Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekend Recap: Bulldogs sweep Spartans

Game Recaps

Friday Night Recap  // Ferris State Recap    //  USCHO Recap

Saturday Night Recap  //  Ferris State Recap //   USCHO Recap

Game Thoughts

Friday night was not pretty, but despite being outplayed for the vast majority of the game, the Spartans still had a chance to win the game thanks to Freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand. Hildebrand put forth one of the best efforts in goal for MSU since Jeff Lerg's national title performance back in 2007. The problem was MSU simply didn't have enough offense losing 2-1. Matt Berry had a chance as time expired, but his shot went right into C.J. Motte, the Ferris State goalie.

On Saturday, the Spartans battled hard and only trailed the Bulldogs 3-2 going into the third period, but the Bulldogs broke it open with two goals over the final 10 minutes to complete the two game sweep. Bottom line, the Spartans were outplayed this weekend by Ferris State, and it really didn't look like the same team that gave Notre Dame all they could handle the week before.

The Spartans are looking for something positive, and maybe they can start something this week. They play an exhibition game Tuesday against the US Development team, and they host future Big Ten rival Penn State this weekend in a non-conference series. Penn State is coming off a win against Vermont.

Big Week Ahead

This is the week that I've been looking forward to all season. I am a big supporter of the Big Ten finally making the move and forming its own hockey conference. Penn State finally making the leap made that decision possible, and starting with the 2013 - 2014 season, the Big Ten will exist. Despite this move, a lot of people are looking at this as a negative disruption. Is it sour grapes that the WCHA and CCHA are losing their Big Ten rivals? These schools do usually mean big attendance for the other teams in the conference (for example, Ferris State sold out on Saturday - against a last place Big Ten school).

Western Michigan students were chanting "Big Ten sucks" during the GLI, as they held a slim 1-0 lead over Michigan State. But, I really feel these feelings are very shortsighted on their part. The Big Ten schools will still be scheduling plenty of non-conference series, which will still give these teams a chance to fill their rinks along with seeing the Big Ten schools. And at no time did anyone say this was going to be great hockey - just it could be great for hockey. It brings a brand name to the college hockey scene - something the other "major" sports all have (football, basketball, and baseball). It doesn't mean all these schools are going to make a jump all of a sudden to D-1, because Title IX, and of course funding still are a major problem. Penn State only has their program because of a major donation to jump start the entire thing.

I also believe this could be good for the Big Ten. Most Big Ten fans will show up for "brand name" games. Michigan State usually sees larger crowds when Michigan (duh), Ohio State, and Notre Dame roll into town. Minnesota and Wisconsin usually drew well over the Thanksgiving holiday. The casual fan gets excited to see these schools more than a Ferris State, LSSU, or Alaska. It doesn't mean these aren't good programs, but they just don't draw the casual fan in.

Each Big Ten team will need to improve though.

Michigan (8-14-2) and Michigan State (6-15-3) are 10th and 11th in the CCHA at the moment (ok, Michigan is tied for 9th). Ohio State isn't doing much better sitting at 8-11-5 overall sitting in 7th place in the CCHA.

Penn State is 9-12-0 in its first season, but they have had some bad losses against non-varsity teams along the way.

This brings us to the only two Big Ten programs above .500 - Minnesota (17-3-4) and Wisconsin (9-8-5). And for Wisconsin it took an 11 game unbeaten streak to get to that point. Miami finally ended that streak last night with a 2-1 victory.

And even if the programs are having bad years, historically they've been very good, which means it stands to reason that they will eventually bounce back. So now some of these other schools that have never contended could find themselves in a new conference that might be slightly more realistic to win a little bit more.

Time will tell how things will work out, and while it might not be perfect at first, I do think it will be good for the most part for college hockey, and those people who have been crying foul ever since the announcement will realize that eventually.

Penn State Week

On this note, I wanted to try something different this week since it's our first ever match-up with Penn State. I don't mean to ignore the Tuesday night exhibition match-up, but  I've touched base with the popular Penn State Hockey Blog - Thank You Terry for assistance this week. Some questions were asked, and some great responses were received - and we'll post those Q&A's during this week in two parts (yes, it's that good). The blog is just as good - so you should check it out and learn a little bit about Penn State hockey.

CCHA Standings


GPWLTSOWPointsTotal Points Possible
Notre Dame16115003369
Western Michigan16104213369
Ferris St.18107103161
Ohio State1676312561
Northern Michigan1859412050
Bowling Green1658311955
Michigan State18512101646

Well, Notre Dame is human. Alaska continued their strong play by sweeping Notre Dame in South Bend. Now all of a sudden a run-away season has turned back into a big race. ND, WMU, and Miami still are the teams to beat, but Ferris, Alaska, LSSU, and Ohio State aren't far behind. Bowling Green finally lost on Saturday. That ended a six game unbeaten streak. Another full slate of games with only Michigan State stepping out of conference.

Games This Week


US U-18 Team at Michigan State  (exhibition)

Friday & Saturday

Bowling Green at Miami
Ferris State at Notre Dame
LSSU at Ohio State
Northern Michigan at Alaska
Michigan at Western Michigan
Penn State at Michigan State

CCHA Power Rankings

1. Alaska (10-8-4, LW: 4). Notre Dame's run at #1 ends this week as the Nanooks won four straight at Michigan and at Notre Dame.

2. Western Michigan (14-6-4, LW: 2). The Broncos split with Bowling Green - and now they've caught ND.

3. Miami (13-6-5, LW: 3). Miami split at red-hot Wisconsin.

4. Notre Dame (15-9-0, LW: 1). The Irish have now lost four straight.

5. Ferris State (12-9-3, LW: 6). The Bulldogs can find themselves in first place this week with some help and a great weekend at Notre Dame.

6. Northern Michigan (11-10-4, LW: 5). The Wildcats have a tough trip out west as their second half surge continues.

7. LSSU (13-12-1, LW: 8). The Lakes salvaged a weekend split against Michigan.

8. Bowling Green (8-11-5, LW: 10). The Falcons went 2-1 this week with a win at Western and against Notre Dame. Who wants to play the Falcons now?

9. Ohio State (8-11-5, LW: 7). The Buckeyes can regroup at home against LSSU.

10. Michigan (8-14-2, LW: 11). The Wolverines finally got back on track with a win, but a loss on Saturday probably doesn't make them feel better about the season.

11. Michigan State (6-15-3, LW: 9). A chance to regroup this week with an exhibition game and Penn State.

Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Minnesota (17-3-4, LW: 1). Unbeaten streak hits 10 (8-0-2).

2. Wisconsin (9-8-5, LW: 2). Unbeaten streak ended at 11.

3. Michigan (8-14-2, LW: 6). Just not sure how to rank the rest of the Big Ten at this point.

4. Ohio State (8-11-5, LW: 3). Not much difference between the rest of these teams at this point.

5. Michigan State (6-15-3, LW: 4). The Spartans have two must win games this weekend.

6. Penn State (9-12-0, LW: 5). A nice win over Vermont doesn't really mask the 3-2 loss to Neumann during the week.

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