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First Round CCHA Playoff Preview

Here's my take on the first round of the CCHA playoffs.

# 9 Alaska-Fairbanks at #8 Notre Dame

My analysis: The first season under Jeff Jackson has been a pretty good bounceback year for the Irish. Thanks to the new tournament structure, instead of being forced to head out on the road and play a difficult road game, they get the luxury of playing the first round of the playoffs on their home ice. The Joyce Center doesn’t provide much in the way of home ice advantage for the Irish though.

These two teams split both regular season series and I expect them to split on the first two nights here too, but like last year, I think Alaska-Fairbanks goaltending will come through and give them the win in a close three game series. It’s been a disappointing season for the Nanooks after a promising start, but I think they’ve got it in them to make another post-season run in the CCHA tournament.

#10 Ohio State at # 7 Ferris State

My analysis: This season has been a major disappointment for the Buckeyes. They’re still on the NCAA tournament bubble, and could climb back into the picture if they win the first two rounds of the CCHA playoffs, but many people expected this team to be the best in the CCHA.

Ohio State is the more talented team, but I like the Bulldogs playing in front of their home fans. It’s always difficult to win in Big Rapids, and I don’t think Ohio State can generate the offense necessary to win the series. I’ll take Ferris State to sweep the Buckeyes.

#11 Western Michigan at #6 Lake Superior

My analysis: Playoff hockey is being played in Sault Ste. Marie for the first time in a while, and I expect the Lakers to be fired up in front of their home fans.

Western Michigan may have played themselves out of a chance at an upset last weekend. Their 3 point weekend against Nebraksa-Omaha move them up in the standings, and gave them Lake Superior, who outscored the Broncos 23-2 in their 4 games this season.

I don’t expect LSSU’s dominance over Western to change and for the Lakers to sweep easily.

#12 Bowling Green vs. #5 Nebraska-Omaha

My analysis: Omaha has to quickly get over the shock and disappointment of losing their first round bye and get ready for a tough first round series against Bowling Green.

These games should be shootouts, as each team has two players in the top 10 in scoring nationally, and both have inexperience goaltenders. I think a shootout would be to Omaha’s advantage though. The Falcons may steal the first game of the series, but I think the Mavericks will come back and win the next two.