By Jayson Hajdu
Five of the six conferences in NCAA Division I men’s hockey have crowned their regular-season champions. Four of those leagues will begin their conference playoffs this weekend. The two remaining leagues – Hockey East and the NCHC – will conclude their regular-season slates in this weekend.
In Hockey East, the final weekend of the regular season will determine its conference champion. Boston University (48 points) sits atop the standings, one point ahead of Merrimack (47) and two points up on defending champ Northeastern (46).
BU (vs. Providence) and Northeastern (vs. UMass Lowell) will both play home-and-home series this weekend, while Merrimack (vs. Vermont) has just one game remaining.
Click HERE for all Hockey East clinching scenarios.
While Hockey East and the NCHC are wrapping up their regular seasons, four leagues – Atlantic Hockey, Big Ten, CCHA, ECAC – will be raising the curtain on the first round of their respective conference tournaments. Visit the links below for brackets and additional information:
2022-23 Conference Champions (reg. season):
Atlantic Hockey – RIT (first since 2010-11)
Big Ten – Minnesota (second in a row)
CCHA – Minnesota State (NCAA-record sixth straight outright title)
ECAC – Quinnipiac (third in a row)
Hockey East – TBD
NCHC – Denver (second in a row)
In the Fast Lane:
Boston University freshman Lane Hutson (Chicago, Ill.) is the nation’s highest-scoring defenseman with 39 points (10 goals, 29 assists) through 31 games and is bidding to become the second straight freshman to achieve that feat after Michigan’s Luke Hughes did it last season.
The only other player this century to lead the nation’s defensemen in scoring as a freshman was Adam Fox, who amassed 40 points in 35 games for Harvard in 2016-17. Fox, now in his fourth season with the New York Rangers, won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s Best Defenseman in 2020-21.
When Alaska completed its road sweep of Arizona State with a 4-2 win last Saturday, it improved to 20-10-2 on the season. Why is that significant? It’s the first 20-win season for the Nanooks since 2001-02 when Guy Gadowsky, now Penn State’s head coach, led the program to a 22-12-3 overall mark.
Under current bench boss Erik Largen, Alaska entered the week ranked No. 12 in the PairWise rankings and is bidding for the second NCAA Tournament berth in program history (2010).
The Nanooks wrap up their regular-season schedule this weekend with a two-game home set against Lindenwood.
Colgate junior F Alex Young (Calgary, Alberta) extended his point streak to 18 games last weekend, leaving him just one shy of the nation’s-best 19-game streak produced by Bowling Green’s Austen Swankler earlier this year.
Young, who has 14 goals and nine assists during his streak, will get the chance to match Swankler when Colgate faces Dartmouth on Saturday in the first round of the ECAC Tournament.
A seventh-round pick of San Jose in the 2020 NHL Draft, Young leads the Raiders in points (36) and goals (19), both of which are career highs.
Alaska Sports Report: Nanooks have legit shot at NCAA Tournament, plus Alaskans help seize titles
Chicago Sun-Times: David Gust’s journey to first Blackhawks goal follows movie-like script
College Hockey News: Team of the Week: Alaska
College Hockey News: Notre Dame riding Bischel into postseason
College Hockey News: WMU goaltender Cameron Rowe: ‘Keep it simple, stupid’
Grand Forks Herald: What to know about each NCHC team entering the regular season’s final weekend
Michigan Daily: With postseason looming, Michigan is focused on the positives
NHL.com: Travis Roy Hockey Classic continues player’s legacy
NHL.com: Blackhawks’ David Gust scores first NHL goal on first shift: The unlikely story behind it
The Rink Live: Drama, controversy and another MacNaughton Cup as CCHA champion for MSU
USCHO: With Mason Cup playoffs on tap, teams want conference postseason win to get NCAA bid
USCHO: Looking at upcoming conference quarterfinal playoffs as Atlantic Hockey postseason arrives
USCHO: After knocking off Western Michigan, Denver reading for Gold Pan games
USCHO: What can we expect as college hockey moves into the 2023 postseason
CHN Insiders: Alaska is Team of the Week, end of the regular season, look ahead to postseason tourneys
Inside Atlantic Hockey: Featuring RIT sophomore goalie Tommy Scarfone
Inside ECAC Hockey: Featuring Quinnipiac freshman forward Sam Lipkin
The CCHA Show: Featuring Michigan Tech AD Suzanne Sanregret, Bowling Green senior F Alex Barber
The Rink Live Weekend Rewind: Gophers cruise, UND gets four points
THN American Pipeline: Impressive performances last weekend, college commitments, Blues prospects
USCHO Weekend Review: Eating crow over Alaska, review controversies in Minnesota State, DU wins
NCHCHockey.com: The Rise of the NCHC: Chasing Championships (Episode Four)
You Can Quote Me On That:
“I don’t know if we expect it, but we’ve come to appreciate it. Every chance I have to see him play is a life experience for me. I enjoy everything about him.”
-- Michigan Tech head coach Joe Shawhan on the play of MTU senior G Blake Pietila (Howell, Mich.), who registered his NCAA-leading ninth shutout of the season last Friday at Minnesota State. (source: USCHO).
NHL Note of the Week:
A pair of former undrafted, four-year collegiate stalwarts made their NHL debuts last week.
On Saturday, 29-year-old Chicago F David Gust (Ohio State, 2013-17) not only played in his first game, but scored his first NHL goal on his first shot on his first shift. The following day, 27-year-old Columbus D Billy Sweezey (Yale, 2016-20) made his NHL debut.
Including the debuts of Gust and Sweezey, 66 percent of the NCAA alums in the NHL this season played at least three years of college hockey.
Fries at the Bottom of the Bag:
Playing in his 100th collegiate game Friday, Minnesota junior D Mike Koster (Chaska, Minn.) produced a career-high four points, including the first two-goal game of his career, a 4-0 win over Ohio State … St. Cloud State’s 6-2 win over Omaha on Friday was the 100th career victory for head coach Brett Larson, making him the fastest in program history to reach that mark … North Dakota has played in four consecutive overtime games, matching Alaska Anchorage (Jan. 7-Feb. 23) and St. Cloud State (Feb. 3-18) for the longest such streak in the nation this season. The Fighting Hawks most recently played Colorado College to a scoreless tie last Friday.
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
- College Players 1,000 Career NHL points
- NHL Draft Picks Playing in the NCAA
Did you know? 92% of NCAA Division I men’s hockey players earn their degree!