Ohio State at Michigan (November 18/19)
One of the best rivalries in college football takes to the ice this weekend as one of the top teams in the CCHA takes on a team looking to get on track. But in a weird twist the roles are reversed in 2011: Ohio State is tied for second in the CCHA with 17 points and Michigan is in sixth with 12 points. Because the CCHA plays three point games the Wolverines can surpass the Buckeyes with a sweep.
Ohio State has gotten great defense in their last seven games, giving up 2 or fewer goals in each contest. The Wolverines meanwhile have struggled a bit on that side of the ice, but this series still is a matchup of two of the more underrated goalies in the country. College hockey fans are more than likely aware of Shawn Hunwick’s heroics in the Frozen Four last year, but he does seem to often get left out when discussing the nation’s elite netminders. But a .938 save percentage is fantastic, and he has made the most saves in the CCHA. Ohio State’s Cal Heeter is even more underrated, and has a .934 save percentage this year. Last year he made more saves – and saw more shots – than any goalie in the country, but Ohio State has been able to play Brady Hjelle a handful of times to give Heeter a much needed break.
Boston College at Notre Dame (November 18)
After a bit of a slow start, Notre Dame has righted the ship and now sit at 8-2-2 on the season. Sophomores TJ Tynan and Anders Lee are probably the best 1-2 punch in the country, combining for 15 goals (12 by Lee) and 22 assists (17 by Tynan). Tynan leads the country in points per game at 1.67 and Lee leads the country in goals with 12.
Boston College looked like they didn’t even show up to play BU last Sunday, but other than that game they have played very well this year. Chris Kreider got some Hobey pub from me this week, and he currently leads the team in goals and points (and penalties and penalty minutes). BC’s defense is 2nd best in Hockey East, allowing 2.5 goals per game, but that looks to be good defensive play more than any great play in net. Parker Milner’s .908 save percentage is OK, but will need to improve for BC to win Hockey East.
Nebraska-Omaha at Denver (November 18/19)
The Mavericks and Pioneers meet in a battle of one team trying to move closer to the top of the WCHA and another trying to stay within striking distance. Omaha has one of the better 1-2 punches in the WCHA so far with Terry Broadhurst, who is tied for the league lead with 11 goals and is tied for 2nd in points per game, and Matt White, who is also tied for second in points per game. But beyond those two goals have been a bit tougher to come by as Omaha sit in 5th in the league in goals per game. On the other end of the ice John Faulkner has been who everyone (well, the smart people) thought he was as he has just an .880 save percentage this year. Freshman Ryan Massa has been no relief, posting an .878 mark.
As for the Pioneers, Adam Murray has just a .904 save percentage but the Pioneers have scored enough (3.67 goals per game) so that it doesn’t matter too much. They also take quite a few penalties and aren’t great on the penalty kill, so some regression there plus some smarter hockey should see their goals allowed per game go down over the remainder of the season. They’re just three points back of Omaha and have a game in hand on the Mavericks (as well as everyone else above them in the standings) so don’t count the Pioneers out yet.