College Hockey Slap Schotts 2010-11: Week 20
This weekend could be a very special time at Messa Rink.
For the first time in its 20-year NCAA Division I history, the Union College hockey team can win the ECAC Hockey regular season title. Think about that for a second. Did you ever think that this program, which doesn't give out athletic scholarships, or have the national reputation that the conference's Ivy League schools have, could achieve this?
I have covered the Dutchmen program since the start of the Division I era, and believe me, there were times that I wondered if they even belonged in Division I. They did have their moments, reaching the ECAC Hockey tournament quarterfinals in 1994 and 1997. But, for the most part, the first half of Union's Division I life was a rough road, with the low point coming during the 1998-99 season, when the Dutchmen went 1-19-2 in the league, and 3-26-2 overall.
Slowly, though, the program started to emerge, first under Kevin Sneddon, and now under Nate Leaman. Goals were being accomplished, like earning home ice in the postseason, and then winning a playoff series and then making the tournament championship game.
Now, first place and the top seed in the tournament is in sight. With two games left in the regular season, the Dutchmen have a one-point lead over second-place Yale. It could have been an easier road for the Dutchmen to clinch if Yale didn't rally from a 3-0 deficit to beat Princeton, 5-4, on Sunday. But Union knows, especially with Quinnipiac and Princeton coming in this weekend, that the road to clinching first place is never easy.
When I have asked Leaman and the players about being in first place, they have shrugged it off. But I will bet that if the Dutchmen capture the regular-season title this weekend, they will proudly skate with the Cleary Cup around the ice.
Dutchmen No. 5
Thanks to its North Country sweep, Union is now in the top five in the USCHO.com/NCAA top-20 hockey and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.
The ECAC Hockey-leading Dutchmen moved up two spots, from seventh to fifth, in the poll. It's the highest they have ever been. Union earned 749 points, eight more than No. 6 Denver of the WCHA.
The Dutchmen (16-3-1 ECACH, 24-7-3 overall) beat Clarkson, 4-3, in overtime Friday, and downed St. Lawrence, 5-2, Saturday.
Meanwhile, RPI is 14th for the second straight week. The Engineers (11-8-1, 19-9-4) split the North Country trip. They lost to the Saints, 5-3, and beat the Golden Knights, 5-1.
North Dakota takes over the top spot in the poll.
Team (First Place) Record Pts Last Week
1 North Dakota (21) 22-8-3 959 2
2 Boston College (13) 22-7-1 941 1
3 Yale (15) 22-5-0 937 3
4 Merrimack (1) 21-5-4 832 6
5 Union 24-7-3 749 7
6 Denver 19-8-5 741 4
7 Minnesota-Duluth 19-7-5 715 5
8 Notre Dame 20-9-5 639 9
9 New Hampshire 18-7-5 610 8
10 Michigan 21-9-4 576 11
11 Miami 17-9-6 540 10
12 Nebraska-Omaha 19-11-2 404 13
13 Wisconsin 19-11-4 362 12
14 RPI 19-9-4 360 14
15 Boston University 16-9-7 328 15
16 Maine 14-10-6 199 19
17 Western Michigan 15-9-10 183 17
18 Dartmouth 15-9-3 144 16
19 Colorado College 17-15-2 88 18
20 Minnesota 13-12-5 67 NR
Others receiving votes: Princeton 33, Robert Morris 28, Cornell 24, RIT 20, Ferris State 17, Northeastern 3, Ohio State 1.
USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
Rank School Last Week's Ranking 2010-11 Record Weeks in Top 15
1 North Dakota, 487 (18) 2 22-8-3 20
2 Boston College, 468 (7) 1 22-7-1 20
3 Yale, 463 (9) 3 22-5-0 20
4 Merrmiack, 406 5 21-5-4 7
5 Union, 354 7 24-7-3 17
6 Denver, 307 4 19-8-5 20
7 Minnesota Duluth, 298 6 19-7-5 20
8 Notre Dame, 256 8 20-9-5 17
9 New Hampshire, 236 9 18-7-5 20
10 Michigan, 220 11 21-9-4 20
11 Miami (Ohio), 214 10 17-9-6 20
12 Nebraska Omaha, 122 12 19-11-2 16
13 RPI, 94 14 19-9-4 12
14 Wisconsin, 68 13 19-11-4 15
15 Boston University, 49 15 16-9-7 17
Others receiving votes: Maine, 8; Dartmouth, 7; Western Michigan, 5; Robert Morris, 4; RIT, 3; Cornell, 1.
Union remained fourth in the Inside College Hockey Power Rankings, while RPI fell from 10th to 12th.
To view INCH's Power Rankings, click here.
I have a vote in the USCHO.com poll. Here is how I voted this week.
1) Boston College
3) North Dakota
7) Minn. Duluth
8) New Hampshire
9) Notre Dame
13) Boston U.
17) Robert Morris
19) Colorado College
20) Western Michigan
Daily Gazette ECACH Awards
Time for my weekly awards.
Player of the Week — Danny Biega, Harvard
The sophomore defenseman had three goals and four assists as the Crimson won two of three last week. Against Boston University in the Beanpot third-place game last Monday, Biega tied the score, 4-4, with 4:03 left in the third. The Crimson won, 5-4. Biega had the game-winner in Fridays 4-3 triumph over Cornell.
Goalie of the Week/Rookie of the Week — Eric Mihalik, Colgate
The freshman made 33 saves in Friday's 5-3 win over Dartmouth, and he had 27 saves in Saturday's 2-1 triumph over Harvard.
Team of the Week — Colgate
The streaking Raiders' weekend sweep moved them out of the league basement for the first time this season. Colgate (4-14-2, 7-23-2) has won four of its last five.
Zajac OK, Julseth-White out
Some mixed injury news for the Dutchmen.
Forward Kelly Zajac, who suffered an upper-body injury in the third period against St. Lawrence, will be in the lineup this weekend. Zajac looked woozy after being drilled by Saints forward Nic Vangog as he carried the puck into the St. Lawrence zone midway through the third.
Defenseman Nolan Julseth-White will miss this weekend because of a sprained knee. He suffered the injury in the second period against the Saints.
Union jersey auction
The Dutchmen will raffle one of their retro jerseys at Messa on Friday to benefit Hockey Coaches Care.
Hockey Coaches Care is a non-profit organization that partners with the American Hockey Coaches Association to help people in need in the amateur hockey community.
The retro jersey follows the design of those worn by the 1940-41 Dutchmen. The jersey is black, with white stripes on the sleeves and arms. The collar is white and ribbed to imitate the sweaters worn with the original design. A patch on the upper right side commemorates the 70th anniversary of Union adding lettering to its sweaters for the first time. The font on the front and back of the jersey is garnet with a white outline.
Raffle tickets will sold in the front lobby of Messa Rink.
Cronin, assistant suspended
Northeastern suspended coach Greg Cronin and assistant coach Albie O’Connell were suspended indefinitely by the school hours before Friday's game against Boston College after it discovered potential NCAA violations with respect to the recruitment of prospective student-athletes in the sport of men’s ice hockey.
The possible violations relate to telephone and text message legislation and were revealed during the course of routine internal compliance monitoring.
Maclellan, Freeman hurt
Brown and Clarkson suffered key injuries over the weekend that could be season ending.
Brown forward Jack Maclellan, the team's leading scorer, had a skate blade slice tendons and muscle on top of his foot Friday at Princeton. He had surgery Sunday, and is done for the year.
Clarkson's Scott Freeman, the team's second-leading goal scorer, suffered a knee injury against RPI on Saturday. The senior forward was unable to come out for the senior postgame skate. It was the Golden Knights' final regular-season home game.
ECACH women's notes
— The ECACH women's tournament gets underway Friday with the best-of-three quarterfinals.
RPI is the eighth seed, and gets to face top-seeded Cornell. The Big Red were 20-1-1 in the league, while the Engineers were 8-12-2.
The other matchups are No. 7 St. Lawrence at No. 2 Harvard, No. 6 Clarkson at No. 3 Dartmouth and No. 5 Quinnipiac at No. 4 Princeton.
— The three finalists for the Coach of the Year were announced Monday. They are Cornell's Doug Derraugh, Dartmouth's Mark Hudak and Quinnipiac's Rick Seeley.
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Good Monday! Good Hockey!