Depending on who you are, we are anywhere between eight and 10 games into the 2013-14 season. With most teams playing a 36-game regular-season schedule, that mean’s we’re about a quarter of the way into it.
When you phrase it like that, it sounds like we’re really far into the season and we now have a pretty decent idea as to how good all these teams are. But in actuality we’re still only between eight and 10 games into the season which really isn’t that many.
This leads to a debate I’ve been having with myself for the last day or so: how long into a college hockey season do you have to wait until you can make a reasonable judgment about a team? I mean, this isn’t the NHL, where the quarter mark actually has merit because that’s 20 games played. In college 20 games is more than half the regular season.
So do you have to wait until the 20 game mark in college too? Or since teams are only playing twice a week, is the quarter mark still a realistic target? I don’t know; that’s why I’m proposing this question because it’s been driving me nuts. Were you expecting some sort of thoughtful, Zen answer that would solve all of the little questions of life? Ha yeah good one, joke’s on you.
I mean, It would be rather pleasant to believe this quarter mark is an accurate portrayal of what to expect for the rest of the season. Because that would mean that BG is No. 2 in the WCHA, with a chance to ascend to No. 1 this weekend by virtue of playing current top team, Ferris State.
But that would also mean you have some guys — namely everyone on Minnesota State — who are much worse than expected. And that doesn’t make as much sense to me.
TWITTER POLL. I actually care what you think on this matter, because I think it could be a very thoughtful discussion. I’m more inclined to lean toward “you need more than 10 games,” but I can understand both viewpoints.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get into the area of this in which I really don’t care about your opinion.
1. Ferris State (LW: 1): Another week, another lackadaisical WCHA sweep for the Bulldogs, who needed overtime to beat Bemidji 5-4 on Friday, and won 5-3 on Saturday. As we touched on yesterday, Ferris has been worse than they normally are on defense, but have been dynamite offensively. Which is so perplexing to me that I can’t really even comprehend it. This is a team that scored 96 goals last year. Currently at 35, they’re more than a third of the way there already. They’re scoring more than a goal-per-game more than they did last season. Is that sustainable? I guess the answer to that depends on how you answer the question I posed above. As a team, Ferris is scoring on only about 12 percent of its shots. Last year they were at 9 percent, so that’s a bit higher, but it’s not a gross outlier that’s bound for a massive correction.
2. Bowling Green (LW: 3): A steady climb up the standings the last two weeks for the Falcons, who benefited first from Lake’s incompetence and then its strong effort against the team directly above last weekend. BG’s got a chance to complete that ascent this weekend, with another series with the team directly above it. Speaking of statistical differences, this year BG goalies are stopping 91.4 percent of shots faced, up from 90.9 last year. Goals-against is also down to 2.2 per game, from 2.5 last year. This biggest reason for that is fewer opponent shots. Last year, BG allowed 27.7 shots per game. This year, that number is 24.6. Burke and Sholl have been great, but major credit is due to the defensemen and forwards for helping limit shots.
3. Minnesota State (LW: 2): At what point do the Mavericks have to be concerned about preseason All-WCHA goalie Stephon Williams, who was yanked in Friday’s loss to BG and watched from the bench Saturday as his backup, Cole Huggins, posted a 33-save shutout? Also, what about preseason All-WCHA forward Matt Leitner? He’s missed two games with injury this season, and in the six games he has played, he has a pedestrian three assists. Not much going right in Mankato right now, but I suppose the good news for them is they’re still .500 and have a lot of room for improvement.
4. Lake Superior (LW: 4): The Lakers FINALLY played a WCHA series, getting the pleasure of hosting Alaska in its first outside-of-Alaska series. Lake took advantage of some potentially jet-lagged Nanooks with a 4-1 win Friday (in which Alaska went 0-for-8 on the power play), but fell in overtime the next night, 3-2. Three more goals for freshman Alex Globke on the weekend, who now has five goals and six helpers through eight games. He’s scored points in seven of those games. Dan Radke assisted on two of those goals, and he has eight assists in eight games. Add in Colin Campbell’s modest five points and that line has been among the best in the WCHA so far this season.
5. Alaska (LW: 5): Alaska FINALLY ventured outside its home state to play games, but we just talked about that. They get a weekend off to prepare for another road series, this time at Ferris State. John Keeney had his best start of the season in Saturday’s win, stopping 27 of 29 shots.
6. Michigan Tech (LW: 7): After a tough weekend against Michigan, the Huskies stayed within The Mitten last weekend, taking on Michigan State, with slightly better results. Tech swept Sparty, with 3-0 and 3-2 (OT) wins. Pheonix “yes that’s really how it’s spelt” Copley appears to have taken control of net duties, getting both starts in goal. He wasn’t particularly busy but he was great, getting a 19-save shutout Friday and stopping 17 of 19 shots Saturday. He has a 1.86 GAA and a .938 save percent in eight starts this season. We also had an Alex Petan sighting! He had two goals and an assist on the weekend. Tech is now 3-1 in games in which he scores a goal, 0-5-1 in games he does not. Funny, right?
7. Northern Michigan (LW: 8): Northern decided to be rebels this weekend and play their games on Saturday/Sunday, instead of Friday/Saturday. Maybe they should do that more often because it worked out pretty well. They played the weekend at Western Michigan, winning 5-4 Friday and tying 2-2 Saturday. They played a super senior top line of Erik Higby – Stephan Vigier – Reed Seckel on Friday and had marvelous results, with the trio combining for five goals … and zero assists. Greedy forwards. Anyway, Vigier has turned into a little sniper this year, with 10 goals in 10 games. He had 23 goals in his first three seasons, 113 games, at Northern. He might surpass that in just 36 games this season.
8. Bemidji State (LW: 6): It wasn’t a bad weekend for the Beavers, in fact it was as good of a weekend you could have without getting any points, but the fact of the matter is they did not get any points. So far this season, goalie Andrew Walsh had been their biggest asset. Well, Ferris took him for a ride this weekend. Walsh made 38 saves in Friday’s overtime loss, but he still allowed five goals. Saturday, he allowed four goals in the first period before he was mercifully pulled in favor of Reid Mimmack. Never heard of him? No surprise. It was the first time he’s played this season. It’s clear Bemidji plans to ride Walsh hard this year, so he’s gotta get his head back on straight or it could be a rough go. Luckily for them, he get’s a pretty soft test this weekend with home games against Alaska-Anchorage.
9. Alaska-Anchorage (LW: 9): Good news for Anchorage, they got a sweep this weekend! Somewhat important footnote, it came at home. Against Huntsville. Thanks to this, the Seawolves are currently tied for fourth in the WCHA. Thankfully, they are no longer the Alaska team with the highest votes total in the USCHO poll. But somehow they’re still getting five votes. Who votes for this thing? Do they even pay attention to anything? I mean, I dug for five minutes a couple weeks ago and could’ve told you Anchorage was a fluke. I’m pretty sure I did tell you they were a fluke. Get with the program, guys and gals.
10. Alabama-Huntsville (LW: 10): I almost feel bad for Huntsville at this point. Another weekend, another two losses and they are now 0-8. And neither game was really tightly contested. They only lost 3-1 Friday, but were outshot 33-14. They were actually playing well Saturday, losing only 2-1 and holding a 16-15 shot edge after two, but then they allowed four third-period goals. When’s that first win coming? They host St. Cloud this weekend, who is No. 4 in the nation. That one is going to be pretty ugly. Or UAH shocks the world and I spend the whole weekend laughing at the zero St. Cloud fans that I know.