Well, they say this is the season of miracles.
Last week: 8-2-1 (.773)
Season to date: 59-31-16 (.630)
I counted Tuesday’s pick of the MTU-NMU game.
There are four CCHA series and one nonconference set. All series are Friday-Saturday and single site except for the Robert Morris-Ohio State series, which is home-and-home. All games begin at 7:05 p.m. local time except for Friday’s Lake Superior-Miami match, which starts at 7:35 p.m.. Michigan and Northern Michigan are sitting this weekend out.
Bowling Green at Alaska. The Falcons last played the night before Thanksgiving (Nov. 21), a 3-1 road loss to Michigan. Coach Chris Bergeron hopes that the time off has given his team an opportunity to think about the rest of the season, beginning with this series against Alaska. The Falcons are in last place with six points, eight points behind the Nanooks. Alaska lost two at home last weekend to Miami, shut out Saturday night and outscored collectively 9-2 in the series. The Nanooks were 3-1-0 versus the Falcons in 2011-12, but one of those losses came at home (Jan. 20). Alaska 3-1, BGSU 2-1
No. 16 Ferris State at No. 7 Western Michigan. This is the series to watch. Two points separate fourth-place Ferris State from fifth-place Western Michigan, but the Broncos can gain even more ground this weekend with any points they earn because WMU has two games in hand over FSU. The Bulldogs shut out the Wolverines, 5-0, last Friday before taking one point in a 3-3 tie the following night. The Broncos swept Northern Michigan, 4-2 and 1-0. Seven different FSU players accounted for the team’s eight goals last weekend, and leading scorer Kyle Bonis was kept scoreless in Friday’s win. I think the Bulldogs are underrated. FSU took one point from WMU last season but one point was all the Bulldogs needed; the 1-1 tie Feb. 24 in Kalamazoo gave the Bulldogs the regular-season CCHA title. All of that having been said, Andy Murray owns Bob Daniels so far, with a 3-0-1 record against the Bulldogs last season. In those contests, the Broncos shut out the Bulldogs twice and outscored FSU 11-3. WMU 4-2, FSU 3-2
Lake Superior State at No. 3 Miami. Last weekend, the Lakers lost two on the road to Notre Dame, outscored 9-3 by the Irish. It was the first time this season that LSSU failed to capture any points in a two-game conference series. The first-place RedHawks swept the Nanooks in Alaska, 5-2 and 4-0. It was the first conference sweep of the season for Miami, which means that the RedHawks bring a seven-game undefeated streak (5-0-2) into this series, third-longest in the nation behind Niagara (11) and Quinnipiac (8). The Lakers were 3-1-0 against the RedHawks last season, but as Jim Roque said himself, he was glad to have caught Miami early when LSSU swept on the road (Oct. 27-28). Enrico Blasi is 24-11-1 all-time versus the Lakers. Miami 3-2, 3-2
Michigan State at No. 5 Notre Dame. The Spartans head to South Bend after being swept at home by Ohio State, 1-0 and 3-1, and are now winless (0-3-1) in their last four. Freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand has been in net for those four games plus MSU’s last win, 7-2 over Michigan Nov. 10. Whatever has ailed the Spartans has not been Hildebrand’s fault; Hildebrand has a 1.76 goals-against average and .942 save percentage, but the Spartans are scoring 2.21 goals per game on average, 47th in the nation, and have netted three goals in their last four games. The Fighting Irish swept Lake Superior State at home last weekend (3-2, 6-1), their first home sweep of the season and third overall. ND’s sixth-best penalty kill nationally (91.4 percent) has been successful 96.7 percent since Nov. 4. Junior goaltender Steven Summerhays has the nation’s fourth-best goals-against average (1.57) and 10th-best save percentage (.936). The Irish are 6-1-1 versus the Spartans in the last eight meetings. That single loss came last season in South Bend (Feb. 25, 4-2). ND 3-2, 3-2
Robert Morris vs. Ohio State. Robert Morris (5-4-1) is currently in seventh place in Atlantic Hockey. Last weekend, the Colonials defeated and tied Holy Cross, 4-3 and 1-1. Senior Eric Levine (2.27 GAA, .938 SV%) was in net for both games. Senior Zach Hervato leads the Colonials in both goals and scoring (6-6–12). Hervato’s six goals in 10 games this season equal his career-high six goals in 33 games his sophomore season. The Buckeyes swept Michigan State on the road last weekend, 1-0 and 3-1. Sophomore Ryan Dzingel had the game winner on Friday and two assists Saturday and is now riding a seven-game point streak (4-6–10) into this series. The Buckeye defense has been playing crazy-good in front of senior goaltender Brady Hjelle, who has also been playing crazy-good. Hjelle is second in the nation in goals-against (1.23) and save percentage (.957) and that defense is sixth in the nation, allowing 1.86 goals per game. OSU is 3-2-1 all-time against RMU but the Buckeyes have never beaten the Colonials in Columbus (0-2). Last season, the teams met in the RMU Hockey Showcase (Dec. 30) in the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, a 4-2 OSU win. Friday’s game is at OSU, Saturday’s at RMU. Homer picks, with my apologies to Derek Schooley. OSU 3-2, 3-1