Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WCHA Half Point, Points

Note: This article was written pre-holiday tournaments.  It is dated, but sentiments remain largely the same.  The real glaring update may be the Gophers commentary after they did blow Boston College out of the water.

Rough Ideas at Roughly Halfway of WCHA Season

The WCHA conference schedule is on hiatus until the New Year.  This is the traditional halfway point of the conference schedule.  Six teams are at their halfway point in the conference and the other six are two games shy of halfway to the 28 WCHA games.

The time off gives us a moment to look back at where the teams are compared to where we predicted.  Below is a brief look at the teams over performing and falling short so far.

Stock Rising

Minnesota State – Mankato:  The purple Mavericks have been blessed with a schedule against many teams in the lower half of the conference and MSUM has taken full advantage by beating those teams.  New head coach Mike Hastings is getting the most out of a team that showed promise last season in a 12-24-2 overall record.  Defense is keying the surge led by freshman goaltender Stephon Williams’ 1.95 GAA and 0.921 saves percentage for a record of 7-4-1.

Wish we had that one back: A 2-2 OT tie at Alabama – Huntsville.  The maybe good news out of the tie is Mankato came from behind twice in the game.

Great Starts: Kudos to Saint Cloud State and Omaha for exceeding expectations thus far.

Stock Falling

Denver:  A great start to the season has turned sour.  Denver was an upstart surprise going 9-1-0 in their first ten games.  Since then, they are 0-5-3.  The story is defense.  In the first ten games, DU gave up 22, 2.20 per game.  In the next eight games they allowed 26 goals, 3.25 per game.  Denver has used three goalies this season: senior Adam Murray (3 starts), junior Sam Brittain (8), and sophomore Juho Olkinuora (8).  Olkinuora has emerged as the most reliable of the group at 4-1-3 with 1.69 GAA and 0.944 saves percentage.

What the…:  Fans are left wondering what happened to the expected great or decent play from Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota Twin Cities. 

The Gophers have not done poorly, but have not been the offensive juggernaut expected to blow all teams out of the water.

The Bulldogs seem to be picking up, but are still struggling mightily for wins they were expected to get easily.

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