now, when we’re old, withered cynics playing euchre in a
neighborhood bar on weekday afternoons, we’ll reminisce
about the winter of aught-five and the time Michigan State goalie
Dominic Vicari fought off debilitating cases of Lyme disease,
lumbago and gingivitis to single-handedly thwart Michigan by making
153 saves to preserve a 2-2 tie.
the tale grows to oversized proportions over time, we’ll
have to settle for the facts…and that’s not a bad
thing. Vicari, a sophomore from Clinton Township, Mich., fended
off a bout with the flu early last week to turn in a pair of brilliant
performances in back-to-back ties against Michigan last weekend.
“At the beginning of the week, I felt pretty bad,”
said Vicari, the only MSU goaltender with game experience as senior
Matt Migliaccio nurses a broken hand. “I wasn’t sure
how bad it was going to get. Towards the end of the week, I started
to feel better. I told our trainer after Friday’s pre-game
skate that I wanted to play.”
In Friday’s deadlock, Vicari made 41 saves – 17 coming
in the first period – as the Spartans rallied from a two-goal
deficit on a pair of goals by forward Drew Miller late in regulation,
including the game-tying tally with less than two seconds remaining
and Vicari on the bench in favor of an extra attacker.
“They came out flying in their building and we got outshot
pretty bad in the first period,” Vicari said. “Once
we got settled down coming into the second period, we started
to play our game and it showed. Towards the end of the third period,
it seemed like we were starting to put more pressure on them.”
In a 1-1 draw at Joe Louis Arena the following night, Vicari held
the Wolverines at bay until forward Jim McKenzie got MSU on the
board with a goal 3:18 left in the third period. Vicari again
made 41 saves, including 18 in the final period.
“It’s funny,” Vicari explained. “When
you get sick, you don’t feel very well. But I felt very
focused both games. I didn’t really expend any extra energy”
Though both teams earned two points in the league standings, the
series was far more uplifting for MSU, which needs all the points
it can muster to remain in the mix for home-ice advantage in the
first round of the CCHA playoffs. The battle continues this weekend
as the Spartans make the grueling trip to Alaska-Fairbanks for
two games against the Nanooks in a series that features two of
the three teams currently tied for sixth place in the conference.
Even though spending 10 hours in a flying metal tube with travelers
carrying God-knows-how-many strains of mystery viruses isn’t
the optimal way to return to full health, Vicari says he’ll
be ready to go.
“My body’s a little run down from the weekend,”
he said. “It takes a little longer to recover. Pretty much
all the symptoms are gone – just a little runny nose.”
AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
No Quit in Notre Dame: “Always look on the bright
side of life,” sang Monty Python Traveling Circus troupe
member Eric Idle in the outstanding 1979 movie Life of Brian.
Of course, Idle’s character was in a rather precarious situation
while he sang, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
The Notre Dame hockey team, presently tied for 11th in the CCHA
standings, finds itself in a predicament similar to that of Idle’s
character. But the bright side for the Fighting Irish –
the CCHA playoffs – and a chance to redeem an otherwise
disappointing season looms just four weeks away.
“I still think it’s ahead of us this year,”
coach Dave Poulin said of his Irish (5-19-6 overall, 3-14-5 CCHA).
“I think we’re capable of winning some games and winning
a playoff series.”
The notion of the Notre Dame putting together a late-season run
seems far-fetched. Notre Dame enters its weekend’s series
with fellow 11th-place denizen Ferris State in the throes of an
11-game winless streak (0-9-2). They’re last among Division
I teams in scoring offense, averaging 1.53 goals per game. Their
power play ranks second to last nationally with a 9.2% success
That said, there are positives working in the Irish’s favor.
Experience is one, as Notre Dame has advanced past the first round
of the league playoffs four times in the last five years. Another
is the play of senior goaltender Morgan Cey. Healthy for the first
time since coming to Notre Dame, he’s posted a 2.70 goals
against average, a .917 save percentage and is capable of stealing
a win or two with minimal offensive support.
Poulin believes the goals are on the way; it’s a matter
of getting a break here or a bounce there to open the floodgates.
“When you aren’t scoring, you think you need to make
the perfect shot,” Poulin said. “It reminds me of
when we used to play against a great goaltender. When Fuhr was
really good or Hasek was really good, you think you needed the
perfect shot to beat him.
“We haven’t had the scoring, but that’s where
a win would give us great energy down the stretch. It’s
gonna start with a win, but you have to have what you’re
doing reaffirmed. I do honestly think the kids believe.”
Business: Anyone who flips on the satellite dish on a
Friday or Saturday night to watch college hockey games from across
the nation knows that despite the much-publicized crackdown on
obstruction trumpeted by conference commissioners at the start
of the season, each league seems to vary on how much they’ll
let players get away with.
Last week, Kevin Pates of the Duluth News Tribune reported
that some coaches and players are wondering how those differences
from league to league will affect NCAA Tournament games. For example,
UMD coach Scott Sandelin told Pates that a WCHA team drawing a
CCHA official in the postseason would be a concern because, according
to WCHA director of officials Greg Shepherd, CCHA games are called
Miami coach Enrico Blasi, who chairs the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules
Committee, said teams that advance to this year’s NCAA Tournament
will have to be aware of the styles of different referees. Of
course, added Blasi, that’s no different from any other
“When you get to national tournament time, you’re
going to get a referee from another league and you’re not
going to know how he’ll call a game,” Blasi explained.
“You’re going have to adjust, and adjust quickly.
Blasi also notes that the process for selecting referees for the
NCAA Tournament – through the help of each league’s
director of officiating – aims to put the top officials
from each conference on the ice.
“Most of the [referees] are going to be guys that are doing
a good job, just like the teams,” Blasi said.
at Nebraska-Omaha (Fri.-Sat.)
You may have to burn a few frequent-flyer miles,
but this one should be worth the price of admission. No
team raises the dander of UNO fans like the Wolverines,
and the Qwest Center should be jumping. Michigan’s
ups and downs are well-documented, but the Mavericks’
recent hot streak is not – since Jan. 1, UNO is 7-1-2.
The series features two former U.S. NTDP goalies, as the
Wolverines’ Al Montoya duels the Mavs’ Chris
you’re there: If you’ve got a car and the gumption
to rise at a decent hour Saturday morning, make the 112-mile
drive northwest of Omaha to the city of Norfolk, the boyhood
home of Johnny Carson. The city’s Elkhorn Valley Museum
features an extensive display of Carson memorabilia ranging
from his high school yearbook to a collection of his Emmy
Awards. Incidentally, Norfolk (pronounced NOR-FORK) is also
the birthplace of Thurl Ravenscroft. You might not know
the name, but you definitely know the voice – he sang
‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch’ in the
classic TV special How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
know they’re the teams that draw the viewers, but
it’ll be nice to tune in to Fox Sports Net
Detroit Friday and not have to watch Michigan or Michigan
State. Lake Superior State isn’t the most
entertaining club on the planet, but they do have a pretty
good goalie in Jeff Jakaitis. If you haven’t seen
Miami, you’ll want to catch a glimpse of forwards
Marty Guerin and Matt Christie and sublime defenseman Andy
fans should be disgusted by the complete lack of
effort put forth by the Wolverines in the closing
moments of Friday’s 2-2 against Michigan State. The
shift during which the Spartans’ Drew Miller sent
the game into overtime on a goal with two seconds left in
regulation was particularly disheartening – the Michigan
players stopped moving their feet, passively tried to freeze
the puck on the wall behind goaltender Al Montoya instead
of clearing it out of the zone and were ultimately out-muscled
by MSU. The Wolverines may have the talent to win a national
championship, but they lack the heart.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• With four shorthanded goals this season (all
coming in the last 12 games), Miami freshman forward Nathan
Davis has vaulted into a share of the NCAA lead in that
category with Alabama-Huntsville’s Bruce Mulherin.
Davis on the penalty kill and it’s easy to see why he’s
so successful in scoring with a man down. He thrives on giving
an opposing player retreating into his own end to pick up the
puck a false sense of security, then using a quick burst of speed
to accelerate for a clean poke check, leaving his foe flat-footed.
are certain things you see when the puck goes back,” Davis
said. “[The opponent] is rocking back on his heels or flinching.
It’s almost like a stutter step. You make it look like he
has room, and then you jump on him.”
situations, Davis also has the patience to wait for the goaltender
to commit to a move before shooting. Against Western Michigan
Saturday, he broke in alone on the left wing, cut in front of
crease and waited until goalie Daniel Bellissimo dropped into
a butterfly, leaving a sizable opening inside the far post that
Davis found easily.
are a myriad of reasons explaining why Miami has hovered
around the .500 mark for much of the season, but here’s
a glaring statistic. The RedHawks’ 3-2 loss at Western Michigan
Saturday runs the team’s record in one-goal games to 1-8-0.
State’s overtime victory at Lake Superior State Saturday
not only allowed the Buckeyes to creep to within two points of
first place in the CCHA standings, but was also the team’s
20th win of the year. It’s the first time in school history
that OSU has won 20 or more games in four straight seasons.
The Bucks reeled off three consecutive campaigns of 20-plus wins
under coach Jerry Welsh from 1978-81.
lengthy road winless streaks were snapped Saturday as
Alaska-Fairbanks and Bowling Green won at Northern Michigan and
Ferris State, respectively. The Nanooks’ 2-1 victory was
their first in Marquette – UAF entered the game with a 0-9-2
all-time mark when visiting Northern Michigan. BGSU, meanwhile,
left Big Rapids with a 4-2 win against Ferris State, their first
at Ewigleben Ice Arena in nearly six years. The Falcons hadn’t
beaten the Bulldogs at home since Feb. 27, 1999, a span of seven
rare soapbox moment, if you will. Now that the emphasis on obstruction
has become more or less ingrained in the minds of players, coaches,
officials, fans and media members, this writer would like to propose
a point of emphasis for the 2005-06 season – cracking
down on players who turn their backs to checks in order
to draw penalties.
game against Western Michigan, Miami was whistled for infractions
on at least three separate occasions – one for checking
from behind and two for boarding – after Broncos players
turned away from a check. Not only does the practice equivalent
to diving, but turning away from a check and facing the wall unnecessarily
exposes players to serious injury. Even more disconcerting is
that some coaches promote the tactic.
a 41-save effort from Dominic Vicari and two goals from Drew Miller
in the final 2:26 of regulation, the assembled media at Yost Ice
Arena for Friday’s Michigan State-Michigan game elected
the Wolverines’ Jeff Tambellini as the No. 1 star
of the evening. Apparently, Katherine Harris is counting three
stars votes in Ann Arbor.
A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this