Men's CCHA Hockey

CCHA Reason To Watch: Michigan Schools Clash; Mavs Play Outdoor

CCHA Reason To Watch: Michigan Schools Clash; Mavs Play Outdoor

The CCHA regular season has reached the far turn, the stretch run approaches, and all eyes are on the standings as we head into this weekend’s play.

Jan 20, 2022 by Tim Rappleye
CCHA Reason To Watch: Michigan Schools Clash; Mavs Play Outdoor

The CCHA regular season has reached the far turn, the stretch run approaches, and all eyes are on the standings as we head into this weekend’s play. 

Bowling Green, clutching to the final home ice playoff berth, is idle, and finds itself rooting for Michigan Tech to keep Northern Michigan at bay, who could leapfrog the Falcons with a sweep. Meanwhile, Ferris looks to gain ground on idle Lake Superior State, but will have their hands full with surging Bemidji State. 

National powerhouse Minnesota State will be battling the weather as well as St. Thomas in their first outdoor game in history Saturday night. Let’s break it down.

No. 19 Northern Michigan Vs. No. 17 Michigan Tech

The streak. Players and coaches from both sides avoid the subject, but when Michigan Tech travels to Marquette to play Northern, it weighs like a dark cloud. It has been three seasons since the Wildcats have been able to beat Michigan Tech at the Berry Events Center—eight straight wins since the Cats clipped the Huskies 3-0 to conclude the 2018-19 season.

Friday night NMU gets another chance to break the streak, but this is not a great time to play Tech, who are coming off back-to-back road shutouts of Lake State, four power play goals in eight attempts. The Huskies are sitting in 10th place in the PairWise rankings, with an eye towards the NCAA tournament. 

Northern has beaten national powers Duluth, Boston University and Minnesota State in Marquette, but can they beat their neighbors in the U.P.? Expect Tech fans to show up in force, happy to trek 60-miles east to the Berry. Friday night in Marquette should be the best game of the weekend, as home team Northern Michigan tries to break the streak in a house packed with fans of both teams.

Predicting an honest split. The streak continues, but Northern returns the favor in Houghton on Saturday.

No. 2 Minnesota State Vs. St. Thomas

This is a home-and-home series that includes Saturday’s much-ballyhooed outdoor game in Mankato, part of the statewide Hockey Day in Minnesota celebration. The schedule-makers caught a huge break from Mother Nature: if the Thursday-Saturday venues were reversed, the players would be exposed to temps 13 below instead of 13 above. Saturday’s third period should see light snow falling, creating the ultimate snow globe effect.

The weather should provide more drama than the competition, despite coach Mike Hastings’ warnings about St. Thomas’ improved play. The Mavericks loss to Northern last Friday knocked them off their perch as the top-ranked team in the country this week, and that stings. They will be at full gallop both indoors in St. Paul Thursday and outdoors in Mankato Saturday. For viewers, this is a good time to see national scoring leader Nathan Smith before he departs for the Olympics in China.

Predicting a comfortable sweep for MNSU.  

Bemidji State Vs. Ferris State

You’ll notice that there is no number in front of Bemidji’s name, and shame on the pollsters. The Beavers have climbed into the top 20 PairWise after their “73 percent split” with Bowling Green on the road. 

Trailing by two goals in the third period last Saturday, dead-eye veterans Owen Sillinger and Elias Rosen defined clutch as they powered Bemidji to the tie in regulation, claiming 45 percent of a road win despite the loss in the standings. Mattias Sholl has proven to be a stalwart in goal, a horse that coach Tom Serratore intends to ride to the national tournament once again.

Ferris is big, hard-edged, and they will compete, but they do not have the veteran horses of Bemidji. 

Predicting a road sweep for the Beavers.

Bonus: Lake Superior State Vs. USA Hockey U-18

Friday night it’s men versus boys up in the Soo, and beware the boys. America’s top prospects, guys you’ll see in the NHL Draft, the World Juniors, the NHL and then the 2026 Olympics, in that order, will be on display Friday, battling Damon Whitten’s Lakers.

These exhibitions provide a great contrast of grit versus skill, and will be entertaining.

Although Whitten’s Lakers have beaten the NTDP in years prior, youth will be served this night. NTDP wins in a fun match.