MCHA resumes action with critical games

Big things will be happening in the MCHA when teams resume action January 13. For starters, the Stanley Cup will be making an appearance at the Ozaukee Ice Center as Concordia (Wis.) hosts Finlandia.

Then, the top four teams in the conference will be in action against each other in the first two weekends of the month.  These games will go a long way in determining which team will be victorious in the hunt for the MCHA conference title.

Concordia (Wis.) coach Tony Hrkac was a member of the Dallas Stars when the team won the Stanley Cup in 1999. The Stanley Cup has been awarded to the NHL champion since 1926.

Current plans will allow people in attendance to have a photo opportunity with the Stanley Cup before the 7:00 p.m. game on Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. until the 2:00 p.m. game time on Saturday, as part of an elevated admission fee.

As the schedule would have it, the four best teams in the MCHA are set to go at it in two separate series.

Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) faces Marian in a home-and-home series, while Lawrence travels to Adrian the first weekend. The following weekend, MSOE and Lawrence will play a home-and-home and Marian will host Adrian.

The last weekend in January, MSOE will travel to Adrian. The two teams are currently tied for the lead in the MCHA.

Let’s take a quick look at some team and individual statistics that may make these January games the focal point of the 2011-2012 season.

With a record of 10-3 overall and 7-1 in the conference, MSOE averages over four goals a game, while allowing an average of 1.8 goals a game.

Currently ranked No. 12 in the poll, MSOE also has the No. 12-ranked power play in Division III, with a 25.8 percent success rate.

MSOE boasts the third best defense in Division III, and it starts with senior goalie Connor Toomey. Toomey has a 1.84 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. He eclipsed the 50-win mark for his collegiate career at MSOE in December.

MSOE has a balanced scoring attack. Four players have scored eight goals for the season. Junior Jordan Keiser has eight goals and nine assists for 17 points. He leads the nation with four short-handed goals.

Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) last won the MCHA conference title during the 2006-2007 season.

No. 9 Adrian has had a stranglehold on the conference championship since joining the MCHA in 2007-2008.

Looking for its fifth straight championship, Adrian starts 2012 with a 9-4 overall record and is 7-1 in the conference.

Statistically, Adrian has the No. 4-rated offense in Division III, averaging 4.85 goals per game. It has the seventh-best power play, and has scored five short-handed goals this season, which is tied for No. 2 in Division III.

Junior Zach Graham leads Adrian in scoring with seven goals and 12 assists, followed by senior Jordan Watts, who leads the team with nine goals and has added five assists.

The freshmen duo of Scott Shackell and James Hamby has been the goaltenders for Adrian this season. Shackell has a goals against average of 1.99 and a save percentage of .927. Meanwhile, Hamby has 2.93 goals against average and a .907 save percentage.

At the beginning of the season, Marian did receive a vote as the team to beat in the MCHA Coach’s Poll. It has yet to lose in conference action, with a 3-0-3 record and is 6-3-4 overall.

Junior Dakota Dubetz leads the team in scoring with seven goals and 12 assists. Brian Berger has 10 goals and six assists, and has been one of the MCHA’s top rookies this season. Sophomore Josh Baker has logged the most time in goal for Marian. He has a 3.00 goals against average and a .909 save percentage.

The true dark horse in the MCHA is Lawrence, with a 5-5-3 overall record and a 4-1-3 conference record. It has the best special teams play during conference games. The power play has been effective 35.48 percent of the time during eight conference games and killed off 89.6 percent of its penalties.

Senior Matt Hughes and junior Brad Scurfield lead the team in scoring with 13 points each. Freshman Peter Emery has emerged as the main goaltender for Lawrence with a 2.41 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.

When the quest for the Harris Cup begins at the end of February, the games in January will play out in great importance as to how teams are seeded and in team confidence.


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