College Hockey Showcase review

By DJ Powers

The WCHA teams dominated the CCHA teams again in this year’s College Hockey Showcase. The nation’s hottest team, #2 Wisconsin came out on top completing a two-game sweep, while top-ranked Michigan was swept.

Many current NHL prospects, particularly those from the WCHA teams, figured prominently in the CHS both on and off the score sheet.

The Wisconsin Badgers extending their undefeated streak to an NCAA-best 12 games (10-0-2) after beating #18 Michigan State on Friday and #1 Michigan on Saturday. The Badgers top ranked defense continues to be the stingiest in the nation. Wisconsin allowed a combined three goals in the two-game series and has yet to allow more than two goals in a game this season. In the Saturday contest versus Michigan, the Badgers held the offensively potent Wolverines to just two goals and a combined 11 shots in the first two periods.

Junior Brian Elliott (OTT) was brilliant in goal for Wisconsin, stopping a combined 42 of 45 shots in the CHS. He currently ranks second in the nation in both goals against average (1.41) and save percentage (.942), despite playing in nine more games than top-ranked Miami-Ohio sophomore Charlie Effinger. Elliott has started in all of Wisconsin’s games thus far and leads the nation in minutes played (850:13).

Wisconsin’s outstanding top line of junior Robbie Earl (TOR), sophomore Joe Pavelski (SJ) and senior Adam Burish (CHI) combined for seven points (three goals, four assists) in the CHS. Burish, noted for his ability to score timely goals, notched the game-winners in both contests. Earl, along with senior Ryan MacMurchy (STL), led Wisconsin with three points apiece in the CHS.

The seventh-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers posted a win and tie in the CHS. They made their mark on the power play. In the Friday game versus Michigan, the Gophers exploded for six goals with five of them coming with the man-advantage. Junior Ryan Potulny (PHI) became the story in the contest. He notched his second career hat trick on three power play goals, establishing a new CHS record. Potulny currently leads the nation with eight power play goals. Sophomore defenseman Alex Goligoski (PIT) also tied a CHS record with his four assists in the game.

Freshman phenom Phil Kessel led all CHS players in scoring with five points (two goals, three assists). His goal at the 12:47 mark of the first period in the Friday contest versus Michigan was his first five-on-five goal of the season. Kessel, an early favorite to go first overall in the 2006 NHL draft, currently leads the nation in scoring among rookies with 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) as well as points per game (1.50).

Junior Danny Irmen (MIN) notched his first two goals of the season, when he posted both of Minnesota’s goals in the hard-fought Saturday match versus Michigan State.

The Spartans extended their winless streak to eight games (0-5-3) after posting a loss and tie to Wisconsin and Minnesota respectively. MSU led second-ranked Wisconsin after two periods on Friday only to see the Badgers score three goals in the third period to earn the win.

Senior Colton Fretter (ATL), who extended his point streak to four games, led MSU with two points (both assists). Junior Drew Miller (ANA) notched his team-best fifth power play tally of the season on Friday versus Wisconsin. Freshman Tim Crowder (PIT), who leads all MSU rookies in scoring with seven points, notched his sixth goal of the season on Saturday versus Minnesota.

One area where the Spartans were quite successful in the CHS was on the penalty kill. After giving up four power play goals to Western Michigan the weekend before, MSU held the offensively deep WCHA teams to a combined 0-for-9 with the man-advantage. Minnesota, who notched five power play goals versus Michigan on Friday were 0-for-5 versus the green and white on Saturday.

Top ranked Michigan had the most disappointing showing in the CHS. The Wolverines, who came into the weekend averaging nearly four and a half goals per game, were outscored by a combined total of 9-5 in the CHS. Minnesota’s six goals were the most that Michigan has given up this season. The two goals scored against Wisconsin were the fewest the Wolverines have scored this season since their 2-4 loss to Alaska-Fairbanks back on October 28th.

Junior T. J. Hensick (COL) led Michigan in CHS scoring with three points (one goal, two assists), all of which came versus Minnesota on Friday.

Michigan’s talented defensive duo of freshman Jack Johnson (CAR) and junior Matt Hunwick (BOS) were outstanding in the CHS despite being held to a combined two points (one goal, one assist). The duo provided a very physical presence going up against the Gophers and Badgers top players and making for some exciting hockey to watch in the process.

Johnson, along with Michigan’s other top scorers in freshman Andrew Cogliano (EDM), and sophomores Kevin Porter (PHX) and Chad Kolarik (PHX) were all held to just one assist each in the CHS.

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