1. Standings upside-down
If you had Bemidji State, Alabama Huntsville and Minnesota State on top of the league standings after the first two weeks of the season… wait, scratch that. You didn’t have those teams on top of the league standings (at least not two of them), so don’t say you did, because you’re certainly lying. Conversely, league favorites Bowling Green, Michigan Tech and Ferris State are a combined 0-6 in WCHA play and in the cellar (and none of the three teams has looked particularly sharp so far). It’s obviously early and the teams on the bottom have the time to redeem themselves (and the teams on top have plenty of time to stumble) but it just goes to show how unpredictable things can be in the WCHA.
2. Awful non-conference start
Perhaps a bit more troubling is the league’s terrible out-of-conference record. WCHA teams are 1-9 against the rest of the country so far. The lone win was Northern Michigan’s 3-2 victory over Wisconsin in the first game of their series in Green Bay. (The ‘Cats also lost a wild 6-5 contest in the series finale.) Otherwise, it’s been pretty dismal. Michigan Tech was swept by Minnesota Duluth by a combined 13-4. Ferris State lost both sets of a home-and-home with instate rival Western Michigan. Both Alaska teams were schooled by visiting Minnesota in Anchorage. And Alabama Huntsville followed up an outstanding season-opening road sweep of Ferris with a brutal sweep at UConn in which the Chargers were shutout in both games of the series. Again: It’s still early, but these brutal nonconference results aren’t going to do much to bring up the league’s end-of-season Pairwise (or, for that matter, outside perception of the conference as a whole).
3. Bright spots
Both Minnesota schools did their jobs. Minnesota State, which started out 0-4 last season, swept Michigan Tech in a battle of last season’s co-champions and outscored Tech 7-1 in the process. Bemidji State, which went 1-4 against Bowling Green last season and lost to them in the first round of the WCHA playoffs, also got the sweep. The Beavers looked like the stronger team for a good 100 of the 120 minutes of the series in Bemidji. As Lake Superior has yet to play an official game yet, these two squads are the only two unbeatens in the conference at the moment.