Winter has returned to Flint, Mich., and the snow is a definite improvement over the everlasting gray of these past several weeks. There are three CCHA games televised in my area Friday night: Ohio State at Miami and Michigan State at Notre Dame (CBS), and Ferris State at Western Michigan (Fox). Comcast is covering Saturday’s MSU-ND game.. I couldn’t be more grateful as I’m celebrating the return of winter with a gallon of orange juice, zinc lozenges and some cold medication. Where are you this weekend?
Here’s my record heading into the last regular-season weekend of 2011-2012.
Last week: 8-2-0
Season to date: 115-74-24 (.713)
I have no idea how that happened. I still think I’ve calculated it incorrectly. As someone I know in South Bend once reminded me, it’s clear that I don’t teach math.
Everyone plays and there’s more than just regular-season bragging rights on the line. Alaska plays Anchorage for the Governor’s Cup and the Lakers and Wildcats have the Father Cappo Cup on the line.
Start times are noted and are local.
No. 1 Ferris State vs. No. 19 Western Michigan
Last weekend the Bulldogs guaranteed at least a share of the regular-season CCHA title with their sweep of visiting Bowling Green; all Ferris State needs is one point this weekend to capture the title outright. The Broncos continued their win-Friday-lose-Saturday pattern with a road split against Lake Superior State. FSU has a 14-game (11-0-3) unbeaten streak heading into this weekend. I don’t call against such things — and I fully expect the flaming from Broncos fans to begin. That’s okay. I’ve got the chills and the heat will feel good. Friday’s game is in Kalamazoo, Saturday’s in Big Rapids and they both start at 7:05 p.m. FSU 3-2, 4-2
Lake Superior at Northern Michigan
The Lakers are looking for their third consecutive Father Cappo Cup as well as a first-week bye. Yes, that’s still within the realm of possibility for LSSU but not for NMU; realistically, each team is fighting for home ice in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. Last weekend, the Lakers split with the Broncos at home while the Wildcats lost two to Michigan on the road. Again I expect flaming. Again, it’ll warm my cold, germy heart. Both games begin at 7:35 p.m. NMU 4-1, LSSU 2-1
No. 3 Michigan at Bowling Green
The Wolverines know that they must win out for even a slice of the regular-season championship while rooting hard for the Broncos to do the same. Last weekend, UM swept NMU at home while BGSU lost two on the road to FSU. I know how good the Wolverines are playing and I’m picking a sweep because of it, but I have a feeling that the Falcons may return to form with at least a point this weekend. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. UM 4-2, 3-2
No. 13 Michigan State at No. 18 Notre Dame
MSU can capture second place this weekend with a little help from the Falcons, while the Irish can finish no higher than seventh. What a turn of events. Last weekend, MSU swept visiting Alaska and ND lost two on the road to Miami. It appears that the Spartans are playing some of their best hockey of the season while Notre Dame is struggling to score. Friday’s game begins at 8:35 p.m., Saturday’s at 7:35. MSU 3-1, 3-2
No. 17 Ohio State vs. No. 15 Miami
Why are the Buckeyes still ranked? I don’t know either. They did break an 11-game winless streak last weekend with a split in Kalamazoo, losing Friday and winning Saturday — and, believe it or not, a first-round bye is still mathematically possible for OSU. Given the Buckeyes’ opponent this week, though, I doubt that the stars are aligned for OSU. Miami allowed one goal in a sweep of visiting Notre Dame last weekend and the RedHawks are definitely in the hunt for a first-round bye. Friday’s game in Oxford, Ohio, starts at 6:05 p.m., Saturday’s game in Columbus at 7:05. Miami 4-1, 3-2
Alaska vs. Alaska-Anchorage
The Nanooks defend the Governor’s Cup with a home-and-home series against the Seawolves of the WCHA. Last weekend, Alaska was swept in East Lansing while Anchorage split a pair of road games against St. Cloud. The Nanooks have captured the Governor’s Cup in seven of the last 10 years. Friday’s game is in Anchorage, Saturday’s in Fairbanks and both start at 7:05 p.m. UAA 3-2, UAF 3-2