First and foremost, Denver sent out a press release this evening saying that forward Jesse Martin is now in stable condition after suffering three fractures of the C-2 vertebrae in his neck as the result of a hit from North Dakota's Brad Malone this past Saturday. It's obviously a season-ending injury, and potentially career-ending, but thankfully Martin has full feeling in his extremities. I'll have more on Martin's injury, and the hit that caused it at some point this week, but for now, all one can do is hope for the best possible outcomes in Martin's recovery.
Thoughts on this week's results after the jump.
Michigan Tech, and their high flying offense, was one of the great stories early in the season, but reality started to set in a little for the Huskies, as they were swept in Madison by Wisconsin and managed only 3 goals on the weekend. Wisconsin, meanwhile, looks like they could be one of the stronger teams in the league. They're maybe rebuilding, but despite the Oversize Consonant's 'Just Got Tougher' slogan, this looks like a year where it's not going to take a lot to finish in third or fourth place in the league, which should net a fairly easy home playoff series, and a good match-up in the Final Five (We Mean Games Played Now).
Part of the reason for that is that St. Cloud seems to have abdicated their claim to a top spot in the league. The Huskies started the season with a disappointing loss to Clarkson in the first weekend, and this weekend, dropped a home game to Quinnipiac. The Huskies are a good, talented team, but they're not so good that they can win with sub-par efforts. Luckily for the Huskies, there's plenty of time to turn things around, and neither of those bad losses have any effect on their conference standing.
Meanwhile, it's taken all of about two weekends for the CCHA to pretty much shake itself out. Miami, Notre Dame, and Michigan are at the top, MSU trails slightly, there's a couple teams in the middle, and Ohio State, Western, Lake Superior, and Bowling Green are at the bottom.
Miami only dropped one of five points to Lake Superior at home over the weekend, as did Notre Dame in a home and home series with Western Michigan. Michigan managed a point in a tough road game at Ferris State, but remained the only CCHA team to have never won a shootout in league play.
Denver earned a split in Grand Forks against North Dakota, which is a pretty solid result for them, but losing Jesse Martin the way they did hurts on a number of levels.
Northern Michigan was winless on the season, but may have pulled themselves out of the fire with two one-goal victories over Ohio State this weekend. Last week, after losing a combined 13-1 over Miami, it looked like it could be a very long season for the Wildcats, but the ability to grab six league points in a single weekend can definitely change a team's fortunes quickly.
It's been quite an interesting battle for the title of the WCHA's loserest loser so far this year. Minnesota State seemed to take firm grasp of the title after giving up three of four points to preseason favorite Michigan Tech, but this past weekend, Minnesota State took three of four points from Alaska-Anchorage in Anchorage. UAA will get their opportunity to shed the title after a bye week when they take on dark horse candidate Bemidji State, who has just one tie in four league home games.
Minnesota swept Colorado College in Colorado Springs. I missed Friday's game--I don't do tape-delay. Also, I didn't really care--but did watch Saturday's shellacking. .I really like what CC has to offer at forward this year. There's a lot of guys that kind of fly under the radar, but that I think are very good hockey players like Tim Hall, Nick Dineen, Will Rapuzzi, and some good young talent that I think will develop nicely like Dakota Eveland and Archie Skalbeck. And Jaden Schwartz is already starting to prove that he's a special player.But they're number one problem is that they were absolutely horrid at covering the front of their net on defense on Saturday. I'd like to see shot chart for that game, but it seemed that almost every Gopher came from the prime scoring area in front of the net, and there was rarely a CC defender within a few feet of the shooter.
It's also no surprise that the Gopher line of Nate Condon, Zach Budish, and Jacob Cepis, which was the line most willing to get their nose dirty in front of the net, capitalized with a big night. These wins are similar to the UMass wins for Minnesota. Anything positive is great for the team at this point, especially picking up four WCHA points, but it's unlikely to come that easy against the rest of the WCHA.
Michigan State came into the weekend with a little extra credibility after their win and tie looked against Maine looked all that much better after the Black Bears swept North Dakota, and they promptly blew it by tying Alabama-Huntsville at home. They salvaged the weekend with a one-goal win on Saturday, but they seem like a team more likely to occasionally skate with the big boys in the CCHA, but not consistent enough to seriously threaten them in the standings.
Alaska swept Bowling Green this weekend, winning both gamed 4-1. On Saturday evening, the Nanooks outshot BG 25-2 in the first period.