1. Tech, Minnesota State tied at the top
No matter what happened this weekend, the WCHA’s top three teams would have been set going into intermission anyway. Michigan Tech and Minnesota State — both of whom played nonconference contests this weekend — are tied at the top of the league table with 20 points, while idle Bowling Green sits in third with 17 points.
Not a huge surprise that these three teams are on top, considering they’re the top three scoring offenses in the league and have had a big leg up on the rest of the league.
League play re-starts in January, and special attention will be paid to which of these three teams pulls away (Bowling Green plays at Tech Jan. 16-17 — what should be a huge series to determine who wins the McNaughton Cup).
2. Beavers trending upwards, Wildcats downwards
Bemidji State took three of four points from Northern Michigan at home last weekend, winning 4-2 Friday and tying 1-1 Saturday. It’s part of a five-game unbeaten streak for the Beavers, who go into the break on a high after losing seven straight games in the month of November. They go into the break in seventh place in the league standings (nine points) but are just thee points behind NMU and Ferris State, who are tied for fourth with 12 points.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, have only won two times in their last eight games and have given up more goals in the past two weeks (15) than they did the entire rest of the season before that. (They have given up 29 total goals this season). On top of that, Mathais Dahlstrom missed his first two games of the season last weekend in Bemidji with an injury. Luckily for NMU, he has the break to heal up but they’ll want to make sure he’s back to his normal self soon.
3. WCHA already better out of conference
At the break, WCHA teams are 25-22-5 in nonconference play this year. That’s already just one game behind last year’s win total of 26. (The league went 26-46-12 overall in nonconference last season.)
A few notable wins this season — both Minnesota State and Michigan Tech have split with Minnesota Duluth, and Bemidji State beat North Dakota — have contributed to that cause, but so have a few lower-profile series (like Alabama Huntsville taking three points from Air Force).
Later in December, league teams will play in some big nonconference tournaments like the Great Lakes Invitational which should surely boost the numbers.
All of these wins aren’t just good for the league’s reputation — which they are — but also the league’s Pairwise. If WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson wants to achieve his goal of having three teams in this year’s tournament, they league is off to a great start against its peers.