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A Happy New Year to you and yours. It’s been an interesting start to the unofficial second half of the season for the Falcons. Bowling Green faces a pivotal match-up this weekend as they get on the bus for the long trip to Mankato, Minnesota to face the Minnesota State Mavericks. We’ll be flying out for the weekend series to bring you coverage of the games. That two-hour flight Thursday is going to be rough, but I think we’ll be recovered in time for Friday’s game.
Who’s hot? Who’s not? Let’s take a look.
- Bemidji State: The Beavers wrapped up a tough road trip with games in Anchorage and Bowling Green. BSU went 2-2 and honestly probably could go .500 the rest of the season and still clinch the #1 seed. They’ve already mathematically clinched a playoff berth. The Beavers get the weekend off to rest up.
- Michigan Tech: The Huskies split with #13 Notre Dame in South Bend last weekend keeping their recent stretch of good play going. The Huskies have four games in-hand compared to Bemidji State, but even 12 points will put them one point back of the Beavers. We’ll see if the Huskies can catch the Beavers, but regardless they pretty much have the #2 spot locked down. MTU welcomes a trending upwards UAA squad to Houghton this weekend.
- Minnesota State: The Mavs and Falcons are tied for the #3 spot in the WCHA with 29 points. But, MSU has two games in-hand which puts the pressure of a good result this weekend by BG paramount. MSU swept UAH last weekend including making a statement by starting Aaron Nelson instead of Jason Pawloski both games. Which netminder will BG see this weekend?
- Bowling Green: The Falcons played one really good game and one pretty bad game last Thursday and Friday against Bemidji State. That effort earned them a split with top-team Bemidji State. BG is getting really good goaltending right now with the Nell-Bednard tandem; the question is can their offense step up in the march to the playoffs?
- Ferris State: The Bulldogs only picked up a couple points in Anchorage this past weekend, but given how the Seawolves have played lately that might have been a best case scenario. FSU seems to always get hot in the second half and playoffs, so the question now is whether we see the same in 2017. This weekend they welcome the Nanooks to Big Rapids.
- Alabama-Huntsville: The Chargers were swept at home this weekend. As UAH continues to learn how to get their program to the next level those kind of weekends are going to happen. But, UAH had a legitimate shot at hosting a home playoff series. Giving up six points to the Mavericks has made that possibility much more difficult. Alabama-Huntsville will have the weekend to regroup since they’re off.
- Lake Superior: The Lakers split a home-and-home series with Northern Michigan, with the home team picking up the win each night. I didn’t love seeing NMU putting up a touchdown (without the extra point) against LSSU, but it was a rivalry game. Thanks to the condensed schedule with the late playoff change the Lakers and Wildcats will play another set of games this upcoming weekend. The Lakers could do themselves some favors with a couple wins to put some space between them and the #9 spot.
- Alaska-Anchorage: The Seawolves are 3-2-1 over their last six games and are making some movement out of the basement. But, all six of those games have come in Alaska. Can UAA keep their improved play going on the road? We’ll find out this weekend when the Seawolves play Michigan Tech on the road.
- Alaska: The Nanooks had the luxury of being off this past weekend after a disappointing road trip the week before to Notre Dame. It’s not quite panic time, but the Seawolves, who seemed to have been on a trajectory of not making the playoffs, are now very much in sight behind the Nanooks. A road trip to Ferris State will be a good test for Alaska.
- Northern Michigan: One game does not make a season, but it was encouraging to see the Wildcats put up six goals Saturday against Lake Superior. NMU will probably need to be just about perfect make the playoffs now, but they can certainly try to make the hot seat of Walt Kyle a little more chilled. Northern Michigan will play the Lakers of Lake Superior again this weekend. A couple wins could make things interesting.