I have a selectively bad memory.
I don’t know how much sense that makes, so allow me to elaborate. I got knocked on the head a lot when I was younger (and even when I was older), so generally speaking my memory is not good. Like, I’ve had instances when I’ll have a conversation with someone during the day, and they will try and recount that conversation to me later that same day and I won’t have any clue what they’re talking about. It’s kind of bad.
That being said, I’ll have these random, completely unimportant things that I’ve experienced in the past that I’ll remember. I had one of those instances this week when I was combing through the WCHA standings and noticed that Bemidji State had a pretty strong weekend against Minnesota State.
I’ve been pretty mean to Bemidji in these rankings for really no reason. Last week, I said that, and I quote, “The Mavs should have fun this weekend as they take on Bemidji State.” Minnesota State most certainly did not have fun against Bemidji, losing 4-1 on Friday and needing two third-period goals to pick up a 4-3 win Saturday. I also vowed to apologize to Bemidji in the event they actually did something, so here I am saying I’m sorry Bemidji for being mean to your team. I’m sure every Bemidji State player/coach/administrator/student/alumni/fan was dying while waiting to hear that.
By virtue of being one of three WCHA teams to have four conference games under its belts, Bemidji remains on top of the league standings with six points. I don’t mean that to be condescending at all; winning three of four games is nothing to scoff at. The Beavers took care of business against Huntsville and pretty much outplayed Mankato — the supposed class of the WCHA — this weekend.
So now I’ll have to direct my ire elsewhere this week. Might as well start with the team that made me have to apologize. Let’s dig in.
1. Ferris State (LW: 3): I briefly touched on this in Morning Observations yesterday, but Ferris had a solid, if not unspectacular sweep against Huntsville. They won pretty easily Friday, 5-0, but needed two sort of late-ish third period goals to pick up a 3-2 win Saturday. All is right in the world again as C.J. Motte started both games and was solid. Fun fact: despite Charles Williams having better numbers than Motte (2.03 GAA and .931 sv% to 2.20 GAA and .917 sv%), Motte is 5-0 while Williams is 0-2. Hockey is weird sometimes.
2. Minnesota State (LW: 1): As badly as I wanted to drop the Mavs down another spot, I really couldn’t justify it. No, not because of how the Mavs played, because of what Lake did against Wisconsin. More on that later. Anyway, the Mavericks were expected to be the class of this league and thus far they have not been. Star forward Matt Leitner was out this weekend against the Beavers, and senior defensemen Josh Nelson is likely going to be out this weekend and could be out longer. They’ve been absolutely abysmal on the power play, running at 8.8 percent. Junior forward Zach Lerhrke, a force on their power play last season and had 25 points in total, retired back in September due to medical issues. That hasn’t helped matters. All-league goalie Stephon Williams has a 2.92 GAA and a sub-.900 save percent. They are reeling a little bit, which means it’s probably a bad thing for them that they’re facing a team that is 2-0 in league play with a 7-1 goal differential this weekend.
3. Bowling Green (LW: 4): Speaking of that team that’s 2-0 in league play with a 7-1 goal differential. As I said yesterday, don’t get too excited with the sweep of Anchorage. Positive? Yes, but it’s not like it was some world-class achievement. BG gets its toughest part of the schedule in the next four weeks, taking on arguably the three best teams in the league (Mankato twice) with three of those coming on the road. It’ll be a great measuring stick for the Falcons. And, as I said above, this is probably the best time to face Mankato, when they’re still trying to figure stuff out.
4. Lake Superior (LW: 2): I had really high hopes for Lake, I really did. The Lakers had a chance to make a statement against Wisconsin this weekend, but instead got completely disemboweled. Four minutes and nine second into Friday’s game, Lake was up 3-0 on the Badgers. In the final 121 minutes of this weekend set, Lake was outscored 11-1. That’s gross. They were outshot 88-47 on the weekend. For some stupid reason, Jim Roque left Kevin Murdock in for all eight goals against Saturday. They get Alaska, at home, this weekend for their first WCHA series. It’ll also be Alaska’s first trip outside its home state this season, so that probably plays into Lake’s advantage.
5. Alaska (LW: 5): Another week, another blandly solid effort for the Nanooks, who split with Northern Michigan. In Friday’s 5-4 win, they had remarkable balance. Fourteen of the 18 players who skated out had a point. Only Jared Linnell had a multi-point effort with two assists. Freshman Davis Jones had the slightly better effort in goal in Saturday’s 2-1 loss, stopping 28 of 30 shots. They also have five players with at least seven points in their eight games. That’s pretty remarkable.
6. Bemidji State (LW: 8): Bemidji gets the big bump this week for its aforementioned efforts against Mankato. We knew their goaltending would have to be its strong suit this year, and it has. Andrew Walsh stopped 27 of 28 shots in Friday’s 4-1 win, and 27 of 30 shots in Saturday’s 4-3 loss. Yes, Bemidji gave up an empty-net goal in a game it only lost by one. Mankato scored the empty netter with 10 second left in the game, and Bemidji got it back nine seconds later. That’s funny. Anyway, Walsh has started all eight games this season and has a 2.49 GAA and a .915 save percent. But offensively they’ve held up too. Overall, they’re fifth in the WCHA with 2.75 goals per game. In only conference games, they’re tied for second with 3.5 goals per game. But that kind of doesn’t count because their first series was against Huntsville, who is allowing 4.5 goals per game this season. Bemidji gets another tough test this weekend against Ferris. At this point, I’m not sure I’d bet against the Beavers making more noise.
7. Michigan Tech (LW: 6): Tech had a very not successful weekend, losing twice. However, they lost twice to Michigan, who is now No. 2 in the nation (boy how quickly things change) and Tech lost each game by only a goal. So it really wasn’t that bad of a showing. Pheonix “yes that’s how it’s really spelt” Copley was phenomenal this weekend. He stopped 40 of 43 shots in Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss, and 28 of 30 in Saturday’s 2-1 loss. Despite an ugly 1-5 record, Copley has a 2.17 GAA and a .937 save percent. That’s pretty good. In other news, Tech is now 0-4-1 in games Alex Petan does not register a point. Granted, they’re only 1-2 in games in which he does score, but you get the point. They have little to no offense without him producing similarly to the 34 points in 37 game he did last season; they’re ninth in the league with 1.75 goals for per game.
8. Northern Michigan (LW: 7): We mentioned the result above, but there’s no shame in traveling to Alaska and earning a weekend split. Outside of forward Stephan Vigier (nine points) and defenseman C.J. Ludwig (eight points), the Wildcats have gotten not a lot of offensive production. But goalie Mathias Dahlstrom has been great and appears to have wrestled the timeshare away from Michael Doan. Doan started Friday and got yanked late in the second period after allowing five goals. Dahlstrom started Saturday and allowed only one.
9. Alaska-Anchorage (LW: 9): The good news for Anchorage is they won’t be the worst team in the league this season. But that’s probably only a small consolation prize. Once again, Anchorage got exposed this weekend after leaving Alaska for games. They won once outside their home state last year and I can’t imagine them having much more success this year. Even in Saturday’s 1-0 loss, when Rob Gunderson stopped 24 of 25 shots, they only got 16 shots on goal. When you lose a game 1-0 you should not be only getting 16 shots on goal. Good news for them, they get Huntsville this weekend. At home too!
10. Alabama-Huntsville (LW: 10): For the second time this season, Huntsville will have a chance to claw its way out of the basement with its upcoming weekend series. BATTLE OF THE BASEMENT ROUND TWO: ALASKAN STYLE!!!!!! I’m still probably the only person in America excited about that. You know how screwed up this team is? Remember talking about their goaltending last week? You know, about Matt Larose’s stellar 8.10 goals-against average and .786 save percent and Carmine Guerriero’s 1.91 GAA and .942 save percent? Well this weekend, Guerriero allowed five goals on 37 shots, while Larose allowed only three on 45 shots. Just, what? Who wants to take odds on when their first win will be? I mean, they did almost beat Ferris on Saturday. Mark my words they’ll win at least twice this year despite the fact that they really should not win any. Because, as I said above, hockey is weird sometimes.