Thursday reading: League honors, playoff notes, pros and women updates

CC sophomore goalie Josh Thorimbert shared co-defensive player of the week honors from the WCHA. He gets a rematch in this weekend’s playoff series. Here’s preview notes from the fifth seeded Tigers and Huskies.

North Dakota climbed from 11th to fourth by season’s end, giving them home ice against Bemidji State this weekend. Beavers coach Tom Serratore talks UND in this video.

The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, seeded second in the WCHA playoffs, dyed their hair blonde last seaosn and won a national title. They hope Mohawks do the trick this seasonHere are notes for the playoff series preview against MSU Mankato.

Top seed Minnesota hosts last-place Alaska Anchorage a year after the Seawolves upset the Gophers. No. 3 Denver hosts No. 10 Wisconsin while sixth seeded SCSU hosts Nebraska Omaha.

Former Tiger Brian McMillin played his 100th pro game last Friday. Nate Prosser reminisces about the Minnesota state hockey tournament.

Here’s Bruce Ciskie’s look at the WCHA playoffs with predictions and the Merrimack beat writer’s predictions for the Hockey East quarterfinals. Tiger fans should hope he was wrong about Merrimack advancing.

The Grand Forks Herald provides only a smidgen of information since injury updates are forbidden during playoff time.Here’s the latest on the Sioux nickname mess. Here’s Goon’s World All-WCHA blogger ballot.

Pine Creek graduate Emily West cracked the women’s top 10 in all-time points at Minnesota with 153 career points last weekend.

From the WCHA:

Playoffs, First Round – Best-of-Three

Games for Friday, March 9: (12) Alaska Anchorage at (1) Minnesota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (11) Minnesota State at (2) Minnesota Duluth (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (10) Wisconsin at (3) Denver (NC), 7:37 pm MT; (9) Bemidji State at (4) North Dakota (NC), 7:37 pm CT; (8) Michigan Tech at (5) Colorado College (NC), 7:37 pm MT; (7) Nebraska Omaha at (6) St. Cloud State (NC), 7:37 pm CT.

Games for Saturday, March 10: (12) Alaska Anchorage at (1) Minnesota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (11) Minnesota State at (2) Minnesota Duluth (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (10) Wisconsin at (3) Denver (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (9) Bemidji State at (4) North Dakota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (8) Michigan Tech at (5) Colorado College (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (7) Nebraska Omaha at (6) St. Cloud State (NC), 7:07 pm CT.

Games for Sunday, March 11 (if necessary): (12) Alaska Anchorage at (1) Minnesota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (11) Minnesota State at (2) Minnesota Duluth (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (10) Wisconsin at (3) Denver (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (9) Bemidji State at (4) North Dakota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (8) Michigan Tech at (5) Colorado College (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (7) Nebraska Omaha at (6) St. Cloud State (NC), 7:07 pm CT.

Around the WCHA: Roundup and standings

St. Cloud State 2, No. 2 Minnesota Duluth 1

ST. CLOUD — Junior goaltender Mike Lee stopped 35 shots and senior forward Travis Novak scored the game-winning goal to lead St. Cloud State to a 2-1 win against Minnesota Duluth on Friday night at National Hockey Center.

Wisconsin 4, Minnesota 1

MINNEAPOLIS — Sophomore forward Mark Zengerle scored a goal and added three assists and freshman goaltender Joel Rumpel made 26 saves to lead Wisconsin to a 4-1 win against Minnesota on Friday night at Mariucci Arena.

No. 9 Denver 3, Nebraska Omaha 0

OMAHA — The Denver Pioneers got 26 saves from freshman netminder Juho Olkinuora to beat the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks, 3-0, on Friday night at CenturyLink Center in the opener of their weekend series.

No. 12 North Dakota 4, MSU Mankato 2

GRAND FORKS — Junior forward Danny Kristo scored two goals and junior forward Corban Knight collected a pair of assists to help North Dakota capture a 4-2 win against Minnesota State on Friday night at Engelstad Arena.

Bemidji State 2, Alaska Anchorage 1

ANCHORAGE — Aaron George scored twice in the first 13 minutes of the game as the visiting Beavers held on.

CURRENT STANDINGS

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
27
19
8
0
38
86
56
23
12
1
128
77
Minnesota Duluth
27
16
7
4
36
100
70
22
8
5
129
89
Denver
27
15
8
4
34
93
77
20
11
4
122
94
North Dakota
27
15
11
1
31
79
73
19
12
3
105
94
Colorado College
27
14
12
1
29
93
86
17
14
2
108
97
Nebraska Omaha
27
11
11
5
27
81
82
14
15
6
103
102
St. Cloud State
27
12
12
3
27
83
71
15
16
4
109
96
Michigan Tech
27
11
12
4
26
85
85
14
17
4
102
107
Wisconsin
27
11
14
2
24
75
81
16
15
2
100
94
Bemidji State
27
10
14
3
23
67
85
16
16
3
92
97
Minnesota State
27
8
17
2
18
73
99
12
21
2
97
119
Alaska Anchorage
27
5
21
1
11
56
106
9
22
2
77
120

Around the WCHA: CC swept in Duluth

Michigan Tech goalie Josh Robinson made big-time saves to keep the Huskies in the hunt for home playoff ice headed into next weekend at CC.

No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 5, No. 16 CC 2

DULUTH – The No. 4 Bulldogs put the finishing touches on a Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep of Colorado College with a 5-2 victory Saturday night before 6,808 at AMSOIL Arena — the largest home crowd in UMD hockey history. With the win, the Bulldogs clinch at least a share of second place in the WCHA, and reach the 22-victory plateau for the fourth consecutive year.

Junior Mike Seidelscored twice and senior  Jack Connolly(three assists) and goaltender Kenny Reiter(two assists, 25 saves)  enjoyed multiple point nights for the defending NCAA champion Bulldogs, who never trailed the entire weekend.

Reiter, who equaled a club single-game record for a goaltender with his two assists, made 25 saves to improve 20-6-5 on the year. CC junior Joe Howe finished with 32 stops for No. 16 Colorado College (16-14-2 overall; 13-12-1 WCHA).

The Bulldogs (22-7-5;16-6-4) went 2-of-3 with the man-advantage, and have now converted on nine of their 22 power plays over the past five games (40.9 percent).

Rylan Schwartz and Andrew Hamburg scored for CC. Aaron Harstad recorded two assists.

CC is now tied for fifth with Nebraska Omaha and owns the tiebreaker with the Mavs based on having more league wins. But the Tigers have only a one point lead over seventh-place Michigan Tech, which visits World Arena next weekend.

Michigan Tech 3, St. Cloud State 2

HOUGHTON, Mich. – On Senior Night at the MacInnes Student Arena, it was freshman Blake Pietillascoring the game winner with 1:38 remaining to lift Michigan Tech to a 3-2 victory over St. Cloud State. Tech (14-16-4 overall, 11-11-4 WCHA) earned the series split with the victory and remained in the hunt for home ice in the WCHA playoffs.

Pietila’s goal broke a 2-all deadlock after St. Cloud (14-16-4, 11-12-3) had tied the game early in the third period.

“I didn’t see much, but they took away the pass so I took the shot,” said Pietila, who joined six other Tech players with at least nine goals on the season. “I was able to get it upstairs and it went in.”

The hosts played from ahead most of the game. Goalie Josh Robinsonmade several big-time saves to keep the game knotted before Tech started to control play down the stretch.

Robinson ended up with 18 saves in the contest to improve to 13-12-4 on the season. Lee suffered the loss with 25 saves.

“There are a couple of reasons why this was an important win for us,” said head coach Mel Pearson. “Not only because it keeps us in the race for home ice or that we wanted to get a win for our seniors, but also to reward all the hard work the team has put in over the last few weeks.”

Tech’s six seniors, including Colorado Springs backup netminder Corson Cramer were honored in a postgame ceremony on the ice.

No. 9 Denver 5, No. 12 North Dakota 3

DENVER — Sophomore forward Nick Shore scored a goal and two assists while Chris Knowlton and Jason Zucker each added a goal and an assist to lead Denver to a 5-3 win against North Dakota on Saturday night at Magness Arena.

No. 6 Minnesota 3, Nebraska Omaha 2

OMAHA — Freshman forward Kyle Rau scored twice to help Minnesota complete the weekend sweep of Nebraska Omaha with a 3-2 victory on Saturday night at CenturyLink Center. With the loss, the Mavericks were swept in a two-game series for the first time this year. Minnesota won 3-2 in overtime on Friday.

UNO finishes the regular season on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3 when it hosts Denver.

Wisconsin 4, Bemidji State 2

BEMIDJI — Junior defenseman Justin Schultz scored a power play goal at 3:47 of the third period and sophomore forward Michael Mersch added an empty net goal to give the Badgers a 4-2 win against the Beavers on Saturday night at Sanford Center. It was the first consecutive road wins for the Badgers this season.

Alaska Anchorage 1, Alaska Fairbanks 0, first period

Minnesota State Mankato, idle

STANDINGS

As of 10:30 p.m. MT Saturday

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
26
19
7
0
38
85
52
23
11
1
127
73
Minnesota Duluth
26
16
6
4
36
99
68
22
7
5
128
87
Denver
26
14
8
4
32
90
77
19
11
4
119
94
North Dakota
26
14
11
1
29
75
71
18
12
3
101
92
Colorado College
26
13
12
1
27
88
84
16
14
2
103
95
Nebraska Omaha
26
11
10
5
27
81
79
14
14
6
103
99
Michigan Tech
26
11
11
4
26
83
80
14
16
4
100
102
St. Cloud State
26
11
12
3
25
81
70
14
16
4
107
95
Wisconsin
26
10
14
2
22
71
80
15
15
2
96
93
Bemidji State
26
9
14
3
21
65
84
15
16
3
90
96
Minnesota State
26
8
16
2
18
71
95
12
20
2
95
115
Alaska Anchorage
26
5
20
1
11
55
104
9
20
2
75
115

 

Updated Saturday reading: Friday recap, standings and Pairwise rankings

Here’s a recap of Friday’s results, updated standings and a link to the latest Pairwise rankings.

No. 6 Minnesota Duluth 4, No. 16 CC 3 OT

DULUTH — Sophomore right winger J.T. Brown made sure of that with a one-time blast off a faceoff exactly three minutes into overtime to send the Bulldogs to a 4-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory before a crowd of 6,346 at AMSOIL Arena.

“(The game-winning goal) felt good,” said Brown, who returned to the lineup after missing last weeken’d series at Minnesota State-Mankato with an upper-body injury. “We had a big lead and then they got a couple clutch goals, but we did what we needed to do to close this one out.”

The Gazette explains how the loss hurts, but does not scuttle the Tigers’ chance at home playoff ice.

But another loss Saturday would force the Tigers to win its first Final Five tournament title in order to advance to the NCAA Tournament, judging from the latest Pairwise rankings.

No. 4 Minnesota 3, Nebraska Omaha 2 OT

OMAHA — Sophomore defenseman Jake Parenteau scored his first goal of the season 1:46 into overtime to lift Minnesota to a 3-2 victory against Nebraska Omaha on Friday night CenturyLink Center.

The loss keeps the Mavericks tied with CC for fifth place.

No. 12 North Dakota 4, No. 9 Denver 3

DENVER – No. 12 North Dakota started fast and held on for a 4-3 win over No. 9 Denver in front of a sellout crowd of 6,119 Friday night at Magness Arena.

The Fighting Sioux jumped out to a 4-0 lead on goals by Corban Knight, Danny Kristo (penalty shot), Carter Rowney (power-play goal) and Stephane Pattyn, and held off a late three-goal flurry from Denver. North Dakota dominated much of the game and Brad Eidsness made 32 saves as the Fighting Sioux improve to 18-11-3, 14-10-1 WCHA.

The win moves North Dakota into fourth, one point behind the third-place Pioneers.

Wisconsin 4, Bemidji State 2

BEMIDJI — Sophomore forward Michael Mersch scored a goal and added an assist while sophomore forward Mark Zengerle handed out a pair of assists as Wisconsin skated to a 4-2 win against Bemidji State on Friday at Sanford Center.

St. Cloud State 5, Michigan Tech 2

HOUGHTON — Freshman forwards Joey Holka and Joe Rehkamp each collected a goal and an assist to help lift St. Cloud State to a 5-2 win against Michigan Tech on Friday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Cheyenne Mountain High School graduate Corson Cramer came on in relief in net after SCSU’s fifth goal and made four saves.

Here’s more details.

Alaska Anchorage 5, Alaska Fairbanks 2

ANCHORAGE — Sophomore goaltender Chris Kamal made 27 saves and the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves rode a three-goal second period to a 3-2 victory against the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks on Friday night at Sullivan Arena.

Minnesota State Mankato is idle this weekend.

CURRENT STANDINGS

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
25
18
7
0
36
82
50
22
11
1
124
71
Minnesota Duluth
25
15
6
4
34
94
66
21
7
5
123
85
Denver
25
13
8
4
30
85
74
18
11
4
114
91
North Dakota
25
14
10
1
29
72
66
18
11
3
98
87
Colorado College
25
13
11
1
27
86
79
16
13
2
101
90
Nebraska Omaha
25
11
9
5
27
79
76
14
13
6
101
96
St. Cloud State
25
11
11
3
25
79
67
14
15
4
105
92
Michigan Tech
25
10
11
4
24
80
78
13
16
4
97
100
Bemidji State
25
9
13
3
21
63
80
15
15
3
88
92
Wisconsin
25
9
14
2
20
67
78
14
15
2
92
91
Minnesota State
26
8
16
2
18
71
95
12
20
2
95
115
Alaska Anchorage
26
5
20
1
11
55
104
9
20
2
75
115

Thursday reading: Weekend previews, Sioux nickname, GLI

Colorado College junior goaltender Joe Howe makes a save in the second period of an NCAA hockey game against the University of Denver at the DU's Magness Arena on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. (Daniel Petty, The Denver Post)

Colorado College’s defense is much improved of late while junior goalie Joe Howe will be the likely starter this Friday at Bemidji State. Backup Courtney Lockwood is making his first road trip. BSU coach Tom Serratore previews (video) the home series against CC.

Because of injuries, North Dakota does not have the extra players needed for a “healthy scratch” when it travels to No. 3 Minnesota Duluth. The Sioux nickname returns at the University of North Dakota, at least temporarily. The Big Sky Conference, the new league home for the other UND sports, is not amused.

It looks the Big 10 and The National may end up holding its postseason tournaments at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul every other year.

The top line for No.1/2 Minnesota will be a real test for Denver, which hosts the confident Gophers this weekend and needs to do well down the stretch to avoid having to win the Final Five tournament outright for an NCAA bid.

Nebraska-Omaha travels to Michigan Tech in a battle of two teams tied for fifth place. Mankato travels to Anchorage to conclude the Seawolves’ homestand.

St. Cloud State is idle this week. Here’s a profile of goalie Mike Lee in the interim. The Badgers also have the weekend off.

The Great Lakes Invitational will be played outdoors Dec. 28 and 29, 2012 and will included future National Collegiate Hockey Conference member Western Michigan. The NCHC announced Wednesday that it would have a 24-game league schedule when it begins play in October 2013.

Here’s the weekend schedule courtesy of wcha.com …

Games for Friday, February 10: *Nebraska Omaha at Michigan Tech (WCHA), 7:07 pm ET; North Dakota at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Colorado College at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Minnesota at Denver (WCHA), 8:07 pm MT; Minnesota State at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT. * Winter Carnival

Games for Saturday, February 11: *Nebraska Omaha at Michigan Tech (WCHA), 5:07 pm ET; Colorado College at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; North Dakota at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Minnesota at Denver (WCHA), 7:07 pm MT; Minnesota State at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT. * Winter Carnival

Tuesday reading: NHL call-ups, pro and league updates

San Antonio Rampage center, Jon Matsumoto, fights for the puck while Houston Aeros goalie Darcy Kuemper and former CC defenseman Kris Fredheim, left, guard the net during the second period of an AHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, in San Antonio. Photo: Josh Huskin/pressphotointl.com / SA

Former Tiger Chad Rau was called up to Minnesota as was Colorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom by the Flyers.

Nate Prosser stayed on the Wild roster over the All-Star break, giving him some time to recover from that blocked shot against the Avs. He talked about it in this CC video with smem current Tigers who made the trip to Denver during CC’s bye week.

Brian Connelly won the fastest skater competition at the AHL All-Stars Skills Competition.

Bill Sweatt talks about his hockey and college background in this Chicago Wolves profile video.

The Gazette sets the stage for this week’s Gold Pan rivalry against Denver and has an update on former Tiger goalie Chris Kawano’s reality TV debut.

Wisconsin’s inexperienced players need to bear down and convert their scoring opportunities if the Badgers are to make a run at home playoff ice.

Here’s a feature on Nebraska-Omaha recruit Zack Randolph of Duluth.

Sunday reading: Tech ends Duluth’s home win streak

Josh Robinson made 29 saves en route to becoming the first goaltender to blank UMD since the University of North Dakota's Jean-Philippe Lamoureux recorded a 2-0 triumph on March 1, 2008 in Duluth.

Compiled from wcha.com and school web sites

Michigan Tech 5, No. 1 Minnesota Duluth 0

DULUTH, Minn. – Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson told the Houghton Mining Gazette earlier this week that the Huskies were looking to “shock the world, at least the college hockey world.”

Mission accomplished. The visiting Huskies scored nine unanswered over the final four periods of the weekend road series to walk out of Duluth with a stunnng three points.

After striking for the game’s final four goals to force a tie in Friday’s Western Collegiate Hockey series opener, Michigan Tech did all the scoring in a 5-0 victory over top-ranked Minnesota Duluth Saturday night. A sellout crowd of 6,776 was on hand at AMSOIL Arena as the Huskies (12-12-2 overall and 9-7-2 in the WCHA) handed the Bulldogs (17-5-4; 11-4-3) their first shutout loss in 105 league games.

In a complete reversal of the first period Friday night, Michigan Tech jumped out to a 4-0 lead over the defending NCAA champions. UMD was unable to sustain pressure on offense and came up empty on both of its power play chances while having its a nine-game home unbeaten streak snapped.

Senior goaltender Kenny Reiter made his 21st consecutive WCHA start in goal – dating back to last season – but was lifted prior to the start of the second period after stopping 10 of 14 shots. Sophomore Aaron Crandall made 17 saves and allowed just one goal (by Tanner Kero 40 seconds into the third period) in relief of Reiter.

“When you don’t put forth the effort and get outworked for 60 minutes, that’s unacceptable,” Bulldog head coach Scott Sandelin said. “They were hungrier, they won every battle and we didn’t put up the fight.”

Michigan Tech, which also got first-period goals from Brett Olson, Blake Pietala, David Johnstone and Jacob Johnstone, went 2-for-4 on the power play while UMD had just two opportunities with the man advantage. The Huskies came into the night having gone unbeaten against the Bulldogs in their last eight matchups (0-7-1).

UMD will hit the road for a two-game WCHA set next weekend at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

No. 15 Denver 6, Alaska Anchorage 3

ANCHORAGE — Freshman defenseman Joey LaLeggia scored one of four first-period goals for Denver as the Pioneers earned a weekend sweep at Alaska Anchorage with a 6-3 win on Saturday night at Sullivan Arena. Making his season debut in net for the Pioneers was All-WCHA Rookie Team goalie Sam Brittain, who missed 25 games with a knee injury. Brittain (1-0-0) furnished the win with 24 saves,

No. 3 Minnesota 3, St. Cloud State 2

ST. CLOUD — Minnesota gained the victory with a late third period goal by Sam Warning with 1:19 left. In his 21st appearance of the season, SCSU goalie Ryan Faragher helped the Huskies stay in the battle to the end with 43 saves to his credit. This total included 17 saves in the third period. The 43 saves was Faragher’s second best effort of the year for saves in a game.

On the night, Minnesota outshot the Huskies 46-12. On the power play, SCSU was 0-of-3 and Minnesota was 2-of-4. The Huskies continue their 2011-12 season with a road trip to Madison, Wis. for a pair of WCHA games against Wisconsin on Feb. 3-4.

No. 18 North Dakota 4, Wisconsin 2

GRAND FORKS — Junior forward Danny Kristo and sophomore forward Brock Nelson tallied a goal and an assist each to help North Dakota earn a weekend sweep of Wisconsin with a 4-2 victory on Saturday at Engelstad Arena.

Minnesota State 5, Bemidji State 2

BEMIDJI — Michael Dorr had two goals and an assist while Zach Lehrke and Eriah Hayes added a goal and an assist each to lead Minnesota State to a 5-2 win against Bemidji State on Saturday at Sanford Center. Goalie Andrew Walsh, who was inserted into Saturday’s line up due to an injury to senior Dan Bakala, was tagged with the loss surrendering four Maverick markers in 59:27. He was credited with 20 saves. He is 6-4-1 on the season.

BSU continues to hold a 46-37-13 advantage over Minnesota State in the all-time series and are 30-14-5 when hosting the Mavericks. However, MSU has won eight of the last 10 meetings between the teams. Bemidji State (12-12-2; 6-10-2 WCHA) returns to the road next weekend (Feb. 3-4) to battle Nebraska-Omaha, which along with Colorado College, was idle this weekend..

CURRENT STANDINGS

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
20
15
5
0
30
66
38
19
9
1
108
59
Minnesota Duluth
18
11
4
3
25
70
46
17
5
4
99
65
Denver
18
10
5
3
23
66
55
15
8
3
95
72
Colorado College
18
11
7
0
22
69
57
14
9
1
84
68
North Dakota
20
11
9
0
22
56
54
15
10
2
82
75
Nebraska Omaha
18
9
6
3
21
57
56
12
10
4
79
76
Michigan Tech
18
9
7
2
20
62
53
12
12
2
79
75
St. Cloud State
20
7
10
3
17
57
57
10
14
4
83
82
Wisconsin
20
7
11
2
16
56
64
12
12
2
81
77
Bemidji State
18
6
10
2
14
45
61
12
12
2
70
73
Minnesota State
20
5
14
1
11
52
74
9
18
1
76
94
Alaska Anchorage
20
3
16
1
7
42
83
6
16
2
59
92