Remember last week when I said Ferris State was a weekend sweep away from pretty much salting away the WCHA top-seed. I do because you know, it seemed like a smart idea at the time.
As it turns out, I made a faux pas.
Not only did Ferris not sweep Minnesota State, the Bulldogs were swept by Minnesota State. Now, even with Ferris having two games in hand over teams two through five in the standings, the race for No. 1 is on.
But that’s not the most interesting thing that happened in the series. Nope! There was a LINE BRAWL that was as good as any I’ve seen since BG and Miami had a kerfuffle in 2010. Two players from Mankato (Zach Stepan, Teddy Blueger) and one from Ferris (Justin DeMartino) got handed game DQs, meaning they’ll miss their next game. Meanwhile, Ferris goalie C.J. Motte racked up 25 penalty minutes (he got two game misconducts!) and we nearly had a goalie fight. That would’ve been the best.
As has been mentioned elsewhere, you had to figure there would be new rivalries developing in the new WCHA. Gotta love it when it’s the best two teams in the league getting into it. Makes things more exciting. Speaking of exciting, let’s get into the rankings:
1. Minnesota State (LW: 3): Delivering on my promise from last week, Mankato took down the big dawg (no pun intended?) twice this weekend. Even more impressive when you consider they were only a few days returned through an Alaskan odyssey that say them go 1-3-0. They still don’t control their own destiny in the WCHA — they stand two points behind Ferris and have played two more games — but they’re in a much better place than they could’ve been. They’re 17th in the Pairwise rankings, meaning they eventually could find themselves in a spot from an at-large NCAA Tournament berth.
2. Ferris State (LW: 1): I think this is the first time since the initial power rankings that Ferris isn’t in the top spot. Just a bump in the road, sure. As I said a few weeks ago with Huntsville, it’s really hard to hit the zero extremes in college hockey. It’s really hard to go winless, and it’s really hard to go unbeaten. They’re still a top-five team in Pairwise, so the sky is not falling, and their schedule the rest of the season is pretty tame. They should rebound this weekend against Michigan Tech.
3. Bowling Green (LW: 2): The Falcons had a chance to rest this weekend. It will be interesting to see if the bye week took away any of the juice BG had built up on its recent 4-0-1 run. Playing into the Falcons advantage is, 1). They’re at home and, 2). Lake has been about as good as brussels sprouts the last few weeks.
4. Alaska Anchorage (LW: 4): Considering their track record outside of Alaska, they Seawolves had a pretty good weekend against Huntsville, winning once and tying once. As BG learned late last year, you don’t want to give up points to a team you should beat, but any time Anchorage can get points on the road I’m sure they’ll take it.
5. Michigan Tech (LW: 5): The Huskies, like BG, had a bye this weekend. Unlike BG, their current standings placement is a little hairy. They’re in a three-way tie for seventh with Alaska and Lake. Playing into the Huskies’ advantage is they have two fewer games played than Alaska and the same number as Lake.
6. Northern Michigan (LW: 8): Northern split with Alaska this weekend and is now in the driver’s seat going forward with the standings. They’re all alone in sixth in the league, and have four games in hand on the four teams in front of them, and two in hand on the two teams directly behind them.
7. Bemidji State (LW: 6): Tough draw for Bemidji this weekend against North Dakota, whom they lost and tied with. They’re just outside the first round home playoff barrier in fifth, and if the season ended today they would play at Anchorage in the first round. I think I would rather play at Ferris than at Anchorage at this point.
8. Alaska (LW: 9): We finally have some movement from the bottom of our standings! Alaska pulled into a three-way tie for seventh by splitting with Northern this weekend. With two more games played than either of the teams they’re tied with, they still have an uphill battle. But they’re moving in the right direction. They’ve pick up at least a point in five-straight WCHA weekends, dating back to the first series of December.
9. Lake Superior (LW: 7): Oh how the Lakers have fallen. Sure, they would still be a playoff team if the season ended today. Unfortunately for them, it does not end today and they are trending in the wrong direction. Yes, Notre Dame is a good (not great) team, but they lost both games by a combined 10-5 score. They’re 32nd in Pairwise now, after getting pretty close to the top-10 early this season. They play at BG this weekend, so it’s a great chance for the Falcons to make a bad situation for the Lakers even worse.
10. Alabama Huntsville (LW: 10): The Chargers got a point this weekend, their third of the season. At this point, they’re just getting experience and playing the role of potential spoiler. They’re off this weekend, and are in Alaska to take on Fairbanks next weekend.