Last weekend the college hockey season (un)officially kicked off with the start of actual games being played. They were games, yes, but almost everyone’s game was a preseason exhibition. Since the records and stats accumulated for these games don’t count — much unlike college football where Ohio State can get complete and total credit for dropping 55 in a half against Florida A&M …. zing! — this weekend was merely a way for coaches and players to get their legs under them before real games this weekend. Well, except for Ferris, who actually played a regular season series, and for Alabama-Huntsville and Bemidji, who did not have exhibition games scheduled. As we kind of have learned since forever that basing anything off these games is an exercise in futility, everything you read here will be a vast overreaction based on games that don’t actually count. Don’t worry though! The regular season is only two days away.
1. Minnesota State (LW: 1): The Mavericks did nothing to suggest their preseason ranking was unjustified, as they hammered Lethbridge, 7-1. Minnesota State posted 52 shots, to only 11 for the Horns (sidenote: the Horns?). All-WCHA goalie Stephon Williams allowed a goal in 29 minutes of action, posting a .750 save percent. But I guess that happens when you’re twiddling your thumbs for the majority of the game and only face four shots. The Mavericks had three with multi-point games, led by Matt Blueger’s goal and three assists.
2. Ferris State (LW: 2): Yes, Ferris actually played meaningful games this weekend. Because of that, I almost moved them up to No. 1 this week, but I couldn’t even come close to justifying that to myself. The Bulldogs split the weekend with Colgate, winning 7-4 and losing 1-0. Charles Williams started the second game in net for Ferris, and stopped 28 of 29 shots, a night after C.J. Motte stopped only 28 of 32. Alert! Goalie controversy in Big Rapids! Yes, that was a joke. Anyway, Ferris was rolling on all cylinders Friday night. Garrett Thompson and Justin Buzzeo each had a goal and two assists up front. Jason Binkley and Scott Czarnowczan each had a goal and an assist from the blueline. As I mentioned last week, not specifically but essentially implied, Ferris will have some offensive inconsistencies this year. But they showed that when they’re rolling, they’re going to be tough to stop.
3. Michigan Tech (LW:3): The Huskies came away with a 3-2 win against a Laurentian team that played both them and Northern Michigan tough. I thought this game was sort of close until I looked at the box score and saw that Michigan Tech put up 59 shots, in a 60 minute game. For those of you mathematicians out there, that’s nearly a shot a minute. The Huskies’ stallion (my bad on the weird syntax) Alex Petan essentially put the team on his back, scoring all three of the goals and posting nine of the shots. So there’s your recipe for beating Michigan Tech: shut down Alex Petan. After a freshman year in which he posted 34 points in 37 games, I think that’s going to be a lot easier said than done.
4. Bowling Green (LW: 5): I had to have some variation here, ya know? Well, I’m deeming BG’s win to be slightly more impressive. That, and if I had everyone in the exact same order this whole thing would be rather pointless. Anyway, it was an impressive debut for the Falcons, who outshot the Golden Hawks 46-9. Most importantly, you had multi-point games from four forwards who aren’t named Ryan Carpenter; Bryce Williamson’s goal and two assists might be most encouraging. BG was able to dress eight defensemen and only got a combined two assists — one coming from Ralfs Friebergs who I think everyone expects to have a huge year. The team will need more than one player on the blueline producing offense to have a strong year, in my humble opinion. Also, Tommy Burke and Tomas Sholl faced only a combined eight shots in their 50 minutes of work, which means no goalie questions will really be answered until this weekend against Union.
5. Alaska (LW: 4): Pretty easy win for Alaska to start the year, an 8-1 win against British Columbia. Six forward and two defensemen posted multi-point games, led by three each for Cody Kunyk (two goals, one assist) and Colton Beck (one goal, two assists). Alaska gave up 24 shots in the game and, oddly enough, it was their third string goalie who got the brunt of the action. Davis Jones stopped 14 of 15 shots in the third period.
6. Northern Michigan (LW: 7): Most variation! The Wildcats get the nod because they beat the same U.S. U-18 squad that Lake Superior lost to, and also took down the aforementioned Laurentian, by 3-1 and 3-2 scores, respectively. Northern was actually outshot by the U.S. 30-15, but new goalies Mathias Dahlstrom (40 minutes, 22 of 23 shots stopped) and Michael Doan (20 minutes, 7 of 7 shots stopped) were outstanding. Ryan Daugherty had two goals and an assist in the games. Losing Jared Coreau in net was a big loss, but if Dahlstrom and Doan can give the Wildcats similar production this year, they could be a sneaky good team.
7. Lake Superior (LW: 6): In reality, there’s no shame losing to a team that’s a part of the U.S. National Team Development Program. Even if everyone on the team is two or more years younger, they’re guys that are going to be playing at big-name programs in a few years. The Lakers had 41 shots in this game, and got two goals out of Dan Radke. Kevin Murdock and Kevin Kapalka split the game two the middle in net. Each made 13 saves — Kapalka on 15 shots on Murdock on 14 shots.
8. Alaska-Anchorage (LW: 9): The Seawolves get the nod here since they actually played a game this weekend. They beat the same British Columbia team their in-state rivals demolished, but this Alaska team only managed a 2-1 win. Freshman goalie Michael Matyas played the entire game in net, stopping 24 of 25 shots. Obviously the level of competition is not the same, but if he can play that well all year he should be able to steal a few games for a Seawolves team that will need to steal all the games it can.
9. Bemidji State (LW: 8): Did not play this weekend. Open the season Friday with a hellacious test at St. Cloud State.
10. Alabama-Huntsville (LW: 10): Also did not play this weekend. They start this weekend with a slightly less hellacious test against Northeastern. By the way, they have probably the worst non-conference schedule in the nation. They travel to Northeastern, to Notre Dame twice (once for a Thanksgiving tournament, once for a series with the Irish) and travel to Wisconsin. Their only home non-conference series is against St. Cloud.