Thoughts On Western

Add an actual, working YouTube channel with legitimate highlights to my long list of reasons why the CCHA should have absorbed the WCHA instead of vice versa.*

*There are many reasons why the WCHA is a better league as far as the actual hockey played, but the CCHA is light-years ahead of its Western counterparts with regards to the marketing of its league.

Because of the wonders of YouTube (something the WCHA as a league hasn’t quite figured out), I’m able to post video of both games from last weekend’s Bemidji State/Western Michigan series. This usually isn’t possible.

Here’s Friday’s game, which BSU fans might just want to skip entirely:

And here’s Saturday’s highlights:

A few things I noticed:

1. Western Michigan is good: The CCHA seems to breed big, tough defenders that aren’t easily forchecked against. The Beavers got a little taste of this earlier in the year against Lake Superior State.

But the Lakers are no Broncos. Western outshot Bemidji State 62-37 in the series and at times in the first game there were questions if the Beavers would ever get puck out of their own zone. WMU’s defensive core – one that includes Danny DeKeyser, Luke Witowski and Dennis Brown – lived up to its billing. All three earned at least a point this weekend and as a team the Broncos blocked 18 shots (BSU blocked twice as many but had many more opportunities to do so).

Goaltender Frank Slubowski wasn’t tested much by the Beavers but made the most of his opportunities and was competent in goal. (He also has the coolest goalie mask in history).

The Broncos are currently No. 10 in the Pairwise and No. 10 in both polls after last weekend. It’s safe to say that they’re a legitimate contender for hardware this year.

2. Playing tough against the top: Oddly enough, the Beavers have played some of their best hockey this season against top-ranked teams.

Yes, that weekend in Mankato in which the Mavericks outscored the Beavers 9-1 was disastrous  As was Friday night’s debacle.

But take a gander at the rest of the top 25. BSU nearly knocked off No. 4 New Hampshire before falling in overtime. Against No. 9 Denver, the Beavers had unquestionably their best series of the season with a 1-1 tie and a 5-1 win. There was a marked improvement in Saturday’s game against Western Michigan – a 2-2 tie that BSU easily could have taken.

And the Beavers have made it clear that they own No. 13 Nebraska Omaha: They rallied for a tie then beat them 3-2 on UNO’s home ice back in October.

That’s a 2-4-3 record against the top 25 – and one of those losses came in overtime.

It’s obvious that getting “rattled” against the top teams isn’t an issue for the Beavers. It’s been blowing good leads late in the game – the kind of games we saw against Michigan Tech, Alaska Anchorage and UMass – that has done them in this season. If not for a few of those late collapses we could be looking at a .500 club rather than one struggling to stay out of the bottom half of the WCHA.

3. Back to routine: BSU’s schedule in the past month hasn’t been ideal.

After the Denver series Dec. 14-15, the Beavers had two weeks off before coming back to Bemidji. From there, they flew out to the East Coast for a weird Sunday/Monday tournament, playing two games in two days, then flying back late Tuesday to get ready for the Broncos. They didn’t practice until Wednesday, and even then they weren’t able to get a normal session in because their equipment bags didn’t make it to Bemidji all in once piece.

So they essentially had two days of practice to get ready for Western – one of which took place at Neilson-Reise Arena due to the Harlem Globetrotters at the Sanford Center.

It’s not to excuse the Beavers – it seems like they’re all used to this sort of grind from junior hockey. But it’s really tough to get into a groove when you’re so used to one normal schedule.

BSU has this weekend off before returning to the ice Jan.18-19 at Michigan Tech.

Perhaps this week of rest will allow the Beavers some time to get locked in and get ready before heading out to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.


2 Responses

  1. I agree with you. Hopefully the CCHA schools can bring whoever is in charge of the “web media”in that league over to the WCHA and update it to the 21st Century!

    1. jackhitts

      I’m also hoping that all-caps Twitter updates that are two weeks old will also stop, but hey, I’ll take a competent video page as a start.

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