Every game counts the same during the season, but sometimes, certain games seem to matter just a little bit more. That's the case this weekend as two highly-ranked teams square off in a huge match-up, and believe it or not, it takes place in the CCHA.
Notre Dame and Michigan State will play a home and home series this weekend with both teams being ranked in the top ten, or top five, depending on the poll you look at. This series should have huge ramifications not only on the CCHA standings, but also the Pairwise Rankings at the end of the season. This will be the only meeting during the regular season for these two teams and the storylines for this series are intriguing.
Notre Dame is an up and coming team that has surprised everybody out of the gate. Some people question their soft schedule though, especially since Boston College doesn't look that great anymore, and will be watching closely to see how Notre Dame holds up against one of the top teams in the CCHA.
Michigan State is looking to return to CCHA dominance. After a rocky start to the Rick Comley Era in East Lansing, things finely seem to be turning around for the Spartans. They finished in second place in the league last season, and were picked to win the league this year. They got off to a bit of a slow start in league play, due to two tough road games that they lost in Kalamazoo and East Lansing. This weekend should be a test to see if they can still hold dominance over the CCHA like Ron Mason's teams did in the late 90's.
The other interesting story is of Notre Dame coach, and Michigan State alum Jeff Jackson. Some people feel that Jeff Jackson would have taken the job as Ron Mason's replacement if he had been offered the job. Who knows whether that is true or not, since the job was offered to Comley. Jackson's success at Notre Dame has been undeniable. Notre Dame finished in last place the season prior to his arrival, and they are now one of the top teams in the country.
As for what's going to happen in this series, it's tough to call, but I'm going to give the slight edge to Notre Dame. Michigan State goalie Jeff Lerg has struggled a bit, while Notre Dame has been airtight defensively. If Lerg makes a couple of mistakes this weekend, I don't think MSU will be able to recover offensively.