What I Think: Week 4

Some thoughts after the fourth weekend of the season:

* I know many do have a real problem with the CCHA using shootouts to decide how points are allocated after tie games. I share some of those concerns, but I am in favor of the shootout as a way to inject some life into what can be a very dull ending to a game.

But if you’re going to use it, the least we can ask you to do is to get it right.

That didn’t happen Friday night in Omaha, where Bowling Green took the extra point for winning the shootout even though an ineligible player scored.

CCHA rules say a player who is serving a penalty at the end of the five-minute overtime is not eligible to shoot in the shootout. Yet, that’s exactly what the Falcons’ Jordan Samuels-Thomas did.

As we learned in the days following Wisconsin’s no-goal-that-should-have-been-a-goal drama in Denver two seasons ago, the result is final once the officials step off the ice, so there was no way to replay the shootout to determine a fair result under the rules. Bowling Green keeps the extra point.

In a statement released before Saturday’s game, CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos called the mishap “unfortunate,” and the league said it would review its policies and protocol.

I feel the same way about this that I did about the Wisconsin-Denver fiasco. Just like in that case instant replay wasn’t to blame, the shootout is not to blame here. It’s the human error that — although prone to happen — gives a black eye.

* I was expecting a little more out of New Hampshire in its two-game series at Wisconsin this weekend.

Like, say, being competitive.

* Here’s something that caught me off-guard when it arrived in the inbox Sunday evening: Minnesota’s pair of victories over Alaska-Anchorage marked its first sweep of a two-game regular-season home series against one opponent since January 2008.

Yeah, that’s a lot of qualifiers, but it still surprised me. The Gophers had nine chances for a true home sweep since taking two from Wayne State on Jan. 4-5, 2008.

Here’s hoping that’s not a bad sign for the future of Alaska-Anchorage’s program.

* Both of the WCHA members-elect are off to unbeaten starts through six games. Despite the shootout, um, loss on Friday, UNO is 4-0-2. Bemidji State is 5-0-1.

Nothing like reinforcing consumer confidence.

* There were scary moments in Denver on Friday when goaltender Marc Cheverie had to be taken from the ice on a stretcher after his left calf took a deep cut from a skate.

It appears there was no major damage in the sense of risk to his career, but Cheverie will miss time — at least a few weeks.

That puts freshman Adam Murray in the solo spotlight a lot earlier than expected, and he’ll have to bring up his stats — 1-2-1 record, 4.27 goals-against average, .856 save percentage — to keep the Pioneers going at the pace it appeared they were reaching before Cheverie’s injury.

* Michigan State earned its sixth victory of the season on Saturday by beating Western Michigan. That’s news only in relation to last season, when the Spartans didn’t reach six wins until they beat Alaska on Jan. 2 en route to a dismal 10-23-5 record.

You don’t need to look much past Michigan State’s goals-for/goals-against split to see the difference. Last year, it was 1.63/3.11. So far this season, it’s 3.62/2.50.

* It’s about time to start downgrading teams in my top 20 ballot for having losing records. With that being said, here’s what I submitted for this week:

1. Denver

2. Miami

3. North Dakota

4. Michigan

5. Yale

6. Massachusetts-Lowell

7. Notre Dame

8. Cornell

9. Nebraska-Omaha

10. Boston University

11. Alaska

12. Bemidji State

13. Colorado College

14. Princeton

15. Vermont

16. Michigan State

17. Wisconsin

18. Boston College

19. Quinnipiac

20. Massachusetts