College Hockey Inc.
Men's Notes: Drama-Filled Weekend Ahead in Big Ten, CCHA
Atlantic Hockey Begins Conference Tournament Saturday

Michigan State and Wisconsin are chasing the Big Ten regular-season championship (Photo: MSU Athletics).

It’s the final weekend in both the Big Ten and the CCHA, and college hockey fans will be treated to head-to-head series determining the champions in both conferences.

In the Big Ten, first-place Michigan State travels to Wisconsin with a narrow two-point lead over the second-place Badgers. The Spartans can clinch a share of the conference championship with two points and can win it outright with three points.

It would be the first-ever Big Ten hockey title for MSU, while the Badgers are seeking their second Big Ten regular-season championship (2020-21).

MSU and UW were picked to finish third and fifth, respectively, in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll.

In the CCHA, red-hot Bemidji State will host defending champion Minnesota State. The Beavers, who went 6-1-1 in February, lead the Mavericks by four points.

BSU is searching for its first conference title since winning the WCHA in 2016-17. MSU has won each of the last six MacNaughton Cups – the last two in the CCHA and the previous four while in the WCHA. In fact, BSU and MSU have won or shared each of the last nine MacNaughton Cups (MSU shared with Michigan Tech in 2015-16).

The Beavers and Mavericks were tabbed to finish fourth and sixth, respectively, in the CCHA preseason coaches’ poll.

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Must Read:

Boston Globe: It’s nearing Hobey Baker time, and New England has some candidates
College Hockey News: Who is Taffy Abel, and why you should know
College Hockey News: UMD’s Ben Steeves flourishing despite not following his brothers’ footsteps
College Hockey News: Team of the Week: Boston University
EP Rinkside: NCAA hockey’s best players are getting younger, and that’s a good thing
FloHockey: Cody Laskosky heating up for No. 20 RIT ahead of Atlantic Hockey playoffs
Grand Forks Herald: Why Louis Jamernik V won’t go through Senior Night festivities this weekend
Lansing State Journal: MSU’s and its fans have been waiting for next weekend for a long, long time
The Rink Live: Big Ten title and third place still up for grabs in final weekend of regular season
USCHO: Bazin reflects on hitting 300-win milestone, says he treats it ‘like a team award’
USCHO: Harvard keeping positive attitude as team has ‘continued to battle for each other’
USCHO: Bemidji State on winning streak, ‘playing their best hockey of the season’ in McNaughton race
USCHO: Omaha coach Gabinet reflects on Mike Kemp’s retirement announcement

Must Hear:

CHN Insiders: Featuring Arizona State Head Coach Greg Powers
Inside Atlantic Hockey: Featuring Niagara freshman F Tyler Wallace
Inside ECAC Hockey: Featuring Colgate senior G Carter Gylander
Inside Hockey East: Featuring Boston College freshman F Ryan Leonard
Parting Schotts: Union coach Josh Hauge reacts to finalization of new rink deal
Pucks in Deep: Featuring St. Cloud State graduate D Dylan Anhorn
The Big Rink: Michigan State’s Gavin O’Connell talks freshman season, hockey lineage
UND Hockey Podcast: Jackson Blake is on fire, UND sweeps Minnesota Duluth
USCHO Spotlight: Talking NCHC playoff race with college hockey analyst Dave Starman
USCHO Weekend Review: Weekend results cause movement on the PairWise bubble

Must Watch:

Husky Productions: RJ Enga: A heart for coaching
NCAA: Denver rises in latest men’s college hockey Power 5 rankings

Do or Die in Atlantic Hockey:

The first round of the Atlantic Hockey Postseason gets underway Saturday with a trio of single-elimination matchups:

  • No. 6 seed Bentley vs. No. 11 seed Robert Morris
  • No. 7 seed Niagara vs. No. 10 seed Army West Point
  • No. 8 seed Canisius vs. No. 9 seed Mercyhurst

The three winners advance to the AHA Quarterfinals (March 8-10), where No. 1 RIT will host the lowest-advancing seed, No. 2 Holy Cross will welcome the second-lowest advancing seed, and No. 3 Sacred Heart will host the third-lowest advancing seed.

No. 4 Air Force will host No. 5 AIC in the other quarterfinal matchup.

Click HERE for more information.

Tigers Roar (Again):

RIT won its second consecutive Bob DeGregorio Trophy as Atlantic Hockey regular-season champion last Thursday when second-place Holy Cross was defeated at Bentley.

The Tigers have a first-round by in the AHA playoffs and will host a best-of-three quarterfinal series March 8-10 against an opponent still to be determined.

Quinnipiac Conquers (Again):

Defending NCAA champion Quinnipiac secured its fourth straight Cleary Cup as ECAC Hockey regular-season champion last Friday night. The Bobcats became the first team ever to win fourth straight ECAC Hockey titles outright.

QU, currently seventh in the PairWise Rankings, has won eight of its last nine games.

Backstopping Bucky:

Kyle McClellan has more Ls in his last name than he has on home ice.

The Wisconsin senior has dominated opponents at the Kohl Center this season, going 10-2-1 with a 1.30 goals against average and .950 save percentage. He’ll be put to the test this weekend when the Badgers – two points behind Michigan State in the Big Ten race – host the Spartans with a Big Ten conference championship on the line.

In 31 outings overall this season, McClellan is 22-8-1, giving him the most wins by a UW netminder since Graham Melanson won 22 in 2000-01. McClellan, a native of Manchester, Mo., also leads the NCAA with seven shutouts, one away from tying Brian Elliott’s single-season school record (2005-06).

Fit to Print:

“Their fingerprints are all over the program, and change isn’t easy. I didn’t really know any of them coming in, but I have a ton of respect for them because all they did was whatever we needed them to do. These guys will have a special place in my heart.”

-- Michigan State Head Coach Adam Nightingale (Michigan State ‘05) on his senior class (source: Lansing State Journal)

NHL Note of the Week:

When Washington LW Max Pacioretty (Michigan, 2007-08) scored a goal in Tuesday’s loss to Detroit, it gave him 658 career NHL points. That tied his former college coach, Gordon “Red” Berenson (1959-62) for the most NHL points by a Michigan alum.

After missing all but five games with Carolina in 2022-23 due to injury, Pacioretty has come back to provide the Capitals with 13 points in 23 contests.

Berenson spent parts of 18 NHL seasons with Montreal, the New York Rangers, St. Louis and Detroit.

Fries at the Bottom of the Bag:

RIT freshman F Matthew Wilde (Mississauga, Ontario) has scored a goal in five straight games, the longest active streak in the country. Wilde was named Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Month earlier this week … North Dakota sophomore F Jackson Blake (Eden Prairie, Minn.) has 32 points during NCHC play, three shy of the conference record set by Brock Boeser in 2015-16 and matched by Bobby Brink in 2021-22 … Michigan Tech G Blake Pietila (Gr., Howell, Mich.) earned his 22nd career shutout Friday at Bowling Green, moving him into sole possession of third-most in NCAA Division I men’s hockey history. Only Minnesota State’s Dryden McKay (34) and Michigan State’s Ryan Miller (26) had more … Ohio State D Scooter Brickey (Gr., Burtchville, Mich.) scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season last weekend at Michigan State, making him the first Buckeye rearguard with a double-digit goal total since Ryan Root had 11 in 1997-98.

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