Paula’s picks: 2011 CCHA Championship Tournament

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

JLA picks

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.

Picks Summary

Quarterfinal weekend: 7-2 (.777)
Season/postseason to date: 118-74-26 (.601)

Ballot

Forgot to tack on my ballot for this week at the bottom of yesterday’s column:

1. Boston College
2. North Dakota
3. Michigan
4. Miami
5. Yale
6. Denver
7. Merrimack
8. Minnesota-Duluth
9. Notre Dame
10. New Hampshire
11. Western Michigan
12. Nebraska-Omaha
13. Union
14. Colorado College
15. Dartmouth
16. Maine
17. Boston University
18. Wisconsin
19. Rensselaer
20. Alaska-Anchorage

And personally…

…I think Carl Hagelin should have been a Hobey Finalist.

  • streaker

    Paula:

    Didn’t Shawn Hunwick win the best goaltender award at the CCHA Awards Banquet also? I know they left him off of the CCHA announcement, but please give him his due.

    • streaker

      Edit: That would be CCHA Goaltender of the Year.

  • If-Then-Else

    You think Miami will beat Michigan, yet Michigan is above Miami on your ballot? That would give Spock a brain hemorrhage!

    • ergo

      Not at all. Ranking ballots reflect a team’s entire oeuvre over the full season; single game picks reflect a gut feeling about who will get the better of a single contest. One could pick the top team in the country to have an off night and lose to a .500 team, but that doesn’t mean the .500 team should be ranked ahead of the top seed. She explains clearly that all four teams in the tourney are solid teams, with Miami and Mich playing exceptional hockey right now, and that she wouldn’t want to pick against either of them. But when it comes down to it, you’ve got to make a gut call, and she feels that Miami has a slightly stronger drive for the title this weekend (for my part, I hope she’s wrong…). That doesn’t erase Michigan’s superior record, earning them the higher ranking.

      • If-Then-Else

        Ergo, you are correct. Michigan has had a better season. I was looking at it from the point of view that with these 2 teams being so evenly matched (currently), by picking one over the other should be reflected in the ballot. I wasn’t looking at the entire season.

        Besides, it doesn’t really matter if she “adjusts” her ballot this week or next week. Either way, the correction will be made after the Wolvies go down either tonight or tomorrow.

  • David

    The Terry Flannagan Award is for “overcoming severe adversity” according to the story on CCHA.com.

    You should write a column bashing the CCHA for using the word adversity

    • brg

      LOL. Well said. I found last week’s rant to be a bit over the top.

    • Paula Weston

      Petovello did overcome adversity; he had to work through severe injury to get back into the game, having to overcome genuine hardship (as opposed to manufactured hardship) to play again.

      I love the Terry Flanagan Award. It honors not only young men who persevere through real adversity, but it memorializes Terry Flanagan, who lost his battle with cancer in 1991.

      • David

        Still nothing compared to what the people in Japan have to face… which is what your original gripe was about.

  • guest

    Paula you picked against us in WMU last weekend also I’m hoping that incorrect pick happens again tonight. GO BRONCOS BEAT MICHIGAN!!!!!

  • RedHawkOne

    I think Blashill was robbed of the CCHA Coach of the year. Not knocking Jackson and the job he does with ND, but turning a program around the way he’s done with Western this season is unbelievable. I want to see them send Michigan to the consolation game tonight!

    • streaker

      Agree. I think WMU had a deeper hole to climb out of this season than ND.Western returned most of the same players from a poor 2009-10, except for Balisy, Berschbach and DeKeyser. I know that if Berenson did the same thing with 10-11 freshmen, including the freshman ROTY, the argument would be.. “well.. you DO get the best players” or something along that line. Can’t say that Notre Dame’s problem was lack of talent last season, either. Blashill deserved it more even if he had a more experienced club to work with.

  • cis

    This year, Cinderella wears Brown and Gold!

  • Bronco12

    Well, the Broncos proved you wrong once again tonight. I’ll be at the Joe tomorrow cheering for a talented, hard-working team that has long-since proved that they’re more than a “Feel-good” pick.

    That being said, I have appreciated your blog MOST of the time throughout the season. So thank you for that.

  • Siouxper Fan

    That Rylen S. is one scoring machine!   It showed me why he’s in the nation’s top 10 players at the NCAA level….  Nice job.

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t this kid Billet from Brunswick?  Wonder why he didn’t go to Orono.  Oh yeah, I forgot.  UMO has great goaltending already.  And coaching too.  Good grief.

  • 94eagle

    BC season ticket holder here and while I enjoy a beer or 2 I don’t want it sold in my homerink.  It’s a great family atmosphere and affordable for most people.  I can always go to the garden if I want to hear F-bombs being tossed around like young boys in the penn St. locker room.
    BC sells out maybe 1 game a year at Kelley rink (usually the last reg. season home game when the league title is up for grabs)

  • Svicker1

    Looked at the schedule for this week-end last night (Fri) and meant to comment before the results but got busy and couldn’t last night. Looked at the results this morning – WOW its getting crowded at the top!
    Go Purple Eagles!!!