Other than the BG games, did you follow any college hockey this weekend? No? OK fine whatever. I’LL FILL YOU IN.
In non-WCHA news, the No. 2 team in the nation (Wisconsin) lost a pair of games to Boston-area schools. One (Boston College) entered the weekend No. 6. The other (Boston University) was not ranked. Wisconsin lost to BC 9-2. It lost to BU 7-3. I tell this story for multiple reasons. First, that’s really funny. Two, the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the score to the BC game was, “haha holy crap BG plays BC this year that’s not good.” I actually didn’t say holy crap, but I don’t think I’m allowed to publish what I actually said. And third, sometimes even the (perceived) best teams in the nation have bad (to put it lightly) weekends. Perspective!
In other non-WCHA news, I experienced my first non-BG college hockey game at the Air Force Academy, as the Falcons (symmetry!) took on Penn State. The whole experience was weird. There no hostility from the home crowd prior to about 30 seconds left in the game, when the Air Force student section started chanting “Uncle Jerry,” at Penn State. Yeah, real original, I’m sure they haven’t heard that one before. But that was it. Seriously. There was no, “who’s he, NOBODY!” No, “see ya, bye bye, JACKASS!” Fans stood and politely clapped as Penn State was introduced. When Penn State was back at full strength, they merely shouted, “Who cares?” And, I get it; military people are arguably the most well-mannered and respectful people in the world. But c’mon, it’s a hockey game. I almost had a stroke out of pure shock and disappointment.
I tell this story because congratulations BG fans, you’re still the best home crowd I’ve experienced. Granted, I’ve only been to four different rinks, but fans at Notre Dame are either students or old people, and Miami fans are just annoying.
Now onto the WCHA. It was a much better weekend for teams of our beloved conference, possibly because Alabama-Huntsville didn’t play. OK, that was a cheap shot. Anyway, teams that did play combined to go 9-7-2. That’s a winning record! It’s not a great record, but baby steps. Let’s dig in.
1. Minnesota State (LW: 2): All is right in the world again. The Mavericks swept UConn to get back to .500 for the season. Granted, UConn is terrible, but once again, baby steps. After having an abysmal opening weekend, goalie Stephon Williams allowed only two goals all weekend. He only faced 17 shots in each game. But it’s a start.
2. Lake Superior (LW: 5): Wait what? Yep, this is no typo. The Lakers have been the most impressive team in the WCHA early this season. And it really hasn’t been close. After a fantastic defensive effort in a sweep of Robert Morris, they brought out the big guns for game one against Union in an overtime win, before shutting the door again Saturday to complete the sweep. The Lakers are now 4-0 and No. 15 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, the only WCHA team to be ranked. Kevin Murdock started his third straight game Friday, yielding five goals on 34 shots. He was picked up by his offense, which was led by Stephen Perfetto’s four points. That subpar start caused Jim Roque to go to Kevin Kapalka for the first time this season on Saturday, and he stopped 46 of 48 shots in the win. It appears that Lake’s two-goalie system is back in full swing.
3. Ferris State (LW: 1): Ferris falls, but still had an OK weekend, splitting with a St. Lawrence team that is 3-1 on the season. In an interesting turn of events, Charles Williams started game one instead of C.J. Motte (Motte started game two). As we touched on in the first edition of these rankings, Motte is one of the better goalies in the nation. However, he has only started three of Ferris’ five games this season. Makes you wonder if the staff really, REALLY likes Charles Williams, or if there’s something else going on there.
4. Bowling Green (LW: 6): We talked a lot about BG yesterday, so no need to go into too much detail here. The team continues to excel offensively without Ryan Carpenter, in large part due to Bryce Williamson’s blazing hot start to the season. BG has this weekend off, before taking on Ohio State next Tuesday.
5. Alaska (LW: 4): The Nanooks once again had a good weekend, defeating Denver in overtime and tying (and beating in a shootout) Western Michigan. Alaska is now 2-1-1 on the season. However, the Nanooks have yet to play a game outside of Alaska. Their next two series’ are also at home. I’m choosing to reserve judgment on this team until they start to travel.
6. Michigan Tech (LW: 3): The Huskies got swept, in pretty brutal fashion, by Notre Dame this weekend. Yes, Notre Dame is really good. But the Huskies were supposed to be one of the strongest teams in the WCHA. They’re now 0-3-1 on the season. Alex Petan has one point in four games (and 23 penalty minutes!). Really, this joke isn’t funny anymore. You shut him down, you shut the Huskies down. Not good when your offense that that one-dimensional.
7. Northern Michigan (LW: 8): After a tough first weekend against Wisconsin (which doesn’t really look as tough anymore), the Wildcats rebounded to have a nice weekend against Nebraska-Omaha. They lost the first game, 2-1, before rebounding to defeat the Mavericks 6-3 on Saturday. Northern split reps in goal again, with Mathias Dahlstrom starting Friday and stopping 29 of 31 shots in the loss. Michael Doan started Saturday and was slightly less impressive in the win, stopping 19 of 22 shots.
8. Alaska-Anchorage (LW: 7): If we’re going by the USCHO top-20 poll, technically Anchorage is the third best team in the WCHA. However, like their in-state counterparts, they have yet to play a game outside the state of Alaska, so I remain skeptical for now. They split this weekend, also defeating Denver in overtime. But, unlike their in-state counterparts, they got crushed by Western Michigan, 6-2.
9. Bemidji State (LW: 9): The Beavers have had one of the toughest schedules in the nation so far this year, which is almost exclusively to blame for their 0-3-1 record. They got swept by Minnesota this weekend, nothing to feel shame about seeing as the Gophers are now the No. 1 team in the country. However, getting outscored 11-4 is not going to win you any sympathy points. Bemidji gets a much more manageable series this weekend against Alabama-Huntsville, albeit it being on the road. Speaking of which …
10. Alabama-Huntsville (LW: 10): How about that transition? As mentioned above, the Chargers did not play this weekend. For the fourth straight week, Huntsville brings up the rear in these rankings. But! They have a chance to claw their way out of the basement against Bemidji this weekend. Woohoo! Battle for the basement! I might be the only person in the world excited for that.