The perennial champion Minnesota State traveled to Bowling Green to decide what team would emerge the front runner for the McNaughton Cup. Two 2-2 ties later and neither team has made a case for running away from the pack. An early February match-up in Mankato between the Falcons and Mavs might just swing the pendulum one way or the other.
What was fun on the weekend was seeing the absolute disdain that the Mavs and Falcons have for each other. With no natural, geographic rival it’s a great sign to see the Falcons settling into the “new” WCHA.
For now the Mavs sit at the top of the WCHA with BG tied with Michigan Tech for #2. But, who’s on top of the Power Rankings?
- Bowling Green: Coach Bergeron had the line of the year this weekend when we said “I don’t know if you’ve seen many fistfights, but when one guy is ready and the other guy isn’t, it usually doesn’t go well for the guy who’s not ready. And we were not ready.” The Falcons picked up two points on the weekend against the Mavs, but they’re still looking to turn the corner towards being champions. They’ll make the very long bus trip to Bemidji this weekend to face the Beavers.
- Minnesota State: Give a lot of credit to the Mavs as they tied the Falcons Saturday playing only four true defensemen due to injury. I do have some concerns about Jason Pawloski going forward though. He gave up bucket-loads of rebounds and could run into issues with a team with a strong crease presence. The Mavericks get to head home for home cooking and a hard slumping Huntsville squad this weekend.
- Alaska-Anchorage: The Seawolves hadn’t impressed recently. Before this past weekend they had gone 1-5-1 in their previous seven games. But, Anchorage punched the Huskies in the mouth in Houghton and picked up a sweep over Michigan Tech. In both games they entered the third period down 1-2 and ended up winning 3-2. Sweeps in the WCHA are hard. Sweeps in Houghton are season-changers. It’s just the momentum that the Seawolves need as they play the first two games of the Governor’s Cup against the Nanooks this weekend.
- Lake Superior: Don’t look now but the Lakers are on a three-game winning streak. They headed to Fairbanks and swept the Nanooks 4-2, 2-0. Good goaltending and playing the underdog are a powerful combination and the Lakers are riding that right now. This weekend will be a good match-up as they welcome the recently swept Huskies.
- Michigan Tech: Huskies…don’t get swept at home. It didn’t work out well for BG last year and could come back to bite you this season. No one is hoping for the upcoming break more than Jaime Phillips who is still searching for that player-of-the-year-game he’s been missing. They’ll head east this weekend to face UP foe Lake Superior in the Soo. That weekend might be closer than some think.
- Northern Michigan: The Wildcats made the long trip south to Huntsville and came back to Marquette with three points. Bob Daniels is perfectly content keeping things close with Atte Tolvanen and letting his grinding style wear teams down. NMU is sitting just out of the top four in the WCHA and welcomes a shaky Ferris State team to the UP this weekend.
- Bemidji State: The Beavers continued their march back into the discussion with a split in Big Rapids. Bemidji started the season absolutely dreadfully but have gone 3-1-1 in their last five. Things won’t get very easy this weekend for the Beavers, however, as they welcome a Falcon team that hasn’t lost since November 13.
- Ferris State: While the Bulldogs have won two games in their last four, they’ve also been shutout in two of those four games as well. The Bulldogs came out of the gate sprinting but have started stumbling as of late. If they can find some consistency they should start heading north. But, they’ll face more good goaltending against Northern Michigan this weekend.
- Alabama-Huntsville: First, the good: the Chargers broke their seven game losing streak this weekend against Northern Michigan. The bad? They stopped the losing streak with a 1-1 tie after scoring three goals the night before in a 4-3 loss. I don’t like the Chargers chances in Mankato as they play the Mavs this weekend.
- Alaska: The Nanooks are winless in their last seven games as they got swept by the Lakers. They’re averaging just one goal/game in their last four, and have given up 13 goals in that stretch. Dallas Ferguson will need to search for some answers this week as they head down to Anchorage for the first two games of the Governor’s Cup. If they come out flat then the Nanooks might not come out of the cellar.