NCHC Week 8 Round-Up & Week 9 Preview

Minnesota Duluth hosts St. Cloud State this weekend | Photo - - Matt Christians

Three stars of the week, highlights you should probably know about, and my thoughts before we head into this weekend's action.

National Collegiate Hockey Conference play was silent last weekend, as teams either ventured to or hosted non-conference opponents. Miami and Western Michigan escaped the weekend without a loss, North Dakota drew even, and Colorado College was swept by Hockey East's New Hampshire.

All in all, last weekend NCHC teams had an extremely marginal weekend, finishing 3-3-2 overall in the non-conference extravaganza.

Weekend Scoreboard

Home Away Friday Saturday Notes
Bemidji State (WCHA) Miami 4-4 OT 6-3 MU NC
Colorado College New Hampshire (Hockey East) 6-2 UNH 3-0 UNH NC
North Dakota St. Lawrence (ECAC) 5-2 SLU 3-2 UND NC
Northeastern (Hockey East) Western Michigan 1-1 OT - Shillelagh Tourney
Alabama-Huntsville (WCHA) Western Michigan - 1-0 UWM Shillelagh Tourney

Three Stars

Riley Barber - F - Miami

The Washington Capitals prospect recorded 5 points on the weekend, including 4 assists, and skated at a +6 rating, leading the NCHC in both scoring and +/- rating. After contributing an assist in Miami's tie on Friday, Barber went off - scoring a goal and adding 3 helpers before the Redhawks finished off Bemidji State in Saturday's 6-3 triumph.

Matt Joyaux - D - Miami

Although Joyaux was held off the scoresheets last weekend at Bemidji State, his presence on the ice proved to be very aggravating to the Beavers. The 5-foot-7 freshman led all NCHC defenseman with 8 blocked shots while skating at a +3 rating, which also led NCHC teams last weekend.

Frank Slubowski - G - Western Michigan

Leading the way for Western Michigan, the 5-foot-11 junior helped the Broncos to an undefeated weekend in the Shillelagh Tournament. Allowing only one goal while being peppered with 57 shots against Northeastern and Alabama-Huntsville allowed the netminder to post a .982 save percentage - earning his first shutout of the season against the Chargers.

Highlights & Thoughts

The most impressive weekend play goes to Western Michigan, as they battled very well against #19 ranked Northeastern and Alabama-Huntsville during the Shillelagh Tournament. The Broncos are now undefeated in their last four outings, outscoring opponents 8-2 and exhibiting some of the best penalty killing in the country (95% - 19/20)

Although idle last weekend, Nebraska Omaha is really starting to play like they should've be able to earlier in the season. With goaltender Ryan Massa finally earning back-to-back starts, the Mavericks were able to sweep the Miami Redhawks in two very convincing victories. UNO will hit the road this upcoming weekend for the first time since early November, heading west to take on the Colorado College Tigers. If the Mavericks play as well as they did against Miami, this series shouldn't be a very difficult one.

The NCHC recently released November's players of the month. Western Michigan's Shane Berschbach and Nebraska Omaha's Jake Guentzel were issued the monthly honors this month after exhibiting excellent talent week after week. Berschbach was named the player of the month, recording 15 points in 10 games in which he was only held from the scoreboard in just one of those outings. Guentzel was named rookie of the month, finishing November tied in the lead for scoring among rookies with seven points, as well as helping the Mavericks find the wins they've been looking for in previous months.

Looking Ahead

From absolutely zero conference games last weekend, every NCHC team will be taking part in league play this weekend for the first time since the league was born. On Friday, Western Michigan hosts North Dakota in a game that will be aired on CBS Sports Network.

St. Cloud State at Minnesota Duluth

The Huskies own the overall series against the Bulldogs 56-40-8, but are 4-3-3 in the last 10 outings. Last year Minnesota Duluth defeated St. Cloud State 2-1, but fell 5-1 the following night in the only weekend the teams' saw each other. Games start at 7:07 CT on both Friday and Saturday at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minnesota.

Denver at Miami

These two teams have only met a total of eight times and are split in the all-time record at 4-4-0, but the Pioneers have fallen the last three times to Miami. The teams last met on November 26th, 2011 where Miami triumphed in a 4-2 win at Denver's Magness Arena. The puck drops at 7:35 ET on Friday and 7:05 ET on Saturday.

North Dakota at Western Michigan

Western Michigan hasn't beaten North Dakota in the last five games, which most recently was a 3-1 decision in the 2012 Western Regional. North Dakota will enter Kalamazoo for the first time since the 1996-97 season after playing their worst month of hockey in the last 20 years, but undefeated in the Lawson Ice Arena. Games start at 7:35 ET on Friday and 7:05 ET on Saturday.

Nebraska Omaha at Colorado College

The Mavericks enter World Arena owning the all-time record of 5-3-1 over the Tigers, but 2-2-0 in Colorado Springs. Colorado College will look to find their second win of the season and repay Nebraska Omaha back after being swept by the Mavericks in Omaha last season. Play begins at 7:37 MT on Friday night and 7:07 MT on Saturday night.

NCHC Standings

Team GP Wins Losses Ties Points
Nebraska Omaha 6 5 1 0 15
St. Cloud State 6 4 1 1 13
Denver 6 3 2 1 11
North Dakota 8 3 5 0 9
Minnesota Duluth 4 2 2 0 6
Western Michigan 4 2 2 0 6
Miami 6 2 4 0 6
Colorado College 8 1 5 2 6

Before You Go

During the game between Western Michigan and North Dakota, the NCHC will announce the winning name of the Championship weekend on CBS Sports Network. This again will be on Friday at some point during the broadcast.

Three NCHC players were named to the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team preliminary roster. Miami's sophomore forward Riley Barber and Denver's sophomore forward Quentin Shore and freshman defenseman Will Butcher have all earned a preliminary spot to compete for the United States this year.

Denver's special teams is the only unit in the country to be statistically ranked in the top 10 of both the penalty kill (91.4%) and power play (26.4%). The Pioneers hold the best penalty kill and a man-advantage that sits at third in NCAA rankings.

Enjoy,

--

Matt Christians covers Minnesota Duluth and the NCHC for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also give him a follow here ->

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