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Opening Weekend Reviews

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The first weekend of the season is over and we finally have the first pieces of evidence as to just how good or bad some of these teams will be. Here's my thoughts on each team that played this weekend.

The Oversize Consonant

Alaska-Anchorage-All in all a pretty positive weekend. They rallied from 5-1 down against North Dakota to tie 5-5 and beat Air Force. Each of their freshman goalies played a game. Rob Gunderson had the better stats, albeit against the weaker opponent.

Bemidji State-They had an exhibition against Manitoba scheduled earlier this summer, but decided to cancel because it wasn't a guarantee their new arena would be ready. As it turned out, the arena was ready, and the team held an intrasquad scrimmage to get ready for their first game next week against North Dakota. Perhaps the best news for Bemidji State is that forward Ben Kinne reportedly skated in the game, after suffering a stroke while working out this summer.

Colorado College-They won and tied against What's-Left-Of-RPI this weekend. The formula for CC last weekend--and likely throughout this season--seems pretty clear: Get a couple goals from the Schwartz's and keep the game low-scoring.

Denver-The Pioneers had a very impressive win and tie on the road against a very good Vermont team. More importantly for the Pioneers, both Adam Murray and Sam Brittain played well in goal.

Michigan Tech-They beat a couple of CCHA teams last weekend, which aren't huge resume boosters, but there's a lot to be positive about. They scored 10 goals on the weekend and are 2-0-0 for the first time since they swept St. Lawrence on the opening weekend of the 2001-2002 season.

Minnesota-They also scored 10 goals and managed a home sweep of an opponent they should have swept. It's a step in the right direction.

Minnesota State- The Mavericks tied twice at home against St. Lawrence, losing a third period lead late in both games. Going back to the end of last season, that makes four straight games that MSU has had a lead in the third period without getting a win.

Minnesota-Duluth-They had kind of a wacky 6-6 tie against Lake Superior. The Lakers always seems to play UMD tough though. This is the third tie between the two teams in four games since they started playing each other early in the year. Still, six goals against a team that isn't known as an offensive juggernaut may be cause for some concern, but goalie Kenny Reiter rebounded with a nice game in a 3-2 win over Northern Michigan the next night.

Nebraska-Omaha-They dismantled Clarkson and beat RIT. Both games they should win, but still nice to start the year 2-0 before their first Wcha games.

North Dakota-A very frustrating 5-5 tie after leading 5-1 against Alaska-Anchorage, and then a nice win over Alaska, where they kept an already offensively challenged team pretty bottled up. I picked UND to win the MacNaughton Cup like everyone else, but too many first half performances like Friday night have kept them from winning it the past couple of years, and it could be a problem again.

St. Cloud State-Their loss on Saturday to Clarkson has to be one of the weekend's most confusing results. If nothing else, it gets the Huskies' attention prior to a big weekend series against Miami, and helps solidify Mike Lee as the team's number one starter.

Wisconsin-The Icebreaker tournament should be a pretty big deal. But it was in St. Louis this year, and they decided to play the second set of games on Sunday to insure no one would show up. They drew reported two-game total attendances of 4000(exactly) on the first day and 2014 on Sunday. As for the Badgers, they lost a tough game to a talented BU team, though it remains to be seen if this is a year BU will be awesome or awesomely bad. I can never keep track. And then they beat up a pretty hapless Holy Cross team.

The CCHA

Alaska-Pretty much what was expected. They beat a decent Air Force team easily, but didn't have the firepower to hang with a team as talented as North Dakota. They might be a tournament team again this year--someone from the CCHA has to be--but likely as a low seed with little chance of advancing. Of course, that's still pretty great for a team from Alaska.

Bowling Green-Swept in the first conference series of the year by Michigan. They'll be able to get nice and comfy at the bottom of the league standings. Jordan Samuels-Thomas is an excellent player though.

Ferris State-Big props to the Bulldogs for actually traveling down to Huntsville to play UAH. They won on Thursday, but UAH jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Friday, and FSU wasn't able to score enough to overcome that deficit.

Lake Superior-After a crazy game with UMD, LSSU started freshman Kevin Kapalka against Michigan Tech and that went poorly.

Miami-They start the season with two brutal series against New Hampshire and St. Cloud. They split with New Hampshire, which seems like a pretty good result. Bowling Green transfer Pat Tiesling started the year on Miami's first line, and scored four assists in his first weekend series. He had just 9 assists in 64 games with Bowling Green.

Michigan-Took care of business against Bowling Green, and Red Berenson got his 700th and 701st wins as coach at Michigan. More on that later this week.

Michigan State-Lost their exhibition game to Western Ontario. It's ugly, but not a huge concern. They outshot UWO by a pretty dominating margin, but Drew Palmisano had a weak game, which at this point, seems like an outlier. Scoring may be a problem, but Daultan Leveille's two goals seems like a positive. He's definitely a player that when he breaks out, he'll be very good.

Northern Michigan-A very rough start to the season, losing a pair of one-goal games to WCHA teams. They lost a lot of key players off last year's team, and it may take them a while to get settled. Reid Ellingson's stay as the team's starting goalie could be very short-lived.

Notre Dame-Like Wisconsin, they lost a tough one-goal game to BU and beat up on Holy Cross. Two big Minnesotans, Nick Larson and Anders Lee, each had three goals and an assist for the Irish.

Ohio State-They split a road series at Quinnipiac. This is pretty much a rebuilding year, or at least a waiting year, until Mark Osiecki can turn the Buckeyes into a team made entirely of Wisconsinites.

Western Michigan-The gauntlet has kind of unofficially been laid down in Kalamazoo that WMU needs to be better by the time the Big Ten Hockey Conference, or odds are they won't have a program anymore. They've got a pretty long ways to go. They lost on Friday and then needed overtime on Saturday to beat Canisius. The Broncos outshot Canisius by a wide margin in both games, and they've got some talent, including Max Campbell who could have a huge year, but goaltending is a huge concern now that Riley Gill is gone. They shouldn't need to outshoot a team by 36 shots to win a game 3-2.