Archive for the 'Regular Season' Category

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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WCHA Weekend Preview, Jan. 8-10

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

For just the second time this season all ten WCHA teams are in action this weekend, making for what should be an exciting week of league play. There are a number of series that are sure to have big effects on playoff positioning, as well as a couple of rivalry match-ups.

The series to watch is in Bowling Green, where the red-hot Falcons take on similarly streaking Alaska. Another fun one will be Alabama-Huntsville and Bemidji State renewing a rivalry that stretches two conferences and two divisions for a series that, for the first time in awhile, means something. As for the title race, Minnesota State heads into the weekend on top with 23 points, but both Michigan Tech and Bowling Green have the chance to make up some ground.

Hobey Baker Fan Voting: Seven WCHA players, from four different schools, are among the 59 candidates on the 2015 Hobey Baker Fan Ballot. This first phase of fan voting runs through Sunday, March 8, before the field gets whittled down to the ten finalists.

The nominees from the WCHA are: junior forward Bryce Gervais (Minnesota State), senior forward Tanner Kero (Michigan Tech), senior forward Jean-Paul LaFontaine (Minnesota State), senior forward Matt Leitner (Minnesota State), junior forward Tyler Morley (Alaska), senior goaltender CJ Motte (Ferris State), and junior goaltender Jamie Phillips (Michigan Tech).

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Three Things I Think: WCHA, Jan. 5

Monday, January 5th, 2015

WCHA teams, with the exception of Bemidji State and Lake Superior State, returned from the holiday break this past weekend to resume a tight conference race. Minnesota State was the of the three top dogs in league play and the Mavericks took advantage, grabbing first place and opening up a three point lead on Michigan Tech, though the Huskies have two games in hand. Among the middle of the pack, Ferris State and Northern Michigan continue to tumble down the standings and are going to have their work cut out for them in the second half if they want to be home ice teams, while Alaska has settled nicely into its second half spoiler role.

Rapid Recap: In league play, Minnesota State took over sole possession of first place in the conference, taking three points from Northern Michigan on the road with a 4-1 win and 2-2 tie. Alabama-Huntsville earned its first sweep as a member of the WCHA, taking back-to-back games from visiting Alaska-Anchorage, 3-2 and 2-1, and Alaska also took care of business at home, sweeping Ferris State with wins of 2-1 and 6-0. In non-conference action, Bowling Green tied Robert Morris, 2-2, in the Winterfest outdoor game at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio, before beating the Colonials on the road, 4-1. Michigan Tech trounced Wisconsin, 8-1, on Friday before Badgers goalie Joel Rumpel stymied the Huskies in a 2-0 defeat in the finale.

In the Polls: Minnesota State is the highest ranked team in the first USCHO.com poll of 2015, checking in at No. 4. Michigan Tech sits at No. 8, while Bowling Green is No. 11. Alaska (9) and Northern Michigan (1) are both receiving votes.

In the PairWise, the Mavericks were knocked down to No. 2 thanks to the combination of tying with Northern Michigan on Saturday and the WCHA’s non-favorable non-conference results. Bowling Green surpassed Michigan Tech as the conference’s second-highest ranked team. The Falcons are No. 5 and the Huskies dropped to No. 13.

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Jan. 2-4

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Eight WCHA teams return to action this weekend after the holiday break and six will resume league play as the race for the MacNaughton Cup resumes.

Of the top three teams in the league standings, only No. 3 Minnesota State is in league play this weekend, travelling to the U.P. to take on Northern Michigan. Any points give the Mavericks sole possession of first place. The Alaska-Anchorage at Alabama-Huntsville and Ferris State at Alaska series can give the middle of the standings increased clarity.

Holiday Recap: Four WCHA teams were in action over the holiday break, including three in two different tournaments. Lake Superior State brought home the only hardware for the conference, capturing the Florida College Classic with a 2-1 win over Notre Dame. LSSU junior defender, a Florida native, netted the tournament-winning goal for the Lakers.

Michigan Tech and Ferris State both participated in the Great Lakes Invitational, but were bounced in the semifinals by Michigan, 2-1, and Michigan State, 2-0, respectively. The Huskies knocked off the Bulldogs, 4-2, in the third place game.

In non-tournament action, Alabama-Huntsville lost, 2-1, and tied, 3-3, Nebraska-Omaha on the road back on Dec. 20-21.

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Dec. 12-13

Friday, December 12th, 2014

As the first half of the college hockey season comes to a close, the WCHA has to like where it is sitting. It is the only conference in the country with two teams ranked in the top five and has three teams (No. 1 Minnesota State, No. 5 Michigan Tech, and No. 8 Bowling Green) ranked in the top 10 of the PairWise at the halfway point.

This week marks the final week of the first half for many teams in the league, with the majority returning to action the weekend of Jan. 2-4. Between now and then, Alabama-Huntsville has a two game set at Nebraska-Omaha (Dec. 20-21) and Ferris State and Michigan Tech will take part in the 50th Annual Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena, Dec. 28-29, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit alongside Big Ten foes Michigan and Michigan State. Lake Superior State is participating in the Florida College Classic Dec. 28-29 with Miami, Notre Dame, and Cornell as well.

This weekend, the eyes of the college hockey world will be focused, in part, on the WCHA as No. 4 Michigan Tech squares off with No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth in an intriguing match-up at MacInnes Arena. While that non-conference series highlights the WCHA slate, there are three conference series going on that should help clear the muddled middle of the league standings before the break.

(After the jump: Previewing this weekend’s slate of series in the WCHA)

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Three Things I Think: WCHA, Dec. 9

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

With four overtime games, high-scoring contests, upsets and near-upsets, it was a pretty exciting weekend of hockey in the WCHA. After the dust settled, Minnesota State emerged in a tie with Michigan Tech at 20 points apiece at the top of the standings. Bowling Green remains right behind them with 17 points. All three of those teams will resume conference play next month.

Rapid Recap: Alaska ended No. 2 Minnesota State’s six game winning streak with a 5-4 OT win on Friday before junior forward Dylan Margonari’s hat trick on Saturday salvaged a split for the Mavericks. Bowling Green went on the road an took three of four points from Northern Michigan, drawing a high-scoring, 5-5, battle in the opener before blowing out NMU, 5-0. Bemidji State and Alaska-Anchorage split a pair of ties and Lake Superior State gave North Dakota all it could handle, but was swept.

In the Polls: In the latest USCHO.com rankings, the Mavericks dropped a spot to No. 3, idle Michigan Tech moved up to No. 4, Bowling Green jumped to No. 13, and Northern Michigan dropped out of the top-20. Two WCHA teams are receiving votes: the Wildcats (51) and Ferris State (3). The WCHA is the only conference in the country with two teams ranked in the top five.

The WCHA also has three teams in the top 10 of College Hockey News’ first official look at the PairWise. Minnesota State is No. 1, followed by Michigan Tech at No. 5, and Bowling Green at No. 8. The rest of the league ranks as followed: Alaska (No. 25), Northern Michigan (No. 29), Bemidji State (No. 37), Ferris State (No. 39), Alaska-Anchorage (No. 41), Alabama-Huntsville (No. 45), and Lake Superior State (No. 54).

(After the jump: My three stars of the weekend and three thoughts on what went down)

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