2016-17 BELOW, Week 13
Above are the 2016-17 BELOW rankings after Week 12 of WCHA conference play (76 of 140 games played).
Not so fast, my friend!
Alaska-Anchorage’s upset of Bemidji State, replete with two goals in :35 of the first period of the weekend and then holding the lead throughout and picking up a shorthanded goal with under 3:00 to break the Beavers’ spirits, was impressive. It also led some UAA fans to pan my prediction for the series, but that prediction had the Seawolves winning around 29.67% of the time, a higher value than FiveThirtyEight assigned to the President-elect.
Despite the loss, Bemidji State now has 46 points. UAA (12 in 14 games) and Northern Michigan (7 in 14) can max out at 54 and 49 points, respectively. The teams do play each other, which means that the Wildcats could win out (49) while the Seawolves pick up everything else (48). Bemidji hasn’t clinched the playoffs yet, but they could easily do it this weekend with a road sweep and wins by FSU and LSSU.
Looking ahead to Week 14
Bemidji State at Bowling Green
The battle at the Madhouse on Mercer is undoubtedly the best series on the slate. After a slow start to the season, BG has clawed its way into third in the standings, and while they’re 20 points back of the Beavers, they have two games in hand.
The Falcons have to keep their eye on the prize, and that means overcoming the Beavers (66% EWP). They’d be forgiven for keeping an eye on the tilt in Huntsville this weekend that involves the two teams just behind them in the standings, but you can be sure that Chris Bergeron is telling his players that they can watch those two WCHA.tv on Saturday night from their eyrie.
Minnesota State at Alabama-Huntsville
If you had told Charger fans that they’d be tied in the standings column with old Division II foe Mankato coming into the new year, they’d think that you were crazy. The teams are tied for fourth in the WCHA with 23 points, although the Mavericks have two games in hand on UAH (and BGSU).
The big question for UAH is this: will they bring their road magic home to the Von Braun Center? This team has been very good on the road (6-0-1-1) and very bad at home (1-0-1-6) — they’re coming off of two stinkers in Minnesota’s Mariucci Classic. MSU, meanwhile, looks to be a strong favorite (69% EWP over UAH).
Ferris State at Alaska-Anchorage
I don’t think that it’ll be hard for the Bulldogs to have the right mindset for this series. They just saw what happened to Bemidji, and they know that the three teams ahead of them could all get bloodied this weekend. Also, win over Bemidji notwithstanding, the Seawolves just have four wins in league play, one in a shootout.
The Seawolves have to have a burst of confidence coming out of the weekend. They toppled the league’s best team, outscored the Beavers 5-2, and have series splits in their last three weekends. Have they busted the slide, and can they beat Ferris (72% EWP)?
Northern Michigan at/vs. Lake Superior
The Wildcats and Lakers will face off each of the next two weekends, with games in Sault Ste. Marie bookending games in Marquette. The teams are a mess right now: NMU is 2-0-1-11 in league play, with their lone league win in the last two months coming against fellow cellar-dweller Alaska-Anchorage.
The Lakers are better (66% EWP), but that’s not saying very much, with ten losses since giving then-#10 Minnesota State one on the chin in early November. Their hot start to the season has cooled quite a bit, and they’ve just two league wins since Halloween. They sit at 8th, but sixth place is just a good weekend away.
Lighter Loads Ahead
The only remaining full slates of games are Weeks 16 and 21. Alaska and Michigan Tech are off this week, and Bemidji State and Alabama-Huntsville will be off for Week 15, which sees both Alaska teams wing their way to the lower 48.