Category Archives: Northern Michigan

2017-18 WCHA Finish: Minnesota State, Northern Michigan, and Bowling Green

Minnesota State, with 63 points, will almost assuredly finish in 1st place and win the MacNaughton Cup.  They have a five-point lead on Northern Michigan, and there are only two situations that the teams tie:

  1. 64 points: Northern gets two standard wins and Minnesota State loses twice, once standard and one over-overtime.  Mankato and Northern tie at A, and Mankato wins at B, 21-20.
  2. 63 points: Northern gets two wins, one standard and one over-overtime, and Minnesota State suffers two standard losses.  Mankato and Northern tie at A, and Mankato wins at B, 21-19.

In short: if Bemidji State sweeps Minnesota State and Northern Michigan sweep Michigan Tech, the Wildcats win the MacNaughton.  In every other instance, Minnesota State is the #1 seed.

Northern is not guaranteed 2nd place, as Bowling Green is just three points back.  The teams tie in the following scenarios:

  1. 61 points: Bowling Green gets two standard wins, and Northern Michigan gets one.   The teams tie at A; Northern Michigan wins at B, 19-18.
  2. 61 points: BG gets two standard wins, and Northern Michigan wins once in over-overtime and loses once in over-over time.  The teams tie at B, 18-18, and BGSU wins at C, five standard losses to six.
  3. 60 points: BG gets one standard win and one over-overtime win; NMU gets one over-overtime win and a regulation loss.  NMU wins at B, 18-17.
  4. 60 points: BG gets one standard win and one over-overtime win; NMU gets two over-overtime losses.  NMU wins at B, 18-17.
  5. 59 points: BG gets one standard win and one over-overtime loss; Northern gets one over-overtime loss and one standard loss.  NMU wins at B, 18-17.
  6. 59 points: BG gets two standard over-overtime losses; Northern gets one over-overtime loss and one standard loss.  NMU wins at B, 18-16.
  7. 58 points: BG gets one standard win and one standard loss; Northern is swept.  Northern Michigan wins at B, 18-17.
  8. 58 points: BG gets two over-overtime losses; Northern is swept.  Northern Michigan wins at B, 18-16.

In short: Bowling Green can finish in 2nd if they pass Northern Michigan or if they sweep Alabama-Huntsville and Northern Michigan gets three points in two over-overtime games.  Otherwise, Northern Michigan finishes 2nd.

2017-18 BELOW, Week 10

Hi, everyone.  While I was off slinging 632 GB down from space (harder than you’d think), the WCHA has played half of its season!  Jimmy.  I’m hoping to catch up here now that 2018 is upon us.  We’ll see.

2017-18 Week 10 BELOW

TeamBELOWExpWin%Week 0 BELOW+/-
Above are the 2017-18 BELOW rankings after Week 10 of WCHA conference play (70 of 140 games played).

As you’d expect, BELOW at the halfway mark pretty well mirrors the league standings.  BELOW still likes Bemidji State, probably because the Beavers have played just 12 games (as have Alaska-Anchorage) while Michigan Tech has played 18 (most in the league; all others have played 14).

Speaking of Tech, they’re the stunning team of the season, free-falling from 1st in BELOW at the start of the season to eighth now due to the second-best league offense (Minnesota State is tops in GF) going unsupported by the second-worst defense (Lake Superior is last in GA).  Where’s the beef, indeed.

Supplanting the Huskies in the standard top-three is Northern Michigan, which has excelled under first-year coach Grant Potulny.  The Wildcats have truly been an excellent team this season.

If you’re new, here’s a decent guide to BELOW.  Note that teams were reverted towards the mean at the start of the season because of the nature of college hockey player turnover.

I’ll be back later this week (hopefully).

2016-17 WCHA Week 21, Series 70 Projection: Northern Michigan (1528) @/v Michigan Tech (1666)

2016-17 Week 21, Series 70: Michigan Tech (1666) at/home Northern Michigan (1488)

MTU Sweeps40.64%
NMU sweeps8.20%
MTU 5 points (W, OTW)7.71%
MTU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)5.05%
NMU 5 points (W, OTW)3.39%
NMU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)2.52%

This is our lop-sided matchup of the week, and it’s a shame, really.  The Wildcats’ resurgence has been remarkable, but facing the league’s best team, even on rivalry weekend, is a tough task.  They have to like their chances of keeping ahead of the pack with a split or better — about 41% — but the long losing streak they had has made the playoffs a dicey proposition.

2016-17 WCHA Week 18, Series 58 Prediction: Northern Michigan (1426) at Bowling Green (1533)

2016-17 Week 18, Series 58: Northern Michigan (1426) at Bowling Green (1533)

BGSU sweeps50.59%
BGSU 5 points (W, OTW)8.99%
NMU Sweeps8.91%
BGSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)6.66%
NMU 5 points (W, OTW)3.82%
NMU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)2.05%

Before NMU smoked UAA — a team that’s no great shakes this year, but a team that BELOW considered to be on par with the Wildcats — it looked like Northern Michigan might be headed for the scrap heap.  Instead, its strong showing against Alaska-Anchorage and the struggles of Alabama-Huntsville could take Walt Kyle off of the hot seat in Marquette.

Chris Bergeron’s team has to find an identity.  Minnesota State has a date against cellar-dweller UAA (who admittedly are a tough out, especially on Friday nights at home), and while the two teams immediately behind them are idle this weekend, the fact of the matter is that BG plays just one series after this weekend — home against UAH to close the season.  It’s put-up or shut-up time at the Mad House on Mercer for a team with just five games to play this month.

2016-17 WCHA Week 16, Series 51 Prediction: Alaska-Anchorage (1412) at Northern Michigan (1364)

2016-17 Week 16, Series 51: Alaska-Anchorage (1616) at Northern Michigan (1697)

UAA sweeps23.34%
NMU Sweeps12.45%
UAA 5 points (W, OTW)10.63%
UAA 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)9.56%
NMU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)8.31%
NMU 5 points (W, OTW)7.55%

Alaska-Anchorage is 1-1-2-4 on the road in the WCHA this season, which is to say that it’s kept is close half of the time.  They should expect to do better against Northern Michigan, who have failed to turn mediocre fundamentals into mediocre results.  Consider:

NMU has:

  • The third-best power play in league play.
  • The fourth-best penalty kill (leaving them -1 net so far).
  • They’re seventh in league scoring (86 GF) and league defense (100 GA).

But also:

  • The three teams behind them in league scoring and defense are all above them (10th, 13 points) in the standings: UAH at (t-6th, 23), LSSU (8th, 22), and UAA (9th, 19).

It has to stick in the Wildcats’ whiskers.  Their road back to the playoffs starts this weekend.

2016-17 WCHA Week 15, Series 46 Prediction: Lake Superior h/h Northern Michigan

2016-17 Week 15, Series 46: Lake Superior (1434) h/h Northern Michigan (1359)

LSSU sweeps32.41%
NMU Sweeps13.79%
LSSU 5 points (W, OTW)7.11%
LSSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)6.55%
NMU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)4.50%
NMU 5 points (W, OTW)4.43%

Lake Superior is looking downstate at Ferris State and hoping that Alaska comes into the Ewigleben and beats up the Bulldogs.  They surely don’t feel comfortable at this point, and beating up on Northern Michigan on the way to the Cappo Cup has to be the first item on their agenda.

NMU, conversely, has to win every game that it can at this point.  The Wildcats host both Alaska schools down the stretch, but they also make trips to Bowling Green, Minnesota State, and Michigan Tech.  Ouch.

I expect a Lakers sweep (but then I expected that last weekend, so… you know).

2016-17 WCHA Week 14, Series 42 Prediction: Northern Michigan at/vs. Lake Superior

2016-17 Week 14, Series 42: Northern Michigan (1337) at Lake Superior (1456)

LSSU Sweeps42.92%
NMU sweeps12.06%
LSSU 5 points (W, OTW)4.07%
LSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)3.70%
NMU 5 points (W, OTW)2.03%
NMU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)1.98%

Both of these squads are in a free-fall, with teams figuring to be around .500 this year stuck wondering if they’re going to make the playoffs.  Northern Michigan has just two wins in league play and is the only WCHA team with single-digit points.  As the Wildcats seek to claw their way into contention, losses this weekend mean that they will have put Bemidji State one step closer to clinching a playoff berth.

These teams play the next two weekends: games in Sault Ste. Marie book-ending games this Saturday and next Friday.  The A tiebreaker could well be in play for these teams.  ABOVE likes Lake Superior’s chances at keeping the Wildcats behind them and out of the playoffs.

Geof’s Subjective Prediction: Lakers sweep.

2016-17 WCHA Week 12 BELOW Ratings

2016-17 BELOW, Week 12

TeamWk12 BELOW+/-Wk12 EWP
4-BGSU1561-32 (-29 v MTU, -3 v UAF)59%
2-UAF1447-4 (-7 v UAA, +3 v BGSU)42%
Above are the 2016-17 BELOW rankings after Week 12 of WCHA conference play (74 of 140 games played).

Michigan Tech Leads the BELOW Pack

The Houghton Huskies mushed to the front of the WCHA pack with a strong showing against Bowling Green in Week 11, with 3-1, 2-1 wins over the Falcons.  They are expected to win 79% of the time against an average league opponent, and their 1730 BELOW rating is the highest of the 2016-17 season.

With that said, Bemidji State is still seven points ahead with two games against Alaska-Anchorage that ABOVE expects them to sweep around 52% of the time and widening their point lead 98% of the time.  It’s fairly likely that the Beavers will be +13 ahead in the standings.  I hope to revisit this by the end of the year.

Alabama-Huntsville Stampedes Through Marquette

With a pair of resounding wins, UAH improved to 6-0-1-1 on the road in WCHA play this season, keeping pace with the league leaders for holding down a shot at home ice in the first round of the playoffs, a big mark for a team widely held to be in the cellar this year.

That said, the Chargers’ road home is a tough one.  UAH is 1-0-1-6 at home this year, and they host Minnesota State, Tech, and Bemidji down the stretch while facing Lake Superior, Alaska, and Bowling Green on the road.  Huntsville needs to pick up some games at home if they have any hopes of March hockey in the Rocket City.

Northern Michigan has the biggest slide of the year: picked in the middle of the pack to begin the year, the Wildcats are dead last in the standings and are -163 on the year — that’s as bad as Bemidji has been good (+182).

Minnesota State Falters against Ferris State

It took the Mavericks two power-play goals in the third period on Saturday the 10th to forestall a sweep at the hands of Ferris State, who rocked them 3-0 the previous night.  The Mavs’ performance against Princeton in non-conference play this weekend does leave one wondering how good the Mavs really are at this point.

Bowling Green Sliding

The Falcons had a shot at putting breathing room between themselves and Mankato & Huntsville and just couldn’t execute, taking three losses in four games against Tech and Alaska.  BGSU was the coaches’ and media pick for league favorites this year, but everything that can go wrong seemingly has: players transferring, inconsistent goaltending, scoring going silent, and overall inconsistency.  One can feel the frustration emanating from Ohio — this is a better team than what they’ve showed so far, even though they’re a tenuous third place.

I’ll have BSU-UAA picks for you on Friday.

2016-17 WCHA Series 27 Prediction (ABOVE 1.3)

ABOVE Prediction for Series 27: Northern Michigan at Alaska-Anchorage

2016-17 Week 10, Series 27: Northern Michigan (1397) at Alaska-Anchorage (1312)

NMU Sweeps34.22%
UAA sweeps12.77%
NMU 5 points (W, OTW)7.10%
NMU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)6.64%
UAA 5 points (W, OTW)4.32%
UAA 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)4.26%

After weeks where picking up any points at all were unlikely occurrences (29% against Michigan Tech, 40% against Bowling Green), Alaska-Anchorage has a weekend hosting a struggling Northern Michigan team where a split or better is a 50-50 proposition.  Matt Thomas’s squad has truly struggled this year, but so has Walt Kyle’s.

These two teams are well at the bottom of the WCHA standings, and while it’s early days yet, neither team needs to dig this deep of a hole.  With 29 goals scored in just 18 combined games, this one could be a snooze-fest, especially to Wildcat fans propping their eyes open for the late games.

For BELOW swings: two NMU routs would raise their BELOW to 1438 and drop UAA’s to 1271 split(9.02% probability).  The reverse would bump UAA to 1379 and drop NMU to 1330 (2.04% probability).  As always, there’s a lot of room for movement in both directions when two teams are fairly close in BELOW.

Geof’s purely subjective prediction: UAA wins in regulation and loses in a shootout.