Last week was splitsville for the CCHA. Will this week bring more of the same?
Last week: 6-3-1 (.650)
Season to date: 29-16-9 (.620)
I would like to thank Alaska, Ferris State, Miami and Michigan for making me look good last week. I love the right-way splits.
There are five league series this weekend, with Ohio State idle. Four series are Friday-Saturday; Western Michigan plays Notre Dame twice in South Bend, but that’s a Friday-Sunday series. Times are local.
Bowling Green at Michigan State. Last week, the Falcons were shut out by Ohio State before rebounding with a tie and shootout point. Junior Brett Mohler scored late in the third period to knot that second game, a game that the Falcons had led 2-0 until the Buckeyes scored three unanswered goals within a four-minute span in the second period. That tying goal ended Mohler’s 25-game goal-scoring drought, dating back to Feb. 25, 2011. The Spartans split a pair of road games against Lake Superior State, winning the Saturday contest. That game ended a four-game losing streak in Sioux Ste. Marie for MSU. Feb. 21, 2009, was the last time the Falcons beat the Spartans and their last win in East Lansing was even longer ago: Feb. 24, 2007. I can’t call against those odds. Friday’s game begins at 5:05 p.m., Saturday’s at 7:05 p.m. MSU 3-2, 3-2
Lake Superior State at Alaska. The Lakers split their home pair with the Spartans last weekend, winning Friday’s contest. Junior goaltender Kevin Kapalka injured his shoulder in the first game and was replaced by classmate Kevin Murdock, who earned both decisions on the weekend. The Nanooks traveled to Big Rapids and split a pair with the Bulldogs, winning Saturday’s contest. Junior forward Cody Kunyk earned POTW honors with his four-point performance for the weekend. Alaska is 5-4-1 in the last 10 games against Lake State and 6-1-5 in their last 12 home games against LSSU. The teams did split a pair in Fairbanks last season and the Lakers swept the Nanooks at home during the first round of the CCHA playoffs last season. Games each night begin at 7:05 p.m. UA 3-1, LSSU 3-2
No. 4 Miami at No. 19 Ferris State. Last weekend, the RedHawks split a pair of games against Michigan in Yost Ice Arena, winning 4-3 the second night. Friday night, starting goaltender Ryan McKay, a freshman, was injured five minutes into the game and replaced by his classmate, Jay Williams, who earned both decisions. The Bulldogs split that home series with Alaska last weekend, winning 6-3 on Friday before losing Saturday. Each of these teams is capable of some offense; the Bulldogs are averaging 3.50 goals per game so far this season (10th nationally) while the RedHawks are netting 3.17 (tied for 21st). The season is young and statistics can lie, but these early indicators look legit. The Bulldogs swept the RedHawks at home last October, outscoring Miami 6-2. I do think that FSU’s ranking doesn’t reflect its potential in the early going. Games each night begin at 7:05 p.m. FSU 4-2, Miami 4-2
No. 8 Michigan at No. 20 Northern Michigan. The Wolverines split that home series with Miami last weekend, with freshman Steve Racine in net for the 4-2 Friday win. Freshman Jared Rutledge had 31 saves in the loss the following night as Michigan and Miami shot it out; the Wolverines edged the RedHawks 75-67 in shots on goal. The Wildcats were swept at home by Notre Dame, 5-2 and 3-2. It was the first time NMU was swept at home since Feb. 2011. Michigan leads this series 37-19-6 all-time; the Wolverines were 2-1-1 against the Wildcats last season. In 2011-12, the tie was played in Marquette and the teams split in Ann Arbor. Games begin at 7:35 p.m. each night. UM 3-2, NMU 4-3
No. 11 Western Michigan at No. 7 Notre Dame. This is the opening weekend of CCHA play for the Broncos, who are defending the Mason Cup. WMU last played Oct. 19-20, a home sweep of Canisius. Last weekend, the Fighting Irish swept Northern Michigan in Marquette. Last season, WMU went 2-1-1 against ND. Both series were home-and-home, and WMU won in each rink. WMU sophomore goaltender Frank Slubowski is 3-1-0 in the four games that the Broncos have played this season (1.74 GAA, .909 SV%). ND junior Steven Summerhays (1.61 GAA, .938 SV%) was 4-1-0 in October and was named the CCHA’s Goaltender of the Month. This should be a dynamite series. Friday’s game begins at 7:35 p.m., Sunday’s at 5:05. WMU 3-2, ND 3-1