Before I get to this week's Ten Things, I have to call out the voters in the USCHO College Hockey Poll. Typically I don't really care about the polls. They're good discussion fodder, but really, they don't mean a whole lot. That being said, I glanced at the polls today to see where they have the Wolverines. We're ranked #6, which is probably about right with the season we've had so far (though I think if you're ranking the teams based on how good they are right now, I think we'd be top 3). That's not what I question. Look further down, specifically to the "Also Receiving Votes" section, and namely the team that received 7 votes: The Michigan State Spartans.
If you want proof that polls mean nothing, look no further. I really want to know who ranked the Spartans in the top 20 of the poll. They've won two games since Halloween, they're 11th place in the CCHA, and are 6-13-3 on the season. I mean, it's not like they're in the WCHA, where clearly if you're 7 games under .500, you're still one of the ten best teams in the country.
The only possible rationale that I can come up with is that voters from Minnesota wrote "MSU" on their poll, thinking they were voting for Mankato State. The "Whack Ballot Watchdog" is barking up a storm over this one. Those points have to be a mistake, right? I don't even think the biggest Spartan homer would have his team anywhere near the top 20. I mean, I guess that win over North Dakota looks pretty good right now, but.....
Anyway, this week we take on the Bowling Green of Ohio Falcons. Here are 10 Things to Know about them:
1) They come into this weekend in last place in the CCHA (though, without those pesky shootout points, they'd be ahead of Sparty and tied with NMU) with a record of 7-12-3 (4-9-1-0 in conference). They're 1-6-1 on the road, which doesn't bode well for Friday night's contest at Yost, but they've got a .500 record in the orange confines of their home rink. The lone road win was a 1-0 victory up at Alaska. They also have a solid win over Omaha at home. And they did sweep the same Clarkson team that beat Miami of Ohio (Not That Miami of Ohio). Amazingly, that's not enough to get votes in the USCHO poll.
2) Their goal scoring has been kind of wonky. They've done pretty well in the nonconference games, less so in conference. But more than that, they started the year really well, went through a really rough stretch, and now are putting the puck in the net again. After scoring 3 or more in seven of their first ten, they went seven straight without scoring more than 2. Since then, however, they've scored 3, 4, 3, 5, 3. They average a whopping 33 shots on goal a night.
3) Freshman sensation Jacob Cepis (15-16--31) was unable to repeat his first year magic, scoring just a goal and four assists in eighteen games before transferring to Minnesota. Believe it or not, though, they have two more double-digit goal scorers than the Wolverines. Dan Sexton, David Solway, and Kai Kantola all have 10 (Kantola has 5 in his last 8). Sexton leads the team in points with 25 in 22 games and has 5-4--9 during a five game point streak. They've got eight goals from their defensemen, and their D has scored seven goals and nine assists in the last nine games.
4) In net it's been Jimmy Spratt most of the way. Sophomore Nick Eno, who played 22 games a year ago, has been in net just twice due to an ankle injury, though his two appearances were in BGSU's most recent games (a relief appearance Friday night against OSU and a start the next night). Spratt is 7-11-3 on the season with a 3.15/.882.
5) Their 2.41 goals per game ranks 40th in the country. Defensively they're 47th, giving up 3.36 a night. In conference games only, they rank 8th on offense and 12th on defense. It's kind of sad that 2.07 goals per game is better than 3 other teams in the CCHA.
6) Their power play hasn't been good. They rank 52nd in the country at 11.5% and have given up six shorthanded goals. Adjust for SHG, and their power play falls to 7.4%. They do have seven PPGs in the last five games, however. Sidenote, accounting for shorties, American Int'l would have a 0% power play. Ehht! Their penalty killing is 43rd at 81%, but they've scored six shorties of their own (giving them an 85.7% adjusted PK). RIT is the only team with more short-handed goals than BGSU. Sexton, Svendsen, and Schmitt each have two SHGs.
7) They have one European on the team, but shockingly it's not the guy with the last name Svendsen. Tomas Petruska is Czech (actually he's Slovakian, but if you watched the US/Slovakia game in the World Juniors, you learned that the terms are apparently interchangable).
8) Michigan is 72-31-3 all-time against BGSU, and won the games last season 4-2 and 3-2. We're 14-3-1 since the 01-02 season. Tim Miller is Michigan's leading scorer against the Falcons with 4 assists in 6 games. Matty Rust is the only Wolverine with more than 1 career goal against BGSU. He has 2 in 2 games. Billy Sauer is 2-1-0 with a 1.53/.949. Hogan has never faced Bowling Green.
9) Stop the top line and you stop BGSU. Svendsen, Solway, and Sexton have combined for right around 65% of the team's goals, assists, and points in the 12 CCHA games they've skated in together. For the season, they've accounted for close to 50% of BGSU's goals in the games they've played together.
10) In the 106 game history of this series, there have only been two shutouts. A 4-0 Michigan win in 1993, and a 5-0 Michigan win in January of 2007. That really surprises me.
Here's a bonus 11th thing:
11) Petruska and Schmidt are the only players with multiple points against Michigan in their career. Sexton and Solway each have a goal in two games though. Svendsen has been held off the scoresheet in his four games against Michigan. Eno is 0-1-0 with a goals against a tick above three and a .893 save percentage while Spratt is 1-3-0 with a 4.02/.877.
Friday night's game is not on TV, but MGoBlue with have the video. Saturday's game is on Comcast 900 and the NHL Network (in Canada) and will be shown at noon on Sunday in the US on the NHL Network.