!) Don’t know what the deal with the start times was either. Worst of all though was the empty seats – it would have been much better to watch in a smaller, full arena. Add in the blowout in the championship, and it was dead quiet.

    • Totally agree that AC was the right choice. Lake Placid? Gimme a break. People here harbor illusions of grandeur regarding college hockey. You could have the tournament in Times Square, NYC, and no one would show up. While we die-hard fans love it, most people don’t give a damn. The week before in AC was the Atlantic 10 basketball tournament — and it was packed, and the fans were rocking! But that’s because the college basketball fan base is HUGE. By contrast, I don’t even think the arena was 20% full for the ECAC games; and had Cornell not been in it, it would have been 10% (Cornell has great fans, but Dartmouth fans were non-existent; Yale and Colgate were respectable). Face it, the place was empty!!! But I had a great time anyway, stayed at the Trop (avg. price was $175 per night, which is high but not crazy), gambled a little, walked around the boardwalk, shopped at the outlets, watched some NCAA basketball at Hooters. But I do think the ECAC needs to be a bit more creative in how it markets the games in AC, and build some momentum and generate a bit more excitement. Happy to serve on the planning committee for next year…:)

  9. The atmosphere, facility and crowd was much, much better than I expected. Only issue is the ride to get there. But once there, I thought Atlantic City was very good.

  10. How about the ECAC at the Nassau Coloseum? Definitely draw more than the Islanders? If someone writes in that it was demolished years ago, I’ll be truly listed as an octogenarian.

    • Nassau, Izod Center, Prudential, Barclays Center, anything in the NYC area. That’s where a huge proportion of the fans are. That’s where many of the students are from.

      If the ECAC has any hopes of being anything other than the fourth rate conference they have to have the championship in a major city. Go back to Boston if need be.

  11. As a Jersey guy and a long-time college hockey fan, I need to weigh in here.

    When the ECAC awarded the championship to AC, my first reaction was just another bad decision by the people who run college hockey. (I have long thought that the Frozen Four should be played the weekend after the regionals, with semis Friday and the championship game Sunday afternoon, to avoid conflict with the Final Four. Instead the tournament loses momentum with a ten day break and is played inconveniently on a Thursday/Saturday schedule. Why do college hockey people seem to lose ten IQ points immediately upon becoming stewards of the game?)

    After driving down and back from NNJ for Saturday’s game, my view is that whatever the ECAC got from AC (25K, 50K?) they sold themselves cheap. Attendence was poor, the ice was sub-standard and unless you wanted to gamble, there was not much to done, aside from observe the freak show that AC draws. The locals do not give a rats-a** about the game. It is family-friendly so long as you mean the Gambino family. It is not a place to bring children, which is something that I would think the geniuses who run the game would want as a means of building a fan base for tomorrow.

    I am a big fan of Placid as a permanent home for the tournament. It is hallowed ground for the game, a place where hockey matters – unlike AC. There is lots for families, non-hockey fans to do (so long as you like winter sports) and the lodging in the area is reasonably priced. It is much better loctated for a big segment of the ECAC fan base, and you only need to look at the attendence records to see that it was well-supported

    • The reason that college hockey’s national tournament is played on such an odd schedule is that the NCAA literally doesn’t have enough staff to properly chaperone the men’s and women’s hockey AND basketball tournaments at the same time. The bigger money-makers (basketball) get the edge; hockey gets the scraps. It’s an issue of logistics, not desire.

      • I hope this is not the reason – that the NCAA is too stretched to run the Frozen Four and the Final Four concurrently. I am wondering just what the NCAA staffers actually do except at tournaments except make sure that the arena advertising, drinking cups, etc do not bear any logos save their own. Somehow, I think we could manage to have both events run properly at the same time with minimal help from them.

    • I think Lake Placid should be the Host…Alot of Hockey History and a family friendly town that has alot to do, weather it be go and see the sights or do some shopping…The sad part about the tourney in AC, is that the Clarkson-St. Lawrence game in Lake Placid at the end of october had more fans then you had at the ECAC Tourney semis and championship game…5,500 attended the game in Lake Placid..

  12. I think anyone who has attended the tournament in Lake Placid awaits the day that the ECAC comes to their senses and returns to the North Country. It may be because of some screwy financing arrangements that the tournament was moved to Albany and then on to A.C. but it was certainly not because the fans wanted a change of venue. When it was moved there were claims of lack of attendance, folks being unwilling to travel from Boston “all the way” to Placid etc. etc. All bogus.
    There was a bit of a conflict between the tournament and St. Patrick’s Day in Boston which could have contributed to some Beantown grumbling but other than that all was fine and happy. The Lake Placid venue provides for reasonable hotel costs, good dining and entertainment, a great, safe, walkable location that is fan friendly, whether the fan is part of the student body, an alumnus, a potential college enrollee, or simply a fan of college hockey. Additionally, the town of Lake Placid actually appreciates the business and always treated visitors as guests. It is about time to start the lobby for the return to Lake Placid.

  13. Here’s an idea…Madison Square Garden. What better place to hold the tourney than there. Fans can Amtrak it in to Penn Station from up North and there are more than enough hotels and things to do in NYC to make for a great Championship. Cornell and BU had a successful game there a couple years ago (don’t remember exactly when). The BIG EAST tournament is also finished then.

    • Let’s see? Drive to Albany and pay for parking for the weekend. Pay Amtrak for a train that might get you there. Find a hotel. Pay $500 to $1500 for a room. Drink $10 beers. Go out for a $200 dinner….oh and breakfast and lunch. Oops…that was only for Friday…buy breakfast, lunch, and dinner again. What are we up to ? Manhattan is great but it is not cheap.

  14. RPI played a challenging non conf schedule? really? 4 wins vs Atlantic hockey teams, 2 with Alabama Huntsville, and 1 with the CCHA cellar dweller? The only quality win was against BU. Against quality team they went 1-2-1. makes no sense. Blueprint to the tournament is to finish middle of the pack, schedule as many Atlantic or CCHA gimmes as you possibly can, throw in a road trip to Alabama, and get ONE quality win outside of those. Something is wrong. Sorry but not all conferences are created equal.

    • Nice catch. One wonders how a team that finished 5th in the ECAC and did not get out of the first round (at home) makes it to the NCAA. A check of the almighty Pairwise Comparison says Dartmouth wins its comparison with RPI and finished third in ECAC league and tournament. The Big Green should have been in over RPI.

      • Not really much of a wonder. RPI was fifth because of tie-breakers, and was only moderately hurt by the early playoff departure. They had a better record against TUC than Dartmouth, and, oh-by-the-way, beat Dartmouth heads-up both times they played, by a combined 9-2 score. I don’t see how Dartmouth wins any comparison with RPI.

  15. There are 4 teams in ECAC who have any travel- Clarkson, SLU, RPI, and the Big Red. All from upstate NY. It is my understanding that coaches of ECAC were not happy playing on the big sheet in Lake Placid. I live near Dartmouth. Support them and think it is a great program. They have played one good opening game since ECAC went to Placid in 1992, and that was on a Thursday night with UVM in the 5 team play-in experiment that lasted for two years I believe. They don’t travel. Their Alumni would rather come back to Hanover to see them play. The one town and correct sized arena ECAC should consider is The Glens Falls, NY Civic Center.
    Filled to a loud capacity it seats near 6000. Hotel Rooms are cheap and plentiful, if not in town, then up the road in Lake George. For the wee ones, there is a large indoor water park. Let’s not kid ourselves though ECAC fans, what made Lake Placid so much fun was the park your car, hit the bar, don’t have to walk to far, college atmosphere. Glens Falls has the tap handles whereas Atlantic City has the slot handles. It has to be a hockey town. When I asked Barry Melrose last year after the regional in Albany, what his next gig was, he answered, “45 minutes of the Northway to my house.” There are three nations playing hockey in North America, their country, our country, and North Country. Coming back to Albany is not the answer. It is a hoop town. Siena, Albany State and March Madness ruled the streets on ECAC weekend. If you want atmosphere and fans for ice hockey, it is still..Go North Young Men.

  16. I think if they Don’t bring it back to Lake Palcid, then The Civic Center in Glens Falls would not be able to be done, as you have NYS High School Basketball Championships that weekend…Glens Falls Has a life long contract to Host the Event and it is the Same time every year…I say bring it back to Lake Placid….AC was a joke and this is the frist time in 12 years that i didnt go to the Semis and Championship games…

  17. Albany makes the most sense. In the middle, not that expensive, and plenty to do. Facility is as nice as any on the list. LP is a haul!

  18. Keep in mind that a few of these teams are playing w/o young stars due to the World Juniors. Cornell: Iles, who has started every game in goal; BU: Clendenning; Notre Dame: Tynan and Johns; BC: Arnold; and UVM: Brickley.
    That and a couple of weeks rust make it tough to handicap the games this time of year. Probably evens out things in bu-nd matchup and helps umo vs cu. Can’t see bc slowing down,’though Arnold is #2 scorer.

  19. Fortunately, someone at USCHO believes in UVM, cause every  time I see that ad for Frozen Four tickets, it shows a UVM Catamount!

  20. You left out Cornell v Massachusetts on Thursday.

    For Drewpdrawers, I think Iles is with Cornell in Florida; he was only an emergency third pick.

  21. Brown 5 – New Hampshire 2
    Brown 5 – Providence 2

    Paul, the World Cup Octopus, was a better prognosticator.

    Over the past two seasons Brown is 3-0-3 against Hockey East teams, scoring 29 goals and allowing 18.

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