Weekend work-up, Feb. 6, 2012: A short rotation for first place — for now

With just three weekends of play remaining, nothing will be decided until the very end. Three things from this most recent weekend of play.
1. The Ferris State-Western Michigan series at the end of February will determine the regular-season champion, unless …
2. …the Wolverines have something to say about it.
Okay, so this is a twofer.
For the second weekend in a row, the Broncos were on top of the CCHA standings after Friday’s play only to concede the spot to the Bulldogs the following night. That’s because for the second weekend in a row, WMU split with one of the bottom two teams in the league. Last weekend, WMU lost a Saturday game to Bowling Green; this weekend, it was Alaska. A 4-4-0 record in CCHA play to begin the second half has put the Broncos just within reach of first place.
The Bulldogs hang on to first place by virtue of the Broncos’ Saturday night slip and the single point Ferris State was able to secure in Friday’s 5-5 tie against Northern Michigan before beating the Wildcats on Saturday. Senior defenseman Aaron Schmit’s fourth goal of the season — his 12th career goal — unassisted at 10:13 in the third, knotted the game.
FSU is the steadiest team in college hockey right now, with the longest unbeaten streak (7-0-3) in the country. In a league as tough as this season’s CCHA, that’s still not enough …
… especially when the Wolverines are playing as well as they are. Michigan is as good as any team in the country right now, fueled by a solid defense and the outstanding second-half play of goaltender Shawn Hunwick. With their second sweep of the second half, the Wolverines are 6-1-1 in conference play in 2012, and they’ll have something to say about who’s in first place at the end of February.
3. No one is going to want to play Bowling Green in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.
In fact, no one wants to play them now. For the second weekend in a row, the Falcons humbled a ranked team on a Saturday night. Two weeks ago, it was Western Michigan. This past Saturday, it was Notre Dame — and the Falcons came from behind on the road to do it. Freshman Ryan Carpenter scored at 5:17 and 18:22 in the third period to lift BG over ND, keeping the Fighting Irish out of a tie with WMU for second place.
With the split in South Bend, the Falcons are 3-3-2 in CCHA play in the second half. That’s .500 hockey — same as second-place Western Michigan, with one fewer win but one more point in that same stretch of games.
What a season.