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WCHA Preview: October 11th-13th

A preview of this weekend's WCHA action.

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Here's a few news and notes from series around the WCHA this weekend.

Michigan Tech at Lake Superior, Thursday Lake Superior at Michigan Tech, Saturday.

As bad as next year's realignment will be for college hockey, this is one of the few series that will actually be made better, and more geographically logical, by having these teams in the same conference next year.

Via Stephen Anderson of Houghton's Daily Mining Gazette, freshman Pheonix Copley will get the start in goal for Michigan Tech on Thursday night. Reports seemed to lean towards Copley earning the starting job in practice, though it seems like there might be a short leash on him with a lot of talent behind in fellow freshman Jamie Phillips and returning goalie Kevin Genoe.

Michigan Tech freshman forward Alex Petan scored a hat trick in Tech's exhibition win over Brock, and he sounds like a player Tech is expecting to make an immediate impact.

Lake Superior was picked to finish last in the CCHA by the coaches, and 10th by the media, mostly because the Lakers return very little in the way of scoring. As a result, the Lakers are going to be relying on an extremely defensive strategy that leans heavily on goalie Kevin Kapalka.

Lake Superior won the first game of this series 4-2 on Thursday night on their home ice. Lake Superior was led by two point nights from each of the forwards in their top line of Kellen Lain, Stephen Perfetto, and Domenic Menardo.

Michigan State at Minnesota, Friday and Saturday

Another non-conference match-up that will be a conference game next year.

Minnesota overtook Boston College for the number one ranking in the USA Hockey poll this week, which seems odd since neither played a real game.

Don Lucia said that both Adam Wilcox and Michael Shiborowski will play this weekend, and they'll likely split time through the first couple weeks of the season.

Last week, Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos called Jake Chelios his team's most improved player, and he'll need to have a good year leading a very young Michigan State defense, after losing Torey Krug to the NHL.

Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan, Friday and Saturday, Resch Center, Green Bay Wisconsin

These teams are pretty much meeting each other half-way here, with Northern Michigan having to travel and extra 39 miles.

As I write this, there's been no official announcement on Nic Kerdiles' situation, but even with a best case scenario, it seems unlikely he plays this weekend. Kerdiles was excused from practices Tuesday and Wednesday with Wisconsin with what head coach Mike Eaves called "a persistent headache," which appears to be classic Eavesian wit, rather than an actual medical diagnosis.

Meanwhile, sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe sat out the team's exhibition against the NTDP U18 team, but will be available to play this weekend. Freshman Morgan Zulinick won't play this Friday because of an off-ice team rules violation.

Northern Michigan's Reed Seckel played his junior hockey in Green Bay, and is excited to make the return trip. Also from that article, Matt Thurber wants two wins against his former team because he says it would be huge for league play. Ummmm.....

The Wildcats will rely heavily on junior goalie Jared Coreau, who could be in his final season of college hockey if he can generate enough interest in the NHL free agent market, after impressive displays at camps for both the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames last summer.

IceBreaker Invitational: Notre Dame vs. Maine, Nebraska-Omaha vs. Army, Friday and Saturday, in Kansas City, Missouri

I guess Dakar was booked, so the college hockey season will open up with the Icebreaker Invitational in Kansas City instead. As no surprise to anyone that thought this idea through, they're having a tough time selling tickets. Less than 3000 tickets had been sold as of Tuesday. It's a shame because Kansas City was more than game as a host, trying to parlay success here into a Frozen Four bid for the future, but the amount of people willing to make the type of investment needed for that trip--even Omaha, which is relatively close, is still a non-commutable three hours one-way--is really small, especially for early October hockey. Fans from all four teams can see their team play at home next weekend for about $1000 cheaper.

Notre Dame vs. Maine will be the first game played on NBC Sports Network this year. It will be interesting to see if the lack of NHL hockey helps bump up television numbers a little. It will be also be interesting to see how many new fans stick around when they tune in and see a game played in a very big, very empty arena.

Ohio State at Minnesota-Duluth, Friday and Saturday

Kevin Pates at the Duluth News-Tribune pieced together UMD's lineup throughout this week's practices. I would take Bergman-Casto and Olson-Welinski over any top two defensive pairings in college hockey. Their goaltending race seems pretty wide open, but I would expect veteran Aaron Crandall to get the first opportunity to earn the role.

With nothing better to do, locked out NHLer RJ Umberger is helping out his alma mater as a volunteer assistant coach.

Ohio State was really young last year, with 12 freshmen on the roster in Mark Osiecki's first season, perhaps part of the reason the team seemed to hit a wall after a strong first half start last year. Not surprisingly, this year they'll be looking for their deep sophomore class to carry the team, led by standouts Ryan Dzingel and Max McCormick.

Minnesota State at Alabama-Huntsville, Friday and Saturday

Minnesota State is the only Division I team to make the trip to Alabama this year. Keep that in mind when UAH drops their program and other programs give their platitudes about what a shame it is.

Friday's game will be the college hockey head coaching debuts for both head coaches. Mike Hastings begins his tenure at Mankato, while Kurt Kleinendorst takes over for Huntsville. Both are looking to turn their respective programs around, and while the situation might not be as dire in Mankato, the future of each program might rest on their ability to do so.

Minnesota State co-captain Eriah Hayes is taking a leadership role with the Mavericks.

St. Cloud at New Hampshire, Friday and Saturday

Joey Benik was expected to be on St. Cloud's top line playing with their top two forwards in Ben Hanowski and Drew Leblanc, before breaking his leg. That injury should keep him out of the lineup for about six weeks. In his stead, Jonny Brodzinski will take Benik's spot on the top line.

The only other player St. Cloud is missing is Finnish forward Kalle Kossila. He was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for two games because he played two games in Finland with a player that played professional hockey. SCSU goalie Rasmus Reijola was a teammate of Kossila in Finland, but was cleared to play by the NCAA on Tuesday because he did not play in the two games that the evil pro player played in.

Clarkson at Colorado College, Friday and Saturday

Colorado College ended last season poorly, and are hoping to make amends. That could be difficult, as they have to replace 40% of their scoring from last season.

Clarkson doesn't quite have their goalie situation figured out yet. I'll put my money on the senior Rosen starting this weekend.