The issues of the league are these:
Which team will have to travel to the north
To face Alaska when the playoffs start?
Eh, you, Brutus?
So Foul and Fair a Game I Have Not Seen
Round about the leaders go
Throughout Joe Louis, to and fro.
But the game is all for naught
Unless for PairWise rankings sought.
On one end Miller paces pipes
But Michigan for first is ripe.
The Spartans late have stumbled some.
In six games last — three, two, and one.
And Wolverines seem poised to make
a peaking run; there’s much at stake.
Alas! This seems so far from fair:
No points to gain. Quel le cauchemar!
A Good Old Commander and a Most Kind Gentleman
Mason retiring. New MSU AD.
It’s official: look!
Who will follow? Not he.
When the Hurlyburly’s Done
Six teams stay home, and six will travelers be,
And seven less than UNO, ND.
While in between four squads will fight for points.
By season’s end, positioning anoints.
Tie breakers will determine who plays whom,
And most league wins is first to spell the doom.
Then next, it’s head-to-head for breaking ties.
And who scored more in those is next. The wise
Know win percentage versus other foes
In conference (from first on down) then shows.
The final is a simple act of chance:
Just toss the coin to see who gets the dance.
So. After iambic pentameter, what is there?
Fairbanks. Rolling, but only two conference games left with four points at stake. Games at home. Bobby Andrews needs four points for a career 100.
Nebraska-Omaha. Four conference games left. Peaked too early? School record eight-game win streak broken by Michigan last weekend. Ellis? Shutout streak ended at 212:44. Power play: struggling.
Northern Michigan (24 pts.), Ferris State (23 pts.), Western Michigan (23 pts.), and Ohio State (22 pts.): six games left each.
Northern. Swept by OSU. Swept by Western. Split with Ferris. Split with Notre Dame. Kowalski? Streaky. Cockburn, Gobert, a go? I dunno. Cockburn + Theuer = goals.
Ferris. Split with Northern. Loss and tie to Notre Dame. Swept OSU once, but two games left with clustermate. Have yet to play Western. Controls own destiny.
Western. Swept NMU. Split with FSU, win and tie against Notre Dame. Swept by OSU. Peaking now? Riding season’s longest win streak (four games). Are 12-4-2 at home, but four of remaining six games on road.
Ohio State. Swept NMU. Swept WMU. Swept by FSU, with two games pending this weekend. Split with Notre Dame. And, if it comes down to it, split with UNO. Riding seven-game winless streak. Betz: as good as the team in front of him. The team in front of him: inconsistent.
Notre Dame. Four league games left. New candidates for hardest-working team in college hockey. Snapped six-game losing streak in style last week by snapping MSU’s ungodly unbeaten streak at home. Cey? For real. Irish: tenacious enough to sneak up there for home ice.
But soft! What bones in Value City break?
Ferris State (14-13-1, 11-10-1 CCHA) at Ohio State (14-12-4, 9-9-4 CCHA)
Friday, 7:35 p.m. and Saturday, 7:05 p.m., Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Bulldogs bounced Buckeyes, Dec. 14-15, 5-2 and 3-2.
OSU leads all-time series 46-30-10, 12-5-1 in last 18 meetings.
Last FSU win in C-bus? Nov. 18, 1995.
Last games at the Schott? Mar. 12-13, 1999. First round of CCHA playoffs. OSU 4-2, 3-1.
Bulldogs swept Bowling Green last weekend, 5-2, 6-3. Buckeyes went to Alaska. That’s all they’d like you to know. UAF 6-3, 6-1.
Ah! That last stat is most telling. None on either squad was there when Selleke bit Harrison in Big Rapids, but all act as though they were. Umberger tossed in the first meeting this season; Steckel’s three consecutive penalties hurt the Buckeyes in that same game.
There is no love lost between these teams. The gates of the bin shall open wide, and often. Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished.
Collins, Kunitz … psychic? Passing: amazing. Skating: yup. Scoring? Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven, having some business.
Jason Basile: penalty shot goal last weekend. Matt York: 12 points in last eight games. FSU: four or more goals in last six games.
Steckel, Umberger — separated. Scoring? More so. Winning? Not yet. Umberger’s goals:
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds
And sails upon the bosom of the air.
Paul Caponigri: 13 points in last 12 games. Buckeyes: peppered UAF with over 70 shots last weekend, but only four goals to show. OSU: 8-3-4 at home this year.
“I think it’s going to be good hockey, probably two really close games. I imagine at the end of the weekend you’d say they’re two games that probably could have gone either way.
“They [OSU] outplayed Fairbanks. It was just the bounce of the puck. We’re a streaky team ourselves. If you look back at our season, you see it’s a season of streaks.
“When we’re hot, we play better on specialty teams. The specialty teams for us have been the most inconsistent all year. One night, we’ll get two or three on the power play, and then we can go three games without a power-play goal. Same with the penalty kill. We do well for a while, and then all of a sudden we give up five against Bemidji in one night.”
Daniels on goaltenders Mike Brown (2.51 GAA, .918 SV%) and John de Caro (3.19 GAA, .892 SV%):
“At the beginning of the year, I wouldn’t say it was a lack of confidence, but just not knowing. Now, guys have complete confidence in both goalies.”
Daniels on home ice:
“You know what? I think we’re optimistic that we can play well enough to get it, that if things go right we can certainly get it, but I don’t think we’re at the point here where we feel it’s a done deal. We know we’re right in the thick of things.
“Obviously everybody wants to get home ice, including us, but I don’t think that this year is going to be the same as other years, where home ice is really going to give you a huge, huge advantage because I think the series are going to be so close.
“What you’re going to see once we get close to playoffs is that certain teams, if all of a sudden they get hit with a rash of injuries, there’s going to be an awful lot of jockeying.
“Home ice won’t be a guarantee to get to The Joe this year.”
“We still have a possible eight points after this weekend, but we have to take care of matters at home. We’ve got a good home team, and we want to continue that way. There’s a way to play to be successful in this league. We know what that is. We keep testing ourselves.
“We have to play physical, and we have to play good team defense. When we do that, everything else seems to work out for us. It’s the only way to get it done.
“With understanding where we have to get to, we have our backs against the wall.”
Markell on losing in Alaska:
“It’s humbling when you go up there and get beaten like that. We have to accept the fact that…the offense has to join the defense quicker, and the defense has to join the offense quicker. Plus you need solid goaltending. It was all aspects of our game.
“When you pour 75-76 shots on net and you score four goals, you’d better be playing good defense.”
Markell on losing twice to Ferris earlier this season:
“We’re a different team now. Then, it was just before break. I don’t think we were mentally prepared to play a tough series like that. It could have gone either way; they’d just gotten back from Alaska, and we had opportunities to score goals. Again, we didn’t score, and we never put them back on their heals.
“There was a lot of emotion in that [second] game, and it didn’t end up well for us in specialty teams. We’ve addressed all that. We think we’re a different team and we’ve made adjustments.”
Saturday night’s the night for seniors. Jason Crain, Mike McCormick, and Yan Des Gagne — last weekend, regular-season home game. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Pick: OSU 3-2, 3-1
If hockey be the food of love, play on.
Tu-whit, Tu-who: A Merry Note
Post Feb. 8. Mercury direct.
All’s well that ends well.