CCHA Preview: October 18th-20th

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Previewing this week's CCHA action.

Minnesota-Duluth at Notre Dame Thursday and Friday

This series was moved up day so as not to conflict with Notre Dame's home football game against BYU on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs and Irish have a bit of a budding rivalry. They've met six times since 2004-2005, and have another couple meetings set up beyond this one.

Notre Dame goalie Steve Summerhays was given the starting role heading into this season, and his first two games last weekend helped solidify him in that spot.

Minnesota-Duluth won the first game of this series 3-1, getting a goal and an assist from freshman Cal Decowski and 29 saves from freshman goalie Matt McNeely.

Providence at Miami Friday and Saturday

Miami is young this year, with 11 freshmen. Nine of those freshmen played in their opening weekend sweep of Colgate, including both freshmen goal tenders, Ryan McKay and Jay Williams. They'll face a little tougher test this weekend when they host a Providence team that looks to be an up-and-coming program. Providence will likely be starting their own freshman goalie in Jon Gillies, arguably the top goalie recruit in the nation last year. Gillies is already off to a strong start statistically though two games this season.

Bentley at Michigan, Friday

Just a one game weekend for Michigan this week. Michigan head coach Red Berenson had some tough words for freshman goalie Jared Rutledge who struggled in Michigan's season-opening loss to RIT last Thursday, calling all five goals he allowed soft. No decision has been made between Rutledge and fellow frosh Steve Racine starting this game, but I wouldn't be surprised if Racine is given the starting job until he falters.

Meanwhile, defenseman Kevin Clare is likely out due to injury this weekend for Michigan, pushing Mike Szuma, who played just three games last year, into the lineup, and leaving Michigan with zero depth on the blue line.

Mercyhurst at Ferris State, Friday and Saturday

Friday night is Ferris State's home opener and will be a special night, as they unveil their Frozen Four banner from last year. Ferris State expanded the number of seats in an already raucous student section, and the arena should be a sea of red. If the Bulldogs can continue their run of success from last season, that may just be the toughest place to play in all of college hockey.

Northern Michigan at Nebraska-Omaha Friday and Saturday

For all the talk about how Wisconsin disappointed in the opening weekend of the season, a lot of credit also has to go to Northern Michigan, who could end up being a pretty dangerous team this year. NMU earned Team of the Week honors from College Hockey News for their effort.

Mining Journal sports editor Matt Wellens reported via Twitter that Northern Michigan's Reed Seckel, Ryan Aynsley, Wade Epp, and Erik Higby were all limited in practice this week with minor injuries, but it seems like they should be good to go this weekend.

Omaha's Brock Montpetit is centering UNO's top line, and needs to be more consistent this year.

Lake Superior at Bemidji State Friday and Saturday

Bemidji opens up their season against a future conference foe. For as little credit as I've given the Beavers heading into the season--I had them 11th in the WCHA in preseason--I actually kind of like what they have on their roster. I think they've got a pretty good defense, and some pretty good freshman forwards including the tremendously underrated Cory Ward, Brad Robbins, and a potential sleeper in Phil Brewer. Brewer sat out last year, but I've heard some buzz that he might have a strong year this year. Somebody is going to have to finish near the bottom of the WCHA, and I still think Bemidji is one of the more likely candidates, but I also wouldn't be shocked if they finished much higher than I had predicted.

For Lake Superior, 6'6" forward Kellen Lain is questionable for this series with a groin injury. That would be a huge loss, literally and figuratively if he can't go.

Niagara at Michigan State, Friday and Saturday

After getting destroyed by Minnesota last weekend in Minneapolis, MIchigan State head coach Tom Anastos joked that at least he learned how to spell 'Minnesota,' referring to Minnesota's fight song. There weren't a lot of other positives for the Spartans last weekend. Freshman defenseman John Draeger averaged 26 minutes per game last weekend, and while he struggled on Saturday, he looks like he could be a huge piece for Michigan State this year.

The Spartans get the opportunity to regroup a little bit this week with a relatively easier opponent, before starting conference play next weekend at Lake Superior.

Canisius at Western Michigan, Friday and Saturday

Western Michigan's Mike Cichy has rededicated himself to off-ice training since transferring to Western Michigan from North Dakota, and it is paying dividends on the ice for him. Cichy was immediately plugged into Western's top line alongside Chase Balisy, and Dane Walters.

This doesn't look like much of a match-up on paper, but Canisius managed a split against Western last time they met two years ago, and Canisius freshman goalie Keegan Asmundson is coming off a week where he was named AHA rookie of the week.

Alaska Goal Rush Alaska vs. Merrimack Friday, North Dakota vs. Alaska, Saturday, Fairbanks, Alaska

For Merrimack, it's been a tough week, losing former coach Chris Serino to cancer at the age of 63. Mike McMahon wrote a nice piece on his relationship with the coach.

A budding bromance helped bring Merrimack up to Alaska for this tournament.

North Dakota's body count for this one looks like this: Danny Kristo, Connor Gaarder, Andrew Panzarella, and Stephane Pattyn. North Dakota isn't losing the same quality of players on Saturday, but with their bench so short, any bodies would help.

Bowling Green at Colgate, Friday and Saturday

This is Bowling Green's last tune-up before starting league play next week against Ohio State.

Freshman forward Brent Tate is unlikely to play this weekend with a back injury, and is questionable for next weekend as well.

Ohio State at Quinnipiac, Friday and Saturday

The Buckeyes travel to Connecticut to find out just how those presidential polls are made. Ohio State is feeling pretty good after pulling out a tough victory against Minnesota-Duluth last Saturday.

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