Five highlights from around the country:
1. Maybe my preseason darkhorse pick Nebraska Omaha isn’t looking so bad after all. The Mavs are now 5-1 in league play after an impressive sweep of Miami over the weekend. The Mavs finished off the sweep with a 3-1 win on Saturday night. Miami is a surprising 2-4 now.
2. Denver bumped its unbeaten streak to six games after knocking off Air Force 3-1. Denver rookie Trevor Moore is starting to come alive. He had two goals on Saturday and has five goals in the last four games.
3. It didn’t happen Saturday, but on Sunday, Minnesota Duluth knocked off No. 1 Minnesota 6-2. Justin Crandall had four points and Caleb Herbert three for the Dogs. Duluth went 4 of 7 on the power play. Gophs went 2 for 10.
4. Cory Ward scored an overtime goal to give Bemidji State a 2-1 victory over Lake Superior on Saturday in Bemidji.
5. Providence had a scare on Friday night with star goalie Jon Gillies leaving the game with an injury. Turns out, it wasn’t that bad. He was back in the game Saturday and lifted the Friars to a win over New Hampshire.
NCHC top performers
4 points — Justin Crandall, Duluth, 2 goals, 2 assists
3 points — Shane Berschbach, WMU, 1 goal, 2 assists
3 points — Caleb Herbert, Duluth, 3 assists
2 points — Nic Dowd, SCSU, 2 goals
2 points — Trevor Moore, DU, 2 goals
2 points — Justin Kovacs, WMU, 1 goal, 1 assist
2 points — David Morley, SCSU, 1 goal, 1 assist
2 points — Andrew Prochno, SCSU, 1 goal, 1 assist
UND 3, Boston University 3
One night after UND struggled to generate a lot of Grade A chances, the team threw an onslaught of shots at BU goaltender Matt O’Connor that no UND opponent has seen in 13 years. The level of play was encouraging, though the tie a bit bittersweet for UND. Gamers:
- As I wrote in the story, the 58 shots was the most since December 2000, when UND threw 65 shots at Princeton. In the past 13 years, the most shots I found in a game was 54. So, this was easily the most since that game in 2000.
- Brendan O’Donnell wasn’t the only reason why UND played so much better, but he was a big reason. He may have played his best game in a UND uniform. He was dominant all night. He made a huge difference and showed he’s a first-line forward.
- UND coach Dave Hakstol said the staff didn’t think O’Donnell would be able to play two nights. He thought it would set him back too far.
- I thought Rocco Grimaldi was the most dominant player on the ice this weekend. He was extremely good and created chances all night both nights. You could only shake your head at some of the skilled plays he made.
- UND’s power play is improving. I thought this was the power play’s best weekend. There were a couple of duds, but for the most part, UND was getting it set up, getting traffic and getting chances. UND had 17 power play shots on Saturday, which is absurd.
- While UND was able to generate a ton of shots, you also have to keep in mind that this is a Boston University team that is known for allowing tons of shots. After Saturday night, the Terriers ranked 58th of 59 teams in shots allowed. Part of it was due to UND’s play. Part of it was due to Boston University’s shortcomings. Not every opponent is going to be that easy to get shots on.
- It seems that the book on BU goalie Matt O’Connor is to avoid shooting glove side because it is so outstanding. He was unbeatable glove side. I wonder if Steph Pattyn had this in mind, and that’s why he shot high blocker when he was alone in the slot. His shot went in.
- In addition to this being UND’s best offensive night, I also thought it was UND’s most physical game of the year. Pattyn and Andrew Panzarella set the tone. They were finishing checks all night. Once UND gets healthy, I’m actually curious whether Panzarella will stay at forward. I thought he did a nice job up there.
- Balance was supposed to be UND’s M.O. this year, but it hasn’t happened since the second week of the year. Finally, UND had some balance in this game. Obviously, injuries have played a huge role in hurting balance, but this was a good start.
- I thought the crowds were rather disappointing. It was probably the largest UND turnout I’ve seen in New England of the games I’ve covered there, but the BU contingent wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, especially for a marquee series. Certainly not a hostile or difficult atmosphere for opponents.
- Lastly, I understand officials are going to make mistakes and miss calls. It’s bound to happen. But the O’Donnell slash was one of the worst calls I’ve seen in my 10 years at the Herald. It’s one thing to miss something at live speed, like whether an elbow hit someone in the shoulder or the head. It’s a completely different thing to make something up. That’s what happened there. Not only that, he called it with three minutes left in a tie game. He’s lucky that BU didn’t score on that power play.
- I can only think of one other call since I’ve been covering the team that ranks up there with the O’Donnell slash. A few years ago in Denver, Ben Blood was tripped in the neutral zone. Ref’s arm went up. Puck went in the corner and a DU player (nobody else around him) touched it. Whistle blew. Then, the official had a complete mind-gap and put Blood in the box for tripping (even though he just blew the whistle five seconds earlier when the DU player touched up). Not only did he put the wrong player in, he put the wrong team in. That’s the only time I’ve ever seen anything like that happen.