The Monday 10: UMass splits with Quinnipiac, Boston College comeback, Lake Superior back on winning track

Jarid Lukosevicius (Denver-14) 16 November 12 Denver University and University of North Dakota meet in a NCHC conference contest at Ralph Engelstad Arena (Bradley K. Olson)
Jarid Lukosevicius’ OT winner lifted Denver past North Dakota this past Saturday night in Grand Forks (photo: Bradley K. Olson).

Each week, picks the top 10 moments from the past weekend in our Monday 10 feature.

1. Heavy wears the crown

Last week watched the coronation of UMass as the Minutemen ascended to the top of the national poll for the first time in program history.

Crowned the new No. 1 team last week, the Minutemen promptly drew one of the toughest opponents they could have seen with a home-and-home against Quinnipiac. The Bobcats, who arguably had a case as an underrated No. 8 team, promptly ushered UMass off center stage by forcing a split with the home team winning each night.

Goalie Andrew Shortridge posted Quinnipiac’s sixth shutout of the season, saving all 32 shots on Friday in a 4-0 Bobcat victory. It improved the junior to a perfect 6-0 on the season, all while improving his save percentage to an absurd .966 with an equally-impressive 0.83 goals against average.

UMass rallied at the Mullins Center on Saturday with three third-period goals, coming from behind to record a 3-1 win before a sellout crowd at home. Quinnipiac led 1-0 after two in that game, scoring on the power play in the second period.

It remains to be seen if Saturday does enough to keep the Minutemen atop the rankings. No. 2 St. Cloud State and No. 3 Minnesota State both swept home series, but UMass is the only team to have played a ranked opponent.

2. Maybe don’t score first

No. 9 Penn State hosted No. 5 Notre Dame over the weekend in a wild weekend with two very different results. On Friday, the Nittany Lions scored first just 70 seconds into the game, then watched as Notre Dame scored three unanswered goals, including two within a minute and a half during the early second period. It gave Notre Dame a 3-1 lead, and after leading 4-2 after two, the Fighting Irish rolled to a 5-4 win despite 48 shots by Penn State’s offense.

But on Saturday, a much different story emerged. Notre Dame scored first when Cam Morrison lit the lamp at the 3:35 mark of the first period, then got submerged in an offensive tsunami. Penn State throttled the Irish, scoring nine unanswered goals with three in each period, as part of a 9-1 victory.

It was the third time this season that Penn State scored at least eight goals, and it was the most goals posted by the program against a conference opponent.

3. Splitsville

Jarid Lukosevicius scored at 4:39 of overtime to give Denver a 2-1 win over North Dakota on Saturday night. It earned the Pioneers a key split against the Fighting Hawks, who would have earned at least three points on the weekend by registering a 5-on-5 tie.

North Dakota had already forced a logjam of sorts by beating Denver 4-1 on Friday night. Gavin Hain and Mark Senden scored in the first period, and Matt Kiersted opened up a 3-0 lead before Colin Staub put Denver on the board. The win gave the team a key three points, tying it with Denver for fifth in conference play.

That led to Saturday and one of the finest college hockey games of the first half. Denver’s Jaakko Heikkinen scored 1:10 into the first period to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead, and it continued to hold up through the rest of the first and a second period in which North Dakota went bombs away on the Denver net. But with just about two minutes remaining, Jacob Bernard-Docker scored off a feed from Colton Poolman to send the game to overtime.

That would have been a season-altering goal if not for Lukosevicius. Denver picked up three points and moved into a tie with Miami where it could have ceded ground to North Dakota, sending both teams into semester break with an absolutely electric weekend of hockey.

4. Eagle awakening

Boston College is officially back. The Eagles swept Connecticut over the weekend, winning a home-and-home series by a combined 7-2 margin. It improved BC to .500 overall and tied the Eagles with UMass atop Hockey East thanks to a 6-1-2 record in league games.

Julius Mattila recorded his first career hat trick on Friday in a 4-0 victory, scoring once in each of the three periods as part of a four-point night. In goal, Joe Woll stopped 30 shots for what was, at the time, his second straight shutout.

Woll’s shutout streak dated back to the BU series the week prior, and based on time, it reached 123 minutes before UConn’s Brian Rigali put the Huskies on top 1-0 on Saturday at Conte Forum. BC answered with three straight to take a 3-1 lead in the third, though UConn cut it in half with Max Kalter’s goal with under 13 minutes left.

After an 0-5 start, BC is now 6-1-2 in its last nine last games with its lone loss coming to Bentley in a nonleague game.

5. Still sticking around

After splitting with Harvard and losing two to Omaha, the deck seemed stacked against Arizona State. Topping it off, The Sun Devils had to come east again to play two games at Princeton with a razor-thin margin for error in the midseason PairWise Rankings.

The team responded by winning sweeping the Tigers, winning on Saturday in overtime. After posting a shutout on Friday, Arizona State scored twice in the first period in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Ryan Kuffner scored nine seconds into the second period, and Max Veronneau scored at 2:10 to put the Sun Devils on roller skates, but they managed to hold on until overtime, where Jake Clifford won the game with his second goal of the season.

Arizona State returned to the desert ninth in the PairWise Rankings with two games coming up against Colorado College. It all leads up to what will be a huge game later this month against either Minnesota State or Minnesota Duluth in the Desert Hockey Classic.

6. Sacred sweep

There were three Atlantic Hockey conference series this weekend, and only one team earned a sweep: Sacred Heart, on the road, at RIT. An overtime win on Friday paced the road to a 6-4 win on Saturday as the Pioneers won for the third time in the last four games.

The teams traded leads on Friday, with RIT jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first and Sacred Heart scoring the next two. It set the stage for a wild third period where RIT scored twice in the first 3:24 to take a 3-2 lead, doing so on a short-handed strike by Alden Dupuis. But Jason Cotton scored on the power play just over the halfway mark. Mike Lee scored with five seconds left in overtime to give Sacred Heart its third straight win over RIT dating back to last year’s postseason.

They did it again on Saturday. RIT took a 2-0 lead on Sacred Heart using an extra attacker, delayed-penalty goal, but Matt Tugnutt halved the lead with a short-handed goal 30 seconds later.

RIT broke open a 3-1 lead on the power play in the second, but Sacred Heart scored twice to tie it, including Marc Johnstone’s short-handed goal with eight seconds left in the period. RIT took the lead again in the third, but Sacred Heart tied, then took the lead, 5-4. The Pioneers added an empty net goal to seal a trip home with four points.

7. Madness at Meehan

Speaking of comebacks, Brown earned a three-point weekend from Union and RPI thanks to two separate comebacks against the Dutchmen.

Union scored twice in first period to take a 2-0 lead, only to watch Brown claw back in the second with goals from Justin Jallen and Alec Mehr. Parker Foo regained the lead for the Dutchmen five minutes after Brown tied it, but Alex Brink scored with 50 seconds left in the second to tie game. Bears goalie Luke Hania then made 11 saves in the third period and overtime to preserve the first point of the weekend.

It launched Brown into Saturday with momentum. The Bears opened the first period by outshooting the Engineers 12-4, but failed to score. In the second, they scored in less than 90 seconds, then added a second in the next three minutes to take a 2-0 lead. Though RPI scored before the end of the period, Brown finished with 18 shots in the period and again held on in the third for a 2-1 victory.

The wins launched Brown into the ECAC mix. The Bears have only won twice, but seven points ties them with Princeton and Union for fifth place. It puts them right on Cornell’s heels for fourth entering the semester break.

8. Streak snapped

Lake Superior opened the season 5-0 but had won only twice since splitting with Michigan at the start of November. Entering the weekend at 7-6-1 with a sub-.500 conference record, the Lakers swept Alaska on the road with a pair of dominant wins.

After surrendering the first goal on Friday, the Lakers scored twice to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room, then scored two more in the third to earn a win in the first game 4-1. On Saturday, they opened up a 2-0 lead in the first but went into the intermission tied at 2-2. But Brayden Gelsinger took over from there, scoring twice in the second and adding an empty netter for a hat trick night and a 5-2 win.

The wins moved Lake Superior back into the top four in the WCHA, one point ahead of Northern Michigan and within striking range of Bowling Green in third place.

9. Granite State champs

New Hampshire reclaimed bragging rights in the Granite State with a two-game sweep of Dartmouth in the first multi-game series between the two teams. The Wildcats won 3-2 in Hanover before turning in a 4-0 victory at home in Durham.

The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the first on Friday, then scored to break a 2-2 tie in the third period in the first game. On Saturday, Mike Robinson made 30 saves, including 12 in the first period, earning his first career shutout.

10. 53 shots. No victory

Michigan peppered Minnesota goalie Mat Robson on Saturday night in the second leg of the teams’ weekend series to the tune of 53 shots. But Robson stopped all but three, including 21 saves in the second period, as the Gophers walked away with a 4-3 win.

Robson had a 40-save day after the end of that second, mostly because he also stopped 18 shots in the first. But the Gophers still trailed, 3-2, heading into the third because they couldn’t generate the same clip of offense. Tyler Sheehy and Brent Gates, Jr. fixed that, though, scoring at opposite ends of the period to first tie, then win the game.

It came a night after Minnesota earned an official 2-2 tie but lost in the 3-on-3 overtime to the Wolverines, meaning the Gophers, who have floated around or below .500 all season, moved over the line for the first time since the Big Ten’s conference play was just starting out.