MAC Hockey Round-up: Winter Break Edition

Miami has slipped and fell thus far this season. How have the rest of our MAC teams fared? - Jonathan Daniel

While football was finishing up and basketball getting underway, NCAA hockey has been in full swing with a break coming up now before Winter Break brings a flurry (pun intended) of holiday tournaments and outdoor action. See how our MAC teams have been doing this far.

Bowling Green Falcons (8-8-4, 6-6-2)

What up Falcons?  BGSU has been pretty solid through the two months of the season, holding steady with a .500 record and at one point, garnering votes in the polls and held a solid 5-2-2 record at one point.  However, they hit a 1-5-1 stretch and haven't really recovered, including splitting a series with Alabama-Huntsville, giving the Chargers their first win of the season.

Still, the outlook is good for the Falcons.  They sit tied for 3rd in the WCHA, which is currently being dominated by fellow former CCHA member Ferris State.  BGSU can easily slide up the standings too as they face all 5 of the bottom teams in the WCHA in January in December, while playing 5th place team Alaska-Anchorage on the road and fellow 3rd place team Bemidji State at home.  It's not entirely unthinkable to have the Falcons not only host a playoff series, but face a low-seed as well.

Up first for the Falcons though is a break before heading to Pittsburgh for the Three Rivers Classic when they take on perennial powerhouse Boston College in the first round.

Massachusetts Minutemen (6-11-2, 1-7-2)

I know UMass isn't technically in the MAC, but until there is a MAC Hockey Conference (I'm looking at you Kent State and Buffalo.  Maybe even you Ohio), our football brethren are included.

Sure UMass hasn't looked that good, but they aren't the lowest ranked MAC team in the Pairwise, the tool that the NCAA uses to decide their tournament field.  Plus, they've won 3 in a row!  Exciting!

Remember, they play in the Hockey East with teams like #5 Providence, #7 Boston College, #10 UMass-Lowell, #13 Notre Dame, #16 Northeastern, and Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (all receiving votes).  So to be clear, 8 of the 11 Hockey East teams are receiving votes (serious votes at that, all 18+ on a 50 vote poll).  UMass has played 8 teams that are currently receiving votes in the polls, going 2-10-2 in their games against them (including some non-conference games against conference foes), and has gone 4-1-0 in their games against un-ranked teams in Michigan State, Boston U, and Colgate.

But, again, UMass is sitting in 9th in the Hockey East and needs to jump into 8th to try and make the annual conference tournament.  They sit a point behind Notre Dame and Northeastern, and 2 points behind UMass-Lowell and Vermont.  Tough.  They do get 3 games against Merrimack and Boston U though to try and boost their ranking, but it looks like another rough year for the Minutemen in one of the toughest conferences in hockey.

Miami RedHawks (9-7-2, 3-5-0-0)

Miami, the pre-season #2 team in the nation, has not hit the turn well.

After jumping out to a hot start going 6-2-1, the RedHawks have stumbled with a 2-4-1 record in their last 7 games while giving up 3 or more goals in all but their last game, a 4-2 victory over Denver.  Their 3-5-0-0 record in the NCHC is also alarming, as they sit in a 3-way tie for last place in the new conference.  However, they still sit at #12 in the polls, and have a 5 week break from NCAA competition before heading to Kalamazoo for the first MAC-on-MAC #MACtion of the season.

Remember that Miami really came on strong in the 2nd half of the season last year en route to capturing the CCHA Regular Season title.  Expect Enrico Blasi to again have his RedHawks dominant despite the subpar stretch over the past couple of weeks.

Western Michigan Broncos (7-8-3, 3-5-0-0)

The worst team of the four according to the Pairwise, WMU has not been as solid as they have been in years past.

The roller coaster ride started out slow, with a sweep by the hands of Notre Dame.  After looking to garner their form again following a 3-0-1 stretch, they went 0-3-1 to start November.  However, the Thanksgiving Break was kind, as the Broncos went 3-0-1 again on both sides of the break.  Now, they have gone 1-3-0 to limp into the holiday break.

The main issue has again been scoring, with their power-play ranked 50th of 59 in the nation.  The young team has also gone to the penalty box, a lot, to the tune of 16.5 minutes per game (7th-highest nationally).  They will head to Detroit over break for the first outdoor Great Lakes Invitational before hosting Miami as stated above.

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