NCAA Game Weekend: December 27-30, 2019

Finally on the backside of some insane end of the year work obligations, it is time to catch up on last weekend's NCAA return to action from the holiday break. Highlights include Cole Koepek with 2G, 3A, 1st Star in two UMD wins over Merrimack; Sammy Walker 2G, 1st Star and Ryan Zuhlsdorf 2A as Minnesota wins the 2019 Mariucci Classic in wins over Bemidji State and St. Cloud State; Providence places 2nd in the Catamount Cup tournament; New Hampshire falls to Army.

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#10 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs 4 @ Merrimack Warriors 1 (Sunday)
#10 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs 5 @ Merrimack Warriors 1 (Monday)

F Cole Koepke, UMD: 2GP, 2-3-5, +5, 0 PIM, 8 SOG, *1st STAR*
Season Totals: 18 GP, 8-8-16, +9, 10 PIM
’18-’19 Totals: 42 GP, 7-12-19, +14, 14 PIM

Lightning prospect Cole Koepke exploded out of the holiday break, leading the 10th-ranked Bulldogs to a combined score of 9-2 in a road sweep of Merrimack. On Sunday, Koepke scored short-handed to knot the score at 1-1 after the Warriors drew first blood early in the 2nd after a scoreless 1st period. He would later help setup a Justin Richards marker late in the 3rd as both Koepke and Richards led the UMD offense with a goal and an assist each. On Monday, Koepke earned 1st Star of the Game honor opening the scoring for the Bulldogs once again late in the 1st period and then setting up the next two scores to establish a 3-0 lead at the game’s midpoint. Koepke’s two goal, five point surge adds to a 4-game goal streak and a 5-game point streak, and now plants him 2nd in goals and 3rd in point on the team. The defending national champions improve to 11-6-1 (6-1-1 NCHC) and take the coming weekend off before hosting #19 Western Michigan January 10-11.

2019 Catamount Cup at University of Vermont
Lake Superior State Lakers 1 vs #13 Providence Friars 2 (OT) (Saturday)
Union College Dutchmen 1 vs #13 Providence Friars 1 (OT) (Sunday)

D Max Crozier, PRO: 1GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG, 0 BLK
Season Totals: 18 GP, 2-9-11, +11, 12 PIM

Last weekend, the Friar made their first appearance in the Catamount Cup holiday tournament since winning the Cup in 2014. On Saturday, Greg Printz scored the OT game-winner, his 12th goal of the season, giving Providence an opening round win. Friars netminder Michael Lackey made 30 saves for the win. Bolt prospect Max Crozier missed his first game of the season. On Sunday, Crozier was back in the lineup, but Providence and the Dutchmen were locked in a goalie duel as Union netminder Darion Hanson made 39 saves and Lackey made 28 saves in a 1-1 final. The Friars ended up runner-up to Vermont for the Catamount Cup with a 1-0-1 tournament record.

Providence is now 10-5-4 (6-4-2 HEAST) on the season and heads to Las Vegas for the 2020 Fortress Invitational to play #20 Army West Point on Friday and the winner of #2 Cornell and #6 Ohio State on Saturday.

New Hampshire Wildcats 4 @ Army West Point Cadets 5 (Sunday)

G Ty Taylor, UNH: did not play
Season Totals: 3 GP, 3-0-0, 2.62 GAA, 0.877 SV%
’18-‘19 Totals: 8 GP, 1-3-1, 3.67 GAA, 0.855 SV%

On Sunday, the Wildcats blew a 4-3 lead at the 2nd intermission as the Cadets rallied with two goals in the 3rd for the win. Dominic Franco led Army with a pair of goals and three points. UNH drops to 8-8-1 (4-5 HEAST) on the season and returns home to host Yale and Brown this weekend.

2019 Mariucci Classic at University of Minnesota
St. Cloud State Huskies 7 vs #2 Minnesota State Mavericks 2 (Saturday)
Bemidji State Beavers 2 @ Minnesota Gophers 5 (Saturday)
St. Cloud State Huskies 1 @ Minnesota Gophers 4 (Sunday)

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf , MIN: 2 GP, 0-2-2, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 7 BLK
Season Totals: 20 GP, 0-5-5, -9, 2 PIM
’18-‘19 Totals: 35 GP, 1-7-8, +2, 23 PIM

F Sammy Walker, MIN: 2 GP, 2-0-2, +2, 2 PIM, 5 SOG, 10/17 FO, *2nd STAR*
Season Totals: 20 GP, 7-6-13, -14, 31 PIM
’18-‘19 Totals: 37 GP, 10-16-26, +6, 18 PIM

D Nick Perbix, STC: 2GP, 0-0-0, -4, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 4 BLK
Season Totals: 18 GP, 3-5-8, -11, 0 PIM
’18-’19 Totals: 39 GP, 5-15-20, +24, 16 PIM

Last weekend, the University of Minnesota resurrected the Mariucci Classic holiday tournament for the first time since Harvard won the tourney in 2016, with this year’s participants all hailing from the state of Minnesota.

On Saturday, St. Cloud unleashed a season’s worth of frustration by pasting a touchdown on the scoreboard against 2nd-ranked Minnesota State in their best game of a thus far disappointing 2019-20 campaign. Freshman Zach Okabe opened the game with a natural hat trick for the Huskies before scoring his 4th goal later in the 2nd. The four-goal outburst were Okabe’s first four points of the season. Jami Krannila assisted on all four of Okabe’s goals. Somehow Lightning prospect Nick Perbix managed a -1 rating with the team +5 in goal differential.

In the 2nd game on Saturday, the Gophers reeled off four unanswered in the back-half of the game, rallying from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Beavers. Sharks prospect Scott Reedy (SJS, 2017 4th round pick) scored twice and Garrett Wait had a goal and two points to lead Minnesota. Lightning prospect Sammy Walker added an empty netter with just 5 seconds left and fellow Bolt prospect Ryan Zuhlsdorf assisted on Reedy’s empty netter with 77 seconds left.

On Sunday, the Huskies and Gophers clashed for the Mariucci bragging rights, and the Gophers prevailed when Walker opened the scoring in the 2nd with a power play goal and earned the 2nd Star of the Game award. Zuhlsdorf notched another assist on another Reedy empty netter late in the game before Micah Miller spoiled Hurricanes prospect Jack LaFontaine’s (CAR, 2016 3rd round pick) shutout bid with a goal just 38 seconds remaining.

The Golden Gophers improves to 7-9-4 (2-4-4-3 Big Ten) and take the coming weekend off before travelling to #18 Michigan State for a weekend series January 10-11. The Huskies record now stands at 6-8-4 (3-5 NCHC) and take the coming weekend off before travelling to Denver for a weekend series against the #7 Pioneers.

*USCHO poll used for rankings