Okay, this is going to be weird. First off, I was not able to get a press box spot for the games this weekend. Michigan brings a huge entourage and NMU only allotted five spots for them, so they were in a fight all week trying to fit everyone in. Unfortunately, everyone does not include me.
The good part is I can send Cover It Live updates over my cell phone. But I will need Steve or one of the regulars out there to contact me ASAP at because I will need someone to moderate and add readers to the chat. The bad thing is I don’t know how long my cell phone can hold out, so don’t expect constant updates from me throughout the game like I normally do, but I will give updates on the important stuff that’s going on.
The games start at 7:35 p.m. both nights.
ON THE LINE
It’s the final weekend of the regular season and like the prior weeks, it’s a huge weekend for both teams involved. The last time they met was also huge—last season’s CCHA championship game, which the Wolverines won, 2-1.
Michigan currently sits in second place in the CCHA standings, one point behind Notre Dame, and they are sixth in the all important PairWise Rankings. These games are must win for any chance to claim the top seed in the CCHA tournament and give them the best positioning possible for the NCAA tournament.
Northern Michigan is sixth in the CCHA with 39 points, two points behind Western Michigan and now one point behind Ferris State, who got a shootout win over Ohio State Thursday night. The top five teams get a first round bye in the CCHA playoffs. The top four teams get home ice in the second round. Western hosts Notre Dame this weekend. Ferris and Ohio State wrap up their series tomorrow. So there’s definitely an opportunity for Northern to jump one, if not both, teams and get a first round bye.
Northern Michigan comes in to the weekend on a four game unbeaten streak (3-0-1-1) after coming off a four game losing streak. Their unbeaten streak all came on the road, too, sweeping Michigan State in East Lansing and getting a win and shootout win at Bowling Green. Okay, so maybe not the two most impressive teams in the CCHA this season, but anything to get you out of a funk and get you a little confidence helps.
NMU’s had another up and down .500 season. They lost a lot from last season, got off to a poor start (including getting trashed at Miami 4-0 and 9-1 early on) before finding the win column.
Junior Tyler Gron leads the team in all categories—team high 16 goals, tied for a team high 15 assists, and team leading 31 points. Also all career highs for him, too. But apparently he’s injured and will miss the weekend, which would be a blow to the Wildcats. Big 6’4 former U.S. NTDP forward Justin Florek is second in scoring with 12 goals and 14 assists.
On the blue line, sophomores Scott Macaulay (1-15-16) and Kyle Follmer (6-9-15) are the top scorers by a wide margin. NMU’s defense isn’t known for their scoring, contributing only 13 goals this season.
In goal, junior Reid Ellingson has gotten the majority of the starts and has a 9-10-3 record in 26 games with a 2.54 GAA and .918 save percentage. Freshman Jared Coreau has a 5-5-2 record in 14 games with a 3.63 GAA and .911 save percentage. For whatever reason NMU’s defense gives up nearly 10 shots per game more when Coreau is in net than when Ellingson is. I expect Reid to get the start both nights unless Friday goes really bad.
There is no TV for this weekend’s games. NMU offers a single camera web stream for $7 per game if you really need your hockey fix. Otherwise, listen to the radio stream on MGoBlue.com or follow my live blog here on MHNet.