2022 Bowling Green vs Northern Michigan - Men's

CCHA Reasons To Watch: Early Showdown On The Banks Of Lake Superior

CCHA Reasons To Watch: Early Showdown On The Banks Of Lake Superior

Fan enthusiasm for the first weekend of college hockey usually is tempered by ho-hum matchups. At first blush, the CCHA's schedule seemed to be the same.

Sep 30, 2022 by Tim Rappleye
CCHA Reasons To Watch: Early Showdown On The Banks Of Lake Superior

Fan enthusiasm for the opening weekend of college hockey usually is tempered by a variety of ho-hum matchups: exhibition series with Canadian universities, regional contests that don't count in the standings and lopsided out-of-conference tilts. 

At first blush, the CCHA's schedule appeared to be more of the same until BOOM! Two boats collide up near the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Northern Michigan Vs. Bowling Green

Both schools enjoyed a bounce in the pre-season polls, and both are projected to be battling for home ice in the Mason Cup playoffs come March. 

Their two-game set on the extra-large sheet in Marquette starts Saturday. It represents a potential 12-point swing in the CCHA standings, should one club sweep the other. These are points that will be precious come the last week of February. 

It's much more than math that makes these games so attractive - must-see TV for fans as far away as Los Angeles - it's talent, both raw and refined. 

More on the City of Angels later. We'll start with the race for the league's top rookie. 

Host Northern Michigan boasts projected CCHA Rookie of the Year Joey Larson, the 6-foot-1 Muskegon Lumberjack of the USHL. Last season, Larson racked up a whopping 32 goals as a winger in the country's best junior league. 

Bowling Green counters with defenseman Dalton Norris, a sure-fire prospect with impeccable bloodlines, a guy who led all USHL defenders last year with 19 power-play goals. 

Coach Ty Eigner has not guaranteed Norris a place on the Falcons two PP units, stating Wednesday that Norris is only one of "13 players vying for the 10 spots." 

But once Norris begins unloading scoring blasts from the point, he should be locked onto the BG PP for the rest of his career. 

Watching Norris defend Larson over two consecutive games will establish the chalk for the end-of-the-season rookie-of-the-year watch, maybe beyond the CCHA.

Both squads have important connections to Southern California. 

Northern has two veteran scorers returning to Marquette from greater Los Angeles: point-a-game distributor Andre Ghantous will be feeding Vincent De Mey, a 6-foot-1 finisher, looking to add to his career total of 33 goals. 

On the Falcon side of the puck, L.A. Kings fans have a clearly defined rooting interest for Bowling Green. Kings G.M. Rob Blake and player personnel director Nelson Emerson both have sons debuting for their alma mater. 

Jack Blake plays defense like his father, and Quinn Emerson will be up front like his old man, the all-time leading scorer for the Brown and Orange. But the older Emerson insists it's entirely unfair for the hockey world to expect the kids' production to mirror their prodigious parents. 

"Context is important," Nelson Emerson said. "We want the boys to pave their own way and not having comparisons to us old guys." 

Keep an eye on this space, as FloHockey tracks the echoes of two of BGSU's all-time greats. 

If Bowling Green is to shipwreck Northern Michigan on the shores of Lake Superior this weekend, it probably will come from the blades of lethal linemates Austen Swankler and Nathan Burke. The two combined for 24 goals and 49 points last season, the lion's share of that production coming at crunch time.

The most important matchup in the series, as always, is in goal. 

After successful labrum surgery, BGSU senior Zack Rose has the edge over Wildcats sophomore Charlie Glockner. So it would appear to be a pick'em series: the BGSU edge in goal negated by Northern's home ice. Not so, according to Draft Kings. 

The online betting site has declared host Northern a 1.5-goal favorite over Bowling Green. 

Giving the Falcons a goal and a half should be more than enough for Eigner's men in brown.

If the same odds are available Sunday, leap before looking. The guys who set lines at Draft Kings haven't properly assessed BGSU's newly fortified lineup. 

Should Bowling Green pull off the road sweep this weekend, not only would it make the readers of this space wealthier, but the six-point gap in the standings would create a major headache for Northern coach Grant Potulny. 

Imagine a crisis on the first Monday in October. Welcome to the CCHA. Coverage begins Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern on FloHockey.