We’re two weeks into the WCHA season and every team in the league has sustained at least one loss.
Last season, this was not the case. Michigan Tech won its first 10 games. Both Alaska schools went unbeaten in the two tournaments up there. And Northern Michigan stayed undefeated in its first six tournaments.
This season, that ship has sailed early. All 10 teams have at least one loss — some worse than others. That being said, a few teams are better set up after their opening weekends in nonconference play. Is this too small a sample size this early? We’ll see. Let’s examine.
1. Minnesota State can’t score
Preseason conference favorite and defending MacNaughton and Final Five champion Minnesota State has struggled most out of any team. Sure, the Mavericks have played two top-tier NCHC schools — Omaha and St. Cloud — but the way they have lost, with two goals in four games and three straight shutouts — has been most shocking. They’re the only team in the league without a victory. And it could stay that way — the Mavs’ next two opponents are Bemidji State and Alaska. Speaking of which…
2. Beavers, Falcons playing strong
So far, the team with the most impressive result (that is, the team that has performed the best against the stiffest non-conference opponent) has been Bemidji State. The Beavers are 1-1-1 with a win over No. 7 Minnesota Duluth and a tie and a loss to No. 1 North Dakota (BSU and UND were tied 2-2 with 10 minutes left in the game but ended up losing 5-2 following a questionable 5-minute major penalty). The Falcons are 3-1-1 with their lone loss coming on a weird Tuesday game against Western Michigan. At the very least, BSU and BG have the best track record out of the conference, which overall has been much weaker for the WCHA compared to a season ago.
3. Tech in position, maybe?
Michigan Tech and Ferris State split the first conference series of the season, with Tech winning the opener in Big Rapids 5-1 before the Bulldogs took game two 3-2. It’s still pretty hard to judge anything so early — especially since the Huskies are starting a week behind everybody else. They played a pair of exhibitions two weeks ago when most of the college hockey world was starting up, so it’s probably not too shocking that they are still finding their legs. But if Minnesota State is going to continue to struggle and the Huskies want to make a statement and pull ahead in the conference after finishing second (by a point) last season, they need to find a way to get as many points as they can in the first month (or so) of the season. Tech plays rivals Northern Michigan next weekend then hosts Ferris for the return trip before traveling to Huntsville.