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College Hockey:
Weekend work-up, Feb. 6, 2012: A short rotation for first place — for now

With just three weekends of play remaining, nothing will be decided until the very end. Three things from this most recent weekend of play.

1. The Ferris State-Western Michigan series at the end of February will determine the regular-season champion, unless …

2. …the Wolverines have something to say about it.

Okay, so this is a twofer.

For the second weekend in a row, the Broncos were on top of the CCHA standings after Friday’s play only to concede the spot to the Bulldogs the following night. That’s because for the second weekend in a row, WMU split with one of the bottom two teams in the league. Last weekend, WMU lost a Saturday game to Bowling Green; this weekend, it was Alaska. A 4-4-0 record in CCHA play to begin the second half has put the Broncos just within reach of first place.

The Bulldogs hang on to first place by virtue of the Broncos’ Saturday night slip and the single point Ferris State was able to secure in Friday’s 5-5 tie against Northern Michigan before beating the Wildcats on Saturday. Senior defenseman Aaron Schmit’s fourth goal of the season — his 12th career goal — unassisted at 10:13 in the third, knotted the game.

FSU is the steadiest team in college hockey right now, with the longest unbeaten streak (7-0-3) in the country. In a league as tough as this season’s CCHA, that’s still not enough …

… especially when the Wolverines are playing as well as they are. Michigan is as good as any team in the country right now, fueled by a solid defense and the outstanding second-half play of goaltender Shawn Hunwick. With their second sweep of the second half, the Wolverines are 6-1-1 in conference play in 2012, and they’ll have something to say about who’s in first place at the end of February.

3. No one is going to want to play Bowling Green in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.

In fact, no one wants to play them now. For the second weekend in a row, the Falcons humbled a ranked team on a Saturday night. Two weeks ago, it was Western Michigan. This past Saturday, it was Notre Dame — and the Falcons came from behind on the road to do it. Freshman Ryan Carpenter scored at 5:17 and 18:22 in the third period to lift BG over ND, keeping the Fighting Irish out of a tie with WMU for second place.

With the split in South Bend, the Falcons are 3-3-2 in CCHA play in the second half. That’s .500 hockey — same as second-place Western Michigan, with one fewer win but one more point in that same stretch of games.

What a season.

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  • Fox5 2

    Paula, Your picks this past weekend were not very good.A little advice,stop picking the ohio buckholes.10 straight games now without a win.WOW!GO BLUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Wolverines are HOT.

    • Yost is a DUMP

      If you don’t have anything nice to say…  Got any proof how your picks did?
      …screw blue

      • Jmakreta@yahoo.coM

        Thank you, you are so very kind and correct.

      • Fox5 2

        GO BLUE!Yost is a Cathedral among hockey arenas.And packed every weekend.My 1 pick MICHIGAN swept Miami.

      • Geoffrey Chiles

        You only hate Yost because Michigan’s won, like, 80% of our games there the past two decades.  You can only wish your team had a home-ice advantage like that. 

        It’s considered the toughest place to win for visitors in college hockey for a reason.  Meanwhile, O$U has yet to win in 2012, and we all get to travel to Munn Memorial Library on Friday, yay.

        Go Blue!

  • Streaker

    Irony. Michigan plays @BG to conclude the season after grinding through LSSU, OSU, ND, Miami, ND, MSU  and NMU in the second half of the schedule. It may be a good thing they could be playing for the CCHA regular season title just to keep them from overlooking the Falcons.

  • Guy

    Good luck playing the Nanooks in the playoffs as well.  Beat ND last weekend, and beat Western this past weekend.

  • KAW

    Actually, the bulldogs are up by two points on the Broncos right now, so they would have held first place even if they hadn’t tied the game. However, the extra point may prove useful when the two teems meet up again in a few weeks.

    Another note is that during Friday-Saturday series, WMU is 8-3-2 on Fridays, and 5-6-2 On Saturdays, if I counted correctly. Does Western get the tiebreaker because of head-to-head if they split and wind up with the same points total after the series?

    • Broncobri79

      Not a very good effort by the Broncos on Saturday. Alaska just flat out played harder, and WMU was not very smart with the puck. The lack of offense is a concern. WMU out shot Alaska 38-18, but the quality of the shots the Broncos were getting was just not very good. The tie breaker order is 1. conference wins 2. wiining % against team(s) tied with 3. goal differential among games against team(s) tied with 4. winning % of co-champs against the remaining highest ranked CCHA team 5. coin flip

      • Anonymous

        I felt the same way on Saturday. The number of shots by the Broncos are deceiving, it just never seemed like they were close to putting the puck in the net. Paula, I hope you are correct in that the CCHA title will come down to the final weekend against FSU, but I’m definitely not taking these next two weekends for granted with how our offense has looked as of late.  I know OSU is reeling, but they have to break their streak at some point and going up to Taffy Abel for two on the road against LSSU is not going to be an easy task. One bad weekend is all it’ll take for my beloved Broncos to find themselves back in the middle of pack.

  • JJME

    Finally – BG Falcons get some very deserved recognition – Nice to see the team coming together… Congrats boys! and great work coaches!!!! Go Falcons Go