The ECAC meat grinder rolls along and sees the defending conference champions Union looking to stay hot as they go up against Dartmouth.
No. 18 Union Dutchmen (13-8-4) vs. No. 16 Dartmouth Big Green (11-7-2) — 7:30 p.m. ET
Union College’s season following their first Frozen Four appearance in school history has seen them face a bit of a hangover. At one point they had a stretch of five games that saw them go winless going 0-2-3 winding up the first half of their ECAC schedule and losing to a struggling Vermont team. Lately, things are on the upswing. They’ve won three in a row with conference wins over Colgate and Harvard and winning the inaugural Mayor’s Cup over rival Rensselaer. Coach Rick Bennett hopes his team has turned the corner in time for a crucial battle for third place in the ECAC with Dartmouth.
The Big Green, meanwhile, are just two spots ahead of Union in the USCHO.com Top 20 poll but even they’ve had some struggles lately. They’re 3-2-0 in their last five with wins over weaker teams like Brown, Clarkson, and Harvard. Meanwhile the losses are to second place Yale and an improving St. Lawrence squad. Coach Bob Gaudet’s squad started off hot this season and they’re hoping they can get that back starting tonight.
NHL prospects to watch
Each team has but one player per side who’s been drafted by an NHL team.
For Union, you’ve likely heard all about sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (Philadelphia – 2012 3rd Round). He was a part of this year’s Team USA World Junior Championship squad that took home gold in Ufa, Russia. He and senior blue liner Greg Coburn (Braydon Coburn’s little brother) are their biggest threats to score and set up offense on the blue line.
For Dartmouth it’s senior forward Dustin Walsh (Montreal – 2009 6th Round) to take note of. Walsh is fourth on the team in points and we watched him have a big game earlier this season on NBCSN scoring two goals in a 4-2 win over Vermont. For some perspective, he’s got just seven goals this season.
Others: Tyler Sikura (SO – F; 9-16-25), Matt Lindblad (JR – Dl 9-14-23), Eric Robinson (JR – F; 10-6-16)
The Buzzer: Celebrating genius of McDavid, Bergeron, Karlsson
There were great choices for player of the night, but ultimately, Bergeron’s return to the Bruins lineup stands tallest. He scored a goal and three assists, soothing injury-bummed Bruins fans as part of Boston’s victory against Vancouver.
Bergeron didn’t ease right in. He won half of his draws, fired six shots on goal, and almost logged 21 minutes of ice time. Maybe he can hold things together for Boston?
Update: The Edmonton Oilers ended up needing every bit of Connor McDavid‘s brilliance, as goals weren’t coming easily against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
(Even though, as you can see with that highlight-reel assist, McDavid often makes it look easy.)
McDavid also managed a secondary assist on Mark Letestu‘s overtime-winner, ending the Edmonton Oilers’ losing streak at four games. The Blackhawks continue to be resourceful in getting standings points, in this case falling 2-1 in OT.
Anton Forsberg made 40 of 42 saves, but it wasn’t enough against a driven group led by number 97.
If you haven’t seen the more amazing of McDavid’s two helpers, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t regret it.
Connor McDavid’s speed and skill are glorious, but the thing that makes him extra-sensational is just how unstoppable he seems. Even against some of the NHL’s best.
To start the season, McDavid made very-solid Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie look downright permeable during the most impressive goal in his opening-night hat trick.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the superstar tore through the Chicago Blackhawks – including certain future Hall of Famer Duncan Keith – and then sent absolutely obscene pass to Patrick Maroon for an easy goal.
You know how people used to say that a fire hydrant could score 50 goals with Mario Lemieux? We might need to bump that down to 30 for modern hockey, but either way, Maroon might laugh uncomfortably at such jokes.
If you prefer your jaw-droppers in GIF form, drop away:
The roller coaster isn’t slowing down for the Boston Bruins.
With Tuukka Rask‘s concussion looming over the proceedings, the Bruins gave fans some reason to celebrate; Patrice Bergeron scored a goal and three assists in an impressive 6-3 output by the B’s top guns against the overmatched Vancouver Canucks.
Even Anders Bjork enjoyed some measure of redemption after bowling over Rask in practice, as the young player scored two goals and an assist despite being limited to 12:29 TOI.
Other big guns like Brad Marchand did their increasingly reliable damage, with David Pastrnak probably providing the most exhilarating goal of the contest:
Yeah, that might get some attention from Canucks coach Travis Green in film sessions, assuming he doesn’t just burn the tape.
Bergeron broke down his night to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy after the game:
The Bruins really made Erik Gudbranson and the Canucks pay for boarding Frank Vatrano, as they scored three power-play goals on the major penalty. Vatrano’s another health situation to watch, although it’s heartening that he returned during the game.
So … solid stuff overall, as the Bruins provided ample evidence that they might have the weapons to scrap through all this bad luck.
Then again, if opponents can slow the top-end guys, you wonder what kind of supporting cast the Bruins will have left through this run of attrition. David Krejci is the latest name to land on Boston’s troubling list of walking wounded.
Update: David Krejci will not return with an upper-body injury.