the Man ... Finally
the six players named to the 2005 Frozen Four All-Tournament
Team, three are currently in the National Hockey League
(North Dakota's Travis Zajac, and Denver's Matt Carle and
Paul Stastny), a fourth has had a cup of coffee in the NHL
(DU's Gabe Gauthier played five games with Los Angeles last
season), and another, the Pioneers' Brett Skinner, has just
started his fourth season in the American Hockey League.
The final name on that list is Denver
goalie Peter Mannino, who as a freshman was named most outstanding
player of the Frozen Four that year. It's hard to believe
Mannino, who turns 23 in February, is still hanging around
while the others are playing for pay. Even harder to fathom
is that the senior from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is in the
midst of his first season as the Pioneers' full-time starter.
|Peter Mannino, 2005
NCAA Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player, is finally
a full-time starter in goal for Denver.
Despite some extremely solid career numbers
— a 44-20-4 record, 10 shutouts,
a 2.29 goals-against average, and a .920 save percentage
— the 6-foot, 195-pound
Mannino hasn't made more than 22 starts in a season. And
after patiently biding his time in a platoon with the departed
Glenn Fisher for three seasons, Mannino has responded favorably
to being "the man" for the Pioneers as evidenced
by his 6-2-0 record, 1.54 GAA, and .940 save percentage
in eight starts this season.
"I didn't really do anything different
[to prepare], other than doing a little more conditioning
in the summer," said Mannino. "My approach is
the same. Every game you have to step up, be prepared, and
The cart-before-the-horse scenario isn't anything
new to Mannino or his senior classmates. After all, he explains,
the first lesson they learned as freshmen was what a team
needs to do win a national championship. Having failed to
qualify for the NCAA tournament in each of the last two
seasons, the group learned how hard it is to win a title.
"It's weird to have success right away,"
Mannino admitted, "We would've liked to have been in
the tournament the last two years, but we wouldn't trade
that national championship just to be in the tournament.
This is the seniors' last year to show people what we've
With Mannino in goal, that show could include
a grand finale at Denver's Pepsi Center in early April.
BECAUSE YOU ASKED
|"Don't say I
didn't warn you, Gerbe."
Blast a couple of authority figures over the
years and all of a sudden you're Che Guevara. So it was
no surprise when an e-mail tumbled into the inbox Saturday
after Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna announced that
Boston College forward Nathan Gerbe would be suspended for
a game for … well, for doing something he was told
not to do. In a nutshell, said e-mailer implored me to write
something about the reaction to Gerbe's act that dare not
speak its name.
First, I won't come to Gerbe's defense because
according to the Hockey East press release on the matter,
he was warned not to do whatever he did —
“put on notice” was the phrase used in the league's
statement, which makes me wonder if the initial warning
was issued on the Colbert Report. What I don't like is the
secretive nature regarding the suspension; Hockey East needs
to tell us what he did to warrant the punishment. I'm OK
with coaches falling back on the “unspecified violation
of team rules” defense, because there are times when
it's important to keep those matters within the confines
of the locker room. This case has too
much of a Dean Wermer double-secret probation vibe hovering
How can you guys sit there and say
that teams like Michigan State [and its] CCHA brethren are
taking control of college hockey when they played North
Dakota to start the year and got absolutely demolished?
The only loss that Michigan has this year came at the hands
of Minnesota, a team that has struggled against other WCHA
teams. If you haven't noticed, the WCHA is taking almost
all of its beating from teams within the conference because
of the depth that the conference has.
To steal a phrase from Chris Tucker, do
you understand the words coming out of my keyboard? My recollection
is that we asked a rhetorical question about whether the
CCHA is poised to assert itself as the next axis of power
in college hockey. We can't be too far off base —
we've got Miami, Michigan State, and Michigan in the top
five in this week's INCH Power Rankings. Those teams comprise
the top three in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll,
and reside in the top four in the other poll.
I know it's a little bit early to
be discussing RPI, but I know that it has something to do
with teams that are in the top 15. Does that mean teams
that are in the top 15 when they play each other, or is
that by the end of the year if they are in the top 15?
The RPI to which Pete refers is Ratings
Percentage Index, not Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
It's not a little bit early to discuss RPI. It's WAYYYYY
too early to discuss RPI. You're scaring me.
Mike, I'm with you on the Foo Fighters'
new CD. Fantastic CD, and it's maybe their third or fourth
best album. Still an underappreciated band by most. They
need to get Pat Smear back full time. Then they will crank
like they did early on.
Name, hometown withheld
Who knew Dave Grohl was the best musician
in Nirvana? And if there's a better album than 1997's "The
Colour and the Shape," I haven't heard it.
This e-mail is not only a case of me gratuitously
pumping my own tires, but allows me to ask a question of
you, the reader. Who or what is the college hockey equivalent
of the Foo Fighters, that is, an entity that is so solid
in every phase but fails to get the appreciation he or it
richly deserves? My gut instinct was to roll with Michigan's
Kevin Porter — I think most
people are aware of his talent, but haven't scratched the
surface to examine the subtleties of his game that make
him a premier player.
If you don't know who Pat Smear is a)
look up his bio on Wikipedia and b) shame on you. He's probably
best remembered for his role in the goofy “Big Me”
video, the hilarious send-up of those old Mentos commercials.
When I saw Smear jamming with the Foos on "Saturday
Night Live" last month, I was positively giddy.
I'M JUST SAYING
· that McKeen’s
Hockey Prospects released its preliminary list of the top
30 prospects for the 2008 NHL Draft, and at first
glance the first round could be a slow one in terms of players
with college connections. Only four such prospects appear
in McKeen’s top 30 – Shattuck St. Mary’s
forward, North Dakota recruit, and brother of you-know-who
David Toews is 16th; Boston University forward Colin Wilson
is 20th, Minnesota high-schooler Jake Gardiner, who’ll
suit up for Wisconsin in 2008 or 2009, is 26th, and USHL
defenseman John Carlson, slated to attend Massachusetts
in 2009, is 29th.
· that you’ve
gotta see the video clip of Wisconsin goaltender
Connelly’s amazing save against North Dakota at
the Kohl Center last Saturday. Even after you see the thing
10 times, you still have no idea how he stopped the puck.
The accompanying “Ice Ice Baby” music bed was
a tad much, however.
· that former
Michigan State All-American goaltender and Friend of INCH
Joe Blackburn brought an excellent trivia question to our
attention. He noted that the game earlier this
month pitting Michigan State against Alaska featured two
goaltenders (MSU’s Jeff Lerg and the Nanooks’
Wylie Rogers) who also serve as alternate captains for their
Blackburn, now a corporate type with General
Electric in Virginia, wants to know when the last time —
if ever — two goalies
wearing the “A” faced one another. In typical
Blackburn fashion, he doesn’t have the answer. Nor
do we. If you know, send an e-mail our way. We’ll
post the correct answer in the next Mike Check.
· that Chris
Dilks’ Western College Hockey blog is quickly
becoming a daily must-read for me. A
line from a weekend preview earlier this month questioning
Axl Rose’s decision to stay in Los Angeles following
the breakup of Guns ‘N Roses instead of moving to
a certain WCHA community is freakin’ hilarious. And
the song from the iPhone commercial is "Music is My
Hot Hot Sex" by Cansei de Ser Sexy, Brazilian group
that looks like the South American cast of "Degrassi:
The Next Generation."
wishes for a speedy recovery are in order for Fred Pletsch,
the CCHA director of communications, and his wife, Kelly.
Their car was broadsided by another motorist two weeks ago
as they made their way to watch their son officiate a hockey
game. Their injuries, though numerous and serious, are not
Games/Series Between Now and Christmas
St. Cloud State at Clarkson (Nov. 23-24): I
love these intersectional matchups. SCSU rolled in a
two-game series at the National Hockey Center last season.
Will be more entertaining than the College Hockey Showcase.
North Dakota at Denver (Nov. 30-Dec. 1):
and Michigan State provide a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup
this weekend. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Sioux
and Pies hold similarly lofty rankings two weeks from
College at Harvard (Dec. 12): Last season,
when the Eagles were really good and the Crimson was
average, Harvard blanked BC. What'll happen this time
around now that Harvard appears to be improved and the
Eagles have taken a step backwards?
State at Alaska (Dec. 14-15): The series isn't
all that intriguing. I just want to know how the Buckeyes
will adapt to the long trip and 45 minutes of daylight
while they're in Fairbanks.
at Rensselaer (Dec. 15-16): It's the battle
of former Denver assistant coaches as Enrico Blasi's
RedHawks meet Seth Appert's Engineers. Another series
that has the potential to be fairly entertaining.