Between the search for a new football coach, which has me hitting F5 over at Rivals every 30 seconds and the World Junior stuff, I almost forgot that we still have a pair of games this weekend. Friday night, we play at Bowling Green, before a home tilt on Saturday. Neither game is televised, which is actually a bonus for me (since I don't get Comcast Local anyway) because it means that Saturday's game will be shown on the WOLV-TV online feed at MGoBlue.
Here are 10 things to know about this weekend's opponent:
1. Derek Whitmore leads the nation in goals per game and is 4th in points per game. He has 13 goals in just 11 games this year. Eight of those have come on the power play. He's also the only player on the Falcons that has more than 2 career points against the Wolverines, with seven. If you think he's the guy to focus on, you'd be right.
2. Despite being picked to finish a distant last in both preseason polls, the Falcons are currently tied for 6th in the CCHA with a 5-3-0 record. They're 8-4-0 overall. If you sort by winning percentage in conference, they move up to 5th. Caveat: Notre Dame is the only team they've played and they lost both games, though they played ND tough. Wins have come against RIT, Western (2), Wayne State (2), Ferris State (2), and Northern Michigan. Losses have come against Notre Dame (2), Niagara, and Northern Michigan. They've been in every game though. No loss has come by more than 2 goals.
3. The teams have split the last two season series, including that embarrassing loss last year. BGSU has won two in a row at home.
4. The Falcons are second in the NCAA on the power play, with a 27.8% rating. Geezus. The PK isn't bad either at 84.1%, which is middle of the pack in the nation, but their CCHA PK is 4th in the conference. In their last seven games, they're 15 for 38 on the PP. They have given up 3 short handed goals in 12 games, so Kolarik might be licking his chops.
5. They've been solid in both offense and defense this year. They have the 9th ranked offense in college hockey and the 17th ranked defense. They've scored less than 3 goals only three times this season.
6. Both Jimmy Spratt and Freshman Nick Eno have played 6 games. Eno is 5-1-0 while Spratt is 3-3-0. Neither has bad numbers, and Eno's are pretty damn good: 2.16/.906 while Spratt has a 2.51/.901. I would expect to see both this weekend.
7. Eno last played for the Green Mountain Glades. Apparently a glade is a clearing in a forest. That might be the worst team nickname since Wild. Urban Dictionary also lists glade/glades as being either a synonym for huffing or a slang term for sunglasses. Either way, it makes the nickname more funny.
8. Apart from possibly Verona, WI, does any random city churn out more players per capita than Northville, MI? BGSU has a pair, Ryan Hohl and Todd McIlrath. That goes with the seemingly 98 that have come through our program.
9. They're freaking ranked! 18th in the USCHO poll, and they're the last team receiving votes in the USA Today poll (that would put them 21st, but the poll goes to 15).
10. As was the case with the Buckeyes, Bowling Green is very strong on faceoffs. They've won 55% of draws on the season and their only guy who takes a significant number of faceoffs who is below .500 is 68/138 on the year (so, off by 1 win). John Mazzei is winning an incredible 66% of his faceoffs this year, and he's taken almost 200. I might have finally found someone worse than Danny Fardig! Derek Whitmore is 11/44 this year.
This looks like a much tougher matchup than it was "supposed" to be. I'm hoping that it will pan out that BGSU just hasn't played anyone apart from ND this year. We still should be able to get two wins, but I expect them to play us very tough and, especially Friday night, they might be able to steal one.