A look forward to the second half

Adrian (Tim Brule)

There are only six weekends of games left, with all weekends seeing conference play. With almost a month off from the conference schedule, this is a perfect point in the season to evaluate what happened in first half, and show what teams need to compete when playoffs come around.

Right now, Adrian is still unbeaten in the conference, holding the top spot with 16 points. MSOE is right behind them with 13 points. Marian leads the South Division with 12 points.

Concordia and Lawrence are tied for fourth in the standings with eight points, followed by Finlandia with six points, while Lake Forest has three points. Northland is at the bottom of the standings with just one win and two points.

The Bulldogs have dominated so far this season. They hold an 8-0-0 conference record and have outscored their MCHA rivals, 47-14. Adrian’s nonconference performance hasn’t been too shabby either, as they have a 4-1-0 record, including a 4-2 victory over Alabama-Huntsville, a D-I opponent.

Shaq Merasty has been the breakout star for the Bulldogs. The freshman forward has tallied 11 goals and nine assists in 13 games. He is the only rookie in the nation to score more than 10 goals this season.

The Bulldogs have six weekends left of conference play, with their toughest weekend coming Jan. 25-26, when they will play at MSOE.

Concordia has already doubled its wins from last season, thanks to the guidance of coach Jasen Wise. Its rookie roster spent the first half of the season getting used to a college hockey pace, and there have been many high points. The second half the season should see a more disciplined team that is eager to win.

In the second half of the season, keep your eyes on rookies Devin Stuermer and Eli Riddle, who are the team’s top two point leaders. Stuermer, a forward, leads the effort with a 5-6-11 scoring line. Riddle is controlling the blue line, as he’s scored one goal and assisted on nine of Concordia’s goals.

The Lions haven’t won a game since Nov. 16, when the Lions clobbered Northland, 8-1. That is an eight-game losing streak for Finlandia, which holds a 3-5-0 MCHA record while toting a 3-10-0 overall record.

A strength the Lions can rely on is their freshman goalie, Troy Chandler, who has impressive numbers with a .912 save percentage and a 3.27 goals-against average. The Lions will look to add to their offense in the second half of the season. To make a strong playoff run, Finlandia will need to improve while relying on Northland to stay a step below in the standings.

Lake Forest
Lake Forest’s record (1-6-1 MCHA, 4-7-2 overall) isn’t reflecting the team’s effort this season. They have 35 goals-against, which is on par with the top half of the standings. Senior goaltender Brendan Sullivan has a .929 save percentage with a 2.10 goals-against average, making him 15th among the nation’s goaltending leaders.

Offense will be the key to win some games in the second half. The Foresters haven’t played since Dec. 8, when they swept past nonconference foe St. Mary’s. They will face Northland to start the New Year.

Lawrence is currently in the middle of the standings with eight points from a 4-4-0 MCHA record. Most recently, Lawrence played in the Oswego Hockey Classic, where they lost in the championship game to Oswego.

The team has nearly a whole roster contributing to their offense, with 14 different goal scorers. Senior forwards Brad Scurfield and Phil Bushbacher lead the goal output with nine each, as well as six assists apiece. Freshman forward Logan Lemirande leads the team’s point production with a 3-13-16 scoring line.

The Vikings needs to strengthen their blue line in order to make a run in the last part of the season.

Marian has quite the holiday break; they haven’t seen game action since Dec. 7-8, when they were swept by MSOE. They won’t see a game until Jan. 12, when they will face MSOE again.

The Sabres currently are in the top spot of the South Division with a 6-4-0 record. The team is strong on both ends of the ice. Junior forward Tyler Klein leads the offensive effort with an 8-4-12 scoring line. Sophomore Randy Willis and junior Josh Baker split time between the net, with Baker having played two more games.

The second half of the season should stay business as usual for this team, which will need a burst of offense to get into the top spot of the conference.

Milwaukee School of Engineering
MSOE, which is the reigning Harris Cup champion, is currently in the second spot in the conference with a 6-3-1 record. A highlight for the Raiders is their freshman goaltender, Nick Kohn. He has played in each of MSOE’s games, earning a 9-4-1 overall record, while earning a .927 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average.

The second half of the season should see some refocus from the Raiders, as they will try to regain the Harris Cup title. A highlight weekend will be Jan. 25-26, when the Raiders will host the Bulldogs. Earlier this season, Adrian swept MSOE in a bitter weekend series. MSOE will want to get two wins in front of its home crowd that weekend.

There haven’t been a whole lot of positives in the first half of the season for  Northland. It holds a 1-7-0 MCHA record while earning a 3-8-1 overall record. The lone conference win came against Finlandia on Nov. 16. The Lumberjacks have gone 2-1-1 in their last four nonconference tilts.

To make some strides in the second half of the season, the Lumberjacks will need to work on their goaltending, which is averaging 6.10 goals-against. Once they get a sound backend, hopefully their offense will follow suit.