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2013-01-30

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January 30, 2013 - 2:39pm

Block 'M' Blog: Around the CCHA, Jan. 30

BY LIZ VUKELICH

January is coming to an end, and with it, we’re getting one month closer to the final CCHA showdown. Six points from a sweep can make or break a team, and this past week was no exception — some schools solidified their position as the conference’s top dogs while others tumbled their way down to the cellar. It’s Wednesday, which means the Block ‘M’ takes a look at a few league highlights and lowlights for the weekly installment of Around the CCHA.

Alaska, oh Alaska, where have you come from? The Nanooks continued their flawless January with their sweep over Northern Michigan in Fairbanks this past weekend. They are now tied with Ferris State for fourth place.

I’ll admit, a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have pegged Alaska as the winner of our Best Turnaround Award. Still, I say it all hinges on this weekend — next up for the Nanooks is a date in Oxford with Miami (Ohio), arguably the last of Alaska’s most challenging matchups. If the Nanooks can sweep again in their penultimate road trip of the regular season, then I can feel confident saying Alaska is a true contender.

Last week, I discussed Bowling Green as another possible CCHA’s dark horse. Alas, after being handily swept by the RedHawks last weekend, it seems like the Falcons’ hot streak is running out of steam.

It’s not unreasonable to expect Bowling Green to salvage a few more wins in its remaining 10 games. But from this point forward, every bounce matters, and the Falcons will have to pull out a lot more than just ties and weekend splits.

When considering mid-tier teams, Ohio State definitely looks to be the strongest of the bunch, especially after its 3-2, 6-1 sweep over Lake Superior State this weekend. Backed by the brick wall that is senior goalie Brady Hjelle, the Buckeyes lead the CCHA in goals against, with 1. 6 per game. Right now, just three points separate the conference’s fourth, fifth and sixth teams, and with so many of the league’s top teams going head to head this weekend, Ohio State could propel itself to the CCHA’s upper echelon with a sweep of Notre Dame.

And now for the conference bottom-feeders. Michigan fans are anxiously awaiting the most anti-climactic series of the year between the Wolverines and Michigan State. The CCHA Battle For Not-Last Place will reach a cresendo at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday afternoon. This rivalry meeting in the Joe historically boasts a full crowd, but it will be interesting to see how many people actually turn up to watch mediocre hockey.

Below are the current CCHA standings with each team’s conference record:

1) Western Michigan: (12-4)
2) Miami (Ohio): (10-4)
3) Notre Dame: (12-6)
4) Ferris State: (11-8)
4) Alaska: (10-7)
6) Ohio State: (9-6)
7) Lake Superior State: (8-11)
8) Northern Michigan: (5-11)
9) Bowling Green: (5-10)
9) Michigan: (5-13)
11) Michigan State: (5-12)