There were 12 games involving WCHA teams this past weekend. Nine of them went to overtime. And seven ended in ties. By this reporter’s count there’s been 26 total overtime games involving WCHA teams (13 were in conference games, and nine of those ended in ties… I think…. math is hard).
Aside from causing just about every beat reporter in the WCHA to want to toss their computers to the ice in frustration at least once over the weekend, the ties also further muddled up the standings. There hasn’t been one dominant team this season, but now we have two teams (Michigan Tech and Minnesota State) tied for first with 12 points, and two other teams (Bowling Green and Ferris State) tied for third with 10.
It raised the question: Does the WCHA (or even the NCAA?) need to go to 3-on-3 overtime? The NCHC started that this season. As my colleague Shane Frederick suggested, maybe the WCHA can award a point for getting to overtime and an extra point to whomever wins the 3-on-3. (Then a shootout, if necessary.)
Look, we all hate shootouts, but making games worth an extra point would give teams an extra incentive to get that extra goal. And it could also create more separation in the standings, which have always been extremely close during the three years of the newly-reformatted league.
Not sure it will ever happen, but it’s worth discussing after a weekend like this.
Going Bowling (Green)
The only WCHA series that didn’t have at least one tie still went to overtime (and both games were decided by just one goal). Bowling Green beat Alabama Huntsville 3-2 in overtime on Friday night before surviving a pair of UAH comeback attempts Saturday for a 4-3 victory.
It was the first conference sweep for the Falcons this season, and it extended their three-game win streak to move them into a tie for third place with Ferris State.
It also further cemented BG’s reputation as a solid defensive team. Goaltender Chris Nell leads the league with a 1.48 goals against and a .949 save percentage (both of which put him in the top 10 nationally). And the Falcons’ team defense has given up just 26 goals in 13 games (which is also top-10 quality).
Tech’s cardiac kids
Michigan Tech, visiting Michigan State for the first time since 1986, made their trip downstate worth it. On both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, Tech rallied to score the game-tying goal with less than two minutes to play.
On Saturday, Mark Auk’s first goal of the season sent the game to overtime while Tyler Heinonen’s game winner with 41 seconds to play gave the Huskies their first win over the Spartans in East Lansing since 1981.
On Sunday afternoon, the Huskies trailed 4-2 with less than four minutes to go in regulation. Heinonen scored again to cut the lead to one before Malcolm Gould scored with the extra attacker to tie the game.
It was the first nonconference test for the Huskies, and although it was against an MSU program that’s been down in the 2010s, Tech is proving they’re a force to be reckoned with, from a competition standpoint as well as a recruiting standpoint, in their home state.