The final weekend of regular-season CCHA play was very interesting, thanks to a couple of upsets and some overtime.
1. Miami is the last-ever CCHA regular-season champ.
The RedHawks needed to win one game to capture the regular-season championship, but they needed to play two to do so. After losing 3-0 to Ohio State Friday night, Miami won its final regular-season game Saturday, 4-2. At a glance, the score makes the game look closer than it actually was; the RedHawks were up 4-0 by the 15:50 mark in the third period. Miami outshot Ohio State 36-27 in the contest. Many of the post-game quotes from the RedHawks were very interesting, but the one that caught my attention was something that senior forward Curtis McKenzie said: “That trophy’s forever ours now.”
2. Seniors on senior night + home game = motivation.
I covered a gritty game in East Lansing Saturday night, Michigan State’s 1-0 shutout of Western Michigan. The last-place Spartans knew they were heading to Alaska for the first round of the CCHA playoffs, so all that team was playing for was pride. The only goal of the game was scored by senior Anthony Hayes, assisted by classmates Kevin Walrod and Chris Forfar, a line that hadn’t played together for some time. It was Hayes’ fourth goal in 36 games, the ninth of his career.
Notre Dame senior forward Nick Larson netted an unassisted power-play goal for the Irish late in ND’s 4-1 win over Bowling Green Saturday, his third in 35 games this season. Senior Curtis McKenzie opened the scoring on the power play in the first period for Miami in the RedHawks 4-2 win Saturday, his ninth goal of the year. Michigan senior Kevin Lynch had the only goal in regulation in the Wolverines’ 1-1 home tie with Ferris State, his seventh of the season; his classmate, A.J. Treais, had the only goal in the shootout to give UM the extra point.
3. Teams on the bubble.
The only CCHA team high in the PairWise Rankings as the regular season ends is Miami. Western Michigan is tied for 10th with St. Cloud State. Notre Dame is tied for 14th with Rensselaer. Alaska is No. 16.
At this point, it’s impossible to say where these teams will be in three weeks — and so much depends on what happens in other leagues. I will be sad if the CCHA is underrepresented in the NCAA tournament and sadder still if the league doesn’t place at least one team in the Frozen Four. I think the next month calls for a lot of aspirin and seltzer water.
I’m sure you’re already following Bracketology. If you’re not, you should be.