Good Morning Student Section! College Hockey is now in holiday mode. So, in the spirit of the holidays, I would like to hand out a few midseason kudos and lumps of coal.
The Gophers are off till January 2-3, 2015 when they host the 24th Annual Mariucci Classic. The Gophers will entertain a solid field in RIT, UMass-Lowell and Merrimack.
Kudos: Checking the current Pairwise Rankings, the NCAA is going to have a fun time seeding all of the western schools in the NCAA tournament. While it's still early, nine of top 16 spots in the Pairwise Rankings are from the Big Ten, NCHC or WCHA. The west is definitely sitting pretty going into the second half of the season.
If the NCAA Playoffs started today, the Gophers would be the only B1G team to make the field of 16. The State of Hockey would have three teams in the NCAA tourney, Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota State.
Lump of coal: The hits keep coming for the Badgers. Freshman defensman Keegan Ford has left the Badgers. While no one from the State of Hockey is going to feel sorry for them. The Badgers have had a miserable season going (1-10-1, 0-2-0 Big Ten).
Last night, the Minnesota State Mavericks had to cancel their game against the Princeton Tigers because their team has been ravaged by the flu bug.
Lump of coal: The SCSU Huskies traveled to Omaha and were swept by the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (2-3 L, 3-5 L). With the loss, the Huskies (6-9-1, 2-5-1 NCHC) are now in seventh place in the NCHC standings. I don't think anyone expected the Huskies to struggle like this, especially with who they have on their roster.
"We had two senior defensemen (Tim Daly and Andrew Prochno) turn the puck over on the game-winning goal and you just can't make a monster mistake like that on the road," Huskies coach Bob Motzko said. (Husky Hockey, SC Times).
Kudos: The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs split their weekend series with the Michigan Tech Huskies in Houghton, Michigan. With the series split, the Bulldogs have a (12-6-0, 7-3-0 NCHC) record.
The Bulldogs are off till January 2-3, 2015 when they travel north to Thunder Bay, Ontario, to take on the Lake Head University Thunderwovles in a two-game exhibition series. Currently, the Thunderwolves are in sixth place of the West Division CIS standings with a 6-9-2 record.
UMD sophomore center Dominic Toninato scored his 13th goal of the season 7:28 into the third period and Bulldogs junior wing Austyn Young tied the game at 3-3 with 6:53 to play in regulation.
Sophomore center Michael Neville recorded the game-winner for Tech with 18.4 seconds left by redirecting a pass from sophomore wing Tyler Heinonen. It was Neville’s first goal of the season.(Matt Wellens, Duluth News Tribune)
Kudos: When the polls come out on Monday, will there be a new number one team? The University of North Dakota split their weekend series (1-4 L, 3-1W) with the University of Denver. UND takes a (13-4-2, 6-3-1 NCHC) record into the holiday break. Traditionally, UND has been known for his second half surges, the 13-4-2 start is the best under head coach Dave Hakstol.
"I think we’ve had a pretty good first half," Hakstol said. "Guys should be proud of their work, of their efforts. You keep it all in perspective, though. We’ve got an awful lot of healing to do over the break. Tonight, I thought our team laid every ounce on the line. Everything we had, we needed to win this hockey game. Now, we’ve got an opportunity to have a break. We need that break physically to get healed up and also mentally for the guys who have been playing dinged up." (Brad Elliott Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald).
Kudos: On Saturday night, the Bemidji State Beavers (5-10-3, 3-6-3 WCHA) extended their unbeaten streak to five games with a tie against Northern Michigan.
"Our guys played their hearts out for three periods," BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. "I thought they had great legs. Our intensity level was extremely high. It was a good outing for us. We might not have gotten the win but you just want your guys to play good hockey."
It the last game of 2014 for the Beavers, who are 5-10-3 overall and 3-6-3 in WCHA play. They’re unbeaten in their last five contests. (Jack Hittinger, Bemidji Pioneer)
Keeping with the holiday theme, I am going to hand out a lump of coal to the NCHC officials. On Friday night, SCSU forward Jonny Brodzinski was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for contact to the head. As you can see from the video, there wasn’t any contact with the head. In my opinion, the hit was a legal, clean, shoulder-to-shoulder hit.
The Huskies would go on to lose the game as the Mavericks would score the game-winning goal on the power play. In my opinion, this was a bad call. I also believe that the fans deserve better officiating from the on-ice officials.
Lastly, I want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. I know I am very happy to put 2014 behind me, and move forward with 2015. I also want to thank everyone for reading Hockey Wilderness and The Student Section. You can follow me at The Hockey Writers, Goon’s World and Inside Hockey. See you at the rink.