By Nate Ewell
The third annual Friendship Four has quickly become a Thanksgiving tradition in college hockey, with four teams visiting Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the week. Clarkson, Maine, Providence and Rensselaer made the trip this season and face off Friday and Saturday. No. 5 Clarkson has won six in a row and is the hottest team in the field, hoping to become the first ECAC Hockey team to capture the Belpot Trophy as tournament champions. | Friday’s games are on NESN, TSN2; Saturday’s games are on NESN, TSN GO
Past Friendship Four Champions
2016 – Vermont
2015 – UMass Lowell
Must Read/See/Hear Material
Hockey On Campus: Denver alum Will Butcher
Centre Daily Times: Gober emerging from shadows with Penn State
The Signal: CA native Tait thriving with Providence
N.Y. Hockey Journal: Northeastern’s Primeau evolving quickly
Yahoo!: Is Northeastern finally great?
Duluth News Tribune: Krieger back to full strength, centering first line
Five More Storylines No One Should Be Without
Nova Scotians invade NYC – Another big stage awaits at New York’s Madison Square Garden, which will host Cornell and Boston University Saturday night. The Big Red feature Rangers draft pick Morgan Barron (Halifax, Nova Scotia/St. Andrew’s College), who will face fellow freshman and Halifax native Shane Bowers (Halifax, Nova Scotia/Waterloo-USHL/COL) of BU. They are each their team’s top freshman scorer and are two of a growing number of Nova Scotians in the Division I men’s ranks – this year there are 11 of them, up sharply from six last year and just three two seasons ago. | CBC.ca: Halifax brothers take different paths
Men’s Division I Players from Nova Scotia
2017-18 – 11
2016-17 – 6
2015-16 – 3
MSU’s young guns – The national freshman scoring leader, Michigan State’s Mitchell Lewandowski (Clarkston, Mich./Chicago-USHL), has six goals in his last four games and 27% of the Spartans’ goals on the year. Lewandowski, who won the Clark Cup with the Chicago Steel last spring, has teamed with sophomores Patrick Khodorenko and Taro Hirose to form one of the nation’s youngest – and most effective – first lines.
Bauman powers Bemidji State – Bemidji State will bookend Thanksgiving with games at Princeton Wednesday and Friday, hoping to build on a .500 start (4-4-2). Senior captain Kyle Bauman (Apopka, Fla./Wichita Falls-NAHL) has sparked the Beavers, leading the team with six goals and ranking second with 10 points. A late recruit in an impressive senior class, Bauman was set to enroll at his homestate University of Central Florida before Bemidji State came calling. His strong offensive start this season continues a trend that has seen his production grow each year on campus.
Canisius’s local flavor – Canisius has won three in a row and two locals have been powering the offense. Junior Dylan McLaughlin (Lancaster, N.Y./Cedar Rapids-USHL) leads in goals (7), assists (11) and points (18), with at least a point in 10 of 11 games this season. Senior Ryan Schmelzer (Buffalo, N.Y./Buffalo-OJHL) ranks second in all three categories (6-8—14). McLaughlin leads all undrafted players with 1.64 points per game.
Most Points Per Game
2.00 – Henrik Borgstrom, Denver (FLA)
1.92 – Troy Terry, Denver (ANA)
1.67 – Cooper Marody, Michigan (PHI)
1.64 – Dylan McLaughlin, Canisius
1.57 – Jake Evans, Notre Dame (MTL)
WMU’s Manitoba connection – Western Michigan was picked sixth in the NCHC preseason poll but stands first after a 5-1-0 start in conference. Powered by the nation’s No. 5 offense (3.77 goals per game), the Broncos host national save percentage leader Colton Point (.952; North Bay, Ont./Carleton Place-CCHL/DAL) and No. 18 Colgate this weekend. WMU’s Manitoba connection of junior Colt Conrad (St. Alphonse, Man./Shattuck St. Mary’s) and sophomore Wade Allison (Myrtle, Man./Tri-City-USHL/PHI) have combined for 35 points between them.
NHL Note of the Week
Three of the last four Hobey Baker Award winners were in action Monday night. Will Butcher (2017), Jack Eichel (2015) and Johnny Gaudreau (2014) each had a point, combining for two goals and two assists. Jimmy Vesey (2016) played Sunday and had an assist.
Fries at the Bottom of the Bag
This week’s schedule features four Tuesday games and one Wednesday game … Four games are on regional/national sports networks Friday, beginning at 10 a.m. ET and ending around 10 p.m. ET … NHL Central Scouting featured 111 NCAA players/recruits in its latest 2018 NHL Draft watch list.