The CCHA championship weekend is finally here, with Miami and Western Michigan set to kick things off in Friday’s matinee. They’ll be followed by Michigan and Bowling Green in the nightcap. Check out the full preview of the weekend here but for now, here are predictions for the entire weekend.
Of note, last weekend I correctly predicted three of the four series. And you really can’t fault anyone for picking Ferris State to be in Detroit this weekend instead of Bowling Green. But the Falcons pulled off an upset for the ages and look to keep their momentum rolling against the Wolverines.
No. 2 Western Michigan vs. No. 3 Miami
Though the RedHawks have been offensively dominant in their recent games, outscoring opponents 32-5 in their current eight-game winning streak, I expect this game to be much more low-scoring. Miami will rely on senior goaltender Connor Knapp, who will be matched up against Western Michigan’s freshman goaltender Frank Slubowski.
“Our forwards and our defenseman are doing a really good job at playing hard in front of [Knapp] and blocking shots,” said Miami coach Enrico Blasi on Tuesday. “Connor seems to be seeing the puck well and making the saves he needs to make.”
This is a rematch of last year’s CCHA championship game, and much like a year ago, it’ll be tough to slow Miami’s momentum — at least on Friday.
Prediction: Miami wins 3-1
No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 4 Bowling Green
The Falcons’ historic run to the CCHA championship weekend has been well-chronicled all week, as has the recent regular season series between Bowling Green and Michigan, which the two teams split. Michigan coach Red Berenson has no misconceptions regarding which team has the most momentum entering Friday night.
“They’ve got the momentum,” said Berenson. “They’ve played six games the past two weekends, they’ve got a lot of emotion, a lot of confidence, and this is going to be a good challenge for us as well.”
Nevertheless, as impressive as rookie forward Dan DeSalvo — 10 goals in six playoff games — and his teammates have been for the Bowling Green, the run may come to an end on Friday night against a Michigan team that may just be the best team in the country. On Thursday, Shawn Hunwick was named one of the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, and now he’ll have a chance to affirm that selection.
Prediction: Michigan wins 5-2
CCHA Championship Game Prediction: Michigan 3 Miami 2 (OT)