Hi guys. It’s been awhile.
A long while. I will not lie it’s been so long since I’ve written one of these I had to go back and look at where I had everyone at. The joys of my brain. And long layoffs.
Well a lot has happened since we last got together. Not from a BG hockey perspective. We touched on that this morning. But from a WCHA perspective, a lot has gone on.
For example, Minnesota State had a game cancelled against Princeton due to a large number of players falling ill at the same time. If you’re more than a casual fan (which I assume applies to most everyone who reads this) you already knew that. But man, that’s crazy
Additionally, Michigan Tech is potentially starting to show some cracks in their armor, Huntsville is potentially starting to turn a corner, Alaska isn’t going away quietly and I still don’t know what’s going on with Ferris. Oh, and apparently pop-up ads are starting to become a thing again, which is really annoying me. You know, fun stuff. Let’s dig in.
- Minnesota State (LW: 1): It’s been status quo with the Mavericks, who were 2-0-1 the last few weeks. Obviously only getting three of four points at Northern is a bit of a speed bump, but if your “off” weekends consist of wins and ties, you’re in a pretty good spot.
What was surprising to me was that Cole Huggins is apparently not going to be just cast away to ride the pine the rest of the season. He shut out Princeton, and then allowed only one goal to Northern. Granted, he didn’t face a ton of shots, but I think we’re deep enough into the season to conclude that Minnesota State’s defensive strategy is going to be “blistering offense.” It’s hard to say him being back makes the Mavericks much better, because Stephon Williams has been playing well and obviously you’re only playing one goalie a game. But it certainly adds another dimension to the team, especially if Williams struggles.
- Bowling Green (LW: 3): A long layoff for the Falcons seemingly didn’t hurt, and they took three of four imaginary points against Robert Morris last weekend, and are now No. 11 in the country. The Falcons schedule in the second half sets up nicely for a big win total. But as we observed last weekend with Michigan Tech (more on that in a second), it also leaves little margin for error. If BG hopes to be in a position for an NCAA at-large bid, it cannot afford to slip up against the host of teams it has coming up that currently rank outside the top 20 in Pairwise.
- Michigan Tech (LW: 2): Tech had a bit of a rough few weeks. First, it lost to a good-not-great Michigan team in the Great Lakes Invitational (a team that, by the way, was playing without second-leading-scorer Dylan Larkin). Then, even more egregiously, the Huskies fell to one-win Wisconsin. How colossal was that loss? It dropped the Huskies from No. 5 to 13 in Pairwise. That’s a huge drop. So that kind of paints a bit of a frightening picture for BG fans should the Falcons slip up against a team like Lake Superior, currently sitting at No. 54 in Pairwise.
- Alaska (LW: 5): Have to give huge credit to the Nanooks, who have not let their postseason ban derail their season. One this is for sure, they’re not a team you’re going to want to play down the stretch, and the will present a huge test for BG this weekend.
The Nanooks swept both Huntsville and Ferris State the last few weeks, but combined scores of 14-2. Tyler Morley is second in the WCHA with 20 points in 18 games, and Davis Jones stopped 77 of 79 shots during that four-game run.
- Bemidji State (LW: 6): Did you know that Bemidji State is riding a five-game unbeaten streak? Yup. The Beavers have not lost a game since Nov. 28 against St. Cloud. Since then, the Beavers are 2-0-3.
Yeah, it’s not a terribly impressive record. But it’s a step in the right direction for the Beavers, who are four points behind (and have two games in hand on) Northern, which holds the final first-round home-ice slot. They start the second half with a toss-up weekend set hosting Huntsville, before traveling to Lake for a series. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say these next two weeks will go a long way in determining the Beavers’ playoff seeding this spring.
- Northern Michigan: (LW: 4): Goaltending is kind of flukey sometimes in terms of health. It’s like being a pitcher. Our bodies can only handle so much strain.
So it’s impossible to sit here and say “Northern rode Mathias Dahlstrom too hard,” especially because, you know, they only play two games a week.
But Dahlstrom has been banged up, which had contributed to an unfavorable 0-3-3 run. Granted two of those times game against BG and Minnesota State. But Dahlstrom hasn’t played the past four games, yielding to Michael Doan, who has posted a more-than-respectable 2.25 GAA and .930 save percent. The issue, still, is scoring. Northern is eighth in the league scoring only two goals per game.
- Alabama-Huntsville (LW: 8): The Chargers have surpassed last year’s win total and, like Bemidji, head into a two-week period that could have heavy influence on their playoff hopes.
The Chargers, currently sitting with a two-point cushion on both Anchorage and Lake for what would be the No. 7 seed, are coming off their first WCHA sweep, as they took down Anchorage twice last weekend. As we’ve seen with BG the last few years, one of the toughest things for a team is learning how to win. With sets at Bemidji and hosting Northern coming up, Huntsville will have a chance to put that to the test the next two weeks.
- Ferris State (LW: 9): I still don’t know what’s going on with these guys. After the Bulldogs’ disastrous weekend against Wisconsin, they swept Lake in dominating fashion. But then they lost four straight games, to Michigan State, Michigan Tech and twice to Alaska.
The most concerning thing is stud goalie C.J. Motte is starting to show cracks. He was great against Michigan State, and in game won against Alaska. But against Tech and the second Alaska game, he gave up 10 goals on 10 shots. If he’s not on his game Ferris could be in trouble.
Why? Well, after taking on Anchorage at Anchorage this weekend, Ferris spends the next four weekends playing Minnesota State and BG. If the Bulldogs aren’t able to get it together, that could get real messy real fast.
- Alaska-Anchorage (LW: 7): Anchorage is in a position it probably doesn’t want to be in: on the playoff bubble with a ton of road games coming up.
After hosting Ferris this weekend, the Seawolves play four of their next five weekends on the road, although one is in Fairbanks so play barely counts. After starting off decent, the Seawolves have won just once in their last 11 games (1-8-2).
- Lake Superior (LW: 10): The Lakers had a tough run leading into their holiday tournament, losing six-straight games by a combined 30-7 score. But then they tied Cornell, and defeated Notre Dame. College hockey, eh?
But it doesn’t get easy for the Lakers. Their next four weekends are at Mankato, hosting Bemidji, at BG and at Alaska. That’s a pretty difficult set of games. Also, them having played two more WCHA games than Anchorage (who they’re tied at six points with) works against them. It’s going to be an uphill battle for Lake to climb into a postseason slot.