This Week in the CCHA: November 8, 1996

Bowling Green got a wake-up call after snoozing against both Michigan State and Notre Dame, and Ohio State limped home wounded from two tough games against Western Michigan. Michigan State presented its case to rivals Bowling Green and Michigan at home, while Ferris State struggled against Mankato. Michigan handled Notre Dame 6-3 Friday, in about the only game this writer predicted well.

What’s going on with the top squads’ special teams? Some look sloppy early on, and this is the time that folks start looking at those statistics more closely. Others will look at their goalies and realize it is going to be a long season.

Here is what this week looks like:

Western Michigan (3-1-1, 1-1-1 CCHA) at Lake Superior (2-5-0, 0-2-0 CCHA) Friday-Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Taffy Abel Arena, Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Western Michigan’s power play has impressed, converting on 30 percent of its opportunities this season. Sophomore goalie Matt Barnes has been effective as well, and senior Justin Cardwell woke up, and now leads the Broncos with five goals.

Lake Superior’s speed and skill will test the Broncos this weekend, though, as LSSU is hungry for a league win. Penalties are killing the Lakers, who have piled up 214 minutes in eight games. Goalie John Graham (4.03 GAA) has had a rough start. For the Lakers to be successful, they need to stay out of the box and get some help in net.

Pick: A split. LSSU 4-3 Friday, WMU 5-3 Saturday. Alaska-Fairbanks (0-7-0, 0-5-0 CCHA) at Michigan State (5-2-0, 4-0-0 CCHA) Friday-Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Munn Arena, East Lansing, MI

Poor Alaska. This is not where they want to go right now. Their special teams have been respectable, but goaltending has been a bit soft. Sophomore Ian Perkins’ 4.70 GAA reflects not only his own inconsistency, but the defense in front of him. Scoring has not come easy either, with junior Sean Fraser the only Nanook with three goals.

Michigan State, on the other hand, is smoking, and what better way to take over first place than to sweep Alaska. The Spartans have scored 20 goals in three CCHA games, have a power play near 30 percent efficiency, and are killing off 93 percent of the penalties they incur. Junior Mike Watt leads a deep team with seven goals. This is a perfect weekend to work out kinks and enjoy winning.

Pick: MSU sweeps, 6-2 Friday, 5-2 Saturday

Ohio State (1-6-0, 1-2-0 CCHA) at Michigan (6-1-0, 3-1-0 CCHA) Friday, 7:00 p.m., Yost Arena, Ann Arbor, MI

Ohio State needs a victory against a contender to prove to its young bucks that they can compete. They almost got WMU last week, and they will almost get Michigan this week. Goaltending is the key, and the Buckeyes are learning from their mistakes as they go. The team has been outscored two-to-one in the league so far. That is no mistake, but just inexperienced goaltending.

Michigan will continue to roll on the scoring of senior John Madden (5-9–14). Special teams will dictate this game.

Pick: Michigan 5, OSU 4

Bowling Green (6-2-0, 2-2-0 CCHA) at Michigan (6-1-0, 3-1-0 CCHA) Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Yost Arena, Ann Arbor, MI

Bowling Green’s power play was shut out last weekend, dropping to 17 percent after a strong start; the penalty-killers are a weak 74 percent. This all on top of senior netminder Bob Petrie’s weak showing so far, with a disappointing 4.28 GAA.

Michigan will savor this win. The scoring punch of players like junior Bill Muckalt, who leads the team with seven goals, will be too much unless BG gets their power play going against Michigan, which has only killed at 70 percent.

Pick: Michigan 5, BGSU 4

Ferris State (3-5-1, 0-3-0 CCHA) at Bowling Green (6-2-0, 2-2-0 CCHA) Friday, 7:00 p.m., Bowling Green Arena, Bowling Green, OH

Junior Jeff Blashill and the Ferris defensive corps are not holding up their end of the bargain so far. The offense has not been much help either, only scoring five goals in three CCHA games. With a penalty-kill that is only 70 percent efficient, this team needs more depth.

Bowling Green’s power play will feast on FSU this weekend. As long as the goaltending does not repeat last week’s embarrassing nap, the Falcons should have no problem manhandling Ferris.

Pick: BGSU 6, FSU 2

Ferris State (3-5-1, 0-3-0 CCHA) at Ohio State (1-6-0, 1-2-0 CCHA) Saturday, 7:00 p.m., OSU Ice Arena, Columbus, OH

Ferris State will be looking for an opportunity in Columbus to play a weak defense like theirs, and that will be the difference. If they can allow three or fewer goals, they will win.

the same holds for Ohio State, which is not getting help from freshman netminders. Nor should they expect them to steal some right now, not when seniors Steve Brent and Chad Powers have only six points between them in seven games. The leadership is missing right now, and this game will come down to physical play, which OSU has, and goaltending, which is a toss-up.

Pick: OSU 5, FSU 3

Notre Dame (3-2-1, 2-2-1 CCHA) at Boston College (2-3-0, 1-1-0 HEA) Friday, 7:00 p.m., Conte Forum, Boston, MA

Notre Dame takes a confident group to Boston after a great win against Bowling Green. But freshman Ben Simon has yet to score a goal, and senior Terry Lorenz is not yet contributing his share at this point. The power play is an average 19 percent, but Eisler is making the games exciting so far.

Boston College needs a win like this to prove it is making a return to form in the top tier of Hockey East teams. In losses to Bowling Green they looked sloppy, but this will be different. Sophomore Marty Reasoner can eat up Notre Dame’s defense.

Pick: BC 5, ND 3

Copyright 1996 Kirk Koennecke . All Rights Reserved.

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