The 2015-2016 NCAA hockey season is now about 25% in the books. With that said, we bring you the first update of our wave of Puget Sound-area players who are making an impact across the country in the collegiate ranks. This week, we focus on players – men AND women – that are playing on the NCAA Division I level.
Lexi Bender - Boston College Eagles [Hockey East Association – Women’s]
Snohomish’s own made women’s hockey history on the first day of summer this year. She was one of 20 players who were drafted in the inaugural NWHL – National Women’s Hockey League – Draft as the 11th overall pick selected by the Boston Pride. The 5’8" defensewoman will be playing in the NWHL next season, but in the meantime, she is playing in her senior year with an Eagles team that is looking to rebound from last season’s disappointing Frozen Four semifinal loss to crosstown rival Harvard University Crimson.
Bender has now matched her current scoring line (3-13-16) from her entire freshman season (37 games played) in just 17 games, playing in all of BC’s games so far. Her best game performance thus far this season has been a three-point game (one goal, two assists) in the Eagles’ 8-1 win at Boston University back on November 7th. Last season she established her career best 29 points (6 goals, 23 assists). BC is ranked second in the latest USCHO.com poll; they take their perfect 17-0-0 overall record (11-0-0 HEA) into Orono, Maine this weekend to play back-to-back conference games with the University of Maine Black Bears.
Molly Doner – University of Wisconsin Badgers [Western Collegiate Hockey Association – Women’s]
Entering her final season with the Badgers, Doner (pronounced as DAWN-er) scored an early season goal in the Badgers’ 5-2 win over the Providence College Friars back on October 2nd. It would be her first goal since December 8th, 2013 in the Badgers’ 5-0 win over the Bemidji State University Beavers.
On November 2nd, Wisconsin became the top-ranked team in the United States College Hockey Online's poll – USCHO.com - and this weekend will mark the 100th game of Doner’s collegiate playing career when the undefeated Badgers (16-0-0) hosts the third-ranked University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for a two-game set. The senior forward from Mukilteo has five points (two goals, three assists) this season, establishing a career high in scoring in a back-to-back shutout sweep of the Ohio State University Buckeyes on October 10th & 11th (7-0 & 8-0, respectively).
Dylan Gambrell – University of Denver Pioneers [National Collegiate Hockey Conference]
Through 13 games played with the Pioneers, Gambrell has picked up 11 points (two goals, nine assists). He had two multi-point games earlier this season, all via off assists. On October 16th, in a 4-2 non-conference home win over the Michigan State University Spartans, the freshman from Bonney Lake had two assists; but on October 30th, he assisted on all three Pioneer goals in a 4-3 setback at non-conference opponent Boston College Eagles.
The Pioneers are 7-3-2 overall, 3-0-1 (10 points) in the NCHC and currently hold the 3rd-place tiebreak over the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks, and just five points behind the co-leaders, University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and St. Cloud State University Huskies.
Lydia Grauer - St. Lawrence University Saints [ECAC Women's]
Like Doner, Grauer hails from Mukilteo but went to play high school hockey in Southern California for the Anaheim Lady Ducks’ 19UAAA team. In 17 games thus far in her first year with the Canton, New York-based private liberal arts college, Grauer has totaled up to five points (two goals, three assists). SLU is currently in fourth place in the ECAC with eight points (4-2-0), 9-7-1 overall and will host the Cornell University Big Red for a pair of conference games this weekend.
Noah Henry – Union College Flying Dutchmen [ECAC Men’s]
If the facts are true, Henry and his hockey team have something in common. Union College, based out of Schenectady, New York, won their first ever NCAA Division I men’s hockey national championship over Don Lucia and his heavily-favored Minnesota Golden Gophers at the 2014 Frozen Four in Philadelphia. Henry was a freshman on that team, but he could also be the first player from the Puget Sound to win a men’s hockey national title. A two-time member of ECAC Hockey’s All-Academic team, the junior out of Seattle has six points (one goal, five assists) through 13 games and is well beyond on pace to beat his stats total from last season when he had eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 33 games.
As for Union, things are not looking bright with only two points and in a three-way tie for 10th place in the ECAC standings, but are 4-6-3 overall. This weekend, it will not be any easy for the Flying Dutchmen as they host back-to-back nights of conference games against the 8th-ranked Harvard University Crimson on Friday, and the Dartmouth Big Green on Saturday night.
Jeremiah Luedtke – University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves [Western Collegiate Hockey Association – Men’s]
After finishing up his junior hockey career last season in Canada, the Lynnwood High School graduate has played all 14 of UAA’s overall games with eight points tallied up (one goal, seven assists). On October 23rd, the WCHA season opener, Luedtke (pronounced as LID-key) would score his first collegiate goal on the power play in UAA’s 3-3 tie at Alabama Huntsville. The Seawolves stay on the road this weekend for a pair of games in Houghton, Michigan against the 17th-ranked Michigan Tech Huskies. UAA is 6-6-2 overall, 3-4-1 in the WCHA (7 points) and hold the 7th-place tiebreaker over the Lake Superior State University Lakers.
Max McHugh – University of Alabama Huntsville Chargers [Western Collegiate Hockey Association – Men’s]
The Chargers are not doing so well as they sit in the bottom of the ten-team WCHA standings at 2-7-1 (5 points), 3-8-1 overall. The sophomore forward from Seattle, however, is tied for the team lead in scoring with Brennan Saulnier with 11 points overall, but leads the team in scoring via conference games with eight points (one goal, seven assists). He has tallied up three goals and eight assists through all 12 of the Chargers games played.
On October 10th, he would score on the power play, which proved to be the game-winner in the Chargers’ 5-2 win over the University of Connecticut Huskies. It would be one of eight points that McHugh would score in the month of October. He only earned three points, all via assists, in November is currently on a six-game goal-less streak heading into UAH’s weekend series at home against conference opponent Northern Michigan University Wildcats.
Anthony Petruzzelli – University of Vermont Catamounts [Hockey East Association – Men’s]
It’s been a slow start to the season for the sophomore forward out of Federal Way, whose Catamounts teams are also having a rough slow start to their season. Petruzzelli had 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 39 games last season. But so far he has only mounted up four points (three goals, one assist) and has played in 13 of Vermont’s 14 overall games this season, where the team is 3-9-2 overall. The Catamounts are tied for 7th place in Hockey East with six points (2-4-2); they are back on the road this weekend and will seek to break their four-game winless skid with two conference games at 11th-ranked Boston University.
Next week, we will cover more local players that are playing on the NCAA Division III side. Later in the month of December, we will take a look at more locals who are playing in the ACHA, and maybe...just maybe, seek out those who decided to play collegiately north of the border.
NCAA Hockey on TV – Weekend of Dec. 4-6
Friday December 4th
4:30 pm – ECAC Men’s Hockey: New Hampshire Wildcats at Maine Black Bears
Network: FOX College Sports (National & Atlantic)
5 pm - Big Ten Conference (Season Opener): Ohio State Buckeyes at Minnesota Golden Gophers
Network: FOX College Sports Pacific via FOX Sports North (streaming on BTN2Go)
Saturday December 5th
3 pm – Hockey East Association [Men’s]: Massachusetts Minutemen at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
5 pm – Big Ten Conference: Ohio State Buckeyes at Minnesota Golden Gophers
Network: ESPNEWS (streaming on WatchESPN)
5 pm – NCHC Hockey: Denver Pioneers at North Dakota Fighting Hawks
Network: FOX College Sports Central via Midco Sports Network