A full slate of league play begins this weekend, and each team in the league has played between three and five non-conference games. It’s a small sample size, but based on the games thus far, here is the first edition of the CCHA Power Rankings. We’re at the stage of the season where these rankings are incredibly dynamic, with each team having the potential to move up (or down) several spots on an almost-daily basis. Also, keep in mind that power rankings represent a different consideration than ranking the “best” teams in the nation (which explains the difference between Michigan’s current national ranking and their power ranking here).
Tomorrow: the CCHA staff writers’ predictions for this weekend’s games.
1. Notre Dame (3-1-0)
The Irish already boast wins over Maine, Nebraska-Omaha, and Minnesota-Duluth, and goaltender Steve Summerhays has provided a steady presence for Notre Dame already. Summerhays and co. will be tested this weekend on the road against Northern Michigan. And… surprise, surprise. T.J. Tynan and Anders Lee (now playing at center instead of on the wing) lead the team in scoring through four games thus far.
2. Miami (3-0-1)
The RedHawks followed up an opening weekend sweep of Colgate with a tie and win against Providence. A pair of road games this weekend at Michigan and another two next weekend at Ferris State will be telling, but for now, underclassmen like Riley Barber are leading the way for Miami. CHN’s Caleb Saunders was reporting from the Miami/Providence series in Oxford last weekend and observed the quick start for the RedHawks’ freshmen goaltenders (haven’t we seen this before?). Here’s more from Caleb:
The freshman Ryan McKay made his second career start for Miami on Friday. His freshman counterpart Jon Gillies got the call for the Friars. The two netminders are familiar with each other after both of them played in the USHL the last few years before going to their respective schools. McKay played three seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers and Gillies played two seasons with the Indiana Ice.
“I’ve played against [Jon] Gillies the last few years, I’m friendly with him and he’s a good kid,” said McKay.
3. Northern Michigan (3-1-0)
The Wildcats were CHN’s first Team of the Week winner after sweeping Wisconsin in Week 1. Last weekend, NMU came away with a split on the road against Nebraska-Omaha. Jared Coureau has been strong in net thus far, as all eyes are on the junior netminder’s ability to be consistent. He had a small hiccup on Friday, allowing five goals on 27 shots, lasting 47 minutes before being pulled.
4. Alaska (2-1-1)
Could the Nanooks be one of the surprise teams in the league this season? After a mostly unremarkable opening weekend (a tie against Air Force, a loss against Canisius), Alaska took down Merrimack and North Dakota last weekend — a pair of one-goal games highlighted by strong play from netminder Steve Thompson.
5. Western Michigan (3-1-0)
The Broncos have played in four close games, with three of the four being by just a goal. Five of WMU’s 11 goals scored thus far have come from defensemen — led by junior blue-liner Danny DeKeyser. This weekend’s series against Notre Dame is one of the highlights on the national schedule.
6. Michigan (2-1-0)
The Wolverines figure to be a factor in the league and on the national scene all year long — there’s too much talent in Ann Arbor for them not to be — but a season opening loss to RIT followed up by blowout wins over RIT and Bentley doesn’t represent the strongest of schedules thus far. The main concern for Red Berenson and co. may be that Michigan has allowed 10 goals in three games thus far. It’s an admittedly small sample size, but Steve Racine has outplayed incoming star Jared Rutledge thus far. At least freshman defenseman and first round draft pick Jacob Trouba (2 goals, 2 assists) is living up to the billing thus far.
7. Ferris State (1-1-2)
The national runner-up last year, Ferris State is looking to re-define itself in the absence of several key players who allowed the Bulldogs to go all the way to the Frozen Four last year. For now, the Bulldogs’ offense has been balanced — 10 players have scored goals thus far.
8. Ohio State (1-2-1)
The highlight for the Buckeyes thus far has been a win over Minnesota-Duluth. The Buckeyes will be looking to rebound this weekend after a disappointing tie/loss weekend against Quinnipiac.
9. Michigan State (1-2-1)
The season started off on a sour note for the Spartans, suffering a weekend sweep at the hands of Minnesota, by a combined score in two games of 12-2. Michigan State rebounded with a 3-2 win and 3-3 tie against Niagara — and in the latter, an extra attacker goal in the final minute of the third period let the Spartans escape with a tie.
10. Lake Superior (2-2-0)
The Lakers have been wildly inconsistent thus far, costing them the 8th or 9th spot on this list. After winning each of its Friday games with impressive defensive play, Lake Superior followed up each effort with lackluster performances each of the last two Saturday nights — resulting in an 8-4 loss to Michigan Tech, then a 5-0 defeat against Bemidji State. Fortunately for Laker fans, three of Lake State’s first four games have been on the road, and they play eight of their next 10 games in Sault Ste. Marie.
11. Bowling Green (1-3-1)
The good news for the Falcons is that coach Chris Bergeron was recently signed to a two-year contract extension. The bad news? Just one win in five games for a team that was hoping its strong play late last year would carry over to this fall. Goaltending remains a big question.