Happy Valentine’s Day, CCHA fans! The Universe delivered a Valentine to me with some increasingly rare prescience for this past weekend’s picks.

Last week: 8-2-2 (.750)
Season to date: 95-62-23 (.592)

The Fighting Irish and Wolverines showed themselves a little love, too, with sweeps of visiting opponents, while the two points the RedHawks lost at home to the Broncos may have cost Miami the regular season championship.

Three of the four points Miami took from Western Michigan certainly cost the Broncos their unbeaten streak.

It should be noted that if the season were to end today, the three teams hosting first-round playoff series would be Alaska, Lake Superior State, and Northern Michigan. All three are tied for sixth place, each with 35 points.

Bowling Green-Notre Dame. The Irish swept the visiting Falcons and in doing so recaptured the top spot in the CCHA. With 50 points, ND is in sole possession of first place – for now – and one point ahead of both No. 2 teams, Michigan and Miami. Mike Johnson had 21 saves in Friday’s 2-1 win for the Irish; Steve Summerhays stopped 13 in Saturday’s 5-1 win as ND outshot the Falcons 35-14. Bryan Rust and Anders Lee each had a goal and an assist Friday, and Lee had two helpers Saturday, a game in which Billy Mayday netted two. In losing efforts, Andrew Hammond (36-of-38) and Nick Eno (30-of-35) split time in the BG net. Mike Fink had the power-play goal for the Falcons Friday, his third marker of the season. Cameron Sinclair notched his second of the year Saturday. The Falcons host Northern Michigan this weekend while the Irish travel to Big Rapids for two against Ferris State.

Ohio State-Michigan. The Wolverines kept pace with the Irish with a pair of one-goal wins, 3-2 and 2-1, over the visiting Buckeyes. Chris Brown led Michigan in goals with two on the weekend; he didn’t have a chance for a third after taking a misconduct for checking from behind in the third period of the second game. That’s a contest that the Wolverines should have won by a much greater margin. OSU netminder Cal Heeter was stunning in that contest, especially in that third period – one of the most electric periods of hockey I’ve seen this season. Heeter combined for 53-of-58 (.914 SV%) on the weekend. In the UM net, Shawn Hunwick faced fewer grade-A chances but also earned his keep in the final period of Saturday’s game and stopped 55-of-58 (.948) in the two games. With 31 points, the Buckeyes are in ninth place. UM hosts WMU this weekend and ends the season in Marquette for two games against the Wildcats. The Buckeyes are at home the rest of the way, with the Lakers this weekend and the Bulldogs Feb. 24-25.

Western Michigan-Miami. I called a split on this one and was gratified with Friday’s tie and extra point captured by the Broncos. Why? Because I took a good deal of abuse from RedHawks fans for calling Western to win Friday. Hey, I respected that unbeaten streak, which came to a close after 14 games. Perhaps the RedHawks didn’t respect it enough, as they led 3-1 going into the third in Friday’s 3-3 tie. Ian Slater and Luke Witkowski scored two goals one minute and 33 seconds apart in the middle of the third in that game to knot it up. Five different RedHawks scored in both games, and Curtis McKenzie had a goal in each game. For the first time in a while, Cody Reichard split time in the Miami net with Connor Knapp; Reichard had the tie Friday, Knapp the win Saturday. Jerry Kuhn stopped 59-of-65 (.907 SV%) in the two games as the RedHawks outshot the Broncos 65-44. With 41 points, the Broncos are in fourth place, but uncomfortably so, as Ferris State trails them by just three points – and WMU has a tough schedule remaining, with series against Michigan and Notre Dame and just one of those four remaining games at home. Miami is off this coming weekend before traveling to Sault Ste. Marie Feb. 24-25 to finish the season against the Lakers.

Alaska-Lake Superior. Six different Lakers scored on the weekend as Alaska and LSSU tied, 2-2, Friday and Lake won, 4-2, Saturday. One of those Lakers was Dillin Stonehouse, a senior defenseman who had the empty-net goal Saturday, his first of the season and the sixth in 130 games for the Lakers. The assist on that goal went to Matt Cowie, and I’d love to know if Cowie had a clean shot himself and dished it off unselfishly to Stonehouse. Four Nanooks scored in the two games. Scott Greenham stopped 48-of-54 in the Alaska net; Kevin Kapalka had 54 saves on 58 shots for LSSU. The teams are tied – along with Northern Michigan – for sixth place in the CCHA, each with 35 points, but both the Lakers and Wildcats have two games in hand on the Nanooks, who finish their league season at home against the Spartans this weekend before a home-and-home with Anchorage Feb. 25-26. The Lakers are at Ohio State this weekend and host Miami to end the regular season.

Northern Michigan-Michigan State. The Wildcats swept the Spartans, 4-2 and 6-5, and Tyler Gron accounted for four of those 10 goals, including a hat trick in Saturday’s contest. Gron’s two second-period goals in the 6-5 win sparked the NMU turnaround in that game, as the Spartans were leading 4-1 when Gron scored on the power play at 10:10 in the second. His next goal, at 19:15, was a momentum shifter; he came out and scored his third at 1:39 in the third. The box of the Saturday game reveals a very different contest from Friday. In the 4-2 win – one of the most boring games I’ve witnessed this season – NMU goaltender Jared Coreau made 50 saves on 52 shots in a game that the Spartans dominated in every other aspect. Saturday, Coreau was pulled after the first three MSU goals, at 13:23 in the first. Reid Ellingson stopped 16-of-18 shots for the rest of the game. Will Yanakeff played for the Spartans Friday, Drew Palmisano Saturday – and the overall netminding (or lack of consistency thereof) tells the story for each of these teams this season. NMU is on the road against BG this weekend before hosting Michigan to tend the season. MSU travels to Alaska before hosting Bowling Green.

Alabama-Huntsville-Ferris State. The Bulldogs swept the Chargers by a collective score of 10-3, netting five in each game. Travis Ouellette had two in Friday’s contest; Mike Embach had two Saturday. Pat Nagle had 41 saves for FSU. Clarke Saunders stopped 40 for the Chargers Friday, and John Griggs made 26 saves Saturday. Joey Koudys and Mac Roy had the UAH goals Friday, Tom Durnie the single goal Saturday. These were the last Division I games of the season for the Chargers, who face the U.S. Under-18 team at home Feb. 25-26. The Bulldogs return to CCHA action for two remaining series: Notre Dame at home this weekend, OSU on the road the following.

I leave you this Valentine’s Day with lines from a poem by Saginaw, Mich., native Theodore Roethke, “I Knew a Woman.” You can find the whole poem by clicking on its title.

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay;
I’m martyr to a motion not my own;
What’s freedom for? To know eternity.

  • UNO Fan

    You seriously need to get thicker skin. Im not even a Miami fan, but that was out of line.

  • To fill you in on the Stonehouse goal, Cowie did not have a clean shot, he was under pressure in the Laker end and quickly passed it to Stonehouse who one timed it 150 down the ice into the net (the puck was still about 2 feet off the ground when it hit the back of the net) although Cowie certainly would do something like that if he had the opportunity, he’s a real team player…Interestingly enough, the Stonehouse goal was the first empty net goal the Lakers have scored this season…and one more thing, some of us Laker fans seem to think that the Lakers have had to have been involved in more shootouts than any other CCHA team since the inception of the rule…Is there any way you could check this out for us? I think an article devoted to the shootout (which team has been in the most, least, what player has scored the most shootout goals, what teams/goalies have had the most success, etc.) would be an interesting read for us CCHA fans thanks!

    • IrishHockeyFan

      Lake State has been involved in 13 shootouts in the nearly 3 years of this gimmick in the CCHA. In order (and only counting CCHA games, not any in-season tourneys, as many use them):
      WMU 22
      UA 18
      FSU 14
      ND 13
      LSSU 13
      NMU 13
      OSU 12
      MSU 12
      MU 10
      BGSU 9
      UM 6

      • IrishHockeyFan

        and UNO was in 10 in the two years they were here

      • I can’t speak to any of the figures for the other teams but i just went back and looked, and your Lake State figure is inaccurate, the lakers have been involved in 16 shootouts since it began, not 13…..

        • IrishHockeyFan

          yeah, you are correct, Lake State has participated in 16, and my figure for Bowling Green was off too, they’ve been in 10, not 9. One of my stats repositories had incorrect numbers, as well as SO wins and losses that didn’t equal their respective numbers of ties. That should have alerted me that the numbers may have been suspect. The others I believe are all correct.

  • Kwd_13

    After losing at home to Merrimack it is inconceivable that UMO could win on the road at North Dakota.  On the other hand, the Souix should have joined HEA.  That way, they could get a proper a** kicking on a regular basis and maybe then the whining would go away –

  • Sioux2b07

    What are Sioux fans whining about? The matchup doesn’t play well for ND because HEA and the WCHA play totally different styles of hockey and the winner if all other things equal is the way the game is officiated, if it is called very tight the HEA team will more than likely win because they will live on the power play because they play a more skilled brand of hockey. If the game isn’t called as tightly the WCHA team will probably win because they can use their size to push around the usually smaller HEA team. Don’t take this as a whining Sioux fan because I do really like HEA because the type of hockey they play is the way I play my game and the way I wish hockey was always played, but saying that UND would get crushed in HEA is too simple to say because when you play non-conference it is all up to officiating but if they were in HEA they would recruit players that fit the HEA style and not the players it takes to compete in the WCHA.

    • After Further Review

      I do agree with you, to a point.  The styles of the two leagues are very much different.  The officiating does certainly have an impact on the outcome, but I think the biggest problem UND has had with Hockey East opponents recently is that no matter who officiates, they can’t catch the smaller, quicker players to actually hit them.  I am a UNH/HE fan and that is not meant to bash the WCHA or the Sioux, just seems that the speed has really been able to bury the size on many occasions.

      • After Further Review

        But to amend my story, apparently if you play UNH, you don’t have to catch them.  Just let them skate and pass and eventually they will hit your goalie with the shot.  With 63 shots and 0 goals in 2 games, with BC on the schedule for tomorrow, it might be a VERY LONG season!

  • MnGopherFan

    Looks like Dave and Jim picked the wrong team in the Denver at BC matchup Friday night. Denver looked solid. Another case of east coast bias?

    • Joe C

      Number #1 ranked team upset at home by the Number #3 ranked team.

      Even though I cheer every time BC loses, not sure how “East Coast Bias” plays into this. They split the pick for Pioneers at Terriers.

      Give full credit to Denver for playing a great game last night. Hopefully, BU can shake off last night’s loss to the Friars…

  • JJM

    So much for the “no brainer of the year” and  “going with BC all the way”

  • Wow Dave, Glad that you blew the two PC games!

    It’s going to be an interesting season…

    • Joe C

      It looks like Providence is pretty good and New Hampshire has a lot of issues.

      There seems to be a good balance between WCHA and Hockey East this year. I sure hope there will be more out-of-conference play in 2013-2014

  • guest2

    Agree 100%. 

  • Phoenixfyre1313

    I don’t know that those older coaches would have any more power to stop this than the current ones do/did.  It wasn’t a coaches decision.  It was more the Big 10 forcing the ADs of the Big 10 schools to comply, if they wanted to stay in the Big 10 for other sports and as much as we all hate it, it comes down to money and keeping all the other revenue generating sports is more a consideration for the school as opposed to keeping the WCHA together or for what might be best for college hockey.  It is sad, but the fact is hockey is way down on the list as far as priorities, even in a place like Minnesota where hockey is far and away the sport that they have had the most success in.

  • Fast Walk to Fresno

    Yes, we all agree that it was the Big Ten that forced this down the member AD’s throats, and that the coaches had no say. The strangest thing about this whole Big Ten thing is, why the hell does the Big Ten care about college hockey? There’s very little money to be made on it. Everyone I’ve discussed this with said, “it’s all about the Big Ten Network and wanting the hockey games on there.” What? How can that be possible? First, college hockey is not exactly an advertising magnet. Second, when exactly are they planning on airing these games? Once college basketball season starts (which is only a few weeks after hockey), there is complete overlap in the days/times of the games. So, why would the BTN choose to air a college hockey game over a college basketball game when all the advertisers know that the latter has significantly better ratings? Note, I’m talking about national ratings, not local ratings, but national ratings would be all the BTN could care about in terms of why they want to add college hockey to their programming. 

    So, someone explain this to me. How exactly does the Big Ten Conference or BTN benefit from this monetarily?

  • Wayne

    What I will always remember most about Sauer, in a negative vein, is the number of UW games I saw while following WCHA hockey where his players intentionally went to the head/neck of opponents to finish a check.  It happened way too often for it not to have been coached.  Former UW player and NHL-er Sean Hill many years ago ended the hockey career of a promising Denver player named Mike Aikens in a play that unfolded right in front me, perhaps early 1990’s or thereabouts.  Unfortunately, a part of what Mr. Sauer brought to the college game and a part of his enduring legacy, successful W-L record notwithstanding.

  • Burketim444

    As a MN fan I’m glad to be in a different league than N Dakota. I admire their team
    but the fan base makes the game an ugly experience. I just go to games to cheer on my team and hope for a good game. They can make it very personal. I’ve had many ND fans scream in my face and I’ve never made a comment back. All for just wearing
    a Gophers jersey. What happened to sportsmanship?

  • Nicole

    Sounded more to me like Sauer was talking about Alabama-Huntsville. He specifically says something about keeping programs running.

  • tom hewitt

    What does a college education have to do with some young fellows playing hockey anyway?  Why should I care if the players on two teams in a game are enrolled as students in some particular university?  Is it critical to my enjoyment of a hockey game that the participants be wearing uniforms that represent some school when the players themselves would probably be happy to be playing on either team?  Ice hockey is a great sport that doesn’t require an affiliation with hypocritical educational organizations.  I’ll go to junior games.