Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rock and Roll - Denver and North Dakota Bragging Rights and More

Some part of the national spotlight rests again on Boston University, as the Terriers play a home-and-home with arch-rival #19 Boston College. But while it's the biggest grudge match of the weekend, it's not the most potent game on the schedule by a long shot. Wrestling for that honor are WCHA contests pitting #10 St. Cloud at #13 Wisconsin and #8 North Dakota at #3 Denver. First place in Atlantic Hockey is up for grabs, and Army and Sacred Heart aim to take the spot and run in an Empire State home-and-home. While top-ranked Miami enjoys a much-appreciated bye week, #2 Michigan hopes to leapfrog the CCHA leaders by way of a deuce with Ohio State. Bemidji State and Niagara meet for the only CHA games on the docket, and ECAC Hockey points — and ever-important momentum — are up for grabs as well. Take it all in; it's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

No. 6 UNH and UMass Lowell Gear up For a Home and Home Series

The sixth-ranked Wildcats (7-2-1, 4-2-1 HE) return to Hockey East play with a home-and-home series against UMass-Lowell (4-3-4, 2-3-4 HE) on Friday night at Whittemore Center and Saturday night at Tsongas Arena. Puck drops both nights at 7 p.m. Friday night the game will be broadcast on the UNH Sports Radio Network (UNHSN) and live video at www.unhwildcats.tv. On Saturday, the game will be on (UNHSN). UNH, which has won back-to-back games, looks to capture a pair of pivotal Hockey East win.

SCOUTING THE RIVER HAWKS: The River Hawks enter the weekend 4-3-4 overall, 2-3-4 in Hockey East... UML went 2-0 on the week and have points in five of their last six games (2-1-3, 7 points)…Junior Mark Roebothan recorded his first career hat trick in UML’s 6-2 win Saturday; it was the first hat trick by a River Hawk since Danny O’Brien scored three in a 4-3 overtime victory at Providence…The River Hawks scored a season-high four second period goals Saturday against Merrimack and have totaled a Hockey East high 18 goals in the second period this season… The strength of the River Hawks comes from the reigning Defensive Player of the Week Carter Hutton, who earned his second collegiate shutout on Tuesday night with a 3-0 win at Merrimack. He recorded 22 saves in the victory, which included 13 stops in the final period.

SERIES HISTORY VS. UMASS-LOWELL: The Wildcats lead the all-time series with the River Hawks at 47-27-14 in 98 all-time meetings between the two schools dating back to Dec. 6, 1983...The ‘Cats won all three games last season and the teams tied in their only meeting this year 2-2 back on Nov. 9...The Wildcats have won four of the last five , six of the last eight and they have outscored UML, 32 to 17 during that time...Coach Umile owns a 40-17-9 all-time record against the River Hawks in his 18-year coaching career...The Wildcats own a 6-2-4 all-time mark vs. UMass-Lowell in 12 meetings since 1998...Senior forward Mike Radja is the active career leading scorer against UML with eight points.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Huskies Stay In 1st - Win Over BC

The Northeastern Huskies continue to impress league followers and remain atop the league standings with a 4-3 overtime win at No. 13 Boston College on Friday night.

Hockey East Player of the Week Joe Vitale (St. Louis, Mo.) had a four-point night (1g,3a) leading the Huskies to their sixth league win of the season. It took the Huskies until January 26 to pick up their six league win last season. Senior forward Jimmy Russo (Weymouth, Mass.) scored the overtime game-winner with four seconds remaining in the extra frame.

Team of the Week - Michigan Wolverines

Michigan came into the season with a lot of questions.

Clearly, the Wolverines, with such a tremendous recruiting pipeline, are never going to be at much of a disadvantage. But still, with a lot of top-notch talent leaving in recent years, no top-flight center returning, a previously inconsistent goaltender, and the prospects of Miami, Notre Dame and Michigan State all passing them by, the Wolverines had reason to be concerned.

Even following a great start, there were questions as to just how strong Michigan's schedule was this season.

Now, though there's still a long way to go, Michigan has proven quite a bit, coming off a weekend sweep of Minnesota and Wisconsin in the College Hockey Showcase, improving to 13-1 and No. 2 in KRACH. That makes Michigan the College Hockey News Team of the Week.

The win over Minnesota, 5-1, broke a particularly aggravating dry spell, dating back to 2002 and including a loss earlier this season in the Icebreaker, and in the 2003 Frozen Four semifinal. The current seniors — of which there are only Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik — had never beaten the Gophers.

"It's been a frustrating last three years in particular," said Michigan coach Red Berenson. "It was time. I thought we played pretty well against Wisconsin. They got two late quick goals. They have a good team and the power play is dangerous. . ... It was a letdown, too many penalties. The game went all over the map."

Against the Gophers, it was different. Juiced by the home crowd and the recent history, Michigan avenged its only loss of the season, the Icebreaker final when it heavily outshot Minnesota but lost 4-3.

"I thought we played better (against) Minnesota," Berenson said. "We scored a shorthanded goal (by Kolarik) that was huge, then Porter and Kolarik were huge over the weekend. They made the difference."

Said Porter, "When we played them early in the year, it was a tough loss. Everyone had it in the back of their heads. We came out and knew it was a huge game. ... (The earlier loss) gave us confidence. Even though we lost, we knew we could play with them and teams in that league. The last few years, we might have been intimidated going into their state and home ice."

Porter, of course, has been huge all season. He's the Hobey Baker Award frontrunner at the moment, leading the nation with 14 goals in 14 games, including three this past weekend. He's made the transition from wing to center, prompted when Andrew Cogliano didn't return this season. Combine that with the departure of T.J. Hensick, who was Porter's linemate when Porter scored 24 goals last season, and that's where the questions were on the top line.

"Kevin Porter has been a great leader, particularly offensively," Berenson said. "So he takes a lot of offensive pressure off our team."

That means the pressure is on him.

"Maybe a little bit every game, I feel like our line has to be the one that scores," Porter said. "If we end up losing, it could be our fault. It puts a little pressure on us. The freshmen have been great so far. Early they put up numbers, then slowed a bit."

With freshmen like Aaron Palushaj (5-10—15) and Max Pacioretty (3-9-12) up front, the Wolverines are doing just fine. In fact, it's reminiscent of the 1998 team, which had just lost a huge and extremely talented senior class, yet went all the way to a national championship.

"It does have some similarities," Berenson said. "Bill Muckalt carried the offense, and we had (Marty) Turco in goal."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hockey Humanitarian

Nominations for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, which honors "college hockey's finest citizen" on an annual basis, are open, and USCHO.com is helping to spread awareness of the award's meaning and significance. Nominations are encouraged from coaches, media and all those with significant knowledge of deserving candidates, with the nomination process running through Dec. 14.


Women : Number One Spot

No one can hold that elusive No. 1 spot for very long this season, and it's New Hampshire wearing that bulls-eye once more. Niagara hits the Granite State to take on the Wildcats this weekend; will the nation's once-and-again top team fend off the Purple Eagles, or will they trip, as they did against Princeton? Speaking of the Tigers, can they follow in #10 Clarkson's footsteps and knock #7 Mercyhurst off its pedestal? It's a dogfight atop the ECAC, as the Golden Knights tackle #5 Harvard and #8 Dartmouth this weekend. Third-ranked St. Lawrence is in the mix too, and all four teams hit the mat against each other in the shadows of Turkey Day. Out West, #2 Wisconsin, #4 Minnesota-Duluth, #6 Minnesota and also-receiving-votes Minnesota State are all in action this weekend as well.

Seen And Heard in Hockey East

Gerbe Suspension: Boston College junior forward Nathan Gerbe was issued a one-game, league-mandated suspension last Saturday. He was forced to sit out the Eagles' 5-2 loss at New Hampshire. According to a statement issued by Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna, the suspension stemmed from actions from Friday night's 3-3 tie with Merrimack at Conte Forum.

"While a suspension might not have been forthcoming on [Friday] night's actions alone, this is not the first time this season that I have been made aware of inappropriate behavior from Nathan," Bertagna said in the statement. "Given the fact that he had already been put on notice, I felt that supplemental discipline was in order in this instance."

Bertagna would not comment further on the suspension, saying he would stick to last Saturday's statement.

According to reports, Gerbe was accused of butt-ending Merrimack players during last Friday's game.

Bertagna told Inside College Hockey last year he has several ways in which he levies punishments. Depending on the severity of the incident, Bertagna can make a phone call, write a private letter of reprimand, a public letter of reprimand or suspend the guilty party.

Player of the Week - Bryan Ewing - Boston University

His Statistics: 2 GP, 1-6—7

His Impact: Heading into last weekend's series at Vermont, Ewing led all Terrier scorers with eight points on the season. None of his teammates had more than six. Ewing busted out with seven points in two games, and nearly doubled his point total for the season. The Terriers only managed a split, but scored 13 goals and may have jump-started their offense as they head into a stretch of four tough games against Harvard, Cornell, and a home-and-home against Boston College.

His Runners-Up: Tyler Burton (Colgate), Billy Sauer (Michigan), Chris Margott (Robert Morris), Dan Ramirez (American International), Chad Rau (Colorado College).

CHA Season Preview

THE SKINNY

In 2006-07, Alabama-Huntsville rose from the ashes of their fifth-place regular-season conference record to win three straight playoff games — including two in overtime — for the program's first College Hockey America playoff title, which happened to coincide with Doug Ross's final season as the team's head coach.

The new man behind the Chargers' bench is ex-NHLer Danton Cole, whose last head coaching gig was with the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins — the former Michigan State standout was fired midway through the 2004-05 season. He takes control of the UAH team missing a dozen players from last year’s roster, including the top six scorers.

The early lineup definitely had the look of starting over with only two seniors, five juniors, seven sophomores, and 12 freshmen. Among the newcomers are two goaltenders, one of whom is highly regarded (Cameron Talbot is rated seventh among incoming netminders in INCH's Recruiting Rankings) and one of whom is well connected (Wyatt Russell is the son of actors Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.) They've got nearly as much experience as returnee Blake MacNicol, who played all of eight games as a freshman. Sophomore Kevin Morrison is the leading returning goal-scorer. He had nine last season, an indication that offense may be at a premium for the Chargers.

Bemidji State had what, for its lofty standards, was a down year. Still, the Beavers finished just one point out of first place.

“We’ve been over .500 for five straight years and that’s not dodging anybody, so we’re proud of that," said head coach Tom Serratore. "But we did let down a bit in the second half and maybe overachieved a bit in the first half. We’ve created high expectations, but our guys are in the best shape we’ve ever been in so hopefully that will translate on the ice.”

Bemidji State must replace the offense of Luke Erickson and Rob Sirianni, both of whom eclipsed the century mark in career points. The Beavers will look to Travis Winters, Tyler Scofield, and Joey Moggach among others to fill the hole.

Niagara appears to be the early favorite to win its third consecutive regular-season crown, having lost just two primary contributors — albeit large ones in CHA Player of the Year Sean Bentivoglio, now with the New York Islanders organization, and defenseman Pat Oliveto — from a year ago.

CCHA Season Preview

If the teams in the CCHA have proven one thing over the past few years it's that you can never quite know what to expect out of the league. From Michigan State's surprising national title, showing that the CCHA can indeed compete with Hockey East and the WCHA, to Lake Superior State's challenge to the Spartans in the league tournament's third place game last March, it's not unusual to see things go awry in the CCHA.

Over the past several years, coaches have talked about parity throughout the conference, and it has been shown with surprise runs by Alaska, Nebraska-Omaha in the regular season and playoffs, and on any given night with strange upsets like Michigan State's home loss to Bowling Green at the end of last regular season.

This season, however, as teams prepare to drop the puck, it appears that Miami and Michigan State are poised to run away from the pack with teams with a lot of experience, clutch goal scorers and strong net minders.

Last season's regular season and playoff champ Notre Dame returns several key cogs in the form of Erik Condra, Kevin Deeth and Ryan Thang, as well as members of its defensive corps, but the loss of David Brown in the goal crease is one that will be tough for coach Jeff Jackson and the Fighting Irish to overcome.

In addition, traditional powerhouse Michigan suffered heavy losses to its squad this past summer, with several defections to the NHL and many key seniors leaving as well. With an arsenal carefully restocked by coach Red Berenson and his assistants Billy Powers and Mel Pearson, perhaps the only thing keeping the Wolverines out of the race is time to mature as a team and a consistent goaltender.

Although these four teams appear to be the top threats for the league title, it has yet to be seen what a team like Ohio State which appears healthy and more mature, or Lake Superior State with a new goaltender and a strong returning class might be able to do as the race unfolds.

And, most certainly, never count out scrappy Northern Michigan and Ferris State teams which have both made runs to Joe Louis Arena in the past decade.

Despite these challenges from all programs in the conference, look for the talent and experience of verterans and the coaching savvy of Enrico Blasi and Rick Comley to help Miami and Michigan State steady the ship and create an exciting title race before once again giving the league greater notoriety with strong performances in the NCAA tournament.

BREAKTHROUGH TEAM

After failing to meet public and team expectations over the past two seasons, look for Ohio State as a potential spoiler team in the CCHA race to the top this season. The Buckeyes finished just 12-12-4 in the league last season, but looked strong later on, finishing the campaign with wins in four of their last six regular-season contests before being swept by Northern Michigan in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.

One major reason for the Buckeyes' struggles was the loss of Tom Fritsche for the majority of the season after he was hospitalized while suffering from ulcerative colitis. After returning, however, Fritsche looked strong, scoring 13 points in just 19 games. He is joined in the forward corps by Tom Goebel who notched 26 points last season.

At the other end of the ice, Ohio State is lead by senior blue liner Jason Desantis, who is also known for his offensive upside, and goaltender Joseph Palmer who allowed 2.96 goals per game — just tenth best in the CCHA — last season but has shown signs of improvement with an admirable performance at the United States Junior National Team evaluation camp this summer.

PRIMED FOR A FALL

Simply take a look at the players who graduated from Michigan or left the Wolverines early this past summer, and there is no doubt the Maize and Blue may be hard-pressed to stay in the race for the CCHA title with racehorses like Miami and Michigan State leading the way.

Jack Johnson left the team after its first-round loss in the NCAA tournament to join the Los Angeles Kings and has become an everyday player in their lineup and a cult hero among fans. North of the border, former Michigan speedster Andrew Cogliano was just named to the Edmonton Oilers' opening night lineup. On top of that pair of first round picks, T.J. Hensick and Matt Hunwick just narrowly missed making the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins, respectively.

Hensick and Cogliano were the anchors of Michigan's first two lines, and Hunwick and Johnson often ate up as much as half of the game as the team's top defensive pair. And while first-round picks Chris Summers and Mark Mitera remain on the blue line and Max Pacioretty — one of the Montreal Canadiens' top picks — joins last year's league-leading scorer Kevin Porter in the lineup up front, it's hard to argue that, after losing this much talent, Michigan will not fall out of the top tier of CCHA teams ... at least temporarily.

PRESSURE TO PERFORM

While Bowling Green can't fall any lower than 12th place in the CCHA standings, the pressure is certainly on head coach Scott Paluch, now in his sixth season at the helm. Paluch is the first former Falcon player to serve as the head coach and must do his best not to disappoint the administration and fans he once delighted as a member of CCHA title-winning teams in the 1980s.

This year's Falcons team brings back 23 players from last season, including goaltender Jimmy Spratt and leading scorer Derek Whitmore. Paluch labeled Spratt as the most improved player during the course of last season, and he will likely continue to evolve as he matures in his role as a starting net minder.

Having seen the potential of the Falcons during a close first-round playoff series against Nebraska-Omaha and an upset of Michigan State at Munn in the regular season finale, Bowling Green supporters have to be getting anxious to see more consistency out of Paluch's squad.

Atlantic Hockey Season Preview

Atlantic Hockey saw a major transformation last season, with league newcomers Rochester Institute of Technology and Air Force ascending to the top and perennial contenders Holy Cross and Mercyhurst taking a hit. In fact, only one team – Sacred Heart – managed to finish in the top four in consecutive seasons.

It doesn’t appear as though RIT nor Air Force will relent much this season, each sporting veteran lineups with very few holes to fill. RIT was ineligible for the conference title and NCAA tourney berth since the program was only in its second year of NCAA Division I status, so the Tigers did all that they could do by winning the regular-season title.

Air Force captured its first playoff title by beating Sacred Heart in the semifinals and Army in the finals, then turned in a memorable upset bid against Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament. The Falcons are still flying high with Hobey Baker finalist Eric Ehn back for another season, and an answer in goal as freshman Andrew Volkening won the job late last season.

Dont Go Changin'

Change for the sake of change occurs in just about every walk of life: It happens in our places of work, it happens with the sports teams we follow, and it happens to the furniture in the living room.

Here at Inside College Hockey World Headquarters, we're not fundamentally opposed to change — heck, we just tore out the simulated oak paneling in the offices and replaced it with a tasteful flat latex. But when it comes to the weekly Power Rankings, there best be a compelling reason to shuffle the deck.

Which is why there are so few modifications in this week's ratings. Half of the 20 teams we ranked stayed put, while another five moved just one spot in either direction. There were some movers and shakers, however, including Northeastern, up a half-dozen slots after downing Boston College over the weekend.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

UNH Defeats PC in Overtime

It appears that New Hampshire has found a third line that it can depend upon.

In reality, the Wildcats’ trio of center Thomas Fortney and freshman wingers Paul Thompson and James vanRiemsdyk deserved top billing tonight, courtesy of their performance at Schneider Arena.

Thompson netted the game-winning goal 2:57 into overtime, putting the finishing touches on his first career hat trick, and combined with Fortney and vanRiemsdyk for 12 points as the No. 6 Wildcats came from behind on two different occasions to edge the host Providence College Friars, 5-4.

Providence’s loss in the recruiting battle for Thompson’s services turned out to be New Hampshire’s gain on Saturday, as the Derry, N.H., native chose his state university over Dartmouth and the Friars when he made his college decision last year. Thompson’s winner was almost a carbon copy of his goal that tied the game with 8:12 remaining in regulation, as he drove down the slot to the net and skated onto vanRiemsdyk’s backhanded pass before snapping a shot inside the left post past Providence goalie Tyler Sims.


“We needed something coming out of the weekend,” Thompson said. “We needed a big win here. It was a good game for us, obviously a good game for me.”

New Hampshire (6-2-1, 4-2-1 Hockey East) rebounded from its 4-1 loss to league-leading Northeastern on home ice Friday night to salvage a two-point weekend. The Wildcats’ potent offense was back in fine form 24 hours after being stonewalled by Huskies’ goalie Brad Thiessen and his 37-save effort at the Whittemore Center, and New Hampshire improved to 6-0-0 overall when it scores two or more goals in a game.

“You’ve just got to have a short memory,” vanRiemsdyk said. “It’s a new night tonight. You’ve just got to keep throwing pucks to the net. (Thiessen) played unreal last night.”

One quick glance at New Hampshire’s media guide provided the answers to the success of its third unit on Saturday, a group which played together for the first time after head coach Dick Umile decided to break up line combinations that he termed ‘stale’ after the game. Thompson was the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL) scoring champion and Most Valuable Player last season and vanRiemsdyk, a product of the U.S. National Development Program and a member of its Under-18 team last year, was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 National Hockey League Entry Draft behind current Chicago Blackhawks rookie Patrick Kane.

“They absolutely played great,” Umile said. “I know one thing, we’re not touching that line. Obviously, the team responded.”

BC's Motherwell Leaves Nest Early for AHL

Brett Motherwell, the highest-scoring defenseman in Hockey East last season as a sophomore and one of the integral pieces of this season’s Boston College hockey club, opted to leave the team and sign a contract with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL Thursday afternoon.

Motherwell, an undrafted free agent, and Brian O’Hanley were in the midst of serving indefinite suspensions invoked following the first game of the season against Michigan at the Ice Breaker Invitational. The suspensions were reportedly due to both players breaking team curfew. Motherwell opted to leave the suspension and college life behind, and instead inked a 10-day amateur tryout contract with the AHL club.

O’Hanley is still reportedly taking classes at the Chestnut Hill campus of Boston College, but longtime Eagles head coach Jerry York indicated that O’Hanley’s suspension wasn’t coming to an end any time soon.

“Brett just signed with Syracuse, so he elected to leave school,” said York . “There’s no question [it’s a difficult loss] . Along with [Brock] Bradford being out with the broken left arm, that’s two potential All-American candidates that we’re missing.

“We’ve had to go through the typical storms of the college season with suspensions — where we lost two players — and then injuries,” added York . “We’re a little thin in our numbers right now, but we’re hoping Brock comes back in late January. I think we’ll be in good shape.”

Motherwell was a highly-touted, offensive-minded defenseman who factored heavily into BC’s fortunes this season, and put up seven goals and 44 assists in 82 career games at Boston College. The signing of Motherwell was announced by the Crunch Thursday afternoon, and York confirmed it during an interview.

“We’re comfortable giving him a shot here. We did our due diligence,” Columbus Blue Jackets assistant general manager Chris MacFarland told the Syracuse Post Standard Thursday afternoon. “It’s a fresh start for him. Hopefully, he embraces it. Our amateur scouts feel there’s something there. Hopefully, he will show that.”

Motherwell wouldn’t discuss the BC suspension with reporters in Syracuse, but instead expressed excitement at turning pro.

“I just felt it was the best time for me to leave and start a professional career,” said Motherwell. “I’m ready to start something new here.”

O’Hanley was unavailable for comment at the time of this report.

Maine Hockey Player Charged With Assault

The University of Maine men’s hockey team will be missing a center until the university can review facts surrounding charges against him of assault and unlawful sexual touching.

Early Sunday morning, freshman Tanner House allegedly grabbed a woman’s breast at 103 Ultra Lounge, according to Orono Police Capt. Josh Ewing.

Around 1:15 a.m., the woman was talking to one of the club’s bouncers near the entrance to the club. She told police that during the conversation, House, whom she did not know, approached and grabbed her left breast.

The woman tried, unsuccessfully, to keep House in the building until she could call the police. When he left, club staff followed him toward the Orchard Trails apartment complex while the club’s manager Robbie Snow reported the incident to Officer Derek Dinsmore, who was across the street in his police car.

The officer called Sgt. Scott Lajoie, who met up with the staff members following House. Lajoie brought House back to the club where he was issued a summons and charged. The police report did not say if House was intoxicated.

House is scheduled to appear at Third District Court in Bangor at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1.

UMaine Athletic Director Blake James was unavailable for comment, but according to UMaine Director of University Relations Joe Carr, House was suspended indefinitely as of Monday.

When a UMaine athlete gets into trouble he or she is required by the athletic code of conduct to notify the university within 24 hours.

The university will conduct two investigations. As the Athletic Director, James will decide if House has violated the athletic code of conduct and how he will be punished. House will also be investigated by UMaine Student Affairs to decide if he has violated the student code of conduct.

Carr would not comment on how severely House could be punished. “The problem with describing a range is that we risk suggesting what the punishment might be.”



Miami Stays First in National Polls

MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 19) — One week after narrowly holding onto the top spot in the USCHO.com/CSTV Division I men’s poll, Miami was the runaway choice of voters impressed by the RedHawks’ road sweep of then-No. 3 Michigan State Thursday and Friday.

Miami received 48 of 50 first-place votes to retain the No. 1 ranking for the fourth straight week, followed again by fellow CCHA member Michigan, which earned the remaining two first-place nods after a sweep of Lake Superior State.

Edging up to third was Denver, which beat Minnesota State twice, and then Colorado College, which moved up three places to No. 4 with a sweep of Wisconsin. Michigan State slipped to fifth, and North Dakota dropped one spot to No. 6 during an off week, giving the WCHA and CCHA a sweep of the top six spots in the poll.

Clarkson was up one notch to seventh after beating Yale and Brown, with New Hampshire next after losing to Northeastern and bouncing back to top Providence.

Notre Dame eased up to No. 9 with two wins over Western Michigan, and Massachusetts continued its ascent through the rankings, entering the top 10 with a three-point weekend against Boston College. Also tied for 10th was St. Cloud State, which leapfrogged three teams despite having the week off.

In 12th this week was Wisconsin, while Minnesota, which split with Alaska-Anchorage and dropped one place. BC was down three spots to No. 14 this week, followed by Minnesota-Duluth, up two positions after a three-point series against Michigan Tech.

Also idle this week, Rensselaer was No. 16, followed by Niagara, which ran its nation-best home unbeaten streak to 22 games with two victories over Sacred Heart.

Harvard edged up to 18th by beating Cornell but losing to Colgate, and Michigan Tech hung in at No. 19. Northeastern entered the poll at No. 20 with wins over UNH and Massachusetts-Lowell.

Dropping out since last week was Maine.

Cornell vs Boston University at Madison Square Garden

A sold-out Madison Square Garden was the big stage on Saturday as Cornell and BU took to spotlight. BU raced out to a big lead and never looked back to down Cornell, 6-3. But in several other big marquee matchups, the winning team had to rally to take the game. Notre Dame spotted RPI a 3-0 in the final of the RPI Holiday Tournament, then rebounded for a 4-3 win and the tournament title. Meanwhile, Notre Dame's CCHA foe Michigan placed a strong claim on the No. 1 ranking in the country, pounding Minnesota 5-1 to win the College Hockey Showcase. In New York, No. 7 Clarkson rallied to get a split with St. Cloud, winning 3-2, while back out in Denver, the No. 3 Pioneers snapped a six game losing streak to rival Colorado College, riding the offensive output of Tyler Ruegsegger and rallying from 1-0 down late in the second to a tough 3-2 win. In the other College Hockey Showcase matchup, defending national champion Michigan State saw a 4-2 third period lead evaporate, as Wisconsin rallied to a 4-4 tie.