The INCH First Shift

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

John Scott

St. John’s IceCaps (AHL)
Michigan Tech University ’06

Look, it wouldn’t be all that difficult to pull an honoree from last weekend’s college hockey action. But why not give it to Scott, a guy who had a string of days over the last week that have been nothing short of magical?

Scott’s never been a star. Not at Michigan Tech where, in four seasons, he racked up a total of seven goals and 19 points. Not in the American Hockey League, where he was unceremoniously dumped after being traded by the Arizona Coyotes to Montreal last month not long after winning the fan vote for Pacific Division All-Star captain. And certainly not in the NHL, where he’s scored a total of five goals in 285 career games scattered over eight seasons.

Based on the terrific first-person piece that appeared on The Players’ Tribune last week, it sure seemed like multiple entities conspired to keep Scott from participating in NHL All-Star festivities in Nashville in spite of the fans’ wishes.

Still, Scott showed up. And he stole the spotlight. Not only did he score two goals to help his Pacific team win the newfangled All-Star tournament, but the fans also voted him MVP. His teammates carried him off the ice on his shoulders. And he—along with the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban and the Sharks’ Brent Burns, most notably—made a historically dull event into the most entertaining, most talked-about All-Star Game since … well, who knows?

There’s no way the NHL lets a guy like Scott take part in the All-Star game again. Commissioner Gary Bettman will ensure the event’s honor and dignity (as he and the rest of the league’s suits see it) aren’t sullied in the future. That’s a shame, because Scott perfectly captured the spirit of hockey. He didn’t take himself too seriously, tried his best, and had a blast.

Besides, anything that makes Mike Milbury mad can’t be all bad, can it?

STICK SALUTE

Arizona State wrapped up its inaugural go-round against NCAA Division I competition Sunday with a 3-22-0 mark after dropping a 10-0 decision to a Merrimack team that entered the day with a 10-game losing streak. There were rough patches, for sure—the Sun Devils lost their last 16 games against DI foes by a combined 79-11 margin—but there were bright spots including a sweep of Lake Superior State, a 2-1 win over Alaska on a goal with 34 seconds left in regulation, and one-goal losses at Wisconsin and Clarkson. The future looks bright for Arizona State, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.

BENCH MINOR

Watching from afar, the North Star College Cup in St. Paul seems like a great event. There’s one clumsy aspect to the proceedings however, as a four-team tournament that celebrates five Division I men’s ice hockey teams in the state means one team is left out of the event each year.

Minnesota holds a place in the tournament every year as the host institution, and one of the other four teams—Bemidji State, St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth or Minnesota State—takes its turn in a rotation to not participate in the annual event.

While watching the third-place game on Sunday afternoon, we wondered if a relegation format might spice things up in the annual proceedings. How about the fourth-place team in one year heads to the bench the following year? That would still ensure that no team sits out two years in a row, and it’s a model that the International Ice Hockey Federation uses in many of its championship tournaments.

We do understand that the nature of having a host school and the considerations for the excluded team’s ability to schedule that weekend would be affected by our proposal, but we’re about fun ideas and this is one.

SAY WHAT?

“I didn’t foresee a third period where it was going to be no-holds-barred. The hit on Barre was everything about the game that we’re trying to take out … I’ve never seen anything like it in my life, and I’ve been doing this for 30-odd years.”

Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet to Tris Wykes of the White River Junction (Vt.) Valley News after his team’s 7-5 loss Friday to Quinnipiac. A Bobcat player checked Big Green forward Jack Barre from behind into the boards in the third period with Dartmouth clinging to a 5-4 lead. No penalty was called on the play, and top-ranked Quinnipiac scored three goals in the final 9:11 of regulation—part of a six-goal third period.

RANKINGS OUTRAGE

Back in the days when we regularly published at Inside College Hockey, our weekly INCH Power Rankings usually showed some divergence from the weekly polls compiled by USCHO.com and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine from coaches. We pushed teams that were on hot streaks a little further up and were quick to knock down those teams who were scuffling over a couple of weeks.

Taking a glance at this week’s national polls revealed almost no divergence. The top-13 teams in each ranking were listed in identical order. The 14th- and 15th-ranked teams in both polls were Rensselaer and Michigan Tech, with RPI ahead in the USCHO poll and MTU ahead by the coaches.

We’ll close the Week of INCH with an INCH Power Rankings on Sunday night and have our say on how we think these teams should be stacked.

TWEET O’ THE WEEK

Can we table this discussion until after the season? The Gophers still have six regular-season games at Mariucci.

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