College Hockey Report: LIU Wins First Game, Minnesota Starting Strong

Week two of the official regular season for college hockey featured a lot more action than the first. Some members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) and Hockey East Association joined the Big Ten to begin their 2020-21 season.

The pandemic played its hand, once again, in altering the schedule for multiple teams in the northeastern part of the country. However, that did not take away from some great matchups from around the country.

Long Island Picks Up Win in First Game

Making their season and program debut, was Long Island University. The Sharks program took to the ice for the first time since hastily putting a program together in less than six months. While expectations may not be high for the first-year program, head coach Brett Riley’s crew came ready to play in their first series against Holy Cross.

Long Island def. Holy Cross 3-2 (OT)

It was a rather auspicious start for the Sharks, as the Crusaders bombarded LIU with 14 shots in the opening period on Thursday night, even picking up a goal from Bobby Young less than five minutes into the game. However, LIU netminder Garrett Metcalf settled in and held off the Crusaders for the rest of the frame.

Long Island found their footing in the second period, as Gustav Muller picked up a rebound and scored the first goal in program history early in the period.

That was followed up by a goal just a few minutes later from Mitch Meek to give the Sharks the lead. Yet, Holy Cross picked up the pace in the third period, putting 20 shots on goal. Jake Pappalardo finally broke through the Metcalf wall for Holy Cross, tying the game.

The game went into overtime, and the Crusaders had a glorious opportunity to finish off the Sharks with a power play. However, LIU killed off the penalty, and 10 seconds after the penalty expired…

Christian Rajic, the Alabama-Huntsville transfer, potted the game-winning goal, giving Long Island University their first win in their first game. The MVP for the Sharks on Thursday night, unquestionably, was Metcalf.

“Garett was obviously exceptional tonight,” Riley said after the game. “He’s exceptional every day in practice. He brings a calming presence, he’s a leader, he bailed us out many times tonight, and he won us the hockey game.”

Holy Cross Bounces Back in Game 2

Similar to the game on Thursday night, the Crusaders controlled the play during their rematch with the Sharks on Sunday. This time, Holy Cross outshot the Sharks 46-19, picking up a 5-2 win, splitting the weekend set.

Rajic and Preston Brodziak were the goal scorers for the Sharks. Metcalf was in goal once again for LIU, making 41 saves in the loss.

Anthony Vincent led the Crusaders with a pair of goals, with Logan Ferguson chiming in with a goal and an assist. Erik Gordon picked up the win in net, stopping 17 of 19 shots.

No. 11 Minnesota Takes Down No. 10 Penn State

After a rather mediocre season, the Minnesota Golden Gophers began their 2020-21 campaign with a tough test, taking on a Penn State Nittany Lions team that won the Big Ten Regular Season Championship last season.

Gophers Win on Thursday, 4-1

Yet, the Gophers were undeterred on home ice.

The first period saw a lot of action from both sides, with both teams mustering eight shots on goal, with Penn State’s Oskar Autio and Minnesota’s Jack LaFontaine standing tall between the pipes.

Just a few mintutes into period two, the Gophers finally broke the ice with goal from Jonny Sorenson. The sophomore only scored six goals during the 2019-20 season.

Shortly after the halfway mark of the period, Scott Reedy scored to put the Gophers up by two. The Nittany Lions did get on the board in the final minute of the period thanks to Kevin Wall’s tally on Penn State’s 11th shot of the period.

The Gophers regained the lead, as Cullen Munson scored just a few minutes into the third. Sampo Ranta added some insurance later on in the frame with a pretty finish.

The Gophers coasted the rest of the way to the 4-1 win.

Minnesota Completes the Sweep with a 3-2 Win

In game two, the following day, Penn State came out guns blazing. They outshot Minnesota 13-8 in the opening frame, but LaFontaine was solid, only giving up a goal to the Nittany Lions’ Chrisitan Sarlo. That was after the Gophers scored first thanks to Reedy’s second goal of the weekend.

In the dying seconds of the frame, Minnesota blue-liner Matt Staudacher found last year’s leading-scorer, Sammy Walker, streaking through the neutral zone.

Walker’s goal at the 19:59 mark of the first period put the Gophers back out in front. Walker set up Brannon McManus’ goal in the second period to put the Gophers up by a pair.

Wall scored his second goal of the weekend for Penn State in the third, but LaFontaine shut the door the rest of the way, and Minnesota wrapped up the two-game sweep with a 3-2 win.

LaFontaine made 34 saves on Friday night, and stopped 60 of the 63 shots he faced throughout the weekend.

Other Scores

Thursday, Nov. 19

Big Ten

No. 6 Michigan def. No. 14 Wisconsin, 5-2

The Wolverines continued their hot start with a road win over the Badgers. Despite trailing early, Michigan scored five of the final six goals of the contest. Nick Pastujov led the Maize and Blue with a pair of goals.

Non-Conference

Michigan State ties Arizona State, 1-1

The Sun Devils were looking to bounce back after a rough weekend against the Wolverines, and the tie was better than nothing. Cole Brady was solid in net once again for Arizona State, making 25 saves. Christian Krygier scored for the Spartans, while Chris Grando was the goal scorer for Arizona State.

Friday, Nov. 20

Big Ten

No. 6 Michigan def. No. 14 Wisconsin, 2-1, in overtime

Game two of the weekend set was a little bit tighter. The teams traded goals in the second period, but neither team scored for the remainder of regulation, with Michigan’s Strauss Mann and Wisconsin’s Robbie Beydoun playing well in goal. In overtime, Thomas Bordeleau won it for Michigan with some flair.

Hockey East

No. 7 Massachusetts def. Connecticut, 5-1

The opening game of the Hockey East schedule saw the Minutemen looking strong against UConn. They outshot the Huskies 46-22, with Oliver Chau tallying a goal and an assist. Senior Matt Murray (not that one), stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced.

Non-Conference

Michigan State def. Arizona State, 2-0

The same amount of goals in game two as in game one, this time both scored by the Spartans. It was the two Mitchells who chimed in for Michigan State, as Mitchell Mattson and Mitchell Lewandowski each scored for the Spartans. Dave DeRidder picked up the win with a 16-save shutout.

Saturday, Nov. 21

WCHA

Lake Superior State def. Michigan Tech, 1-0 (SO)

While scoring was limited, the action was back-and-forth. Lakers’ netminder Mareks Mitens and Michigan Tech’s Mark Sinclair were stellar through 65 minutes. However, Lake State pulled it out in the shootout after Ashton Calder’s goal in the third round.

Hockey East

Connecticut def. No. 7 Massachusetts, 3-2 (SO)

Game two of the weekend series saw the Huskies play a lot better on home ice. This, despite the Minutemen coming out strong with a pair of goals in the opening period. The Huskies climbed back into the game with goals from Carter Turnbull and Brian Rigali.

The game went to a shootout for the first time in Hockey East history (the league adopted the shootout prior to the season). Kale Howarth scored in the fourth round to win it for the Huskies.

Non-Conference

Robert Morris def. Alabama-Huntsville, 5-2

The Chargers were looking strong early and took a 1-0 lead into the third period. Then, UAH goaltender David Fessenden left the game after a freak injury while stretching.

Alabama-Huntsville was rattled mentally, and the Colonials took over. Jordan Timmons led the charge with his first two goals of his college career, followed up with an assist.

Sunday, Nov. 22

WCHA

Lake Superior State def. Michigan Tech, 4-1

At least there were goals in regulation this time. Lake Superior State was propelled by a three-goal third period. The Lakers’ offense was led by Pete Veillette and Ashton Calder who each had a goal and an assist, including Calder’s highlight-reel tally.

No. 5 Minnesota State def. No. 16 Bemidji State, 5-0

The 2019-20 WCHA Regular Season Champions started off their season on the right foot with a win over the Beavers. Reggie Lutz scored twice for the Mavericks, with Jake Jaremko helping out with three assists. Dryden McKay picked up the shutout, making 21 saves.

Non-Conference

No. 8 Clarkson def. Colgate, 2-1

A close battle for the Golden Knights, who needed goals from Anthony Romano and Anthony Callin to outlast the Raiders. Kris Oldham earned the win between the pipes, stopping 23 of Colgate’s 24 shots.

Robert Morris def. Alabama-Huntsville 4-3

The rematch was more of a back-and-forth matchup, with Colonials getting the last laugh, thanks to Randy Hernandez’s first collegiate goal in the third period. Nick Prkusic led the attack for Robert Morris with a goal and two assists.

Games to Watch This Week

No. 9 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Minnesota (Nov. 23-24)

After sweeping Penn State, the Gophers host another tough opponent at Mariucci Arena in the Buckeyes. Ohio State finished second last season in the Big Ten, but the Gophers won three of the four meetings.

No. 5 Minnesota State vs. No. 16 Bemidji State (Nov. 23, 27-28)

After finishing their weekend set in Bemidji on Monday, the teams that finished 1-2 in the WCHA last season travel to Mankato for two more meetings. (Update: Game has been canceled due to positive COVID-19 test)

No. 7 UMass vs. No. 2 Boston College (Nov. 27-28)

After postponing their first two games against New Hampshire, the 2019-20 Hockey East Regular Season Champions look to finally start their season against UMass.


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