Last week was a bit of a strange one schedule-wise for the NCAA. While teams tend to play two games during the weekend, both the Maine Black Bears and the Michigan Wolverines only played one. On top of that, Alex Guptill's Wolverines played a game which won't count for them in the standings, battling the U.S National Development Program team in a game that went to overtime.
On Sunday afternoon, Devin Shore and his Black Bears battled the reigning Hockey East Champion University of Massachusetts- Lowell Riverhawks and came out on top to the tune of 4-2. Maine's power play was the big difference in the game, coming up with all of the team's goals except for an empty netter to ice the game.
Early in the season when Shore struggled a bit, he managed to get his production going on the power play, and he showed us how dangerous he can be with the man advantage again on Sunday with the primary assist on Ben Hutton's goal at the half-way mark of the first period. Barreling down the right wing, Shore carried the puck on a 3-on-2. He held the puck until he drew the UML defender to over-commit to his shot before pivoting mid-stride and sending a perfect pass to Hutton in the slot, who buried it past the Lowell goaltender for the 2-0 lead. The goal ensured that Lowell would be playing to make up ground for the rest of the game and giving Maine the high ground to defend.
Shore had a bit of a lackluster night on the dot, however, as he went 9 for 23, but he made up for it at least a bit with his five shots on net, tied for the highest on the team that night.
Highlights of the game have been provided by Hockey East and can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2MInyKjQds#t=38
Alex Guptill and the Wolverines played the U.S National Team Development Program last weekend. It's a bit weird, since the game has no real bearing on the NCAA standings, but most big NCAA teams play against prospect teams and non-NCAA college teams throughout the year as both a measuring stick and just for friendly competition.
Michigan's game was far from friendly, however, as it ended in a 5-4 overtime victory for the USNDTP U-18 Squad. While his team fell, Guptill had another strong showing. At 9:40 of the first period, he assisted on Evan Allen's game-tying goal. He followed that up with the primary assist on Alex Kile's second period goal to put the Wolverines up by two goals. He finished the game with four shots on net and, despite his hand in two goals, a -1 +/- rating.
It would be nice to see Guptill show his scoring ability a bit more and for him to take over more games by putting pucks in the net, but two primary assists is nothing to sneeze at. It's good that he's showing versatility and the ability to contribute to the scoresheet even if pucks aren't going into the net off his own stick.
Things continue to look up for the two solid Stars prospects in the NCAA. They haven't been world-beaters yet this season, but they're showing a lot of consistency and the ability to affect games positively in all areas, something most prospects -- especially ones in the NCAA -- have trouble doing until much later in their careers.