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Tuesday, November 17, 2009
First Shift: O'Neill fires up Yale

By Mike Eidelbes and Joe Gladziszewski
Inside College Hockey

Player Of The Week

Brian O'Neill
Yale
So. | F | Yardley, Pa.

O'Neill
Brian O'Neill had 2 goals and 3 assists in two big games for Yale.

His Statistics: 2 games played, 2 goals, 3 assists (5 points), +3 plus-minus rating

His Impact: Yale's high-scoring sophomore was involved in a very good weekend for the defending ECAC Hockey champions. After a so-so start to the season, the Bulldogs earned a 4-2 win over previously unbeaten Cornell and rallied for a 3-3 overtime tie against first-place Colgate. O'Neill factored in prominently with two goals and three assists on the weekend.

He assisted Yale's first goal as well as the eventual game-winner in the victory over Cornell and sealed the victory with an empty-net goal. In Saturday's game against Colgate, Yale trailed 2-0 in the second period before O'Neill's goal got them on the board. He then assisted Sean Backman's goal later in the period to pull the Bulldogs to within 3-2.

His Runners-Up: Stephane De Costa (Merrimack); Andrew Favot (RIT); Justin Fontaine (Minnesota Duluth); Chris Kushneriuk (Robert Morris); Drew Palmisano (Michigan State)

Stick Salute

RIT

The RIT Tigers have bounced back from a slow start to move into first place in Atlantic Hockey. After starting the season with five straight losses, RIT has run off six consecutive wins -- the nation's longest winning streak -- and is the only team in Atlantic Hockey with a winning overall record.

Bench Minor

Barely six weeks into the season, a number of high-profile players have been sidelined with various dings and dents -- Minnesota's Jay Barriball and Nick Leddy, Yale's Tom Dignard, Rensselaer's Tyler Helfrich, Northeastern's Steve Quailer and Notre Dame's Ted Ruth among them. Injuries affect every team, but we don't have to like it. This weekend's North Dakota-Denver series, for example, should be a doozy … but how much better could it be if we were assured Marc Cheverie, Patrick Wiercioch and Chay Genoway would be healthy?

Say What?

Michigan

We're not that good. We've got one returning 20-goal scorer and he's got one goal, and outside of that … we don't have a lot of prolific offensive players."
-- Michigan coach Red Berenson to The Michigan Daily following his team's back-to-back losses to Michigan State this past weekend.

If Michigan's season keeps going in this direction, we may have to officially name this segment of the First Shift in honor of Berenson. The Wolverines have scored a total of four goals in their past four games -- all of them losses -- and anyone who has watched their past two series against Miami and Michigan State can see that Berenson's club is severely lacking playmakers and their ability to create scoring chances is virtually nonexistent.

Rankings Outrage

This week we won't point to any unusual voting patterns in the national polls, but to some of the circumstances that we considered when stacking the Inside College Hockey Power Rankings. Michigan State and Colorado College made huge jumps in both the INCH Power Rankings as well as the national polls after conference sweeps on the weekend. That's mainly due to the work of MSU and CC, but partially due to a middling bunch of efforts by teams ranked in the 6-15 range. It's early, sure, but it seems like there's a definite drop in stature from the top 5-7 teams and the rest of the pack in college hockey.

Tweet Of The Week

runwiththedogs: about 4 hats on the ice. pathetic

The people behind the Minnesota Duluth "Runnin' With the Dogs" blog tweeted this message shortly after the Bulldogs' Justin Fontaine scored his third goal in Saturday's 8-1 rout of Michigan Tech (he would add a fouth goal before all was said and done). The message touches on an INCH pet peeve: If you are wearing a hat to a hockey game and a player scores three goals, it is your duty to toss said hat onto the ice.

Don't want to chuck your favorite lid? Bring one you don't care about. And even if it is your best hat, throw it anyway -- the good karma you'll get from the hockey gods will far surpass the out-of-pocket cost of replacing it.

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