Every weekend of CCHA hockey brings something even more surprising than the last. This is a most unusual season.
First, Lake Superior State is still No. 1. Technically. The Lakers now share first place in league play with Notre Dame and Ohio State, and the prevailing preseason theories put only one of those three teams anywhere near the top. That the Lakers still hold even a slice of first place speaks to the resiliency of an LSSU squad determined to take points every weekend, as the Lakers were able to take two points with a tie and shootout point against Ferris State. It also speaks to the strange parity of the league this season, that no one has been able to overtake the Lakers. LSSU has nonconference play this weekend, followed by series with Notre Dame and Ohio State. LSSU’s days at No. 1 are numbered.
Second, Ferris State is knocking on the door, but they can’t come in. One point behind the three teams tied for first place, the Bulldogs have the best overall record (9-2-1) and win percentage (.792) in the CCHA, but couldn’t sweep the Lakers this weekend to take sole possession of first place. In Saturday’s 1-1 tie, Kyle Bonis gave the Bulldogs their lead at 15:59 in the first, but Laker Domenic Monardo scored 18 seconds later. In spite of significantly outshooting the Lakers in that game (33-17), the Bulldogs couldn’t get by Kevin Kapalka again, either by the end of 65 minutes or in the shootout. FSU has a tough schedule to finish out the first half, traveling to Alaska to face a hungry team looking for its first CCHA win, followed by a home-and-home series against Western Michigan and a home set with Notre Dame. Still, I’d be surprised if the Bulldogs weren’t still knocking on the door at midseason. Why? Defense, from blue line to goaltending. We’ll see.
Third, Miami has Michigan’s number. The RedHawks — rebuilding, reloading, recuperating, whatever you want to call it — have begun so slowly this season that it’s been hard to get a read on them, but they knew what to do in Oxford against the visiting Wolverines. With a win and tie against UM at home, this Miami senior class is now 7-3-1 all-time against the Wolverines. Senior Cody Reichard was the goalie of record in both games against UM in Steve Cady Arena. Reichard, whose overall goals-against average this season is 2.33 with a .906 save percentage, allowed four goals in two games (2.00 GAA) with a .918 save percentage on the weekend against Michigan. The RedHawks are now 3-0-1 in their last four CCHA games and face Bowling Green at home this weekend. Will the RedHawks be able to sustain this new momentum? I would think that they can … but I never thought that Miami would have to claw its way up from mid-pack at this point in the season.