Three things I learned about the WCHA this week

1. Exhibitions mean nothing

Minnesota State played Trinity Western on Sunday night and won 12-1. Nebraska Omaha played Northern Alberta on Monday and lost 4-0. What was learned from those preseason games? When the Mavericks played the Mavericks on Friday night in Omaha, the answer was revealed: Not much. Minnesota State was slow out of the gate and played without poise, while Omaha tic-tac-toed the puck around the rink and scored five times. The next night, Minnesota State turned the tables for the series split. Now we can officially stop talking about preseason exhibition games — until next year.

 2. League scores important wins

The most stunning result of the weekend was Bemidji State’s 5-1 road victory over No. 2 North Dakota. It was the Beavers’ first win in Grand Forks since 1970. It was an important victory, to be certain, for Bemidji State, which won just 10 games last season. But it was also big for the WCHA, as its coaches talked about trying to improve its nonconference record. Alaska and Alaska Anchorage each went 2-0 at Anchorage’s Kendall Hockey Classic, beating Maine and Wisconsin, Bowling Green split with Miami and Minnesota State split at Omaha.

 3. Freshmen fare well

I was in Omaha this weekend and saw Minnesota State freshman forward Brad McClure scored two goals, including Saturday’s game-winner. A quick glance at the league scoring shows a few other freshies who had solid sotarts to their career. Bowling Green defenseman Nolan Valleau had a four-assist series, and Anchorage forward Tad Kozun finished with two goals and an assist. Then there were the goalies. Bemidji State’s Michael Bitzer stopped 25 of 26 shots to win at North Dakota, and Anchorage’ Olivier Mantha won his first start, making 27 saves in a 4-2 win over Wisconsin.

54 COMMENTS

  1. Can someone answer me how does moving Notre Dame to the East region help attendance? I do understand they play in HE, but the Midwest region seems like a better fit! What do you all think?

    • The Notre Dame move isn’t meant to boost attendance in the East Regional, it’s what has to be done to boost attendance in the Midwest Regional (bringing in Michigan) You can’t place the more logical choice (Colgate) in the East because it would create a first round intraconference matchup. The calculation Jason makes is that Michigan will fill more seats in Cincinnati than Notre Dame, although you could swap the two.

  2. We saw the same thing with Gaudreau last year, no one wanted to lay a body on him coming through the neutral zone, so he’d just dangle and make a move. From what I’ve seen from Eichel, it apears to be the same. Although I blame the forwards a bit more than just D not stepping up to take the body.

    For a team with 14 Freshman, it’s kind of hard to overlook what’s going on up in Lowell. Hard to put Smith not in the conversation. And if your worried about Notre Dame’s D, I’d be interested to hear you’re thoughts on how Lowell goes from the best defensive team in the country, to mediocre at best (horrible penalty kill, where they thrived in past years). And in the meantime becomes one of the most potent offenses.

    • I agree about how impressive Lowell has been and also about how I could mention rookies like C.J. Smith. But I chose to keep my comments focused this Monday rather than spread them across more teams.

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