On The Ones And Twos
The headline of this piece doesn't refer to the prowess any member of the Inside College Hockey family has as a DJ. (Though, if asked, we're more than happy to dust off our Eric B. & Rakim vinyl and take a turn on the wheels of steel.) Instead, it refers to the picks for this week's most intriguing matchups -- a pair of single games pitting CCHA and Hockey East powers against each other and two conference series.
Boston College at Notre DameFRIDAY
Notre Dame has won four of the past five games in this series, with the lone loss coming to Boston College in the 2008 Frozen Four championship game in Denver. The Fighting Irish were shaky in series splits with Alabama-Huntsville and Providence, but shut out a listless Boston University team at Agganis Arena on Tuesday. Listlessness must be spreading like H1N1 in the Hub of Hockey, because the Eagles looked as much in a season-opening loss at Vermont on Sunday.
The most intriguing matchup in this contest pits the Irish forwards, who've yet to fire on all cylinders, against a young BC defensive corps that struggled against UVM. Notre Dame defenseman Teddy Ruth, who hasn't played this season because of a lower body injury, will not dress against the Eagles.
Denver at MinnesotaFRIDAY AND SATURDAY
Last week, prior to the series at North Dakota, it was mentioned that Minnesota was a great unknown that could win by six goals or lose by the same margin. Two games into the season, I don't know that we have any greater handle on the Gophers other than the fact that goaltenders Alex Kangas and Kent Patterson were pretty sharp.
The Pioneers won't have standout center Joe Colborne in the lineup -- he broke a finger in a loss to Ohio State last week. Also, DU coach George Gwozdecky tells Mike Chambers of The Denver Post that he plans to rotate goalies Marc Cheverie and Adam Murray for the third straight series.
Michigan at Boston UniversitySATURDAY
Offense shouldn't be a problem for these teams, but it has been thus far. The Terriers, a few days removed from being shut out by Notre Dame, have two goals in two games. The Wolverines, meanwhile, have nine goals in three games. Keep an eye on a pair of talented forwards who have yet to get untracked -- or is it on track? Because untracked would seem to indicate derailment, and that ain't good.
Semantics aside, Michigan's Louie Caporusso, who scored 24 goals and 49 points last season, has bagels thus far. BU's Nick Bonino scored 50 points as a freshman; he, too, is scoreless.
RIT at Air ForceFRIDAY AND SATURDAY
Atlantic Hockey's preseason favorites enter the weekend with a combined 0-7 record (to be fair, the league's 10 teams are 1-23-0 thus far.) Air Force, which started last season with 13 straight wins, is 0-4, its longest losing streak in more than two years. Senior goalie Andrew Volkening has been abysmal, as evidenced by his 5.91 goals-against average and .805 save percentage.
RIT, meanwhile, has three narrow losses to ECAC Hockey opponents. In those three games, the Tigers have fired a combined 119 shots on target but have scored just six goals. That is a shooting percentage of a little better than 5 percent.
An offensive explosion could be in the works -- Miami University and Michigan State have each played four games and scored a combined 34 goals. Is there a trio of forwards in the country better than Minnesota Duluth's Justin Fontaine, Jack Connolly and Mike Connolly? They'll meet a St. Cloud State team that has yet to click offensively. UMass Lowell readies for a rugged stretch to open its Hockey East slate (Northeastern, Boston University, at Boston University, at Vermont, New Hampshire) with a nonconference match against Colgate at Tsongas Arena. Exhibitions for Ivies Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton this weekend.
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