WCHA weekend rewind: Feb. 6, 2012

From top to bottom, the only sure thing is that there are no sure things in the WCHA

Especially considering the WCHA’s bottom three teams heading into the weekend ended up going 3-2-1 with wins over the second (Minnesota-Duluth by Alaska Anchorage), sixth (Nebraska-Omaha by Bemidji State) and seventh (Michigan Tech by Minnesota State) place teams at the time.

Credit must go out to the Seawolves, in particular, who snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the defending champs on Saturday.

Last week, we said to wait a tick before anyone crowns Minnesota king of the WCHA hill because the remaining schedule favored UMD (not to mention the two  games in hand), but with the Bulldogs slipping once again, the Gophers are one step closer to the top.

The slide began when Minnesota-Duluth lost to UNO on the road, then two one-goal nail-biters against a team once thought to be the nation’s punching bag, then nine straight goals given up at home to Michigan Tech and the latest: Saturday’s loss at Alaska-Anchorage that dropped the Bulldogs from No. 1 to No. 5 in the all-important PairWise Rankings.

In one night, UMD fell a whole national tournament seed, but there’s plenty of time to get that back. However, let’s not call UMD’s remaining schedule easy anymore because the Bulldogs just split against the WCHA’s bottom-dweller a week after getting just one point against Michigan Tech, which was also in the league’s bottom half when the teams met.

What killed the Bulldogs, Saturday was the nine power-play minutes they gave UAA throughout the second period, down 1-0. The Seawolves scored a PP goal before the period ended to take a 2-0 lead, and it’s even tougher to battle back when you’re in the box all the time.

The jostling for postseason positioning just keeps getting more interesting by the week. For example, when play began on Friday there were five teams within three points from third through seventh in the standings but now we see six teams separated by four points from third through eighth.

Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

What can [J.T.] Brown do for UMD?

Carry his team on any given night.

The streaky UMD sophomore sniper provided all of his team’s scoring in what ultimately became a split-salvaging 4-1 win over Alaska-Anchorage in Friday’s series opener between the two teams. When he put Minnesota-Duluth on the board in its Saturday loss it meant Brown had played a part in six consecutive UMD goals going back to his assist on the Bulldogs’ fourth and final goal of last weekend’s Michigan Tech series in their 4-4 tie the previous Friday night.

Not to be outdone, at least in the points department, linemate Travis Oleksuk assisted on all four of Brown’s goals on Friday as well as UMD’s third and fourth goals seven days earlier against MTU. Brown and Oleksuk each now have matching totals of 16 goal and 21 assists on the season.

On the subject of carrying a team for the short term, the first two of St. Cloud State’s goals in its 5-1 win over Wisconsin on Friday were scored by junior forward Ben Hanowski who scored all three of SCSU’s goals in its sweep by Minnesota the week before. Hanowski now has 17 goals to go with 16 assists.

Call it the “Sam Gagner Effect” after the Edmonton Oiler center contributed to 11 straight goals by his team (6-5-11) over a two-game stretch last week.

Terry got his groove back?

For those who don’t remember, Terry Broadhurst is Nebraska-Omaha’s left winger who was second to Nick Bjugstad for the WCHA lead in goals at the end of November, scoring 14 goals in his team’s first 15 games. Then he didn’t score a single goal for 12 straight games until he netted a pair with two assists, involving himself in all four UNO goals Saturday night. The Mavericks still lost 6-4 at home to Bemidji State.

With Alex Hudson kicked off the team, Broadhurst is the leading returning scorer (30 points) from last season’s team, which graduated its top three scorers. The Mavericks need Broadhurst to kick it in the ‘hind and start producing as they make a push for a home playoff spot and it won’t be easy. Three teams — Colorado College, Minnesota and Denver — out of the four UNO faces down the stretch are in the top four in the WCHA for scoring defense.

63 COMMENTS

  1. Bad loss by Cornell to Brown on Sunday following a great win. They had a chance to  give themselves an early advantage in the league. Hopefully they sweep next weekend (or at least pull out 3 points because Dartmouth has been a tough trip recently for the Red.

  2. Minnesota will win the WCHA! UMD’s schedule down the stretch is tougher then Minnesota’s. The overall opponents record vs the Bulldogs is not as good as the Gophers opponents record but the teams UMD will face are playing better hockey. UMD has home series with North Dakota & Colorado College, they also play at Mankato & St. Cloud. The Gophers play at Denver & Omaha, they play host to Bemidji and Wisconsin. I like the Gophers position headed down the stretch vs Duluths. I will predict the Bulldogs will get 10pts out of 14. Even if the Gophers split all of their remaining series the Bulldogs wouldn’t catch them. The Bulldogs would need to sweep 2 of those series if the Gophers played 500 the rest of the way. The Gophers will sweep either Bemidji or Wisconsin and split with Omaha and Denver. No matter what it would be tough for the Bulldogs to catch the Gophers.

    • i think UND and CC will both get 2 points out of duluth, for some reason they are slumping.  and going to St. Cloud this year has not been easy, and as we can see this weekend, MSU-M isn’t going to go down easily either. I can’t see the bulldogs even getting 8 out of the 14 the way they are playing right now.  They need a big weekend against the no namers

      • This is very doubtfull, the Bulldogs are in a slump, but when their game is on their great. If you look back to past games the Bulldogs have showed dominate traits throughout most of their games that make it hard for oppoents. Their going to be excited to the challenge of UND and CC and wouldn’t doubt if they won 3/4 of those games.

  3. Problem with your logic Mr Hockey is that UMD has 8 games remaining with 16 points available, not 14. 
    However, after all is said and done, I do agree that the Gophers will win the WCHA crown.  I predict that UMD will take 12 points during the remainder of the schedule and that Minnesota will match that total.

    • Yes my math was off a little, the morning red bull hadn’t kicked in yet…lol. However that being said I was figuring the Gophers points as the same 14 not 16. So either way it will be tough for the Bulldogs to catch them.

    • Gogophs I do! The Gophers, Bulldogs, & BU have proven that they’re the top teams this year. No matter which team you cheer for, you have to admitt that they’re. Boston U has been through the most adversity with kids leaving and getting suspended. BU fans were saying it was time for Jack Parker to leave. I’d guess those fans have resinded those comments now. The Gophers have been playing great lately. Yes, they had a little slump, every team does. My hope is when the selection committee meets they realize this and put Gophers and Bulldogs on opposite sides of the bracket. I’d like Boston in the Gophers bracket just to see a good frozen Four match up. Go Gophers. 

  4. BU actually holds the tie-breaker over BC so they can be the number one seed if they sweep and BC drops one. Alternately, if BC ties twice then BU would take the number one seed by virtue of more league wins (again assuming a sweep).

    • You are correct and I’ve changed the offending language.  The tiebreaker list went:
      BC wins vs. UML, 2-1-0BU wins vs. BC, 2-1-0…
      With the BU-BC tiebreaker coming right after a BC tiebreaker win, I misread it. If I’d just used my memory, I’d have recalled Jack Parker saying after the Beanpot championship game that his team took the tiebreaker but BC owned the bigger win.

      Sorry for the error.  A casuality of being on the West Coast…

  5. UNH hasn’t given up 5 goals since their last game against Maine @ Fenway which was an OT game and DeSmith’s second ever start.  And they’ve only given up 4 goals 3 other times since DeSmith got the nod (vs BC, VT, @ UMass).  All of Maine’s scoring comes from that top line.  If the UNH defense can keep them in check I don’t see Maine scoring 4 or 5 goals (doesn’t mean they won’t win though).  

  6. BC should take the regular season title and hockey east championship. BU and Maine are both capable of winning as well. I would say Maine has the second best chance given how they played BC and that they havn’t lost 3 top players for off ice incidents.

  7. BC would have this in the bag if UVM didn’t gag late last week. Even a tie then would have worked. I’m a bit leery of the Cats playing at least one good game this weekend….

    •  I have to agree… I was enjoying seeing Merrimack ranked highly, but the second half of the season has been unimpressive.

  8. Chris. Can you write a letter to the editor of the Springfield, MA paper saying that you think more people should be aware of the quality hockey being played at the Olympia. I’ve tried it twice, and they don’t want to publish it. You have more creds than me!

  9. Rick Pizzo from the big ten network tweeted today affiliate members will be added soon. Looks like Notre dame and Arizona state.

  10. I know there is still a ton of hockey to be played but if the NCAA field was picked today neither Omaha nor UMD would be eligible because both teams have a sub 500 record.

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