1. Mavericks pulling away?

Michigan Tech has led the WCHA standings for what seems like the entire season. But after the past two weekends, the paradigm is starting to shift. Minnesota State has surged to a six-point lead after taking seven points in the last two weeks. The Mavs swept Lake Sueprior State this weekend then got three points from Northern Michigan the week before.

Meanwhile, Michigan Tech returned to WCHA play this past weekend and managed just one point against UP rivals Northern Michigan. The Huskies played six straight nonconference weekends, which allowed the Mavericks to sneak in behind them and take the lead.

MSU still has to play Ferris State twice and make another Alaska trip, while Michigan Tech still has to play another series against both MSU and third-place Bowling Green, which is a point behind Tech for third place with 20 points.

2. Bowling Green streaking

Meanwhile, the Falcons are unbeaten in their last nine games and haven’t lost since Nov. 14 against Ohio State. BG rallied from a 4-1 hole against Alaska on Saturday to keep the unbeaten streak alive.

The Falcons own the nation’s top penalty kill — they’ve only given up five power play goals — and BG’s three-goalie rotation has impressed lately. Freshman Chris Nell is unbeaten in seven games in net.

The Falcons travel to Houghton this weekend for a huge series against Tech. BG has two games in hand on Tech and four on Minnesota State, so four points against Tech could give the Falcons a fast track to overtaking second — and possibly first — in the standings soon down the road.

3. Separation on the bottom

On the other side of the standings, it looks like last weekend has given us a more clear picture of the three teams who will be fighting for the final few playoff spots.

The bottom three teams in the conference — Alabama Huntsville, Alaska Anchorage and Lake Superior State — were all swept over the weekend.

Bemidji State, which came into the weekend just a point ahead of Huntsville for seventh place with nine points, took all four from the Chargers to put some separation between them and the bottom of the league. The Beavers in seventh now with 13 points and are just three points out of home ice position.

Now, Huntsville still has a hold on the No. 8 spot in the standings (eight points) while Anchorage and Lake State are tied for No. 9 with six points.

These three teams are surely glad that Alaska’s indiscretions led to their playoff suspension, as it will give them an extra chance to make the postseason. Still, one team in the conference is going to be on the outside looking in at the end of the season, and unless something crazy happens down the stretch it will almost certainly be one of these three teams.

  • Hockeys4realmen

    If Wisconsin and Minnesota think making and moving to a Big 10 conference is going to help them recruit, they’re nuts. In the Midwest we play hockey the way it was meant to be. The way real hockey players play. The Canadian way!!! Hard hitting, fast moving hockey. Not that “basketball mom” hockey played out east where if you check a guy the mom’s start crying and the refs need oxygen between periods from blowing their whistle every time one of the mommy boys gets checked. :)

    • Brecky

      You sound jealous. :) Dissing eastern hockey makes no sense. The last three champs are from Boston, and the last midwestern team to win (Mich. St.) was lucky to beat Boston College. Matter of fact, starting in ’97, a Hockey East team has been in every championship game except 2005 (DU beat N.Dak).

    • Rangerfan2487

      Really bro ?sounds like an eastern team destroyed one of your little teams as a child both physically and on the scoreboard…no need to diss eastern hockey when its just as good if not better than midwest..

  • bklein09

    Yay BT Hockey! As a Michigan fan I’m really excited and I think the other leagues (WCHA, CCHA) will be just fine. The WCHA is ultra deep and has a number of great teams and tradition. And the CCHA has Miami and ND to hold down the fort until some other programs step up. Let’s not forget that NMU, LSSU, etc have great hockey tradition and have won championships.

    • Anonymous

      I could see some of the ex-WCHA teams in the CCHA leave for the WCHA when the Big Ten conference starts. I like Coach Jackson’s (Notre Dame) idea of combining the CCHA and WCHA into one big conference. Then break the conference into sub-groups of 6. One of the 4 groups would consist of the Big Ten schools (UMTC, UW, UM, MSU, OSU, PSU)

  • Joe Addario

    Like love & marriage, big 10 & hockey go together.

  • Frattin for Hobey

    Not to sure I am a fan of a Bit Ten hockey conference. Are you going to play with only 6 teams in the conference? pretty sure that’s the number of bt schools with hockey. mich, mn, wi, mich st, o st, and soon penn st. Why take great teams away from two conferences just to form another and add another auto bid. better to have Penn St. join HE or CCHA maybe AHA. Just my opinion.

  • MoFan

    H4rm, the tier 1 Boston leagues pulled out of USA Hockey I thought so that they could check earlier. I’ve seen mite checking games, my mite participated in a tourney with checking. ‘Nuff said.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone knows that there will be a Big Ten hockey conference. The question is when and if any more non hockey B10 schools step up to Div 1. WCHA will be fine with DU, CC, UND, Neb-Om, Alaska,MT, BSU, Duluth and MN State. If they add Fairbanks and Air Force, they will be set and survive nicely. THe CCHA will finally need to add UAH, which they never should have denied in the first place.

  • PeteS

    Anyone know if Illinois is considering moving up to D1 hockey? Especially with the news that a Big10 conference would be formed.

  • Painter

    What about Ill, Iowa, and Prudue step out of the shadows of club sport and into the big leagues. Even if the Big Ten helps out with loans to get the clubs into Div 1.

  • AnOn

    How is it that they are signing players but dont have a coach?