Hockey rematches, rivalries galore

Everyone loves a good story, and this week's college hockey slate is full of 'em. Whether it's a rematch of conference finalists, a historic rivalry that renews with the specter of an ugly on-ice incident from last season hanging over it, or a rematch featuring two teams that have gone in opposite directions since their first meeting a month ago, Inside College Hockey has it all for you.

MichiganMichigan vs. Michigan StateMichigan State FRIDAY (at UM) AND SATURDAY (at MSU)

Any more storylines for this series and we're going to need J.J. Abrams to sort it all out. Beyond the obvious rivalry -- the most heated in the CCHA and among the three or four best in college hockey -- there's Spartan forward Corey Tropp, the country's leading scorer, returning to a building where last January he used his stick in a confrontation with Steve Kampfer as the Michigan defenseman was flat on the Yost Arena ice surface. Then there's MSU seeking a measure of redemption; the Spartans dropped all five games to the Wolverines last season, losing by an average score of 5-2.

Michigan coach Red Berenson read his team the riot act after getting swept by Miami in Ann Arbor last weekend, calling them "spoiled brats" after they piled up a number of undisciplined penalties in the third period of Saturday's series finale. Will they be able to keep their emotions in check?

Conversely, how will the young Spartans deal with the intensity of this series? Of the 18 skaters Rick Comley had in the lineup for last Saturday's game with Nebraska-Omaha, half were freshmen.

Bemidji StateBemidji State at MinnesotaMinnesota SATURDAY AND SUNDAY

Lost in the clamor of swirling rumors regarding Jordan Schroeder's future, Jay Barriball's season-ending injury and Sam Lofquist's defection to the Ontario Hockey League is this: The Gophers have played pretty good hockey the past two weekends, scoring 16 goals and allowing just eight in winning three of four against Alaska Anchorage and Wisconsin. Goaltender Alex Kangas has been sterling all along, and he's finally getting some offensive support. He'll need it against a Bemidji State team that ranks tied for seventh in the nation in scoring offense (3.75 goals per game).

After scoring 40 points in 37 games last season, Beaver junior forward Matt Read has seven goals and 14 points in eight games. By the way, BSU also leads the country in scoring defense, allowing an average of just 1.25 goals per game.

CornellCornell at YaleYale FRIDAY

It's a rematch of last year's ECAC Hockey championship game when Yale hosts Cornell in New Haven. The Big Red appear to be the early favorites atop ECACH, but will be playing away from Lynah Rink for the first time this season. Yale won all three meetings against the Big Red last year and comes in after earning just one point on the road in a loss at RPI and a tie against Union to start its title defense.

The third period has been the best for both teams. Through three games this year, Cornell has outscored its opponents 7-1 in the final 20 minutes and Yale has a 6-2 advantage over its opponents in the third period.

UVMVermont at Boston CollegeBC SATURDAY AND SUNDAY

It doesn't seem like a terrific series on paper, given that the Catamounts are a .500 team while the Eagles enter the weekend with a 3-2-1 mark. These two clubs met in Burlington on Oct. 18 -- Vermont scored a 4-1 victory -- but their fortunes have since diverged. UVM is 1-2-1 in four games since beating BC; the Eagles, meantime, are 3-1-1 since the loss at Gutterson Fieldhouse. Both are currently tied for third in Hockey East and, yeah, it's early in the year, but a sweep either way would make the possibility of a top-four finish in the league standings that much more remote for the losing side.

Also …
Two of ECAC Hockey's early season surprises meet Saturday when Rensselaer faces St. Lawrence. … St. Cloud State is at North Dakota. The Huskies' Garrett Roe won't play Friday; he's serving a one-game team-issued suspension. … Can Merrimack continue its impressive start in its series with Boston University?

For more on college hockey, check out Inside College Hockey.