CCHA expects a close finish

Kevin Shields and Kevin Shields

It’s been a really interesting season thus far in the CCHA and one that still has a lot of excitement left. With first and seventh place in the league only separated by seven points, it is still anyone’s title to take.

Currently there are three teams ranked in the nation’s top 15. Ferris State, Michigan, and Ohio State are the ranked teams, while Michigan State, Northern Michigan, and Miami have received votes. Ferris State is the big surprise team of the year and the current leader of the CCHA with a three point lead over second place Ohio State.

The Bulldogs are going for their first ever CCHA title and have never finished higher than third in the team’s history.

The top dog for Ferris State is Chris Kunitz, who is leading the CCHA in scoring by a 15 point margin with 53 points over fellow teammate Jeff Legue with 38. Kunitz is both the leading goal scorer and assist man for the CCHA. They are also solid in the net with goalie Mike Brown posting a 2.54 goals against average that is currently the fifth best in the league.

The once mighty Lake Superior State Lakers are now the bottom dwellers of the league. The Lakers have won only one CCHA game all year and four overall. They have won more national championships than any other CCHA team with 3, but have struggled in recent years now.

John Markel, a Bowling Green graduate, has his Ohio State Buckeyes currently in second place by a point over rival Michigan and have put together quite a season. Their top gun R.J Umberger is quite a player and is second in the league in goals with 19. Ohio State has also put up a very impressive home CCHA record with a perfect 8-0-0 mark. They are looking for their first CCHA title since 1972 when they took both regular season and tournament championships.

With the usual contenders of Michigan and Michigan State right on the heals of the leaders, they can still ruin the season for the new comers on top. Michigan has been a strong hockey team all year, but has not been able to win some of their bigger games in the league which is why they are currently back 4 points. The Spartans really struggled in the beginning under new coach Rick Comley, who replaced legendary coach Ron Mason, but have come on strongly as the year has gone by.

The Falcon hockey team is currently in eleventh place out of the twelve teams in the league, but has come on strong as of late with some big wins over Nebraska-Omaha and Northern Michigan. Scott Paulich really has the team going forward right now in his first season and things are looking up for our storied program. The team notched their first win over Michigan State for the first time in 12 meetings earlier in the year at the BG Ice Arena.

There are only a few weeks left of play and ones that will bring some big games that will have a big factor on the standings. Ohio State will host Michigan in a two game series to close the year, while the Falcons could play spoiler for Ferris State in their own two game home series to end the year at the BG Ice Arena. The Spartans and Wolverines will also play 3 more times before all is said and done.

So can the Bulldogs of Ferris State get their first CCHA title and possible first ever NCAA tournament birth? The next few weeks will tell the story and whether or not the Bulldogs could hold off the teams right behind them.