Thursday, October 25, 2007

Week 4 Breakdown.

A quasi-truncated breakdown this week, as real life is slowly catching up with me again...

#1 North Dakota v. #15 Michigan Tech (WCHA)
Fri./Sat., MacInnes Student Ice Arena, Houghton, MI; 7:05p EST.

The best team in the land, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, begin WCHA play on the upper peninsula of Michigan, taking on the that feisty group of Huskies from Michigan Tech in what should be this weekend’s most intriguing series.

For the Sioux, who are leading into this series on the heels of a somewhat tough early-schedule, this will be their first true conference test. The weekend pair will showcase the Sioux against a gritty, tough hockey team at a hostile environment on the WCHA-league stage. Simply put, if North Dakota, still, has any “doubters” leading into this contest, the Sioux can shut them up with a good, 3+ point showing in Houghton.

The Sioux will apparently send Aaron Walski up to the U.P. this weekend in-net, and, despite lingering shoulder-related problems, forward Michael Forney will also dress (according to B.E.S.).

It could be also argued that, already this early in the season, this is a statement series for Michigan Tech as well. Again, if there is any team poised to break the glass ceiling in the WCHA this season, it will be Michigan Tech, as they are sporting a dangerous mixture of experience and talent. The Huskies are already off to a fast start, netting a 4-point weekend sweep against Minnesota State-Mankato (Fri.: 2-0, Sat.: 7-1) – a series where eight different Huskies netted nine goals.

#4 Colorado College v. #6 New Hampshire (Non Conf.)
Fri./Sat., Whittemore Center, Durham, NH; 7:00p EST.

College hockey is a game of quirks, particularly, playing surface-related quirks. Minnesota-Duluth’s D.E.C.C. has their famed undersized rink, measuring 190x85. Boston College’s Conte Forum, when not covered with fog and darkened, houses a slightly-larger-than-professional-sized 200x87 sheet. Multiple teams sport rinks with Olympic-sized sheets.

And of course, we’d be plain forgetful if we missed the Whittemore Center’s reportedly boxy corners. As CC blogger Kate Crandall notes in her somewhat new and aptly-named “Mucking in the Corner” blog,

“UNH’s Whittemore Center, which features an ice sheet with the same dimensions as the World Arena (200x100), is rumored to have nearly square corners (I’ll be pulling out my measuring tape). That means more space for the CC forwards to work with, but conversely, a tougher defensive task for the Tigers’ young defensemen.”

Although CC certainly does have some young cubs at the defensive positions (five of which are either sophomores or freshmen), the young’uns bite is just as ferocious as their older counterparts – ask the #10 Minnesota Golden Gophers, who were gnawed-upon by the Tigers in somewhat-convincing fashion last week in Colorado Springs (Fri.: CC 3-1, Sat.: CC 2-1).

The Wildcats aren’t bad either, despite getting off to a rough start in exhibition play, losing to New Brunswick, 4-3. UNH rebounded well from that sluggish start, taking their conference opener against Boston U. by a score of 4-1.

Boston U. v. #3 Michigan (Non Conf.)
Fri./Sat., Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI; 7:35p EST.

Could the road be any rockier for the Boston Terriers? The Terriers are 0-2-1 thus far, tallying a disappointing 3rd place finish at Alaska-Anchorage’s Nye Frontier classic two weeks ago, then came back to the lower 48 last week to lose their first Hockey East contest of the season against now-#6 UNH. Now, the Terriers take a road-trip to Ann Arbor to take on the #3 Michigan Wolverines for the opening season-series at always-hostile Yost Arena.

Kevin Porter’s been electric for Michigan in the early-season; the senior forward has tallied three goals and an assist thus far in the season, while freshman forwards Matt Rust and Carl Hagelin have netted a pair of goals and an assist each for the Wolverines.

Nebraska-Omaha v. #2 Miami (CCHA)
Fri./Sat., Cady Arena, Oxford, OH; 7:35p/7:05p EST.

This could be a statement series for UNO. The RedHawks have already tallied four points in CCHA play, sweeping Ohio State in impressive fashion last week by a pair of 5-1 scores.

This will be the first CCHA series for UNO, who have already notched a victory against Alabama-Huntsville at the Maverick Stampede earlier in the season (5-1 was the final).

#8 Clarkson v. Lake Superior State (Non Conf.)
Fri./Sat., Taffy Abel Arena, Sault Ste. Marie, MI; 7:35p EST.

An off-kilter, but marquee series nonetheless to spotlight, as the U.P.’s LSSU will host the #8 team in the land, the ECAC’s Clarkson Golden Knights. Lake State is coming into the contest on the heels of a draw against a pretty decent Minnesota-Duluth team and a hard-fought loss against #15 Michigan Tech.

Meanwhile, Clarkson’s taking their second trip away from Cheel this season – their first trip away from their home-barn produced a loss against St. Lawrence.

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