Each week, USCHO.com will pick the top 10 moments from the past weekend in our Monday 10 feature.
1. Bobcats keep rolling
Quinnipiac improves its record to 16-1-3 after shutting out Harvard Friday night 3-0 and beating Dartmouth 3-1 Sunday evening. The six-point weekend moves the Bobcats into sole possession of first place in the ECAC with 23 points, three points ahead of Harvard – who entered the weekend tied for first place and end the weekend in third – and a point ahead of second-place Clarkson.
The Bobcats haven’t lost a game since October 23, when they fell to North Dakota, 3-1.
In the win over Harvard, sophomore Ty Smilanic netted two goals – one pretty enough for ESPN SportsCenter to take notice.
Doesn’t matter if it’s SportsCenter in LA or SportsCenter from Bristol, everyone’s loving themselves some Ty Smilanic! One or two more of these and they’ll get the pronunciation right, Ty. #QuinnipiacCulture #BobcatNation https://t.co/EX4GUZNoUr
Smilanic now has 10 goals on the season. The two-goal night against the Crimson was his third of the season.
Sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets made 13 saves in the Harvard blanking, his seventh shutout win of the season.
2. Rolling, AIC style
American International is on a streak of its own, with eight wins dating back to Nov. 27.
The latest victim was Mercyhurst as the Yellow Jackets swept the Lakers at home, 5-4 and 6-3.
Offense has been a key component for the Yellow Jackets, who have outscored opponents 33-17 during their current win streak. AIC has scored five or more goals in seven games total this season, including a seven-goal effort against RIT Nov. 6.
Graduate student Brian Rigali – who spent four years with Connecticut – led all Yellow Jackets players with three goals on the weekend. Rigali has nine goals in 20 games this season after scoring 16 in 121 games with the Huskies.
The two wins over Mercyhurst extend AIC’s lead to four points over second-place Canisius in the AHA standings.
3. Hail to the Victors, again
With a sweep of visiting Penn State, Michigan moves into first place in the Big Ten with 29 points, two ahead of Ohio State and four better than third-place Minnesota, the team that had entered the weekend in the league’s top spot.
For the second consecutive week, the Wolverines found themselves having to come from behind at home. Against Massachusetts Jan. 7, Michigan scored three third-period goals to win the opener of that series 4-1. Against the Nittany Lions Saturday night, the Wolverines trailed 3-2 at the end of two but scored twice in the third to win the game 4-2.
Five of Michigan’s six overall losses came at home in the first half of the season. With the four home wins in January, the Wolverines are now 11-5-1 in Yost Ice Arena, and their home unbeaten streak (5-0-1) now dates back to a 6-2 win over Minnesota Dec. 4.
4. UMass Lowell lengthens Hockey East lead
Heading into their home series against Maine last Friday night, the River Hawks were one point ahead of second-place Massachusetts in the Hockey East standings. After sweeping the Black Bears – and with the Minutemen idle – UMass Lowell has now lengthened its lead to seven points.
To secure the sweep, the River Hawks had to shake off a little rust, having played only one game in the previous 34 days leading up to Friday’s contest. Dec. 10-11 marked the last Hockey East series that Lowell had played, and in the span between that weekend and the games against Maine, the River Hawks had played one game, a 3-2 road win over St. Lawrence Dec. 29.
UMass Lowell had been scheduled to play Bentley Jan. 4 and Jan. 8, but those games were postponed because of COVID protocols in the Bentley program.
“Today was a good effort by all involved,” said coach Norm Bazin after Saturday’s win. “I was extremely proud of the energy and effort the guys showed after a long layoff. Hopefully, we can have a more normal week of training leading into the next Hockey East opponent.”
With the sweep of Maine, the River Hawks extend their winning streak to five games.
5. Wildcats take down No. 1
With three goals scored within a 10-minute span in the second period of Friday’s game against visiting Minnesota State, Northern Michigan did what no one else has been able to do since Nov. 26 – beat the Mavericks.
Trailing 1-0 at the end of one, the Wildcats got goals from Andre Ghantous, Ben Newhouse and AJ Vanderbeck to lead 3-1 after two, then held on for the 4-2 win with Ghantous picking up the empty-netter.
The Mavericks rebounded with a 4-1 win Saturday and are still very comfortably in first place in the CCHA with 44 points – 10 ahead of second-place Bemidji State and 23 points ahead of fifth-place Northern Michigan.
6. Back-to-back blankings for Blake Pietila
Michigan Tech junior stopped a collective 33 shots in consecutive shutouts as the Huskies swept Lake Superior State on the road in two 3-0 games. Saturday’s win was the fifth shutout of the season for Pietila – and his third consecutive shutout of the Lakers. Pietila stopped all 20 shots he faced in Tech’s 2-0 home win over the Lakers Nov. 6.
Pietila now has nine career shutouts and a career GAA of 1.81.
7. Golden Knights’ golden first period
A six-goal first period propelled Clarkson to an 8-2 win over visiting Union Saturday night. The scoring in the opening stanza began with Anthony Callin’s first goal of the season at 3:25 and concluded with Luke Santerno’s power-play goal at 18:32. Four of the six first-period goals were scored at full strength, and two – including Santero’s first of the night, assisted by Callin – were power-play tallies.
In that first period, the longest scoreless stretch for the Golden Knights was five minutes and fifteen seconds. The shortest span between Clarkson goals in the first was 1:13. Sophomore Jacob Mucitelli made 19 saves in his first career start in the Clarkson net.
The Golden Knights capped the weekend with a 5-0 win over visiting Rensselaer. Santerno netted his third goal of the weekend in the win, and sophomore Ethan Haider recorded his third shutout of the season.
8. Golden Gophers enter the post-LaFontaine era
Minnesota answered the question of who’d man the nets in the wake of Jack LaFontaine’s departure when junior Justin Close got the nod in a nonconference series against visiting Alaska.
The Gophers split with the Nanooks, a 4-1 win Friday and 3-2 loss Saturday. Close had 14 saves in Friday’s win, his first career start for Minnesota. In Saturday’s game, the Gophers outshot the Nanooks 38-15, but couldn’t get more than two past Alaska senior goaltender Gustavs Grigals, whom Minnesota coach Bob Motzko called “outstanding.”
“We were conveniently good when it was convenient for us tonight,” said Motzko. “When it wasn’t convenient, we lost a little interest.”
The Gophers welcome the Wolverines this coming weekend. Both teams will be looking to take advantage of full rosters while why they can; Minnesota will lose three players to the Olympics and Michigan will lose as many as four.
9. It’s been a while for these guys, too
By the time Western Michigan plays again, it will have been just over three weeks since the Broncos last played a contest. Their last game was a 3-1 road win over Michigan State Dec. 29 in the opening round of the completely underwhelming Great Lakes Invitational Tournament.
Western Michigan was scheduled to play Michigan in the second round of the GLI in Yost Ice Arena Dec. 30, but the Wolverines canceled that contest because of non-COVID “health and welfare protocols” – whatever that means.
The Broncos were scheduled to play Colorado College Jan. 14-15, but that series was postponed because of COVID issues within the Tigers’ program. Those games will be played in Colorado Springs Feb. 4-5.
That means that next up for the Broncos – should the planets align – is a home series against North Dakota this weekend, Jan. 21-22.
10. He’s 18 years old
And finally, because you may not get another season to watch him, here’s Luke Hughes.
Luke Hughes just doing his things… starts the rush and finishes it https://t.co/oc05j56hyc
Hughes was the fourth overall pick of the New Jersey Devils in the 2021 NHL Draft. In case you hadn’t heard.