The final weekend of nonconference play before launching into a league schedule was very informative.
1. The CCHA showed very well against the other conferences. The league went 12-5-4 on the weekend, with high-scoring wins from Michigan and Ferris State and outright impressive wins from Ohio State and Alaska. Perhaps everyone’s insistence that the league is at the beginning of a very strong season of play is true.
2. Alaska’s Steve Thompson may have just played himself into a starting role. Steve who, you ask? The senior from Anchorage had five games to his credit in his first three seasons in Fairbanks. He played each game in the Brice Alaska Goal Rush and backstopped the Nanooks to the title, allowing three goals and stopping 52 shots.
3. The CCHA is weak on the power play. Yes, it’s too early to use statistics to make any kind of blanket statement like that, but given what we’ve seen through the first three weekends of play, I’d say this is a disturbing trend that’s continuing. When the 2011-12 season ended, there were 17 non-CCHA teams ahead of Western Michigan nationally in power-play percentage. In this young season so far, only Lake Superior State has cracked the top ten in PP nationally, with five goals for 19 attempts, a healthy 26.3 percent that is unlikely to last. (Don’t get cranky, Lakers fans. I don’t see Denver’s whopping 66.7 percent lasting, either.) Should it remain, this kind of league-wide, man-advantage anemia will hurt the CCHA in NCAA tournament play.
Oh — and congratulations, Nanooks. Thanks for doing the league proud.