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The landscape in the CCHA changed only a little over the weekend and with one weekend to go, the regular-season title and last two first-round byes are up for grabs.

Ferris State-Notre Dame. For the 10th time in program history, the Fighting Irish have reached 20 wins with a sweep over the Bulldogs, 3-2 and 5-2. The Irish never trailed in the weekend, leading 1-0 after the first in each game and the Irish had a three-goal third period Saturday to cap the weekend. Each team spread out its offense, as 11 different players accounted for the 12 goals scored on the weekend; Nick Larson had two goals for ND. Once again, Mike Johnson and Steven Summerhays split time in net for the Irish. The six points keep Notre Dame in first place with 56 points, one ahead of second-place Michigan, six ahead of third-place Miami.

Western Michigan-Michigan. The Wolverines kept pace with the Irish with a sweep of the visiting Broncos – but they needed extra time to get those six points. Friday’s 6-3 win was closer than it sounds, and Saturday’s 5-4 win came down to the wire for Michigan twice. Carl Hagelin scored the game-tying goal for UM at 19:20 and the game-winner with three seconds left in OT. The 5-4 win was a rare instance of the Wolverines having to battle from behind; Bronco Dane Walters scored 43 seconds into the contest and WMU led 3-2 after one on Walters’ second goal and another by Ben Warda. Hagelin’s game-winner came on the power play, a weak interference call on Luke Witkowski at 4:31 in overtime. It was the first time this season that the Broncos didn’t take a point on a weekend against a CCHA opponent, and they remain in fourth place with 41 points. Of Hagelin’s goals, UM head coach Red Berenson said, “It’s as good as it gets.” Berenson even smiled.

Northern Michigan-Bowling Green. The Wildcats took four points from the Falcons with a 2-2 tie and 3-2 win, and that was enough to make a move in the CCHA standings with a little help from the Irish and the Spartans. NMU is in sole possession of fifth place – for now – with 39 points, two behind Western Michigan. Phil Fox and Justin Florek had big weekends for the Wildcats; Fox had three goals and an assist, while Florek had a goal Friday and assisted on all three NMU markers Saturday. Reid Ellingson was in net both nights for the Wildcats. Both BG goals in Saturday’s 3-2 loss came unassisted at the start of the first and second periods, when Ryan Peltoma (1:22) and Bryce Williamson (2:07) scored, respectively. The Falcons outshot the Wildcats 10-3 in the final period of play. “I don’t know how some of those shots didn’t go in at the end,” said BG head coach Chris Bergeron. BGSU remains in last place.

Michigan State-Alaska. The Spartans and Nanooks split a pair in Fairbanks, with Alaska winning 4-1 Friday and MSU 6-2 on Saturday. Scott Enders had two goals in the UAF win, a game that the Nanooks led 4-0 until Daultan Leveille scored at 18:28 in the third. Andy Taranto had a goal in that game, too, and the only two scores for the Nanooks Saturday. A number of Spartans had multi-point games Saturday; Derek Grant led the goal scoring with two and added two assists. Drew Palmisano got the win for MSU, as he and Will Yanakeff split time in net. Scott Greenham was – of course – the goalie of record for the Nanooks for the series. Heading into the weekend, the Nanooks were knotted with the Lakers and Wildcats, each with 35 points. They’re still in sixth, but now they’re tied with FSU, and each team is just one point behind fifth-place NMU. The Spartans are in 11th place with 29 points.

Lake Superior State-Ohio State. The Lakers set a school record for single-season ties (nine) with Friday’s 1-1 decision before dropping Saturday’s game, 5-2, to the Buckeyes. LSSU took the extra shootout point, and the two points put the Lakers in eighth place in the CCHA with 37 points, two ahead of ninth-place Ohio State and one behind FSU and UAF, tied for sixth. The Buckeyes put 79 shots on net to the Lakers’ 56. Kevin Kapalka played both nights for LSSU, stopping 73. Cal Heeter was the goalie of record for the Buckeyes both nights, but senior Dustin Carlson – whom Heeter beat out for the starting job – played three minutes, 30 seconds in the third, stopping the only shot he faced. The Lakers led 2-0 before the second game was two minutes old on goals by Colin Campbell and Rick Schofield. Five Buckeyes scored in the game, with seniors Corey Toy, Sergio Somma, Danny Dries and Peter Boyd all scoring, and all but Boyd recording assists.

How did I do?

Last week: 5-3-2 (.600)
Season to date: 100-65-25 (.592)

Better than a coin toss – barely. As always, there’s Twitter to help vent your spleen as well: @paulacweston

  • JamesDee

    Mel always refers to when he played for Jonny MaC.

    I believe the legend lives on as Mel only knows how to win. Just ask UM.

    How about another game at the Dee for old time sake.

  • UpNorthHockey

    While Tech’s power play stat is important to be sure, I don’t think it’s contributed any more to their success than other factors, such as better goal-tending, stronger defense and a style of play that emphasizes skating the puck and spending time in the other team’s zone.  It should be noted that Tech simply has a LOT more firepower this year.  Take a look at the shots on goal and how many players are shooting in double digits.  Tech is likely to pick up more wins in the next three weeks and will likely crack the top ten, but their schedule is heavily end-loaded.  This team is the real deal and I predict that they’ll stay tough throughout the season, but they’ll settle in to top third as they lose a few to equally skilled teams. 

  • Spanky

    Please ….lets see how Tech does after X-mas. They have had ok starts before but always implode the 2nd half of the year. I predict a 9th place finish for Tech. They should be counting the days until WCHA turns into the league of leftovers…Tech may have a legit chance then.

    • scotty bowman, houghton, mi.

       not even the same team as last year,,new coach the kids wanna play the game.  this weekends games showed their spunk,,had DU skating in circles..enjoy

      • JamesDee

        I see the MTU Huskies out playing every team they play this season.

        They have confidence, a coach(es), and a new system.

        The Huskies will outplay most teams on any given night.

        It will be nice to see when the Huskies host a playoff game again.

        The NCHC wish they invited the Huskies to play.

        • WCHA Fan

          With the exception of Bemidji State of course…

    • I can guess from your statement that you have not seen Tech play this season.  If you had, I don’t think you would drop the old standard “well they’ve always been bad…” line.  Yes, they will likely lose some games the rest of the way that they should have won, as will every team.  But as someone from WI, I can tell you first hand that the Denver games only confirmed what the WI series suggested.  Tech is playing a style of hockey that gives them a chance to win every night they take the ice.
      Coach Peason seems to have put a spark in this team because I don’t really agree that the team is much more talented than past years (only 3 seniors lost from last year’s dreadful showing) so it is nearly the same team from a roster stand point.  A new system and attitude on the ice I think is the bigger factor. 
      The next three weekends will speak volumes.  If Tech is a top-half team in the WCHA, they should have 4 or 5 more wins (minimum) a month from now.  Not to mention that in the WCHA even traditional bottom-half teams can win on any given weekend, it is just that more often than not, they find a way to lose, rather than a way to win.  The top teams find ways to get those extra points.  So far Tech snatched two OT wins from WI and came back late in the second game against Denver to grab a tie.  In just two weekends they added three points to their total that in past years would have gone to the other team.

  • Santafosb2

    From a Gopher fan
    Looks like Hakstol is really doing up the drama thing this year. Everybody knows the  Sioux will finish the year in the top three Too much talent on the ice and the bench. I can only hope the Gophs are as real as the first few weeks.

  • Pete

    Growing up in Houghton/Hancock area I really wish they had made the coaching change half a decade ago. Half of the high school coaches in the area were better than Russell, it was obvious for so long that Russell was a bad coach that local players wouldn’t even waste their time trying to play for tech, I know that was my experience. Even when tech had several talented players who went on to play professionally like Chris Conner, Colin Murphy and Pete Rouleau they couldn’t hardly break a .500 record under previous coach. The team always had no powerplay and no discipline(remember Erik Kattelus getting kicked off last year)/accountability/enthusiasm. When they had such a bad coach it was so obvious why other good players (like Jake Hauswirth, Ross Rouleau, etc) chose to play elsewhere or go straight to semi-pro from juniors.

    Living in NY now I hope I get a chance to see them play this year under their new coach.

    • lovecollegehockey

      I think Tech will finish top 3 in the WCHA for sure, …….in 2 years !

    • Davyd83

      Didn’t Russell start out 4-0-2 last year before getting crushed by injuries? Didn’t he recruit most of this team?

    • Davyd83

      You’d better double check why RRouleau played at Finlandia instead of Tech. If he were a legit D-I talent, why didn’t NMU, LSSU or any other D-I program offer a full ride? Why did Jake commit to Tech, then head for the ECHL? Casey Pierro-Zabotel didn’t end up at Tech because of academics.

  • Jlschipp

    I spend 5 years at tech and NOW they start to play hockey?!?! Get rid of a bad coach and this happens…coincidence? I think not! I’ll have to make it back to the peninsula for a couple of games. Go Huskies!

  • Sisu

    Mel Pearson is going to lead Tech to a top 3 finish in his first year as Head Coach.  Mel will be the Coach of the year in the WCHA and if their was a National Coach of the year in College Hockey, he would be leading contender by end of the year.l 

    • WinnerWinner

      There is a national coach of the year award: The Spencer Penrose Award.  Pay attention.

  • snowlogger

    New coach Mel and assistants have created a synergetic winning attitude, discipline, and defenseman seem to have the ability to handle and move the play from their own defensive zone to offense, instead of chipping the puck up the boards to the neutral zone. Olson and Baker provide senior leadership, and freshman are strong, especially Sweeney and Blake Pietila. Tech hockey is back! I expect them to continue fighting for rest of season. Wouldn’t it be great if they won the GLI! 

  • Greg Stevens

    After attending Tech in the late seventies it is GREAT to see “old time hockey” :-)) again!!  Mel was always a class act on and off the ice when he played at Tech.  Mel was known as a very good ‘recruiting guy’ at Michigan.  It’s obvious from the way the team is playing that he is also a very good coach behind the bench.  The biggist differences:  he always stressed tough practices as a player, I’m sure that is part of it.  He also does a great job of getting good line matchups and working his talent pool onto the ice when the opposition is tired or their weaker players are on the ice.  Great job Mel !!  We are all routing for you and the team.  For the players . . Work your a$$ off at practice, it has great benifits.