Boston University's men's ice hockey team returns to the ice for the first time Friday since the arrest of defenseman Max Nicastro last weekend. Elsewhere in NCAA hockey, bitter rivals North Dakota and Denver battle on national TV.
There are four college hockey games on national television Friday night, plus two more on regional sports networks. Both CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network feature doubleheaders with a combined 68 NHL draft picks, and each game features compelling storylines with in-state rivals and NCAA Tournament implications.
Which game is the one for you? The previews are below.
No. 17 Ohio State (15-11-5) at No. 15 Miami (19-13-2)
Time/TV: 6:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Announcers: Eric Frede, Dave Starman and Shireen Saski
What's At Stake: For the Buckeyes, this weekend is one last chance to turn things around. After a hot start, Ohio State broke an 11-game winless streak last Saturday against Western Michigan and would somehow still be in the NCAA Tournament if the season ended today. Miami would also be in, and unlike Ohio State the RedHawks are playing their best hockey in February rather than November. They swept Notre Dame last weekend, giving up one goal in two games and would love to get a first-round bye in the CCHA tournament.
Ohio State Players To Watch: No. 17, F Max McCormick (Ottawa); No. 44, D Ben Gallacher (Florida); and No. 33, F Chris Crane (San Jose).
Watch If You're A Fan Of... the Maple Leafs, Senators (Ottawa has 3 prospects playing), Stars and Columbus - both the city and hockey team (Miami has a pair of Blue Jackets prospects in Will Weber and Trent Vogelhuber).
No. 5 Boston University (18-11-1) at Vermont (6-23-1)
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Announcers: Ron Vaccaro, Ken Hodge
What's At Stake: Although there is nothing at stake on-ice -- Vermont will finish last in Hockey East regardless of how they fare the rest of the season -- this might be the most intriguing game tonight. One of the two big stories in college hockey this week (former NHLPA head Paul Kelly resigning from College Hockey, Inc. is the other) was the news that Max Nicastro was arrested Sunday and charged with two counts of rape. It's the second arrest of a Boston University hockey player on sexual assault charges after Corey Trivino (New York Islanders) in December, and Nicastro is the third BU player to leave the team this season.
It can be easy to get caught up in how this will affect the rest of the Terriers' season -- they currently sit sixth in the Pairwise -- but with charges as serious as rape and questions about the team's culture, it's important to remember that there are victims in all of this.
The Catamounts, meanwhile, have a chance to add Boston University to the list of good teams which have been defeated by Vermont. Despite only having six wins, three of those have come against WCHA leader Minnesota, the No. 1 team in the country, Ferris State, and a potential No. 1 seed in Massachusetts-Lowell.
Watch If You're A Fan Of... the Blackhawks, Stars (Alex Chiasson), Viktor Stalberg (his younger brother Sebastian plays for the Catamounts and is their leading scorer), Matt Gilroy (his younger brother Kevin plays for the Terriers) and how a team responds to outside media pressure.
No. 13 Michigan State (18-12-4) at No. 18 Notre Dame (16-15-3)
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Announcers: Ben Holden and Jim Paradise
What's At Stake: The collapse of the Fighting Irish continued last weekend at the hands of Miami, as their losing streak stretched their losing streak to five games. Notre Dame hasn't swept a weekend series since Jan. 7 against Minnesota (which was only one game), but with the Spartans being their final test before the CCHA playoffs, this weekend is as must-win as it gets.
Michigan State is coming off sweeping Alaska at home last weekend and can finish as high as second in the CCHA standings. After shutting out the Nanooks Saturday 3-0, the Spartans face a team which has scored six goals in their last six games.
Watch If You're A Fan Of... the Ducks (two prospects), Red Wings, Blackhawks (defenseman Stephen Johns) Winnipeg (senior Daultan Leveille was a first-round pick during the Thrashers era) or Chris Chelios. Two of his sons, Jake and Dean, play for Michigan State.
No. 14 North Dakota (17-11-3) at No. 9 Denver (18-10-4)
Time/TV: 10:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Announcers: Gord Miller and Kerry Fraser
What's At Stake: It's another game with Pairwise implications between the third and fourth place WCHA teams. Right now both are barely in the NCAA Tournament (Denver is 12th, North Dakota 14th as the last team in) and with it looking more-and-more like the WCHA could ge three teams in the tournament, this weekend could be the difference in which school joins Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota.
Denver also has the chance to stay in the WCHA regular season race with a sweep. The Pioneers are currently four points behind first-place Minnesota with two weekends left, but they maintain the tiebreaker. They also have North Dakota's number at Magness Arena, not allowing an even-strength goal by the Fighting Sioux in five years.
North Dakota Players To Watch: No. 29, F Brock Nelson, a first-round pick of the New York Islanders; No. 4, D Derek Forbort of the Los Angeles Kings; and No. 7, F Danny Kristo of the Montreal Canadiens.
Watch If You're A Fan Of... the Panthers (three prospects including WCHA Player of the Week Corban Knight), Islanders, Kings (Forbort and Nick Shore), Wild, Deadspin fame and two teams who absolutely despise each other. Whether it's Pioneer coach George Gwozdecky running on the ice or a double overtime game for the WCHA Conference Championship last season, something interesting is sure to happen.
Other televised Friday games:
- No. 1 Ferris State at No. 19 Western Michigan - 7:00 p.m. ET Fox Sports Detroit/FCS Atlantic
- No. 6 Minnesota at Nebraska-Omaha - 8:30 p.m. ET Fox Sports North Plus/FCS Central