Five conference series this weekend to open up CCHA play, and they're all Friday/Saturday series.
Miami at Michigan
This should figure to be a very big series for the CCHA title race early in the season. Michigan and Miami were in similar situations in that both came into the year with two freshmen goalies as their top two goalies. So far, that has worked out really well for Miami. Each goalie has played two games and has outstanding numbers-- Jay Williams 2-0-0/1.94/.915, and Ryan McKay 1-0-1/0.48/.98. I'd expect Miami to keep rotating them since both are playing so well.
Meanwhile for Michigan, Steve Racine has started Michigan's two games since Jared Rutledge's epic struggle in Michigan's season opening loss to RIT. Rutledge was expected to be the guy for Michigan, but this might be a difficult series to get him back into action. Then again, the schedule doesn't lighten up for Michigan with a tough trip to Northern Michigan next, followed by series against rival Michigan State and Notre Dame. So now might be as good a time as any to give Rutledge another shot.
Michigan's "blue collar offense" is led by, among others, Alex Guptill, a 3rd round NHL Draft pick. Must be nice, thought everyone else.
Michigan's fourth line, led by two freshmen, was a big factor in last weekend's win over Bentley. Here's a long feature on the sophomore on that line, Zach Hyman.+6-
Defenseman Kevin Clare was cleared to play this weekend, after missing last weekend with an injury.
Also of note, Michigan coach Red Berenson mentioned this week that these two teams are working on a scheduling agreement to keep this rivalry going after this year.
Ohio State at Bowling Green
This will be the last year the Ohio Cup is competed for as conference foes. I still it's a little silly that the three schools in Ohio will be participating in three different conferences.
The big story here is the status of Bowling Green starting goalie Andrew Hammond, who is listed as day-to-day with a hyper-extended elbow. Freshman Tommy Burke or junior Scott Zacharias will get the start if Hammond can't play. Forwards Brent Tate and Ted Pletsch are also out with injuries this weekend.
BGSU head coach Chris Bergeron has been pretty pleased with his team's effort so far, but wants to cut down on mental mistakes.
Alaska at Ferris State
Alaska is ready for a tough road test in Ferris State. In that article, Danny Martin calls FSU's Ewigleben Arena "arguably the best-lit facility in the CCHA". My question is: who argues that sort of thing?
For Ferris State, consistency has been a struggle for the young team, as evidenced by their blowout win over Mercyhurst last Friday, followed up by a come-from-behind tie the following night.
One of the stars of last year's CCHA champions, Chad Billins, is off to a great start to his pro career, surprising people by sticking in the AHL, despite the influx of NHL-caliber talent into the league.
Michigan State at Lake Superior
These two teams opened up CCHA play in the Soo last year as well, and Lake Superior won both games.
On their trip up to the Soo, Michigan State stopped off in Cheboygan for a quick practice that was open to the public, followed by signing autographs afterwards. That's a really cool idea, and something more teams should try to break up long bus trips.
Michigan State's Brent Darnell spent the summer training at Barwis Methods, and is in better shape for it, even though he didn't come anywhere close to their bench press record.
Notre Dame at Northern Michigan
This is the final regular season meeting between these teams, and could potentially be the last meeting for some time. That's significant because the two teams have a 22-22-8 all-time record against each other, so this series decides bragging rights for some time.
Steve Summerhays is Notre Dame's starting goalie, and thus, important to the team.
Notre Dame has shown signs of living up to their potential this year, but are still struggling with consistency.
Here are the top 10 moments in Northern Michigan's CCHA history.