Well it's officially Winter Break time for our hockey teams. Only Miami and WMU have four games (combined) between now and January 6th, so everyone gets a nice little break. The picture is starting to shape out, and we unveil our mid-season All-MAC teams. Why hesitate any more? Lets get to it.
BOWLING GREEN FALCONS (6-11-3, 1-11-2-1)
Our predicted last place team is doing just what they were predicted to do, sitting in last place. However, I personally did not think it would be this bad. Bowling Green has played half of their conference schedule (14 games), and sits with only 6 points. They won their first CCHA game, but since then has gone 0-11-2, with a shoot-out win over Miami and a shoot-out loss over WMU (weird how they take points from the other MAC schools). They sit 8 points behind 10th, which is almost a full 3 games back. Get comfy Falcon nation.
The reason behind Bowling Green's struggles is probably their offense. The Falcons average 1.80 goals/game. You rarely win when you only score 1 or 2 goals. Looking forward, Bowling Green better use the next 3 weeks to work on their offense, or else they will be stuck playing the 6th place team in the first round of the CCHA playoffs again.
MIAMI REDHAWKS (9-9-2, 5-7-2-1)
I wish I could say this is the RedHawk team we should've expected. However, they are still inconsistent, and sit in 9th with 18 points. However, unlike the Falcons, Miami is a full 3 games out of 2nd, not 8th or 7th. Miami will have a chance to make up ground in January with games against LSSU, Michigan State, and Northern Michigan. They will also have a huge match-up against Western Michigan in that stretch as well that could either keep Miami in the hunt for a first-round bye, or push the Broncos further towards the #1 seed.
Miami swept the player of the month in November with Reilly Smith (POTM), Austin Cznarik (ROTM), and Cody Reichard (GOTM), so how they are in 9th still is the result of bad December and October performances. Also, having the 3rd most penalty minutes in the CCHA, and 3rd worst PK doesn't help either. Either way, Miami's young team will be interesting to watch going forward.
WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS (9-4-5, 7-4-3-3)
Western rebounded from a rough November nicely with 11 points in their last 4 games. It could've been more, but a melt-down with 3 minutes to go against Bowling Green on Friday lost them a point, and outright 2nd place. Western still has home-and-homes against BG, ND, and Ferris State, but with 1st place Ohio State coming to Lawson, Western will have their shot to win their first ever regular season CCHA title.
Western's success is largely due to a VERY stingy defense and good goal-tending. The combo has the Broncos giving up just 2.11 goals/game. On top of that, they are finding their power-play again, which was awful the first 2 months of the year. As long as Western can keep up their defensive abilities, the offense should be relaxed to score naturally.
G - Frank Slubowski (WMU)
D - Cameron Schilling (Miami)
D - Matt Tennyson (WMU)
F - Reilly Smith (Miami)
F - Austin Cznarik (Miami)
F - Chase Balisy (WMU)
G - Andrew Hammond (BGSU)
D - Dan DeKeyser (WMU)
D - Garrett Kennedy (Miami)
F - Shane Berschbach (WMU)
F - Ryan Carpenter (BGSU)
F - Dane Walters (WMU)
Honorable Mention: Nick Pisellini (G, WMU), Alden Hirschfeld (F, Miami), Dennis Brown (D, WMU)
*Bold = unanimous choice for team
This is the last hockey post for a while. The next 4 weeks will have little hockey, and I'll be away anyways. We'll have an update sometime mid-to-late January. Happy holidays everyone! See you in 2012!