For the fifth-straight year, the Minnesota menâÄôs hockey team will send three players to the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-20 World Junior championships. Sophomore forward Mike Hoeffel will make his first appearance at the event, which will be played in Ottawa this year, while sophomore defenseman Cade Fairchild and freshman forward Jordan Schroeder will play for the second-consecutive year. The U.S. team opens the tournament against Germany on Dec. 26 then faces Czech Republic on Dec. 28, Kazakhstan on Dec. 30 and Canada on Dec. 31. The trio of Gophers will miss the Dodge Holiday Classic on Jan. 2 to Jan. 3. Former Gophers forward Jim OâÄôBrien will also play for the United States. Badgers back to even After starting the season winless in its first seven games, the Wisconsin menâÄôs hockey team has gone 7-1-1 in November to make it back to level ground. âÄúI think if you took a look at all the players, they’ve all elevated their level of play,âÄù Badgers coach Mike Eaves said in his weekly press conference Monday. Eaves specifically targeted senior goalie Shane Connelly as a leading reason for WisconsinâÄôs sudden success. Connelly posted three shutouts in November including two in the final three games of the month âÄî the netminder only had four previous shutouts in his career up to the current stretch. âÄúIt’s been a most interesting nine weeks in terms of how we started and how we’ve come back,âÄù Eaves said. âÄúSo we’re trying to be prudent with the things that we do with the kids on and off the ice to make sure that they stay focused and fresh for this finish line run.âÄù The Badgers (7-7-2 overall, 5-5-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) host Alaska Anchorage this weekend at the Kohl Center. Air Force finally falls The nationâÄôs last unbeaten and untied team lost that title this weekend as Air Force tallied its first loss this season to Denver 4-1 on Saturday night. âÄúNationally speaking, [Air Force coach Frank Serratore ] and his program have developed great respect from everybody watching,âÄù Denver coach George Gwozdecky said in a release. The Falcons (13-1-1, 10-0-0 Atlantic Hockey) are ranked 10th in both major polls and slid past then No. 3 Colorado College 4-1 on Friday before falling to the Pioneers by the same score. Air Force proved they belong in the national rankings by killing 42 of its opponentsâÄô 43 powerplays coming into Saturday and scoring four goals in the first 38 minutes âÄî an accomplishment that put All-American Tigers goalie Richard Bachman on the bench. âÄúI couldn’t be more proud of our guys. They never got flustered and did a wonderful job of overcoming the adversity,âÄù Serratore said following the game. âÄúWe are a much better team for winning the way we did.âÄù Air Force hosts Rochester Institute of Technology this weekend. Notes and quotes North Dakota sophomore forward Matt Frattin recorded the first hat trick against Cornell in 10 years and added an assist in a 7-3 Sioux win Friday night to earn the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week award. Frattin is tied for the team lead with five goals, all of which have come in the last five games. Denver sophomore goalie Marc Cheverie earned the defensive award after stopping 67 of 69 shots over the weekend in wins over Colgate and Air Force. The Pioneers also earned a piece of the conferenceâÄôs rookie award as freshman forward Joe Colborne tallied four assists over the weekend âÄî two in each win. Colborne shared his honor with Badgers rookie defenseman Jake Gardiner , who picked up assists in two wins this weekend while the Wisconsin defense gave up just one goal and a combined 31 shots on goal. Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson on the Irish No. 1 ranking, the third time the team has been top-ranked in history: âÄúWe still have a lot of hockey to play this season, and we have a lot of room for improvement, but we appreciate the recognition for what we’ve done so far.