The Monday 10: Big Ten, WCHA teams lock up regular-season championships; other races still not settled

Ben Copeland (Colorado College-12) Jon Lizotte (SCSU-10) 2019 February 9 St. Cloud State University hosts Colorado College in a NCHC contest at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center (Bradley K. Olson)
Ben Copeland scored four goals as Colorado College downed Western Michigan 8-2 on Saturday night (photo: Bradley K. Olson).

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

1. Minnesota State locks up the WCHA

For the fourth time in five years the MacNaughton Cup belongs to Minnesota State. The Mavericks secured sole possession of the cup, after locking in the top seed in the WCHA Tournament while idle last weekend, with a 6-1 victory over Alaska-Fairbanks on Friday night.

Ian Scheid gave the Mavericks a 1-0 lead after one period in the game before Parker Toumie, Reggie Lutz and Marc Michaelis all scored during a five-minute major power play to make it 4-0 early in the second. Josh French scored a shorthanded goal just after the midpoint of the game and Connor Mackey added one for good measure in the third.

After watching the Mavericks celebrate with the cup on their home ice the Nanooks were able to exact revenge on Saturday. Troy Van Tetering scored at the 16:05 mark of the second period and that was enough for goaltender Anton Martinsson, who pitched a 32-save shutout as Fairbanks picked up a 1-0 win and an impressive split.

2. Ohio State wins the Big Ten

It wasn’t pretty, but a tie and extra conference point during the three-on-three overtime on Saturday against Michigan gave Ohio State its first Big Ten regular-season championship. It was the first conference championship for the Buckeyes since they won the CCHA in 1972.

Michigan didn’t make it easy for its rivals. The Wolverines won 4-2 on Friday after. Nolan Moyle scored twice in the third period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. Joseph Cecconi and Moyle helped Michigan from a 3-1 hole on Saturday, but no game winner was in the cards this time. Mason Jobst scored on a breakaway during the three-on-three portion. The tie snapped a three-game losing streak for the Buckeyes.

“It hasn’t been easy,” OSU Head Coach Steve Rohlik said after the game. “You have to go through adversity sometimes. It’s been a long couple of months. I’ll be excited when we get our full lineup back, but every gray hair I’ve got, it’s all worth it.”

3. Minnesota earns home ice for the Big Ten playoffs

It hasn’t been easy for Minnesota in Bob Motzko’s first season behind the bench, but the Gophers will enjoy home ice for the first round of the Big Ten Playoffs in March. Minnesota split a home series against Notre Dame this weekend.

Minnesota held a 2-0 lead after the first period on Friday, but the worst lead in hockey theory proved itself once again as Colin Theisen an Cam Burke scored in the second to tie the game and Theisen netted the game-winner in the third for the Irish.

Tyler Nanne and Scott Reedy scored for Minnesota on Saturday and Mat Robson’s 26-save performance was good enough for a 2-1 win.

4. Harvard picks up two needed wins

During its final homestand of the regular season, Harvard picked up two nice wins against Brown and Yale this weekend.

Two powerplay-goals gave Brown a 2-0 lead on Friday, but Lewis Zerter-Gossage and Riley Walsh evened the contest in the second and Nathan Krusko and John Marino scored in the third to give Harvard the 4-2 win.

The Crimson used one goal per period to beat Yale 3-0 on Saturday. Jack Rathbone scored in the first, Zerter-Gossage in the second and Walsh in the third. Goaltender Cameron Gornet had a 35-save shutout.

The wins were important because…

5. ECAC setting up for a heck of a final weekend

It looks like we’re setting up for a photo finish in the ECAC.

Going into the final weekend Cornell leads the conference with 27 points. Harvard and Quinnipiac are right behind with 26 and Clarkson is fourth with 25.

To make things more interesting the top three teams head out on the road to close off the regular season. Cornell will play St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Harvard plays Rensselaer and Union. Quinnipiac plays Brown and Yale. Clarkson will host Colgate before its game with Cornell.

6. The marquee matchup of the weekend lives up to hype

Providence picked up a big 3-2 win against Massachusetts on Saturday at home and, perhaps more importantly, is now tied for 10th in the PairWise.

Cale Makar scored in the first and UMass carried that lead into the intermission. Jason O’Neill and Josh Wilkins stuck in the second to give Providence the 2-1 lead. Niko Hildenbrand leveled the score before the second was over. The score remained level until Scott Conway lit the lamp with less than three minutes left to give Providence the victory. Goaltender Hayden Hawkey made 34 saves for the Friars.

7. Minnesota Duluth battles back for important split at North Dakota

After losing 4-1 on Friday Minnesota Duluth needed a gutty effort to salvage the split on Saturday. The Bulldogs got that effort in a cat and mouse-like game against the Fighting Hawks.

UMD picked up a 3-2 win in the game and neither team eclipsed 20 shots. The score was level after one period after Peter Krieger and Colton Poolman traded power-play goals. Jade Miller and Kreiger gave UMD a 3-1 lead in the second and, despite Gavin Hain scoring near the end of the middle frame, the Bulldogs were able to make it stick.

8. The NCHC remains as tightly-contested as ever

The series in Grand Forks wasn’t the only one where an unranked team gave problems to a ranked one in the NCHC this weekend.

Aside from No. 1 St. Cloud State cruising against Omaha, the other three conference series saw a top-10 team settling for a split.

No. 8 Western Michigan had a tough time at Colorado College. Hugh McGing and Austin Rueschoff scored third-period goals to tie the game at 4-4 on Friday before McGing scored the game-winner 18 seconds into overtime to give the Broncos the victory. On Saturday, the Tigers responded with an 8-2 victory. Ben Copeland had four goals in the game and Grant Cruikshank had two.

No. 7 Denver also had to settle for a split at home against Miami. The RedHawks won 3-1 on Friday and the Pioneers won 5-2 on Saturday.

9. Bentley misses golden opportunity, but AHA race still could be interesting

With first-place American International idle this weekend was a good opportunity for Bentley to close the gap at the top of the Atlantic Hockey standings. The Falcons only managed a tie against Holy Cross after losing on Friday, however.

That means going into the final weekend AIC leads the conference with 35 points and Bentley is four points behind in second place. AIC will close out the regular season at home against Sacred Heart and Bentley travels to Army West Point.

10. PairWise interesting as ever as we head into March

Denver’s split means that, as of now, three Minnesota teams would join UMass as one seeds in the NCAA tournament. Minnesota State’s loss at Alaska could hamper its chances of actually nabbing it.

On the other side of the spectrum there are schools like Notre Dame, North Dakota and Minnesota that are on the outside looking in. With a handful of regular-season games and the conference tournaments remaining it should be a fun couple weeks scoreboard watching.