I don’t know if any of you were as bored as I was last weekend but here’s a word of advice for you: get used to it.
After the Northern Michigan series this coming weekend, BG hockey will officially check out on 2014. We get three straight weekends with no Falcon hockey. That’s kind of unfortunate, because that’s stuff I don’t get to do for awhile. I guess it’s time for everyone to recharge the batteries?
I don’t have any funny anecdotes for you again this week, so before we jump into it we can take a gander at the actual WCHA standings, in case you decided to not pay attention at all this weekend.
Michigan Tech still checks in at No. 1 with 20 points (it had only 24 last year I think, so that’s funny). Minnesota State isn’t far behind with 18, while BG has 14.
The kicker here is Tech has played 12 games and Minnesota State has played 10, while BG has only played eight. So those point totals are a little misleading, because theoretically, both MSU and BG could leapfrog Tech just by playing catchup.
After those three we start to get the divide. I could type it all out but it’s easier to just show you:
There’s a pretty clear divide between those top three teams and the rest. This is actually a pretty big weekend for that. If BG heads to Northern and gets four points, that’s where that divide is. If Northern takes a game or two, then you’re looking at a team that’s perhaps ready to challenge those top three. It’ll be a fun test for BG for reasons we’ll get into in just a second.
1. Minnesota State (LW: 1): All is right in Mavland, as the Mavericks eviscerated Lake Superior this weekend by a combined score of 10-0. Stephon Williams started both games in net because I’m pretty sure Cole Huggins’ sophomore year is unofficially officially over. Williams stopped all 45 shots he faced this weekend and all of the sudden has a 1.52 GAA and .931 save percent. Funny enough, that save percent is only sixth-best in the WCHA. That’s nuts.
I don’t think there’s any need to continue to discuss the Mavs’ offensive proficiency. They have seven guys already with at least 11 points. They’re scoring half a goal per game more than anyone else. I don’t know that they keep that up, but right now the Mavericks are a wrecking ball crushing their way through WCHA defenses. Sadly, or I guess fortunately depending on your point of view, BG does not play them again this year.
2. Michigan Tech (LW: 3): Tech restored some order to the bottom of the league by sweeping Huntsville this weekend, though it appears that Jamie Phillips guy might be coming back down to earth.
Phillips had his worst weekend of the year (even though it wasn’t really that bad). He gave up only two goals each night, but that came on 14- and 15-shot nights by Huntsville. That’s not a good save percentage. But he was helped out by his offense, namely a three-point weekend from freshman Dylan Steman, which more than doubled his point total for the season. Oh, also Alex Petan had three points and Tanner Kero added four so the usual suspects doing their thing.
Kero has 18 points in 14 games, which is seven less than he had in 40 games last year. That’s funny. He’s already tied a career-high with 13 assists. Petan, meanwhile, has 15 in 14 games, which isn’t really close to his career-high, but it’s more than halfway to last year’s 28 points. So they’re doing OK this year.
3. Bowling Green (LW: 2): The challenge for BG going forward that head coach Chris Bergeron talked about today and I’m sure you’ll read about at some point this week is this is a new experience for the team. They aren’t used to this kind of success. So they’re kind of heading into uncharted waters at this point in the season.
The good news? Well, that’s was already good news. The better news? The Falcons have eight players with at least seven points. Dan DeSalvo, Adam Berkle, Mark Cooper and Brent Tate are not among those eight players. Their talent suggests that by the end of the season, they should be among the team’s leading scorers. That sounds like big second halves waiting to happen.
4. Northern Michigan (LW: 4): Northern finished its obnoxious two-week odyssey through Alaska with a split against the Nanooks, a 3-0 loss followed by a 4-1 win.
In big news, extraterrestrial life form goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom gave up three in two periods Friday and Northern FINALLY put Michael Doan in net, playing him the third period of Friday’s game. So you think Dahlstrom is starting to cool off? He was like “Nah” and posted a 29-save performance Saturday. Oh ho hum. He still leads the world with a 1.19 GAA and .952 save percent. That’s not quite true because his save percent is second to the .953 that Mike Santaguida (he has Santa in his name!!!!) of Vermont has posted. But you get the idea. He’s really good and BG will get the opportunity to face him this weekend.
5. Bemidji State (LW: 8): No one really deserved this spot but Bemidji gets it because it had the best win of the weekend.
After dropping game one 6-3 to St. Cloud, the Beavers came back for a 4-1 win Saturday to end a 7-game losing streak, which all came against ranked teams. I said last week that Bemidji can play these teams tough, but if it wants to be seen as a threat in the league it has to start winning. So Saturday was a good start. The Beavers’ schedule softens up a bit to end the first half with games at Anchorage and at home against Northern. It’ll be a good opportunity for them to prove they’re better than their record indicates.
6. Alaska (LW: 9): Once again, no one really deserved this spot, but Alaska had the second best win of the weekend (read: it was the only other team with a win this weekend).
The Nanoonks played Northern tough, obviously getting a win and providing some evidence that perhaps Mathias Dahlstrom is indeed an earthling. But Saturday’s performance wasn’t all that great. Tyler Morley is playing well. My preseason WCHA Player of the Year (SHAMELESS PLUG) was in on all three goals Friday, and now has 13 points in 12 games this year. He appears to have recovered well from offseason surgery.
7. Alaska-Anchorage (LW: 7): The Seawolves didn’t play last weekend, which means they didn’t do anything to embarrass themselves. They host Bemidji this weekend. Freshman goalie Olivier Mantha is having a pretty strong year, and is probably one of the top two picks for WCHA Rookie of the Year (along with C.J. Franklin of Minnesota State) if the season ended today. He has a 2.26 GAA and .935 save percent.
8. Alabama-Huntsville (LW: 6): It was a fun run while it lasted for Huntsville up at six. One week, but still.
The Chargers came crashing back to earth a little bit, getting swept at home by Michigan Tech. Not necessarily unsurprising, but obviously you hate to get swept at home. Especially for a team that was on a pretty strong run the last few weeks.
Carmine Guerriero stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced Friday, and yielded to Matt Larose Saturday. He stopped 32 of 36. The Chargers have taken a huge step forward in the first half of this season, even though they technically are back in last in the standings. That improvement is good for the WCHA. But I don’t know how much more improvement they’ll get this year if they continue to get outshot by 20 each night. That’s a lot of ice baths for your goalies.
9. Ferris State (LW: 5): Oh Ferris. What has become of you? What will become of you?
You look at the box scores from this weekend and you see, “oh, Ferris tied and lost to Wisconsin. No big deal there, right?” Normally, no. But this is not your average Wisconsin team. No it is not.
You see, heading into this weekend, Wisconsin had an 0-8-0 record, against national powerhouses such as Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage, Northern Michigan and Colorado College. In case you didn’t pick up on the sarcasm, those programs aren’t really powerhouses.
In fairness to Wisconsin, it also lost to a strong Denver team and was swept by a really good North Dakota team. But you now, the Badgers hadn’t won yet. They hadn’t even tied yet. Until Ferris game to town. You bet the Bulldogs still wish they had pushed back a series with BG to face the Badgers last weekend?
Well Ferris is now 7-7-1 overall but they’re still fifth in the league because the bottom of this conference is turning into a dumpster fire. I don’t know man. Luckily for them, the Bulldogs get this weekend off before taking on Lake the following weekend. Maybe they get it turned around. But when you give a team, no matter how talented, its first two positive results of the season — 10 games in no less — you get this bump down. Good riddance.
10. Lake Superior (LW: 10): Speaking of good riddance, a week after a good split, the Lakers have a chance to come out and make a name for themselves against a great team and … well … we know how that ended.
With six points in the standings, Lake still sits in sixth, two points ahead of the giant boondoggle that is the four-way tie for seventh. But…..three of those teams have played eight WCHA games, and the fourth has played 10. Lake has played 12. As in, after it plays Ferris on the 12th and 13th, it will have played more than half its league schedule and no one else in the league will be able to say that. So it’ll be an uphill battle for the Lakers in the second half if they hope to snag a playoff spot.