Ten of the league’s 11 teams played at least one conference game this past weekend, a very late, full weekend for the CCHA. Here are three surprising things from this past weekend. Please note the sarcasm.
1. Apparently, Michigan has had a third goaltender all along. For the entire first half of the season until Saturday night, the Wolverines rotated freshmen Jared Rutledge and Steve Racine in net, resulting in a .866 team save percentage and just six overall wins. After Friday’s 4-1 loss to Western Michigan, the Wolverines started junior Adam Janecyk Saturday. The result? A 2-0 shutout win for the junior from Ada, Mich., who last played Jan. 7, 2012 — a 2-2 home tie against Lake Superior State — and who had played a total of roughly 134 minutes in his first two years at Michigan. Janecyk made 25 saves Saturday. Good for him … and what took you so long, Michigan?
2. Apparently, Northern Michigan has forgotten how to score goals. The Wildcats finish the first half of the season absolutely where I did not expect them to be — tied for last place with Bowling Green — after having been swept on the road by Lake Superior State. NMU has lost its last four CCHA games, shut out in two of them, and the Wildcats have scored no more than two goals in a game since a 4-3 overtime win against Alaska Nov. 23. This past weekend, the Wildcats netted one goal, sophomore defenseman Jake Baker’s first goal of the season at 19:18 in the first in Saturday’s 3-1 loss, with an extra attacker; it was Baker’s second career goal and his first since Oct. 29, 2011. Northern has one win in its last 10 CCHA games and even in their recent nonconference win over Michigan Tech Dec. 4, the Wildcats scored just two goals. NMU is No. 50 in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 2.05 goals per game.
3. Apparently, Notre Dame and Miami are the teams to beat. The Fighting Irish needed to win their single game this weekend to hold on to the top spot in the league going into the break and the Irish did just that. The RedHawks tied and defeated Ohio State — and took the shootout point — to tie ND for first. It’s important to note two things here: 1) ND has three games in hand on Miami and 2) no one is surprised that these two teams lead the league. That these teams are four points ahead of third-place Western Michigan — instead of a single point or two, for example — and eight points ahead of fourth-place Ohio State … well, that is surprising. I thought the points would be tighter at midseason.
And a fourth-place OSU? Yes, without any sarcasm, I find that surprising.