The last weekend before the holiday break saw a lot of great action with big-time matchups and some entertaining sleeper contests. As we near the end of the first semester, contenders are slowly poking their heads above the water and beginning the conversation of who is paving their road to the Frozen Four.
Friday, Dec. 18
American International def. Bentley, 4-1
AIC is again looking like the team to beat in the AHA, but despite the final score, the Falcons played well, outshooting the Yellow Jackets 28-27. However, Stefano Durante had another great game with 27 saves. Chris Dodero had a goal and an assist for AIC, with Elijah Barriga picking up a pair of assists.
Mercyhurst beats Niagara, 7-4
If losing in a shootout to the Lakers on Wednesday was not enough, the Purple Eagles squandered a 4-1 first-period lead in this one. After Walker Sommer scored just before the halfway mark of the opening period for Niagara, Mercyhurst took over from there. They scored three before the end of the opening frame to tie the game at four, then three more before the final buzzer to pick up their second win of the season.
Carson Briere led the charge with four points in the game, while Dante Sheriff helped out with three assists. Devon Daniels also chimed in, scoring a goal and an assist, and was credited with the game-winner.
No. 9 St. Cloud State def. Colorado College, 4-3 in overtime
The Huskies have surprised a lot of people this season, but almost hit a roadblock against the Tigers. Colorado College led 3-1 after 20 minutes, but two goals from St. Cloud State in the third, including Nick Perbix’s tally with just over a minute remaining, sent the game into overtime. That was when Sam Hentges scored his second of the game to help the Huskies avoid the upset.
Perbix also had two assists, giving him three points in the game, while Veeti Miettinen helped out with a goal and an assist.
No. 17 Nebraska-Omaha def. Western Michigan, 6-5
Similar to Niagara, Western Michigan blew a three-goal lead that they built in the first period. Nebraska-Omaha slowly crept back into the game, before finally taking the lead early in the third period. The Broncos tied the game just passed the halfway mark of the final stanza, but not too long after that, Chayse Primeau scored his fourth of the season, which was the deciding goal in the Mavs’ win.
Primeau picked up two assists as well, giving him a three-point night. Taylor Ward was the star with two goals and two assists for Nebraska-Omaha.
No. 5 Minnesota State def. Bemidji State, 5-4
In the second matchup of the season between the two, the Mavericks took the lead, and despite a great offensive effort from the Beavers, never gave it up. Cade Borchardt had a solid game, to say the least, picking up four points in the win. Julian Napravnik scored twice, including the eventual game-winning goal, and assisted on another.
Michigan Tech def. Northern Michigan, 4-3 in overtime
In a tight battle between the Upper Peninsula foes, the Huskies looked good heading into the final frame with a 3-1 lead. However, the Wildcats battled back to tie the game, capped off with A.J. Vanderbeck’s goal with nine seconds left. In the latter half of overtime, Brian Halonen scored his second of the season, and Michigan Tech came away with the victory.
Trenton Bliss, who helped set up the game-winning goal, ended the night with a goal and two assists, and Blake Pietila earned the win with 31 stops.
Arizona State def. No. 18 Ohio State, 3-2
After a tie on Thursday, the Sun Devils came away with the win in Columbus. All three of Arizona State’s goals came in the second period, and Evan Debrouwer shut the door from there. The Sun Devils’ netminder made 37 saves, picking up his third win of the year. Matthew Kopperud scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season, with Jacob Wilson and Jack Judson each scoring their first of the season.
No. 13 Bowling Green def. No. 11 Quinnipiac, 4-1
Not many people are talking about them, but the Falcons keep on clicking in the early stages of the 2020-21 season, now 7-1 after a win over the Bobcats. Alex Barber earned a goal and an assist in the win, with Brandon Kruse scoring his third goal of the season. Zack Rose won his third game of the season with a 23-save performance, including 16 in the final 20 minutes.
Saturday, Dec. 19
American International def. Bentley, 3-1
The Yellow Jackets continue to roll through the first semester, completing the weekend sweep over the Falcons. Tobias Fladeby was the first star once again, scoring twice, and assisting on the other goal for AIC. Jack Chukarski earned his first win of the season with 24 saves.
Michigan State ties No. 16 Notre Dame, 1-1 (Fighting Irish wins in a shootout)
The only reason the Spartans were able to pick up a point in this game was due to the play of their netminder, Drew DeRidder, who made 47 saves in the contest, including 19 in the third period. After MSU’s Tommy Apap and Notre Dame’s Alex Steeves scored in regulation, and after overtime solved nothing, the contest went into a skills comp…I mean shootout. Max Ellis and Nick Leivermann each scored for the Irish to give them the extra point.
No. 19 Providence ties No. 12 Northeastern, 3-3 (Huskies win in a shootout)
In a back-and-forth matchup, Northeastern was close to a regulation win, but Providence’s Greg Printz scored with just over a minute remaining to send the game into overtime. Huskies’ goaltender Connor Murphy had to make seven stops in the extra period to help give his team a chance in the shootout (Murphy ended the game with 36 saves). In the shootout, Aidan McDonough scored what proved to be the decider for Northeastern.
No. 10 Massachusetts def. Vermont, 4-0
The Catamounts were noticeably rusty in their first game of the season as the Minutemen controlled the play from puck drop. Matt Murray only had to make 15 saves, earning his ninth career shutout. Cal Kiefiuk had a good game for UMass, scoring the opening goal and picking up an assist on a goal later in the contest.
Miami (OH) ties Colorado College, 1-1 (Tigers win in a shootout)
Grant Cruikshank stayed hot for the Tigers, scoring his sixth goal of the season, currently tied for the NCHC lead in goal scoring. Colorado College looked for more, but the RedHawks’ Ludvig Persson gave his team a chance, making 38 saves through 65 minutes. In the shootout, it was Hunter McKown who scored to give the Tigers their second win in the shootout this season.
Western Michigan ties No. 8 Denver, 3-3 (Pioneers win in the shootout)
Did anybody want to win in regulation on Saturday?
The Broncos had another great start, with a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Yet, the Pioneers came back to tie the game, and another contest went into overtime, but of course, this one went a little beyond the 65-minute mark. McKade Webster potted the only goal in the shootout to give the Pioneers the second point. McKade, along with Cole Guttman, had a goal and an assist in regulation for DU.
No. 4 North Dakota def. No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth, 2-1
In the biggest matchup of the night, the Fighting Hawks showed that despite a couple of slip-ups, they are one of the best teams in the country after a great defensive performance against the Bulldogs. Minnesota-Duluth only had 24 shots on goal, with Adam Scheel giving up the lone goal to Noah Cates. The game was tied at one in the final minute of regulation when Grant Mismash’s deflection became the game-winning goal.
One of the players who picked up an assist on the goal, Collin Adams, scored in the second period for North Dakota, giving him a two-point night.
Bemidji State ties No. 5 Minnesota State, 1-1 (Mavericks win in a shootout)
Holy shootouts Batman!
The crazy fact coming out of the weekend final between the Mavs and the Beavers is that the goals scored by Bemidji State’s Lukas Sillinger and Minnesota State’s Reggie Lutz came 18 seconds apart in the first period. From there, Beavers goaltender Zach Driscoll stole the show, making 35 saves in the final 45 minutes, 40 on the night, to help his team have a chance on the shootout.
However, Julian Napravnik potted a highlight-reel goal to give Minnesota State the shootout win.
Michigan Tech def. Northern Michigan, 3-1
The Huskies earned the weekend sweep by taking the Wildcats once again. Tommy Parrottino, Alex Broetzman and Brian Halonen scored for Michigan Tech, with Halonen being credited with the game-winner for the second game in a row. Blake Pietila picked up another win in goal, stopping 21 of the 22 shots.
No. 13 Bowling Green def. No. 11 Quinnipiac, 4-2
Bowling Green continued to rack up the wins by completing the weekend sweep over the Bobcats, even though Quinnipiac had a 2-0 lead. Connor Ford’s goal and two assists led the Falcons who scored four unanswered goals to get the win. Gavin Gould also played well, tallying a goal and an assist in the victory.
Sunday, Dec. 20
Michigan State def. No. 16 Notre Dame, 4-3 in overtime
Similar to the first game of the weekend set, the Fighting Irish controlled the play. Once again, Drew DeRidder had to stand on his head to give the Spartans a chance, this time making 42 saves. Notre Dame had a 3-2 lead heading into the final minute, but MSU’s Tommy Apap scored his second goal of the weekend with 22 seconds remaining, and, just like on Saturday, the teams needed overtime. Unlike Saturday, a winner was determined, as Spartan captain Tommy Miller scored an absolute dandy to give Michigan State the win.
No. 19 Providence def. No. 12 Northeastern, 5-0
After the shootout loss the night before, the Friars handed the Huskies their first lost of the season in convincing fashion. Production was fairly spread out for Providence, as 10 players picked up points, including Greg Printz’s goal and an assist. Jaxson Stauber, son of former Hobey Baker Award-winning goaltender Robb Stauber, picked up his first collegiate shutout with a 28-save performance.
No. 10 Massachusetts def. Vermont, 4-1
The Minutemen complete the weekend sweep with another four goals against the Catamounts, three of which came in the first period. The power play was also on point for UMass, going 3-for-5, with two tallies coming in that three-goal opening 20 minutes. St. Lawrence-transfer Carson Gicewicz scored one of the power-play goals, and another to give him three on the young season. Bobby Trivigno assisted on three of the Minutemen’s goals, giving him four points against the Catamounts.
No. 9 St. Cloud State def. No. 8 Denver, 3-1
In the Huskies’ final game in the Pod, they made their mark as a team to be reckoned with in the NCHC, beating Denver for a second time. Kyler Kupka, Zach Okabe and Veeti Miettinen were the goal-scorers for St. Cloud State, and David Hrenak outdueled Denver’s Magnus Chrona, stopping 31 of the 32 shots he faced.
No. 4 North Dakota def. Miami (OH), 6-2
The Fighting Hawks leave the Pod as arguably the best team in the conference after a win over the RedHawks. The teams traded goals in opening period-and-a-half, but North Dakota took over from there, scoring four unanswered to solidify a 7-2-1 record to start the season. Riese Gaber had another great game, scoring a pair of goals with an assist on another. Ethan Frisch helped out with a goal and an assist of his own.
I’m a broadcast journalist from West Michigan, with an incredible passion for the game of hockey. After playing in goal for 16 years, I realized that my time on the ice was up, and chose a slightly different path working in the media. It is just as demanding, just a little less physical.