A couple things I may or may not have learned during a weird weekend in the WCHA:
Ferris finds its scoring touch
After scoring just 11 goals through nine games nearly matched that in their series opener against Alaska-Anchorage. Maybe it was just the odd (for the WCHA) Thursday night game catching the road-weary Seawolves off guard, but the Bulldogs pounded Anchorage 10-2. By the time the weekend was over Friday night, Ferris had scored four more goals and won 4-0.
It’s the kind of offensive explosion the Bulldogs, now 6-5-0 overall and 3-3-0 in the conference, needed if they want to get back on track and defend their MacNaughton Cup title. Goaltender CJ Motte started the season as a legitimate Hobey Baker frontrunner, but he can’t win games by himself — he definitely needs his teammates to start scoring if they’re going to make a Frozen Four run.
Huskies off to best start ever
Undefeated Michigan Tech is already the talk of the college hockey world. Now, the 10-0-0 Huskies are in the midst of to the best start in the school’s 94-year hockey history. That’s a lot of hockey history, so to be this good for this long at the beginning of the season is pretty significant. With their 2-1 win over Bemidji State Friday night, the Huskies moved to 9-0, which got them the record. Any subsequent win is gravy.
One sign of Michigan Tech’s staying power: During Saturday night’s game — a 4-2 comeback victory — the Huskies trailed for the first time since their Oct. 4 opener at Lake Superior State. In both games, Tech was badly outshot and outplayed but still found a way to win.
That streak might be in danger this weekend, though — the marquee matchup in the WCHA, if not all off college hockey, finds the Huskies hosting Minnesota State. The Huskies and the Mavs are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively in the early-season USCHO Pairwise rankings.
Those rankings obviously need to be taken with a grain of salt (every team hasn’t played enough games for them to be 100% accurate). But would anyone have guessed those two teams would be at the top of the heap more than a quarter into the season?
Splitsville for Chargers & Lakers, Falcons
Three other teams were active this past weekend, and all went 1-1.
Alabama-Huntsville hosted Lake Superior State in Huntsville, and the teams split with a pair of wildly entertaining games. The Lakers won 1-0 Friday night, while the Chargers won 5-2 Saturday night. Saturday’s game was Huntsville’s first win at home against a Division I team since Jan. 8, 2011.
It might be true that the Lakers are significantly worse this year than they were last season (they lost a lot of pieces from a decent team in 2013-14), but as I wrote last week, the Chargers are a much-improved team as well. They’re starting to look like a Division I team again, which was difficult in the years that they wandered in the Independent desert. Neither the Chargers and the Lakers are great teams, but both have a legitimate spot at a WCHA playoff spot since Alaska is ineligible this season. The Lakers have two WCHA wins and four points, tied with Bemidji State for sixth in the standings, while the Chargers have just one conference win and two points (their tie against Northern Michigan wasn’t a league game) and are tied for Anchorage for eighth in the league table.
Meanwhile, No. 19 Bowling Green split a home-and-home series with instate rivals Ohio State. Each team won 3-2 games in the other teams’ rinks. The Buckeyes won in Bowling Green Friday while the Falcons won in Columbus Saturday. The Falcons (8-3-1) also split their home-and-home series earlier this season against another instate rival (Miami), both by 3-2 scores.
Bowling Green, tied for second in the WCHA standings with Minnesota State with 10 points, returns to conference play this weekend hosting Bemidji State.