With all the MACsketball coverage we have going on, I'm here to bring some sanity to the blog: College hockey. Yeah, there is nothing more sane that..........
Anyways, lets get a recap of the first round games in the CCHA. In Sault St. Marie, the LSSU Lakers handled Alaska pretty easily, beating them 4-3 (had a 4-2 lead most of the 3rd) on Friday and 2-0 Saturday. In South Bend, Notre Dame and Ohio State squared off in a battle of down teams. ND won on Friday with a bad offensive showing (2-0 via strange goals), but held off a tough OSU team on Saturday to win 4-2 to advance.
And then there was Bowling Green. The 11th seed in the CCHA tournament for the 3rd straight year, and the bottom seed for the 2nd straight year went to Marquette to take on Northern Michigan for the 2nd straight year. This year, the Wildcats were 10-2-5 at home, so the Falcons couldn't possibly pull the upset again this year, right?
To the jump we go for details and 2nd round match-ups
On Friday, the Falcons struck first, but NMU would score 4 of the next 5 goals, including the last two to win it 4-2. BGSU had their backs against the wall, but it seemed they had the confidence to hang with this Wildcat squad. On Saturday, BG again struck first. Then the Wildcats hit lightning, scoring 3 straight goals. It seemed that NMU would be moving on.
Then the Falcons struck. BGSU would score the next 4 goals, 3 of which were in the 2nd period (the last being an empty netter) to win the game 5-3, evening the series at 1.
On Sunday, a very physical game started with no goals in the 1st period, but 6 penalties for 12 minutes, both split evenly between the two teams. NMU scored 5 minutes into the 2nd to take a lead, but then the Falcons answered the call again. Back-to-back Dan DeSalvo goals put the Falcons ahead 2-1. Adam Berkle would add another shortly after, and Ryan Viselli would add the cherry on a 4-1 win.
(Side note, I understand that emotions may be high that your season is over, but there is never reason to go and blatantly go out and hurt people. NMU got 3 penalties roughly a minute apart for [in order] charging the goalie, roughing, and checking from behind, the latter is a 5 minute major and a game misconduct and quite frankly, with literally 3 seconds to go, completely uncalled for.)
So the Falcons beat the Wildcats, again; in Marquette, again; as the 11-seed, again. I think NMU will want to lay down and shoot for the 7 or 8 seed if BGSU is the cellar team next year. So whats next for our teams? Well, all 3 teams play this weekend, so lets look at the series (with old seedings/new seedings):
#11/8 Bowling Green @ #1 Ferris State - The Bulldogs got their wish and get to host the last place Falcons with a trip to Detroit on the line. Last year, BGSU went to Michigan and got smoked in the 2nd round while FSU got the "away-bye" 5 seed, and lost to WMU in an amazing 3-game set that saw Western go to Detroit for the first time in 17 years via an OT goal. Now the Bulldogs want their own magic, and will host BG in their arena where they have not lost to anyone not named Western Michigan this year.
Season series: FSU won 4-0 (Goals: 18-5 FSU)
Prediction: FSU in 2. BGSU doesn't have the magic to make a strong run, and Ferris has their eyes on the Mason Cup.
#8/7 Notre Dame @ #2 Michigan - The lone non-MAC series this weekend features a great football rivalry, and a recent good hockey series. ND was a pre-season #1 team in the nation, and the consensus #1 team in the conference, but has had a rough 2012 to basically knock them to the bottom of the CCHA and on the NCAA bubble looking in. Michigan is playing for a 1-seed in the NCAAs, and has pretty much secured their spot to keep playing. Yost should be hoppin' as this should be the series that the media drools about.
Season series: Split 1-1 (Both games at ND. Goals: 4-3 ND)
Prediction: Michigan in 3. I think ND will find their offense and make it interesting, but Michigan is just too strong right now.
#7/6 Lake Superior State @ #3 Western Michigan - These two teams literally just played each other 3 weeks ago, so this series should be good. Both teams should remember the others' strengths and weaknesses. Western finished 2nd in the CCHA, tying their best ever finish with the 1985-86 team that won the Mason Cup. However, by virtue of the tie-breaker, Western is the 3 seed. Both teams are very similar in style: not a lot of offense, tough defense, young goalie. This matches up very well for the Broncos who still are trying to play their way into the NCAA tournament.
Season series: Split 1-1 (Both games at LSSU. Goals: 5-4 WMU)
Prediction: WMU in 3. Home ice and a weekend off should help, but Lake State will pose a challenge especially since they blew through a good Alaska team last weekend.
#5 Michigan State @ #4 Miami - Miami has been red-hot as of late, and Michigan State has been pretty consistent all year. Both teams are in the NCAA picture, but MSU has the most to lose as they sit in 12th in the Pairwise. If they get swept, it could send Sparty hockey fans into DEFCON 1 mode, hoping for some help to stay in the tournament. Miami is looking to defend their CCHA Title. Torrey Krug and Co are looking to head to Detroit after last year's disappointing 10th place finish.
Season series: Miami won 2-0 (Both games at MSU. One game went to OT. Goals: 6-1 Miami)
Prediction: Miami in 2. The RedHawks have so much strength. Strength in net via Connor Knapp. Strength on offense via Reilly Smith. Torrey Krug can only do so much, and I don't see it happening.
It should be a fun weekend of hockey to come, so if you aren't too busy watching basketball, come join me as I'll do a live blog every night either from Lawson Arena or my house (if there is no game 3 in Kalamazoo AND there is a game on FSD+ Sunday).