It’s that time of the year again in the college hockey world, the end of another spectacular regular season in Division 1 College hockey! This weekend has 3 of the conferences opening up their playoff round games (CCHA, ECAC, Atlantic Hockey). The races are close in Hockey East and the WCHA and this weekend will determine the regular season crowns and playoff seeds for them. The tournaments in all the conferences should be full of surprising and thrilling performances.
Current Nation Rankings:
Regular Season Final Standings:
|1. Ferris State||28||16||7||8||1||54||80/62|
|5. Michigan State||28||14||11||3||2||47||80/68|
|6. Northern Michigan||28||11||11||6||3||42||76/79|
|7. Lake Superior State||28||11||13||4||4||41||71/79|
|8. Notre Dame||28||12||13||3||0||39||65/73|
|11. Bowling Green||28||5||19||4||3||22||40/88|
As expected Ferris state won the CCHA Title! It was the 2nd time in school history and the first since 2002-2003 for the Bulldogs.
Since the New Year, Michigan has gone 10-3-1 to climb up to 2nd in the league tied with Western Michigan.
This weekend the CCHA starts its opening rounds with 3 matchups.
No.11 Bowling Green VS No.6 Northern Michigan
A rematch of last season’s first round, Bowling Green comes off a split with Michigan while Northern Michigan Beat Lake Superior to get the 6 seed. I expect Northern Michigan to take this round as I think they are just a better team overall than BG, who finished in last place.
My prediction: No. Michigan takes it in 2 games
No.10 Alaska VS No.7 Lake Superior State
Alaska just played Alaska Anchorage in a home and home series while Lake Superior got swept by Northern Michigan. I think that despite the recent troubles, Lake Superior State will prevail.
My prediction: Lake Superior St in 2 games
No.9 Ohio State VS No.8 Notre Dame
Ohio State is coming off getting swept by Miami while Notre Dame ended up splitting with Michigan State in their regular season finales. A hard fought series which will be won by Ohio St. despite their recent struggles.
My prediction: Ohio State in 3 games
The Regular Season Final Standings:
|8. St Lawrence||22||10||11||1||21||50/64|
Union leads the charge as the ECAC regular season champ. This weekend gets underway with opening round games featuring seeds 5-12. Four best of 3 matchups to determine who faces the teams with home ice. Union, Cornell, Harvard, and Colgate will enjoy a week to rest and prepare as the other 8 teams battle to fight on.
The Matchups are
No. 11 Princeton Vs No. 6 Yale
Yale beat Princeton 5-2 on the road last weekend and I would expect Yale to hold off Princeton in 3 games this weekend as Yale Advances.
No. 5 Quinnipiac Vs No. 12 Brown
It’s been a tough year for Brown again as they continue to struggle in the conference. Quinnipiac just missed out on home ice and will want a chance to show Colgate they are deserving of home ice as well. I see a 2 game sweep with Quinnipiac on top.
No. 10 Rensselaer Vs No. 7 Clarkson
I see an upset in this series as Rensselaer has a few good wins against some of the top teams in the league. Clarkson meanwhile had a fairly decent year and looks to improve on it but I sense an upset with Rensselaer beating Clarkson in 3 games.
No. 9 Dartmouth Vs No. 8 St Lawrence
St Lawrence has had problems scoring goals when they need them and I continue to see that being a problem as Dartmouth takes the weekend beating St Lawrence in 2 games.
Regular Season Final Standings:
|1. Air Force||27||15||6||6||36||85/52|
|7. Robert Morris||27||13||9||5||31||72/58|
|10. American Int’l||27||6||18||3||15||57/98|
With Atlantic Hockey’s regular season over the winner of the season title goes to Air Force.
With only the top 4 seeds getting 1st round byes that leaves 4 match-ups this weekend to determine who plays those teams with home ice.
No.11 Army At No.5 Holy Cross
Mercyhurst owning a tiebreaker over Holy Cross forces them into an opening round series with Army. Holy Cross should take care of business in 2 games as Army has only 3 conference wins all year.
No. 12 Sacred Heart At No. 6 Bentley
This is another matchup with a team that struggles in stopping goals and can’t find a way to win games. Bentley should easily take this series in 2 games.
No. 10 American Int’l AT No. 7 Robert Morris
Robert Morris has struggled down the stretch but American Int’l has struggled the whole year, another 2 game sweep with Robert Morris advancing.
No. 9 Canisius At No. 8 Connecticut
This is the most evenly matched up series of this weekend for Atlantic Hockey, Look for this series to go the distance with 3 games with Connecticut prevailing as the winner.
Heading into the final weekend of the season for Hockey East this is how the standings look:
|1. Boston College||25||17||7||1||35||87/59|
|2. Boston University||25||16||8||1||33||92/63|
|3. Umass Lowell||25||15||9||1||31||81/65|
|6. New Hampshire||26||11||13||2||24||68/73|
Boston College is poised to take the Hockey East regular season title this weekend as they have Vermont twice at home, while Umass Lowell, Maine, and Merrimack fight for those home ice spots in the first round. Boston University will be playing a struggling Northeastern team in a home and home series as Northeastern tries to find a way to sneak into the playoffs as the 8th and final seed.
Merrimack is coming off a big weekend against Umass Lowell taking 3 of 4 points to climb back into the hunt for home ice. With a game in hand to Maine they control their own fate to get the 4th or 3rd seed. Umass Lowell with a win clinches Home ice and the 3rd seed. Maine has got to take care of business against New Hampshire or it can be looking at dropping to 5th.
With the last weekend in Hockey East on the doorsteps, we will finally know the following:
1) Who wins the long battle for the regular season crown
2) Which 4 teams will have home ice
3) If Northeastern and Massachusetts finally settle the season long battle for that last playoff spot
The final weekend of the WCHA will determine the WCHA Cup winner and the first round playoff pairings.
Here’s a look at the standings:
|2. Minnesota Duluth||26||16||6||4||36||99/68|
|4. North Dakota||26||14||11||1||29||75/71|
|5. Colorado College||26||13||12||1||27||88/84|
|7. Michigan Tech||26||11||11||4||26||83/80|
|8. St Cloud State||26||11||12||3||25||81/70|
|10. Bemidji State||26||9||14||3||21||65/84|
|11. Minnesota State||26||8||16||2||18||71/95|
|12. Alaska Anchorage||26||5||20||1||11||55/104|
Minnesota with a win against Wisconsin would take the WCHA CUP and the number 1 seed for the tournament. Minnesota Duluth would need a lot of help from Wisconsin as they would need 3 of 4 points against St. Cloud state. Both teams have locked up home ice for the 1st round though. Since every team makes the tournament Denver and North Dakota have also locked up home ice in the first round. North Dakota faces off against Minnesota State and Denver takes on Nebraska Omaha who is clinging to that final home ice seed.
A big weekend Matchup is No. 5 Colorado College vs No.7 Michigan Tech
A lot rides on this as Michigan Tech is just one point behind and with a bad weekend by either team Home ice can be lost. St. Cloud state has the toughest road of trying to catch the race for home ice as they face off against the defending National Champion Minnesota Duluth. Wisconsin, Bemidji State, MSU, and Alaska are out of home ice and their seasons can be over very shortly as they are in the bottom tier of the conference.
After this weekend the rest of the playoffs will begin and we will see some great college hockey games coming up in the next few weeks. Here are my thought on the winners of their tournaments and the Hobey Baker award
My Conference Tournament winners:
CCHA -Ferris St
ECAC – Cornell
Atlantic Hockey – Niagara
Hockey East – Boston College
WCHA – Minnesota
My thoughts on the Hobey Baker Award
Austin Smith from Colgate seems to be a frontrunner for the award. In the 34 games played he has matched it with 34 goals. Overall he has 34 goals to go along with 18 assists giving him a racked up 52 points with a +22 rating. The reason this is quite remarkable is the fact that most of his points come on even strength or shorthanded situations. Only 13 of his points are on the power play while the other candidates for this award have many more points on the power play. Smith has 7 Power play goals, and 6 short handed goals on the season.