Congratulations to Ferris State, your 2011-12 CCHA regular-season champions. This is the second title for the Bulldogs, who last won in 2002-03. Should this team go as far as it is capable of going, the Bulldogs may someday become icons of the kind of league that once upon a time existed in college hockey.
So, interesting weekend. Three things learned:
1. When it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. All Ferris State needed from this weekend to secure the title was either one single point or a Michigan loss. As it turns out, the Bulldogs got all they needed on the same night when they tied Western Michigan Friday and Bowling Green won. On Saturday, FSU suffered its first loss since Dec. 30, 2011, and in delivering a 3-0 shutout, WMU exposed the Bulldogs’ biggest weakness, offense. Only time and games played will tell how much of a liability that will prove for FSU.
2. Never underestimate the Bowling Green Falcons. With third-period goals by Adam Berkle and Bryce Williamson, the Falcons came from behind to beat visiting Michigan to break a four-game losing streak and guarantee that the Wolverines would have no share of this year’s regular-season title. I know that they’re traveling to Marquette to face an NMU team that’s lost just two at home, and the idea of the Falcons putting together back-to-back wins is a stretch, but they should not be taken lightly.
3. The Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish are meeting in South Bend … in the first round? Sure, the media had Ohio State pegged for No. 9 in its preseason poll, but OSU was in first place in December — and weren’t the Irish picked first in both the preseason and coaches polls? At the beginning of the season, ND coach Jeff Jackson warned us that the Irish were being overestimated defensively, and the No. 27 ND defense has proved him right. Bowling Green will play Northern Michigan and Alaska travels to Lake Superior to complete the first-round matches, and the only team from the first round that looks like a lock to me is Northern Michigan — in spite of BGSU’s tenacity.