Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Morning Skate

It's rivalry week in the WCHA!

At least for a few teams, including top-ranked Minnesota State, which is in Big Rapids, Mich., to take on Ferris State in what should be a very entertaining series (if only I was there to witness in person). The series shapes up a lot like last year, only with the roles reversed for the two teams.

Last year, the Bulldogs came to Mankato ranked No. 2 in the country and sitting atop the WCHA, while MSU was around .500 and trying to get its season cranked up. This year, it's the Mavericks who are No. 1 and leading the league while the Bulldogs are at .500. After the dust had cleared from an intense, physical series (fight!), the Mavs had upset the Bulldogs. Can MSU avoid a similar outcome this year?

Read more about the series in the Freep's College Hockey Gameday.

Bowling Green at Michigan Tech: Rivalry? Yep. Like MSU-FSU, this one began last season. Now, these are the second- and third-best teams in the WCHA, Minnesota State's closest competition for the MacNaughton Cup. This could be the best series of the weekend. The red-hot Falcons have lost just once in their last 13 games, while the host Huskies are coming off a one-point weekend.

Bemidji State at Lake Superior State: The Beavers are on a roll, unbeaten in their last seven games, thanks, in part, to a freshman goaltender, and hoping to make a second-half push for home ice. The Lakers, meanwhile, are playing at home for the first time since Thanksgiving weekend, the only home series in a brutal stretch of 14 games.

Northern Michigan at Alabama Huntsville: Although the stretch includes three ties, the Wildcats are unbeaten in four of their last five games and tied for the coveted fourth-place spot in the league standings. They're traveling to face a Chargers team that won its last two home games and tied them earlier this season in a nonconference matchup.

Alaska Anchorage at Alaska: Here's an in-state rivalry, as the Seawolves and Nanooks will play for the Governor's Cup. The visiting Seawolves are trying to stop a rather rough stretch that has included just one victory in their last 13 games. This will be the rivals' first meeting since Anchorage scored a playoff upset in Fairbanks last March.

Read my and Jack Hittinger's USCHO column on the WCHA.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm not in Big Rapids this weekend. I'll be watching on, like a lot of you, I'm sure. Check for Twitter updates and a post-game blog right here.

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