Sunday, October 2, 2016

Season begins ... and how!

College hockey wasted no time turning heads.

The season began on Saturday, and already there have been some stunning events.

Let's start in Big Rapids, Mich., where Alabama Huntsville pulled off the shocking road sweep of No. 20 Ferris State and now sits on top of the WCHA standings. The Chargers won 2-1 and 4-3 thanks to two goals by Max McHugh (one each game) and 67 saves (37 and 30) by Matt Larose. 

In Duluth, Michigan Tech (Minnesota State's opponent next week) was swept by No. 6 Minnesota Duluth, falling 6-0 and 4-3. Saturday's game was a rough one for the Huskies, whose goaltenders allowed six goals on 27 shots. On Sunday, Tech was up 2-0 and 3-1 before the Bulldogs mounted their comeback. UMD scored twice in the third period, including Alex Iafallo's game-winner with 15 seconds left in regulation.

In Bowling Green, Ohio, on Saturday, Bowling Green won an exhibition game over Windsor 3-2 but suffered a big loss for next weekend's opener at Bemidji State when a post-game fracas resulted in three disqualification penalties for fighting, meaning those players — All-WCHA defenseman Mark Friedman, Mitch McLain and Jakob Reichert — won't be eligible for the first game of that series. 

The DQs added insult to injury for BG. On Friday the Falcons lost their top returning scorer, junior Brandon Hawkins, who apparently has left the program. Hawkins had 28 points last season and was voted in the coaches preseason poll as an All-WCHA forward. Tough blow for this season's league favorites.

Besides Minnesota State's victory over Regina on Saturday, Alaska Anchorage (Simon Fraser), Northern Michigan (Victoria) and Alaska (Simon Fraser) also won exhibitions, and Lake Superior State tied Laurentian 3-3 on Sunday in a game that went to 3-on-3 play and a shootout (won by Laurentian). And if you're doing any comparing, St. Cloud State on Sunday played Regina and won 6-2 (shots were 30-17).

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