After a dismal 2-6-0 start to the regular season that saw them fall way behind in the CCHA standings, Miami has started to play up to their enormous talent. It started with a hard fought sweep in Fairbanks two weekends, and carried over to their big home series against Michigan this past weekend.The RedHawks earned five points against the Wolverines with a Friday night win, followed up by a shootout win on Saturday night, capped off by this beauty of a shootout goal by Bryan Paulazzo.
Miami is up to 11 points in CCHA play, good for 7th in the league, and just a single point behind Michigan, who started out the year with four cupcake non-conference wins, but are just 3-3-2 in league play.
It was a very strong weekend for the CCHA's other Big Ten teams though. Ohio State moved into a three-way tie for first place in the league with a pair of 4-1 victories over Northern Michigan. The Buckeyes face a tough test when they have to travel to Michigan next weekend in what is sort of a preview of the upcoming football rivalry game, except for the fact that the hockey game may contain a successful forward pass. Anyway, Mark Osiecki's transition of the Buckeye program into a real contender looks like it could be happening sooner rather than later.
Michigan State also made a strong move last weekend with a big sweep at Western Michigan.That's wins in five out of the last six for Michigan State. Of course nobody really paid attention on Friday since MSU's basketball team played a game on a freakin' boat, which was really cool for about a half, but then I spent much of the second half wondering if MSU shot the ball off said boat, would it actually get wet?
I'd say this MSU-WMU series was another one of those cases of a Big Ten school traveling to a smaller school that we won't see in the future, but the MSU hockey program's place on the totem pole of MSU athletics in recent years has been made quite clear--hockey is a sport where players can be beaten mercilessly without athletic director Mark Hollis caring, whereas football players can beat people mercilessly without Mark Hollis caring--so maybe the Spartans won't be as concerned about squeezing out every possible home game the way some of the other Big Ten schools will be.
The rest of the week's action, including everything in the WCHA, is after the jump.
The theme of the week in the WCHA this past weekend seemed to be the underdog sneaking up and stealing points the first night, before reality sunk in and more expected results prevailed on Saturday.
Minnesota came into their series with Wisconsin as the number one ranked team in the country for the first time in quite a while. But coming off an emotional weekend against North Dakota, having to defend that high ranking, and going on the road, seemed to be a formula for a poor effort from Minnesota. Wisconsin jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second period, and Minnesota could never quite get their offense going. Saturday was a tight game throughout until the Badgers ran out of gas in the last half of the third period and Minnesota earned a 4-1 win.
Minnesota State and St. Cloud face off in a series found in your local cable channel guide under the title 'Paid Programming'. A couple of my suspicions were confirmed with this series. 1. Neither team is all that good. 2. An umbrella-style power play when you're trying to protect a lead is a dumb, dumb idea. And 3. The injuries to St. Cloud goalie Mike Lee and Minnesota State's Chase Grant will both be season-ending. Ryan Faragher has looked pretty good in Lee's absence.
In a series that Nebraska-Omaha head coach Dean Blais predicted would be "boring," Bemidji State scored an extra-attacker goal with just a under a minute left on Friday night to earn a 3-3 tie with Nebraska-Omaha. The next night, Omaha scored three third period goals to earn an easy 5-1 win.
Colorado College and Denver just played a single game on Saturday night, with Denver winning 5-4. Neither Schwartz brother scored a goal--each had an assist though--dropping their percentage of team goals scored from 39 to 35%.
Minnesota-Duluth continued to look impressive with a home sweep of Alaska-Anchorage. The Seawolves are now 0-6-0 in WCHA play, and have been outscored 23-4.
Back in the CCHA, Lake Superior hung onto a tie for first place, despite only taking two of a possible six points at Ferris State.
In the first full series at the Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame swept Alaska, who like their in-state counterparts, are off to a dreadful start to the year. Notre Dame sold out the first night, and was about 700 short of capacity on Saturday, though that game had an earlier start time to allow Notre Dame fans time to mentally and emotionally prepare jersey clown show they were going to watch later that evening.
Bowling Green swept Canisius at home. The Falcons certainly didn't over-reach with their early-season non-conference schedule which featured Connecticut, Alabama-Huntsville, and Canisius(they do travel to Bemidji later this year). The 5-0-1 non-conference record does a nice job of prettying up their overall record.