Big Red Rampage
good has Miami been through its first four games this season?
Just check the numbers.
RedHawks, rated seventh in the INCH
Power Rankings entering this week's series with Ohio
State, have outscored their opponents by a 20-5 margin and
have yet to trail thus far. Much of the offensive success
can be credited to sterling special teams play – Miami
is 12-for-33 (36.4 percent) with the man advantage and has
killed 37 of 38 opponent power plays (97.4 percent) while
scoring a pair of shorthanded goals.
“A couple years ago, we were undefeated through a
few early games,” coach Enrico Blasi said. “But
we didn’t have the depth we have right now and we
didn’t have the team speed we have.
It’s not like the RedHawks have been dominant, as
evidenced by the slight disparity in power play opportunities
and a 129-126 advantage in shots on goal. It’s more
of a case of quantity and quality. Of the 19 skaters who’ve
played for Miami this season, 14 have scored a point. The
share-the-wealth approach has made filling the void left
by departures of the team’s top three scorers from
last year – forwards Derek Edwardson, Greg Hogeboom
and Mike Kompon – seamless thus far.
“We knew we lost three really great offensive players,”
said sophomore forward Marty Guerin, the nation’s
leading scorer with five goals and five assists and the
reigning INCH National Player of the Week. “We also
knew we had some great guys coming back and some great guys
coming in. When we’re getting chances, we’re
burying them. We’re shooting hard and hitting corners.”
Although the RedHawks are a young team with only four seniors
on the roster, there’s no dearth of experience. Guerin
and classmate Matt Christie, who has nine points this year,
spent much of last season on the team’s top line.
Junior forward Chris Michael has been a first- or second-liner
throughout much of his career. Another junior, defenseman
Andy Greene, is an All-American caliber blueliner who’s
been employed in every situation since his rookie year.
And goaltender Brandon Crawford-West was Miami’s workhorse
as a freshman, has been brilliant thus far with a 1.25 goals
against average and a .960 save percentage.
“In my years at Miami,” Blasi said, “this
is the team that’s been most exciting to coach because
we’re so young and so energetic.
This year's start is quite a reversal from last year’s
team that rebounded from a dismal 1-4-1 stretch to open
good to get into a groove where you feel what it feels like
to win,” Guerin explained. “Getting off to a
strong start where you’re winning big games and winning
decisively is not only important in the standings, but it’s
also important for your confidence.”
AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
Not Idle – For a guy who’s generally
regarded as one of the CCHA’s more tenacious players,
Michigan forward Eric Nystrom was as bubbly as Kelly Ripa
at the press conference following his team’s 4-4 tie
against New Hampshire at Yost Arena Friday.
senior captain, who missed the team’s first two games
at the Lefty McFadden Invitational with a rib injury, exhibited
his trademark grit, filled key roles on special teams and
scored a crucial goal early in the third period to give
the Wolverines momentum after the Wildcats thoroughly outplayed
them in second period.
have the type of line that can set the tempo for the game
early in the period,” said Nystrom, who started the
game grouped with senior forwards Jason Ryznar and Michael
Woodford until coach Red Berenson flipped sophomore David
Rohlfs on his unit midway through the game. “We’re
a good forechecking line. That’s something that can
get the team going if you get the other team on their heels.”
only is the Syosset, N.Y., native dealing with the residue
of the injury, which he shrugs off – “During
the game, the intensity is so high you don’t feel
it” – but he’s also playing center instead
of his natural position on the wing.
tough,” Nystrom said. “It’s a learning
goal against UNH came on a play initiated by Ryznar, who
picked up the puck behind the cage with his back to Nystrom.
Ryznar wheeled and fired what amounted to a no-look pass
to Nystrom all alone on the opposite goal mouth.
been working on that,” Nystrom said. “We’ve
been working on a play where he gets a guy on his back and
turns right at the net. For some reason, I knew he was going
to do it. I was standing there and he put it right on my
tape. It was a slam dunk.”
While You Work – It’s going to take
some time getting used to the ‘call ‘em as they’re
written’ edict put forth by the NCAA.
the first two weekends of the season, CCHA teams played
a total of 26 games, the majority of which were non-conference
matches. The average number of combined power plays per
game works out to just over 16. In theory, that means that
special teams play comprises about half of an average contest.
the data one step further, all but two of the 26 games featuring
more than two power play goals. In fact, nearly half –
twelve, to be exact – had three or more PPGs. Specials
teams have always been important, but the emphasis on the
letter of the law only magnifies it.
a lot of cases, a team’s best penalty killers are
also the top personnel on the power play. The benches shorten
and coaches really have to juggle to get the third- and
fourth-liners on the ice so the top two units can rest.
though CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos told those in attendance
at the league’s media day last month that penalties
would be called regardless of the situation, it certainly
wasn’t the case in Friday’s New Hampshire-Michigan
tilt. The Wolverines’ T.J. Hensick was whistled for
a slashing minor with less than four minutes remaining in
the third period of a 4-4 tie, but on more than one occasion
in overtime, a play that would have been blown dead earlier
in the game was not called.
say they’re gonna call it no matter what the time
of the game, no matter what the score,” Michigan forward
Eric Nystrom said. “In overtime, it doesn’t
matter about the rule changes. You put the whistle away
and let the players play. That’s when it’s the
best hockey…when it’s opened up and you don’t
have to worry about the referee making a call that’s
going to change the game.”
this point of emphasis is a work in progress. Its effects
on the remainder of the season will likely be wide-ranging
and varied, and certain to generate further debate among
players, coaches and fans. Of course, there are those who
have already tired of the subject.
have no comment about the officiating for the entire year,"
Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle told St. Cloud Times reporter
Kevin Allenspach Friday following the Wildcats’ 2-1
loss to the host Huskies. "That’s my quote about
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
College at Notre Dame (Fri.)
Fighting Irish have limped to an 0-3-1 start, but
the annual contest with the Eagles has produced back-to-back
thrillers. Two years ago, the teams skated to a 3-3
draw at the Joyce Center. Last season, goalie David
Brown stopped all 27 shots he faced in a 1-0 shutout
victory in Chestnut Hill. Besides, when Patrick Eaves
and Co. pays a visit to your neighborhood, you do
everything in your power to check it out.
playoff beards? The shaggy hair? Guys hailing from
Anchorage, Boston, and Dearborn, Mich.? These guys
are a hockey team in double knits. Nicely done, Red
State rallied from a two-goal deficit to
beat Ferris State Saturday in a game in which they
scored one power play goal in 16 chances. One-for-freaking
sixteen? Who’s quarterbacking the power play
unit, Justin Zwick?
More Miami: sophomore goalie Brandon Crawford-West
was in goal for both of the RedHawks’ wins against
Notre Dame last weekend. His career record at Goggin Ice
Arena improved to 15-0-2.
With a pair of wins at Ferris State last weekend, Ohio
State opened its conference schedule with a road series
sweep for the first time since 1976. Buckeye coach
John Markell was a sophomore forward at Bowling Green the
season OSU started the league slate with two wins at Lake
Nenad Gajic, the younger of Michigan forward
Milan Gajic, has resurfaced at Nebraska-Omaha. Nenad Gajic,
who enrolled at Michigan State in 2002 but left the Spartan
program midway through last season, will sit out this year
due to transfer rules. He’ll return to the ice in
2005-06 with two years of eligibility remaining.
Michigan State’s streak of 323 straight regular
season sellouts at Munn Ice Arena ended Friday
– 18 years, 10 months and 26 days from when it began.
for the Spartans’ season opener against St. Lawrence
was 5,773, nearly 700 less than capacity. Surprisingly,
only 5,487 paid to see MSU face New Hampshire two days later.
The regular season sellout streak started Dec. 19, 1985,
roughly seven months before Spartan freshman forward Peder
Skinner was born.
With a nod to Sports Illustrated’s senior
NFL writer, the brilliant Peter King, here’s a factoid
of the week that may interest only me. In addition
to announcing your arrival in the city, the signs welcoming
motorists to Ann Arbor also list the community’s sister
cities. Mixed in with such exotic locales as Dakar, Senegal,
and Belize City, Belize is Peterborough, Ontario. In the
name of fellowship, might I propose an exhibition match
between the OHL’s Peterborough Petes and the University
of Michigan? Hey, Pete alum Steve Yzerman lives nearby.
Maybe he could swing by...he's not busy, I hear.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this