The last time Wisconsin was this dominant to begin a college hockey season, Dany Heatley was an 18-year-old freshman and legendary head coach Jeff Sauer was just two-plus years away from retirement.
That Badger squad raced out of the gates to a 10-1-0 mark en route to a 31-win season. This year, under new head coach Mike Hastings (St. Cloud State ’93), UW has put up a 9-1-0 start that is the program’s best since those Heatley-led Badgers.
Wisconsin takes a six-game winning streak into this weekend’s Big Ten series at Michigan State after eye-opening sweeps of Michigan, Minnesota and Michigan Tech. The three most recent wins have each come by one goal.
“I think this team, in general, we never give up,” said senior G Kyle McClellan (Manchester, Mo.) following last weekend’s wins over the Wolverines. “So that’s one of the things that I always have in the back of my head is that we’re not going to quit. No matter what they had coming towards us, I knew in the back of my head we’re going to keep going.”
Fly Like an Eagle:
In Chestnut Hill, Mass., Boston College has soared to a 7-1-0 start, mostly recently picking up sweeps of Michigan State and UMass Lowell on consecutive weekends.
The nation’s youngest team in 2023-24, the Eagles have looked anything but. The all-freshman line of Gabe Perreault (Sherbrooke, Que.), Will Smith (Lexington, Mass.) and Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) has combined for 30 points in eight games, including 10 points last weekend alone.
Fellow freshman Jacob Fowler (Melbourne, Fla.) has started every game in goal – posting a sturdy 2.12 goals against average – while sophomore F Cutter Gauthier (Scottsdale, Ariz.) ranks second nationally with eight goals (five on the power play).
“He is ready all the time. He’s ready to get a shot on net,” head coach Greg Brown (Boston College ’90) told The Heights about his sophomore sniper. “He finds openings to get space, but he’s looking before he shoots so he sees if he thinks there’s a stick that’s free in front of the net, he’s shooting for that stick a lot.”
The next challenge for BC is a Hockey East series this weekend at Maine’s Alfond Arena, where the Eagles haven’t won since Feb. 2018.
Visit the links below for this week’s complete NCAA Division I men’s hockey schedule.
Boston Globe: Strength of Hockey East men’s teams is reflected in the latest poll
Boston Globe: Quinnipiac gets back on track, and other takeaways from men’s college hockey
College Hockey News: Team of the Week: Maine
EP Rinkside: Wisconsin returning to prominence ahead of schedule
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Through the first quarter of season, UAF postseason hopes still quite alive
FloHockey: Lake State on a roll, plus signs of life in Bowling Green
Grand Forks Herald: Americans playing hockey in Canadian major junior leagues is at a 20-year low
New England Hockey Journal: 11 rookies impressing early in the college hockey season
New England Hockey Journal: What makes Macklin Celebrini so special? ‘His hockey sense is elite’
New York Hockey Journal: Mike Harder forging ahead at dream job as Colgate men’s hockey coach
The Athletic: 2024 NHL Draft ranking: Top 64 prospects led by Celebrini, Eiserman, Levshunov
The Hockey News: LIU making noise: “We’re trying to make a statement to college hockey”
TheSunDevils.com: How Tony Achille overcame a life-altering diagnosis to give back
USCHO: Longtime Mercyhurst coach Gotkin on cusp of 600 wins
Inside Atlantic Hockey: Featuring Bentley head coach Andy Jones
Inside ECAC Hockey: Featuring Cornell head coach Mike Schafer
NCHC Icecast: What we learned from the first weekend of NCHC games
Parting Schotts: Union head coach Josh Hauge reviews RPI games, looks ahead to North Country trip
Pucks in Deep: Featuring North Dakota senior Riese Gaber
The CCHA Show: Featuring Bowling Green junior Ryan O’Hara, Ferris State senior Brenden McLaren
The Pipeline Show: Discussing the top 20 teams in the NCAA
USCHO Spotlight: Boston College coach Brown talks Eagles, young talent, coaching in this era
USCHO Weekend Review: BC, Wisconsin sweep weekends again; looking at non-conference records
Gotkin? More Like Got-Wins:
Mercyhurst’s Rick Gotkin (Brockport State ’82), the longest-tenured active head coach in NCAA Division I hockey, is one victory away from 600 career wins at the school. Since taking over behind the Lakers bench in 1988, Gotkin has guided Mercyhurst to NCAA Tournament berths at each of the Division I, II and III levels, the only coach in NCAA history to have done so.
“It doesn’t feel like (36 years) until I say it,” Gotkin recently told USCHO. “I’ve always been happy at Mercyhurst. I kind of know what happy looks like for me, and this is it.”
To get to No. 600 this weekend, Gotkin and the Lakers will have to take down Atlantic Hockey-leading RIT in Rochester.
A pair of rivalry matchups last weekend drew notable attendance figures.
When host Denver toppled Colorado College 6-1 on Friday, it did so in front of a Magness Arena-record crowd of 7,021 fans. The following night, Alaska drew its largest home crowd (4,086) to the Carlson Center since 2014 as the Nanooks beat rival Alaska Anchorage 5-4.
“I thought our guys were into it all night. The fans were exceptional,” said DU head coach David Carle (Denver ’12). “The atmosphere was the best I’ve seen in a long time, so credit to them, coming out and supporting, making it such a great environment for the student-athletes.”
Those two crowds have been emblematic of a renewed surge in college hockey attendance numbers since the COVID-19 pandemic denied fans the ability to attend live events in 2020-21. Last season, attendance in NCAA Division I men’s hockey was up 15 percent nationwide from the 2021-22 season, with 75 percent of all programs experience attending gains year over year.
Fit to Print:
“We’re trying to make a statement to college hockey. To gain that attention to notoriety in wins like this, or great showings like this, help move the needle on the college hockey landscape.”
-- Long Island head coach Brett Riley on his team’s 2-1 win over Sacred Heart on Sunday (source: The Hockey News))
NHL Note of the Week:
Five former NCAA Division I players from four different conferences have already made their NHL debuts since the start of November: San Jose G Magnus Chrona (Denver, 2019-23), Nashville D Marc Del Gaizo (UMass, 2018-21), Buffalo D Ryan Johnson (Minnesota, 2019-23), Boston D Mason Lohrei (Ohio State, 2021-23) and Colorado F Ondrej Pavel (Minnesota State, 2020-23).
A total of 13 college hockey alumni have debuted in the NHL since the start of the 2023-24 season.
Fries at the Bottom of the Bag:
Providence enters the week having killed 31 consecutive opponent power plays … Colgate will honor former head coach Don Vaughan prior to Friday’s game against Harvard … Holy Cross senior F Jack Ricketts (Oakville, Ontario) enters the week having recorded a point in each of his nine games to start the season … St. Cloud State’s series at Western Michigan this weekend marks the first time this season the Huskies will have left the state of Minnesota … Michigan Tech’s Isaac Gordon (Friday) and Ryland Mosley (Saturday) each had a hat trick in the Huskies’ sweep of Augustana last weekend. The last time MTU got hat tricks on back-to-back nights was Oct. 17-18, 2003 (Chris Conner, Colin Murphy) … Army West Point scored three power-play goals during the third period of Saturday’s win over RIT, tying the Atlantic Hockey record for PPG in a single period … Arizona State senior F Matthew Kopperud (Denver, Colo.) has scored five goals this season and four of them have been game-winners, tops in the nation … The two newest men’s programs in NCAA Division I hockey – Augustana and Lindenwood – will meet for the first time this weekend when the Lions host the Vikings on Friday and Saturday in St. Louis.
College Hockey Inc. Resources:
Did you know? 92% of NCAA Division I men’s hockey players earn their degree!