The CCHA held their quarterfinal round of playoff games last weekend, and all four of the top seeds, who had byes the weekend prior, ended up winning their series and advancing to the CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena next weekend. But just because everything ended up going as planned doesn't mean there wasn't some exciting twists and turns and some great playoff hockey along the way.
Bowling Green's playoff run came to an end with 5-1 and 4-1 losses to Michigan. The good news for Michigan is that they're likely to get Louie Caporusso back from injury for next weekend's games. More important than helping their CCHA title odds is that Caporusso gets at least a little game experience prior to the NCAA tournament. The bad news for Michigan is that they lost another key forward in David Wohlberg to an injury that will keep him out for the rest of the season. Scoring has been a big issue for Michigan this year and they'll need all the depth they can muster in the NCAA tournament.
As far as NCAA tournament hopes, Michigan is definitely in. Bowling Green had to win the CCHA playoffs to get into the tournament, so they're done for the year. Michigan is on the cusp of a one seed. I won't bother with what needs to happen for them to stay there since NCAA tournament seeding is largely irrelevant with the single-elimination neutral site format.
Second seed Notre Dame got all they could handle from Lake Superior. The Fighting Irish won on Friday in overtime, before the Lakers responded back with a win on Saturday. Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead on Sunday and were able to coast to a 4-2 win in the deciding game. The Lakers quietly turned in a pretty respectable season for a team without a lot of "big name" players.
Notre Dame is pretty much guaranteed a tournament bid at this point unless things so super-wacky and all four other conferences have auto-bids from outside the top 16. They're not going to be a fun team to match up with as a 3 seed.
Miami took care of business rather neatly with a pair of 4-1 wins over Alaska. You have to wonder if the long series last weekend combine with all the travel finally caught up to Alaska. Miami is squarely in the tournament and will be fighting things out for either a one or a two seed. Alaska is now done for the season.
I expected the Western Michigan/Ferris State series to be a great one and it didn't disappoint. The teams split a pair of 3-1 games to start the series, and went to overtime in game 3, with Western Michigan prevailing on a goal by Max Campbell. The Broncos built a 3-0 lead in the final game, before Ferris State came storming back. Western looks to have a pretty decent shot at making it back to the NCAA tournament, but a win next weekend would make things much more comfortable. Ferris State is outside the bubble, so they are done for the season.
All the favorites winning makes for an exciting tournament in Detroit next weekend. Miami and Notre Dame are developing a nice little rivalry and they'll meet up at 4:30 on Friday afternoon, followed by Western Michigan taking on Michigan, in a game that should have a pretty raucous crowd of Michigan supporters and Anybody But Michigan supporters.