It was a great man that once said, "Just when they think they've got all the answers, I change all the questions." Such was life in the CCHA this weekend. One week after proclaiming how straightforward and logical the league standings looked, most of the conference's top teams hit the road, and were served a lesson that things weren't going to be that simple.
The weekend's biggest surprise had to be in Bowling Green, where the Falcons won their first conference game by giving the Fighting Irish their first conference loss in a 3-2 game. The Falcons got two goals from their top line and a nice performance in net by Nick Eno to get the win. The Irish rebounded with a convincing win on Saturday, but it had to be nice for Bowling Green to get a big win in front of their home fans. It could be a season without many high points as the Falcons rebuild under Chris Bergeron.
Meanwhile, Western Michigan looks like their rebuilding period may be even shorter than expected. They pulled out two close victories at home over Michigan State to move to 6-2-2 on the season. The next two weekends are tough for the Broncos, but if they can survive that, the schedule really opens up for the next two months or so. If they continue playing like they have been, they could be looking at one of their best seasons in years.
Miami also showed a bit of mortality, taking only one of six points in a weekend series at Ferris State. Playing in Big Rapids is always a tough trip, but it's still at least a little surprising, and very impressive to see someone take that many points from Miami.
Michigan made the long trek up to Alaska, and after being shut out by Scott Greenham on Friday night, rebounded to earn a split with a nice victory on Saturday. Again, Fairbanks is a pretty tough place to play, so I don't think that's a bad result for either team.
The rest of the week's action after the jump.
Wisconsin absolutely embarrassed Minnesota on Minnesota's home ice on Friday night with a 6-0 drubbing. My personal favorite moment of the evening came in the middle of the second period, when goalie Alex Kangas became so frustrated with the terrible defense in front of him that any time he had an opportunity to play the puck, he just started firing the puck up the boards, rather than letting one of his defensemen touch the puck. Not that Kangas was at his best either.
The Gophers rebounded with a better performance on Saturday, but gave up a late goal and had to settle for a 3-3 tie. Wisconsin freshman Mark Zengerle continued his impressive play with a six point weekend, putting him a tie for second place in conference scoring, one point behind league leader Jaden Schwartz.
Minnesota-Duluth faced their biggest test of the season up to this point by traveling to Grand Forks. North Dakota held on to win on Friday night, but the Bulldogs salvaged their weekend with an overtime win on Saturday. That was already UMD's third overtime win this season.
After an emotional week, Denver started out the weekend with a solid 4-1 win over Colorado College at home. On Saturday, the wheels fell off in Colorado Springs, when CC scored six straight third period goals to cruise to a 9-2 win. Jaden Schwartz and Steven Schultz each had five point nights for the Tigers. In his first action back since hurting his groin, Adam Murray gave up four goals on just 11 shots in the third period.
Nebraska-Omaha stayed undefeated in the WCHA with a home sweep of Minnesota State. Heading into the weekend, Minnesota State wasn't entirely sure if the two teams were still playing for the Spirit of the Maverick trophy now that UNO was in the WCHA--the mark of any great tradition--and for most of the weekend, looked like they weren't interested in competing for anything at all.
Bemidji State picked up their first ever WCHA win in overtime on Saturday at St. Cloud, to earn a split on the weekend. The Beavers are still looking like Matt Read, Jordan George, Ian Lowe, and not much else. St. Cloud has to feel like they gave away another win. The Huskies have yet to put together two solid performances in one weekend.
Ohio State swept Alabama-Huntsville with two easy home victories. The transition to a Mark Osiecki-run team hasn't been the smoothest at Ohio State, so two wins, any two wins, is a big help.
Northern Michigan and Lake Superior split a weekend series with each team winning at home.