Archive for the 'CCHA' Category

BG and WMU features

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Some great features this week from our CCHA staff worth checking out — from Caleb Saunders, a look at Bowling Green’s up-and-coming program, and from Taylor Lewis, a look at how Western Michigan’s Kenney Morrison is stepping up on the Broncos’ blue line. Next week, we’ll have features on Ferris State’s C.J. Motte and Alaska’s John Keeney (the CCHA Rookie of the Month).

A pair of great weekend series on tap for the CCHA this weekend, with each featuring teams in the top 5 of the league standings — Miami hosts Alaska, and Ferris State hosts Western Michigan. Meanwhile, can Notre Dame get back on track as it visits Ohio State? Plenty of story lines as the CCHA enters its final stretch. We’ll recap the weekend early next week.

11/15 CCHA Power Rankings

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

It’s been two weeks since we published our CCHA Rankings and much has transpired within the league since that time. Here now is our latest edition of the Power Rankings:

1. Miami (6-2-2, 3-2-1 CCHA). Last time: 2.

The RedHawks have cut down on the number of opportunities they’re allowing to opposing teams, and the end-result has been two wins and a tie (with the added point of a shootout win) in their last three games. Riley Barber’s 14 points leads the nation in rookie scoring by a long shot, while Austin Czarnik paces the country in shorthanded goals (3) thus far. The duo was honored in October as the CCHA’s Rookie and Player of the Month, respectively, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. Can rookie netminder Jay Williams continue to carry the load between the pipes through the winter in Oxford?

2. Alaska (5-3-2, 3-2-1 CCHA). Last time: 4

The Nanooks have lost just one time in their last five games and enter this weekend’s series with Western Michigan after earning a win and tie in Columbus last weekend against Ohio State. Though Alaska has benefited from timely scoring from upperclassmen like Andy Taranto and Colton Beck and a penalty kill (89%) that ranks ninth nationally, the intriguing story has come in net, as coach Dallas Ferguson has equally played three goaltenders thus far. Rookie John Keeney was in net for both games at OSU last weekend and played well, turning aside 65 of the Buckeyes’ 67 shots on goal. (more…)

11/2-4 CCHA Picks

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Before we get to this weekend’s picks, a look back at how the staff did with last weekend’s picks:

Avash Kalra: 10-0-0 (more on this in a moment) — for the season, 19-6-5

Taylor Lewis: 3-7-0 — for the season, 12-3-5

Sam Obermyer: 9-1-0 — for the season, 18-7-5

Caleb Saunders: 5-5-0 — for the season, 11-14-5

Regarding my 10 for 10 record in picks last weekend — probably a complete fluke that defies statistical probabilities. Unlikely to ever happen again, but we’ll keep trying.

Now, yes, we’re posting this weekend’s CCHA picks a day after the first night of games, but we can assure you that this post was written in full prior to the weekend and was not posted due to a technical difficulty. Here are this weekend’s picks, which again were submitted before last night’s games: (more…)

11/1 CCHA Power Rankings

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

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.

10/26-27 CCHA Picks

Friday, October 26th, 2012

The CCHA staff took its first shot at predicting last weekend’s games, and here’s how we did:

Taylor Lewis: 9-6-5 (.575)

Avash Kalra: 9-6-5 (.575)

Sam Obermyer: 9-6-5 (.575)

Caleb Saunders: 6-9-5 (.425)

We release our CCHA Power Rankings yesterday, and those are subject to change based on this weekend’s results. Here are the staff’s picks for this weekend’s slate of games — and we have only one “consensus” pick out of the 10 games this weekend: (more…)

10/25 CCHA Power Rankings

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

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. (more…)

CCHA weekend predictions, Oct 19-20

Friday, October 19th, 2012

The season is (finally) underway, and the CCHA’s own Northern Michigan was recognized this week by the CHN staff as the Team of the Week. Perhaps a fitting start to the 42nd and final CCHA season. Here on the CCHA section of the blog, we’ll be posting weekend predictions every Thursday night, as well as mid-week Power Rankings beginning next week.

Our staff of CCHA writers – Caleb Saunders, Sam Obermyer, Taylor Lewis, Susan Crosby, and myself, Avash Kalra — will pick the games each weekend, and we’ll keep track on our ability (or lack thereof) to pick the games each week. Here’s our first shot at it, with consensus picks italicized. We’ll review how we did after the weekend.

FRIDAY OCTOBER 19

Bowling Green at Colgate: Colgate (Avash, Taylor, Sam, Caleb)
Ohio State at Quinnipiac: Ohio State (Avash, Sam, Caleb), Quinnipiac (Taylor) (more…)

CCHA Championship Weekend Predictions

Friday, March 16th, 2012

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)

CCHA Quarterfinal Predictions

Friday, March 9th, 2012

The CCHA playoffs roll on tonight. Check out our full preview of the quarterfinals, but here are some predictions (I expect to predict no more than two of these series correctly):

No. 1 Ferris State vs. No. 11 Bowling Green
 
Bowling Green is playing its best hockey of the season right now, but Ferris State has only lost one time in 16 games so far in 2012. Bulldogs goaltender Taylor Nelson and defenseman Chad Billins were named to the CCHA All-Conference First Team earlier this week and are in great position to help lead Bob Daniels’ crew to Joe Louis Arena next weekend. Nelson should have no trouble stopping the No. 58 ranked offense in the nation, but since Ferris doesn’t have the most potent offense itself, expect a close game or two.
 
Prediction: Ferris State wins the series, 2-0
 
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 8 Notre Dame
 
As I wrote in the full preview of this weekend’s action, Notre Dame is up against history this weekend — trying to end Michigan’s streak of 23 consecutive CCHA semifinals. The Irish played well last weekend at home against Ohio State and are the toughest No. 8 seed imaginable for Michigan to face this weekend. (more…)

CCHA First Round Predictions

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

For either Notre Dame or Ohio State, the 2011-12 season ends this weekend — an unimaginable thought a few months ago when, at one point, Ohio State was the No. 1 team in the country. And Notre Dame looked determined to return to the Frozen Four, where the Irish fell short just last April.
But none of that matters now, as the series between the Fighting Irish and Buckeyes highlights the first round of the CCHA playoffs, which begin tonight. Check in with the CHN blog for predictions and commentary about all the conference playoff action over the next several weeks, as we gear up for the NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, FL (April 5-7).

Ohio State at Notre Dame

Notre Dame didn’t score more than two goals in a game during the entire month of February — a span of eight games. But Ohio State has won just once in 2012 and seems unrecognizable from its late 2011 form, when Cal Heeter, Ryan Dzingel, and co. swept Michigan in late November and sat atop the CCHA standings. It’s tough to pick one of two severely slumping teams, but given Notre Dame’s flashes of brilliance this season (wins against Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, BU, BC, and more), I’d give the edge to Jeff Jackson’s group. Prediction: Notre Dame in 3. (more…)