Well, that was interesting.
With 18 nonconference games featuring CCHA teams, we were given a good early look at the league, top to bottom. Three things stand out.
1. No one is invincible.
No. 1 Notre Dame opened its season with a 4-3 loss to Minnesota-Duluth … which is the same way the Irish ended the 2010-11 season, and by the exact same score. Perhaps more troubling for the Irish — more troubling than being dealt two losses by the same team to bookend an offseason — is that UMD exploited ND’s penalty kill for two in that loss; the Irish gave up three in the previous meeting April 7. ND allowed just one power-play goal in Saturday’s 5-3 win.
After that game, sophomore T.J. Tynan said that the Irish “played grittier” with fewer turnovers. “We still didn’t play our best,” said Tynan, “but we know our team can be great if we play like we can.”
The No. 2 RedHawks also opened their season with a loss to a WCHA team, allowing four goals in the third period in Friday’s 5-3 loss. The 3-2 rebound the following night was secured by Matt Tomassoni’s shorthanded goal at 15:05 in the third.
2. Everybody wins!
Everyone in the CCHA except for Lake Superior played last weekend, and every team recorded at least one win. If we count LSSU’s sweep of UAH the prior weekend, we can say that everyone in the CCHA is at least .500 in nonconference play so far this season. Yes, I know it’s early and meaningless but this weekend’s results — with many games against the WCHA — could have turned out far worse.
Kudos especially to Bowling Green, whose win and tie against Connecticut give the Falcons their first opening weekend with positive results since 2008-09. Six different Falcons scored in the contests, and junior goaltender Andrew Hammond played both games.
3. Bob Daniels is a genius.
At the start of the season — as he does every season — Ferris State’s Bob Daniels speculates about the Bulldogs’ offense and where the goals will be coming from. During the preseason conference call, Daniels talked about the potential of Matt Kirzinger and Travis Ouellette and said that Eric Alexander is “a player we feel is ready for a breakout season as well as Kyle Bonis.”
In FSU’s 4-2 and 5-1 road sweep of St. Lawrence, Kirzinger and Alexander recorded their first two assists of the season, but Ouellette and Bonis, both juniors, each had three goals — and Bonis had the game-winner in each contest. Bonis had seven goals in 33 games last season; Ouellette had 10 in 36.
Kudos to the Bulldogs for that successful defense of the realm, for what little time the realm remains.
Most recent weekend: 12-7-1
Season to date: 15-7-1
I’ll take it — especially since I called for splits in the Quinnipiac-OSU and NMU-Wisconsin series, but picked the wins and losses on the opposite nights.