Opinion: Do Not Sleep on the WCHA

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Given this wild season we find ourselves in, we will go to the eye test for a lot of our argument here, but this article was spurred by the Bowling Green Falcons’ sweep over the 11th ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats on the road in one of the biggest true non conference series that will happen in this pandemic influenced season. The Falcons swept a team with one of the best undrafted free agents in the country in Odeen Tufto, along with an incredibly stout defense. Bowling Green has shown that they will be a threat for the McNaughton Cup. In addition, we see nothing going against the Minnesota State Mankato Mavericks or Bemidji State from being in the mix as well. Both teams’ good performances have not been surprising given the play of their returners. The rest of this will focus on some potential up and comers to watch as we slowly inch towards conference play.

That’s just the Falcons, we move to the state of Michigan to note other up and coming teams in the Lakers of Lake Superior State. They have not lost any of their games, and still have some room to improve. The team has not put together a full 60 minute effort against any of their opponents and still has not lost. They have one of the better goalies in the country backstopping them in Mareks Mitens to start with. Ashton Calder’s development into one of the better goal scorers in this league early on has been interesting to see. Following them, we have the Huskies of Michigan Tech. They have the highest retained draftee of the Arizona Coyotes from the Arizona Coyotes on their roster (Carson Bantle, 2020 Fifth round) and a lot more. Blake Pietila in net for them as a Freshman has been a revelation early on this year, and has a sub 1.6 goals against average. They also have a veteran backup in Mark Sinclair to mentor him as well as an always stout defense. If this team gets any scoring throughout the year they could finish higher than predicted.

Finally, we will touch on the Alabama Huntsville Chargers. While this team is unheralded, after talking to their coaches, and a few of their players, they seem to prefer that moniker. Tyron Bronte up front for them is our pick for fastest skater with the puck in the league. In addition, they have a goalie that has not lost for them in David Fessenden, and a developing defense corps that seems to be getting better each week. The Chargers have a lot of things to work on, but they are trending upward for now, and Head Coach Lance West wants to keep it going that way.

The WCHA this year outside of the Mavericks, looks to be underrated again. We only offer one bit of advice to those across this level of men’s college hockey this bit of advice regarding your view of what this conference’s representatives will do in the tournament. Underestimate the WCHA at your own risk.

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