Wolverines, Spartans earn hockey bragging rights

Michael Rand

Coaches from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State — the teams in the College Hockey Showcase — have always maintained that the tournament, is a good opportunity for four Big Ten schools to face off against one another.
But the fourth annual Showcase held last weekend in Detroit isn’t just put on in the interest of bringing together schools normally aligned in the Big Ten conference. It’s a two-day showdown for WCHA or CCHA bragging rights.
The Wolverines and Spartans, who play in the CCHA, hold a slight edge over the Gophers and Badgers, who play in the WCHA. The CCHA teams are now 9-7 in the Showcase after taking three of the four games at Joe Louis Arena.
“It’s a little bit for bragging rights,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said after his team defeated Wisconsin 8-4. “This isn’t something we’re going to hold up and say, We’re a better team or league,’ but it shows we can play with top teams from other leagues.”
The debate over which league is better ultimately boils down to the equivalent of a “Less filling, tastes great,” squabble. Both leagues have produced a staggering number of national champions; there were 18 between the four teams at the Showcase.
Quality wins
Northern Michigan may only be 4-9-1 in the WCHA, but the team has been impressive against the league’s preseason favorites.
The Wildcats picked up three of their four wins against Colorado College, Minnesota and Denver, the teams picked by coaches to finish first, second and third in the league.
Northern Michigan split with CC and Minnesota, and it earned three points with a win and a tie against Denver this weekend.
Shocker
Perhaps the most startling score in the WCHA so far this season was Alaska-Anchorage’s 7-4 win Saturday at Colorado College.
Never mind that the Seawolves entered the game with a 2-6-1 record while the Tigers were 8-3. There were far more amazing aspects of the upset.
ù Prior to Saturday’s game, the Seawolves were 0-7 at Colorado College since joining the WCHA in 1993, and were outscored 37-18 in those games.
ù Alaska-Anchorage’s last previous WCHA road win was Feb. 11, 1995, at Michigan Tech.
ù Colorado College had lost only once in its previous 34 home games
Trivia
Which WCHA team has won the most regular season league championships? (answer below).
Backchecks
ù Colorado College defenseman Eric Rud, a native of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., was named offensive player or the week by the WCHA. St. Cloud State’s Mike O’Connell, from Apple Valley, won the defensive award and Northern Michigan’s Roger Trudeau won the freshman award.
ù In the league’s prime matchup this weekend, Colorado College (8-4) travels to North Dakota (10-4). The Tigers are tied for second place with the Gophers, and the Sioux lead the WCHA.
ù Trivia answer: Denver has won 10 league titles, one more than Minnesota.