The last weekend of regular-season play – how strange it seems to be writing that, because it feels as though October was just a week ago.
There is so much at stake this weekend and so much can change with just a point that the drama quotient for every game is exceptionally high. When it’s all over, I’m sure many coaches will liken this weekend to playoff hockey.
Standings and possibilities
After last night’s 2-2 tie between Ferris State and Ohio State, the Bulldogs earned the extra shootout point. That means that the CCHA standing look like this today, with points totals.
1. Notre Dame (56)
2. Michigan (55)
3. Miami (49)
4. Western Michigan (41)
5. Ferris State (40)
6. Northern Michigan (39)
7. Alaska (38)
8. Lake Superior (37)
9. Ohio State (36)
10. Michigan State (29)
11. Bowling Green (15)
Notre Dame, Michigan and Miami have secured first-round byes. Miami may move up to second place in points with Michigan, but the Wolverines own that tiebreaker. Michigan State and Bowling Green are each locked into their positions.
Here’s how each team can finish. I’m not good with the math and all the permutations (I teach English), but I think this is correct:
- With two wins, Notre Dame takes the league outright. The Fighting Irish cannot finish lower than second place.
- Michigan can finish as high as first, but no lower than third.
- Miami can finish as high as second (in points), but no lower than third.
- Western Michigan can finish in fourth, but can finish as low as seventh.
- Ferris State: fourth to seventh.
- Northern Michigan: fourth to seventh.
- Alaska: seventh to ninth.
- Lake Superior: fourth to ninth.
- Ohio State: seventh to ninth.
- Michigan State: 10th.
- Bowling Green: 11th.
I’m sure that someone will let me know if I got this wrong.
1. Conference wins.
2. Best regular-season win percentage against other teams tied for position.
3. Total goals in regular-season league play, for and against, in contests between or among the teams tied for position.
4. Best win percentage of tied teams against the remaining highest-ranking CCHA teams.
5. Coin toss.
Last week, including last night’s game: 5-3-3 (.591)
Season to date: 100-65-26 (.592)
The Bulldogs and Buckeyes have one game remaining tonight, and I talked about that series yesterday, along with some additional stuff about the Broncos and Wolverines. Here are the picks for the Friday-Saturday series. Start times are noted.
BGSU at MSU. Two wins this weekend would give the Falcons a better wins total than they had a year ago, but it’s hard to see that happening, given that Saturday’s contest will be the last home game these Spartans get to play for a coach they really love and respect, Rick Comley. The Spartans haven’t lost to the Falcons in four games and are 7-2-1 in the last 10 contests between the teams. Last weekend, BG tied and lost to Northern Michigan at home, while MSU split with Alaska on the road. After this weekend, the Falcons will still be in 11th place and the Spartans in 10th, no matter who wins. 7:35 Friday, 7:05 Saturday. MSU 3-2, 4-2.
Miami at LSSU. The RedHawks are unbeaten by the Lakers in the last eight meetings (7-0-1) and Miami is riding a seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0-3) into Sault Ste. Marie. Miami was off last weekend while the Lakers took two points from Ohio State in Columbus with a tie and the extra shootout point. Both games are 7:05 p.m. Miami 4-2, 4-2.
ND vs. WMU. Last week, the Irish swept Ferris State, while the Broncos were swept by the Wolverines. Michigan’s Carl Hagelin, who scored the game-winning goal with three seconds left in overtime to deliver that sweep, said that WMU head coach Jeff Blashill told him in the handshake line that the Broncos would be gifting the Wolverines a win in this home-and-home series against the Irish – and one Notre Dame loss with four points from Michigan would give UM the regular-season title. I realize that Blashill was talking in the heat of the moment and congratulating a very worthy opponent, but I have a feeling that Notre Dame may have something to say about this, too. The Irish took four points from the Broncos in a home-and-home series Oct. 29-30, with the win coming at home. 7:35 Friday in Kalamazoo, 7:05 Saturday in South Bend. ND 3-2, 4-2.
UM at NMU. The Wolverines are 6-2-2 in their last 10 against the Wildcats. Last weekend, UM swept WMU at home and NMU took four points from BGSU with a tie and win on the road. The Wildcats trail the Wolverines 6-10-3 at home all-time, and the last time these teams met in Marquette was Oct. 17-18, 2008 – a split with NMU winning 2-0, UM winning 5-3. While both teams have a lot on the line, the Wolverines are playing for a regular-season championship. A tie for first place with Notre Dame would give Michigan the title outright, as the Wolverines own the tiebreaker over the Irish. More points would, too. 7:35 p.m. both nights. UM 3-2, 4-2.
UAA vs. UAF. The Seawolves are 7-2-1 against the Nanooks in the last 10 games, but those two losses came last season, when Fairbanks swept Anchorage to take the Governor’s Cup – which they defend this weekend. Last weekend, the Seawolves (11-16-3) split with WCHA foe Nebraska-Omaha. The Nanooks split a pair at home against the Spartans. 7:05 p.m. AT Friday in Anchorage. 7:07 p.m. AT Saturday in Fairbanks. I don’t understand the 7:07 p.m. start, either.UAF 4-3, 4-2.