Notebook: Gophers' Spark on D
Note of the Week
Schmidt sparks Gophers on D – Amid the Minnesota scoring leaders, Nate Schmidt is an anomaly. Not only is he a defenseman, but he also hasn’t been drafted by an NHL team, rare on a team full of prospects. He’ll have pro opportunities thanks to his development at school, specifically his emphasis on footwork that has improved his skating. Schmidt had goals in each game last weekend and leads the nation’s defensemen with 25 points. He and the top-ranked Gophers square off in a crucial WCHA series with conference-leading St. Cloud State this weekend.
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Second senior season helps Miami – Miami senior Marc Hagel doubled his offensive output for the season last weekend, dishing out five assists in the RedHawks’ sweep of Alaska. If it seemed like Hagel came out of nowhere, in a way that’s true. The Hamilton, Ontario, native joined Miami as a senior after graduating from Princeton, where he was granted a medical redshirt after missing all but three games of his junior season. The Ivy League does not allow redshirt seasons, however, so Hagel turned to Miami for a second senior year. Hagel – who was Princeton’s captain and team MVP last season – brings leadership and experience to No. 3 Miami, which visits No. 6 Western Michigan for two this weekend.
RPI riding rookie netminder – Jason Kasdorf knows storybook moments – the Winnipeg native was drafted by the Jets in 2011, the first draft after the franchise relocated. The RPI freshman is adding another chapter with an impressive season, highlighted by back-to-back shutouts last weekend. Kasdorf told The Pipeline Show his goal was to make 5 starts this season, but he’s up to 11, including each of the last 5 in a row. He’s likely to be between the pipes again this weekend as the Engineers head to St. Lawrence and Clarkson, games featuring three teams within one point in the ECAC Hockey standings.
Meisner minds AIC nets – AIC goaltender Ben Meisner, one of three Nova Scotians playing in Division I, stopped 61 shots in a season opening win at Penn State and has barely slowed down. Saturday the senior set the Atlantic Hockey career saves record (3,380) in a 2-1 overtime victory. The Yellow Jackets are 6-14-5 on the year and have leaned heavily on Meisner – he has posted 40+ saves 10 times in 22 starts and has a .965 save percentage in his five wins and five ties. He leads the nation with 805 saves this season entering a home-and-home series with Army this weekend.
NU follows its leader – Northeastern may be seeking its first Beanpot title since 1988 on Monday night, but the Huskies can benefit from the experience of their captain, Vinny Saponari (WPG pick). Saponari won the tournament (and the national title) as a freshman at Boston University before transferring across town. Between schools he played for the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, helping lead them to the Clark Cup. The only player who finished ahead of Saponari in scoring on that Dubuque team was Johnny Gaudreau (CGY pick), who leads BC into Monday’s title game.
Great wide open – College hockey – which introduced the modern outdoor hockey games with the Cold War at Michigan State in 2001 – ventures to two new outdoor venues in the next two weeks. Saturday North Dakota visits Nebraska-Omaha and TD Ameritrade Park, the home of the College World Series. North Dakota practiced at an outdoor park this week in preparation, leading to this terrific photo of goalie Clarke Saunders. Next Sunday (Feb. 17) four teams will descend on Chicago’s Soldier Field, with Notre Dame facing Miami and Minnesota facing Wisconsin.
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Beyond the Ice
Michigan Tech hosts Alaska Anchorage this weekend in one of college hockey’s enduring traditions, Winter Carnival at MTU.
Higest Scoring Freshmen Classes by Points
113 – Penn State (14 freshmen)
Number of freshmen includes goaltenders