Needing a clean slate in CCHA Week 15

By Ryan Stieg

The new year is only a few weeks old, and I’ve already got some mud on my face.  

It took me quite a while during the first half of the CCHA season to earn a winless week, but it only took me three weeks to achieve that feat in the second half.  

First, I got the Northern Michigan-Lake Superior State series wrong as I thought it’d be a split and the Wildcats would be hoisting the Cappo Cup. Instead, NMU didn’t bother to show up, got blown out by the Lakers and LSSU ended up with the Cup. It got worse from there as I also thought Minnesota State would split with Ferris State and instead, the Mavericks easily swept the Bulldogs. Finally, there was the Michigan Tech-St. Thomas series. Yes, I even whiffed on that one. I thought it’d be a hard-fought split and the Tommies ended up sweeping the Huskies back to Houghton. So yeah. If you combine all that with the fact that I attended a funeral in –70 below zero temperatures, it was a bad weekend for me.  

However, as always, this week is a fresh start. A chance to shake off a rough performance and get back in the win column. All the CCHA teams are in action, so that increases my chances for success and makes me feel more confident with my predictions. So, here’s my picks for Week 15 and I’ll start off with a series involving the two teams that I know the best. 

St. Thomas at Northern Michigan 

Here are two teams heading in opposite directions. The Tommies are looking great right now. After a horrific series in Vermont over the holidays, UST defeated Minnesota Duluth in an exhibition game and then swept a good Tech team at home over the weekend. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the sweep was that the Tommies pulled it off despite having some key guys out of the lineup with injuries.

Then there’s the Wildcats, who just can’t seem to get consistent. NMU blew out Tech in an exhibition a couple weeks ago and it looked like the ‘Cats might build on that. However, then they got stomped by the Lakers and it makes you wonder what is going on in Marquette this year. Northern has usually been a second half team during the Grant Potulny era, and there’s still a few weeks left for the Wildcats to get it together, but things need to change soon. I think that change starts this weekend with a split. The Tommies win Friday 4-2, but the Wildcats rebound Saturday 3-1.  

Lake Superior State vs. Ferris State (Friday at Big Rapids, Saturday at Sault Ste. Marie) 

Are the Lakers a contender for the MacNaughton Cup? At the start of the year, that idea would seem hilarious, but now, maybe it’s a possibility. LSSU has turned things around from last year’s disastrous season, and team chemistry seems to be better on the ice. Meanwhile, Ferris appears to be embracing its role of spoiler this year as the Bulldogs have surprised some unsuspecting CCHA squads this year at home. Ferris didn’t look good against Mankato last week, but I think they steal a game here and force a split. The Bulldogs win Friday 6-3, but the Lakers win Saturday 5-2.  

Bemidji State at Michigan Tech 

This is a pivotal series for both squads. The Beavers were off last week and thanks to the Tommies getting a sweep, Bemidji has fallen into second place. So the Beavers can’t afford a sweep if they want to stay in MacNaughton contention. For Tech, it’s just trying to keep up. At the start of the year, the Huskies were the consensus pick to win the league, but now, they might not even get home ice. A sweep of the Beavers would be huge, not only for league points, but also for confidence. I think it’s a toss-up series and that typically means a split. The Beavers win Friday 4-3, but Tech wins Saturday 5-4. 

Minnesota State at Bowling Green 

We’ve talked about LSSU maybe being a MacNaughton contender, but is Mankato one too? It’s hard to say. The Mavericks are only four points out of first place, so they’re in the mix. However, like almost every other team in the conference, Mankato has battled inconsistency all season. The Falcons, on the other hand, are on the verge of having a lost season. They were predicted to contend for a league title and right now, BG is probably not going to get home ice. BG also hasn’t won a game since Dec. 9, so things are not looking good at all for the Falcons. I’m tempted to pick a Mankato sweep, but even though the Falcons are down, I don’t trust MSU to go to Ohio and get two wins. The Mavericks win Friday 3-2, but the Falcons win Saturday 4-2.  

Augustana at Arizona State 

The Vikings were off last week, so they should be fresh and ready to go in Tempe. Augie looked pretty good against Mankato two weeks ago and even put up a good fight against Notre Dame over the New Year’s Day weekend, so it should be able to keep pace in the desert. As far as its opponent goes, ASU is having an impressive season at 16-5-5 and could pick up an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if it continues to play at a high level. As fun as it would be to see the Vikings pull an upset, I think the Sun Devils are too much for Augie to handle and they get an easy sweep. ASU wins Friday 5-2 and Saturday 4-1.  

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *