Weekend work-up, Dec. 12, 2011: There’s no place like home … kind of

Three quick things learned from the weekend.

1. There’s no place like home … unless you’re Miami or Ohio State. Everybody got points this weekend at home except the RedHawks and Buckeyes, who won in each other’s barns. Clearly, that did very little to change things in the CCHA standings, but it did make most CCHA fans happy that they got something for their attendance. Home should be where a team has the best shot at earning points, but that’s not been the case for several teams this season. Alaska, Bowling Green and Miami each has losing records at home, and Michigan is just a hair above .500 (4-3-0) in the fabled Yost Arena in CCHA home games. Three teams have lost just one game each at home this season — Ferris State (6-1-1), Michigan State (6-1-2) and Northern Michigan (6-1-3) — and each loss was in conference play. Given that anyone really can beat anyone else on any given night in this league (unless you’re Bowling Green, and that’s no slam against the hard-working Falcons), those one-loss home records haven’t translated into the top three spots in the league.

2. If you’re a Buckeye and you’re scoring a game-winning goal, chances are you’re a freshman. OSU had its 11-game unbeaten streak snapped at home Friday night with a 5-3 loss to Miami, but the Buckeyes rebounded with a 3-2 overtime win Saturday in Steve Cady Arena. Senior Danny Dries scored the tying goal at 10:32 in the third, but freshman Chad Niddery had the game winner at 2:38 in OT. Chad who, you ask? Yes, it was Niddery’s first collegiate goal. Eight of OSU’s 12 game-winning goals have been scored by four freshmen: Niddery, Darik Angeli, Ryan Dzingel and Nick Oddo. Of course, OSU has had a dozen rookies skating this season, but of the Buckeyes’ top 10 scorers, only three are freshmen.

3. Ending the weekend with an extra point from a shootout feels like ending the weekend with a win. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it still amazes me. I saw this firsthand in East Lansing, when the Spartans earned two points from the Wolverines Saturday night. Michigan won 4-3 Friday and earned four of six points in the series, but the Wolverines left the ice deflated — and coach Red Berenson expressed bitter disappointment in earning four points, afterward. The Spartans celebrated as though they’d clinched a playoff berth. Let me make it clear that I’m not faulting anyone involved here, human nature and this rivalry being what they are. The shootout was emotional and followed a really good, hard-fought game and the Spartans were justifiably happy for Drew Palmisano who had 35 saves and blanked the Wolverines in the shootout, but that single goal that Shawn Hunwick allowed in the shootout doesn’t negate his 32-save performance, nor does it change anything in terms of the NCAA play. It did break the deadlock between the teams in the standings, though, with MSU emerging one point ahead of UM — but that was absolutely not what either team was thinking after OT was done. Even the scoreboard in the corner of Munn Ice Arena declared that MSU had won. Will the shootout go away when the CCHA does? Please?

My picks

I usually update my own picks on Fridays, but as there is just one game to call then I’m not sure that word will get around that I had a weekend that was solidly above .500.

Last week: 6-2-2 (.700)
Season to date: 70-46-16 (.591)

Had OSU and Miami been cooperative and each won at home, it would have been a very good weekend for picks, indeed.

Through the break

There is no weekly column this week, so many good things from this past weekend won’t get touched, casualties of writing schedules. If you email me personally or post intelligently below, I’ll be very happy to engage in discussion of what’s on your mind.

We finish the first half with Michigan Tech at Northern Michigan Friday night, so I’ll have a pick for that Friday morning. I’ll also be looking back at the first half of the season in blog form in the next two weeks, so stay tuned for that. Of course, there’s a cookie recipe coming up, some email to discuss and we’ll be catching up with old friends of the CCHA.

As always, I’m on Twitter (paulacweston) and you can reach me by email (paula.weston@uscho.com). Comment below, but keep it nice. I would love to hear what you want your team to get from Santa this year. Me, I’d settle for knowing that the CCHA is as for real as it seems. I guess we’ll see in March.

  • Dusty Bronco

    First, I love the shootout and I think it would be great for all of college hockey to get it…one of the more exciting times at lawson last year was watching Dennis Brown get dirty on Cal Heeter.
    Second a shout out to Dane Walters and his hat trick this weekend…Way to go Broncos!!!!

    • Paula Weston

      Definite congratulations to Walters for the hat trick.  Walters has scored in batches this season.  Interesting player, for sure.

      Lots of fans love the shootout.  I know I’m in the minority.  Unlike most of the world, though, I don’t understand the need to eliminate ties — nor to add a point for something that has absolutely nothing to do with the previous 65 minutes of play.  Just me.

      • JJfP

        You are NOT in the minority about the shootout.  I do not know one fan (not that I know more than only several dozen…)  who likes the shootout.  I also know one coach who despises it–maybe more than I do.  Your take on the MSU celebration is accurate.  They didn’t “win”–especially in the eyes of the NCAA.

  • Ed Goodman

    Hi Paula!

    I enjoy your articles.  I’m actually ambivalent about the shootout.  Yes, it’s an exciting way to determine winners and losers after overtimes, but if it went away, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, either.  As for what I want Santa to bring my team, I have three things … a nice run in the NCAA Tournament, more stellar recruiting classes, and better fan support!

    Ed

  • Hky_fan

    OSU is clearly overrated.  Miami dominated them all weekend.  It took a sketchy call from an official for the OSU victory Saturday night.

    • IHF

      Why do so many MU fans (apologies if you aren’t but I highly doubt it) complain about the officiating when you lose?  Take a look at your season thread and follow along.  No complaints about the refs for a few weeks, then you lose to NMU and someone calls the officiating into question.  Lose Saturday and it is the same thing.  In 40 years of following this sport I have done my share of complaining about the refs, but I have never posted on this site about poor officiating following a loss.  It shows bad form and should be/rightly is considered sour grapes.   

      • Prue

        It’s not just referees. Ever since Miami kind of put the nail in the coffin of the CCHA, reporters, announcers, officials and others seem to have new bias against the hawks.  If you think I’m paranoid, explain this weeks poll

        19th ranked Miami beats 4th ranked Ohio State….Ohio State doesn’t move and Miami gets dropped off the poll and is moved down to the middle of the “others getting votes” list.  This means Miami needs to beat a 4th ranked team twice just to maintain around 19th place???  Since Ohio State is the highest ranked CCHA team, how can the Hawks ever advance in the USCHO poll?

        Thank heavens for the computer generated Pairwise.

        • IHF

          You are paranoid, and whatever it is it certainly ISN’T the referees.  No one I know of is blaming MU for the demise of the CCHA.  Once MSU and UM were gone and Notre Dame was reluctant to publicly state their 1st desire was to remain in the CCHA, Miami saw the writing on the wall.  Like half of college hockey (my team most assuredly doing the same) they were looking out for their “best interests.”  Some blame Penn State, and plenty blame DU and North Dakota. Some even blame the Irish.  Maybe people aren’t putting MU in the ridiculously large USCHO poll because no one knows yet what they are this year.  The team we saw in the first few weeks who couldn’t get out of their own way, the team we saw in November that looked like their recent NCAA and FF teams, or the one we’ve seen the last two weeks that is 1-3?  Miami is a .500 team.  No .500 team deserves to be ranked in any poll, meaningless or otherwise, after half a season has been played.   

        • Paula Weston

          That same computer-generated PairWise that has Miami at 19?  Well, there were 21 people that voted Miami among the top 20 in this week’s USCHO.com Poll (and, no, there is no conspiracy to keep them out of the poll — it’s all math), so the voters and that computer-generated PWR are generally in agreement.

          Miami  has lost hree of its last four and had a very bad start to the season.  The RedHawks will probably have to earn a little respect before people start voting for them again. You may recall that Miami  was No. 2 in the first USCHO.com and that the RedHawks were No. 2 in both the coaches and media CCHA preseason polls. Considering that those polls were released after any perceived coffin-pounding that Miami may have done, your revenge theory doesn’t make sense.

          I usually publish my ballot with my weekly column, but as there is no column this week, I plan to publish it Friday.  You’ll see how I voted Miami then.

  • John Fitzgerald

    Shootouts are for the fans more than the teams.  That said, my WMU Broncos have benefited greatly of the ties and Shoot-out wins over the past 1 1/2 seasons. 

    I’m guessing a Fan Survey would result in a WIN for the Shoot-out.  We’ll see what the NCHC does with it, but my $$$ is on the shoot-out.