Congratulations to all the individual CCHA award winners for the 2010-11 season!
• Player of the Year: Andy Miele, Miami
• Coach of the Year: Jeff Jackson, Notre Dame
• Rookie of the Year: T.J. Tynan, Notre Dame
• Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Carter Camper, Miami
• Terry Flanagan Award: Kevin Petovello, Alaska
• Ilitch Humanitarian Award: Trevor Nill, Michigan State
• Best Offensive Defenseman: Torey Krug, Michigan State
• Best Defensive Defenseman: Sean Lorenz, Notre Dame
• Best Defensive Forward: Carl Hagelin, Michigan
• Best Goaltender: Shawn Hunwick, Michigan
This should be weekend of passionate hockey in Detroit. I’ll be there to cover for USCHO along with my friend and colleague, Bob Miller, USCHO’s arena reporter in Ann Arbor.
I think the RedHawks finally get their championship title. All games are televised by Fox Sports Detroit. Start times are noted. For more thorough notes on each team, check my weekly column.
No. 3 Miami (21-9-6) vs. No. 2 Notre Dame (23-11-5)
4:30 p.m. Friday
The RedHawks bring an 11-game unbeaten streak (8-0-3) and such good hockey into this weekend that I cannot call against them. What had been their Achilles’ heel – overall defense and goaltending – has solidified so that their entire game is solid. These teams have met four times this season, splitting the difference. Dec. 3-4 in Oxford, it was Miami 5-4 and Notre Dame 5-2. Jan. 28-29, the teams played to back-to-back ties, 5-5 and 2-2, with Miami taking the shootout point the first night, ND the second. The Irish do have many weapons of their own, including an offense that – like Miami’s – puts up a lot of goals. Recent history may point to a high-scoring game, but I think the caution of playoff hockey will prevail. Miami 3-2.
No. 4 Western Michigan (18-11-10) vs. No. 1 Michigan (25-9-4)
8:00 p.m. Friday
The Broncos have had an amazing run this season, and as much as I’d like to pick them as a feel-good favorite, I’m going with the more playoff-tested Wolverines. Michigan is riding an eight-game win streak into Detroit, and they look as determined as they did a year ago. These teams have met twice this season, a high-scoring, two-game series in Ann Arbor that the Wolverines needed OT to sweep, 6-3 and 5-4 (OT) Feb. 18-19. This match pits two excellent blue-collar goalies, likeable guys who were unlikely picks four years ago to meet in this venue. The Broncos’ Jerry Kuhn played just seven games last season; Wolverine Shawn Hunwick had played just eight games in 2009-10 before last year’s title tournament and became the MVP. Michigan 2-1.
Third-Place Game: Western Michigan vs. Notre Dame
3:30 p.m. Saturday
The implications of this potential match are large in the NCAA picture. Each team is on the bubble in the PairWise Rankings, with Notre Dame ninth and Western Michigan tied with New Hampshire for 11th. They’re bubble teams because of the possibilities in other leagues during the weekend; upsets lead not only to unexpected autobids but to changes in permutations. (For a good way to drop your work productivity today, play with the PairWise Predictor.) I have a hard time seeing any team in this field lose two this weekend, and I hate to have to make a pick at all. Notre Dame 4-3.
Championship Game: Miami vs. Michigan
7:30 p.m. Saturday
I can’t say anything more about either of these teams that hasn’t been said already. Any combo in the title game will be exciting this weekend, but I think this one pairs the two teams in the league playing their best hockey now – and I think it’s Miami’s year. Miami 3-2.
Quarterfinal weekend: 7-2 (.777)
Season/postseason to date: 118-74-26 (.601)
Forgot to tack on my ballot for this week at the bottom of yesterday’s column:
1. Boston College
2. North Dakota
9. Notre Dame
10. New Hampshire
11. Western Michigan
14. Colorado College
17. Boston University
…I think Carl Hagelin should have been a Hobey Finalist.