It was the last ever go-round for the College Hockey Showcase, an 18-year long event that brought out some very quality hockey between some of the best teams in the country on an annual basis. It's perhaps not as heart-breaking to see it go since some similar version of the event will likely take place in future years until we reach a point when those four teams meet regularly as part of the same conference. But still, any time I have memories of seeing Mike Crowley and Graham Melanson and Brian Wiseman playing in an event, that counts as a college hockey institution, and it's a little sad to see it go. At roughly the quarter-mark of the season, it was always one of the big barometers of how the best in the country stacked up against each other.
This year, Wisconsin came out as the only team without a loss, tying Michigan on Friday and beating Michigan State on Saturday. Michigan was the only team without a win, tying the Badgers and then losing to Minnesota on Sunday. Michigan State beat Minnesota and then lost to Wisconsin.
Friday's Michigan State-Minnesota game followed a familiar script for the Gophers at home this season, where they got down big early, tried to fight back, mounted a comeback somewhat, but couldn't overcome the hole they had dug for themselves. Other than Mariucci being a 3/4-filled tomb, it's hard to figure out why Minnesota has been so bad at home, while their best performances have come on the road. They at least rebounded with a very strong home effort on Sunday night.
Here's a fun fact: Prior to this weekend, Barry Richter was the last Wisconsin defenseman to score a hat trick in a game back in November 1991. This past weekend, Jake Gardiner had a hat trick on Friday night, while Justin Schultz got a hat trick on Saturday night. The Badgers looked good against a Michigan State team that hasn't been great lately, but couldn't quite get over the hump against a better Michigan team.
The rest of the week's action after the jump.
The other big series this past weekend was between North Dakota and Notre Dame. The home Sioux got a win and a tie on the weekend. Aaron Dell played both games for the Sioux in net, and seems to have solidified the number one goalie job for the Sioux. With all due respect to Minnesota-Duluth, I still think North Dakota is the best, most complete team in the west.
Western Michigan continued what seems to be a meteoric rise, with an upset win over Miami on Friday night, before falling the next night. Friday's win moved Western all the way up to 16 in the way-too-early PWR. Western looks like they will be a real force to be reckoned with in a few years.
There was a WCHA conference series this past weekend between Colorado College and Alaska-Anchorage. On Friday, CC lost in one of the most impressive fashions possible. They outshot the Seawolves 17-4 in the first period, but still trailed 1-0. After taking a 3-2 lead with just 2:15 left, they couldn't hold on to the lead, and UAA tied the game with six seconds left. The Seawolves scored late in overtime to get the win. Colorado College rebounded with a shutout victory the next night.
Denver won the Denver Cup with wins over Lake Superior and Air Force. Drew Shore was near dominant for Denver. The Denver Cup was traditionally Denver's Christmas/Kwanzaa/Boxing Day tournament, but they moved it to Thanksgiving weekend in hopes of better attendance, but still only half-filled their arena.
Bemidji State and Northern Michigan each had a shutout against the other in a weekend series. Reid Ellingson continued to play great in net for Northern Michigan. The Wildcats don't quite have the talent they've had in years past, but they could be a second half pest again if Ellingson continues to play like that.
Alaska continued playing well, getting four points out of six from a weekend series at Ohio State. The Buckeyes had to get moved to Nationwide Arena for the series, and with the holidays and Ohio State's annual victory over Michigan diverting attention, the Puck Bucks drew less than 2000 for both games.
Minnesota State swept UMass-Lowell in scenic Lowell. And you thought you had things rough. It's going to be a very long year for Lowell.
Bowling Green beat Alabama-Huntsville, but couldn't beat RPI.