Weekend work-up, Dec. 5, 2011: It’s sweeps week — almost

Every team in the league played this past weekend, and with one exception, someone won two games and someone got swept. Putting aside the only nonconference series for a moment, such decisiveness provided a little distance and clarity at the top of the league’s standings while muddying the waters further down.

First is first. With their home sweep of Lake Superior State, the Buckeyes put five points between themselves and second-place Notre Dame, seven between first and third-place Western Michigan. The further down you go in the standings, the more difficult the task appears for teams to catch Ohio State; now there are 10 points between first and fifth, and the only team with games in hand on OSU is Michigan State, a full 11 points behind. True, in this season of strangeness and parity, that may not be insurmountable, but if the OSU defense — backstopped by Cal Heeter (1.89 GAA, .932 SV%) — continues to allow two or fewer goals as it has during its current 11-game unbeaten streak, it’ll be difficult to catch the Buckeyes. They won 5-2 and 2-1, and they have the sixth-best defense (1.94) in the nation. Their scoring margin (1.38) is fourth nationally.

Somewhere in the middle … is everyone else. Well, not really, but it sure feels that well. Second-place Notre Dame has 24 points; second-to-last place Alaska has 14. The nine teams between OSU and last-place Bowling Green are so tight that no more than two points separate teams from place to place in league standings. Kudos to Western Michigan, Michigan State and Northern Michigan for solid sweeps. For the Broncos, Friday’s 4-2 win over Ferris State broke a five-game winless streak. For the Spartans, 5-1 and 4-1 wins over Bowling Green extends an unbeaten streak to four games. For the Wildcats, 2-1 and 5-1 wins over Miami extend their win streak to three games. Other than winning, what do these teams have in common? Each allowed just two goals on the weekend. This season in the CCHA, it appears, defense does win games.

Finally, let’s skip the good and the bad and get right to the ugly. After Notre Dame dropped a 9-2 game to visiting Northeastern Friday night, coach Jeff Jackson told the South Bend Tribune that the game was “maybe the worst loss” in his tenure with the Irish. Northeastern scored in the first and last minutes of the game — and, seemingly, ever minute in between — and netted those nine goals on just 20 shots, with all three of the Irish goaltenders allowing at least two. Notre Dame went on to lose again Saturday, 2-1.

Here’s a part of the story that won’t be discussed on the record. During the past two weeks, several little birdies have passed along news of a virus, and each little birdie has done so independent of all other little birdies. The Lakers had it bad the first night they hosted Notre Dame Nov. 25, and I do not know if they brought it back from their road trip to Buffalo Nov. 19-20. The Irish were quite sick last week.

Northeastern and Massachusetts-Lowell play a single game next weekend, Dec. 10. As someone who previewed this nastiness herself in late September, I hope that it ends there — the last game before the holiday break — for all involved.

  • JJfP

    Actually, LSSU had it in New York.  A look at their lines will show how badly they had it.  They were recovering when ND went to the Soo, but likely still passed some germs on.  

    • Paula Weston

      I had heard that they picked it up in NY and brought it back with them.  Nobody from FSU said anything to me about it — FSU was the Lakers’ opponent before Canisius — and I had heard that there was illness that ND weekend. Just passing along what I’d heard.  It certainly could have originated in the U.P.  Influenza hit Michigan in Traverse City first this year in September according to news reports, then worked its way down (and pretty quickly, I might add).  Maybe it worked its way up, too.  

  • CS

    Someone voted Notre Dame #1 in this week’s poll.  That’s just embarrassing after they were swept at home including a 9-2 loss.  I know the polls don’t mean anything right  now but they lose any credibility with homer votes like that.

    • Paula Weston

      Wasn’t me.

  • Alex

    So that’s why Notre Dame lost? Because they were sick? Riiight. Whatever you say Paula.

    Looked to me like their biggest weakness was exposed… and that is those two mediocre goalies they have. Same with Miami. If you can get to them… they aren’t very good.

    • Paula Weston

      I’m not saying they wouldn’t have lost anyway.  I’m just saying that there was something going around.  We’ve seen this increasingly in recent years, where a virus just runs through a team one week, then the team that team plays the next.  Not saying that LSSU wouldn’t have lost to ND the week before; I’m not saying that ND wouldn’t have been swept by Northeastern.  I’m just suggesting that it may have been a contributing factor.

  • Working in a rink I know how this is. Some kid gets sick and those germ stick around..eventually every player on that team, asst coach, coach, parents and rink staff all get it. I hope this year won’t be too bad..

  • Richard

    Lets see. Miami lost twice to NMU this past weekend, but USCHO moves Miami up in their latest poll. Any bias there, USCHO?

    • DU Fan

      Miami went from ranked (18) to others receiving votes … not sure how you see that as moving up.

    • Paula Weston

      Richard, do you have an old poll bookmarked?  As DU fan pointed out, Miami is no longer ranked this week.  

      Additionally, your comment leads me to believe that maybe you don’t know the process of the USCHO poll.  It’s a ballot process with 50 voters counted weekly.  These voters aren’t simply USCHO staff; voters are seasoned writers from around the country as well as head coaches.  USCHO itself doesn’t pick who lands where in any week’s poll. 

  • Richard

    To Paula & DU Fan
    —————————————————————-
     When I checked their latest poll (Dec. 5th) yesterday afternoon (around 5 pm central time), they had Miami ranked 18 after being unranked the week before. That had me scratching my head because NMU had just beaten them twice. Now USCHO shows Miami unranked again. They caught their mistake. Either that or I was seeing things yesterday. lol 

  • K

    During the course of ECAC hockey and a few games outside of that division, I’ve seen [tv, person] and heard of egregious conduct involving continually bad officiating throughout games.  Not necessary a missed call, but blatant disregard to fair play throughout the whole game.  Case in point Union v Colgate: net came off moorings and no whistle. player deliberately ran into net, no delay of game, 2x Union shot over glass in defensive zone and no delay of game, ‘gate player charged while trying to score when union holding and pushing into net and knocking own goalie down, gate player tackled – yes tackled and no call.  It looked as though officials did everything for a Union win except grab the puck, toss into net and call it a goal.  These officials are well paid for their services, and like any other ‘business’, if misconduct occurs… reprimand or termination is in order.
    I am not a die-hard team fan… but when officials are dictating a game, its time to suspend or in these two officials, terminate employment.
    Yes, there is video of game – contact Colgate Athletic department

    • Ajfallis

      sounds like a cranky colgate fan

    • Guest1

      Trust me i know exactly what you mean about the Official’s in this league…Case in Point…Cornell-SLU….Cornell goalie protested a goal and it was reviewed….Goal was waved off…Same situation at the other end of the rink…SLU goalie ask for a review and the official said we are not going to review it…Player at the end of the Game for SLU on a partial breakaway with a chance to win it and was given a 2 handed wack at the skates…No call…Cornell scores in OT to win…The official’s in this league need to be suspended or fired for a poorly called game…I have seen alot of games and when i see who the Official’s are, i feel like asking for my money back…And it’s no surprise that Paul Stewart is an “ass” because i have wrote to him before and was told that if i ever wrote to him again complaing about his officials that he would have me arrested for public harassment…So yeah they are all a joke…It’s never going to change…They want who they want for the Finals and will do anything to cover their spread…

  • css228

    I think your opinion of ECAC officials is mired in delusions of competence

  • 4life4america

    As a UNION Alum who was at the sold-out game, it was clear that the Cornell team has a wealth of youth, talent and speed and size. They have a great home field arena. The game had to be emotionally draining for both teams. Cornell is not easy to beat in Ithaca and Colgate is not easy to beat in Hamilton. An impressive road trip for RPI against all odds. 

  • Hewm12

    as a slu fan i would love to see rpi get hot right now. bc if slu gets past dartmouth we wouldn’t have to play union in the next round :p

  • Dbagcarlos

    Cornell has play up or down to its oposition all year.  Should have beat BU, beat CC, lost to Brown and lost Merceyhurst.

  • Tampa Union

    Clearly more important for Cornell to win ecac tourney than to win the cleary.. union will get into the dance regardless.. Cornell will likely need a win in the tourney

  • Tampa Union

    Wow.. even the Cleary can’t buy Union a headline.. that’s ok when the seals got bin laden they flew at 500ft in the mountains.. like Union on the flight to Tampa…

  • RedandWhite

    This Cornell fan wanted the one seed and doesn’t care about the Cleary.  And I’m far more concerned about what losing to RPI did to our Pairwise chances.  I haven’t been to Lynah in a few years but I don’t recall that we ever hung banners for winning the regular season.  And as far as I remember the trophy didn’t even have a name until 2001.  It has all the meaning as the President’s Trophy in the NHL.

  • jt

    cornell fans are the worst..they are annoying and they whine too much…its gonna be great to watch them get left out of the NCAA tourney.