February, for all of college hockey, brings the final stretch of the regular season. With scheduled games dwindling quickly, each one becomes that much more important.
A number of teams in the mitten may be playing their season’s most important pair of games this weekend. With six of the seven mitten-made clubs on the road, there is little to no margin for error.
FERRIS STATE BULLDOGS
RECAP: Ferris State (12-17-1) had themselves a very nice weekend, sweeping in-state conference rival Michigan Tech at home, totaling seven goals in the two games combined. The wins come after FSU lost nine of their previous ten and with the WCHA regular season crown no longer a possibility, it’s all about gaining momentum as the season winds down.
UP NEXT: The Bulldogs now begin their final stretch of road games, beginning with two at Alaska (9-15-2). The Nanooks last played two weeks ago when they got swept at home by aforementioned Michigan Tech. Ferris last visited Fairbanks nearly two whole calendar years ago, leaving town with a series sweep.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Freshman Coale Norris put together a nice state line, two goals and assist to give him seven in each department for the season. The native of Oxford, Michigan has had a modest rookie campaign, he’s tied for fourth in points (14) for Ferris this season, behind all upperclassmen.
SCHEDULE: Friday (02.02) and Saturday (02.03) | 11:07 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: WCHA.tv | 97.3 FM WDEE
LAKE SUPERIOR STATE LAKERS
RECAP: Conversely, the season cannot end quick enough for Lake Superior (6-20-4), who were once again swept at home by (15) Bowling Green. The Lakers allowed eight goals to the Falcons, marking the eighth time they have allowed 7+ goals in a weekend series this season; second such instance against BGSU.
UP NEXT: LSSU finishes the regular season with six straight road games, where they are just 1-9-3 away from Sault Ste. Marie this year. First up is a date with Bemidji State (14-8-6), who earned a split on the road last weekend against Alabama-Huntsville. The Lakers have just one win in regulation/overtime in their last seven games against the Beavers.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Junior Gage Torrel was the most productive Laker last weekend, potting a goal and assisting on two others. Torrel has now scored in two of his last five games after coming up empty over the ten games prior. Unless he catches some serious fire, he’ll finish well short of his sophomore point total (22).
SCHEDULE: Friday (02.02) and Saturday (02.03) | 8:07 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: WCHA.tv | 99.5 FM WYSS
RECAP: Twas not a good week for the maize and blue on the ice, they drop both games to rival (6) Ohio State in Columbus, including a 4-0 shutout defeat on Friday. Despite a pedestrian record on paper, Michigan (12-12-2) remains in the USCHO Top 20 at No. 20 overall, which speaks to their tough slate of games this season.
UP NEXT: The Wolverines return home to continue their Big Ten gauntlet, welcoming in (18) Wisconsin to Yost. The Badgers effectively swept (14) Penn State last weekend in Madison, winning the latter game via a shootout. The last time these two teams played back in November, the Badgers netted 11 goals combined against Michigan.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Freshman Jack Becker scored his fourth goal of the season in the Saturday tilt against OSU. All four of Becker’s goals have come since January 1, which is a span of nine games. He’s played in just 19 games this season for the Wolverines but a strong finish may be in the works for him.
SCHEDULE: Friday (02.02) and Saturday (02.03) | 7:35 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: MGoBlueTV | 1050 AM WKTA
MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
RECAP: Michigan State (9-16-1) had the week off, following a pair of tightly-contested one-goal affairs against (13) Minnesota two weeks ago.
UP NEXT: Like Michigan, the Spartans look to gain any sort of momentum in what is a brutal Big Ten hockey schedule. They will follow in the Wolverines’ footsteps this week and take the trek down into Columbus and tangle with the Buckeyes. You won’t find too many teams hotter than Ohio State (17-5-4) right now, winners of three straight and nine of ten overall.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Sophomore Taro Hirose collected three more points (2 G, A) his last time out, giving him 30 on the season. In doing so, he temporarily leads the team in that category with four games left in the season. And with each point from here on out, it will add to his sophomore surge after totaling 24 as a freshman.
SCHEDULE: Friday (02.02) and Saturday (02.03) | 7:05 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: Spartan Sports Network
MICHIGAN TECH HUSKIES
RECAP: As mentioned prior, Michigan Tech (13-11-5) stubbed their toe at Ferris last weekend. It’s been a bit of a theme for Tech all season long, struggling to string together 3+ ROW wins. In fact, they’ve only done that just once this season, going way back to October.
UP NEXT: No matter, the Huskies are still very much a major player down the stretch and come conference tournament time IF they can gain some momentum. It won’t get much easier this week, however, when they travel to (14) Bowling Green (16-8-6).
PLAYER TO WATCH: Sophomore Thomas Beretta scored his seventh goal on Friday in what was his third consecutive game finding the back of the net. Beretta is sitting at nine points (7 G, 2 A) with eight games remaining plus the league tournament. Eclipsing double-digits will make him the 13th Husky with 10+ points this season.
SCHEDULE: Friday (02.02) @ 7:37 p.m. ET | Saturday (02.03) @ 7:07 p.m. ET
NORTHERN MICHIGAN WILDCATS
RECAP: Northern Michigan (17-10-3) took care of business on the road against Alaska-Anchorage last weekend and in doing so, they now have sole possession of first place in the WCHA standings, for the time being, and establish themselves as the best Division I team in the mitten. NMU scored nine goals total in the two games against the Seawolves.
UP NEXT: The ‘Cats will now put their six-game winning streak on the line, again on the road this weekend when they travel down to Alabama to take on Huntsville (9-17-2). The Chargers have won three of five following a six-game slide. These two split their previous series in Marquette earlier this season.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Junior Troy Loggins lit the lamp three more times last weekend, giving him 15 on the season, which comes one week after teammate Darien Craighead reached that total the week prior. That now gives the Wildcats three players with 15+ goals on the year, and Loggins is tied for the team lead in points.
SCHEDULE: Saturday (02.03) and Sunday (02.04) | 3:07 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: WCHA.tv | 100.3 WUPT
WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS
RECAP: It seems the absence of Wade Allison for the year could be taking a big toll on Western Michigan (13-12-1). The Broncos were blitzed for 13 goals, by far their most allowed in a two-game series this weekend, getting swept at the hands of NE-Omaha in the process. It is also the six straight series in which they’ve allowed at least eight goals.
UP NEXT: Mathematically, Western is still very much alive for the top spot in the NCHC, but it’ll be a considerable uphill battle. Among the many challenges will be this weekend on the road against Miami-OH (9-12-3). The RedHawks are the cellar-dwellers in the conference, but WMU is just 3-8 away from Kalamazoo this season.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Freshman Austin Rueschhoff scored against last weekend against the Mavericks, his fourth in the last five games played, giving him nine on the year. Rueschhoff was one of five different goal scorers for WMU last weekend and may be one of many guys that will be called upon moving forward for scoring. Although, as we mentioned before, defense and goaltending have been a major concern for the Broncos as of late.
SCHEDULE: Friday (02.02) @ 7:35 p.m. ET | Saturday (02.03) @ 7:05 p.m. ET
BROADCAST: NCHC.tv | Z96.5 FM WZOX