It's been a while. Since I've been gone, our MAC schools have been playing hard in their respective conferences, with 3 duking it out in the final season of the CCHA. In fact, that tournament has already completed 1 round, with Hockey East finishing up their last weekend with UMass hoping to scrape into the tournament.
Oh yes, these guys. The Minutemen had a good team, but struggled to close out games. Many times, they led teams like Boston College, but ended up with losses. In fact, in their last 10 games, UMass went 2-7-1 in conference play. That only nets 5 points over a possible 20 point mark and despite finishing the season with a victory, they fell 2 points short of making the Hockey East tournament.
So our beloved new-comers finish their year with 12-19-3 record with a 9-16-2 record in conference play. Hope should still be high though for next season, as they should be a little more matured and be able to finish out games.
Bowling Green Falcons
BGSU played some Jekyll and Hyde down the stretch, and despite a 7th place finish very much attainable, they were swept by Notre Dame in the last weekend of the CCHA's Regular Season to finish 9th. That finish, which is good enough for BGSU to get out of the CCHA cellar for the first time in 5 years when they finished 7th, earned the Falcons for another road series to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to face Lake Superior State last weekend.
Like the past two years, BGSU stormed back after an opening loss to LSSU to win the best of 3 series 2-1. They outscored the Lakers 13-3 in the 2 wins, including a 7-0 rout in the series clincher. They now will face Notre Dame in South Bend for a chance to again head back to Joe Louis Arena for the final CCHA Championship.
Miami has done nothing too special this season. Young team. Middle of the pack expectations. Losing both goalies and leading scorer. Where are they at? Final CCHA Regular Season Champions ever, #3 ranking in both polls, in the hunt for a 1-seed (in Toledo no less), and 3 players on the CCHA All-Rookie Team.
Seriously, the RedHawks have been playing great. And despite 3 splits in their last 4 series (all against the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place teams in the CCHA), they held onto the CCHA crown and will now play Michigan State next weekend after the Spartans pulled a "BGSU" and made a 3rd straight 11-6 upset in the CCHA Tournament [BGSU had done this the previous two seasons against Northern Michigan as the last place team in the CCHA]. Miami should be heavily favored to make it back to Detroit for a 4th straight season.
Western Michigan Broncos
Well, the Broncos had a chance to win the CCHA crown, but the fact that they haven't won on a Saturday since defeating Michigan 5-1 on January 25th and a 1-3-3 record down the stretch doomed the Broncos to a 3rd place finish. The prize? Well, it would've been Alaska, but since MSU pulled the upset, Andy Murray's squad now faces a red-hot Michigan team that is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and hasn't missed the CCHA Championship weekend since 1989.
Michigan, who struggled earlier this season, now has goaltending while the Broncos have struggled to find offense most of the season. For the Broncos to repeat as CCHA Champions, and make it to their 3rd straight CCHA Championship weekend, they must overcome some of the more storied history of the CCHA in the Michigan behemoth.
So we have a ton of good hockey on the way, and all 3 CCHA teams could head back to Detroit on last time like they did last year. Get to these games though, as they will be the last CCHA games played on the colleges' campuses before the league folds in a couple weeks.