Winter has returned to Flint, Mich., and the snow is a definite improvement over the everlasting gray of these past several weeks. There are three CCHA games televised in my area Friday night: Ohio State at Miami and Michigan State at Notre Dame (CBS), and Ferris State at Western Michigan (Fox). Comcast is covering Saturday’s MSU-ND game.. I couldn’t be more grateful as I’m celebrating the return of winter with a gallon of orange juice, zinc lozenges and some cold medication. Where are you this weekend?

Here’s my record heading into the last regular-season weekend of 2011-2012.

Last week: 8-2-0
Season to date: 115-74-24 (.713)

I have no idea how that happened. I still think I’ve calculated it incorrectly. As someone I know in South Bend once reminded me, it’s clear that I don’t teach math.

This week

Everyone plays and there’s more than just regular-season bragging rights on the line. Alaska plays Anchorage for the Governor’s Cup and the Lakers and Wildcats have the Father Cappo Cup on the line.

Start times are noted and are local.

No. 1 Ferris State vs. No. 19 Western Michigan

Last weekend the Bulldogs guaranteed at least a share of the regular-season CCHA title with their sweep of visiting Bowling Green; all Ferris State needs is one point this weekend to capture the title outright. The Broncos continued their win-Friday-lose-Saturday pattern with a road split against Lake Superior State. FSU has a 14-game (11-0-3) unbeaten streak heading into this weekend. I don’t call against such things — and I fully expect the flaming from Broncos fans to begin. That’s okay. I’ve got the chills and the heat will feel good. Friday’s game is in Kalamazoo, Saturday’s in Big Rapids and they both start at 7:05 p.m. FSU 3-2, 4-2

Lake Superior at Northern Michigan

The Lakers are looking for their third consecutive Father Cappo Cup as well as a first-week bye. Yes, that’s still within the realm of possibility for LSSU but not for NMU; realistically, each team is fighting for home ice in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. Last weekend, the Lakers split with the Broncos at home while the Wildcats lost two to Michigan on the road. Again I expect flaming. Again, it’ll warm my cold, germy heart. Both games begin at 7:35 p.m. NMU 4-1, LSSU 2-1

No. 3 Michigan at Bowling Green

The Wolverines know that they must win out for even a slice of the regular-season championship while rooting hard for the Broncos to do the same. Last weekend, UM swept NMU at home while BGSU lost two on the road to FSU. I know how good the Wolverines are playing and I’m picking a sweep because of it, but I have a feeling that the Falcons may return to form with at least a point this weekend. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. UM 4-2, 3-2

No. 13 Michigan State at No. 18 Notre Dame

MSU can capture second place this weekend with a little help from the Falcons, while the Irish can finish no higher than seventh. What a turn of events. Last weekend, MSU swept visiting Alaska and ND lost two on the road to Miami. It appears that the Spartans are playing some of their best hockey of the season while Notre Dame is struggling to score. Friday’s game begins at 8:35 p.m., Saturday’s at 7:35. MSU 3-1, 3-2

No. 17 Ohio State vs. No. 15 Miami

Why are the Buckeyes still ranked? I don’t know either. They did break an 11-game winless streak last weekend with a split in Kalamazoo, losing Friday and winning Saturday — and, believe it or not, a first-round bye is still mathematically possible for OSU. Given the Buckeyes’ opponent this week, though, I doubt that the stars are aligned for OSU. Miami allowed one goal in a sweep of visiting Notre Dame last weekend and the RedHawks are definitely in the hunt for a first-round bye. Friday’s game in Oxford, Ohio, starts at 6:05 p.m., Saturday’s game in Columbus at 7:05. Miami 4-1, 3-2

Alaska vs. Alaska-Anchorage

The Nanooks defend the Governor’s Cup with a home-and-home series against the Seawolves of the WCHA. Last weekend, Alaska was swept in East Lansing while Anchorage split a pair of road games against St. Cloud. The Nanooks have captured the Governor’s Cup in seven of the last 10 years. Friday’s game is in Anchorage, Saturday’s in Fairbanks and both start at 7:05 p.m. UAA 3-2, UAF 3-2

  • Pretty sure your win % should be .596.

    (115 W + (24 ties* 0.5)) / 213 total games. 

  • nmu dad

    I hope for better for both Western and Northern but no flaming.   Your scenario puts WMU in the donut hole (5th) and leads the Cats to Big Rapids in the second round if they play to the seeding. 

    • NoVa

      Fifth is indeed an unfortunate seed to land… makes one wonder if a 10-team tournament, campus-site series in the first round with a final-five weekend (play-in game between 4 and 5 Thursday, semis Friday, final and consolation Saturday) like the WCHA used to do might not be fairer.  Hurts to be 11 and left out completely, but that’s at least the result of a poor record rather than an accident of seeding for the fifth-place team, watching the 1-4 and 6-8 seeds host home series.  Then again, maybe the reward of a first-round bye for the fifth seed makes up for the loss of a home series (personally I’d rather take the home games than the rest, but I could be in the minority).  Generally speaking, which would people rather see for the conference?    

      • IHF

         I’d rather the CCHA used the format that Hockey East uses.  Top 8 for the quarterfinals, top 4 seeds host, then Boston for the conference final four.  I think there is little need to reward bad teams for bad seasons by giving them a shot at the NCAAs.  Conferences do it to potentially increase their representation in the NCAAs (lets face it, FSU is going to be in the NCAAs, and as a top seed at that, even if they lose in the second round of the CCHA tourney).  The format the CCHA uses is also done to potentially increase revenue.  This way there are 8 guaranteed series before 2 days in Detroit, instead of 4 or 5 using the other various scenarios and 2 or 3 days in Detroit.  That first day was ALWAYS a joke in the old Super-6 era.  Notre Dame played in one where there were perhaps 1000-15000 people in the stands. 

        Of course it doesn’t matter much anymore since we only have 2 more of these things to go, and I’m betting the CCHA doesn’t bother to come up with a new formula next season as a lame-duck conference. 

  • Roymiracle

    I was going to flame you Paula, but really there is no point. There is already enough negativity in the world.

  • KAW

    Another streak that you shouldn’t call against is WMU’s pattern, for 4 weeks in a row, to win on friday and lose on saturday. I expect nothing different this weekend, especially since it’s a home-and-home series. I bet they get a shootout win tonight.

    • Buster Bronco

      You were absolutely correct and had good reasoning for making that prediction.

      WMU and LSSU are the only CCHA teams to have won 100% of their shootouts, 4 for both teams.

      On the other end, Ferris is tied with Ohio State for second worst record in shootouts, 20% (1 of 5) for both teams.  The only team with a worse shootout record is Notre Dame, having won none of its 3 shootouts.

      • KAW

        Looks like I was wrong about Saturday night, though, but I’ve never been happier to be wrong. Hopefully we’ll see them again in the championship game (If I understand the seeding correctly.)

  • Sundance

    Bu…, bu…, but,,,, couldn’t we just weight the 24 “ties” at 0 and the 74 misses at 0.5 so we come out to exactly .713?

  • Lawson Lunatic

    Western has the only win in Big Rapids by any team NOT named Ferris.  Interesting factoid

    • nmu dad

      blanked then in the last home / home series

  • bluetell

    I bet Michigan’s games are more lopsided. The best goaltender in the CCHA, a strong defense, and a long streak of winning. I’d bet more like 5-1, 3-0

    • KAW

      haha whoops.

  • JJFP

    Notre Dame can finish as high as 6th.

  • Guest

     Go ‘Nooks!  Beat the Seapuppies!

  • Ghawes76

    Western owns Ferris!!!

    • GUEST


      • Ghawes76

        Yes they do, we blew our shot the last 2 weekends.  They better hope we don’t meet in the tourney, because everyone knows Ferris can’t win that one.

  • KAW

    If I get the tiebreakers correctly, this is the playoff picture:
    #6 Northern Michigan vs. #11 Bowling Green.
    #7 Lake Superior vs. #10 Alaska Anchorage.
    #8 Notre Dame vs. #9 Ohio State. 
    Second Round (quarterfinals):
    #1 Ferris State vs. lowest remaining seed#2 Michigan vs. second lowest remaining seed#3 Western Michigan vs. third lowest remaining seed#4 Miami vs. Michigan StateWith the exception of Miami, all of the Michigan-based teams are on top of the league. We like hockey here.

  • dusty bronco

    Finally the Saturday streak is Broken…gooo Broncos!!!

  • Ghawes76

    I guess the flames from Kazoo would be warranted!  Fight on, fight on for Western!