With Two Weeks Left, CCHA Race Still Wide Open

For the first time in school history, the Ferris State Bulldogs are the “top dog” in the college hockey world. With an impressive sweep of then-ninth ranked Notre Dame over the weekend, Ferris State made a leap in the national rankings from fifth to first. They are the first team in the nation to eclipse the 20-win plateau as they have a 20-8-4 overall record. Last week’s top team in the USA Today/USA Hockey Poll Minnesota fell to seventh as they were swept by host Denver, a team that jumped in the poll from 14th to 10th.

The Bulldogs cannot rest as they still have a Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) title race on their hands. They are currently five points ahead of unranked Western Michigan and standing six points are the ever dangerous Michigan Wolverines, who stands at fifth nationally.

The Bulldogs have not lost in regulation in the 2012 calendar year as they have a 9-0-3 record with the three ties ending with a shootout win and the two shootout losses to Alaska and Northern Michigan. The NCAA recognizes those games are ties as the shootout only counts in the CCHA standings. Just as Ferris State has been trending upward, Ohio State has been sliding down faster than the giant “Batterhorn” slide at Progressive Field when I watched them take on Michigan in the Frozen Diamond Face-Off Jan. 15. They were the ones ranked No. 1 in the nation going into that series and since then they have carried a 1-7-2 record since then with the ties ending in shootout losses to Ferris State and Lake Superior state on┬áconsecutive┬áSaturday nights.

Michigan kept themselves in the league race with a huge 3-2 overtime win over rival Michigan State at a sold out Joe Louis Arena Saturday night. They weren’t able to defeat the Spartans in East Lansing, Mich. Friday night but needed two goals in regulation by A.J. Treais and the overtime winner by Kevin Lynch to boost their overall record to 18-10-4.

Because of the unbalanced schedule in the 11-team CCHA, the Buckeyes and [Alaska] Nanooks have two games left while the remaining nine teams have four left. With teams earning three points for a regulation or overtime win and two for a shootout win, it is important for the Bulldogs, Broncos and Wolverines to take three points in each of their three remaining games as the title race can change in the blink of an eye. All three teams are essentially guaranteed a first round bye in the CCHA playoffs but there is a log jam for the final two sports that will earn themselves a first-round bye. There are five teams separated by three points, and only five points separate ninth place from third place.

Bowling Green is sporting a last-place 4-16-4 record with three additional wins in the shootout. With Ferris State and Michigan ahead in the schedule, it might be hard to find a win in those four games but they are out to play giant killer and spring an upset. Here are the remaining schedules for the three teams at the top:

Ferris State

  • Feb. 17-18 home vs. Bowling Green
  • Feb. 24 @ Western Michigan
  • Feb. 25 home vs. Western Michigan

 

Western Michigan

  • Feb. 17-18 @ Lake Superior State
  • Feb. 24 home vs. Ferris State
  • Feb. 25 @ Ferris State

 

Michigan

  • Feb. 17-18 home vs. Northern Michigan
  • Feb. 24-25 @ Bowling Green

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