Wade Megan

Back to Class: Boston U. and Boston College meet in Beanpot final once again

We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN this Friday night as Dartmouth takes on Yale. 

After last Monday’s Beanpot Tournament semifinals, the two usual suspects get to square off one more time to see who the best college team in Boston is. When No. 1 Boston University and No. 5 Boston College square off tonight at TD Garden, it will mean that for the 19th straight year either one of those schools will take home the Beanpot trophy.

While the two sides don’t always wind up facing each other in the finals, they’ve been the two best teams in the city for a long time and it shows. BU has taken home the Beanpot 29 times while Boston College has won it a mere 16 times. For what it’s worth, Harvard and Northeastern have combined to win it just 14 times with Harvard winning 10 of those. Tonight’s game will feature 19 NHL drafted players (nine for BC, 10 for BU) so the talent level is pretty high too.

Whether you love the tournament for all the hate BC and BU have for each other and the tradition it has in Boston or hate it because there’s not enough variety in who wins, it makes for a good way to get warmed up for the conference playoffs and NCAA Tournament that will soon be on the way.

Elsewhere in college hockey:

Jon Merrill’s return for Michigan is helping spark the Wolverines to a big second half. (New York Times)

Meanwhile, Michigan and Michigan State split their weekend rivalry series. (CHN)

Maine upset UMass-Lowell on Saturday night to possibly derail Lowell’s hopes of taking over the No. 1 spot. (USCHO)

Your first team to 20 wins this season? Bet you wouldn’t have guessed Ferris State. (USCHO)

Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota split their nasty weekend series. (CHN)

Denver swept Minnesota this weekend to shake things up in the WCHA. (LetsGoDU)

Austin Smith just keeps scoring goals for Colgate. He had two more this weekend bringing his season total to 32. Austin for Hobey, anyone? (GoColgateRaiders)

Could the NCAA be merging the Division-I and Division-III championships to have them played in the same location starting in 2015? It’s being discussed. (D3hockey)

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.