>As the final weekend of the regular season winds down, here is a look at the first round CCHA playoff matchups. For those who aren’t familiar, the top four teams in the standings receive a first-round bye. After the preliminary series’ are complete, teams are re-seeded with the lowest seed hitting the road and taking on the number one seed.
First, the final CCHA standings:
1. MIAMI (70 points)
2. Michigan State (50 pts)
3. Ferris State (49 pts)
4. Northern Michigan (48 pts)
5. Alaska (45 pts)
6. Nebraska-Omaha (44 pts)
7. Michigan (43 pts)
8. Ohio State (40 pts)
9. Notre Dame (36 pts)
10. Lake Superior (35 pts)
11. Bowling Green (23 pts)
12. Western Michigan (21 pts)
Now, the matchups:
#12 Western Michigan at #5 Alaska
– This will be a tough series for a very bad Western Michigan team. Coach Jim Culhane has already been “axed” for next season and the Broncos have to make the 3, 640 mile trek to the Last Frontier. In the two meetings earlier this season, WMU notched a win and a tie (but lost in a shootout). Western has only one a first-round series twice in Culhane’s 12 years. Look for Alaska to pick up an easy 2-0 series win and move on.
#11 Bowling Green at #6 Nebraska-Omaha
– The UNO Mavericks will be looking to put a stamp on their final season in the CCHA by winning the Mason Cup, as first year head coach Dean Blais and his program will be jumping ship to the WCHA in the fall. All signs point to a second round matchup for UNO, given the fact that Bowling Green has been awful all season. Mavericks advance, 2-0.
#10 Lake Superior at #7 Michigan
– Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor is always a tough barn to play in and the Wolverines soundly defeated the Soo Lakers twice this season. Michigan has had a season, best considered atypical by all standards, but as the saying goes, “Coach ’em up,” and Red Berenson knows how to do just that. Watch the Maize & Blue in the post-season, they could get hot. This blogger takes the Wolverines over the Lakers in three games.
#9 Notre Dame at #8 Ohio State
– This will be an interesting matchup to watch. Notre Dame, projected to win the CCHA regular season, finds itself playing the first round, as opposed to watching. Injuries have riddled the Irish this season and the program had several bad losses down the home stretch to Western Michigan Bowling Green. The Buckeyes, with the second best powerplay in the CCHA, are still waiting for their breakout season and have taken the “two steps forward, one step back” approach this year. This one could go either way, but I think the “home ice advantage” plays big here. Ohio State wins the series in three games.
Fire away. How do you see this weekend shaking out?