That November-like chill in the air tells us college hockey is ramping up, and soon enough all of the men’s conferences will start league play. The Big Ten begins play this weekend, while the bulk of the NCHC drops the puck for conference games on Nov. 8-9. Here’s a look at the weekend that transpired:
1. North Dakota: The Fighting Hawks (4-1-1) got an overtime goal from Colorado College transfer Westin Michaud on Friday and a shut-down defensive effort on Saturday to sweep regional rival Bemidji State. UND has outscored its opponents 24-9.
2. Minnesota Duluth: The Bulldogs (3-3) showed they can win in a variety of ways in sweeping Minnesota. On Friday, UMD won 5-2 behind the playmaking brilliance of defenseman Scott Perunovich. On Saturday, goalie Hunter Shepard and the Bulldogs defense suffocated the Gophers 2-0.
3. UMass Lowell: The River Hawks (4-2-2) rallied from a three-goal deficit to tie Boston University 3-3 on Friday, then scored with 40 seconds left in overtime to win 3-2 at Providence on Saturday. Lowell has wins over two Frozen Four teams from last season – the Friars and Minnesota Duluth.
1. Boston College: The Eagles (2-3) absorbed a 6-2 thumping at home from Providence on Friday, a week after they were swept at No. 1 Denver. BC hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2016, and its return trip to Providence on Friday suddenly increases in importance.
2. Clarkson: The Golden Knights (3-2-1) routed Wisconsin 4-0 in Madison on Friday and made the Badgers work mightily for a 4-3 win Saturday that came on a goal with 7 seconds left in the third period.
3. Alabama Huntsville: The Chargers have scored five goals during their 0-6 start. They play at Northern Michigan this weekend but might have a better chance to win on Nov. 8-9, when Alaska Anchorage visits.
Three other thoughts
1. November brings the first of two regular-season series between the top programs in women’s hockey when No. 1 Wisconsin visits the No. 2 Gophers on Saturday and Sunday at Ridder Arena. Both games are at 2 p.m. The reigning NCAA champion Badgers (10-0) have outscored their opponents 60-9, while Minnesota (9-1) has a 45-17 scoring advantage after splitting a weekend series at No. 8 Ohio State. The Gophers-Badgers matchup in Madison comes Jan. 24-25.
2. Union won’t go winless this season. The Dutchmen, who started the season 0-7, scored a 2-1 win at Rensselaer on Saturday after falling 3-2 the night before. There could be more success soon for Union, which visits an 0-3 Canisius team that’s been outscored 20-3.
3. Anyone else looking forward to Nov. 8-9, when No. 1 Denver visits Minnesota Duluth in a matchup of programs that have won the past three NCAA men’s championships? The Pioneers are host to Niagara for a tune-up, while the Bulldogs have the weekend off.