Minnesota Duluth started its series at Notre Dame with a hard-fought win; the Gophers look to pick up Don Lucia’s 600th victory as a coach; and North Dakota will be short-staffed going into tournament play in America’s 49th state.
MINNESOTA DULUTH AT NOTRE DAME:
SOUTH BEND, Ind.: The lone Thursday-Friday series this week involving a WCHA team, this set began with a 3-1 win for UMD Thursday night over Notre Dame at Compton Family Ice Arena.
Cal Decowski put the Bulldogs (2-1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) on the board first with two seconds left in the first period with a goal coming while the visitors were on a 5-on-3 power play. UMD then got two second-period goals coming four minutes apart from Dan DeLisle and Justin Crandall to triple the guests’ advantage.
Bryan Rust picked up what only proved to be a consolation goal for the Fighing Irish (2-1-0, 0-0-0 CCHA) 15:07 into the third period. UMD goaltender Matt McNeely shut the door the rest of the way, though, eventually posting 29 saves.
The two teams meet again Friday night in South Bend. As for Thursday’s tilt, UMD radio play-by-play man Bruce Ciskie has posted his thoughts here.
NORTHERN MICHIGAN AT NEBRASKA OMAHA:
OMAHA, Neb.: UNO (1-1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) and NMU (2-0-0, 0-0-0 CCHA) used to be rivals in the CCHA, and they will meet this weekend for the first time since Jan 23, 2010.
More information on this old central circuit rivalry can be found at our own series preview here. The Omaha World-Herald’s Rob White also weighed in, calling the Wildcats one of the nation’s early-season surprises following NMU’s sweep over Wisconsin last weekend on (somewhat) neutral ice in Green Bay, Wis.
Wildcat freshman forward Cohen Adair is one of NMU’s players to watch this weekend, and we invite you to check out the (Marquette, Mich.) Mining Journal’s Matt Wellens’s feature on the CCHA Rookie of the Week here.
MINNESOTA AT MICHIGAN TECH:
HOUGHON, Mich. – The nation’s current top-ranked team may be making its final trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for the foreseeable future this weekend.
Minnesota (2-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) head coach Don Lucia is one win away from earning his 600th victory, and that’s what Minneapolis Star Tribune beat writer Michael Russo has chosen to focus on going into the series.
Tech (1-1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) was inconsistent in its season-opening series at Lake Superior State, and Daily Mining Gazette writer Stephen Anderson asked which Husky team will show up against the Gophers.
ALABAMA HUNTSVILLE AT ST. CLOUD STATE:
ST. CLOUD, Minn.: Having been swept last weekend at New Hampshire, St. Cloud State (0-2-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) opens up its 2012-13 home slate this weekend against an Alabama Huntsville team lost one game and tied the other last weekend at home in its season-opener to Minnesota State.
Mick Hatten of the St. Cloud Times wrote a great piece this week about SCSU junior forward Nic Dowd, a Huntsville, Ala. native who grew up cheering on the Chargers.
Per USCHO.com’s Tyler Buckentine and Joe Paisley, the WCHA had a first-hand look last weekend at UAH, Division I’s only independent team. Every college hockey fan with a heart hopes that the Chargers are accepted by the league entering next season.
LAKE SUPERIOR STATE AT BEMIDJI STATE:
BEMIDJI, Minn.: Bemidji State’s season finally begins in earnest Friday night against former and future (but not so much current) league rival Lake Superior State.
Lake State (1-1-0, 0-0-0 CCHA) is heading to the WCHA at the start of the 2013-14 season after the imminent death of the Lakers’ current league. The Lakers and BSU have a hockey rivalry going back to 1966 when the two teams began meeting in NAIA play.
Jack Hittinger of the Bemidji Pioneer has a feature on the rivalry here.
RENSSELAER AT MINNESOTA STATE:
MANKATO, Minn.: The WCHA’s purple Mavericks kick off their home slate with a pair of non-conference games against Rensselaer (1-0-1, 0-0-0 ECAC).
MSU (1-1-0, 0-0-0) is fresh off a a win and a tie at Alabama Huntsville, and spirits are high in Mankato as hockey returns to the Verizon Wireless Center.
New head coach (and former Nebraska Omaha associate head coach) Mike Hastings is partially responsible for that, and Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press praised Hastings this week for making the changes to the MSU program that he is.
COLORADO COLLEGE AND DENVER V AIR FORCE AND MASSACHUSETTS-LOWELL:
COLORADO SPRINGS & DENVER, Colo.: Colorado College (2-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) and Denver (0-0-0) square off with local non-conference rival Air Force (0-0-2, 0-0-0 Atlantic Hockey) and, from Hockey East, Massachusetts-Lowell (0-0-1, 0-0-1 HEA).
CC and DU both welcome UML, and CC visits AFA Friday before the Falcons visit Denver’s Magness Arena on Saturday.
Paisley mentioned CC goaltender Joe Howe in his first WCHA notebook for USCHO. Howe, who is expected to battle with Josh Thorimbert for the Tigers’ No. 1 job, picked up in a 5-4 win over Clarkson on Oct. 13 his first victory since Dec. 2, 2011.
Neal Reid of the Colorado Springs Gazette is talking up the CC-AFA game in particular, calling it the local area’s sporting showcase event of the weekend.
The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers focused on Air Force on Friday, suggesting that the Falcons are in with a shout of winning Colorado’s mythical college hockey state championship.
ALASKA ANCHORAGE AND NORTH DAKOTA IN THE ALASKA GOAL RUSH:
FAIRBANKS, Alaska: Two WCHA teams will take part in the Alaska Goal Rush tournament this weekend, which is hosted by the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.
Alaska Anchorage (1-0-1, 0-0-0 WCHA) will play against league rival North Dakota (0-0-0, 0-0-0) Friday in what will count as a non-conference game on the teams’ records. UAA will then meet Merrimack the following day, and UND will square off with host school Alaska.
UND will only dress three lines against the Seawolves, according to Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald, as a result of suspensions over a team party and injuries. Woody Doyle of the Anchorage Daily News also chimed in on that situation.