we’re a little more than one-sixth of the way into
the 2004-05 season and plenty can happen between now and
early March, but that doesn’t mean there’s not
room for optimism and enthusiasm surrounding teams that
are off to unexpected surprising starts.
which is off to its best start in the young program’s
seven-year history, fits that bill. Coach Mike Kemp’s
squad has four wins in as many tries, beating Connecticut
and Merrimack in the season-opening Maverick Stampede Oct.
9-10, and sweeping Western Michigan in Omaha last weekend.
our program, just to be in a situation and do some things
that build confidence and help us get to a point where we
learn we can play with other people and be competitive is
very positive,” Kemp said.
Mavericks endured growing pains last season – searing,
stabbing pains. With a roster bereft of upperclassmen, UNO
stumbled to an 8-29-5 overall record and a last-place finish
in the CCHA. That the Mavs are halfway to their win total
from last year is even more remarkable considering their
lineup still isn’t bulging with grizzled veterans.
still playing with a lot of young kids,” Kemp explained.
“We had one senior in the lineup this past weekend
and on any given night we’ve only got two or three
juniors dressed. We’re still a team that’s playing
17 or 18 freshmen and sophomores.”
inexperience of youth has been tempered thus far by a reliance
on balance. Six UNO skaters, paced by top returning scorer
Scott Parse (2-7—9), have already scored four or more
points. Two upperclassmen – senior Dan Hacker (2-4—6)
and junior Mike Lefley (2-3—5) – have helped
lead the charge and freshmen Bill Thomas (2-4—6),
Bryan Marshall (2-3—5) and David Phillips (1-3—4)
are the top point-getters from a heralded rookie class.
kind of like getting some insulation,” Kemp said.
“If a line has an inevitable bad night, or a key player
has a bad night, you’re going to have somebody pick
up the slack for them and throw points on the board. That’s
kind of what’s been happening for us and it’s
been nice because you don’t really focus in on one
player. Anyone on any given night can make a contribution.”
goaltender Chris Holt has made a contribution every night.
A 2003 pick of the New York Rangers, the 6-3, 218-pound
Holt has played with confidence he gained from a strong
showing at this summer’s U.S World Junior tryout camp
in Grand Forks, N.D. In his four starts, he’s given
up just 10 goals, seven of which have come with the Mavericks
“It’s too quick to judge where this team is
going to go,” said Kemp, whose squad travels to East
Lansing for a two-game set with Michigan State this weekend.
“Having success is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once
you’re out there and you do something well, you have
confidence that you’ll do it again. Those are the
kinds of things we’re trying to instill in this team.”
AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
At Bowling Green – Any excitement surrounding
Bowling Green’s first 2-0 start in eight years was
quickly tempered after coach Scott Paluch suspended seven
players indefinitely for their roles in a humiliating prank
that occurred nearly 18 months ago.
to the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, the players
– seniors Steve Brudzewski and Alex Rogosheske and
juniors Ryan Barnett, Bryan Dobek, Mike Falk, Don Morrison
and Brett Pilkington – were removed from the team
indefinitely after Paluch learned of the matter Monday.
The Falcons’ third-year coach was alerted by a Sentinel-Tribune
reporter who received a photograph of the incident in the
mail from an anonymous sender.
continuing, at this point, to investigate,” Paluch
said at a press conference earlier this week. “We’re
looking into all the facts right now and gathering information.”
Sentinel-Tribune article states that Paluch identified
one player in the photo – Pilkington, who appeared
to be unconscious – naked and lying face down with
at least one profanity and two racial slurs written on his
body in magic marker. Also pictured are seven other half-naked
males, of which Paluch could name six– Barnett, Dobek,
Falk, Morrison, Rogosheske and former Falcon player Nick
incident is alleged to have taken place in a BGSU dormitory
room in April 2003.
what we know today, it’s very disturbing and very
uncharacteristic of our hockey program,” Bowling Green
athletics director Paul Krebs told the Sentinel-Tribune.
“What’s important is our values and what we
stand for as an athletic department, as a hockey team and
as a university. We’re trying to protect our program
and our university.”
week’s suspensions are the latest in a string of disciplinary
measures that have taken place at Bowling Green since Paluch
was named coach in the spring of 2002. In 2002-03, he dismissed
two players – Kip Horner and Colen Pappas –
for violating team rules and handed down one-game suspensions
to five skaters, including Falk, for similar reasons. Earlier
this month, Morrison and Pilkington were suspended for the
Falcons’ exhibition match against Windsor for breaking
Green hosts Lake Superior State this weekend. The suspensions,
coupled with an injury to freshman defenseman Mike Nesdill
and sophomore forward Mark Voakes quitting the team Monday,
leave the Falcons with 17 skaters and three goaltenders
on their roster.
Wes, Young Man – The stinging disappointment
of last summer’s National Hockey League Draft still
lingers in the back of Wes O’Neill’s mind.
touted as a potential top-10 pick, the Notre Dame defenseman’s
stock took a hit in the months leading up to the draft.
Scouts questioned his toughness and decision-making skills.
Forget about the first round – O’Neill wasn’t
even selected on the draft’s first day. He was the
17th player taken on day two, going to the New York Islanders
in the fourth round.
Boston College last Friday, O’Neill looked like a
first-rounder, scoring the Fighting Irish’s first
goal, setting up teammate T.J. Jindra’s shorthanded
game-winner and logging Lidstrom-like minutes – coach
Dave Poulin estimated O’Neill was on the ice for roughly
40 minutes – in the Fighting Irish’s 3-2 over
the nation’s top-ranked team.
was dominant,” Poulin said. “It’s interesting
to say he’s come into his own against the No. 1 team
in the country. Oh, by the way, he just turned 18.”
who celebrated his 18th birthday March 3, has added 20 pounds
to his 6-foot-4 frame, allowing him to use his size and
massive wingspan to his advantage as evidenced by his frequent
battles in front of the net with BC forward Brian Boyle.
More importantly, the Essex, Ont., native got bigger without
losing his most appealing asset, his skating ability.
always had good skating skills”, said O’Neill,
who leads Notre Dame with five points in five games. “Last
year, I probably weighed 200 pounds. Now, I’m 220.
It gives me a chance to use my body more and be more confident
in using my body.”
O’Neill is far from a finished product – he
could stand to add a couple more pounds and get more physical
– it looks like the Islanders may have gotten a steal.
game, I go out there to prove that I should have been drafted
in the first round,” O’Neill explained. “It
was a heartbreaker at the time, but I use it as a motivator
now. I just gotta go out there and keep working hard and
play with a chip on my shoulder.”
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Michigan State (Fri.-Sat.)
already chronicled the Mavs and their surprising start.
The Spartans' start may be just as surprising –
they're 1-3-0 after getting swept at Northern Michigan
last weekend. MSU owns an 11-4-0 series advantage
over UNO, but the Mavs are 3-3-0 all-time against
the Spartans in October.
While you're there: The vast majority of folks
in the greater Lansing area will spend Saturday getting
lubricated prior to, during, and after Michigan State's
football game against rival Michigan in Ann Arbor
(3:30 p.m., ABC). For a more refined look at events
that shpaed the Great Lakes State, make a trip to
Historical Museum in downtown Lansing. Located
just west of the state capitol building, the sparkling
new facility is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.Saturday.
Best of all, it's free.
goaltender Wylie Rogers turned aside all
21 shots he faced in a 6-0 win against rival Alaska
Anchorage Saturday, salvaging a split for the Nanooks
in the first of two Governor's Cup series. Rogers
became the first UAF netminder to get a shutout in
his collegiate debut.
minor penalties, none of them coincidental,
were called in Friday's Boston College-Notre Dame
game. The new emphasis on calling penalties as they
appear in the rulebook is to flow what Jimmy Fallon
is to comedy. And if you're a Jimmy Fallon fan, my
Bowling Green isn’t the only team dealing with a numbers
crunch. Notre Dame dressed 11 forwards
for its game against Boston College. Junior Mike Walsh missed
the game because of a shoulder injury sustained against
Miami Oct. 16, and sophomore Matthew Williams-Kovacs is
out for up to weeks after breaking his ankle that same night.
Senior forward Brad Wanchulak left the team last week but
is still enrolled in school..
• Sophomore forward T.J. Jindra,
who scored the game-winner for Notre Dame against Boston
College last week with 15 seconds left in regulation and
helped the Fighting Irish kill nine of 10 Eagle man advantages,
played his guts out Friday. Literally.
the third period], he was sick for probably five minutes
on the bench throwing up,” Poulin said.
Northern Michigan continues to find interesting
ways to beat Michigan State. The Wildcats have
won six of seven and seven of 10 since Walt Kyle replaced
current Spartan coach Rick Comley prior to the 2002-03 season.
During that stretch, NMU has:
Thrashed State, 10-4, in Comley’s return to Marquette,
2) Earned a 4-2 win in East Lansing on a night when the
Spartans outshot the Wildcats, 42-15,
3) Knocked MSU out of the 2003 CCHA Super Six by scoring
four third-period goals in a 7-5 quarterfinal victory,
4) Beaten State in OT, 6-5, after sending the game into
the extra session on a goal with three seconds left in regulation,
5) Bounced the Spartans from the 2004 CCHA Super Six by
a 2-1 score despite being outshot, 36-17, and
6) Downed MSU, 3-2, last weekend thanks to the first two
career goals from forward Clayton Lainsbury.
• With two victories against Lake Superior State last
weekend, Michigan’s Red Berenson moved into
sole possession of 10th place on the all-time coaching wins
list. With 537 career wins, Berenson slipped past
former MSU-Mankato bench boss Don Brose and into the top
10. Next up on the list – ex-Army mentor Jack Riley,
who racked up 542 victories.
Ferris State’s 7-2 non-conference win at Bemidji State
last Saturday snapped the Bulldogs’ 10-game
losing streak that started with 4-2 defeat against
Lake Superior State in Big Rapids Feb. 28. Nine of the losses
during that streak were decided by two or fewer goals.
• Here’s another factoid of the week,
though this one obviously interests more than just me because
it was forwarded by veteran Lansing State Journal hockey
scribe Neil Koepke. In Saturday’s 4-1 win against
Michigan State, Northern Michigan junior Jamie Milam netted
a pair of power play goals. Some 1,800 miles away at the
Staples Center in Los Angeles, Jamie’s older brother,
Troy – who captained Ferris State’s CCHA regular-season
championship team in 2002-03 and now plays for the AHL’s
Manchester Monarchs – scored two power play goals
in his team’s 5-0 victory over Utah. The Monarchs
are the top minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this