November 24, 2021

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by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer (@MikeMcMahonCHN)

I want to start this week’s column by looking at a situation happening in Omaha with the Omaha Lancers in the USHL.

What a mess. 

The USHL is considered the top amateur league in the U.S. It sends a large number of players to Division I every year.

The Lancers had their games last week postponed as controversy enveloped the team. 

The team announced last week that head coach Chadd Cassidy had “stepped down” and Gary Graham has been hired as interim head coach to replace him. However, multiple outlets have reported that Cassidy was fired last week by team president David DeLuca. The team then asked Cassidy to coach last week’s games because they did not have enough coaches available to run the team, and Cassidy agreed so as to not punish the players.

Cassidy and the team were at odds over severe budget cuts. The team stopped providing postgame meals after some games and some players were supplying their own equipment. In addition, the team’s video software subscription was reportedly canceled and according to one report, the trainer was being asked to double as the equipment manager.

Team president David DeLuca reportedly had an altercation with a member of the coaching staff on Thursday of last week, which sparked a wave of resignations among those in hockey operations, and then the players boycotted practice.

It’s an ongoing situation but one that will have an impact on the 17 Omaha Lancers who are committed to playing college hockey next season.

The Week That Was

Two of the bigger non-conference games on the docket for this weekend are postponed thanks to COVID issues at Boston College. The Eagles announced earlier this week that games against Notre Dame and Harvard, which were scheduled for this week, are now off. There are hopes that the games could be made up in January. 

Despite a shootout loss to Maine, the Eagles did have a nice weekend. BC committed one of the top 2005-born players in the U.S., Will Smith, who was formerly committed to Northeastern. 

“I am proud to announce my commitment to play Division 1 hockey at Boston College,” Smith wrote on Instagram. “I would like to thank my family, all of my coaches, and the Boston Junior Eagles Organization for everything they have done for me. I can’t wait to continue my family’s tradition at BC. Go Eagles!”

Smith, 16, has appeared in three games for the NTDP’s U18 team this season. In 16 games for the U17 team, he has nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points.

Notre Dame was our CHN Team of the Week after it swept Michigan on the road at Yost Ice Arena. Elsewhere, Western Michigan rebounded with a sweep over St. Cloud State. 

Current Pairwise

Rk Team PWCs RPI
1 Minnesota-Duluth 58 .6480
2 North Dakota 57 .6195
3 Michigan 55 .6140
4 Western Michigan 54 .6116
5 Minnesota State 54 .6056
6 Denver 54 .5846
7 Notre Dame 53 .5835
8 St. Cloud State 51 .5809
9 Quinnipiac 50 .5806
10 Omaha 49 .5728

Current KRACH

Rk Team Rating SOS
1 Minnesota-Duluth 983.8 405.1
2 Michigan 881.3 299.4
3 North Dakota 757.2 284.4
4 Western Michigan 720.6 360.3
5 Minnesota State 709.2 193.4
6 St. Cloud State 436.8 210.3
7 Quinnipiac 419.7 112.0
8 Denver 382.9 191.5
9 Bemidji State 349.1 290.5
10 Notre Dame 346.3 148.4

Looking Ahead

Boston University (4-8-2) vs. Cornell (7-1-0)

at Madison Square Garden (Sat., 8 p.m.)

BU’s got Jay O’Brien back into the lineup two weeks ago and he has responded with four points in four games. The Terriers also got Luke Tuch back last week. 

Since the Terriers got swept by Northern Michigan earlier this month, BU has gone 1-1-2 with the two OT shootout losses coming against Massachusetts and Northeastern. Slowly but surely, BU has starting to find its groove again.

The Terriers hope to keep it rolling against a Cornell team that has started the season strong.

“It’s a great opportunity for our guys and the fans,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell. “That sort of venue, and that game, and that stage—the guys will be ready to go for that, for sure.”

Cornell enters this weekend’s MSG game with a loss to Harvard as its only blemish. The Big Red have won the last two Red Hot Hockey matchups.

“This game at Madison Square Garden is the premier event for college hockey,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer. “It’s a great example of not only the importance of athletics as a connector back to the university, but also the value of athletics for the experience of undergraduates while at Cornell. The Lynah Faithful are the best fans in college hockey, and they demonstrate that by showing up every year at Madison Square Garden.”

National Leaders

Name, Yr G A Pts. Shots +/-
Nathan Smith, F, Jr 9 13 22 40 14
Taylor Ward, F, Sr 12 9 21 38 4
Kent Johnson, F, So 4 17 21 35 12
Hank Crone, F, Sr 6 14 20 29 -1
Owen Power, D, So 3 17 20 26 9
Louis Boudon, F, Jr 7 13 20 41 -2
Carter Savoie, F, So 11 8 19 55 12
Ethen Frank, F, Sr 12 7 19 44 6
Matthew Kopperud, F, So 9 10 19 43 -4
Drew Worrad, F, Sr 4 15 19 19 5

Last Week’s Top Performers

Name, Yr G A Pts. Shots +/-
Kevin Lombardi, F, Jr 4 1 5 13 6
Ryan Sandelin, F, Jr 3 2 5 6 5
Nathan Smith, F, Jr 3 2 5 6 5
Jake Livingstone, D, So 1 4 5 2 7
Finn Evans, F, Sr 3 2 5 5 4

Minnesota (8-6-0) at North Dakota (9-4-0)

Friday/Saturday, 7:07, 6:07 CT

An old rivalry will be renewed this weekend in Grand Forks. Minnesota travels to North Dakota and the Gophers will be looking for their first win in the series against the Fighting Hawks since 2017.

North Dakota split with Minnesota Duluth last weekend but UND has won five of its last six games entering this weekend. Minnesota has split its last three weekends after it swept Notre Dame at the end of October. 

North Dakota should welcome back sophomore defenseman Jake Sanderson, who missed last weekend’s series against UMD with an illness. 

“He’s been practicing the last couple days,” Berry said. “The good part is Jake got into practice early this week with us. It’s always tough when you’re gone a week. Some guys, you could probably really tell they’ve been off a week. But with Jake, obviously his conditioning, he’s got that back. As far as being sharp, he’s been sharp right away. He’s going to be in our lineup here and looking to play the minutes he did before he left.”

Minnesota is also expected to be at full health. The Gophers benefitted from the return of Chaz Lucius last weekend.

Top Games This Weekend

November 26, 2021



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