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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.

Second guessing?

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.

Paula’s picks

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 (paula.weston@uscho.com), tweet (@paulacweston) or comment below — but keep a civil tongue in your head. I know your mother raised you better than that.

  • RamboWildcat

    Gotta love NMU staying under the radar! They dominated Michigan this past weekend and look great. 

    • Anonymous

      Next weekend should be a great series. Our power play was atrocious in Alaska this past weekend, if your Wildcats play like they did against U of M you won’t be under the radar much longer.

  • Anonymous

    Being a CCHA fan, it’s great to see the entire league being this competitive.  I know it’s early, but I can’t remember the last season where there was this much parity.   

    • Paula Weston

      I think it’s a lot of fun.  Murder on my picks, but fun — and good hockey every weekend. 

  • Roymiracle

    I was at the NMU/UM contest and all I have to say is that the Wolverines should thank both refs for that overtime win. Two of the worst calls I have ever seen. Michigan might be a great hockey team this year, but this weekend they played like the Charlestown Chiefs and got the calls of the Montreal Canadiens.

    • Psage

      Johnstown (not Charlestown)

  • Michigankeck

    I was a the NMU  / U of M game Saturday visiting my son who attends NMU.  This Friday I will be back home to seen NMU at WMU where i live and where my daughter goes to school.  What luck to see these 2 games back to back!

  • Yooper

    CCHA is a great league this year.  Ferris St., LSSU, NMU have always been under the radar.   You should read the blog sent by a partisan UM fan under the Ann Arbor newspaper sports article on the two UM/NMU games:   He claims UM had no business loosing to a nothing team like NMU and the Wildcats should have been swept by scores of 9-0 and 10-0.  He fears that since UM couldn’t beat NMU then they are going to get clobbered when they play somebody good.  How’s that for
    typical Big 10 arrogance. 

    • Ssweetmj

      Not B10. But U of M.

  • wmu2012

    Where is a mention of WMU?  5 of 6 points still undefeated this season and no mention.  Really?  This will be a great weekend going to an event Friday will be there Saturday

  • streaker

    Roymiracle: Michigan won a shootout, not an OT win. By the look of the box scores and the audio I listened to, both teams were chippy all weekend, but Michigan’s goalie did lose his cool on Friday. If you are referring to the five minute major and DQ on NMU Saturday, the NMU player clocked the Michigan player shoulder to head. That’s a penalty in the CCHA no matter if Fred Plesch himself was doing the game, so I’d suggest that, instead of making cracks about Michigan or the “partisan officiating” you’d pocket your green and yellow glasses for a rulebook. Michigan paid dearly for their mistakes, but didn’t make NMU pay enough, which is why they only took two points this weekend. 

    • Roymiracle

      Really? did you see the play? Cause the Audio ain’t gonna cut it. They said the NMU player was head hunting? I know thats what the call was, but the UM player skated head down into a clean check. I know the rules, I used to be level 2 linesman. I am saying the call was wrong. The UM guy skated head down into a clean check, thats not a penalty, unless you call the UM player for being dumb. Also, the first UM power play was a gift as they called NMU for slashing when Hunwick jumped out of the crease to interfere with the NMU forecheck. The guys stick touches Hunwick as he tries to avoid him and they called slashing. It was bad officiating all the way around. Both teams were chippy, but it was clean for the most part, the Refs just had a bad game. 

  • Winnipeg Jet

    Wheres the love for Northern Mich. They can finally score goals this year. Ill be shocked if they dont finish top 10 in the country. Very solid D core with Scott Macaulay anchoring it. The guys a great player, but even a bigger beauty

  • So a Michigan player punching someone in the face and only getting a misconduct while the player he hit gets a dq isn’t UM favouritism?

    • Anonymous

      Punching him in the face after kicking/tripping him, then kicking an NMU helmet down the ice, and to top things off throwing his stick like a 3 year old and nearly hitting a linesman.  Yet, the NMU player didn’t throw a punch, grab a face mask, or act like a kid who just found out Santa isn’t real, and somehow he gets a DQ for fighting.  If tying a guy up after being assaulted by two different players is now fighting, then I guess the refs of the CCHA have lost what little bit of logic they had left.  I wonder why such an objective reporter like Paula didn’t say anything about what happened?

  • Lakerman11

    Lake Superior State is severely underrated. They were 10th in the CCHA pre-season, and (so far) have made some incredible strides early in the year. A lot of people forget that they knocked out OSU in the first round last year, and nearly knocked out Notre Dame. Behind solid goaltending from Kevin Kapelka, great defense from Zack Trotman and Andrew Perrault, and strong offense from Domenic Monardo, Kyle Jean, and Collin Campbell, look for LSSU to be the sleeper team all the way to Joe Louis Arena.

  • RogerWF

    News flash: Josh Thorimbert did not make the trip to Bemidji with CC.  I’m sure you noted his injury last weekend in all your coverage of the prized Gold Pan showdown.

  • Tech Fan

    Tyler:  MTU and UNO have 22 points.

  • Ridingtimes

    Yes plus Dineen is out also…They both will return next weekend. Thorimbert is out because of Denver running over him 3 times during the game with no calls…

  • peter puck

    watch out for North Dakota they are rolling and getting HOT its good time to go on winning streak this time of the year postseason right around the corner

  • du/uofmfan

    Rau’s hit on Zucker last night was inexcusable.  A multiple game suspension for that kind of hit should be handed out to him.  

    • nogofer

      For his own protection…

      • Fan Man

        Thats for sure!  What a Hosehead

  • WCHAFAN

    How about that CC sweep?

  • Mngoalie

    Nice CC sweep eh boys?

  • DU_Fan

    Saturday night’s DU-MINN game was worthy of a Frozen Four game!!! The refs (Thul and Bokal) called probably the 2 best games at Magness Arena in the last couple of years. With the exception of a horrible non-offsides call, by Keltie, their judgement was perfect. Was really nice to have important games without Anderson, either Shepherd, or Adam……

  • Csitzman

    Have to disagree on the Rau suspension.  The penalty should have been at least 2 games, if not more.  As you have stated, it was pretty clear that he lined the guy up for a cheap shot.  You seem to think that just because Zucker did not end up with a major injury that the league should just ignore a dirty hit.  There are too many players ending up with serious injuries and it is time for a major crackdown on this stuff.  I like a physical game, but there is no place in hockey for a late, blind hit and smacking a guys head around.  

    • DU_Fan

      As one who was there, I agree that he should have been given a Match Misconduct which would have put him out of Saturday’s game. Standing up for the refs though, who controlled both games perfectly, they knew the play would be reviewed by the WCHA office. Zucker released the puck about 3 full seconds before the hit and was on his way to the bench for a line change. Rau is not a dirty player, he usually is the one getting checked very hard due to his size, but this was a bad hit with an elbow to the head.

      • nogofer

        Do you WATCH Rau?  NOT dirty?  Are you kidding?  Instigators across the hockey world emulate him…

    • Hockey25

      Are you serious? get your head out of the sand! Take a look at JT Brown’s hit or Kristo’s hit and then get back to me. These hits had more intent, and either player received a game suspension. Actually, Brown’s hit came in the third period when the game was pretty much over, so why is this ok? Also, Blood throws a punch at Rau in the hand shake without suspension? I also think Rau shouldn’t have received the extra game suspension – hit from behind – NO – hit to the head – NO.

      • nogofer

        Remember Mark Alt?  OK, we got back to you…

  • Ring_of_Fire

    The argument put forth that the “consequences” of an illegal hit should, in some way, determine the punishment is completely asinine.  Should Brad Malone have had his hockey career ended for him because of the consequences of the Jesse Martin hit? 

    Even the most blindingly homer-istic Denver fan would say, “no”.

    Rau’s hit was late AND intentionally to the head.  With the NCAA’s focus on eliminating violent contact to the head, a game misconduct plus a one game suspension was ABSOLUTELY the right outcome, here.

    I don’t often praise the WCHA or its officials, but to their credit, they definitely got this one right. 

    • DU_Fan

      Even though I am not fond of you catagorizing any fans a “blindingly homer-istic”, and those that disagree with you as “completely asinine”, I do agree with your thoughts. Brad Malone’s hit on Jesse Martin had horrible results but, truthfully, it was a combination of an intentional charge and the fact Jess Martin put himself into a vulnerable position. Like I stated before, Thul and Bokal did a nice job this weekend and knew the hit would be reviewed. Those of us in attendance had no doubt that both Zucker and Rau would not be available Saturday.

      • Ring_of_Fire

        Apparently I should have been more clear.  I wasn’t singling out any particular team’s fans.  In fact, ANY team’s fans can be “blindingly homer-istic” at times. 

        To whit:  North Dakota fans claiming that Malone didn’t charge Jesse Martin.  Gophers fans claiming that the Rau hit was clean.  Denver fans claiming that Paukovitch didn’t deserve a suspension for the Bina hit.

        Those that cannot or will not see past their rooting interest to realize when something is/was blatantly and irrevocably wrong are “blindingly homer-istic”…regardless of WHICH team they cheer for. 

        (FWIW, I am a DU season ticket holder and was “in attendance” as well…)

        • Siouxhockeyrocks

          Agreed.  I just saw the JT Brown hit on Blood.  Dirty as they come.  Then Saturday Blood gets his first CFB.  Now that being said….It seems like nearly every game I’ve seen this year or read about there has been a checking from behind penalty.  CFB HAS TO GO!  There is no place for it and  I’m sure we can all agree.  Time for college hockey to crack down.  

          Rau deserves his penalty and suspension.  Where were the other suspensions?  Its a complete joke.  Bad boarding penalties, CFB, and contact to the head are all deserving of a suspension.  Kristo should’ve had one as well.  I’m a Sioux fan and have to say it’s been a fault of all teams.  I think the Sioux only have 3 CFB’s all year.  I know they’ve been on the receiving end of more than that.I propose that the first major penalty of these types deserves at least an additional game suspension.  If the player receives a second major of Boarding, CFB, or contact to the head he must sit out 2 complete games or more.  And a third should be the remainder of the season or at least 5 games.

          I love physical play and wish for it to continue but please no more of this.  

          • Undsioux

            CFB is a bad deal, people get hurt. That being said, I sat in the 1st row for both of those UMD games. It’s unbelievable to me how many times a player purposely turns their back on an approaching player. I get that the “hope” is that the other player, traveling at full speed, will suddenly stop or that the hit will draw a penalty but the risk players are putting themselves at in these situations is ridiculous. I don’t know if it’s coached but guys are getting hurt doing this.
            In the end, they need to allow the grab check that keeps the player from getting demolished

  • guest

    will the gophers play their way out of another NCAA tourny?

  • GUEST

    Good god, don’t the Sioux fans realize how ignorant they are (ref’s suck, other team full of goons, we had a player injured) and they sound like Packer fans if there team goes 5-11.     

    • nogofer

      You don’t understand hockey so we undersrtand…