Category Archives: Western Michigan
This weekend marks the final weekend of conference play in all of college hockey, with the final positioning for the NCAA tournament at stake and conference championships waiting to be won. Your 4th seeded and defending Mason Cup Champion Miami RedHawks take to the ice at 4:35 pm Friday afternoon against the #3 seed Western Michigan Broncos in the first CCHA Semifinal and #2 seed Michigan takes on the #11 seed Bowling Green in the late game.
Semifinal 1: #3 Western Michigan vs. #4 Miami 4:35
TV: Fox Sports – Ohio (DirecTV 660), Fox Sports Detroit Plus (DirecTV 664 SD, 664-1 HD) and Fox College Sports-Atlantic (it’s out there somewhere)
This season, the Broncos and RedHawks faced off twice, and Miami took both games in Oxford by scores of 3-1 and 4-0. Connor Knapp started both games and made 48 out of 49 saves on the weekend, and Reilly Smith started his torrid second-half streak with a hat trick on Friday night, and added another goal on Saturday night.
On Friday, expect to see a showdown of Knapp, a senior, and Rookie of the year candidate Frank (the big) Slubowski in opposing nets. Knapp, as we know, has been absolutely on fire in 2012. Here’s the low-down on Knapp’s unbelievable season from muredhawks.com:
- Connor has not allowed an even-strength goal since Feb. 4, 2012 against Michigan, a span of seven starts.
- In those 7 games: four goals allowed, all on the power play.
- Knapp has allowed one or fewer goals in 13 of his last 15 games, during which he has a 0.89 goals against average and .964 save percentage (since the start of 2012).
- Knapp leads the NCAA with a 1.43 GAA and is second in save percentage at .943.
- His 5 shutouts this year (all since 1/7/12) are a career high, and he broke the school’s career shutouts record with his 13th last Friday.
Miami comes in with an 8-game winning streak, second longest in the nation to Boston College who has won 13 straight contests. In those games, Miami has outscored their opponents 32-5. Western Michigan is unbeaten in its last 4 games, including a win and a tie against the previously bounced Ferris State Bulldogs, and last weekend’s sweep of Lake Superior State in round 2. While the Friday game is the first time Miami and WMU have met in the CCHA Semifinals, it is a rematch of the CCHA Championship game from 2011, a contest won handily by the RedHawks for Miami’s first Mason Cup title.
More notes for the weekend:
- Reilly Smith is carrying an 8 game point streak into this weekend. He had previously scored goals in 7 straight until Saturday night’s game. He continues to lead the NCAA with 8 game winners and is second in the NCAA with 27 goals scored.
- Jimmy Mullin has scored in 5 straight games – his career long – and has 11 points in those games.
- Western Michigan Head Coach Andy Murray will coach in his 22nd game at Joe Louis Arena in Friday’s CCHA Semifinals. As a head coach of the Los Angeles Kings he went 1-9-1 against in Joe Louis Arena, with the lone win coming as a playoff series clinching victory over the Red Wings in 2001. (Source: wmubroncos.com)
- Miami will want to stay out of the penalty box this weekend. WMU is 3 for 5 on the power play during the CCHA playoffs, and were performing at a 20.1% clip in the regular season. Miami’s penalty kill stands at 6th in the nation at 85.9% of penalties successfully killed, and also ranks 6th with 16.4 penalty minutes per game.
- As the games go final on the weekend, keep your eye on USCHO’s PairWise rankings. Miami sits tied with Boston University for the #4 spot at this moment, meaning if the season had ended and today we were watching the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, Miami would be a #1 seed. After every final score of the weekend, these standings are going to jostle ever so slightly, and almost every game is important.
- Senior Goalie Cody Reichard was named one of 5 finalists for the NCAA’s Wooden Citizenship Cup. The award is presented annually to two distinguished athletes, one collegiate and one professional, for their character and leadership both on and off the field and their contributions to sport and society. (source: muredhawks.com)
- For your reading pleasure, check out USCHO blogger Elliot Olshansky’s Hobey Baker picks for 2012, where he picks Reilly Smith as a finalist.
- And for your viewing pleasure, take a gander at the CCHA’s 20 Questions with Miami Senior Defenseman Chris Wideman, and their CCHA Now feature for 3/14/12.
Semifinal 2: #11 Bowling Green vs. #2 Michigan; approx 8:05PM Eastern
TV: Fox Sports-Detroit Plus, and Fox College Sports-Atlantic
Coming off of a 2-1 series victory over Northern Michigan 2 weekends ago, Bowling Green got 5 more goals from Freshman Dan DeSalvo and took down top-seeded Ferris State in dramatic fashion last weekend. Ferris State led 3-0 after 1 period of play in Sunday’s round 2 finale, but 4 straight goals from the Fighting Chris Bergerons, and they move on to Detroit for the first time since 2001. Consider these facts about BG’s improbable run:
- BG was the first team to win a playoff series from the last place seed in 2011. They repeated that feat in 2012, and in doing so, knocked off the #6 and #1 seeds in the CCHA tournament in the process
- BG won 5 CCHA conference games all season, and have now won 4 of their last 6 in the tournament. Throw in a win over Michigan in the last series of the season, and they’re 5-3 in the last 3 weeks of play
- Freshman Dan DeSalvo scored 4 goals all season in 17 games, and missed the last 4 games of the season with an injury. Against NMU, he had 5 goals in the 3 game series, and he scored another 5 in the three games against Ferris State.
- DeSalvo scored the first hat trick for BG since Jan. 18, 2008, and DeSalvo’s 10 playoff goals are already a new CCHA Tournament record, with 2 more games to play.
Third place game: The losers of the semifinal games will meet at 3:35PM Eastern Saturday.
CCHA Championship game: winners of the 2 semifinal games, 7:35PM Saturday; Fox Sports-Detroit, Fox Sports-Ohio (Alternate channel)
If you’re looking for your hockey fix tonight and can’t wait until tomorrow, catch 3 future Miami conference-mates in action from the WCHA’s Final Five tournament (that consists 6 teams). Denver takes on Michigan Tech at 3:07 Eastern today and St. Cloud State takes on North Dakota at 8:07 Eastern. You can catch both with the “sports packages” on Fox Sports-North (DirecTV ch. 668) out of St. Paul, Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center tonight.
After all the dust settles on the entire weekend, jump over to ESPNU on Sunday at high noon. John Buccigross, Barry Melrose and Aaron Ward will announce the NCAA Tournament Field on the NCAA Hockey Selection Show, and we’ll find out exactly where Miami is heading for its first round NCAA tournament game.
Reilly Smith had all three RedHawks goals on the night, and the Miami defense stood tall in handing #8 Western Michigan it’s 8th loss of the season. Senior goaltender Connor Knapp took the ice again after a much criticized benching against Lake Superior State last weekend. Proving to be the wise choice tonight, Knapp stopped all but 1 of the 27 Bronco shots, bringing his personal unbeaten streak to 5 games.
With yet another stellar performance in net, you’d think Knapp would take home the Perani Cup #1 Star of the Game. However, that honor goes to Captain Reilly Smith. Starting the scoring before the first media timeout, Smith scored the opening goal from Freshmen Austin Czarnik and Jimmy Mullin. Smith would go on to score the game winner in the second on a shorthanded chance, and a final goal in the third for his 3rd career hat trick. Reilly has 17 goals on the season, along with 7 assists and leads the team with 24 total points. It isn’t the scoring outbreak that we saw in 2010-11 from Andy Miele, but he is on his well on his way to reaching his 28 goals from last season.
On the night, Czarnik had assists on all 3 goals, and Mullin had assists on the bookend goals. It was quite a night for the RedHawks top line who were a combined +8 on the night with all three goals and all 5 assists handed out. Reilly’s second period, shorthanded goal was also the game winner. That’s his 6th of the season, tying him for the national lead once again.
Outside of the top line, the defense also looked fantastic as the ‘Hawks returned to Oxford for the first time since December 10th. Chris Wideman was a stellar +2 on the night, and the rest of the defense will go down tonight as being the unsung heroes. In the Miami zone, 19 Western Michigan shots were blocked, and there were countless hits from Miami defenders who were by far the more physical team behind the Miami net all night long.
The RedHawks faithful was treated to a fantastic showing on every inch of the ice, and were very vocal in cheering on the Red and White. Smith’s third goal was some much needed insurance as well. Miami hadn’t played in Oxford since December 10th and hadn’t won in Oxford in over 2 months. The last Miami win in Oxford was a 4-0 win over BGSU on November 18th. In that span, they had lost an overtime heartbreaker to Ohio State 3-2, and lost in a shootout to BGSU after losing 4 one-goal leads on November 19th.
Be sure to watch the rematch tomorrow night as Miami takes on these same Western Michigan Broncos at. Tomorrow night’s game will be broadcast across the great state of Ohio on the Ohio News Network (ONN) and puck drop is set for 7:05 PM.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@RedskinWarriors) and take a look at our Saturday #SixPack in the morning for some eye-opening statistics from the Friday Night College Hockey landscape.
My 3 stars of the night… Hard to argue with the three official choices made by the Miami Athletic staff, but I’ll change it up a bit:
Connor Knapp: 26 Saves, 1 Goal Allowed, 5th consecutive win
Reilly Smith: 3 G, +3 Rating, 8 SOG
Austin Czarnik: 3 Assists, +3 Rating, 2 SOG (he was too busy passing to the red hot Smith)
- Two of Western Michigans’ three leading scorers, Shane Berschbach and Dane Walters did not play. At one point, Berschbach was a Miami commit before his scholarship offer was revoked due to off-ice issues prior to enrolling at Miami. We understand Walters is injured but do not know why Berschbach did not suit up for the Broncos. Something to watch for in the series finale.
Well, that didn’t take long.
After officially extending invitations to the schools on Wednesday, the NCHC became a reality for the Western Michigan Broncos and St. Cloud State Huskies on Thursday. This brings the total schools welcomed into the NCHC up to 8, and gives Miami a conference rival of sorts in Western Michigan, having spent the last 31 years in the CCHA together (WMU has been in the CCHA since the 1975-76 season and Miami joined for the 1980-81 campaign).
Miami Athletic Director Brad Bates was present to welcome the Broncos with WMU director of Athletics Kathy Beauregard providing the big news to local media.
St. Cloud State University President Dr. Earl Potter announced the Huskies are joining the NCHC, and looks forward to “forming new partners with Miami and Western Michigan.”
As far as these two teams go, Miami has a slight 51-49-9 edge all time against Western Michigan, and a solid 7-1-1 record against the Huskies.
Head Coach Enrico Blasi, Captains Alden Hirschfeld and Will Weber, and probably just about everyone else associated with the Miami Hockey program will tell you that rankings before the season starts, on opening night, and even in the second half of the season don’t mean anything. Coach Blasi certainly has said in the past that the only ranking that matters will be where and when Miami ends up on April X. This year, that date happens to be April 7th, and that location is Tampa, Florida.
With that said… A Number 1 ranking is still something to celebrate, and celebrate we will.
Thanks to College Hockey News, we have that reason to celebrate. CHN has put Miami at the head of the class for the 2011-2012 season. Check out the headlines here.
Again, we appreciate the great preseason accolades. But how serious should we take the rankings? Let’s wait until April and see what shakes out in the next six and a half months. Especially with fellow defectors CCHA-ers Notre Dame, Michigan and Western Michigan joining Miami in CHN’s entirely too early preseason top 10 rankings.
11 days until the exhibition. The countdown is on!!
>Farmington Hills, Mich. – The CCHA has announced the times for the two semifinal matchups on Friday, March 18 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Miami will play the early game on to set up better TV viewing and attendance for Michigan’s game later that evening.
Miami and Notre Dame will begin play at 4:35pm with Michigan and Western Michigan to face off at the made-for-TV time of 8:05pm.
Normally, you want to “protect” the number one seed by having them play the earlier game, but to enable as many local WMU and U-M fans to attend as possible, the league has moved the game to prime time. This simply means the Wolverines will have a little less time to recover for Saturday’s championship or consolation game as appropriate while Miami and Notre Dame will benefit from a marginal amount of additional rest.
Band of Brothers – The 2011 Senior Class (Camper, LoVerde, Vaive, Cannone, Miele)
Oxford, Ohio – One night after allowing a 3-1 lead to slip away in a 3-3 tie with #15 Western Michigan, the Miami RedHawks defeated WMU 3-1 on Senior Night at Steve Cady Arena.
Senior assistant captain Andy Miele, junior Matt Tomassoni and sophomore Curtis McKenzie had the goals for the RedHawks (17-9-6, 14-7-5-2 CCHA) and junior netminder Connor Knapp made 16 saves to earn his sixth win of the year.
The five-member senior class consisting of co-captains Carter Camper and Pat Cannone, Justin Vaive, Vincent Loverde and Miele have helped lift Miami’s program to heights unseen in their time on campus. This class has been part of the first two Frozen Fours in school history, has won 102 games — and counting, and could lead this year’s squad to the first Mason Cup championship in a few weeks in Detroit, and just perhaps, an elusive national title.
For the weekend, Miami dominated the Broncos. If not for a stretch of about 1:40 on Friday, they would have easily swept Western Michigan. On Saturday, Western at one point went 23:15 between shots on goal as Miami opened a 3-0 lead. The RedHawks outshot the Broncos 35-17 including 17-5 in the third period. It was clear these seniors were not going to lose another third period lead to the upstart Broncos.
But rather than sweeping, Miami earned four league points on the weekend as they tied, but dropped the shootout Friday night. Though they entered the weekend in first place in the CCHA, they left tied with Michigan for second, just one point behind Notre Dame. Both Michigan and Notre Dame picked up weekend sweeps of conference opponents and both have two games in hand over Miami. They will spend that “capital” next weekend as the RedHawks are off.
Though they left in second place, Miami gained points in a much more important way.
Entering the weekend tied for 16th place in the Pairwise Rankings that largely determine the NCAA Tournament field, Miami helped themselves with a win and a tie against Western Michigan. After last night’s games went final, Miami had moved all the way to a tie for 9th position jumping CCHA leader Notre Dame and weekend foe Western Michigan in the process. They are currently tied with Michigan (Miami leads series 2-0) and New Hampshire (series tied 1-1) and are actually ahead of 7th place Nebraska-Omaha in terms of their RPI.
While I haven’t been able to go through all of the math, here is roughly what I believe happened to enable Miami to so significantly move up in the Pairwise.
- Miami tied and defeated Western Michigan turning that comparison in the RedHawks favor as they win the season series 2-1-1
- Michigan swept Ohio State dropping the Buckeyes out of the Teams Under Consideration (TUC) category. Since the Buckeyes swept Miami earlier this year, that 0-2 mark was damaging the RedHawks’ record vs. TUC’s. Not that this is different than any other time, but we want Ohio State to continue to lose.
- Since winning the Florida College Classic championship over Miami, St. Cloud State has been on fire entering the TUC race. Miami has a 1-1-1 record against SCSU and that win replaces the two Buckeye losses
- Miami’s strength of schedule is rated 13th toughest in the nation. Of the teams ranked ahead of them in the Pairwise, only North Dakota, Denver, UMD and UNO (WCHA, anyone?) have higher rated schedules with some of the ECAC and Hockey East schedules being embarrassingly bad (e.g., Yale, Merrimack, Union, etc.)
With this weekend being a bye week for Miami, it will be interesting to see how their 9th place ranking in the Pairwise fares. I’ll try to provide context for the teams we should be “rooting for” as Miami prepares to finish the regular season February 25-26 at Lake Superior State. Earlier this season Miami defeated and tied the Lakers in Oxford by 6-2 and 2-2 scores.
Lastly, I’d like to thank the seniors for their devotion and performance on and off the ice. Having watched them largely in person over the past three years, it’s been bittersweet to have only attended two games this year due to relocating out west. Between dropping the national title game in ’09 to losing Brendan Burke and losing a tough one in last year’s national semifinals, this group has battled adversity. It would be quite the send-off if they could somehow muster a way back to the Frozen Four for the third consecutive year, and maybe, just maybe go out with a bang in St. Paul.
But, first things first.
Let’s sweep the Lakers in two weeks.
Oxford, Ohio – Fresh off their sweep of then #9 Michigan, the Miami RedHawks welcome the Western Michigan Broncos to Steve Cady Arena for the final home regular season series of the season. And, it’s another important one for the RedHawks.
Under first-year head coach and former Miami assistant Jeff Blashill, the Broncos (15-6-9, 9-5-8-4 CCHA) are having their best season since they were 18-18-1 in ’06-’07 and are in the midst of a 13-game unbeaten streak. Currently sitting in fourth place in the CCHA, Western Michigan is just 6 points behind first place Miami (16-9-5, 13-7-4-2) with two games in-hand. However, the Broncos finish with an absolutely brutal 6-game stretch beginning tonight where they will face the top three teams in successive weeks. After facing Miami this weekend, Western Michigan will face Michigan next weekend, then Notre Dame, with just one of their remaining six games scheduled to be played at home in Kalamazoo.
Offensively, the Broncos aren’t much to write home about. They average just 2.81 goals per game in conference play and 2.76 overall. Two of their top three scorers are both freshmen in Chase Balisy (10-16-26) and former Miami commit, Shane Berschbach (7-17-24). Berschbach also leads the Broncos in power play points with 11. However, Berschbach did not make the trip to Oxford and will not play this weekend after suffering an injury to his right knee. Blashill has said he expects Berschbach could miss several weeks of action.
Where the Broncos do measure up is on defense and in goal. Riding a 13-game unbeaten streak into Steve Cady Arena, where the Broncos have never won (0-4), Western Michigan allows just 2.31 goals per game in conference play and 2.2 overall. Senior goaltender Jerry Kuhn has taken the reins from Nick Piselini and sports an 8-1-5 overall record with a sparkling 1.94 goals against average. A former college goaltender for Ferris State, it’s no big surprise to see Coach Blashill’s work with Kuhn paying immediate dividends.
For Miami, seniors Carter Camper, Pat Cannone, Andy Miele, Justin Vaive and Vincent LoVerde will be playing their final regular season games at Steve Cady Arena. Miele, Camper and Cannone comprise three of the top four scorers for Miami, and you can bet they all understand what’s on the line. Though it would be nice to claim back-to-back regular season titles for the first time in school history, these two games offer an opportunity for the RedHawks to climb in the Pairwise rankings where they are currently tied for 16th — a precarious position at best for selection into the NCAA Tournament. Currently Western Michigan is ranked ahead of Miami (13th) so two wins would help Miami’s tournament chances.
Miami and Western Michigan split an earlier series in Kalamazoo with the Broncos winning 5-2 on Friday and the RedHawks earning a split by taking a decisive 5-1 win on Saturday. In the first game, Western jumped to a 2-0 lead but Miami would tie the game entering the third period. The Broncos would score three goals in the final frame that would foreshadow Miami’s third period collapses that followed.
But, the RedHawks have battled all year to put themselves into position to make that a reality and I’m sure these seniors would like one more shot at a national title. Though they need help to make the dance, it doesn’t matter if they don’t continue winning. Last weekend’s sweep of Michigan doesn’t mean anything if they don’t keep it going. And, right now the team is showing signs of peaking. They are paying more attention to team defense, Cody Reichard has provided solid goaltending during the second half of the season and the offense has been led by the senior captains and super sophomore Reilly Smith.
With an emotional series behind them and a bye week next week, I see no reason Miami doesn’t take care of business and set the upstart Broncos aside.
Miami sweeps 4-1 and 4-0.
- Both games will be televised in Ohio on ONN and online via Miami All-Access at muredhawks.com
- Tonight’s faceoff is 7:35pm and tomorrow at 7:05pm
Reilly Smith scored two goals to lead Miami to a 3-0 victory over Michigan
Wearing special commemorative jerseys to honor the one year anniversary of Brendan Burke’s passing, and with the entire Burke family present, the RedHawks used the emotion of the evening to jump out to a 2-0 lead after one period. Smith tallied twice, first on a nifty wraparound after picking up a loose puck behind the net. Miele fed Cameron Schilling at the point who fired a one-timer wide of the net. Smith found the puck and moved on his backhand to beat Michigan netminder Shawn Hunwick who was out of position after challenging Schilling’s shot.
Smith would tally again at 15:16 of the opening period when Miele found Trent Vogelhuber open at the Michigan blueline. Vogelhuber would move in alone on Hunwick but his backhand attempt was stopped. However, Smith tracked down the rebound and fired a sharp wrister to the top corner over a prone Hunwick who was knocked down in stopping Vogelhuber’s chance.
Senior Pat Cannone would add the RedHawks final goal of the evening on the powerplay when Miele fired a cross-ice pass to Cannone who one-timed it past Hunwick. Cannone’s 13th goal of the season came at 13:42 of the second period and just after two Wolverines took penalties on the same play giving Miami a 5×3 advantage.
Junior netminder Cody Reichard was solid for the second consecutive night picking up his third shutout of the season and the 10th of his career. Reichard is now 4-1 in his past five games against Michigan with the one loss coming in the CCHA Tournament last March in Detroit and needs only two more shutouts to tie David Burleigh’s career record of 12.
While not facing too many significant chances, Reichard did stop Matt Rust on a semi-breakaway and also stymied Michigan on seven powerplay attempts. For the night, Reichard made 23 saves and senior defenseman Vincent LoVerde blocked seven shots as the RedHawks picked up their fifth team shutout of the season.
Next weekend, the RedHawks remain at home for a key two-game series with Western Michigan. Former Miami assistant coach Jeff Blashill has the Broncos riding a 13-game unbeaten streak behind the stellar play of freshmen Chase Balisy and former Miami commit Shane Berschbach. WMU is currently tied for 11th in the Pairwise rankings, just six points behind Miami in fourth place in the CCHA standings so these games are big for both teams.
- Miele leads the nation with 54 points in just 30 games.
- Miami features three of the top 10 scorers in the nation with Miele (54 points) and Carter Camper (47 points) first and second, and Reilly Smith (38 points) in 10th place to pace the RedHawks.
- Miami and Western Michigan split a series earlier this year in Kalamazoo with the Broncos winning 5-3 on Friday and Miami returning the favor 5-1 on Saturday. The Friday game saw Miami tie the score at 2 after falling behind 2-0, but the Broncos pulled away with three in the third period. On Saturday, Miami dominated from start to finish.
- Miami leads the series with WMU 52-50-9 but the RedHawks have dominated the series over the past several years and lead 30-20-3 in Oxford.
- Western Michigan was 8-20-8 last year. New coach Jeff Blashill has the Broncos at 15-6-9 overall this year good enough for fourth in the CCHA.
- Miami is now tied for 16th in the Pairwise rankings. Two wins against Western Michigan, a team ranked ahead of them, would go a long way to earning the RedHawks another NCAA tournament berth.
> Several outlets have reported late this week that Miami commit Shane Berschbach will no longer be heading to Oxford and will instead join former Indiana Ice front-man Jeff Blashill at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
Berschbach, who signed a National Letter of Intent at Miami in 2008, played under Blashill in Indiana for the past two seasons and will be a part of his first ever recruiting class. The Clawson, Michigan native registered 79 points (32 G, 47 A) during his time in the USHL and is considered to be undersized, standing 5’8 and weighing 140 lbs.
“Once I was in place at Western Michigan, he was the first call I made,” Blashill said of Berschbach. “He’s a skilled forward, and very, very smart offensively. He’s not very big, but he has a lot of courage.” (MLive.com)
You’ll recall that Blashill, a Miami assistant from 2002-2008 was hired as the new Broncos’ head coach in May, after Jim Culhane was removed as the bench boss with one year remaining on his contract and will spend the final year as a fundraiser for intercollegiate athletics, the University has said.
Oxford, Ohio (Feb. 26) - With 106 wins, a CCHA regular season title, a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and an appearance in the NCAA title game in the bag, LAST season’s Miami seniors were the most decorated of any class in school history. However, THIS season’s senior class, including Jarod Palmer, Gary Steffes, Brandon Smith and Dane Hetland have an opportunity to surpass those accomplishments. Consider they already have a second CCHA regular season title to their credit, they possess the CCHA’s top tournament seeding, another #1 NCAA tournament seed is a possibility as is the opportunity to capture the school’s first-ever Mason Cup, awarded to the winner of the CCHA tournament, and perhaps, a second Frozen Four appearance. Additionally, this senior class’ win total of 104 makes them the second winningest in school history. And, with (likely) at least five games remaining, they have an opportunity to leave Oxford as the school’s most successful class ever. Incidentally, NEXT year’s senior class which has driven much of the success of the past two years is already at 80 wins meaning they too will have an opportunity to rewrite the Miami hockey record books and could complete their time at Miami with an unprecedented four players in the career 100-point club.
With the first-round of the CCHA tournament starting next weekend, this is the last weekend of regular season play and, aside from the top spot, the league is tightly packed from second through tenth place. In fact, first-round byes and first-round home ice slots are still up for grabs.
Here’s a quick rundown of the weekend’s action.
Miami v. Ohio State
Miami’s 4-2 loss last Saturday vs. UNO saw the RedHawks 23-game league unbeaten streak end as well as its school record 11 game overall unbeaten streak. With the loss and Denver’s sweep of WCHA bottom-feeder Michigan Tech, the pollsters saw fit to move the Pioneers ahead of Miami in all three media polls. While Miami will continue to play for the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, the Buckeyes are clinging to the final first round home ice playoff spot which they possess by three points over ninth place Lake Superior. Should the Lakers sweep the Wildcats, they could easily pass Ohio State should they struggle this weekend against the RedHawks.
Update: Miami scored SIX second period goals to overwhelm the Buckeyes 6-2 on senior night. Six different RedHawks scored goals including a goal and an assist for senior Jarod Palmer in his final regular season game at Steve Cady Arena. Sophomore Cody Reichard made 33 saves to improve to 17-2-3 on the season. The teams will conclude the regular season tonight at 8pm from Value City Arena where Ohio State will need at least a point to assure themselves of having home ice next weekend when the CCHA playoffs begin. The Buckeyes got a break when Northern Michigan defeated Lake Superior in OT meaning the Lakers are still three points behind Ohio State for the final home ice slot. But, should the Buckeyes lose and the Lakers win tonight, Lake Superior will take the tiebreaker and host Ohio State next weekend.
Ferris State v. Western Michigan
The Bulldogs find themselves in a tie for second place with Michigan State in the league standings and face a difficult challenge in last place Western Michigan. Last week, the Broncos announced that head coach Jim Culhane would not return to the WMU bench next season meaning you can undoubtedly expect them to play hard for Culhane during final weekend as head coach. With a second place finish, Ferris State would have its highest league finish since winning the CCHA regular season title in 2002-03.
Update: Ferris State secured a first round playoff bye with a shootout victory over the Broncos. It was the fourth shootout win for Ferris State this season. The Bulldogs are currently 14th in the Pairwise rankings that largely determine the NCAA tournament field,
Michigan State v. Bowling Green
Like Ferris State, the Spartans have an opportunity to lock up the #2 seed in the CCHA tournament which would enable them to avoid a matchup with Miami until the CCHA Championship game in Detroit. While MSU won’t see a big boost in the Pairwise this weekend, their NCAA hopes are hanging by a thread so two wins this weekend are an absolute must.
Update: Michigan State secured a first round bye and moved into sole possession of second place with a 5-2 win over Bowling Green. MSU is currently tied for 11th in the Pairwise rankings.
Northern Michigan v. Lake Superior State
The aforementioned Lakers are hoping they can sneak into eighth place in the league and steal the final first round home ice playoff spot from Ohio State. However, NMU has an opportunity still to claim a first round bye so this series between the two “U-P” rivals takes on additional importance this weekend.
Update: NMU can clinch the fourth and final first round playoff bye with two points tonight against Lake Superior. The Wildcats defeated the Lakers 2-1 in OT last night.
Michigan v. Notre Dame
These two teams played Thursday with Michigan earning a 4-0 win at Yost Ice Arena. Junior goaltender Bryan Hogan left the game with an apparent groin injury early in the first period, but seldom-used junior Shawn Hunwick picked up the slack and carried the Wolverines to the shutout.
Update: After Friday’s games, Michigan sits in seventh place in the CCHA just two points behind Northern Michigan for the final first round bye. If Michigan defeats Notre Dame in South Bend tonight and NMU takes one point or less against Lake Superior, Michigan will earn the fourth position.
UNO and Alaska
Both teams will play non-conference series against Bemidji State and Alaska-Anchorage, respectively. UNO can enhance their NCAA tournament resume with a sweep of the Beavers while Alaska can continue to affirm their place in the top 16 of the Pairwise.
Update: Bemidji State defeated UNO 3-1 and Alaska defeated archrival Alaska-Anchorage 7-4 last night. Currently, UNO sits 20th in the Pairwise and out of the NCAA tournament field of 16. Alaska is currently tied for 11th.