CCHA Playoffs – First Round
Farmington Hills, Mich. – Though Miami is sitting this weekend out, there are three best-of-three first round CCHA tournament matchups that begin tonight. Here is an overview of each series.
(11) Bowling Green at (6) Northern Michigan
Chris Bergeron’s first year with the brown and orange certainly wasn’t as easy as former Miami assistant Jeff Blashill’s with Western Michigan. The Falcons won just three conference games and finished 8-24-4 overall in the former Miami captain and assistant coach’s first stint as a head coach.
The good news is the Falcons finished a respectable 1-2-1 including a shootout win against the Wildcats, and split a pair of games in Marquette back in November.
But, the bad news is the Falcons enter the conference tournament on an eight game winless streak. And, Northern Michigan has gone 26-13 in the CCHA playoffs since Walt Kyle took over as head coach in 2002 and the Wildcats have advanced to the Joe in seven of Kyle’s eight seasons.
If all the top seeds win, Northern Michigan will travel to Oxford to face Miami next weekend to play for the right to advance to Joe Louis Arena and the CCHA Conference Semifinals.
Prediction: NMU sweeps
(10) Michigan State at (7) Alaska
The Spartans make their second trip to Alaska in the past three weeks as they battle the Nanooks in Fairbanks. Michigan State won the regular season series 2-1-1 splitting two games Februrary 18th and 19th at the Carlson Center.
Despite junior goaltender Drew Palmisano’s Twitter pleas to Miami’s Andy Miele (he asked the RedHawks assistant captain to “lose one to Lake Superior State” to avoid a return trip to Fairbanks), the Spartans are once again heading to the great white north.
Michigan State is 39-13-3 all-time against Alaska and has a 4-0 record in first round CCHA tournament games. The Spartans lead the all-time conference tournament series by a 6-2 count and are 15-7-2 all-time in Fairbanks.
If all the top seeds win, Alaska will fly to South Bend to take on Notre Dame next weekend.
Prediction: Alaska in three
(9) Ohio State at (8) Lake Superior State
Coming off a sweep at the hands of Miami, the Lakers limp into a home playoff series against the Buckeyes on a four game winless streak. Ohio State won the series 1-0-1 despite dropping a shootout just two weeks ago in Columbus so the teams are familiar with each other.
Given the way the Lakers played against Miami, I think Ohio State has the upper hand in this series. Should the top seeds hold serve, the winner of this series will face Michigan in Ann Arbor next weekend.
Prediction: Ohio State sweeps