Big events, new achievements to Take place as Week 2 begins 

By Ryan Stieg 

Big events, new achievements to Take place as Week 2 begins  I didn’t have a perfect week with my predictions, but I did pretty well overall.  

I was right that Wisconsin would sweep CCHA newcomer Augustana, but that was an easy pick to make. I was also correct that Michigan State would sweep Lake Superior State and that Robert Morris would split with Bowling Green. However, I was wrong about the Ferris State-Miami series as I thought the Bulldogs would sweep, but they ended up splitting with the Redhawks. I was also off the mark on the Michigan Tech-Minnesota Duluth game, but not by much. I believed the Huskies would top UMD in a tight one, but it ended up going into the books as a tie with the Bulldogs prevailing in a shootout. So, like I said, I had a pretty good performance.  

Unfortunately, the predictions don’t get any easier to make this week. There’s a big tournament up in Bemidji to open the Beavers’ season, the two scrappy Alaska schools come to the Upper Peninsula, there’s a battle between two schools on Lake Superior, two former WCHA rivals duel in Minnesota, and that’s just a few of this weekend’s series. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get started. Here’s my picks for Week 2 in the CCHA.  

Ferris State vs. Western Michigan (Tonight, Kalamazoo, Friday, Big Rapids) 

Here’s two teams with questions going into this year. Western made the NCAA Tournament last season, but do they have the weapons to get back there? I think they do, but they play in the NCHC, which is the toughest men’s conference in the nation. Sorry CCHA fans, it’s the truth. As a result, it’s not going to be easy for the Broncos. Then there’s Ferris, who looked pretty good in their split with Miami and is trying to get back some respect. A sweep over the Broncos would do that, but I don’t think that’ll happen. I do think they’ll split though. Western wins tonight 5-3, Bulldogs win Saturday 3-2.  

Wisconsin, Army at Bemidji State (Ice Breaker Tournament) 

For the first time ever, the Beavers will co-host the annual Ice Breaker as they’ll play two games at home with fellow host North Dakota playing two in Grand Forks as well. Bemidji just played an exhibition against Minnesota and looked good at times before eventually falling to the Golden Gophers. However, it’s hard to judge a team based on an exhibition game, so I’m still not sure what to think of the Beavers. I’m not sure what to think about Bemidji’s first opponent either. Wisconsin handled Augustana easily with back-to-back shutouts, but two wins were expected, and I can’t really judge a team based on their performance against a Vikings team that will most likely struggle this year. Then there’s Army, which should be an interesting team to watch. I rarely get to watch them play since they’re out in Atlantic Hockey, so this will be a rare treat for me. The Black Knights just got rolled over by Union (whose new team name is the Garnet Chargers for some reason), but I think they’ll give Bemidji a decent fight. I’m going to go bold here and say the Beavers get two wins. After all, the last time Bemidji played the Badgers in a big game, we all know what happened there. The Beavers top Wisconsin 4-3 and Army 5-2.  

No. 10 St. Cloud State at Minnesota State 

This should be a fun one as usual. The Huskies are coming off a split with St. Thomas, falling in overtime Saturday before winning 1-0 in a hard-fought game Sunday. Watching both games, I was impressed with the Huskies special teams and their ability to keep the Tommies to the outside. As far as the Mavericks go, this is a chance for everyone to see how the Luke Strand era will start. Strand took over for longtime head coach Mike Hastings and he has his work cut out for him to live up to those expectations. Rivalry games are tough to predict, so I think I’m going to go with a split here. St. Cloud wins Friday 4-3 and Mankato wins Saturday 2-1.  

Northern Michigan at Minnesota Duluth 

The season will finally get underway for the Wildcats, who seem to be primed for another good season. NMU was just a couple minutes away from winning the CCHA Championship last season and earning its first NCAA Tournament berth in 13 years. Unfortunately, the ‘Cats were dealt with another league championship loss, their third under head coach Grant Potulny’s reign in Marquette. On the other side, UMD is coming off its tie with Tech and the Bulldogs should’ve won that game, but they let the Huskies stick around and eventually force a draw. Northern has had some luck against the Bulldogs recently and if they were playing the U.P., I’d pick a Wildcats sweep. However, since the series is in Duluth, I’ll go with a split. UMD wins Friday 4-3 and NMU wins Saturday 3-1.  

Alaska Fairbanks at No. 9 Michigan Tech 

Last season, the Nanooks were the darlings of college hockey, defying the odds as an independent to come within one game of earning an at-large tournament bid. I guess they can take solace in the fact that Colgate, who took Alaska’s spot by winning the ECAC Tournament, got walloped by Michigan in the first round. Alaska is off to a rough start this year after getting swept by Denver. However, I still believe in the Nanooks and I think they’ll split with the Huskies up in Houghton. Tech wins Friday 5-2 and Alaska wins Saturday 3-2.  

Alaska Anchorage at Lake Superior State 

Here’s the other Alaska-U.P. squad battle as the Seawolves travel to Sault Ste. Marie. It may not be the marquee series of the week, but it should be an entertaining one. The Lakers were just swept by No. 8 Michigan State, while Anchorage split with UMass Lowell at home, taking down the River Hawks Saturday in overtime and almost sweeping them Sunday. I know I’ve picked a lot of splits, but it’s simply because a lot of these series are evenly matched. This series isn’t any different. So, I’ll pick another one in this matchup. LSSU wins Friday 4-3 and Anchorage wins Saturday 5-4.  

Bowling Green at Augustana (Sat., Sun.) 

The final CCHA matchup may not be the most enticing one, but it’s still special as it’s the Vikings’ home opener and their first league series. The Falcons had mixed results last week, getting a shutout on the road at Robert Morris, but then getting shutout themselves at home the next night. Based on those results, this could be a decent opportunity for Augie to get its first DI victory, but I don’t think the Vikings can keep pace with the Falcons. It’ll be a reasonably close series, but BG sweeps it. The Falcons win Saturday 4-1 and Sunday 6-2.  

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