Another weekend slightly above .500. I should be grateful. Why don’t I feel grateful?
Last week: 5-3-2 (.600)
Season to date: 78-45-21 (.615)
Here are my picks for games this week. There’s a full slate of CCHA play. Bowling Green is the team on the sidelines this weekend. All games are Friday-Saturday. Start times are noted.
I’m covering the Friday Miami-Michigan State game providing some extra coverage of the Alaska-Michigan game Saturday. Please say hello if you see me.
FSU at NMU. Fourth-place FSU is six points ahead of eighth-place NMU, but the Wildcats have a chance to make up some serious ground this weekend, as Northern has three games in hand on the Bulldogs. Last weekend, FSU dropped two to Michigan and the second loss, a 6-1 home loss, especially rankled; the game was televised, two Bulldog goals were disallowed, FSU had the top defense in the country heading into the weekend, and the game marked the first time since Jan. 2, 2010, that FSU had given up six goals to an opponent (Yale). The Wildcats were idle last week and are winless in their last four (0-3-1), and in that span NMU was outscored by opponents 18-6. Looks like both teams have something to prove. FSU and NMU are 2-2-1 in their last five meetings. 7:35 p.m. both nights. FSU 4-3, NMU 3-2.
Miami at MSU. Last weekend, the Spartans came away from two games in Sault Ste. Marie with four points while the RedHawks swept Bowling Green at home. Freshman Will Yanakeff was the goalie of record for the Spartans in last weekend’s win and tie, and he’s 3-0-1 in his last four starts; the Spartans are 3-1-1 in their last five. Junior Cody Reichard had both wins against BGSU last weekend, allowing just two goals. Miami has won seven of the last 10 meetings between these teams. MSU is 67-26-5 all-time against Miami, including a 35-15-3 record at Munn. 7:35 p.m. Friday, 7:05 p.m. Saturday. MSU 3-2, Miami 4-2.
ND at OSU. First-place Notre Dame holds that spot by a single point over Michigan, and the Wolverines have a game in hand on the Irish. Ohio State is no threat to the Irish in terms of the standings, but with 25 points, OSU is in that middle CCHA mix with six other teams. Last weekend, the Irish split at home with Alaska; head coach Jeff Jackson went on record with a personal mea culpa after the split, saying that he hadn’t prepared his team for the series. You can bet that’s a mistake that won’t be made two weeks in a row. The Buckeyes returned from Kalamazoo with two points after losing to and tying WMU. Even though ND earned more points on the weekend, OSU ended on a higher note – setting up a very interesting series in Columbus. Last season, ND went 1-0-1 against OSU. The Irish have more goals than anyone in the country (98) and are third in the nation (.3.77) in goals per game. The Buckeyes have the 15th-best defense in the country, allowing 2.43 goals per game. 7:05 p.m. both nights. ND 3-2, OSU 3-2.
UAF at UM. The Nanooks may have surprised the Irish last week, but the Wolverines have the benefit of that series and won’t be able to make the same claim. In splitting with Notre Dame last weekend, Alaska won its first game in the Joyce Center in eight games, having last won there March 4, 2006. It’s been a little longer since the Nanooks won in Yost; UAF’s last win in Ann Arbor was Jan. 7, 2006. In sweeping the Bulldogs last week, the Wolverines posted their best defensive weekend of the year, allowing just three goals in two contests. UM is unbeaten on Saturdays this season (10-0-2)…which means that Fridays are a little different (3-5-2). One of those Friday losses came in Fairbanks, a 3-0 loss to UAF when the teams split (Nov. 5-6). Scott Greenham (1.97 GAA, .926 SV%) vs. Shawn Hunwick (2.45, .916) should be a good match-up. I confess that I enjoy watching Hunwick play, as he’s a little, um, extroverted. 7:35 p.m. both nights. UAF 3-2, UM 4-2.
WMU at LSSU. The CCHA announced a one-game suspension of LSSU head coach Jim Roque today – and no, I don’t know the circumstances of it, yet, other than what the press release said, that Roque violated the league’s Good Conduct Regulations following LSSU’s 2-2 overtime tie against MSU last weekend. So Roque – a passionate, expressive coach, I’ve found, and a guy I like a lot – will return to the Lake bench Saturday. The Lakers took two points from the visiting Spartans last weekend with that shootout extra point Saturday; last weekend’s action was the first D-I play LSSU had seen since mid-December. The Broncos hosted the Buckeyes and earned four points with a win and tie; WMU now possesses the longest unbeaten streak in the country at seven games (5-0-2). That streak began with a Dec. 11, 2010, 5-2 win over LSSU. Last year, WMU defeated and tied LSSU in Kalamazoo (Nov. 6-7, 2009); the teams split a pair of games the last time they met in Sault Ste. Marie (Feb. 20-21, 2009). I’m not calling against a streak until it’s broken. 7:05 p.m. both nights. WMU 3-2, 4-2.