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Bowling Green eliminates Northern Michigan, advances to second round

Congratulations to Chris Bergeron and the Bowling Green State University Falcons who earlier tonight defeated the Northern Michigan Wildcats 4-1 to win their CCHA first round series two games to one. The Falcons got five goals and seven points from freshman Dan DeSalvo and dominated the series from the midway point Saturday right through tonight’s game. The Falcons will next take on Ferris State in Big Rapids, Mich. in another best-of-three weekend series March 9-11.

With the Bowling Green upset, the CCHA playoffs reset to look like this.

#1 Ferris State v. #8 Bowling Green

#2 Michigan v. #7 Notre Dame

#3 Western Michigan v. #6 Lake Superior

#4 Miami v. #5 Michigan State

That Michigan/Notre Dame matchup could be fantastic, and regardless, means that only one of those two will make it to Joe Louis Arena in two weeks. If the top seeds prevail, it would mean that Miami would face Ferris State in one semi-final and Michigan and Western Michigan would duke it out at the Joe for the second time in two years. Of course, the Broncos upset Michigan last year before falling to Miami in the CCHA Championship game when the RedHawks claimed their first ever Mason Cup.

We’ll have a playoff preview later this week, but frankly, Friday can’t get here soon enough.

CCHA Playoffs: Round One

It’s been a fairly boring weekend of playoff hockey in the first round of the CCHA playoffs with only the Bowling Green State University Falcons providing a bit of drama.

Beginning last season, when the CCHA contracted to 11 teams after the loss of UNO to the WCHA, the top five teams in the regular season standings receive a bye in the first round meaning there are three first round best-of-three playoff series at campus sites.

On Friday, all higher seeds held serve at home as Northern Michigan defeated Bowling Green, Lake Superior topped Alaska and Notre Dame beat duhOSU.

And, on Saturday, Notre Dame finished off duhOSU while Lake sent Alaska back to Fairbanks with two-game sweeps.

However, in a rematch of last year’s 6 vs. 11 series that saw Bowling Green upset Northern Michigan 2 games to 1, the Falcons appear to be staging that same first round drama as they beat the Wildcats 5-3 last night to force a third and deciding game despite trailing 3-1 in the second period. Former Miami captain and assistant coach, Chris Bergeron’s, team has been a thorn in the side of NMU and are hoping to reach the second round of the CCHA playoffs for the second consecutive year after a last place regular season finish.

If Bowling Green pulls off the upset and advances, here’s how the second round match-ups would play out. The teams are re-seeded after each round.

#4 Miami v. #5 Michigan State

#3 Western Michigan v. #6 Lake Superior

#2 Michigan v. #7 Notre Dame

#1 Ferris State v. #8 Bowling Green

If Northern Michigan pulls it together and staves off the Falcons, you’ll see these match-ups.

#4 Miami v. #5 Michigan State

#3 Western Michigan v. #6 Northern Michigan

#2 Michigan v. #7 Lake Superior

#1 Ferris State v. #8 Notre Dame

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see Chris Bergeron do it again and advance to the second round where they’d have a real shot at knocking off #1 seed Ferris State. I’d also LOVE to see Notre Dame and Michigan in the second round meaning one of those two teams would not make it to the Joe. Plus, I think it would be a great series with the Irish possessing the talent to take two of three from the Wolverines at Yost. A Lake/Michigan series would greatly favor the Wolverines and I’d expect a sweep.

We’ll update the match-ups after tonight’s game. The Falcons and Wildcats face off in a winner-take-all decisive game at 7:35pm EST at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich.

Report: WMU, SCSU Expected to Join NCHC

Curious…

That would be my immediate reaction to reports by both College Hockey News and USCHO that Western Michigan University and St. Cloud State University are expected to join the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference that will start play in 2013-14. According to reports, both schools will be invited by week’s end. Both websites cited separate sources with CHN naming the Grand Forks Herald and USCHO citing the Kalamazoo Gazette.

So, what does this mean for Notre Dame?

I think it means they are going to play as an independent while their administration very likely considers a new conference for their other sports as the dramatic changes in college athletics continue. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Notre Dame join either the Big 10 or the ACC for all sports. Of course, only the Big 10 helps the Irish (why Notre Dame gets away with using “Fighting Irish” and others like North Dakota are crucified for using “Fighting Sioux” is beyond me, but a story for another day) on the ice so things are going to be more difficult for them until the situation is resolved.

Notre Dame has committed to announcing a “decision” within 10 days.

As for the NCHC, the addition of Western Michigan makes all the sense in the world. Heavy commitment to hockey, Division I in all-sports, travel partner and MAC rival with Miami, Andy Murray at the helm, etc.

However, I’m perplexed by the addition of St. Cloud.

When the NCHC announced the formation of the conference, “like-mindedness” and a commitment to hockey were noted as key tenets that brought these schools together. I must confess I do not know a ton about St. Cloud as a university, but I know they aren’t a Division I school (though defending national champion UMD isn’t either), they aren’t highly regarded academically and I can only hope assume their ability to support hockey at this highest level is not a challenge for them financially. Plus, St. Cloud’s president went on the record saying the Huskies would not accept an invite to the NCHC as our pal Goon reported a few months back over at Goon’s World making him either a slick politician or an absolute hypocrite.

So, I’m wondering what SCSU brings that Bowling Green doesn’t?

It’s another Minnesota school which is a boon for recruiting, but Bowling Green is a Division I school and inviting them would have kept the three hockey-playing MAC schools together. If Notre Dame wasn’t (ever) going to accept the invitation, I wonder why the NCHC is going with a small non-Division I school over a program that has won a national title, has reaffirmed their commitment to hockey and is a three-hour drive from Oxford, Ohio?

More on this to come over the next few weeks I’m sure.

Bowling Green Close to Accepting WCHA Invite?

Looks like the Bowling Green State University Falcons are inching closer to accepting the WCHA’s invitation to join the conference beginning with the 2013-14 season. Frankly, I’m not sure what the hold-up is.

If the Falcons try to wait out the NCHC for an invite, they could do themselves a disservice by turning off their benefactors with open arms — even if the man behind the invite, WCHA commissioner Bruce “Not Some Kind of Merger” McLeod has made it clear the CCHA teams are now subordinate to the WCHA.

Again, I like that Miami and Bowling Green are conference mates and in-state rivals in every other sport. And, it’s been fun beating up on the Falcons over the past ten years as they’ve ignored their once proud hockey program. But in saying that, I just don’t see what BG provides the NCHC, especially as they offer non-qualifiers, even if Notre Dame declines to join the league and they invite Western Michigan. I think it would be better for the NCHC in the near term to go with seven teams and keep searching for an eighth before I’d invite the Falcons in their present state. That in no way precludes the league from later extending an invitation to Bowling Green should their circumstances dramatically change.

For me, offering NQ’s right now wasn’t a smart move by former Miami captain and assistant coach, Chris Bergeron.