Last Monday, we were looking back at the first weekend of Division I play. This week, we had a taste of CCHA action and a second look at some opening weekend trends.

First, there’s nothing like a fast start.

Five CCHA teams are still undefeated after four games, but it’s which teams that haven’t lost that makes it interesting. It’s not surprising to see Michigan 4-0 after nonconference games against unranked teams, but three of those five teams — Ferris State, Lake Superior and Bowling Green — were picked to finish in the bottom three in preseason CCHA polls.

Most interesting of these five are the Bulldogs and the Lakers. FSU shut out No. 20 Rensselaer twice this past weekend, and LSSU swept Michigan State to earn the right to sit atop the CCHA standings for the first week of regular season play. There are a couple of Kyles — FSU’s Kyle Bonis (5-1–6) and LSSU’s Kyle Jean (4-2–6) — among the leaders in goals per game in the early going. It’s especially worth nothing that Jean had one goal in 38 games last season.

Expect the Bulldogs to crack this week’s poll; expect the Lakers to have to prove themselves a little more first.

Second, never underestimate the value of a good defense.

Through four games, FSU has outscored opponents 15-3; freshman C.J. Motte and senior Taylor Nelson have split time evenly in net, resulting in a team save percentage of .965 and a goals against average of less than one per game. The Bulldog penalty kill has stopped 19-of-20 attempts for a 95 percent success rate. The strength of the Bulldog defense will be challenged this weekend when Miami comes to town.

A team whose defense was exposed over the weekend is Notre Dame. The Irish split with Ohio State at home and allowed multiple unanswered goals to start both contests, creating a deficit which ND could not overcome in Saturday’s 4-3 loss. All three of those ND goals were scored in the third period with junior Mike Johnson in net. Sophomore Stephen Summerhays had little help through the 31 minutes that he played.

Another teams whose defense was exposed for the second weekend is Michigan State in two one-goal losses to LSSU. A look at the numbers of MSU’s very capable goaltenders, sophomore Will Yanakeff (3.50 GAA, .887 SV%) and senior Drew Palmisano (4.03, .869) provides an early narrative that the Spartans will undoubtedly work to change. In Friday’s 5-4 loss, the Spartans evened the score with less than 10 minutes remaining on Torey Krug’s power play goal, but Domenic Monardo scored with less than two minutes to go in regulation to give the Lakers the win. In Saturday’s 3-2 game, MSU was down three goals before the second period was two minutes old.

Ferris State, Michigan, Bowling Green, Western Michigan and Alaska are among the top defenses in the country after two weeks. Yes, I know it’s fun with statistics too early to mean anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least three of those teams remain among the top in that category for the remainder of the season — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see FSU prove everyone wrong in the long run.

Third, it’s nice to garner two wins in a weekend. Hardware would have been nice, too.

The Nanooks beat Mercyhurst and Nebraska-Omaha in the Brice Goal Rush but did not take home the trophy with their two wins. The tourney is determined by goal differential and Alaska-Anchorage won that contest.

Still, the two nonconference wins bring UAF’s unbeaten streak to three, after the Nanooks opened with a loss to St. Cloud last weekend. Sweeter still was Saturday’s 4-1 win over ranked UNO and the sustained success that it represented for Alaska.

“The last couple of years we haven’t had that success carry over from Friday night to Saturday night, especially at home,” assistant coach Brian Meisner told my esteemed colleague, Danny Martin, at the Daily News-Miner after Saturday’s game. Meisner added that it was “a big step for us, especially our nine freshmen.”

Sophomore Colton Beck had two goals in the game and Nick Yaremchuk — who with four goals in four games is just five shy of his 38-game total of last season — had the game-winner.

Paula’s Picks

Last Weekend (including Thursday): 9-6-2
Season to date: 24-13-3

I’ll take any weekend over .500.

  • Paula

    Another week, and another column with not one mention of NMU. 

    I’m glad to see you go Paula, you are a hack. 

    • RamboWildcat

      Keep NMU and their team of giants under the radar ;).  6’6, 6’5, 6’5, 6’4, 6’3, etc….

    • Yooper

      I agree.  NMU just swept a very tough St. Cloud team, and their only loss was to Big 10 Wisconsin.  They could have swept that series too.  Their freshmen
      looked great last weekend.  It seems that NMU gets no mention unless they reach the frozen four and are too obvious, even for Paula, to ignore.

  • guest

    and no mention of two hard fought ties between the 11 and 12 teams in the nation WMU and Union.

  • streaker

    SCSU is tough? Really? 

    • Yooper

      Any team that makes the NCAA tournament 7 out of the last 14 years with league  competition the likes of N. Dakota, CC, Denver, Minnesota, Wisconsin
      etc. then you have to consider them tough.  They have a solid program, good coaching, and they can beat any team in the country.  So, yes – really!

      • streaker

        Nonsense. Mid-pack WCHA team that has only won 2 tourney games including NMU. Hang a participation banner.  

  • Brian

    Thankfully, NMU will be in the new WCHA in a couple years, and will no longer have to deal with large school bias!  Being with Bemidji, Mankato, Tech, LSSU and our other CCHA brothers will be a real treat.  AND one of us every season will be in the NCAA Big Dance, maybe two.  

  • HellzCowbells

    Some good comments here Sullivan. Personally, I think Clarkson is still heavily underrated, given their numbers. Tenth best offense, sixth best defense, including two shut outs, and third best power play. True, it is against teams that are not competitive, but Yale LOST to Waterloo in the only game they have played this year; and they are the highest ranked of the ECAC’s. Clarkson has beaten every easy team by 3 or more points for the last four games straight.

    Props to Quin and Colgate though.

    • ECACH

      I don’t know. The way I see it, Quinnipiac has beat up on some of the better Atlantic Hockey teams, except for AF, RIT, and Niagara. Clarkson has done it on probably that conference’s two worst teams. I’m more impressed by their tie in Alaska than any of their wins.

    • Guest

      Awwww, your loyalty and optimism are so cute….

  • Anonymous

    I agree that many ECAC teams are currently overrated, but I don’t think they are far off based on the NC games we’ve seen so far. Union and Quinnipiac both deserve to be TUC, and Colgate should be right on the bubble as well. Yale and Cornell are just placeholders for now, and their positions will soon shift along with the rest of the ECAC in a few weeks after conference play begins. Clarkson might look OK on paper, but they need to play tougher opponents. Many people also predicted that Dartmouth should be higher than the Bobcats and the Raiders. 

    Still too early to tell I guess.

  • Rederrick

    I think that some of the ecac teams have to have “special events” at bigger arenas to draw the larger, better schools to come east. Have Colgate play in cuse at the war memorial, brown at the dunk, clarkson or st Lawrence at lake placid, rpi/ union at the Pepsi arena. That will give the schools coming to the ecac an incentive monetarily. Secondly, you have up and down scheduling years. Colgate had a down year last year, games including 2 or 3 against niagara and army and then sacred heart, but look at their schedule this year and it includes Merrimack, Miami, and ferris state. But ultimately ecac teams should do “events” to draw in the western and even hockey east schools

    • Techer

      That is what I really like about what Clarkson is doing with SLU.  For the 2nd year in a row, the 2 are facing off in lake placid.  Clarkson is also playing Maine in portland at the AHL arena there and playing UND in winnipeg.  As soon as Clarkson returns to prominence and plays like it did in the 70s and the 90s, all will be good in the world.  Lets go tech!

    • Css228

      Why wouldn’t a UND or a Minnesota or a Michigan want to come to Lynah? It’s a cathedral of college hockey. The only school we’ll do an event game for is to keep the BU rivalry alive and besides taking more than half the gate receipts for an MSG sellout ain’t bad. Still would be great to have BU at Lynah again someday.

  • Anonymous

    The bottom line is, for ECAC teams to get better scheduling, we have to play better on a national level. And for that to happen, we are talking about more funding/scholarships and removal of Ivy restrictions on recruitment and when the season starts – the same old horse that’s been beaten over and over again. 

    Before you wrote this Brian, are you in the opinion that some coaches don’t schedule the best teams they can? If not, then I don’t think I learned anything from this post other than some ECAC NC opponents were subpar this season.

  • Anonymous

    Grammar police: “I believe that ECAC Hockey is not only a unique league, but the most unique in the college hockey universe.”

    Unique means one-of-a-kind. There are not degrees of uniqueness, so something can’t be “very unique” or “most unique.”

    I know, I know….It’s a pet peeve….

  • BlackBearFan

    Maine is still in trouble.  Beating a team with goal-tending issues at home and beating an injured team isn’t going to cut it. Despite having great talent, Maine has continued to under achieve. Maine had the best player in the nation in Nyquist and they couldn’t get to the NCAAs.  Their top line may be the best in the nation, but they still have 8 losses.  It all comes back to coaching.  Despite top notch talent, Maine has missed the NCAAs the past 2 years (I’ll give 2 years to rebuild) but those two losses to UMass at home in 2010 killed their chances and all those bad ties last year did the same.  This year will be no different. They will end up in 5th place, play either Merrimack or UMass Lowell or BC on the road and lose in the first round and not make the NCAAs.  This should be a wake-up call to the administration at UMO to fire Mr. Whitehead. These past three years were the time to do it, and they failed two times already and going to once again. Next year looks bleak as no one is scoring as a junior, except for Diamond. The junior class, except for Diamond have a lot of play makers in Beatie and Mangene, but they aren’t pure scorers like Flynn or Diamond are.  I do like this freshman class as they have a lot of energy and work the boards well, but Maine hasn’t had freshmen scorers in a while.  They will need that for next year. Like I said, Maine has had the talent for 3 years and they continue to fail – that has to be pinned on the coach.

    Maine is in the driver’s seat with a soft schedule, but those losses at the beginning will hurt, especially when Providence, UMass and Northeastern all leave the pairwise with under .500 RPI by the end of the year.  Thus all those wins will go away under the TUC.  Getting swept at home to a team that won a grand total of 6 games last year is unacceptable. If Maine were to lose to Alabama at home either game, they should just fire Mr. Whitehead for losing to a team that has a grand total of 2 wins and save percentage of .860.

    • Anonymous

      First thought I had while reading your post was, its all fine and dandy that they swept BU and BC the last 2 weekends, but if they lose just one game to Alabama this weekend, the sweeps will be for not as far as the NCAA’s go. I predict a letdown this weekend. Lets hope it doesn’t turn into a loss. 

      I have been on the fence about Whitehead. He has shown times when his teams really come to play and then times when they really stink up the show. I guess that is the nature of college hockey though. Nobody has really showed consistency all year. The worst thing that happened to Maine several years ago was losing Grant Stanbrook as a recruiter, though. He was a master, but as soon as he left the prime recruits stopped coming to Maine. It wasn’t a coincidence. Maine teams have struggled to get to the NCAA’s since.

      • roy

        Exactly  Walsh was great but Stanbrook found the talent!!!

    • 18secondsbeforesunrise

      So much negativity….

    • Ryan

      So…..they sweep BC and BU consecutive weekends……and now they should fire the coach. I don’t even know how you can enjoy watching the hockey with all that pent up anger and resentment for the coaching staff. Do you go to the games and give the coaches the evil eye and heckle them as they come off the ice after a 7-4 win vs. BC? Why even bother going or watching if you’re not even mildly happy about a 4 game win streak against top 5 teams?

    • bearfan1943

      You really need to look at all of the problems that Maine has had over the past few years that has nothing to do with Tim Whitehead.  Did Tim and the other coaches plan on the problems they had with Scott Darling?  They had no control over that.  Who was expecting Teddy Purcell to stay only one year and then turn pro. Though I live in Maine , it is difficult to get  to get players in to coming to Maine away from big city life.

      • Anonymous

        Nothing to do with Whitehead?  Are you seriously blaming Maine’s issues on Darling and Purcell?  Maine lost plenty of underclassmen under Walsh (Kariya, P Ferraro, C Ferraro, and many others) and still the team rolled on winning.

        Players avoid Maine because of the coaching staff, not due to the location.

        Tim Whitehead has been an epic disaster over the past 5 seasons. Good grief.

    • NewCoachForMaine

      Now that everybody is complaining, I’ll put my two cents in.  I think Whitehead is as capable as anybody, he has just lacked inspiration the last 4 years and needs to find a coaching position that is more fitting for him.  That being said, I believe Maine’s success as of late is due the talk of firing Whitehead (which I think is the wrong motivation). 

      I still say send him on his way, but I’ll try to be optimistic for the rest of this season.

      • GetAClueMaine

        All you Maine fans are so right. Replace Whitehead. Replace him with someone like Blaise MacDonald like Maine did. Then you can really watch a coach drill a program into the ground.

        You all have no idea how good you have it with Whitehead. He led the team to four Frozen Fours and brought the team to one of the top academic teams in the league. The guy understands what he’s doing and, as much as you want to say everything good is happening despite him, he’s the number one reason this team is playing well right now.

        But go ahead. Call for his head and enjoy yet another coach who won’t replace Shawn Walsh in your minds. No one will ever be good enough until you get your national title. You and the other 59 schools. Best of luck, Orono.

        • Anonymous

          I say replace him with Jim Montgomery, Grant Standbrook and Bobby Corkum.

          And there are 58 DI hockey programs, so there would be 57 other schools.  Just sayin…..

      • Anonymous

        Be a great High School or DIII coach.  Remember, he never played any higher than those levels…

  • BearMan2006

    At the end of the day ask yourself if it really matters.  Maine swept the then number 3 team in the nation and now they’ve swept the number two team.  Now those two Boston based teams are rank 5th and 3rd respectively after being swept by Maine, but where does Maine rank?  15th.  Yes.  15th. Pairwise puts Maine at 10th – and that’s with the early season let downs that you can make the case could be taken into consideration when ranking the team, but really shouldn’t rankings be based on both pairwise rankings and team performance today?  Ohio State has completely collapsed and they still outrank Maine. Cornell wouldn’t be mid-pack in Hockey East and they’re ranked above Maine.  This Maine team is the hottest in the country right now – it should be top 5 ranked.  Whitehead haters should be less concerned with him and more concerned at who’s phallus needs attention in order to get a decent ranking in College hockey.

    • Joe C

      Regular season “rankings” do not matter, especially the swings caused by four games played.

      Maine at 10th in the Pairwise is a good place to be. If the Black Bears maintain that, they make the NCAA tournament, where the only rankings are determined at the end of the game. Maine beat BU twice at Agganis, with a couple of well-played low-score results. BU has FIVE first place votes in last week’s polls, which was five too many in this BU fan’s opinion. Then, with all the “dominant” talk from the writers, you just knew it would not be the case. There is no “dominant” Hockey East team this year. There are five really good teams.

    • Anonymous

      I was surprised as you were that Maine did not garner more respect in the online poll. BU, BC, and MC in the 3,4,5 slots… Really?? BC has been skidding horribly and barely beat the 8 seed HE team this weekend. Cornell is a joke, which the pairwise reflects, but to put them ahead of Maine anywhere is ludicrous!
      We should have won 2 of the 3 games against Merrimack which would have made a big difference in the pairwise. But the 10 slot is a good spot I think as more than one of the teams ahead of them are overrated and our boys will still be hungry to prove that they belong in the top 5…..

      • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

        Belong in the top 5?  I hope you’re talking about being top 5 Hockey East and not the country.  Maine top 5 in the country?  LOLLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

  • After Further Review

    Thank you, Tim Low and Jack Millea!  The BC hockey program was heading South quickly, then you two helped out.  Right after UNH scored to take a 3-2 lead on Friday night and we were staring another loss in the face, stripes to the rescue.  With 3+ minutes left, a penalty, allowing us to tie the game and eventually win.  Then Mr. Millea went one step further, on Saturday.  Putting the whistle away from the half way mark of the third period until 2:17 gone in OVERTIME, then you again saved us with the PP.  Luckily we didn’t let you down and scored on it.
    Both were tripping calls (not something like boarding, hit from behind, contact to the head, etc…) and could have easily been let go, as many had been until then.  Though, they were legit penalties.  But, after a couple of well played games and the calls stopping as the time wound down, they were made at just the right time!
    Thank you again.
    Yours Truly,
    Jerry York

    Sorry for the rant, the FRUSTRATION is setting in and even when this team comes to play and does what it takes to get a win, it just doesn’t happen.  I am not a sore loser, nor am I one to blame the refs, it’s just getting old this year.  I am also not trying to take anything away from BC as they did play well both nights too.

    Congrats to Maine and keep up the good work.

    • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

      Oh no, the refs called a penalty on the UNH Skating Mother Theresas!  Give me a break.  Both late calls on UNH were the right call.  Do the rules not matter after 50 minutes?  55 minutes?  10 minutes?

      UNH scored their 2nd goal after a terrible missed tripping call as a BC player was about to skate out of the zone.

      And UNH had a golden opportunity on a terribly BLOWN call on Alber with 10 mins left in regulation.  UNH blew it with a bad PP. 

      So sorry.  Better luck next year.

      • After Further Review

        Just looking for consistency and, unless it’s brutal or changes a scoring possibility (which it didn’t), they are not called in overtime.  That is the one that really bothers me, not so much Friday night.
        I never said the rules change after 50+ minutes, but there were a number of potential calls both ways in the last 10 minutes on Saturday, not called, that to call one in OT is ridiculous.
        It works both ways, but that call was awful.
        And I apologized for the rant, so thanks for your input, Blinky.

        • After Further Review

          And, not to get into the Boston vs. the rest of HE war, but I am certainly not the only person that sees Mr. York and Mr. Parker get some calls at opportune times.

          • Anonymous

            ….not if HE refs Bunyon an Benedetto are on the ice…..

        • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

          Let me put it this way.  The 2nd UNH goal was called because a BC player was tripped coming out of his zone with the puck

          The two late calls on Fri and Sat vs. UNH were… you guess it… BC players coming out of the zone with the puck and both got tripped.

          So it’s not a stretch to suggest it could lead to a scoring chance for UNH and needed to be called.

          • After Further Review

            As I said, I am OK with Friday’s, but on Saturday, I believe the puck was already gone.  Still a penalty and in my first post you will see, I said they were legit penalties, but after letting so much go, to call that at such a crucial time was tough.
            I also gave credit to BC and I hold nothing against them, I am fine as long as a HE team wins the NCAA’s and keeps the WCHA quiet.
            It was merely a rant of frustration at the way the entire season has unfolded.  I know UNH doesn’t have the National Championships to show as others do, but we are also not used to being in 9th place in HE at this time of the season.

          • After Further Review

            Anyways, it is what it is and it’s over.  We will never agree, so good luck with the season.  On the even brighter side, Milner played pretty well after the first goal on Friday… maybe they will finally stick with one guy.

  • Joe C

    BU was over-ranked at number 2 in the country with 5 first place votes last week. They got there because so many other teams had a bad weekend. Then they had a bad weekend, getting outplayed by Maine. Maybe my Terriers were too busy getting ready for the Beanpot, but give full credit to the Black Bears. As much as I love BU, they were not the dominant team being written about the past two weeks. They are a very good team with flaws, just like BC, Maine, Merrimack and Lowell, in no particular order. 

    The top of Hockey East this year truly is an old-fashioned cage match, with Maine returning to the group and Lowell/Merrimack filling the void left by UNH. Any of the five top teams could run away with the regular season title, or get bounced in the first round of the Hockey East tournament. The regular season could also end with a bunch of teams separated by 2-4 points, with tournament winner possibly being the 4/5 seed.

  • Anonymous

    Even if Maine wins out, which this team is definitely capable of, they have just one game remaining against a TUC; combined with their early-season losses to TUCs, they are not likely to stay in the top-16 PWR.

    They are probably going to need to advance to the HEA championship game to make the PWR math work.  That’s gonna be very difficult if they don’t snag home ice for the playoffs….

    • Anonymous

      Remember Merrimack still has 3 games with Lowell and two with BC left to play. I think there will be some shaking up of hockey east before the end of the regular season…..

  • Anonymous

    We just call him Timmay

  • Go EAGLES!

    Umile might get a call in his favor (outside the Whit) now and then if he wasn’t such a loudmouth jerk.  I thought he was going to have another coronary 5 minutes into the game friday night over a no call.  Jerry York is and has always been the epitome of class behind the bench.
    Looks like there will be no Univ. of No hardware chants this March as the wildcats will be golfing (or farming) early

    • After Further Review

      Original… never heard that no hardware thing before, must have thought it up yourself.
      You can chant it all you want, they won’t be playing for any of us to hear it!

      • After Further Review

        However, I can’t argue with you at the way Umile acts… this year is worse than most too, I think the team doesn’t show up half the time, so he is becoming extremely frustrated too.  York is definitely a class act.

  • TooBad

    Sorry Flopper, 2nd best offense in the country at home in the Alfond is going to make UAH look like they don’t belong in DI hockey.  And that’s why they are closing up shop this year.

    • Nsaunders

      wow !!!!!

    • Scott

       UAH has at least one more year and may have several more if funds are raised. Alum came up with the money needed.

  • Anonymous

    Classic trap game up in Orono. UM is down 3-1 in the 3rd. Who picked that? No one.

    • BChockey

       Maine 4-3 win. chill out!

      • Anonymous

        Rather be lucky than good?