1. Separation Saturday
Some teams are nearing the quarter pole of the conference season, and we’re starting to see a little bit of daylight between the top teams and rest of the pack. Michigan Tech continued to roll as it remained undefeated and atop the standings with its sweep of Alaska Anchorage. The Huskies are 8-0-0 for the first time since 1972-73. I was 9 months old when that season began! Minnesota State and Bowling Green kept pace with their own impressive sweeps, remaining two points back and hoping not to let Tech get too far ahead, like Ferris State did a year ago.
2. Strong between the posts
This league has some very good goaltenders. I thought about this while sitting in the Verizon Wireless Center press box in Mankato and seeing one of last year’s best goalies, Minnesota State’s Cole Huggins, struggle and get replaced by Stephon Williams. Williams has seven wins and a .901 save percentage. Coaches love the 90-percent threshold, but that number ranks 11th in the league. Northern Michigan’s Mathias Dahlstrom is at .970, and Tech’s Jamie Phillips is at .957. Ferris State’s C.J. Motte, who is 4-5-0, is at .946. Motte and Dahlstrom had quite the battle this weekend, each shutting out the other’s team in a series split, while Phillips allowed one goal against Anchorage.
3. From the Great Lakes to the Bering Strait
It’s time for the WCHA to embrace its gigantic footprint, one that includes three time zones. If you’re a fan of the league, a Friday or Saturday night means you can watch more than six straight hours of hockey. The league may not be getting the ESPN treatment, but prior to the Minnesota State-Bemidji State games, I was able to watch parts of Northern Michigan-Ferris State and Michigan Tech-Alaska Anchorage on WCHA.tv, then covered the Mavericks-Beavers games. After writing, I returned home, grabbed a cold beverage and was able to watch the end of the Alaska-Bowling Green games. Pretty cool, even if there remain a few technical glitches to work out.