College Hockey Inc.
Notes: Three conferences races going down to the wire
Trio of teams clinched titles last week, three remain up for grabs

RIT clinched the Atlantic Hockey regular-season championship (Photo: RIT Men’s Hockey Twitter).

By Jayson Hajdu

Only two weekends remain in the regular season and half of the conferences in men’s college hockey have yet to crown a league champion.

Within the past week, three teams managed to lock up their respective league titles, all of them outright: Minnesota (Big Ten), Quinnipiac (ECAC) and RIT (Atlantic Hockey).

  • The Golden Gophers were the first to clinch, securing their second straight Big Ten title last Thursday by virtue of Michigan’s shootout loss to Ohio State.
  • Quinnipiac celebrated its third consecutive Cleary Cup championship with a 5-2 win over Brown on Saturday, putting the finishing touches on an unbeaten home regular season (13-0-1). It was the Bobcats’ fourth league title in the last five years and seventh in the last 11.
  • That same night, Sacred Heart lost at Canisius, enabling RIT to clinch its league-leading fifth AHA championship. The Tigers are the first team to etch their names on the newly named Robert DeGregorio Trophy.

That leaves three league races still up in the air: the CCHA, Hockey East and the NCHC.

  • The CCHA wraps up its regular season this weekend, and all eyes will be on the Michigan Tech- Minnesota State series in Mankato. Those two teams, separated by just two points atop the standings -- and side-by-side in the PairWise rankings at 11-12 -- will duke it out for the MacNaughton Cup.
  • Four teams – Northeastern, Boston University, Merrimack, and UMass Lowell – still have a chance to win the Hockey East Crown with two weekends remaining. NU (43 points), BU (42) and UMass Lowell (36) all have one game in hand on Merrimack (41).
  • In the NCHC, Denver is five points up on second-place Western Michigan and six points up on third-place Omaha. DU and WMU will clash this weekend in Kalamazoo. All three teams have four games remaining.

Around the country, this week’s top-20 PairWise matchups include:

  • #1 Minnesota vs. #8 Ohio State (Friday, Saturday)
  • #3 Michigan vs. #16 Notre Dame (Friday, Saturday)
  • #4 Denver at #6 Western Michigan (Friday, Saturday)
  • #5 St. Cloud State at #13 Omaha (Friday, Saturday)
  • #11 Michigan Tech at #12 Minnesota State (Friday, Saturday)

Daily Scoreboard | Weekly Schedule | TV Schedule | Stat Leaders

Must Read:

College Hockey News: McDonough front and center in Northeastern’s revival
College Hockey News: Q&A with new Atlantic Hockey commissioner Michelle Morgan
College Hockey News: Team of the Week: Minnesota
FloHockey: Scoring faucet cranked wide open, CCHA ROY race is gripping
Grand Forks Herald: How UND freshman forward Jackson Blake became a puck-handling wizard
Michigan Daily: Michigan’s Monday practices mean space for mental health
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Gophers men’s hockey attendance rebounds behind entertaining team Why mass shooting at Michigan State hit close to home for U-M hockey player Where the ‘Miracle on Ice’ Olympic team played college hockey Rookie Watch: Beniers, Cates among best born in United States Fantilli, top 2023 NHL draft prospect, is frontrunner for NCAA award Blackhawks’ Guttman earns championship belt after first NHL goal
St. Lawrence University: Sophomore Greg Lapointe’s comeback season is bigger than hockey
The Rink Live: After Monday’s practice, the Gophers took a surprise trip to the hardware store
USCHO: Late Omaha assistant coach Jerrard ‘just a person you want to be around’
USCHO: MacNaughton Cup winner coming down to weekend series between MSU, MTU
USCHO: Taking detailed assessment of last little bit of regular season with playoffs on way

Must Hear:

Inside Atlantic Hockey: Featuring Army West Point senior F John Keranen
The CCHA Show: Featuring Minnesota State Director of Athletics Kevin Buisman
The Pipeline Show: USCHO’s Jim Connelly checks in to recap the Beanpot and discuss its mystique
The Rink Live Weekend Rewind: UMD splits at Denver, SCSU and UND split six points, Gophers clinch
THN American Pipeline: Beanpot, Michigan news and Predators prospects
USCHO Spotlight: Looking at the Big Ten with hockey writer Jess Myers
USCHO Weekend Review: Three regular-season champs crowned, three to go

Must Watch:

Big Ten Network: Lohrei has heard “no” a lot during his hockey career but always stayed the course Relive the Faceoff on the Lake

Rick and Roll:

Mercyhurst’s 7-3 win over Army West Point on Saturday was doubly sweet for head coach Rick Gotkin. Not only did it clinch an Atlantic Hockey playoff berth for the Lakers, but it was also the 1,200th career game behind the Merychurst bench for Gotkin.

Now in his 35th season at the helm of the Lakers, Gotkin is the longest-tenured active head coach in NCAA Division I men’s college hockey.

Forever Young:

Colgate junior F Alex Young (Calgary, Alberta) will put his 16-game point streak on the line Friday at Yale. Young, who has racked up 13 goals and eight assists during his run, owns the longest active streak in the nation and the second-longest this season. Only Bowling Green’s Austen Swankler, who produced a 19-game streak earlier this year, has had a longer one.

Young, a seventh-round pick of San Jose in the 2020 NHL Draft, leads the Raiders in points (goals (34) and goals (18), both career highs.

Action Jackson:

North Dakota freshman F Jackson Blake (Fargo, N.D.), who leads the Fighting Hawks (and all NCHC freshmen) with 36 points in 31 games, is looking to join some heady company.

Blake is on pace to become just the fifth UND rookie this century to average a point per game or better, an exclusive club that currently includes Zach Parise (2002-04), Brady Murray (2003-05), T.J. Oshie (2005-08) and Brock Boeser (2015-17).

Blake’s father, Jason, was a four-year collegiate standout who spent three years at UND (1996-99) after playing his freshman season at Ferris State (1994-95). He went on to enjoy a 13-year NHL career.

You Can Quote Me On That:

“The small problems of life don’t matter as much. Like stressing about a paper that’s due on Friday. I would’ve wanted to do that a thousand times last year.”

-- St. Lawrence sophomore F Greg Lapointe, who returned to the Saints this year after missing the 2021-22 season due to a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis. (source: St. Lawrence University website).

NHL Note of the Week:

Former Ohio State standout David Gust (2013-17) was recalled by the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, two days after his 29th birthday. Gust, who had played in 303 career AHL games since graduating from OSU, could make his NHL debut as soon as Saturday in San Jose. He was leading AHL Rockford in both points (50) and goals (24) through 51 games this season.

Gust spent four years with the Buckeyes and was an assistant captain as a senior. He amassed 95 career points (38 goals, 57 assists) in 126 collegiate games.

Fries at the Bottom of the Bag:

Ohio State defeated Big Ten rival Michigan 4-2 in Saturday’s Faceoff on the Lake in front of 45,523 at FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns. It was the largest crowd to ever witness an OSU hockey game, topping the 45,021 at the Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Jan. 17, 2014 … Canisius senior F Keaton Mastrodonato (Powell River, British Columbia) scored his seventh career short-handed goal in Saturday’s 6-4 win at Sacred Heart, breaking the school’s Division I record … Every game Wisconsin has played since the calendar flipped to 2023 has come against a nationally-ranked opponent. The Badgers will face No. 10 Penn State this weekend … Minnesota freshman F Logan Cooley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) returned to his home state last weekend against PSU and delivered a five-point night in Friday’s 7-2 win. He’s the first Big Ten player this season with a five-point game … Minnesota State won its 20th game of the season Friday at Bemidji State, a mark the Mavericks have reached in each of head coach Mike Hastings’ 11 seasons behind the MSU bench.

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