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.

Paula’s Picks

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.

  • Antishootout

    I gotta say I’m not sad at all that the CCHA will be done after next season. Any conference who implements the shootout deserves to be put out of its existence.

    • RamboWildcat

      You like ties?  I find ties about as boring and stupid as it gets.  There is nothing worse than seeing a hockey team with a record of 15-10-8.  Give me a break.  Ties are for children’s leagues where the parents don’t want anyone to lose!  Hockey is in the dark ages still and needs to get rid of ties. 

      • That’s fine, but shootouts are awful. It’s soccer, not hockey. You want to play 4-4, then 3-3 until someone scores, great. But shootouts are not hockey.

  • ed_crumbpacker

    I’m sorry if you already blogged about this and I missed it but what happens to you  2013.   Will you be the NCHC blogger? 

  • Anonymous

    How does this idea sound?”The Land of 10,000 Lakes Pond Hockey Classic” between the Gophers and say…UMD on a pond with portable bleaches surrounding it?  Nostagia at it’s best, and certainly better than those lame outdoor stadium games in which fans can’t see squat!!This thing could have some legs and gain National Publicity big time.  What do you think you movers and shakers out there?  Let’s make this happen!  NBC sports would eat this up big time with the built in marketing (10K lakes/pond hockey), and the nostalgia of playing hockey on pond when we were kids.  I’d buy a ticket for sure.  Hope someone can make it happen.

  • Nsaunders

    just curious….what are your thoughts about uah / denver after last night….how quickly we forget.

  • Fan Man

    0-2 this week Tyler!  Should not be picking against the Sioux, especially when they are in Winnipeg…

  • Guest

    Zucker isn’t DU’s captain.  He was the US U-20’s captain.  Drew Shore/Dustin Jackson are DU’s co-captains, and John Lee wears an A.  

    • Guest

      I wasn’t going to go after the ‘lazy’ journalism comment, but now there’s support for the argument.  Your entire argument was a diatribe on Zucker’s captaincy, which he doesn’t even possess.  Pretty lazy not to look up the team’s roster to confirm who the captains are before launching into that diatribe.  Secondly, when you corrected your article, you use the identical argument, replacing ‘captain’ with a grammatical wreck of “when your one of your leaders”.  

      No disrespect to UAH, but DU’s talent on the ice Friday night was enough to win.  Their focus was not good enough.  UAH took advantage, to their credit.  There’s no amount of Zucker shaking a pom-pom from the press box that would have changed that.  They won’t point at this one game if they miss the tournament (playoffs?); they will have a bevy of work to evaluate and be somewhat disappointed with.  It simply hasn’t been a good year so far, and singling out Zucker for this is more than a little preposterous.

  • JimmyT

    You couldn’t be bothered to break down UAH vs. Denver even though UAH beat UNO before Xmas. Now you say that maybe UAH might match up in goaltending. That’s not what you said in your lame “breakdown”. It was indeed stupid and lazy journalism and you look even worse trying to defend it.

    • Phoenixfyre1313

      it wasn’t the journalism that was lazy.  If you were in their shoes you would have picked UAH??????  If say you would have your lying to yourself and the rest of us.  The only thing that was lazy was Denver’s play on Friday night!

      • JerryN

        Of course nobody would have picked UAH. That does not change the fact that the writers were too lazy to offer a decent preview of the series. Just because teams are huge underdogs doesn’t mean that reporters can’t offer a sentence or two.

  • flopper

    how’s our knowledge base these days….. captaincy ?
    uah vs denver ?
    doesn.t match up from goaltender out ?

  • Hank

    Tyler and Brian – Have you even seen Duluth play since the Gophers series?  Every week it seems like you try to justify why they shouldn’t be as good as they are.  The “question marks” you continually mention have clearly been answered.  Yes they lost a lot of talented individuals from last year, but it takes a team to win.  The entire team clearly understands and believes in their system, and it shows on the ice.  It would be really nice if you tuned into see the defending national champions play once in a while, especially since you are supposed to be the WCHA experts.  Relying on box scores and pre-season predictions is not cutting it.

    • Anonymous

      I know that I’m biased being a die-hard Western Michigan fan, but I believe that they are legitimate top-10 team at this point.  They been able to skate with every opponent so far this season (and they have played some very good teams), but UMD proved to be a different animal.  I thought that WMU actually played extremely well this weekend, and even outplayed the Bulldogs during stretches of each game, but in the end they just simply couldn’t hang with them for a full 60 minutes. If my beloved Broncos are in the NCAA field again, and I think they will be, I just hope we find ourselves in a different bracket than Duluth.  

  • You have to come down to reality a bit with UMD!  Granted they have had a
    nice run but look at the opponents played in this streak!  

    This last weekend was
    the first real challenge in my opinion since the Gophers!  They tied with Wisconsin (who is have a
    terrible season), Tied Denver who just lost to Alabama-Huntsville because of
    goaltending issues, Tied Providence, (need I say More), let us not forget
    stealing one at home away from Bemidji State on a Saturday night only because
    UMD was on the power play for almost half of the third period!

    I would think the jury is still out on this team!  Let’s see how they do against UNO and Alabama-Huntsville!  You never now!  I mean look at Bowling Green!

    • wchaguest

      KRACH puts their SOS at 12th. Not incredibly hard, I’ll admit but not terrible either. The Gophers lost to that same Wisconsin team. Denver is still a ranked team despite losing to UAH in a game they should have won. And they shutout Bemidji in that games you said they “stole”. Last time I checked you can’t win games without scoring any goals. With that said… it seems to me the writers agree with you… the rest of UMD’s schedule is relatively easy… but you never know what can happen. 

    • Bulldog Fan

      They were on the power play because BSU couldn’t keep up with UMD’s speed and had to take penalties to keep up.  When they beat BSU 1-0 they didn’t play their best game and still won.  That’s what elite teams are able to do. 

  • TechFan

    Everyone north of Hinckley knew UMD was for real many weeks ago. Even those in the Cities are coming on board.  Glad you have caught up. 

    Regarding SOS, the last place team in the WCHA almost always has the toughest schedule in college hockey (Tech fan here).  Likewise, the top teams all look like they are playing easier schedules. They are playing a full WCHA schedule, so it all evens out in the end.  You need to look harder at how the WCHA is doing as a whole, to really provide thoughtful analysis. 

  • Anonymous

    How is there not a word on the CC-CU series here in this column beyond Jaden Schwartz not playing Friday. Two top 15 teams play and theres not a word to be said… huh… Also congrats to UAH

  • I think that BU has to be careful not to overlook the Friars this weekend.  It could be easy for BU to look beyond this weekends match-up to the Maine or Merrimack games!  Earlier this year Providence (at home) was able to get a win against BU.  I would not be at all surprised if this is a split!  

  • Anonymous

    BC-Maine is a coin-flip?  Really??  Let’s see, BC is sitting 4th in the pairwise and 2nd in HEA.  Maine is what 24th PWR and 6th in HEA.  Not to mention Tim Whitehead is 2-9-3 vs BC the past 4 1/2 years.  That’s .250, not.500.

    Good grief you guys are clueless.  Exactly how do you have a job at

    • Idontknow

      BC is 6-7-1 in their last 14 games. That is not good. On the year they may be 4th in the pairwise, but in the last 2 months they are mediocre. I can’t believe people are still picking them. I expect a split between them this weekend. This is a huge weekend in HE. The games should all be very exciting.

    • uhhuhbub

      How clueless are they now!?!?! I guess your rankings didnt really help your…why am I wasting my breath…wonder what the PWR’s will be like now?

  • Maine-iak 2013

    I have to say, tonight’s game was exciting!  Ended with Maine winning in overtime.  I think tomorrow night’s game will be just as exciting.  

  • Idontknow

    So why does BC have to go 6-9-1 before you pick against them?