It’s still early and numbers can mislead or outright lie, but here are 15 things that strike me as pretty scary about the CCHA this week, in no particular order.
1. Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the hottest teams in the country, the Western Michigan Broncos! After losing to Canisius to open the season Oct. 8, the Broncos are undefeated in five games (4-0-1). They begin CCHA play against Notre Dame this weekend, so we’ll see how long that lasts.
2. The Irish have returned to giant-slayer form. Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Boston College Saturday — and which sports writer called that win? huh? huh? — marked the 12th time in program history that ND has toppled the top team in the country. It was the fourth time since 2003-04 that the Irish have beaten the Eagles when BC was ranked No. 1.
3. Miami. Do I need to say more? Okay. The 4-1-1 RedHawks have outscored opponents 29-14 this season; they’ve outscored opponents 26-8 when they’ve won or tied. They’re doing this without superstar numbers from Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard in net. Yet.
4. All jokes aside, what happened to Miami’s Will Weber this past weekend was just plain scary. When Weber was cut nearly half-way around his neck in an on-ice collision Saturday, the resulting wound required surgery and 100 stitches. It’s amazing that he’s already back in Oxford.
5. Carter Camper. He has seven goals and 10 assists — a season’s output for a lot of players. He’s one of two guys in the country with seven goals (North Dakota’s Matt Frattin is the other). He leads the nation in points per game (2.38), leads the nation in assists and has more points than any other player in the country right now. He has two game-winners, two power-play goals, and a shorthander. And he did not score a goal in Saturday’s 9-1 win over NMU. And he isn’t even drafted.
6. Guys named Ryan Peltoma, Chad Billins, Cal Heeter, Nick Pisellini. Throw Brock Shelgren in there, too. Who are these palookas? These are guys you’ve never heard of who have been named CCHA players of the week, guys whose names I’ve had to add to my dictionary because I’ve written about them so often in the early going – and never before. Peltoma (BGSU), Billins (FSU), and Shelgren (MSU) are all Defensemen of the Week, while Heeter (OSU) and Pisellini (WMU) are goalies. Pisellini has the third-best GAA and eighth-best SV% in the country. What the heck is going on here?
7. The CCHA is 22-12-6 in nonconference play, having gone 7-1-1 last weekend. In addition, the league has a slight edge over Hockey East (3-2-2), which is practically unheard of. Of course, it’s very early and there was a full moon this week.
8. The only team currently undefeated in nonconference play is Michigan State (1-0-1). Everyone else has at least one non-league loss. In those two nonconference games, MSU outscored visiting Maine, 7-6. That’s the same Maine team that outscored North Dakota 11-5.
9. Five CCHA teams are among the top 15 in this week’s USCHO.com poll: No. 1 Miami, No. 4 Michigan, No. 11 Michigan State, No. 13 Notre Dame and No. 15 Alaska. I also voted for both the Bulldogs and the Broncos in my poll, and I wasn’t alone.
10. Northern Michigan is winless in four games this season, and the Wildcats have been outscored 20-7.
11. With 55 penalty minutes in the games against Miami, NMU moved into first place nationally in penalty minutes per game, with 119 in five contests (23.8 PIMs per game), nudging Michigan out of the lead.
12. Scooter Vaughan and David Wohlberg are tied for goal production for the Wolverines in goal production, having each scored four goals in six games. Note that their names are not Hagelin or Caporusso. UM has a dozen guys with a goal, a big difference from how the Wolverines began last season.
13. Lake Superior State is one of two CCHA teams with at least four guys who have three or more goals in six games. Miami, with five players in that category, is the other. One of those three-goal scorers is Rick Schofield, who is currently third in scoring (3-5–8) in the CCHA. Yet, the Lakers just recorded their first wins of the season with a sweep over visiting Colgate last weekend.
14. Ohio State’s power play is ninth best in the nation (26.3). That’s a PP unit that finished 38th in the nation last season, 45th in 2008-09 and 48th in 2007-08.
15. Three guys in the CCHA were born in 1985: Alaska’s Ryan Hohl (Aug. 1) and Northern Michigan’s Phil Fox (Aug. 17) and Mike Maltese (July 31). These guys are already 25 years old. They were in kindergarten before a great number of current college players were conceived.
1985. A gallon of gas cost $1.09. VH-1 debuted. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” was a hit. Out of Africa won the Oscar for Best Picture. Phil Collins won a Grammy. Phil Collins, for cryin’ out loud. Microsoft released Word 1.0 for Macintosh.
1985? I was married two days before Maltese was born.
Oh, now that is scary.