College Hockey Inc.
Notes: Little national separation as calendar flips to December
Dominant run for Merrimack’s Ollas; Suter salute in Madison

Merrimack sophomore goalie Hugo Ollas (Photo: Merrimack Athletics)

By Jayson Hajdu

On Monday, the latest Division I men’s hockey poll slotted Denver No. 1 overall, one of six teams garnering first-place votes.

In the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll released that same day, Minnesota was ranked No. 1. Four other teams also received first-place consideration.

Meanwhile, Penn State sits atop the all-important Pairwise rankings.

So, what does it all mean? If anything, it signifies that the national picture, without a singularly dominant team, is completely wide open as the first half winds down. In fact, eleven teams boast double-digit win totals and three of them – Denver, Michigan and Minnesota – have taken turns atop both national polls.

With three weeks of games remaining prior to the Christmas break, can anyone separate? It’s as compelling as it is uncertain.

Top-20 Pairwise Rankings matchups this week include:

  • No. 1 Penn State vs. No. 16 Ohio State
  • No. 2 Minnesota at No. 6 Michigan State
  • No. 8 Merrimack vs. No. 11 Connecticut
  • No. 9 Harvard at No. 20 Cornell
  • No. 12 Massachusetts vs. No. 17 Massachusetts Lowell

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The Hockey News: Brock Nelson evolves into a stealthy scorer for the Islanders

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Analytics and Eyeballs: Featuring Alaska head coach Erik Largen
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The Rink Live: Minnesota’s No. 1 again, previewing SCSU vs. UND, national championship rematch
Talking Hockey Sense: Talking college hockey with Brad Schlossman
THN American Pipeline: Logan Cooley’s development, NCAA news and more
USCHO Weekend Review: Not such a happy weekend for the top 10, plus ‘buy or sell’

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Hugo Has History:

It was a November to remember for Merrimack sophomore G Hugo Ollas (Linköping, Sweden).

Ollas, a New York Rangers draft pick, was coming off back-to-back shutouts against Maine and Sacred Heart when the Warriors hosted UConn Tuesday night. He managed to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard until 6:48 of the second period, ending his shutout streak at 170 minutes, 48 seconds.

UConn went on to win the game 3-1, but Ollas still emerged in possession of one of the top goaltending runs in Merrimack history. According to preliminary research by Merrimack officials, it is believed to be the longest shutout streak by a goalie in program history.

For the season, the 6-foot-8, 253-pound Ollas boasts a 1.80 GAA – seventh-best in the nation – and a .925 save percentage through nine appearances.

All in the Family:

Wisconsin will honor one of the most significant families in the program’s history Friday during Suter Night, part of ‘Throwback Weekend’ at the Kohl Center.

Four Suters – John (1973-78), Bob (1975-79), Gary (1983-85) and Ryan (2003-04) – all played for the Badgers while a fifth family member, patriarch Marlowe Suter, sharpened skates and worked in the penalty box over the course of three decades during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

The Badgers will wear Suter helmet stickers during their game against Michigan, while special pucks will be used for the game. Suter family members in attendance will also take part in a ceremonial puck drop.

Fab Freshmen:

A pair of first-year standouts entered the week sitting atop the national scoring race.

Western Michigan F Ryan McAllister (London, Ontario) has racked up a nation’s-best 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) through his first 16 games, while Michigan counterpart Adam Fantilli (Nobleton, Ontario) ranks second nationally with 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) in 14 games.

The last rookie to lead the country in scoring was current Winnipeg Jet Kyle Connor, who posted 71 points for Michigan. The year prior, freshman Jack Eichel, now with the Vegas Golden Knights, also topped the national scoring race with 71 points for Boston University.

You Can Quote Me On That:

“The fans have been awesome this whole year. It is really exciting to be a player in that environment and you can just tell hockey is picking up like wildfire out here.”

-- Arizona State freshman G TJ Semptimphelter after the Sun Devils defeated Minnesota on Saturday at a sold-out Mullett Arena.

NHL Note of the Week:

With a pair of goals in Tuesday’s victory over Los Angeles, Seattle rookie F Matty Beniers (Michigan, 2020-22) has opened a six-point lead atop the NHL’s rookie scoring race. Beniers has notched nine goals and 11 points through 22 games, making him the first rookie this season to hit the 20-point mark.

Fries at the Bottom of the Bag:

Four former NCAA hockey standouts were inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday night in Saint Paul: Jim Johannson (Wisconsin, 1982-86), Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (North Dakota, 2009-13; Minnesota 2008-09), Monique Lamoureux-Morando (North Dakota, 2009-13; Minnesota 2008-09) and Ryan Miller (Michigan State, 1999-2002) … The last remaining unbeaten team in the country, Harvard finally suffered its first loss of the season when it dropped a 4-1 decision at Michigan on Saturday … Long Island defeated No. 12 Ohio State on Friday, the Sharks’ first-ever Division I victory over a ranked opponent … Western Michigan senior F Jason Polin (Holt, Mich.) scored three times in Friday’s win over Northeastern in Nashville, becoming the first player in NCHC history to record three hat tricks in a single season. Polin is tied (Omaha’s Jack Randl) for the national lead with 13 goals in 16 games … St. Thomas sophomore G Aaron Trotter (Victoria, British Columbia) notched the program’s first Division I shutout Friday when he led the Tommies to a 4-0 win over Lake Superior State. Trotter and the Tommies added a 2-1 win over the Lakers the following night, securing the first DI sweep in St. Thomas history.

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