Monday 10: Light weekend action, but certainly no shortage of highlights

14 Dec 19: Nebraska Omaha Overtime Win Celebration. The St. Cloud State University Huskies host the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks in a NCHC matchup at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, MN. (Jim Rosvold)
Omaha celebrates Zach Jordan’s overtime winner to beat St. Cloud State on Saturday night in St. Cloud, Minn. (photo: Jim Rosvold).

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

It may have been a quiet weekend for games this past weekend as many teams have already begun their semester break. But that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t plenty to talk about, including an upset of the nation’s top team.

That leads this week’s Monday 10.

1. Down goes No. 1

Top-ranked Minnesota State fell 4-1 on Saturday to Northern Michigan, ending a 10-game winning streak for the Mavericks. The game-winning goal came from the stick of Ben Newhouse on the power play late in the second period. From there, the hosts added two empty-net goals in the closing minutes.

Northern Michigan did a fantastic job limiting the Mavericks late, allowing just four third-period shots.

The loss for Minnesota State likely opens up the opportunity for North Dakota, which was idle this weekend, to jump into the top spot in the poll. The Fighting Hawks possess the nation’s longest unbeaten streak — 12-0-1 in their last 13.

2. Notre Dame bounces back for split, ends seven-game skid

Frustration continued to mount for Notre Dame this weekend as they let slip a 2-1 third period lead on Friday, falling 4-2 to Penn State.

But the Irish bounced back with a much-needed 3-0 shutout on Saturday night of the Nittany Lions to earn the series split. Cale Morris made 37 saves for the win and Max Ellis picked the perfect time to score his first collegiate goal. It turned out to be the game winner.

The win on Saturday snapped a six-game losing streak and a seven-game winless skid. More importantly, it puts Notre Dame just two games behind first-place Penn State.

3. Minnesota, college hockey loses legend in Doug Woog

It was announced on Saturday that legendary Minnesota head coach Doug Woog passed away at age 75.

Woog was synonymous with hockey in the Twin Cities. He grew up playing for South St. Paul High School before playing three seasons for the Gophers, serving as captain as a senior.

In 1985, he returned to the Gophers as their head coach, leading the team to 12 straight NCAA tournament appearances and six Frozen Fours.

Even after stepping aside, he was omnipresent around the Gophers program, serving as a TV analyst and ambassador for the team.

Twitter was filled with tributes to Woog on Saturday evening, few more enjoyable than from one of Woog’s longtime broadcast partners, Frank Mazzocco, whose original tweet of Woog’s passing had dozens of responses with people sharing great stories of the legendary coach.

4. Denver back on track, sweeps rival Colorado College

After a frustrating road weekend at Arizona State, where the Pioneers mustered only a tie in the second game thanks to a last-minute goal, Denver bounced back nicely with a two-game sweep of in-state rival Colorado College in the annual battle for the Gold Pan.

Goaltending was on full display for Denver as Devin Cooley earned a 24-save shutout on Friday night and Magnus Chrona stopped 20 of 21 shots on Saturday.

The two victories bring Denver back to .500 (3-3-2-1) in NCHC play. They still have a long road ahead if there is any hope to catch first-place North Dakota, which has played the same number of games but has an 11-point (3-plus game) lead at the break.

5. Northeastern wins a wild one over giant killer Dartmouth

If you love goal scoring, having a seat at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena on Saturday was a good thing.

In a battle of a strong Northeastern team against giant killer Dartmouth, one week after the Big Green ended Cornell’s undefeated season, goals weren’t only scored often, but also in bunches.

The host Huskies scored three times in the opening period. Piece of cake, right?

Maybe until Dartmouth tied the game with three goals before the nine-minute mark of the second.

But wait, there’s more.

Northeastern then had their own trio of goals, yet again, with these coming as a response in the seven minutes following Dartmouth’s explosion.

Somehow, the teams decided to play defense in the third and only Dartmouth’s Ryan Blankemeier struck, accounting for a 6-4 final.

“I liked how we responded after [giving up three goals],” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “Our goal was to go into the break with a win here tonight. There’s a lot of work for us still to do, but you’re always happy with the win.”

6. Niagara, AIC play scoreless tie, Purple Eagles still celebrate

For 65 minutes of 5-on-5 play and five additional minutes of 3-on-3 overtime, Niagara and AIC couldn’t find a way to score a single goal.

Finally, after two scoreless rounds of a shootout, Niagara captain Noah Delmas scored in the third round and goaltender Brian Wilson kept his perfect slate for the after, stopping AIC’s final shooter, to end what was a rare occurrence in hockey.

“A lot of credit goes to [goaltender Brian] Wilson and the way he prepares,” Niagara coach Jason Lammers told the Niagara Gazette. “His mindset is elite. He’s devoted himself to physical training and made major strides that way. His technique is really good, so he’s ready.”

7. North Dakota reaches break atop the PairWise

Yes, technically, there are still two games to be played next week as Omaha hosts Arizona State in a two-game series. But the one result that series is highly unlikely to impact is the fact that North Dakota is currently the top team in the PairWise Rankings heading into the break.

The Fighting Hawks, ranked 18th in the opening poll this season, has been on the upswing since Day 1.

The season opened with a two-game sweep of Canisius, something symbolic to North Dakota. The Golden Griffs swept North Dakota last season in Buffalo, two losses that kept the Fighting Hawks from the NCAA tournament.

A weekend later, maybe fans weren’t as confident as North Dakota tied and lost to Minnesota State. Few understood at that time just how good the Mavericks time would be.

Since then, only a tie against Denver (in which North Dakota scored in 3-on-3 overtime to earn the extra NCHC point) is the only blemish on the Fighting Hawks schedule.

As of writing, North Dakota’s RPI is a nation’s best .6616, that while playing the second strongest schedule in the country in the first half.

If both North Dakota and Minnesota State remain hot, it would be a battle to the finish for which team takes the top seed in the NCAA tournament. Don’t forget, the Mavericks hold the season series win over the Fighting Hawks.

8. Jordan’s OT winner keeps it from being lost weekend for Omaha

The first half has been up and down for Omaha. Ranked in the poll for five weeks after a 4-1-1 start, the Mavericks dropped out of the top 20 and were 2-5-1 entering Saturday’s game against St. Cloud State.

Things were looking strong early in Saturday’s second game of the series with the Huskies as three first-period goals staked Omaha a 3-1 lead.

But St. Cloud crept back with a late second-period goal and another early in the third to tie the game.

Given recent results, this Omaha team easily could have folded and lost the game. Goaltender Isaiah Saville needed just six third-period saves, but that included a five-bell stop right before the buzzer, forcing overtime. There, Zach Jordan needed just 11 seconds to score the game-winning goal to end a four-game losing skid.

9. Clarkson holds serve in battle of engineers

Earlier last week, former college hockey scribe and always-sarcastic tweeter Mike Eidelbes proposed a hockey tournament featuring four well-known engineering schools – Clarkson, Rensselaer, RIT and Michigan Tech – where engineering students would be allowed to use their knowledge to change the game’s outcome.

Well, there was no funny play, but two of those teams faced off with No. 4 Clarkson earning a three points of four in a two-game road series at Michigan Tech to enter the break with a 12-3-2 mark. The 12 wins are tied for fourth most in the nation behind Minnesota State (15), North Dakota (14) and Penn State (13).

10. Four-goal weekend for Ferris State’s Moise paces sweep of Huntsville

Who was the top offensive performer this weekend? If you guessed Ferris State’s Marshall Moise, well, you probably took a look at the box scores.

Indeed, Moise scored four times, twice each on Friday and Saturday, to help his team earn a much-needed sweep of Alabama Huntsville.

Also impressive was the performance of goaltender Mark Sinclair, whose 67 saves over the two nights was second on the weekend only to Notre Dame’s Cale Morris (73).