Notebook: Granite Showdown
Note of the Week
Grand stage in the Granite State – Two of the best stories of the season’s first half call the state of New Hampshire home, and they meet Sunday in the Ledyard Bank Classic. No. 2 New Hampshire and No. 10 Dartmouth have faced off each of the last 11 years in Manchester, but never when both were in the top 10. This is the first on-campus meeting between the two schools in 12 years and 1 day, since a 6-3 Big Green win to open the 2000 Ledyard Bank Classic. Bemidji State and UMass are the other schools traveling to Hanover, N.H., for the tournament.
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Florida field – Holiday tournaments fill this weekend’s schedule but only the Florida College Classic boasts four teams that were in the NCAA Tournament last year: Cornell, Ferris State, Maine and Minnesota Duluth. An annual guest in Estero, Cornell is the top-ranked team in the field and seeking its first title in the event since 2008. It could be a great time for Big Red sophomore – and Florida native – Brian Ferlin to break out. The Bruins draft pick didn’t score a goal in the first half after potting eight goals and earning ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman.
Spotlight game – The most anticipated meeting of the tournament season is likely in Minnesota, where No. 1 Boston College will face No. 4 Minnesota Saturday night (Fox Sports North, NESN) in a 2012 Frozen Four rematch. The Mariucci Classic adopted a different format this year – predetermined opponents rather than winners playing on the second day – that ensures this matchup. BC head coach Jerry York will either be playing his first game as the sole NCAA wins leader (if the Eagles beat Alabama-Huntsville Friday night) or will be seeking the record against the Gophers. Minnesota's first game of the tournament is a family affair: the Gophers' Tom Serratore faces off against this father, Frank, the head coach of Air Force.
Under the radar – Holiday tournaments grab the attention this time of year, but it’s worth following a great non-conference series in Hamden, Conn. Quinnipiac – the only team with a perfect conference record at 8-0-0 in ECAC Hockey – hosts Nebraska-Omaha, which enters at No. 12/13 in the polls. The Saturday-Sunday games are both at noon. UNO lost a lot of offense in the offseason but junior Ryan Walters has emerged as an elite threat. The November National Player of the Month has kept rolling with eight points in five December games.
In conference action – Atlantic Hockey is the only conference with games that count in the standings this weekend, including two big ones as Army visits Canisius. Those teams are separated by just two points in the crowded Atlantic standings, and a sweep by either one would put them in second place. Canisius has struggled to score at times this year but has gotten a spark from sophomore Doug Beck, who has nine points in 10 games after going scoreless in the first six.
Back to their roots – Holiday events often visit pro venues, like the Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena or the Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center. Sunday’s Holy Cross-Yale game, on the other hand, will bring many participants back to a rink where they played junior and youth hockey. The New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass., is a six-rink facility that hosts numerous EJHL games, showcases and other events. In fact, the same weekend as the college game, the facility will host around 75 teams, with players age 7-14, for the 15th annual Jingle Bell Skate Tournament.
CHI Media Kit (.pdf)
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NCAA Schools Represented on the U.S. National Junior Team Roster
2 players – Miami*
* Another player, Tyler Biggs, played at Miami last season.