How You Start, But How You Finnish
At first glance,
the differences between Marquette, Mich., and Rauma, Finland,
are relatively insignificant. They’re roughly the same size
– Marquette boasts approximately 22,000 inhabitants, while
Rauma’s population is around 37,000. Both are port cities
that move about six million metric tons of cargo annually, and
the main industry besides shipping is wood products.
why Northern Michigan goaltender Tuomas Tarkki, a Rauma native,
has become so comfortable in the Upper Peninsula. Of course, he’s
likely won the admiration of more than a few Yoopers based on
his strong play so far this season.
this weekend’s pivotal series with Bowling Green at Berry
Events Center, Tarkki – his name is pronounced TOO-mas
tahr-KEE – ranks sixth nationally with a 1.82 goals
against average and is third with a .938 save percentage. That’s
pretty heady stuff for a guy who entered his senior year having
played a total of 22 games.
outstanding every night,” NMU coach Walt Kyle said. “He
never lets up.”
rise to prominence is similar to that of another Finnish backstop,
Miikka Kiprusoff, the ex- San Jose Sharks backup who was dealt
to the Calgary Flames last season and established himself as one
of the NHL’s top goalies. Tarkki languished behind the Wildcats’
workhorse, Craig Kowalski, for three seasons and didn’t
get a shot at becoming a full-time starter until Kowalski was
hurt late last year. Tarkki stepped in and led NMU to four straight
wins and a berth in the CCHA Super Six semifinals.
one of those kids who understands the process,” Kyle explained.
“He probably felt he should’ve got more [playing time]
a little earlier, but he’s a kid who was not going to complain.
He continued to work, press on and await his opportunity.”
Despite the promising
end to the 2003-04 season, Kyle expected Tarkki and newcomer Bill
Zaniboni to battle for playing time and, indeed, the two shared
goaltending duties early on. The veteran quickly emerged as the
and 205 pounds, Tarkki doesn’t give opponents much of an
opening to shoot. He’s also modified his game, moving away
from the traditional European style of goaltending that kept him
back in the net. Now, he’s challenging shooters and cutting
“I think the biggest thing with Tuomas is his demeanor,”
Kyle said. “He’s a real level-headed guy. He competes,
but he’s not too high and he’s not too low. Tuomas
has a real calming and solidifying effect on the rest of the guys.”
That’s high praise
considering Northern Michigan ranks 47th nationally in scoring
offense, averaging 2.5 goals per game, but currently sits in fourth
place in the CCHA standings. It’s also the reason Kyle feels
Tarkki deserves to be a Hobey Baker Award candidate.
meant that much to our team and he’s that good,” Kyle
said. “The guys know that when Tuomas is in the net, we’re
going to be right in the game no matter what.”
AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
curve for UAF: Trailing by five goals with less than
five minutes remaining in the third period in his team’s
game at Michigan last Saturday, Alaska-Fairbanks coach Tavis McMillan
called a timeout.
with its foul-miss free throws-get the ball back routine, or football,
where you can attempt an on-side kick following a touchdown, there
isn’t really a hockey strategy geared at erasing a sizable
deficit late in the game. But the Nanooks were about to go on
the power play and McMillan, in his first year as head coach,
used the break to teach his young team – UAF dressed 10
freshmen Saturday – and build confidence.
weren’t getting pucks through,” McMillan said. “We
talked about it. If we get a puck on net, we should have a two-on-one
in front of the net.”
later, freshman defenseman Darcy Campbell fired the puck through
a maze of bodies. It skipped to the left Michigan goalie Al Montoya,
where senior forward Jared Sylvester corralled the puck and banged
it in to narrow the gap.
“The next couple shifts were really good after that,”
a hoarse-throated McMillan rasped. “Guys saw something that
worked, and they can build off that.”
building started later in that period. With two Wolverines in
the penalty box, the Nanooks executed a faceoff play to perfection
– the sequence ended with a goal from senior forward Jason
the Nanooks have posted a 2-9-1 record after getting off to a
4-2-0 start, McMillan remains optimistic. And he should –
UAF, which enters the weekend in a four-way tie for eighth place
in the CCHA standings, plays eight of its next ten games at home.
are inevitable, but if the kids – and the coach –
keep learning, McMillan will have a formidable program in a year
or two. Even now, one can see the foundation of a talented team
beginning to form around freshman goaltender Wylie Rogers, rookie
forwards Kyle Greentree and Ryan McLeod and second-year standouts
Nathan Fornataro and Curtis Fraser.
going to make mistakes together, we’re going to grow together,
we’re going to share some tears and we’re going to
share some laughs,” McMillan said. “When these kids
get older, we’re going to have a good team.”
Central Scouting Service releases mid-term rankings:
Seven current CCHA skaters and 17 players who have either formally
or verbally committed to attend one of the league’s schools
are among the 270 North American prospects listed by the National
Hockey League’s Central Scouting Service on its mid-term
rankings for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
college or college-bound player is U.S. Under-18 Team defenseman
Jack Johnson, who will attend Michigan next season. He’s
fifth overall. Michigan State-bound forward Justin Abdelkader,
who currently plays for the United States Hockey League’s
Cedar Rapids Roughriders, is the 29th-ranked North American skater.
Nathan Davis is the top-ranked player currently in the CCHA at
73rd overall. He’s followed by Bowling Green defenseman
Jonathan Sigalet (86th), Michigan center T.J. Hensick (94th),
Ohio State forward Tom Fritsche (105th), Bowling Green forward
Jonathan Matsumoto (153rd), Western Michigan forward Paul Szczechura
(158th) and Michigan State pivot Chris Mueller (210th).
The NHL Draft
is scheduled for June 25-26 in Ottawa, but will only take place
if the league’s owners and players have a new collective
bargaining agreement in place by that time.
at Ohio State
It’s hard to fathom that the CCHA regular-season
championship could be – for all intents and purposes
– decided this weekend should Michigan sweep Ohio
State. Two wins would give the Wolverines a commanding nine-point
lead over the second-place Buckeyes with 10 games remaining
in league play. It’s also hard to believe Michigan
is running away from its conference brethren though they
have yet to play their best hockey. This weekend marks the
last bench chance for someone to pour molasses into the
Wolverines’ gas tank. If anyone can slow ‘em
down, it could be the Bucks – they’re good at
home and capacity crowds are expected at 17,500-seat Value
City Arena both nights.
you’re there: A reviewer described Columbus-based
jam band Ekoostik Hookah as the Buckeye State’s version
of Phish. While we’d argue that O.A.R. is a better
choice as the jammin’-est damn Buckeye band in the
land, we’re certainly intrigued. Ekoostic Hookah plays
the Newport Music Hall – not far from Value City Arena
– Saturday. Speaking of O.A.R., maybe if we all kick
in a few bucks, we can get them to play a show in Columbus
on Frozen Four Friday.
A sincere thanks
to the CCHA for allowing its statistics, standings
and the like to appear on collegehockeystats.com,
making it the one-stop numbers shop for Division I, II and
III men’s and women’s college hockey. Operated
by stats whiz and all-around good guy Tim Danehy, the Web
site an indispensable resource for any hockey fan. You know,
just like INCH.
11 CCHA teams in action Saturday (Bowling Green
was idle, and Lake Superior State hosted non-conference
foe Alabama-Huntsville) combined to score 22 goals. Six
of the 11 scored one or no goals that night. Makes you want
to run out and buy Super Six tickets today, doesn’t
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Nebraska-Omaha started a crucial stretch
of six straight CCHA road games last weekend with a win and a
tie against Ferris State in Big Rapids. It’s the first time
the Mavericks have earned more than two points on the road since
Dec. 6-7, 2002, at Lake Superior State, a span of 16 league road
series. This weekend, UNO visits Miami, where the Mavs are winless
in six tries (0-4-2) against the RedHawks.
don’t feel much like riding, you just wish the trip was
through,” sang Bob Seger in “Turn the Page”,
his classic dirge of life on the road. After this week is over,
Notre Dame might share Seger’s sentiments.
Fighting Irish play three games in five days in three different
rinks – after losing to Michigan Tech in Green Bay Tuesday,
the team whisked back to the Joyce Center for the front end of
a non-conference series against WCHA leader Wisconsin. The teams
wrap the two-game set Saturday at Allstate Arena in the Chicago
suburb of Rosemont.
a strong CCHA presence among the American Hockey League’s
scoring leaders. Former Michigan standout Mike Cammalleri,
who plays for the Los Angeles Kings’ top affiliate in Manchester,
N.H. – entered the week as the circuit’s second-leading
scorer with 57 points in 39 games. Another ex-Wolverine –
Providence Bruins forward Andy Hilbert – is seventh in scoring
with 44 points.
former Michigan State All-American Andrew Hutchinson, who plays
for Nashville’s affiliate in Milwaukee, ranks third in the
AHL in scoring with 29 points. Three CCHA alums rank in the top
10 in rookie points – Ohio State’s R.J. Umberger,
now with the Philadelphia Phantoms is seventh with 24 points,
while Bowling Green’s Kevin Bieksa of Vancouver’s
top farm club in Winnipeg and Alaska-Fairbanks’ Aaron Voros,
who skates for New Jersey’s AHL affiliate in Albany, are
tied for eighth with 20 points.
it be that the future of the National Hockey League as we know
it currently rests in the hands of a gritty two-way center from
Medicine Hat and a former Michigan State hockey player
with a degree in geology?
Trevor Linden, Vancouver Canucks’ pivot and president of
the NHL Players’ Association, organized an informal meeting
that took place at an airport lounge in Chicago Wednesday to discuss
the current labor impasse. The point man for the three-person
contingent representing the owners was Harley Hotchkiss, an MSU
hockey letterwinner in 1950 and the current chair of the NHL Board
of Governors. Hotchkiss is also one of the owners of the Calgary
must not have gone too badly, because the two sides scheduled
another session for Thursday in Toronto. Among those not invited
to participate in the meetings were NHL commissioner Gary Bettman,
a Cornell alum, and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow, who
attended Harvard. Moral of the story – ECACHL guys just
gum up the works.
sure sign that college hockey is entering the regular-season stretch
run – we’ve seen the start of the first Hobey
Baker Award campaign. Credit the first pitch of the Hobey
huckstering to Bowling Green, which is touting senior goaltender
Jordan Sigalet as a candidate by launching a
promotional Web site.
Michigan State’s 5-4 loss to Western Michigan in Kalamazoo
Friday in a game in which his team fired 50 shots at the Broncos’
freshman goalie, Daniel Bellissimo, a reporter asked MSU
head coach Rick Comley how frustrating the loss was.
than you can possibly imagine,” Comley said.
A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this