College Hockey Invades Joe Louis Arena
In the midst of the Detroit Red Wings' stretch run, there is another stretch run going on in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), only in the playoffs. The CCHA Finals will be held on the 18th and 19th of March at the Joe Louis Arena.
Of the eleven teams in the CCHA, four remain standing and will compete for the Mason Cup on Saturday. The Michigan Wolverines, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Western Michigan Broncos and the Miami of Ohio Redhawks all advanced after winning their previous playoff round matchups:
The four teams all finished in the top four in the regular season standings and all got a bye to the second round, beating their opponents, so it should be a talent packed few games. Here is an overview of the four teams and some notable players on their rosters:
Record: 20-7-1-0 (1st)
Playoff Run: Swept Bowling Green 2-0 (5-1, 4-1)
Next Up: Western Michigan
Notable NHL Prospects: Greg Pateryn (MTL), Mac Bennett (MTL), Brandon Burlon (NJ), Luke Moffatt (COL), Chris Brown (PHX), Kevin Lynch (CBJ), Carl Hagelin (NYR), Lee Moffie (SJ), Ben Winnett (TOR), Matt Rust (FLA), David Wohlberg (NJ), Louie Caporusso (OTT)
NHL Alumni: Jack Johnson, Mike Komisarek, Mike Cammalleri, David Moss, Matt Hunwick, Al Montoya, Marty Turco, Brendan Morrison, Mike Knuble, Aaron Ward, John Madden
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Record: 18-7-3-2 (2nd)
Playoff Run: Beat Lake Superior 2-1 (3-2 OT, 3-4, 4-2)
Notable NHL Prospects: Riley Sheahan (DET), Anders Lee (NYI), Jeff Costello (OTT), Ben Ryan (NSH), Bryan Rust (PIT), Sean Lorenz (MIN), Kevin Lind (ANA), Nick Larson (CGY), Stephen Johns (CHI), Joe Lavin (CHI)
NHL Alumni: Erik Condra, Brett Lebda, Christian Hanson, Yan Stastny, Mark Eaton, Viktor Oreskovich
MIAMI OF OHIO REDHAWKS
Record: 16-7-5-2 (3rd)
Playoff Run: Swept Alaska 2-0 (4-1, 4-1)
Notable NHL Prospects: Will Weber (CBJ), Chris Wideman (OTT), Trent Vogelhuber (CBJ), Curtis McKenzie (DAL), Justin Vaive (ANA), Connor Knapp (BUF)
NHL Alumni: Dan Boyle, Ryan Jones, Kevyn Adams, Brian Savage, Randy Robitaille, Alec Martinez
WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS
Record: 10-9-9-5 (4th)
Playoff Run: Beat Ferris State 2-1 (1-3, 3-1. 5-4 OT)
Notable NHL Prospects: Max Campbell (NYR), Ryan Watson (FLA), Luke Witkowski (TB)
NHL Alumni: Joe Corvo, Glenn Healy, Mike Eastwood, Keith Jones, Mark Letestu, Jamal Mayers, Paul Szczechura
The Redhawks will take on the Fighting Irish at 4:35 and the Wolverines and Broncos will follow at 8:05.
The losers will play Saturday before the Championship game. You can bet I'll be keeping an eye on the Irish's Riley Sheahan. The Wings drafted him in the first round in 2010 (21st overall). He has tremendous upside and it should be exciting to watch him develop as a Red Wing.
Based on stats alone, Michigan should win easily. The Broncos barely beat Ferris State, and if they struggled with them, they certainly will with the Wolverines. I would love to see a Michigan-Notre Dame final, just to see the powerhouse Wolverines play their rivals (other than Michigan State) for all the marbles.
Here's a look at the dominance of Michigan based schools in the CCHA championships since the tournament was hosted at the JLA (since 1982):
Michigan: 9 titles, 6 runner-ups
Michigan State: 11 titles, 4 runner-ups
Northern Michigan: 0 titles, 2 runner-ups
Western Michigan: 1 title, 1 runner-up
Lake Superior State: 4 titles, 6 runner-ups
Ferris State: 0 titles, 1 runner-ups
The only non-Michigan schools to win are Bowling Green (1 title), Ohio State (1 title) and Notre Dame (2 titles). Combined, Michigan has 25 titles compared to 4 non-Michigan teams. Clearly hockey in the state is in a good position. I realize that half the league is from Michigan, but one half of 29 titles is around 15, so Ohio, Alaska and Indiana have some catching up to do.
Hopefully we see some good hockey at the Joe, I'll keep you posted on the outcomes.