Three things about the WCHA last weekend: Huskies, Beavers and Lakers, oh my!

1. Michigan Tech might be for real.

The Huskies hosted Michigan for the first time since 1983 this past weekend. The end result was a sweep of epic proportions. Tech won 4-1 Friday (in front of the Stanley Cup!) and 6-2 Saturday, giving the Huskies a perfect 6-0-0 record.

Four different Huskies scored goals Friday, and six different players scored Saturday, while Jamie Phillips continued his hot streak and stopped 54 Wolverine shots on the weekend.

It’s exactly the kind of performance Tech head coach Mel Pearson was looking for in his team’s home opener — he said last week he was worried about the potential for a letdown for his team playing at home for such a big series.

Luckily, that didn’t happen, and the Huskies are now 6-0-0 after sweeping away two ranked teams.

Pearson said at the beginning of the season that, on paper, this was the deepest offensive team he’s ever had since taking over the head job in 2011. With weekends like this, he might have a point.

Houghton Daily Mining Gazette sports editor Brandon Veale put it best in a Tweet after game two: “If this is the #mtuhky team we’re getting all season, look the hell out college hockey world.”

2. Bemidji State shows off at home

After upsetting then No. 2 North Dakota in Grand Forks in their season opener (unrelated, but I have a feeling that result is going to be discussed all season, no matter how each teams’ seasons play out), the Beavers lost their next three (the next night at home against UND then at No. 1 Minnesota).

This weekend’s result against No. 16 Alaska showed that the Beavers aren’t just a one-hit wonder. BSU swept the Nanooks in Bemidji, routing Alaska 6-1 Friday before winning 4-3 in overtime Saturday.

Both wins showed BSU’s improved offensive depth and versatility compared to the last few seasons. The Beavers have already scored 21 goals in six games, with 10 players having at least a goal. Four are tied for the team-lead with three, and perhaps most surprising is that none of those are Cory Ward (who did, however, score Saturday’s overtime game-winner).

Ward has just two goals, but guys like fourth-liner Charlie O’Connor (who had two goals in all of last season) has three, as does Markus Gerbrandt, Nate Arentz and Brendan Harms (who happen to share the same line).

The Beavers have a difficult upcoming schedule, taking on Minnesota State, Michigan Tech and Bowling Green back-to-back-to-back. All three teams ahead of them in the standings so far. If they can keep up this kind of scoring, BSU might be a force in the WCHA.

3. Lakers breathe sigh of relief

Lake Superior State won’t start the season 0-10 after all.

The Lakers stole a 3-2 overtime win Saturday night in Anchorage, snapping their nine-game losing streak to start the season.

Bryce Schmitt, the team leader with three goals, scored Friday’s game-winner for the Lakers, who had lost 3-2 the previous night despite outshooting the Seawolves 29-24.

Under new head coach Damon Whitten, the Lakers have been playing nonstop since Oct. 4. Their schedule included trips to Robert Morris, Notre Dame and Anchorage, and they already have five WCHA losses.

So getting their first win before going into this bye week — the Lakers’ first break this season — couldn’t have come at a better time for Whitten, who now has a week to get his players ready for another grueling stretch in November and December that features trips to Huntsville, Grand Forks and Ferris State and home games against strong Alaska and Minnesota State teams.

103 COMMENTS

  1. Your conference breakdown isn’t right. NCHC has three teams.

    As a UND fan that moves works for me, keeps the team a bit closer for those that can travel and we get the 4 seed rather than the three. Wisconsin helped us tonight maybe they’ll help again and play a bad game next week.

  2. St. Cloud State, North Dakota and Denver are 3 from the NCHC. BC, Umass-Lowell, Providence, Notre Dame and Vermont are 5 for Hockey East.

  3. Jayson-No.5 Ferris St is placed in No. 4 Ferris St’s bracket????!!!!. Don’t you mean No.5 Ferris St in No. 4 Wisconsin’s Regional. I think Jayson needs a little rest before the big day Sunday.

  4. What about a 3-way swap of the #3 seeds? Colgate to the East, St. Cloud to the Midwest, & Minnesota State to the West? That way there would be no intraconference matchups

  5. Whew! As a Sioux fan there one thing we never want to be … waiting on certain teams to win or lose & that’s where we found ourselves. But now we are in, let’s be worthy. P.S. To Jayson are you sure the NCAA doesn’t just wait for your prediction?

    • This bracket is not the official one. The NCAA still might put in more east coast teams and they certainly should either add Ohio State or Michigan.

      • Unlike basketball, the criteria for which teams get in the tourney is public and well laid out (i.e. check the pairwise). The only real debate is how they move those teams around to the four sites. You won’t see Ohio State or Michigan in the tourney.

      • Why should they add ohio state or michigan? They are lower than UND and have fewer wins. This is a really silly statement and shows that you just don’t understand how this works.

  6. here’s another thought:I’m gonna take a stab a pickin the field Here’s my guess:
    saint paul: Minnesota Notre Dame, MN state, Robert Morris
    Cinci: Wisconsin, Ferris State, Saint Cloud, No Dak
    connecticutt: Union, Q’pak, Providence, Vermont
    Mass: BC, Lowell, Colgate, Denver
    If Notre Dame & Ferris get swapped, then swap MN state & SCSU, let’s see how I do

    • Why would they swap MN St and SCSU? Notre Dame/SCSU is a perfectly fine 8/9 matchup, SCSU is closeby to St. Paul, putting Mankato there doesn’t do anything to help attendance and messes with bracket integrity.

      • Because putting Colgate in the NE would be better than having MN State there, and they can’t move to the Midwest and have a 1st rd matchup with Ferris St. So you would have to do a 3-way swap to make it work. As long as all three teams are in the 9-12 band, wouldn’t you rather boost attendance?

  7. First thing wrong with this bracket is there are not enough Big Ten teams in the mix and too many eastern schools. I am a bit miffed in why Vermont is in and New Hampshire didn’t make it. I lean a bit towards who is playing good hockey now. New Hamp, Minn State, Denver, and a few other are doing that. I like seeing Minn. State in the brackets. They always seem so underrated or nobody takes them seriously. The NCAA officials should take a longer look at the championship series in each conference and not just give the winner an automatic slot. I guess it is not so important where you are in the brackets as long as you are in.

    • So the team that gets hot in a 2 week period (Miami/UNH Conference Finalists) should be rewarded more than a teams entire body of work during the season (Vermont)? Vermont has been a strong team ALL season, I can’t say the same about UNH, up and down season. I would gather, that had Vermont played UNH in the Hockey East quarterfinals and NOT Lowell; UNH wouldn’t have been in Boston.

      • Agreed. UNH got lucky to be #4 and host a 1st round pairing with a Northeastern team that was slipping badly. If NU beat UNH, there probably would have been 6 HE teams in the dance.

      • Vermont should be in… Catamounts were rarely, if ever, out of the top 15-16 all year long. Colgate, Minnesota St., and North Dakota played themselves in… MIchigan, Northeastern, played themselves out. Cornell and Ohio State didn’t do enough. Yale really never had the goods.

        As for the BIG, it’s hard for a 6-team league to get more than two… Michigan blew it, or you’d have three in.

        • North Dakota did not really play themselves in – needing three games against CC then losing to Miami put them in a precarious position. If not for the NCHC having the idiotic 3rd place game, they would not have even made the tournament.

          Even *with* the 3rd place game, they still needed help from Lowell and Wisconsin.

          • ????? Sure they did… They played far better than Michigan, Northeastern, and Cornell (among others) the last month. They weren’t even in the top 20 in the Pairwise a month ago… Those teams were. That’s not playing themselves in? And Lowell and Wisconsin were supposed to win.

  8. Thanks for another season of “what ifs”! Hope this bracket stands true, I hear your record is pretty good at predicting it.

    • Done, Chuck. Switching Vermont and NDakota is exactly what the committee did… No doubt for a dual purpose, attendance and keeping East to East, and West to West.
      Brackets are fine by me.

  9. In a perfect world, one in which the Big 10 was not allowed to perform clumsy surgery on Western college hockey, the conference breakdown would look like this:
    Old WCHA 6: Minny, Wiskey, St. Cloud, Mankato, NoDak, Denver
    Hockey East 4: BC, UML, Providence, Vermont
    ECAC 3: Union, Qpak, Colgate
    CCHA 2: Ferris St, Notre Dame
    Atlantic 1: RMU
    8 teams East, 8 teams West, perfect harmony.

    • If we had the old WCHA 6 teams wouldn’t have gone, they would have had worse records from beating up on each other all year. Also Denver and Mankato wouldn’t have won the WCHA conference tournament and then it would only be 4 teams.

  10. If North Dakota is a 14th seed, it shouldn’t matter how far they have to travel. The NCAA has made many lower seed teams travel far for their regional in the past.

  11. Why in the world would you move North Dakota to the East, and Vermont to the Midwest not very fan friendly. I think the true reason is that you don’t want to see a first round game of North Dakota and Wisconsin

  12. What about a 3 way swap where UND is in the West, Vermont in the East and Robert Morris is in the Midwest. This make the most sense for attendance.

  13. I love the switch of the sioux and Vermont for “attendance.” Quinnipiac is maybe 40 mins from Bridgeport and providence a couple hours. Give me a break. Cause I’m sure Vermont fans will pack the place even more. The only reason for that switch is to ensure an east coast team makes it to the frozen four. The nc$$ wouldn’t want a frozen four comprised of teams from the old WCHA.

  14. One nice and juicy thing about the Bridgeport bracket – good story lines – not that it matters much for TV with this sport, but still…

    Vermont’s Coach coached at Union – Kevin Sneddon
    Providence’s Coach coached at Union and lead the turn around – Nate Leaman
    Qpac beat Union in the Regional Final last year to go to the FF – so a revenge game could be at hand

    Fun if you are a Union fan, which I am.

  15. Having regionals in Worcester, Cincinnati and Bridgeport is just plain stupid. The Worcester Centrum ( or whatever they call it now ) is a dump as is Bridgeport’s arena. Cinci is no where near any hockey powerhouse. No one will be there. In the east it should be in Manchester, Boston, Providence or maybe Hartford. In the west it should be in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver, Detroit, Chicago or Milwaukee. Half empty arenas make the games on TV look like a joke.

    • Obviously, you’ve never been to Webster Bank Arena. Nice facility, just that it’s in Bridgeport. But it is easy on and off 95. 1st time they had regional, good crowds. Last time, not so good. Would expect it to be at least close to sellout for PC-Q. Not sure what to expect for Union-UVM……

      • NONE of these regionals ever come close to selling out. Period. Even out west where those fans think they sell out, it just doesn’t happen. I went to Bridgeport 2 years ago. A dump. The corridors are way too tight with minimal food choices. They made it so you cannot walk all the way around so you have to turn around and go back. Dumb. There are too many games to attend in a 4 week period so the cost adds up. Check out the attendance at all 4 sites. None of them will be close. Cincinnati will be less than half full. Bad location. PC doesn’t bring many fans. That place seats 10,000 +. Maybe get 7500. Watch.

        • You’re all over the map. Corridors too small? Minimal food choices? Are you Bob or Barbara? Too many games to attend in 4 weeks? What does that even mean? You want less games? How would that work? And how would you know about Providence? When was the last time they made the tournament? All 4 teams for Bridgeport are driving distance. We’ll see. First year in Bridgeport you couldn’t walk up and get ticket first day. Two years ago crowds were down. And I don’t think 7500 for a college game is terrible. And why do you care about attendance anyway? Does it affect your enjoyment of the games? Try to relax and just enjoy it…..

  16. My thoughts about the national tourney (NT) have changed over the years. Here are a few things to consider:

    1. It doesn’t matter who you play at any point in the tourney. Yes, there might be an easier path to the FF, but at the end of the day (and, if you look at past FF attendees) it just doesn’t matter. We spend far too much time nit picking the whole who plays whom issue. You will have to beat the best teams to reach the FF so it matters little where you meet these teams. This comment is based on the idea that every team (and fans) is only concerned with winning a national championship. If the goal for a given team is to show up….so to speak…then the argument I am making falters.

    2. The far bigger issue for pairing teams should be based on proximity to fan base. College hockey is a niche sport, growing up a Sioux fan I didn’t realize just how niche the sport is on a national level. College hockey needs to ensure the most fans (in each region) can get to the regional games. Using the NT as a tool to attract new fans to the sport does not work, we know this because regional games continue to pull in very few fans (90% of these regional games have 1,500 fans or less…..embarrassing, eh?). Far more attention should be given to school/fan location than avoiding intra-conference matchups. I used to get into the whole West vs East argument, but with all the new conferences this argument is now moot….as it should be.

    3. Far too much weight is given to conference “playoff” champions. Far more weight should be given to team performance during the season. Baseball is on one extreme, and college football is on the other. In baseball, most teams are out by mid-year. In CFB there are so few games that a conference championship actually carries some weight…it is a decent percentage of a team’s total wins. College hockey is somewhere between baseball and CFB, but we treat the conference champs much
    like CFB. Don’t want to single out an individual team, but there are teams who made the NT this year based on 2-3 wins in their conf playoffs. This means a team could win one or zero games each year, but still make the NT by winning 2-3 games in their conf playoffs. Compared to a full season of achievement (or lack thereof), winning a 2-3 game conf championship should not ensure that team makes the NT. Winning a conf championship should be weighed with all the other criteria used in determining team selection for the NT. Winning a conf championship should mean something, just not an auto-bid to the NT.

    Just my 2 cents……:)

    • College Basketball has the same issue. Automatic bids are a problem. But for some reason, it seems to work. Some of those conference winners are on a roll.

    • In a technical sense, it’s not the NCAA that decided that each conference’s automatic bid goes to the conference tournament champion. Each conference gets an automatic bid and the conference gets to choose how it wants to designate that bid. It just so happens that all of the conferences opt to give the automatic bid to their tournament champion.

      Anyway, your argument breaks down a little bit talking about the conference champion vs. full season of achievement argument. There was only one conference with a double champion (Union/ECAC). In every other conference, the tournament champion was not the regular season champion. And yet, in all of those conferences (except the AHA), the regular season champion is in the NCAA field and has a higher seed than the tournament champion.

      Besides, the drama of playing your way into the national tournament is something that makes playoff hockey exciting. Desperate teams playing to keep their seasons alive makes for great hockey. Plus, the great thing about college hockey is that sometimes those “undeserving” tournament champions make something happen. Remember last year that Canisius was up 3-1 on overall #1 Quinnipiac halfway through the third period and QU’s dramatic comeback to win was one of the best moments of the tournament. Rochester made it to the Frozen Four and overall #1 Miami needed double overtime to beat Michigan in the regional final in 2010. Bemidji made the Frozen Four the year before that.

      • Het Tape, I agree there is some excitement generated when bubble teams use their conf championship (whatever format each conf uses) as a means to reach the NT. This is exactly what happened with North Dakota this year…I think they received the last at-large bid. There are differences between college hockey and BB in that some of the BB at-large bids are just that…..teams invited to play based on voting (is this not correct?). North Dakota’s entrance to the NT was based on their record so it is not truly an at-large bid…is it? Either way, I agree the conference playoffs add an element of excitement in that some teams can gain entrance into the NT by virtue of their play.
        I hear what you are saying about the NCAA giving each conference the choice of how they want to “crown” their champion. I guess I take issue with the way some conferences decide this. I only keep track of the NCHC and I think the regular season champion should get the auto bid…not the playoff champion. But, this is a separate argument for another day. Obviously, the conferences feel much differently about this than I do since, as you stated, they all use the same formula to determine who gets the auto bid (the playoff champion).
        In all honesty, I don’t get as wrapped up about this stuff as much as it might seem. I feel like you have to earn your way in to the NT by playing well all year….or at least have a W-L record that shows you played well at some point. If UND did not make it this year, for example, I would not have cried foul by any means (though some probably would) since we did not win when we needed to. It is risky when you have to rely on various teams losing or winning to make it in. Of course, neither of us will fix this ongoing debate about who “deserves” to make the NT….and which teams should be paired against each other. Anyway, good luck to all the teams in the tourney, looking forward to this weekend…

  17. There’s no attendance problems in the East—because people just don’t go to the Ames it there no matter where they are. Look at all of their home rinks. They are pathetic. Small and most of them old. And they can’t even fill those rinks. I would pick one central location and have all the teams play there to whittle down to the frozen four. They can be held in Minneapolis or Detroit each year thereby assuring attendance. Maybe Chicago as hockey fans from Minnesota, North Dakota, and Michigan will still attend. Wisconsin is close too. These are the only programs that really draw the fans. Just speaking the truth

    • I hear that every year ( ND, Wisconsin and Minnesota travel well ). What a load of crap. North Dakota and Wisconsin were in NH last year and they weren’t represented well at all. The big 10 final four was near the Minnesota campus and UW was also there. Two big schools. Half full arena both nights. Fact. All 4 will have attendance problems. Fans cannot afford to go to their league quarterfinals for 2 or 3 games followed by league semis and finals THEN followed by NCAA 1st and 2nd rounds. The NCAA makes you buy a ticket for all 3 games even though your team may lose the 1st night. Staying at hotels and driving long distances. We need to work sometime. It is a financial drain.

  18. Nice job predicting the bracket this year, Mr. Moy. Now why can’t you just do a straightforward, follow the rules, bracket like this during the other weeks of the season? I notice you didn’t think the NCAA would actually do things like “put the 2 seeds closest to home” like you said a couple weeks ago. If this “bracketology” had been written 2 weeks ago, you probably would have had Notre Dame going to Cinci and matched up Minnesota with North Dakota, or something equally silly. I guess when your work can actually be fact checked, you care enough not just to make stuff up.

  19. The WCHA looks to be much improved this year. With the Beavs, Bowling Green, Tech, Alaska, MN State all looking strong, the WCHA Final Five should be fun in St. Paul this year!

  20. I’m confused when the top 16 in the pairwise are listed they show #14 Denver, #15 Merrimack, and #16 Quinnipiac, but in Step One suddenly Quinnipiac has jumped to #14 with Denver and Merrimack dropping out to make room for Penn State and Robert Morris. Shouldn’t Denver still be #14 with Merrimack and Quinnipiac dropping out since those three teams were not tied? And even if they were tied Denver has the highest RPI of the three so it would still be #14, right?

    • Because Conference Champions get automatic bids. That said, somebody has to suffer. In this scenario, it’s Denver and Merrimack.

    • Each conference has an autobid and that goes to the conference champion. This analysis assumes that the current team in first place in those conferences would win those autobids. Since both PSU and RMU are ranked lower than Denver and Merrimack, they effectively are bumped out of the tournament since they’re in the bottom two spots.

  21. These bracketologies are useless because everything will change in the next 3 months. That being said, North Dakota would absolutely love their bracket!

      • Have to agree the rankings/polls mean nothing at this time of the year, but the Bracket sites are going to be the same. When is the NCAA going to realize these sites don’t work, they need to get back on campus for the first round. How can the NCAA sell the finally 16 tournament when you have crowds of maybe 1000 people in large rinks. It really makes the National tournament look like a joke

      • The key difference between the Pairwise and the polls is that the Pairwise matters for something and the polls don’t matter at all.

        • The Pairwise was not being compared to the polls, the bracketology was. Yes the Pairwise matters, but not so much now as it will in March. I could care less who is where in the Pairwise right now.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here