INCH First Shift: Week of INCH 2017

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

RILEY TUFTE
MINNESOTA DULUTH
Fr. | F | Blaine, Minn.

umdchamp1In a college hockey season rife with the kind of parity Roger Goodell dreams about, the Bulldogs have been among the best teams in the country since day one. UMD can solidify its standing in the upper echelon if Tufte continues to flash the skills that prompted the Dallas Stars to take him in the first round of last year’s NHL Draft.

After being held scoreless in his first 20 games — Tufte missed the season’s first two weeks with an injury — he’s scored four goals and two assists in his last six contests, including three goals and an assist in first-place UMD’s sweep at North Dakota this past weekend. The Bulldogs became the first team to sweep the Fighting Hawks in Grand Forks since 2013.

STICK SALUTE

More than 2,700 fans packed West Point’s Tate Rink to watch the latest installment in college hockey’s most unique rivalry as Army hosted Royal Military College of Canada last Saturday. The Black Knights extended their winning streak in the series (which started in 1921) to six straight with a 5-3 win over the Paladins. Freshman forward Dominic Franco scored a pair of goals for Army, which improved its all-time record against RMC to 45-29-7.

BENCH MINOR

A State College, Pa. reporter posted this tweet with a photo of a broom on the ice surface at the Pegula Ice Arena. While it’s unclear whether the action of tossing the broom on the ice was taken by team members, staff, or a boisterous fan, a couple points need to be made. First, we’re all for enthusiasm and celebrating big wins, but that’s probably best left for the dressing room. Second, is it really a sweep when Friday’s game ended in a 3-3 tie, and Ohio State earned a bonus point via shootout? Maybe the team can take some time to “brush” up on its program’s Frozen Four history.

SAY WHAT?

A first-intermission promotion at Yost Ice Arena on Friday night ended up being more of a talking point than Michigan State’s 3-0 win over the Wolverines. When the Wiener Dog Races were announced, it was go time. Instead of, “Ready, set, go!” some of the participants opted for, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.” We can’t help but wonder if the dashing dachshunds were making an editorial statement the current standard of play from two legendary programs.

RANKINGS OUTRAGE

Stick tap to all of the voters in national polls. Outrage must be the descriptive word to illustrate their emotions when it’s time to compile their rankings at the end of the week. A revolving door at the top of both national polls, especially in recent weeks, and inconsistency in form from the nation’s top teams make the task especially difficult.

There is an upside to the week-to-week uncertainty. When fans head to their local rinks or tune into television broadcasts or webcasts, they can expect almost anything. It’s setting up for a wide-open conclusion to the year and a heck of a postseason.

TWEET O’ THE WEEK

Literally. It’s the tweet of the Week of INCH. Even though Inside College Hockey ceased regular publication prior to the 2012-13 season, we still closely follow the game we love. We realized last year that these end-of-January weeks are among the worst weeks of the year for sports, and it inspired us.

With that in mind, allow us to get the band back together. For the second year in a row, Week of INCH will include many of our old editorial features. We drop the puck on things with this First Shift. We’ll have a Hobey Tracker and Found On A Cocktail Napkin in the middle of the week and preview the weekend with our Friday Four-cast. Of course, the legendary INCH Podcast will be available for download Friday morning. We’ll wrap things up with the INCH Power Rankings on Sunday night, Jan. 29.

Suggestions? Feedback? Comments? Check in on Twitter at @INCH and @INCH_Gladdy.

There’s some spirit that needs capturing. Thanks for reading.

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