Here is what I think I learned after what turned out to be a crazy weekend in the WCHA, specifically in Mankato.
The race is on for the MacNaughton Cup
Just when we thought the WCHA regular season championship was destined for Ferris State, Minnesota State came along this weekend and made the conference title race interesting with a sweep of the Bulldogs in Mankato.
And boy was it an interesting series to say the least, with a line brawl during the third period on Saturday that resulted in 26 penalties for 160 minutes, with 10 players getting ejected. Of those 10, three received game disqualifications and will be missing Friday’s action. We’ll see if more suspensions are handed out today from the league.
Oh, and someone also wasted a perfectly good bottle of Buffalo Wild Wings sauce by chucking it onto the ice. Who does that?
The Mavericks’ 6-2 and 4-3 wins cut Ferris’ lead down to two points, however, FSU still has two games on hand and will be able to extend that margin on Friday and Saturday at Michigan Tech. The Mavericks wrap up nonconference play Friday and Saturday in the Minnesota North Star Cup.
Following the North Star Cup, MSU finishes the season at Northern Michigan, at home back-to-back weekends against Bemidji State and Alabama-Huntsville, at Lake Superior State and at home against Michigan Tech.
After traveling to Tech, FSU hosts Northern Michigan, travels to Bemidji, hosts Alaska-Anchorage, travels to Alaska and closes at home against LSSU.
Don’t overlook Alaska’s Morley brothers
Nanooks senior forward Cody Kunyk gets a lot of praise and deservedly so. He’s a tremendous player who can do great things with the puck.
However, I left the Berry Events Center in Marquette on Saturday night more impressed with Alaska freshman forward Brandon Morley and his older brother, sophomore forward Tyler Morley.
Brandon finished with two goals and an assist in the split with the Wildcats while Tyler totaled three goals. Both combined to score three goals and an assist in Saturday’s come-from-behind 4-3 win.
Brandon only had two goals and an assist in 22 games heading into the weekend as he has found the penalty box more than the net this year.
Tyler, however, is now tied with Kunyk for the team-high in goals with 12 as both sit tied for fourth overall in the WCHA.
Northern Michigan’s John Siemer is going to be special
As good as the Morley brothers were this weekend, especially on Saturday, Northern Michigan true freshman John Siemer was better.
In just his fourth and fifth collegiate games since becoming eligible in the middle of December and his first weekend playing in front of the Wildcats’ home crowd, Siemer scored two goals and two assists with three of those points coming Saturday in the loss to Alaska.
Siemer scored his first collegiate goal in his first game in Marquette on Friday to give NMU a 4-2 lead. Then on Saturday, he set up senior forward Erik Higby twice before scoring again in the third period to cut Alaska’s lead to one.
His coast-to-coast underdressing of the Nanooks that put NMU up 2-0 in the first period Saturday was as impressive of a play I’ve seen all year. Pinned back in the Wildcats’ own zone, Siemer escaped past one Nanook by passing the puck off the boards to himself. He then weaved through three more Nanooks before backhanding a pass at the end line to Higby through the same three Nanooks. Higby one-timed the shot for the score.