When most people think of college hockey in New England they automatically think of Boston College, Boston University, Maine and Vermont among others. However, the Ocean State this year has two quality college teams playing at a high level. The Providence College Friars are the No.3 team in the country, after an overtime win and tie over then No.3 Miami of Ohio Red Hawks. Providence is 4-0-1 on the year.
Just across town, the Brown University Bears are enjoying early success this season. The Bears are 2-0 on the year as they defeated the defending national champion Yale Bulldogs 4-1, and beat a solid Dartmouth squad 5-3. The trio of Matt Lorito, Mark Naclerio and Nick Lappin registered six goals and 15 points last weekend. The question is still out on the Bears. Whether or not this team can sustain the pace they had this past weekend remains to be see. It’s a great start for a team that surprised everyone last year who eventually lost to Union in the ECAC title game. I think the Bears are a team to keep an eye on.
Back to the Friars.
Through six games, Providence is tied with Northeastern for the nation’s lead in goals. The Friars are averaging a whopping 5.0 goals per game. Albeit, it helps that they crushed American International 10-4 on opening night. Nevertheless, they’re a scary team. With Jon Gillies (CGY, 75th overall, ’12) manning the pipes there is no need to worry about goaltending. His 1.70 GAA and .950 save percentage are impressive. Mark Jankowski (CGY, 21st overall, ’12) and Ross Mauermann lead of the offensive attack for the Friars. My question is are they ready for elite-status this season with the likes of Minnesota, Boston College, Notre Dame and North Dakota? Only time will tell.
Jordon Cooke is the best goalie in the WHL that you have never heard of. The 20-year old Leduc, Atla. native picked up a pair of victories this past weekend to improve to 8-0-0-2 on the year. He faced 61 shots in total and only gave up two goals. He earned CHL goaltender of the week honors for his weekend performance. Cooke’s save percentage (.939) and goals against (1.85) lead the WHL.
Cooke is a big reason why the Rockets are in second place in the WHL’s Western Conference behind the upstart Seattle Thunderbirds. He’s kept Kelowna in many games so far this season and is real calm and steady in the net. This is Cooke’s fourth and final year with the Rockets. He’s gone undrafted in the last two drafts, but if he keeps this outstanding play up don’t be shocked if some NHL teams come calling.
Boston College defenseman Ian McCoshen (FLA, 31st overall, ’13) is not you average freshman rearguard. McCoshen, who is paired with another Panther prospect Mike Matheson (23rd overall, ’12), is playing tremendous for head coach Jerry York. He has three points on the year, but his game saving play he made in overtime last Friday against Minnesota was legendary.
If I’m Don Lucia, I take a good long look at McCoshen for Team USA at the 2014 WJC. It’s almost certain that Nashville and Winnipeg won’t let Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba participate and I don’t blame them. AHL’ers Patrick Sieloff (Abbottsford Heat) and Connor Carrick (Hershey Bears) are locks. Minnesota’s Brady Skeji (NYR, 28th overall, ’12), Quinnipiac’s Connor Clifton (PHX, 133rd overall, ’13), and BU’s Matt Grzelcyk (BOS, 83rd overall, ’12) should be as well. That leaves UNH’s Brett Pesce (CAR, 66th overall, ’13) Sarnia’s Anthony DeAngelo (2014 Draft Eligible), BC’s Steve Santini (NJD, 42nd overall, ’13), Denver’s Will Butcher (COL, 123rd overall, ’13) and Minnesota’s Mike Brodzinski (SJ, 141st overall, ’13) battling it out with McCoshen for the final one or two defense positions. It’s a certainly a tough task but I would take Pesce and Grzelcyk just because they both have two plus year’s of college experience. It will be fascinating to see how this all plays out. Below is the McCoshen play from last Friday.