Given the state of college hockey this season, perhaps I should be grateful for any week I pick that’s over .500.
Last week: 5-3-2
Season to date: 78-45-21
No. 8 Notre Dame remains in first place in the CCHA by a point because of a split with No. 20 Alaska and No. 7 Michigan’s sweep of No. 19 Ferris State. A look around the D-I world, though, shows that ND’s fate was similar to that of other top teams: No. 1 Yale split with unranked Brown; No. 2 North Dakota split with unranked Minnesota; No. 3 Boston College split with No. 13 Maine.
Business as usual en route to St. Paul.
Alaska-Notre Dame. The Nanooks generated 74 shots on the Irish, and it was Mike Johnson’s 34-save performance in Friday’s 2-1 win that kept ND one step ahead of Michigan in the standings this week. Allowing three goals on the weekend, Alaska’s Scott Greenham brought his goals-against average to down below two per game (1.97) and his save percentage up to .926, finally making him one of the top 10 goalies in the nation – numbers that reflect his consistent excellence. The 4-1 UAF win Saturday was the first in South Bend for the Nanooks since 2006, and for a team that averages 2.32 goals per game, a big boost heading into Michigan Jan. 21-22. Eight different players registered the eight goals were scored between the teams in the two games. Alaska’s three points put the Nanooks in fourth place with 27 points, two behind FSU.
Ferris State-Michigan. Friday’s contest was terrific; Saturday’s not so much. In the 3-2 UM win Friday in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines scored three goals in the second period after trailing by two. In the loss, Pat Nagle had 37 saves. Saturday’s 6-1 UM win in Big Rapids, Nagle was replaced by Taylor Nelson after allowing the his fourth goal, shorthanded, at 2:01 in the second. The Bulldogs had two goals disallowed in the first two periods, and the only FSU goal of the game – Mike Fillinger’s fourth of the season at 1:55 in the third – was reviewed before it was allowed. Shawn Hunwick had 57 saves in two games. Lee Moffie and David Wohlberg each had two goals on the weekend. FSU drops to fourth place with 29 points.
Bowling Green-Miami. The RedHawks remain in the mix, back in third place in the CCHA, having earned six points against the hard-working but still cellar-dwelling Falcons. The RedHawks limited the Falcons to one goal in each game, winning 5-1 and 3-1; BGSU is now averaging 2.00 goals per game, second-to-last nationally, and has scored a goal in each of its last four contests. Five different RedHawks scored in the Friday win, but Reilly Smith had three goals on the weekend with his single marker in the first game and two in the second. Cody Reichard earned both wins, with a season-high 30 saves Saturday.
Ohio State-Western Michigan. The Broncos hosted the Buckeyes and came away with four points with a 4-2 win and a 2-2 tie. These four points give WMU a one-point edge over OSU in the CCHA standings as the middle tier really tightens up; Western’s in sixth place with 26 points, Ohio State in seventh with 25. One of the best stories of the year in the CCHA is the second-half emergence of senior Bronco goaltender Jerry Kuhn (.206 GAA, .926 SV%), who has been the goalie of record in WMU’s current seven-game unbeaten streak. Kuhn made 63 saves on the weekend. Chase Balisy had two goals for WMU Friday, one on Saturday. Buckeye sophomore forward Jeff McNeil, playing in just his seventh game this season, tied Saturday’s game for OSU in the third period with his first career goal.
Lake Superior-Michigan State. The Lakers played their first D-I game since December on Friday night and came away with no points and no goals to show for it. MSU shut out LSSU 4-1 Jan. 14 and the teams tied, 2-2, the following night. All four of MSU’s goals in the win came in the third period, the last three in rapid succession – scored between 12:53 and 15:50. Brett Perlini had the last two in that one. Will Yanakeff was the goalie of record both nights for the Spartans, making 57 saves; Kevin Kapalka played both games for LSSU, stopping 58. The Lakers won the shootout, and those two points kept them two ahead of MSU in the CCHA standings.