For those of us who prefer to catch more ZzZzZ's over getting up at 5am to battle the crowds for the latest gadget/gizmo, there's Cyber Monday!
Although I don't really have anything to sell, there are a few teams that may be overlooked when it comes to pondering who's going to be battling for the title this year, and they're going to have you bidding on them in the next few months.
The Bulldogs were able to display a glimpse of their capabilities in the first game of the season against Minnesota, more specifically in the second half of the game. The increasingly impressive goaltending from freshman goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo has allowed UMD's offensive talent to do what they do best - score goals. Led by Toronto Maple Leafs draftee Dominic Toninato with 13 points, UMD has averaged 3.14 goals per game thus far with a shot margin over eight since the start of November.
Minnesota Duluth has found some scoring depth as freshmen, more specifically speaking Karson Kuhlman, have stepped up for the challenge and earned playing time. The name of the game is consistency, which allowed the Dogs to build a six-game win streak with sweeps of St. Cloud State and Minnesota, that ended in their latest game in Omaha, but they'll need to keep up the intensity to play late into the season - but I'd bet on the Dogs.
The Crimson have flown under the radar for awhile, but should be in expected in post-season play. Harvard has but one loss... And with big wins over Boston College and most recently Boston University and UMass-Lowell, the whole "easy schedule" statement is thrown out.
Offensive help from Alexander Kerfoot (New Jersey), Jimmy Vesey (Nashville), Kyle Criscuolo, and Patrick McNally (Vancouver), all of whom have over 13 points, have allowed the Crimson to exhibit a +1.90 goal margin and power play at 31.2% which ranks 3rd in the nation since the beginning of November. I'd go all in on these guys.
Mike Hastings has shown season after season that he has what it takes to build a winning hockey team, even back in the USHL when he failed to produce a season under .500, and this year is no different. The Purple Mavericks have really come together, winning nine of their last ten games, which includes ending Michigan Tech's unbeaten streak which began at the start of the year.
Lead by senior Matt Leitner with 15 points and junior Bryce Gervais with 9 goals, Minnesota State's offensive production of 3.79 goals per game this past month are anything but impressive. What about depth?? - Seven Mavericks have built resumes with points in the double digits, including defensemen Zach Palmquist and Casey Nelson.
Nebraska Omaha hasn't been able to find the consistency to convince just yet, but with a young roster it takes a little bit of time before the train is ready to move at full-steam-ahead. Underclassmen, more specifically three sophomores and two freshmen, sit among the top five scorers on the team. We're two months into the season, and there is plenty of time for Dean Blais to continue to mold this group into the top contending team it could be.
Ryan Massa's growing consistency between the pipes in combination with a penalty kill unit that is producing numbers above 90% has allowed the Mavericks to compete with the best throughout their difficult schedule. A sweep in their upcoming series against Miami could be just the confidence-boost UNO needs to get a tidal wave of momentum rolling in their favor.
Hard to doubt the Terriers. As a matter of fact, betting against the Terriers is basically the equivalent of looking freshman scoring leader Jack Eichel in the eyes and telling him he's underperforming. Dramatic? Well, you get my point then.
Eichel, San Jose Sharks draftee Danny O'Regan, and Ahti Oksanen have all buried eight points in the first two seasons of play, allowing BU to develop a 9-3-1 overall record including just one loss in Hockey East play. The Terriers schedule doesn't get easier as the season goes on, but it's pretty obvious this team has what it takes to find wins in even the most difficult situations.
Three sweeps on a difficult schedule with big wins over Minnesota State and Miami have allowed this team to prove themselves among the best of the best. Let's be honest, a penalty kill that leads the nation at 96.7% really can't hurt the Falcons and their play for the remainder of the season, can it?
This is pretty self explanatory. Don Lucia is able to put basically the same team on the ice as last year, with some obvious changes, but you get my point. This being said, the Gophers have the talent needed to venture far into post-season play, they just need to play consistency at the high level we've seen them play at various times this past year.
Enrico Blasi has every tool he needs among his Redhawk tool belt to win night after night, and we knew that going into the season. The only difference now is that Miami has finally shown glimpses of how damaging their offense and brick-wall-like their defense can be. Another if, but if they can find this consistency, they're going to fly far.
The Huskies know how to win. If you don't believe me, let their 10-game win streak to start the season or their 12-2-0 overall record should be decently convincing, aye? November's 3.22 goals for and 1.67 goals against averages for the Huskies should rollover for the remainder months and allow Tech to sail deep into post-season action, unless they forget how to compete, I guess.
They're playing okay right now, correct? And Coach Hakstol seems to have just the equation for second-half season play success. Even for the most conservative gambler, not going in on North Dakota is a pretty bad idea. Well, that's what history tells us anyway, right?