Monday, December 27, 2010

Halfway to MacNaughton

We are at the midpoint of the WCHA season, or close enough to it. 10 of the 12 teams have played 14 games with SCSU and MTU with 12 league games played. The top and bottom already have a stark contrast, and the top is highly contested with the leader changing over the past few weekends. The Standings can be found here.

Taking a look at the first half we have found some, alright, many interesting developments from the WCHA.

The unexpected success stories of the year include the CC Tigers and UNO Mavericks. Both teams weren’t supposed to be on the top half of the standings, but are making big splashes in the new WCHA, which also “just got tougher.” We pick the Mavs as the biggest surprise.

Powered by solid goaltending by John Faulkner, UNO is in contention for first place in the league with a 12-5-1 record. Faulkner has started every game this season for the Mavericks totaling 1045:43 minutes, third in the nation, and a 0.915 saves percent. Maybe the goaltending was what some expected, but the accompanying scoring was not. Tied for 10th in the nation for total offense, Maverick players Terry Broadhurst, Matt Ambroz and Tyler Martin all are averaging more than one point per game.

The team under the direction of Dean Blais has been very competitive sweeping UMTC in Minneapolis and splitting a hard fought series against UND. They also did lay an egg in being swept by fellow first year WCHA team Bemidji State. It will be interesting to see if UNO can continue competing in the WCHA for the whole season.

The biggest disappointments thus far are Saint Cloud State and Michigan Tech. MTU wasn’t really supposed to be really good, but the wheels have really come off the wagon in Houghton. For that reason we pick SCSU.

After finally winning their first NCAA D-I Tourney game, expectations were it may be a reloading year, but not a total rebuilding year that this year seems to be. The goaltending from the Huskies duo has been exposed. Some point to a depleted defensive corps, but they have three seniors and two juniors on the blueline. Maybe they aren’t the best, but they have experience.

Scoring for SCSU dropped off, but much more than expected. Yes they lost key scorers in Latsch and Raboin, but the players left behind were also key players in last year’s run. It is still to be determined where Roe, LeBlanc, Festler and Marvin are.

The Huskies are 5-11-2 with a dismal home record of 2-6-2 and look forward to the addition of sophomore scorer David Eddy to return from academic ineligibility to start the new year.

Regular WCHA play returns in earnest January 14, 2011.

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