New England College Hockey Weekly “Stick Salutes” – January 23, 2013

Led by Branden Gracel, UMass beat Boston College on the road Friday night (Dave Roback/The Republican).

by Joshua Kummins

**Quinnipiac remains the highest-ranked team in New England this week, checking in at No. 2 and trailing only Minnesota in both polls. The Bobcats were off this past weekend, but posted a 2-1 win over Nutmeg State foe UConn on Tuesday to extend their unbeaten streak to 17 games (15-0-2) as Connor Jones scored the late winner on a third-period power play.

1. UMass-Lowell: “Winning” has seemingly been the sole name of the game for the River Hawks of late as they have rattled off the longest current winning streak in the nation with nine in a row, dating back to a home win over Northeastern on Dec. 8, 2012. The Huskies play the opposition in a Hockey East home-and-home set this weekend, beginning Friday night at Matthews Arena. With one-goal victories over Providence and Boston University last week, UML tied its longest streak in Division I history and since the 2001-02 season. Junior Chad Ruhwedel has anchored the defensive corps for his entire career in Lowell and has posted four goals and seven points in the last five games, while the entire unit has accounted for eight goals and 26 total points in eight contests during the streak. In Thursday’s 2-1 victory at Tsongas Center, Hockey East Rookie of the Week Connor Hellebuyck scored his sixth straight with 31 saves.

2. Yale: It’s been a good stretch for the Bulldogs of late as they enter a North Country visit to Cornell and Colgate with wins in four consecutive games, including an Ingalls Rink sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth this past weekend. Senior Antoine Laganiere posted a five-point weekend, including a goal in each of the victories to earn ECAC Player of the Week honors. The Blue held the weekend edge by an 8-2 count with Laganiere, sophomore Trent Ruffolo, and senior captain Andrew Miller scoring twice. Senior and league Goaltender of the Week Jeff Malcolm stopped 48 of 50 shots in the Yale net on the weekend, including 21 in Friday’s 4-0 blanking of the visitors from Cambridge.

3. Merrimack: The Warriors completed a 2-0-1 season sweep of the Maine Black Bears with a three-point weekend at the venerable Alfond Arena. League Defensive Player of the Week Sam Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) stopped 53 of 56 shots on the weekend, including 31 in Friday’s 1-1 stalemate. For the first time in program history, Merrimack was able to post points on consecutive nights in Orono after claiming a 3-2 Saturday win. Junior Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.) continues to lead Hockey East with 1.57 points per-game in the league and posted assists in each of MC’s Saturday goals. The Blue and Gold, which face UNH in a two-game set at Lawler Arena and Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., respectively, have captured Hockey East points in five of the last six games and now sit just points out of third place in the standings.

T-4. Massachusetts: Hockey East’s Team of the Week, the Minutemen posted a 5-2 road victory over No. 2 Boston College on Friday at Kelley Rink – their first on Chestnut Hill since Nov. 17, 2007 – to snap the Eagles’ 18-game winning streak on home ice. Junior Branden Gracel, who shared league Player of the Week honors with Eagle stalwart Steven Whitney, scored twice and added an assist to earn the game’s top star and set new career highs. Second-year stopper Steve Mastalerz (North Andover, Mass.) made 21 stops in the contest as he earned his first victory of the season. Additionally, the Mass Attack was 6-for-6 on the penalty kill in the contest, while knocking off 11 straight and 20 of the last 22, dating back to Dec. 30, 2012 against Bemidji State. With a weekend in Vermont ahead, the Minutemen look to extend their three-game winning streak in the series, which dates back to a 3-1 home win on Nov. 20, 2012.

T-4. Providence:
Despite a 2-1 loss in Lowell on Thursday, the Friars bounced back in a big way and scored a 6-5 win at New Hampshire’s Whittemore Center on Saturday for their first since 2004 in Durham. Heading into a home-and-home with Boston University, PC’s 17-game winless streak against UNH (0-15-2) is also gone by the wayside. Junior Steven Shamanski posted three helpers in the contest for the first multi-point game of his career, despite entering the night with 13 points in three years.

6. Bentley:
Led by a five-point weekend from British Columbian native Andrew Gladiuk to earn Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week honors, the Falcons swept Canisius to move within a single point of sharing second place in the league standings. The AHA’s current two-team pack in second place consists of Mercyhurst and Holy Cross, trailing only No. 17 Niagara. Bentley has now won four of its last five games and is 4-2 since the break, including a win at Hockey East foe Northeastern. Sophomore Brett Switzer scored the winning goal in overtime on Friday as the Falcons edged the Golden Griffins for their first home win in the extra period since Mar. 6, 2004, 3-2. Three players scored twice, including Gladiuk, in Saturday’s 7-2 drubbing in Watertown. This weekend, BU faces its I-90 rivals Holy Cross in a home-and-home series, beginning at Hart Center on Friday.

About jkummins

Joshua Kummins, a senior honors student at Malden High School, is the Associate Editor for www.BostonSportsU18.com. He joined BSU18 in August 2010 and also serves as the Co-Head of Sports for the award-winning newspaper at MHS, The Blue and Gold. Under his leadership, the sports section placed first for "Excellence in Sports Writing" as part of the Sufffolk University Greater Boston High School Newspaper Competition. Kummins is a veteran Hockey East reporter and has covered multiple Frozen Fenway events, Beanpots and conference tournaments. He is also a frequent contributor to the site’s baseball coverage as he covers the Red Sox, minor leagues, and college games throughout the season. Each season, he is proud to cover the Cape Cod Baseball League and the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s North Shore Navigators. He also thinks that the CCBL and NECBL provide some of the best baseball in the country, truly showing “how the game should be played.” Contact him via e-mail at [email protected] and follow him @JoshuaKummins on Twitter.
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