A Notre Dame sweep of Northern Michigan and an array of series splits (Miami-Michigan, Superior-Michigan State, Ferris-Alaska) highlighted the weekend action in the league last weekend. Meanwhile, Western Michigan had the weekend off, and Ohio State earned a win and a tie at Bowling Green, with the Falcons earning an extra point in the Saturday night shoot-out.
Tomorrow: the CCHA staff writers’ predictions for this weekend’s games (including an explanation for how and why I went 10-0-0 with last weekend’s picks…). For now, here are this week’s power rankings
1. Notre Dame (5-1-0). Last week: 1.
It’s a good time to be a sports fan in South Bend, with the re-emergence of Notre Dame football this season. On the ice, a balanced attack allowed the Irish to go on the road last weekend and sweep a strong Northern Michigan team. The Irish only swept one series on the road all of last season, and again, the scoring wealth has been spread to beyond just the names we talk about ad nauseam on a weekly basis (T.J. Tynan, Anders Lee). For instance, through the first six games of the 2012-13 season, 11 different Notre Dame players have scored the team’s 17 goals .
Jeff Jackson also showed trust in now-backup goaltender Mike Johnson, the senior who has waited patiently on the bench given Steve Summerhays’ strong start to the year. This weekend, the Irish welcome Western Michigan to town for a Friday-Sunday series, to avoid conflict with the football team’s game against Pitt on Saturday.
2. Miami (4-1-1). Last week: 2.
The RedHawks followed up an opening weekend sweep of Colgate with a tie and win against Providence, then went on the road last weekend and used a strong third period surge on Saturday night to skate out of Ann Arbor. All this led to a trio of big announcements on Thursday: that Austin Czarnik has been named the CCHA Player of the month (his eight points tie for the CCHA lead as do his five assists), that Riley Barber has been named the league’s Rookie of the Month (his four goals are tied for the team lead), and that Miami will host an NCAA Regional in Cincinnati in 2014.
3. Michigan (3-2-0). Last week: 6.
The Wolverines’ third period hiccup on Saturday night against Miami cost them a shot at the No. 2 spot in the Power Rankings this week. A.J. Treais and Alex Guptill continue to produce, as does rookie phenom Jacob Trouba… but the concern in Ann Arbor is the goaltending situation. Freshmen Steve Racine and Jared Rutledge have split time in net, but Racine has clearly outplayed the more highly touted Rutledge thus far. Keep a close eye on how Berenson manages the situation this weekend as the Wolverines head to the nothern peninsula to take on a strong but reeling Northern Michigan squad.
4. Alaska (3-2-1). Last week: 4.
After a strong performance in a 2-1 win over North Dakota, Nanooks goaltender allowed six in Friday’s game at Ferris State last weekend. Backup Sean Cahill played well the following night, allowing Alaska to leave Big Rapids with a weekend split. In Saturday’s game, Alaska senior forward Andy Taranto notched two assists, and is just seven points away from the century mark for his career.
5. Western Michigan (3-1-0). Last week: 5.
The Broncos have played well thus far this season (and were idle last weekend), but their real test comes this weekend with a road series at Notre Dame. Sophomore goalie Frank Slubowski made all four starts against the Fighting Irish last season, posting a 2-1-1 record with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.
6. Ohio State (2-2-2). Last week: 8.
The Buckeyes have played all six games on the road and have managed a .500 record, including a win over Minnesota-Duluth. OSU’s next four games are in Columbus, and the ongoing developing story regarding the Buckeyes’ two rotating goaltenders (senior goalie Brady Hjelle and freshman goalie Collin Olson ) continues.
7. Northern Michigan (3-3-0). Last week: 3.
Recently a CHN Team of the Week, the Wildcats stumbled last weekend, though against a strong opponent. The tests keep coming for NMU, with back to back weekend series now with Michigan this week, Miami next week.
8. Ferris State (2-2-2). Last week: 7.
Despite the Bulldogs’ split against Alaska, goaltender C.J. Motte continued to impress, with 76 saves during the weekend — the most in a weekend series by a FSU goaltender since 1992.
9. Michigan State (2-3-1). Last week: 9.
10. Lake Superior (3-3-0). Last week: 10.
11. Bowling Green (1-4-2). Last week: 11.