It was another week of CCHA play, and once again, there wasn't much to separate the teams. Four out of this week's five series ended with 3-3 splits, while the fifth was a 4-2 split in favor of Northern Michigan. Six teams sit at .500, with three more just a half game below .500. Nearly everyone is within a couple goals of even in goal differential, as well. There really doesn't appear to be a weak link in this league, which means every series should be competitive throughout the year.
Michigan 4 Northern Michigan 4, Michigan wins shootout
Northern Michigan 4 Michigan 3
Friday's game was an early front-runner for craziest game of the year. Northern Michigan scored four unanswered in the second period to take a 4-1 lead on Michigan. Michigan clawed back to a 4-3 deficit in the third period, when MIchigan's Jacob Trouba destroyed Northern Michigan's Reed Seckel was a high hit, and picked up a five minute major and game disqualification with just 5:17 left in the game. Michigan killed off the major, and scored the game-tying goal with under a second left in regulation. The Wolverines won the shootout, a rarity for them, and ended up somehow stealing 2 points.
The same nearly happened on Saturday with Northern Michigan leading 4-1 after two periods, but Michigan wasn't able to get the tying goal.
With Jacob Trouba suspended for Saturday's game, Michigan only had five defensemen available, forcing them to move forward Jeff Rohrkemper back to the blueline. The CCHA has decided Trouba won't be suspended any additional games for the hit--Seckel left Friday's game, but returned Saturday and scored two goals for the Wildcats--and Michigan should get Brennan Serville back from injury as well. Goal tending also continues to be a major concern for the Wolverines. Steve Racine started both games and the eight goals dropped his save percentage to .885 for the season. It's going to be tough for Michigan to compete if they need to score five goals a night to win games.
Bowling Green 1 Michigan State 0
Michigan State 6 Bowling Green 1
I was able to watch the Friday game on TV, and Bowling Green looked pretty good. Andrew Hammond returned from injury and was stellar in goal. They're going to be very similar to Lake Superior in that, if they can get a team bogged down in the type of low-scoring game they want to play, they're going to be very tough to beat, but when things go off the rails and they get behind, like they did the next night, it gets really bad.
Michigan State obviously did not look overly impressive in their shutout on Friday night. The one thing I will say for the Spartans is that when you look at the guys that are playing major roles for them right now, it's mostly freshmen and sophomores. Offensively, the line of Darnell-DeBlouw-Berry created nearly all of the scoring chances for the Spartans, and freshman defenseman John Draeger is already logging a ton of ice for the Spartans. This is a team that is only going to get better, if not this year, then next year.
Western Michigan 3 Notre Dame 2
Notre Dame 4 Western Michigan 0
The Broncos picked up a gritty road win on Friday night. Dane Walters scored his first two goals of the season in the win, which is significant, because those two goals put him into a three-way tie for the team lead.
Notre Dame regrouped with a dominating 4-0 win on Sunday, where they held the Broncos to a paltry 14 shots on goal.
Ferris State 3 Miami 0
Miami 4 Ferris State 2
This was a really good series between two pretty good teams, and it was really no surprise to see them split. After playing their last six games at home, Ferris State now only has two home games between now and January 11th.
Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber has been carrying the RedHawks offensively. Each has 10 points on the season, which is twice as much as the team's third leading scorer.
Alaska 2 Lake Superior 1
Lake Superior 4 Alaska 2
Kevin Murdock, filling in at goal for the injured Kevin Kapalka, had an amazing weekend for Lake Superior, stopping 85 out of 89 shots on goal. Lake Superior is doing a pretty impressive job of staying in the middle of the pack with everyone else in the CCHA, despite playing without the goalie they expected to ride this season, and one of their best forwards in Kellen Lain.