Three quick things learned from the weekend.
1. There’s no place like home … unless you’re Miami or Ohio State. Everybody got points this weekend at home except the RedHawks and Buckeyes, who won in each other’s barns. Clearly, that did very little to change things in the CCHA standings, but it did make most CCHA fans happy that they got something for their attendance. Home should be where a team has the best shot at earning points, but that’s not been the case for several teams this season. Alaska, Bowling Green and Miami each has losing records at home, and Michigan is just a hair above .500 (4-3-0) in the fabled Yost Arena in CCHA home games. Three teams have lost just one game each at home this season — Ferris State (6-1-1), Michigan State (6-1-2) and Northern Michigan (6-1-3) — and each loss was in conference play. Given that anyone really can beat anyone else on any given night in this league (unless you’re Bowling Green, and that’s no slam against the hard-working Falcons), those one-loss home records haven’t translated into the top three spots in the league.
2. If you’re a Buckeye and you’re scoring a game-winning goal, chances are you’re a freshman. OSU had its 11-game unbeaten streak snapped at home Friday night with a 5-3 loss to Miami, but the Buckeyes rebounded with a 3-2 overtime win Saturday in Steve Cady Arena. Senior Danny Dries scored the tying goal at 10:32 in the third, but freshman Chad Niddery had the game winner at 2:38 in OT. Chad who, you ask? Yes, it was Niddery’s first collegiate goal. Eight of OSU’s 12 game-winning goals have been scored by four freshmen: Niddery, Darik Angeli, Ryan Dzingel and Nick Oddo. Of course, OSU has had a dozen rookies skating this season, but of the Buckeyes’ top 10 scorers, only three are freshmen.
3. Ending the weekend with an extra point from a shootout feels like ending the weekend with a win. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it still amazes me. I saw this firsthand in East Lansing, when the Spartans earned two points from the Wolverines Saturday night. Michigan won 4-3 Friday and earned four of six points in the series, but the Wolverines left the ice deflated — and coach Red Berenson expressed bitter disappointment in earning four points, afterward. The Spartans celebrated as though they’d clinched a playoff berth. Let me make it clear that I’m not faulting anyone involved here, human nature and this rivalry being what they are. The shootout was emotional and followed a really good, hard-fought game and the Spartans were justifiably happy for Drew Palmisano who had 35 saves and blanked the Wolverines in the shootout, but that single goal that Shawn Hunwick allowed in the shootout doesn’t negate his 32-save performance, nor does it change anything in terms of the NCAA play. It did break the deadlock between the teams in the standings, though, with MSU emerging one point ahead of UM — but that was absolutely not what either team was thinking after OT was done. Even the scoreboard in the corner of Munn Ice Arena declared that MSU had won. Will the shootout go away when the CCHA does? Please?
I usually update my own picks on Fridays, but as there is just one game to call then I’m not sure that word will get around that I had a weekend that was solidly above .500.
Last week: 6-2-2 (.700)
Season to date: 70-46-16 (.591)
Had OSU and Miami been cooperative and each won at home, it would have been a very good weekend for picks, indeed.
Through the break
There is no weekly column this week, so many good things from this past weekend won’t get touched, casualties of writing schedules. If you email me personally or post intelligently below, I’ll be very happy to engage in discussion of what’s on your mind.
We finish the first half with Michigan Tech at Northern Michigan Friday night, so I’ll have a pick for that Friday morning. I’ll also be looking back at the first half of the season in blog form in the next two weeks, so stay tuned for that. Of course, there’s a cookie recipe coming up, some email to discuss and we’ll be catching up with old friends of the CCHA.
As always, I’m on Twitter (paulacweston) and you can reach me by email ([email protected]). Comment below, but keep it nice. I would love to hear what you want your team to get from Santa this year. Me, I’d settle for knowing that the CCHA is as for real as it seems. I guess we’ll see in March.