The Monday 10: Talking Bowling Green’s sweep of Minnesota State, Arizona State’s success against NCHC teams

 (2018 Omar Phillips)
RIT downed Niagara in the only Atlantic Hockey conference game over the weekend, beating the Purple Eagles 8-4 on Saturday night in Rochester (photo: Omar Phillips).

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

Aside from the WCHA, most of the conferences were off this weekend. There were a couple of nonconference games of note as well.

1. Bowling Green moving up

After a strong start to the season, Bowling Green had fallen off in November, going a middling 3-2-1. However, the Falcons are hot going into the break, going 5-0-1 after a strong sweep of No. 3 Minnesota State this weekend at home, winning both games 4-1.

Minnesota State struck first on Friday, on a Josh French goal at 11:37 of the first, but that was the only period the Mavericks won on the weekend. Bowling Green tied it at 9:36 of the second on a power-play goal by Connor Ford, then got two more power-play goals in the third, plus an empty-netter to seal it. Ford scored twice, Brandon Kruse had a goal and assist, and Max Johnson and Alec Rauhauser each had two assists.

On Saturday, Lukas Craggs got what proved to be the game-winner at 17:57 of the first, the first of his two goals on the night. Ryan Bednard made 26 saves Friday and 22 saves Saturday. The sweep will likely move the No. 12 Falcons back into the top 10 for the first time since November.

2. Princeton rallies

Princeton was on the way to ending the first half of the season the same way they started it: with a loss to Penn State. The Tigers, who started the season ranked 13 but had a dismal 3-8-1 record going into Saturday’s game, trailed 4-1 after a goal by Alec Marsh just 17 seconds into the second period, but Max Véronneau and Ryan Kuffner put the team on their backs. Véronneau scored 17:03 of the second, pulled Princeton within one at 15:28 of the third, and assisted on Kuffner’s tying goal at 18:52. Both players had four-point nights; Véronneau had two goals and two assists, while Kuffner had a goal and three assists.

3. Terriers outshot, but win game

Boston University is another team that saw its season go south in the first half. However, the Terriers ended the first half on a positive note, beating Dartmouth 4-1, despite being outshot 34-22. Patrick Harper scored the game-winner and added an assist on the third goal, while Jake Oettinger improved his save percentage to .924 and earned his sixth win of the year. Oettinger has been the goalie of record for all of BU’s games in the first half.

The Terriers are off until Jan. 8, when they face crosstown rival Harvard.

4. Arizona State continues success against NCHC

The NCHC may have the best nonconference record of all the conferences with a 39-15-7 mark (.697), but one team has given NCHC squads fits: Arizona State.

The Sun Devils improved to 4-2 versus the NCHC with an impressive sweep of Colorado College, winning 4-2 and 4-0. CC jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals from Trey Bradley and Ben Copeland within 42 seconds of each other in the second, but from there it was all ASU. Joshua Maniscalco started the rally with a goal at 11:13 of the second, and Johnny Walker scored at 16:24 of the second and 9:28 of the third to put ASU in front. Maniscalco added an empty-netter to seal the win.

Walker scored two power-play goals in the third Saturday in a 4-0 ASU win, while PJ (Pietro) Marracco and Austin Lemieux each scored and had an assist in the second to help ASU build a 2-0 lead. Joey Daccord made 31 saves in the shutout win.

ASU is now 14-6 on the year and is likely to move up in the USCHO poll. More important, the Sun Devils sit at ninth in the PairWise and are angling to make the NCAA tournament as an independent. They would be the first independent team to make the tournament since Niagara in 2000.

5. AHA sees only conference action besides WCHA

Speaking of Niagara, the Purple Eagles played in the only non-WCHA conference game of the weekend, but lost 8-4 to RIT. Each team had a short-handed goal in the game, though RIT’s were empty-netters. The Tigers exploded with four goals in the third to break open what until that point had been a close game, with RIT taking a 4-3 lead into the second intermission after Niagara had pulled within one late in the second on a goal by Ludwig Stenlund. RIT was led by Jake Hamacher, who had two goals and an assist.

The loss dropped Niagara to 7-5-1 in the AHA, while RIT improved to 5-6-1 in the conference.

6. Saturday OT splits

Both Alaska Anchorage and Michigan Tech won in OT on Saturday to split their weekend series. After falling to Bemidji State 5-1 on Friday, Jeremiah Luedtke’s goal at 3:21 of OT gave the Seawolves a 2-1 win.

Michigan Tech got a goal from Greyson Reitmeier at 1:11 of the extra session to earn a split with Alabama-Huntsville. Mark Sinclair made 35 saves in the loss and made 39 saves on Friday in a 1-0 win. Michigan Tech had fired 65 shots through five periods without scoring on Sinclair, but Tommy Parrottino ended the shutout streak with a power-play goal at 3:15 of the third period Saturday to tie the score.

7. One last sweep

The last series of the weekend had Northern Michigan sweeping Ferris State with 4-1 and 4-2 victories. Ferris State led Friday after scoring at 2:22 of the first, but from there the Wildcats took over. They were paced by Philip Beaulieu, who had three assists.

Saturday, Northern Michigan jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, with Griffin Loughran having a goal and assist. After Ferris State pulled within one with two goals in the first half of the second, Loughran assisted on Joseph Nardi’s power-play strike at the nine-minute mark of the second, and Atte Tolvanen stayed strong in net with 24 saves.

8. Restarts

The second half of the season starts Dec. 28 with nonconference games, including the Desert Hockey Classic hosted by Arizona State, which will feature four ranked teams: Minnesota State, Minnesota Duluth, Arizona State, and Clarkson. Other holiday tournaments include the Catamount Cup, (No. 11 Northeastern, Vermont, Rensselaer, Alabama Huntsville), the Ledyard Bank Classic (No. 10 Providence, Dartmouth, Brown, Army West Point), and the Great Lakes Invitational (Michigan, Michigan Tech, Lake Superior, Michigan State).

9. North Dakota, part one

Rumors on Twitter Sunday have the Philadelphia Flyers firing former North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol and replacing him with Joel Quenneville.

Philly is currently mum on the subject at the time of this writing, but if Hakstol is in fact gone, here’s hoping he lands somewhere else as coach soon.

When he was hired in 2015, he was the first college coach to make the jump to the NHL in a while, and many eyebrows were raised. Over the summer, however, two more NCAA coaches jumped to the NHL, with former Denver coach Jim Montgomery going to Dallas and former Boston University coach Dave Quinn going to the New York Rangers.

At Philadelphia, Hakstol has a 134-101-42 record as of this writing and has twice led the Flyers to the playoffs.

10. North Dakota, part deux

My NCHC colleague, Matthew Semisch, wrote a fitting tribute to former North Dakota sports information director Jayson Hajdu, who has left the Fighting Hawks to support his wife in her new job in Kansas City. Hajdu had been with media relations at UND for 17 seasons and led the department for the last 10 years. He was always quick to respond to interview requests, and I’ll never forget how he got players to the media during North Dakota’s championship in Tampa Bay in 2016.

Mitch Wigness will certainly build on Hajdu’s successes at UND, but I wanted to take a moment to tip my hat to Jayson and thank him for being such a professional and outstanding SID during his tenure.