Mittens’ Mitten Roundup – College Hockey, Week 23

Few things, if any, are better than playoff hockey. Any Michigander will vouch for that. It goes for the college kids as well, and the postseason for many of the mitten-made teams begins this weekend. The Big Ten and WCHA begin their three-week conference tournaments this week, while the NCHC wraps up their regular season. So we will be previewing matchups for six of the seven teams.

Exempt from the roundups from here on out will be Lake Superior State (10-22-4), who ultimately finished ninth in the WCHA standings. As for the remaining six in the mitten, here’s what is on tap.

[Click here to view our Week 22 roundup]

FERRIS STATE BULLDOGS

RECAP: Lake Superior is no longer playing this season thanks to Ferris State (14-21-1), who swept the Lakers at home last weekend to earn six big points. And thanks to some help from other teams fighting to get in, the Bulldogs actually finish with the 6-seed after entering last week’s action in 8th place.

UP NEXT: The quarterfinal stage of the WCHA Tournament is a best-of-three series hosted by the higher seed. So for FSU, they will be hitting the road to play 3-seed Bowling Green (20-10-6). The No. 15 nationally-ranked Falcons split with Alabama-Huntsville, whom Ferris was fighting with for positioning in the final standings; the Chargers are the 7-seed.

Ferris played just one series against Bowling Green back in early January, getting swept by the Falcons and outscored 9-3. This will be a rematch of the 2017 WCHA Quarterfinals, a series that BGSU also won in two games.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Freshman Coale Norris wrapped up his first college hockey regular season with three goals against LSSU last week, giving him 10 on the year and 18 points overall. The native of Oxford, Michigan had two assists in the first of two games against Bowling Green earlier this season.

SCHEDULE:

  • FRI, March 2 | 8:07 p.m. ET
  • SAT, March 3 | 7:07 p.m. ET
  • SUN, March 4 (if nec.) | 7:07 p.m. ET

BROADCAST: WCHA.tv | 97.3 WDEE

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

RECAP: Michigan (18-13-3) finished the regular season out of conference with a sweep of Arizona State at home. Fewer teams have closed out the campaign better than the Wolverines, winners of five straight overall, 10-3-1 in their last 14, heading into the playoffs.

UP NEXT: The Big Ten has adopted the three-week conference tournament format that the WCHA uses beginning this year. Michigan, the 3-seed in the bracket, will take on the 6-seed Badgers from Wisconsin (14-17-4). Bucky was punched in the mouth by No. 6 Ohio State last week, outscored 10-2 in a sweep; the Buckeyes are the 2-seed in the tournament.

Michigan played two series against Wisconsin this season. Out of a possible 12 points between the two series, the Badgers collected seven of them (2-1-1).

PLAYER TO WATCH: Sophomore Jake Slaker recorded a pair of assists last week in the first 5-3 win against Sparky last weekend. But look for Slaker to be a bigger role against the Badgers, as he scored a goal in three of the four games against Wisconsin this season.

SCHEDULE:

  • FRI, March 2 | 7:30 p.m. ET
  • SAT, March 3 | 7:30 p.m. ET
  • SUN, March 4 (if nec.) | 7:30 p.m. ET

BROADCAST: MGoBlueTV | 1050 AM WTKA

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

RECAP: Already locked into the 7-seed in the Big Ten Hockey Tournament, Michigan State (12-20-2) was looking for any sort of momentum heading into the first round of the playoffs. They did salvage a split against No. 5 and Big Ten 1-seed Notre Dame, winning the latter game of the series in South Bend.

UP NEXT: The Spartans will now make their last stand and begin what they hope will be a miracle run through the conference tournament. It’ll be a tall order, traveling to Columbus to play the aforementioned Buckeyes of Ohio State (21-8-5), whom MSU went 1-3 against this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: It’s been a sophomore slump for Sam Saliba this season, who was held without a point in his final seven games played. But MSU is hoping he can turn it around against a team he’s had some success against this year. Saliba in four games against Ohio State this season has logged two goals and four points.

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SCHEDULE:

  • FRI, March 2 | 7 p.m. ET
  • SAT, March 3 | 7 p.m. ET
  • SUN, March 4 (if nec.) | 7 p.m. ET

BROADCAST: Spartan Sports Network

MICHIGAN TECH HUSKIES

RECAP: Michigan Tech (17-15-5) was playing 100 percent for momentum last week against Yooper rival Northern Michigan, with the Huskies already being penciled into the 5-seed of the WCHA Tournament prior to that final series. Tech did manage to pick up a victory in the regular season finale against the Wildcats and end on a high note.

UP NEXT: The Huskies will hit the road for Bemidji State (16-12-8) this weekend in the 4/5 matchup of the tournament. The Beavers picked up just two out of a possible six points against No. 4 and WCHA top dog Minnesota State; they too were locked into the 4-seed heading into last week’s action.

These two played their lone season series just three weeks ago up in Houghton, with each picking up a W. Overall, Bemidji has won five of the previous eight games against the Huskies.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Junior Jake Lucchini finished his regular season with a goal against NMU. Tech’s leading goal scorer (13) and point-getter (29) has recorded at least a point in seven of the final eight games for the Huskies, which includes a goal and an assist against Bemidji in that span.

SCHEDULE:

  • FRI, March 2 | 7:07 p.m. ET
  • SAT, March 3 | 7:07 p.m. ET
  • SUN, March 4 (if nec.) | 5:07 p.m. ET

BROADCAST: WCHA.tv | 93.5 FM WKMJ | Pasty.net

NORTHERN MICHIGAN WILDCATS

RECAP: Northern Michigan (21-12-3) needed to sweep rival Michigan Tech to earn their first regular-season crown since the 1990-91 season; their lone national title season. No matter, the Wildcats are hosting a first-round series and eclipsed the 20-win mark for the first time since 2009-10, with a chance to do more damage.

UP NEXT: The 2-seed Wildcats will welcome in the aforementioned 7-seed Chargers of Alabama-Huntsville (11-21-2) then Marquette this weekend for a quarterfinals series. These two teams have split their four meetings this season and have done so in their previous 14 battles head-to-head (6-6-2).

PLAYER TO WATCH: Junior Troy Loggins continued his breakout season with a goal and an assist last week vs. Northern, giving him 17 and 37, respectively, on the year. In four games against Huntsville, Loggins has potted three goals and assisted on another.

SCHEDULE:

  • FRI, March 2 | 7:07 p.m. ET
  • SAT, March 3 | 7:07 p.m. ET
  • SUN, March 4 (if nec.) | 7:07 p.m. ET

BROADCAST: WCHA.tv | 100.3 FM WUPT

WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS

RECAP: Western Michigan (14-16-2) continues to free-fall following the loss of Wade Allison for the season. The Broncos were swept at home against top-10 foe Minnesota-Duluth. And adding insult to (Allison’s) injury, Western was absolutely blasted by the Bulldogs, outscored 14-1 in the two games out in Kalamazoo.

UP NEXT: It’s the regular season finale for these mitten-made Broncos before their conference tournament. They’re in a three-way tie for fifth place currently in the NCHC standings and will play at Colorado College (13-14-5), one of the teams WMU is tied with.

Crazy as it may be, considering how poorly they have played lately, Western (28 points) can still earn a first-round series at home. They trail current 4-seed North Dakota (31 points). The Broncos would need to close out the week with more points than UND, because they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker. North Dakota hosts No. 1 St. Cloud State at home this weekend.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Freshman Austin Rueschhoff has nine goals and 15 points on the year. One of those nine came against Colorado College back on January 20. Excluding last week’s series (because nobody played well), Rueschhoff has a point in five of the previous seven games.

SCHEDULE:

  • FRI, March 2 | 9:37 p.m. ET
  • SAT, March 3 | 8:07 p.m. ET

BROADCAST: NCHC.tv | 96.5 FM WZOX

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