Raise your hand if you thought you’d see Ferris State, Lake Superior, and Ohio State Nos. 1, 2, and 3 — in that order — at any point in the season.
Put it down. Liar.
No. 1? Really?
Apparently it’s a curse. In the preseason USCHO.com Division 1 Men’s Poll, Notre Dame was the top pick. First week of play, the Irish split with Minnesota-Duluth. In the second poll of the season, Boston College was No. 1 … and split the next weekend, losing to Denver and beating New Hampshire.
With Michigan the top team in the country going into last weekend’s play, it happened again. This time, the previously undefeated Wolverines traveled to the U.P. and came home with two points to show for it with a 5-3 loss and 3-3 tie.
In case you haven’t heard, there was a bit of trouble at 10:45 in the second period of Friday’s game, resulting in the ejection of UM starting goaltender Shawn Hunwick, who earned a game misconduct. The game was scoreless until that point, so backup Adam Janecyk gets the decision.
Five different Wildcats scored in the win, but Tyler Gron had three goals on the weekend and Mitch Jones had two. Reid Ellingson had the Friday win and Jared Coreau the tie.
No. 1 — really!
Yes, it’s the No. 1 Lakers — at least in the CCHA standings, with a 3-1-0 record in conference play. LSSU split against BGSU at home, but before going into the weekend, Jim Roque told me that he was nervous that the Falcons and goaltender Andrew Hammond in particular had LSSU’s number. Hammond had them Friday night, certainly, as he earned a 1-0 shutout, but the Lakers won 4-1 the following night, in spite of Hammond’s 33-save performance.
In second place sits Ferris State, who swept Miami in Big Rapids this weekend, shutting them down completely Saturday night. The Bulldogs are now undefeated in six games — and they’ve outscored opponents 21-5 this season. In three games, freshman goaltender C.J. Motte has allowed just one goal; he had 27 saves in his second shutout of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 win. Senior Taylor Nelson (1.34 GAA) is also undefeated.
Junior forward Travis Ouellette — who is among the nation’s early leaders in goals per game — scored the game winner in the second period Saturday. “Miami is always one of the best teams in the nation,” Ouellete told USCHO arena reporter John Denny after the game. “Anytime you can take one from them is huge, but taking two from them let us know that maybe we’ve got something here.”
I don’t think there’s any maybe about it. I think Ferris State has got something this season.
Everyone’s played at least one CCHA series, but it’s still too early in the season to count out the four teams at the bottom of this week’s standings: Notre Dame, Michigan, Alaska and Miami. These teams were picked in preseason by coaches and media to be four of the five top teams in the league. In the early going, though, each is finding its defenses exposed. At least one coach of these teams, Notre Dame’s Jeff Jackson, expressed concern about this in preseason, saying that he thought that the perception of ND as a defensive team was incorrect.
Turns out he’s right. Of these four teams, Notre Dame and Miami have the least effective defenses at this point in the season, allowing at three goals or more on average per game. The Irish so far, though, are outscoring opponents overall. The RedHawks have been outscored 14-19 this season.
The Wolverines are allowing just over two goals per game but have allowed 11 in their last three — and that includes the three they allowed when they scored 10 against St. Lawrence. The Nanooks (2.33 goals per game) have yet to find their defensive consistency.
I said I’d call the Bowling Green-Lake State split wrong. I wish that counted for anything beyond knowing how often I’m wrong — especially about splits.
Last Weekend, including Thursday: 4-5-2
Season to date: 28-18-5
Watch for the column Wednesday, picks on Thursday for the series that begin that night and picks Friday for the rest of the weekend.
Email (email@example.com), tweet (@paulacweston) or comment below — but keep a civil tongue in your head. I know your mother raised you better than that.