College hockey: Saints, ’Jackets meet on different pathsThree months after opening the season against each other, St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior are on opposite ends of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association spectrum.
Three months after opening the season against each other, St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior are on opposite ends of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association spectrum.
St. Scholastica (11-5-3) is 4-0-1 the last five games and ranked No. 14 in the U.S. College Hockey Online Division III men’s poll. UWS (8-8-3) is 0-4-1 the last five games.
The teams meet at 7:05 p.m. today at Wessman Arena with three weeks left in the regular season.
“Successful teams almost always are led by upperclassmen, and that’s what you see when you look at our score sheet,” said coach Mark Wick, in his eighth season at St. Scholastica.
Three seniors and two juniors make up the team’s top five scorers, led by junior center Brett Corcoran of Parksville, British Columbia, with 14 goals and 12 assists for 26 points in 19 games. Senior defenseman Austin Brown of Lathrup Village, Mich., has 18 points.
Despite being picked to finish last in the seven-team NCHA, the Saints have won seven games by one or two goals to move into second place, two points behind defending Division III champion St. Norbert College of DePere, Wis. At home last weekend, St. Scholastica swept No. 8 Wisconsin-River Falls 3-2 and 7-1, helped by sophomore goalie Colin Rundell of Tees, Alberta, an Alaska-Fairbanks transfer.
UWS, an NCAA tournament qualifier last season, was picked second in a NCHA preseason poll but has been hindered by a lack of scoring. In league play, the Yellowjackets are last in scoring at 2.33 goals a game and St. Scholastica is tied for first at 3.58. In power-play efficiency in the NCHA, UWS is last at 4.7 percent and St. Scholastica is first at 27.9.
“Our defense has played well, but we have to find a way to get some goals,” said UWS coach Dan Stauber, in his 12th season. “I don’t know if I’ve seen a drought like this.”
In a five-game winless streak, the Yellowjackets have scored six goals total. Sophomore left winger Pat Dalbec of Superior is one bright spot with 13 goals and seven assists for 20 points in 19 games. Sophomore goalie Drew Strandberg of Thunder Bay, Ontario, has started 15 of the last 16 games, and has a .902 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average.
In a season-opening series at Mars Lakeview Arena on Oct. 28-29, UWS beat St. Scholastica 4-2 and the teams tied 4-4.
Minnesota Duluth faces Michigan Tech next
The top-ranked Minnesota Duluth men swept independent Alabama-Huntsville 2-1 and 4-3 at home last weekend, and coach Scott Sandelin liked most of what he saw.
“We need to get up and down the rink and support the puck better. We looked a half-step slow Friday,” Sandelin said Tuesday. “Saturday our energy was better, the pace was much better. We did better on faceoffs and, even though we didn’t score, our power play looked better. One thing I didn’t like was how we played in front of (goalie) Aaron Crandall.
“The streak we had (17 games unbeaten) was great and put us in a good position for the second half of the season, but this team knows it has to keep pushing. We didn’t stumble against Huntsville and we have to keep getting better.”
The Bulldogs (17-4-3), second in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, return to league play Friday and Saturday at home against seventh-place Michigan Tech (11-12-1).
Former UMD defenseman Justin Faulk, 19, of South St. Paul, a rookie with Carolina, stopped to see the Bulldogs at practice Wednesday at Amsoil Arena. He’s heading to the NHL All-Star Game festivities in Ottawa, Ontario, and will participate in today’s All-Star Player Fantasy Draft and the All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday.