By Jayson Hajdu
One of college hockey’s classic rivalries will be showcased in an NHL venue Friday night.
When NCHC foes Denver and Colorado College open the 2022-23 installment of their rivalry – with the Gold Pan trophy on the line – they will do so at Ball Arena in Denver, home of the Colorado Avalanche. The game was originally scheduled for DU’s Magness Arena but moved in part due to high ticket demand.
The two programs have met 332 times, a rivalry total topped only by Michigan and Michigan State (335).
“This game will not only showcase Denver and Colorado College’s programs, but NCAA Division I hockey on a larger scale in our state, region and beyond,” said DU Vice Chancellor of Athletics Josh Berlo.
It’s the first of four games this season between the Pioneers and Tigers, who will next meet Feb. 4 at CC’s Ed Robson Arena. They will close the regular season with a home-and-home series March 3-4.
The games will have significant NCHC ramifications. DU entered the week tied with St. Cloud State atop the conference standings, just two points in front of third-place Omaha. CC, meanwhile, sits in fifth place, five points behind Western Michigan for the final home ice spot in the first round of the NCHC playoffs.
Plenty of other notable college hockey rivalries will resume this week, including:
- Air Force at Army West Point (Friday, Saturday)
- Alaska vs. Alaska Anchorage in the Alaska Airlines Governor’s Cup (Friday, Saturday)
- Boston College vs. Boston University in the Battle of Comm Ave (Friday, Saturday)
- Clarkson vs. St. Lawrence in the Route 11 Rivalry (Friday, Saturday)
- Massachusetts vs. UMass Lowell in the Kennedy Cup Challenge (Friday)
- Michigan Tech vs. Northern Michigan (Friday, Saturday)
- Niagara at Canisius in the Battle of the Bridge (Friday, Saturday)
Elsewhere around the country, this week’s top-20 PairWise matchups include:
- #1 Minnesota vs. #13 Michigan State (Friday, Saturday)
- #3 Penn State at #8 Michigan (Friday, Saturday)
- #9 Western Michigan vs. #19 Omaha (Friday, Saturday)
- #10 Cornell at #11 Harvard (Saturday)
College Hockey News: Team of the Week: RIT
College Hockey News: Chmelar brings silver medal, experience back to Providence
College Hockey News: Local product LeClerc a big bright spot for New Hampshire
Daily Collegian: Penn State men’s hockey’s Roar Zone shows out for annual Wear White game
Grand Forks Herald: Matt Greene skates ‘One More Shift’ in Ralph Engelstad Arena
Gulo Gulo Hockey: Guardiola on ice: a symphony blends with heavy metal for Naurato’s Michigan
NHL.com: Beniers, Kraken growing up fast together
NHL.com: Sitting down with Niagara director of player development Brian Gionta
USCHO: Top-ranked St. Cloud State winning big games as ‘our guys have stepped up in big moments’
USCHO: Much-improved St. Thomas squad looking to move up standings
ECAC Coffee With a Coach: Featuring St. Lawrence head coach Brent Brekke
Inside Atlantic Hockey: Featuring Bentley head coach Ryan Soderquist
The American Pipeline: NCAA players on the NHL Scouting list, Avalanche prospects, Hobey Baker
The CCHA Show: Featuring St. Thomas head coach Rico Blasi, Bemidji State senior D Will Zmolek
The Rink Live Weekend Rewind: SCSU sweeps Denver, UMD & UND split, NCHC All-Decade Team
USCHO Weekend Review: Down goes No. twice, a thriller in the Twin Cities, plus Buy or Sell
Swankler Sustains Streak:
Bowling Green sophomore F Austen Swankler (North Huntingdon, Pa.) is riding a heater the likes of which hasn’t been seen in NCAA Division I men’s hockey in the last seven years.
Swankler extended his point streak to 18 games last weekend at St. Thomas. That’s not only the longest streak in the nation this season it’s believed to be the longest such streak since Michigan’s Kyle Connor reached the scoresheet in 27 straight contests to close out the 2015-16 campaign. Swankler has 11 goals and 20 assists during his run.
Those tracking Swankler’s run can stand down this weekend – the Falcons face the U.S. Under-18 Team in exhibition play Friday – but he could soon be taking aim at Nelson Emerson’s school-record 29-game streak from 1989-90. Incidentally, one of Emerson’s teammates that season was Swankler’s head coach, Ty Eigner.
Polin Still Rollin’:
Western Michigan senior F Jason Polin (Holt, Mich.) is running away with the national goal scoring lead.
Polin sniped his 22nd and 23rd tallies of the season last weekend at Colorado College, giving him a six-goal cushion over Northeastern’s Aidan McDonough, Minnesota State’s David Silye and Denver’s Carter Mazur.
An undrafted free agent, Polin is bidding to become the second straight WMU Bronco to lead the nation in goals after former teammate Ethen Frank did it last season. Frank scored 26 goals in 38 games, edging McDonough by a single tally. Incidentally, Frank currently leads the AHL’s Hersey Bears in goals (18 in 31 games) as a rookie pro.
According to Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald, Polin’s goals-per-game average of 0.88 is college hockey’s fifth-best rate in the past decade, topped only by current NHLers Cole Caufield (0.97 in 2020-21), Kyle Connor (0.92 in 2015-16), Johnny Gaudreau (0.90 in 2013-14) and Ryan Donato (0.90 in 2017-18).
The State of Hockey and College Hockey:
This week marks Hockey Day Minnesota in the ‘State of Hockey.’ The festivities this year are hosted by the city of White Bear Lake from Thursday through Sunday.
Minnesota is the No. 1 producer of NCAA Division I hockey players, accounting for 21 percent of all women’s players in 2022-23 and 12 percent of all men’s players. Additionally, Minnesotans make up for exactly one-third of all Americans playing DI women’s hockey and 19 percent of Americans playing DI men’s hockey.
All 60 Minnesotans who have played in the NHL this season played NCAA Division I men’s hockey.
You Can Quote Me On That:
“This is a really great hockey program and so much of that, or a lot of that, is credit to this great community and the students that just make it an amazing atmosphere and positive.”
-- Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky after Pegula Arena drew a school-record 6,558 fans Friday against Notre Dame. The Nittany Lions broke the record again the very next night with 6,566 fans. (source: Daily Collegian).
NHL Note of the Week:
Columbus LW Gustav Nyquist (Maine, 2008-11) played in his 700th career NHL game last night against Edmonton. The 33-year-old Swede is fifth on the Blue Jackets in both points (22) and goals (10). Nyquist was a Hobey Baker Award finalist in each of his last two seasons at Maine.
New York LW Chris Kreider (Boston College, 2009-12) is on pace to reach that same 700-games milestone Friday against Vegas.
NHL Note of the Week II:
Columbus rookie C Kent Johnson (Michigan, 2020-22) scored the overtime game-winner in last night’s victory in Edmonton. Of the five NHL rookies who have scored an OT goal this season, three of them have come from former Michigan teammates: Johnson, Seattle C Matty Beniers and Buffalo D Owen Power. All three players spent two seasons with the Wolverines (2020-22) and all three were selected within the first five picks of the 2021 NHL Draft. Power was the first overall selection, followed by Beniers (second) and Johnson (fifth).
Fries at the Bottom of the Bag:
RIT head coach Wayne Wilson coached his 800th career game last Saturday at Arizona State, a 5-3 Tigers victory. RIT sits atop the Atlantic Hockey standings and enters the week unbeaten in its last six games (5-0-1) … Penn State set the program’s single-game attendance record last Friday, with 6,558 fans packing Pegula Arena to witness a 2-1 loss to Notre Dame. The record was short-lived, however, as 6,566 saw the Nittany Lions rebound with a 3-2 win over the Fighting Irish the very next night … Notre Dame senior G Ryan Bischel (Medina, Minn.) stopped a career-high 52 shots in Friday’s 2-1 win at Penn State … When Colgate defeated then-top-ranked Quinnipiac 3-2 on Saturday, it was the Raiders’ first win over a No. 1-ranked team since 1990.
College Hockey Inc. Resources:
- College Hockey Inc. Media Center
- College Hockey National Pronunciation Guide
- NHL Matchup Tool
- NCAA Alums in the NHL This Season
- Former Collegians in NHL Front Offices
- College Players With 1,000 NHL Games
- NHL Draft Picks Playing in the NCAA
Did you know? 92% of NCAA Division I men’s hockey players earn their degree!