Monday, October 24, 2011

WCHA: The Land of Sweeps

Home Sweeps Dominate Conference Play; UMD Gets Three in Providence

Welcome to the land of sweeps, the WCHA. Twenty-eight games into the WCHA season and all fourteen series have been sweeps. Make that all have been home sweeps, excluding the Gopher sweep at Duluth.

In a conference that is usually predictable about who is tops and who will be the doormats, this season has started off as the season of parody. Not all teams have had the chance to play more than one conference series, and SCSU still has to play even one WCHA contest, but a few questions are coming to the forefront.
  • Are the Sioux a top tier team? After Wisconsin gets swept at Tech, they turn around and sweep North Dakota in Madison. Maybe NoDak isn’t that good…or Tech maybe claiming their trophy (MacNaughton Cup) after all these years.  It doesn't bode well for the Sioux seeing that Tech got swept by the Beavers in Bemidji this past weekend.  But it is too early in the season to making those type of comparisons...or is it? 
  • Is Michigan Tech for real? A much heralded sweep over Wisconsin brings Tech to BSU and a thump as they get swept.  The Huskies did look good at times, especially late in both games.  If only the games were seven minutes longer...  As stated here last week, MTU started 3-0-2 last year before going 1-30-2 to finish the season. New coach Mel Pearson knew he was in for a tough time, but it started good and now he has to get the Huskies to stop the skid.
  • Is there a home ice advantage in the WCHA? Normally I would say no, but who can argue with the results so far? Let’s see after this weekend when Denver travels to Tech and the Gophers visit Alaska – Anchorage.
  • Will Minnesota State – Mankato become the new bottom dweller in the WCHA? So the Mavs got swept in Denver topped by a 10-2 drubbing Saturday night. They didn’t have any reserve skaters on the trip due to injuries and were forced to dress 19 skaters Saturday because of a new injury. This weekend off could help with the issue, or maybe they should take one of the three goalies they brought to Denver and make him play forward…couldn’t hurt.
Bulldogs Take Three in Providence. The road series is a nice rebound to the beginning of the year. The Bulldogs never trailed during the weekend and got to bolster their penalty killing numbers against a mediocre Friars team.

The one issue that still lingers is the finishing instinct of this Bulldog squad. Again, UMD surrenders a late goal that this time resulted in a tie. It is a better result than the loss to UMTC earlier this year when UMD gave up a late tying goal, but the trend is concerning. This weekend’s games against Bemidji isn’t time to be on shaky ground. The scrapping Beavers have given UMD fits for years now, especially last season when the teams went 1-1-1 against each other with all the games going to overtime.

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