Home Stretch: Things to KnowPosted by: Avash Kalra
With just four games remaining in the regular season (and just two remaining for Ohio State and Alaska), Ferris State holds a 5 point lead in the CCHA standings. But with every league win potentially worth three points, there are plenty of opportunities remaining for the teams chasing the Bulldogs for the regular season crown.
As the season winds down, here are some things to know:
- Unbeaten now in 12 games (three shy of the program record), Ferris State is currently the No. 1 team in the nation according to the Pairwise Rankings and — as a result — would be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament if the tourney began today. I expect Ferris State to sweep Bowling Green (currently in an impressive 0-for-30 power play slump) this weekend to set up a final weekend home-and-home showdown with second-place Western Michigan. The Broncos swept the Bulldogs earlier this season, and the CCHA regular season crown could be decided on the final night of the season. Ferris State vs. Western Michigan — just like we all predicted months ago…
- Six of the Pairwise’s Top 15 teams and 9 of the top 20 are CCHA members. But having seen how these things tend to play out year after year, I don’t expect more than five of the league’s teams to ultimately make the NCAA tournament. Ohio State and Miami are currently hanging on to the final two spots, and the Buckeyes and RedHawks play a pivotal final weekend home-and-home series as well. Ohio State finally won a game on Saturday, splitting their weekend series with Western Michigan and thereby ending an 11-game winless streak that saw the Buckeyes tumble from first-place in the league. Ohio State needs a strong finish perhaps more than anyone in the league.
- Thanks in large part to the CCHA’s point structure (3 points for a win, 2 for a shootout win, 1 for a tie), a mere six points separate second-place Western Michigan and ninth-place Northern Michigan. The only predictions we can make with any certainty is that Alaska (despite junior Andy Taranto’s resurgence of late) will almost certainly finish in 10th place, while Bowling Green will finish in 11th place.
- Michigan and Michigan State played one of the more entertaining series of the season last weekend, with the Spartans winning a tight 3-2 contest on Friday night at Munn Ice Arena, before the Wolverines exacted revenge with an overtime win (also by a 3-2 score) the next night in front of a sold-out Joe Louis Arena. On Friday, MSU defenseman Torey Krug sparked an inspired Spartan comeback, scoring two goals and adding an assist. On Saturday, fellow defenseman Matt Crandel made a questionable play in overtime, attempting to stop a rolling puck with his body instead of shuffling it to the boards — when he missed, Michigan’s Kevin Lynch beat Will Yanakeff for the game-winner. The Wolverines (11-2-2 in their last 15 games) look, on most nights, like a team that could compete for the national championship.
- This will be a make or break weekend for Notre Dame. Already sitting on the Pairwise bubble, the Irish have lost three in a row… and now visit Oxford this weekend for a pair of games against Miami. It’s the first CCHA action for the RedHawks since they were swept two weeks ago at Michigan. Miami swept Alabama-Huntsville this past weekend.
- COMING UP: Check out CHN this week for a special feature on Michigan State defenseman Torey Krug!