Monday 10: Minnesota Duluth sweeps Denver, Quinnipiac upends Cornell, Maine continues strong play in 2020

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 31: Craig Pantano #29 of the Northeastern Huskies. The Providence College Friars visit the Northeastern Huskies during NCAA men's hockey at Matthews Arena on January 31, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/USCHO) (Rich Gagnon)
Craig Pantano goes down to make one of his 30 saves during Northeastern’s 4-3 win at home Jan. 31 over Providence (photo: Rich Gagnon).

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

1. No. 10 Minnesota Duluth scores impressive sweep of No. 4 Denver

In a span from Nov. 15, 2015, to Nov. 16, 2018, Minnesota Duluth was 1-10-1 against Denver.

However, after beating Denver on Nov. 17, 2018, whatever mojo Denver had against UMD has evaporated. UMD is since 6-1-1 against the Pioneers after posting an impressive sweep in Denver this weekend.

The two games were very different. On Friday, UMD notched three power-play goals to win. Cole Koepke’s power-play strike at 14:29 of the second broke a 2-2 tie and was the game-winning goal. The game really turned at 16:30 of the first when Denver’s Brett Stapley was called for a five-minute major for contact to the head of goaltender Hunter Shepard. The play occurred as Stapley was driving hard through the crease and was pushed by a UMD defender. Denver had tied the game and was buzzing at that point, but with six seconds left in the period Justin Richards scored. Despite a furious third-period push that saw Denver fire 17 shots on net, Shepard stopped them all to preserve the win.

Saturday’s win was more straightforward for Duluth. After a scoreless first period, Jackson Cates got the Bulldogs on the board at 8:59 of the second. Nick Swaney scored 39 seconds into the third to give the Bulldogs a cushion. Emilio Pettersen pulled the Pioneers within one, but Swaney scored a power-play goal at 10:55, and Cole Koepke added an empty-netter at 17:55 to seal it. Scott Perunovich had three assists in the game, and Hunter Shepard made 24 saves.

The sweep greatly impacted the Bulldogs in the PairWise, moving them to sixth. Denver remained in fourth, thanks in part to sweeping Boston College back in October.

2. No. 18 Quinnipiac upends No. 1 Cornell

At this point of the season, an occasional loss to a team in your conference isn’t that unexpected, but Cornell’s 5-0 loss to Quinnipiac Friday was definitely a headline grabber.

The Bobcats jumped all over the Big Red with three goals in a 2:36 span of the first, including two from Nick Jermain, who also assisted on Quinnipiac’s fourth strike, which came off the blade of Alex Whelan at 12:33 of the second. T.J. Friedmann scored the final goal at 2:33 of the third.

Keith Petruzzelli made 22 saves in to earn the shutout. Cornell goalie Matthew Galajda, who has started and finished every game for the Big Red, was pulled after giving up the fifth goal and replaced by Austin McGrath, who made five saves.

Cornell rebounded with a 5-3 win over Princeton the next night, while Quinnipiac kept its momentum going with a 2-1 win over Colgate.

Quinnipiac, which was ranked as high as eighth early in the season, seems to be rounding back into form. The Bobcats went through a 2-6-1 skid in November, but since beating Massachusetts on Nov. 30 have gone 9-2 and are now up to 14th in the PairWise rankings.

3. No. 5 Boston College blanks No. 9 Massachusetts

After starting the season 1-3 against ranked teams and 2-4 overall, Boston College has been one of the most consistent teams in the country when playing top competition.

A 3-0 shutout of UMass was the Eagles’ seventh win in their last eight games against teams ranked in the poll. The win also lifted the Eagles into a virtual tie with Denver for fourth in the PairWise. BC got three goals in the second to earn the win, and Spencer Knight made 30 saves to get the shutout. Alex Newhook got BC on the board first at 1:09 of the second, Logan Hutsko added another near the midway point, and Graham McPhee capped the scoring at 18:26.

The win moved the Eagles into a first-place tie with UMass atop the Hockey East standings, though BC owns the tiebreaker thanks to winning two of three games between the two, and BC has games in hand on everyone below them in the logjam of the standings, where five points separate first place from ninth.

4. Watch out for Maine

After sweeping Merrimack this weekend, Maine has moved up to 15th in the PairWise, in position to contend for an NCAA tournament spot. Maine is also tied with three other teams for fourth in the Hockey East standings.

The Black Bears are 7-1-1 since returning from the Christmas break.

In the Merrimack series, senior Mitchell Fossier, who leads the team in scoring, had two assists in the first game and a goal in the second.

5. No. 12 Arizona State strengthens PairWise position

Arizona State is on the verge of making a second straight NCAA tournament appearance as an independent.

The Sun Devils’ sweep of Robert Morris by scores of 3-2 and 5-4 moved them to eighth in the PairWise after the weekend; they started the weekend at 11th. The Sun Devils have six games left in their season, starting with a road Atlantic Hockey series against Holy Cross and Bentley next weekend, then a home series against Alaska Anchorage, and closing with a road series at Wisconsin.

If the Sun Devils can win four of those six, they will likely return to the NCAA tournament.

6. No. 3 Minnesota State takes five of six points

Speaking of Alaska Anchorage, the Seawolves played Minnesota State to a 2-2 tie on Saturday night, though they probably feel they blew an opportunity.

The Seawolves scored twice in the first period to take the lead, and goalie Kris Carlson made 23 saves through the first two periods. With time ticking down, the Mavericks got two goals in the final minute of the game to pull even, with Ian Scheid scoring the final goal unassisted at 19:59. Minnesota State got the extra conference point by scoring in the three-on-three OT after neither team could score in the first OT. Minnesota State crushed the Seawolves in Friday’s game, 7-1, and now sits at 18-3-1 in conference play, five points ahead of surging Bemidji, and second in the PairWise.

7. Big Ten logjam

After the weekend’s results, five teams in the Big Ten are now within a point of each other.

Penn State and Ohio State are tied for first with 29 points, while Michigan State, Minnesota, and Notre Dame are a point behind.

Notre Dame, which has been struggling, got a tie and win against Penn State on the weekend. In the game Friday, Notre Dame won the shootout in 11 rounds. Penn State had the lead late in the third after Tyler Gratton scored at 1:38 of the period, but Notre Dame’s Michael Graham tied it at 18:11. Saturday. Graham Slaggert scored at 15:00 of the third to break a 2-2 tie after Penn State had tied it, and Tory Dello scored an empty-netter at 19:00 to seal the win.

Notre Dame is still in the hunt, but will need help, as the Fighting Irish are currently 22nd in the PairWise.

8. AIC, No. 20 Sacred Heart keep pace with each other

Atlantic Hockey has a tie at the top of the standings between American International and Sacred Heart.

Both swept this weekend to stay tied. American International was at home and swept Mercyhurst, while Sacred Heart had the more impressive weekend, going on the road and to altitude to sweep Air Force in Colorado Springs.

Friday’s win required overtime and was keyed by the special teams, as the Pioneers blew a two-goal lead in the third period and fell behind 4-3. Austin McIlmurray scored on a power play to tie it at 16:01, and then scored the game-winner in OT, again on a power play, just 29 seconds into the extra session. Both goals were assisted by Mike Lee and Braeden Tuck.

9. No. 13 Northeastern edges No. 9 Providence

In a game with both standings and PairWise implications, the Huskies edged the Friars 4-3.

The win moved the Huskies to 12th in the PairWise, one ahead of Providence, and one point behind the four-team logjam in the Hockey East standings. That grouping includes Boston University, Connecticut, Maine and Providence, all with 18 points.

In the game, Providence trailed by two twice, including 3-1 after a goal by Aidan McDonough at 13:08. Jack Duggan scored unassisted for Providence at 2:28 of the third to complete the rally, but Zach Solow’s power-play goal at 14:30 provided the final margin. Craig Pantano made 30 saves in the win.

10. Surging teams

Several teams have improved their lot in the second half.

To whit:

• Michigan suffered its first loss of 2020 on Saturday against Ohio State, but the Wolverines have gone 5-1, all while playing ranked teams from the Big 10.

• Western Michigan, which split with Omaha on the road over the weekend, had its five-game win streak snapped on Saturday by the Mavericks. The Broncos have moved to 22nd in the PairWise and are sitting solidly at fourth in the NCHC standings.

• Bemidji State has also enjoyed 2020. The Beavers’ sweep of Bowling Green moved them to 8-1-1 since the calendar flipped, and they are now 18th in the PairWise.

• Northern Michigan is another team that has enjoyed the new year. The Wildcats’ sweep of Ferris State leaves them 7-1-2 in 2020.

• Minnesota’s sweep of Wisconsin moved them to 5-1 in 2020, and the Gophers currently sit at 20th in the PairWise.