Archive for the 'Regular Season' Category

WCHA Weekend Preview, March 6-7

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Here we go again. For the second-straight season, the WCHA is coming down to the final weekend. All five league series have major postseason implications and all ten teams are playing for something, whether it be in conference or nationally.

The MacNaughton Cup (Minnesota State vs. Michigan Tech), the final home ice position (Bemidji State vs. Northern Michigan vs. Ferris State), and the bottom two playoff spots (Alabama-Huntsville vs. Lake Superior State vs. Alaska-Anchorage) are all up for grabs this weekend. Even playoff-ineligible Alaska has its rivalry trophy, the Governor’s Cup, with the Seawolves to play for.

In the Polls: After taking three of four points from Michigan Tech last weekend, Minnesota State stayed at No. 2 in this week’s USCHO.com poll. The Huskies dropped a spot to No. 4, while Bowling Green slid two spots to No. 13 after splitting with Alaska-Anchorage. Bemidji State continued to pick up votes in the poll with 19 this week.

With just one weekend left in the regular season, the Mavericks and Michigan Tech remain in solid position to receive NCAA Tournament bids. Minnesota State is ranked No. 2 in the Pairwise, while the Huskies are No. 7. The Falcons, though, aren’t as secure in their spot after sliding two more spots to the fringe of consideration at No. 14.

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Feb. 27-28

Friday, February 27th, 2015

The race for the MacNaughton Cup takes center stage this weekend as No. 3 Michigan Tech visits No. 2 Minnesota State. The Huskies come into this weekend just one point behind the Mavericks for the league lead. While the eyes of the nation will rightfully be focused on that series, all five WCHA match-ups have major playoff implications.

With just four games left in the season, one home ice spot is still up for grabs and no team has been eliminated from playoff contention. Six teams have already clinched a spot in the postseason (Minnesota State, Michigan Tech, Bowling Green, Bemidji State, Northern Michigan, and Ferris State) and two more can do so this weekend (Alabama-Huntsville and Lake Superior State). Bowling Green can clinch the third home ice spot and Bemidji State can take the final one if everything falls its way.

All in all, it’s going to be a pretty exciting weekend in the WCHA.

In the Polls: In this week’s USCHO.com poll, Minnesota State stayed at No. 2, Michigan Tech jumped up a spot to No. 3, and Bowling Green fell three places to No. 11. This week is the first time the Falcons have been ranked outside of the top-10 since the Jan. 5 edition of the pool. The WCHA also has two teams in the top-three for the first time this season. Bemidji State (7) was the only tream in the conference to receive votes in the poll.

The league also looks to be in good shape for qualifying three of its teams for the national tournament: The Mavericks rank No. 1 in the Pairwise, while the Huskies are No. 5, and the Falcons are tied for No. 12.

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Feb. 13-14

Friday, February 13th, 2015

The WCHA has a full slate of league play this weekend, with five conference series on the docket as the races for playoff positioning head toward the stretch run.

Minnesota State and Michigan Tech have already clinched home ice for the playoffs and Bowling Green can join them this weekend. The fourth spot it up for grabs though, with three teams — Northern Michigan, Ferris State, and Bemidji State — in the best positions to clinch it. Though, Lake Superior State and Alabama-Huntsville can put themselves in the conversation with strong showings this weekend.

With so many teams packed together in the middle of the standings, it’s looking like a lot will have to be decided on the final weekend of the season.

Two WCHA players — Michigan Tech senior forward Tanner Kero and Ferris State senior goaltender CJ Motte — have been named as finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. Players are nominated based on notable achievements in the community, in the classroom, in their character, and in competition. Fans can vote for the winner on the Senior CLASS website.

I apologize for the lack of a “Three Things” article after last weekend, luckily CHN has a lot of good WCHA content to check out: BGSU was featured as a the team of the week, and Jen Dobias wrote a great piece about Alabama-Huntsville’s return to relevance this season in her feature, “Southern Revival.”

In the Polls: No movement for any of the three teams in this week’s USCHO.com poll. Minnesota State remains the No. 1 team in the country, Michigan Tech joins them in the top-five at No. 5, and Bowling Green sits at No. 8. Bemidji State (1) is the only WCHA team receiving votes in this week’s poll.

In the Pairwise, the Mavericks remain No. 1, the Huskies jumped up a spot to No. 6, and the Falcons dropped a couple places to No. 8.

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Feb. 6-7

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Nine of the WCHA’s 10 teams are in action this weekend with four conference and one non-conference series on the docket.

With just five weeks left in the season, Minnesota State and Michigan Tech have already locked up two of the league’s eight playoff spots. The battle for position among the remaining six should be fun to watch over the next few weeks. Three teams sit within five points of each other for fourth place and the last home ice advantage slot. While the three teams battling for the last two spots – Lake Superior State, Alabama-Huntsville, and Alaska-Anchorage – are separated by just two points in places No. 8-10, with the Seawolves as the team currently on the outside looking in.

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Three Things I Think: WCHA, Feb. 4

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

After playing most of the season with three contenders for the MacNaughton Cup, it’s beginning to look like it will come down to a two-team race. Minnesota State and Michigan Tech have separated themselves at the top of the standings, while Bowling Green’s struggles have put them at a significant disadvantage. After another disheartening weekend, the Falcons are now 10 points back of the first place Mavericks, and six back of the Huskies, with just 10 games left to play.

Rapid Recap: Minnesota State continued to have Ferris State’s number, sweeping the Bulldogs with a pair of 5-1 wins. Michigan Tech poured on the offense in its sweep of Alabama-Huntsville, winning 5-0 and 11-1. Northern Michigan earned its first back-to-back wins since November, sweeping Alaska-Anchorage, 5-3 and 3-2 (OT). NMU senior defenseman Mitch Jones scored the OT winner with just 11 seconds left on Saturday to secure the sweep. Bemidji State ran its unbeaten streak to four, beating, 5-2, and tying, 2-2, stumbling Bowling Green.

In the Polls: After a week at No. 3, Minnesota State re-gained the top spot in the USCHO.com Div. I poll. Michigan Tech moved up three spots to No. 5 and are in the top five for the first time since Dec. 15. Bowling Green slipped two spots to No. 8. Bemidji State (8) is the only WCHA team receiving votes.

Following the weekend’s results, the Mavericks remained at No. 1 in the Pairwise, while Bowling Green stayed at No. 6 and Michigan Tech moved up three spots to No. 7.

(Following the jump: My three thoughts/observations on what went down in the WCHA last weekend)

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Jan. 30-31

Friday, January 30th, 2015

With only six weeks left to go, the WCHA races are turning the corner for the stretch run. While Minnesota State, Michigan Tech, and Bowling Green vie for the MacNaughton Cup, the other six teams have their eyes on the last home ice spot for the playoffs. Ferris State and Northern Michigan are currently tied for the No. 4 spot, but No. 4 and No. 10 are separated by just six points.

Last year, the WCHA playoff races came down to the final day and it looks like this season has that same potential, meaning league points will be at a premium from here on out.

Before this weekend’s games, be sure to check out CHN’s WCHA content from this week: After their outstanding performances at the North Star College Cup, Bemidji State was named the Team of the Week and in his feature, “Minnesota State-ment,” Avash Kalra took a look at how Minnesota State’s program has grown, culminating in the success they have had this year.

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Three Things I Think: WCHA, Jan. 26

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Both Michigan Tech and Bowling Green had chances to make up ground on first place Minnesota State this weekend, but only the Huskies took full advantage. Tech took all four points from a hard-fought series with Alaska to cut the Mavericks lead in half. The Falcons managed just two points at home against Lake Superior State and now sit three points back of the Huskies and seven back of MSU, albeit with two games in hand on both of them.

We got an all-WCHA final at the North Start College Cup in St. Paul, Minn., with Bemidji State prevailing over Minnesota State for the Beavers’ first NSCC title in their first appearance in the tournament. BSU freshman goaltender Michael Bitzer was fantastic in the two games. More on the Beavers NSCC triumph later.

In other news today, The Mining Journal sports reporter Ryan Stieg is reporting that Northern Michigan head coach Walt Kyle is no longer on administrative leave and is allowed to return to his position behind the bench. Kyle and NMU Associate Athletic Director Bridget Berube were placed on leave last week for mysterious reasons. In Kyle’s absence, the Wildcats lost to and tied Penn State on the road.

Rapid Recap: In league play, Michigan Tech pulled off a pair of one-goal victories at home against Alaska, 4-3 (OT) and 3-2. Senior forward Blake Pietila scored the OT-winner for the Huskies on Friday as part of a three-point weekend. Bowling Green stumbled a bit, splitting with Lake Superior State at home, losing, and winning, 3-1. Friday’s loss was BGSU’s first at home since mid-November. In non-conference action, Bemidji State won the North Star College Cup with a pair of wins over top-10 teams. The Beavers knocked off No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth, 4-0, in the semifinals before stymieing then-No. 1 Minnesota State, 3-1, in the final. The runner-up Mavericks defeated then-No. 17 Minnesota, 4-2, to reach the title game. Without the services of head coach Walt Kyle, Northern Michigan lost, 5-4, and tied, 5-5, Penn State on the road. The Wildcats did win the exhibition shootout on Saturday, though. Finally, Alabama-Huntsville was swept, 2-1 (OT) and 4-2, by the USA U-18 Team at home in a pair of exhibition games.

In the Polls: Minnesota State’s loss to Bemidji State ended the Mavericks’ two-week reign at the top of the USCHO.com poll. MSU checks in at No. 3 this week. Bowling Green held steady at No. 6 and Michigan Tech moved up two spots to No. 8. The Beavers’ tournament win was enough to garner them three votes in the poll.

Minnesota State remains the No. 1 team in the Pairwise, while Bowling Green and Michigan Tech are No. 6 and No. 10, respectively.

(After the jump: My three thoughts on what went down this past weekend in the WCHA)

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Jan. 23-25

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

With Minnesota State at the North Star College Cup, both Michigan Tech and Bowling Green have a chance to close the eight-point lead the Mavericks have opened up at the top of the WCHA standings. The Falcons will also be looking to jump into second place. They come into the weekend just one point behind the Huskies.

Northern Michigan, coming off being swept by Alabama-Huntsville, will have to re-group without its head coach, Walt Kyle, who was placed on indefinite administrative leave by NMU athletic director Forrest Karr on Monday. No time frame was given for the leave and the reason for it has yet to be identified. NMU’s associate athletic director, Bridget Berube Carter, was also placed on leave. In Kyle’s stead, assistant coaches Rob Lehtinen and John Kyle will share the coaching duties this weekend at Penn State.

In other league news, three WCHA teams had recruits ranked among the top North American skaters and goaltenders in NHL Central Scouting’s 2015 midterm rankings: Forward Jacob Jaremko (No. 107, Minnesota State), forward Collin Peters (No. 128, Northern Michigan), and goaltender Ryan Bednard (No. 15 goalie, Bowling Green).

Also, be sure to check out CHN’s Jen Dobias’s feature, “A Reason to Play,” which looks at how Alaska is approaching this season in wake of the program’s NCAA-imposed postseason ban.

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Jan. 16-17

Friday, January 16th, 2015

The WCHA boasts a full slate of conference action for the second-straight week, the marquee match-up of which is a showdown between title contenders Michigan Tech and Bowling Green in Houghton, Mich. The Huskies and Falcons come into the match-up separated by just one point in the standings.

Elsewhere, the two Alaska teams renew their rivalry and annual battle for the Governors’s Cup, newly-minted No. 1 Minnesota State heads on the road to face Ferris State, Northern Michigan heads south to face Alabama-Huntsville, and streaking Bemidji State meets Lake Superior State.

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Three Things I Think: WCHA, Jan. 12

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

After this past weekend’s WCHA action, Minnesota State is beginning to pull away from its rivals at the top of the league standings. The Mavericks sweep of Lake Superior State, combined with Michigan Tech’s struggles against Northern Michigan, opened up a six-point MSU lead in the race for the MacNaughton Cup. Bowling Green kept pace with a three-point weekend against Alaska and are now just a point behind the second place Huskies, setting up a showdown between the two this coming weekend in Houghton.

Rapid Recap: Minnesota State continued its roll, sweeping Lake Superior State, 5-2 and 3-1. Mavericks freshman forward C.J. Franklin has two goals and three points in the wins. U.P. rivals Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan played a pair of high-scoring overtime games, with the Wildcats taking three of four points from the suddenly-slipping Huskies, drawing 3-3 Friday before NMU senior defenseman played hero Saturday, scoring the OT winner in a 5-4 win. Bowling Green pushed its unbeaten streak to nine with a 3-0 win and 4-4 tie against Alaska. The Falcons’ salvaged Saturday’s draw with three unanswered goals in the third period, including two from junior forward Ben Murphy, to erase a 4-1 deficit. Ferris State closed out its extended Alaska road trip on a high note, sweeping Alaska-Anchorage, winning 4-1 and 3-2. Senior forward Justin Buzzeo had a big weekend for the Bulldogs, tallying three goals and five points. Bemidji State gave itself some separation in the bottom half of the standings, sweeping rival Alabama-Huntsville with a pair of 4-0 wins. Beavers freshman goaltender Michael Bitzer posted back-to-back shutouts, stopping all 42 Chargers shots he saw.

In The Polls: Minnesota State is the new No. 1 team in the country in the latest USCHO.com poll, marking the first time in program history the Mavericks have held the top spot. They are the second WCHA team to sit atop the polls this season after Michigan Tech held that spot for a week back in November. The Huskies slipped out of the top 10 to No. 11 after a winless weekend, while Bowling Green, which owns the nation’s longest unbeaten streak, cracked the top 10 at No. 7. Northern Michigan (15) is the only WCHA team receiving votes in the poll.

In the PairWise, Minnesota State is back at No. 1, Bowling Green climbed to No. 5, and Michigan Tech fell to No. 14.

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