The Team USA played another exhibition game against Canada on Saturday in St. Paul, winning this one 3-2 in a shootout.
The Americans played only 17 skaters in the game, sitting injured forward Amanda Kessel once again.
Being that they didn’t use an 18th skater, that essentially confirmed the Herald’s report earlier in the week that USA Hockey has released forward Anne Pankowski and defenseman Lisa Chesson, setting its final roster (barring a major injury in the next two days). Had either Pankowski or Chesson been in St. Paul (or if they had a shot at making the final roster), they obviously would have played to give USA a full lineup.
Strangely, it seems that no media there asked why Pankowski or Chesson weren’t in St. Paul, and NBC Sports Network made no mention of that fact (NBC also didn’t mention that USA played one person short).
Anyway, USA and Canada play one last pre-Sochi game tonight in Toronto. Since both teams have already set their Olympic rosters, let’s just hope nobody gets hurt at this point.
The USA men are poised to announce their Olympic roster on Wednesday after the NHL Winter Classic.
UND’s Zach Parise is a lock to make the squad and could even wear the ‘C’ as the team’s captain. It seems that T.J. Oshie has put himself in decent position to earn a spot on the roster with a solid first half for the Blues.
It sounds like Roseau’s Dustin Byfuglien is a longshot to make the team, even though he can provide a unique skillset and the ability to play either forward or defense.
Western Michigan did the NCHC a favor by winning the GLI and helping the league’s nonconference mark a little bit.
As the calendar flips to a new year, the NCHC’s best nonconference record comes against the WCHA (11-4-5). But its two worst marks are against the Eastern conferences — 4-6-2 vs. ECAC and 5-7-4 vs. Hockey East.
The NCHC has two games left vs. ECAC (CC and DU host Brown), so it can get back to the .500 mark there. The Hockey East record will be much more difficult to rectify. NCHC’s remaining Hockey East games include CC hosting a top-five team in Providence and Omaha going to New Hampshire and playing without coach Dean Blais and forward Jayson Megna.
It’s still perhaps a tad early to really look hard at the Pairwise Rankings, but it’s not absurd now that it’s basically January.
St. Cloud State (No. 4) would be the only team to get in the NCAAs if it started today. UND is actually second among NCHC teams in the Pairwise at No. 18. Close behind UND it’s a very tight-packed group: Miami (21), Omaha (22), Denver (24), Duluth (27) and Western Michigan (31). CC has dug itself a gigantic hole at No. 49.
UND recruit Jack Rowe was traded from Cedar Rapids to the Fargo Force — a team that needs offense badly.
Fargo is, by far, the lowest scoring team in the league (1.54 goals per game) and the Force haven’t scored more than two goals during its current eight-game losing streak.
Two encouraging signs for UND, though:
1. Christian Cakebread continues to be the team’s top offensive producer and is putting up decent numbers for a 1997-born player on a bad team.
2. Goalie commit Cam Johnson has a .914 save percentage, which is rather strong considering Fargo only has 5 wins in 26 games.
With 22 points in 28 games, UND commit and former EGF blue liner Tucker Poolman continues to lead the USHL in defenseman scoring. His Omaha Lancers are the best team in the league.