With only two conference games this past weekend, the amount of points on the line wasn't a very large number, but the number of goals scored by National Collegiate Hockey Conference teams was. In three non-conference series, NCHC teams outscored opponents 26-10, not counting tonight's game featuring Colorado College and Air Force.
With the exception of St. Cloud State's demolition run on Saturday night, all games played out to be intense matches. Denver and St. Cloud State earned weekend sweeps, while Minnesota Duluth split at North Dakota, Miami split against Wisconsin, and Nebraska Omaha drew even against Michigan.
|Denver||Western Michigan||5-3 DU||1-0 DU||-||-|
|North Dakota||Minnesota Duluth||4-2 UND||6-3 UMD||-||-|
|Miami||Wisconsin||2-0 MU||3-2 UW||-||nc|
|Alabama Huntsville||St. Cloud State||10-0 SCSU||4-3 SCSU||-||nc|
|Michigan||Nebraska Omaha||3-2 UNO||4-3 UM||-||nc|
|Colorado College||Air Force||-||-||TBD||nc|
Alex Iafallo - F - Minnesota Duluth
The freshman forward had an outstanding weekend in arguably the most difficult rink to play in - Ralph Engelstad Arena. The former Fargo Force skater buried two goals and had two assists for four points on the weekend against North Dakota, including a power play goal. His impressive speed also contributed to many other scoring opportunities and proved problematic to North Dakota's ability to manage the puck.
Dillon Simpson - D - North Dakota
It seemed as though every time North Dakota made a great defensive play, the Edmonton Oilers prospect was involved. His great defense play complimented the offensive threat he brings to the ice, scoring a goal and assisting in three others throughout the weekend.
Sam Brittain - G - Denver
Making the stars for the second week in a row, the Florida Panthers prospect had a phenomenal weekend for the Denver Pioneers, who earned the weekend sweep over Western Michigan, including a shutout on Saturday night. The senior started both games, giving up just 3 goals while peppered with 57 shots. After this past weekend, Brittain now exhibits a 1.61 GAA and a .945 save percentage.
Highlights & Thoughts
Week after week Nebraska Omaha shows improvements. The Mavericks earned a home split this weekend against the former #2 ranked Michigan, winning 3-2 on Friday and falling in a tight 4-3 game on Saturday. It was Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Josh Archibald who tallied the game winner on Saturday, which extended his goal-scoring streak to five games, but was shutdown on Saturday. Ryan Massa, who started Friday's game, is now undefeated in his last three starts, which have all been on Fridays.
Scoring at least six for the first time in over 40 years at Ralph Engelstad Arena helped Minnesota Duluth split a hard-fought series at North Dakota. The Bulldogs fell on Friday night in a 4-2 battle, but triumphed on Saturday by a score of 6-3. It was a series in which special teams determined the winner, as the victor of the night was the team who took advantage of more power play opportunities.
In a related topic, if you ever have a chance to travel to North Dakota and see Ralph Engelstad Arena, I would highly recommend it. I don't care if you despise the hockey team, for whatever reason that may be, the Arena in itself is absolutely amazing. Filled with history and kept cleaner than any other rink I've visited, I had goosebumps just walking in. The atmosphere is also great, as students wait outside in temperatures well below freezing, for 4+ hours just to get the best of 2,100 tickets reserved for students. Trust me on this one, the rink is worth the trek.
After non-conference game results raised questions whether how good the Denver Pioneers would be, they've turned things around, now holding on to the reigns of a four-game unbeaten streak with a non-conference series against Air Force on deck.
A struggling power play seemed to be holding the St. Cloud State Huskies back from competing at their full potential, but now it seems as though they may have figured it out this past weekend against Alabama Huntsville. Scoring four goals on 12 attempts (33.3%) is a dramatic increase in comparison to recent outings. Cory Thorson, Kalle Kossila, and Los Angeles Kings prospects Johnny Brodzinski and Nic Dowd all scored man-advantage goals.
The longest active NCHC point-streak belongs to Alex Iafallo of the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. Iafallo has tallied three goals and four assists in the last five games. Two if those points came on UMD's growing power play.
Goals of the Week
|St. Cloud State||4||3||1||0||9|
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Matt Christians covers Minnesota Duluth and the NCHC for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also give him a follow here -> Follow @matt_christians
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