November 16, 2005
Riedel: Happy to Be Here

By James Jahnke

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Dan Riedel

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It was tough to ask Dan Riedel the question without sounding insulting, but we inquired anyway: How did the leading scorer in the United States Hockey League last season wind up at little ol’ Ferris State?

Riedel, to his credit, turned it around on us: “Why wouldn’t I be here?”

“Ferris made me feel like I was wanted,” explained Riedel, a slick winger. “Everybody wants that, even if they don’t admit it.”

Credit, then, the FSU coaching staff of Bob Daniels, Drew Famulak and Derek Lalonde for rolling out the red carpet for Riedel, one of the most skilled freshmen in the country. Bigger programs such as Michigan State only showed cursory interest in him, perhaps because they were put off by his 5-foot-9, 177-pound frame. So the Rochester Hills, Mich., native had no problem pledging to the underdog Bulldogs during his first year with Springfield in the NAHL.

That was three seasons ago, the year when Ferris State won the CCHA regular-season championship and went to the NCAA Tournament. After a year and a half with Springfield, Riedel was traded to Lincoln of the USHL, ostensibly to complete the 2003-04 season before heading to college. But a snafu with
an improper English class branded him unworthy in the NCAA’s eyes and forced him to play another year with the Stars. Not a problem. He put up 81 points (30-51) in 60 games to lead the circuit by 10 points – and stayed true to Ferris State throughout the ordeal.

“It was an easy decision to go with Ferris,” said Riedel, who posted seven points in a sweep of Western Michigan last weekend to give him 11 for the season. “I think it worked out in the long run. I love it here. There’s a little bit of everything, and I think we can become one of the top teams in the league.”

Landing Riedel was one of several FSU recruiting coups that formed one of the most dynamic rookie classes in the nation. The Bulldogs’ starting goalie, Mitch O’Keefe, and most naturally gifted defenseman, Chris Zarb, also are in their first years on campus. Throw in promising forwards Justin Lewandowski (brother of former FSU player Phil) and Brendan Connolly, and Daniels has a class “that has the makings to be pretty good.”

How all of those players were lured to Big Rapids is a testament to the coaching staff. Without the presence of other Division I sports to serve as bellwethers of publicity, schools such as Ferris State can face an uphill climb with top-tier recruits. But Daniels and his staff have the ability to spin their pitch to suit their needs, citing growing enrollment (up to around 11,000 students) to players wanting a big-time atmosphere
or selling the small-town feel of Big Rapids to prospects who don’t want the limelight.

“With all of the new buildings and renovated buildings we have going up around campus, the last nine years have been a joy (to recruit),” Daniels said. “It’s a night-and-day difference. It’s almost like being at two different universities.”

Riedel, for one, knows which school he’s at, and he has no concerns. Ferris State is
off to a surprising 4-2-4 start (including 3-1-4 in the CCHA).

“I don’t look at it like, ‘Why am I here?’” he said. “I look at it like, ‘I’m here, so let’s do something.’”


Set fourth – Nebraska-Omaha coach Mike Kemp noticed how well freshman forwards Dan Charleston, Tomas Klempa and J.P. Platisha worked together during a random grouping during training camp, and he stored that nugget of information in the back of his mind. Fortunately for him and his skidding Mavericks, he unearthed it last week.

Finally put back together, the line of Charleston, Klempa and Platisha combined for five goals and 10 points in a stunning sweep at Michigan State, helping UNO emerge from a murky 0-4 start in the league.

“People can make you look like a genius or a moron depending on how they actually perform,” Kemp said. “But I liked the way they looked. They helped turn the tide for us.”

Listed as the fourth line, the trio got a regular shift as Kemp tried to keep the team fresh on the back end of consecutive weekends on the road. In fact, when Kemp finally shortened the bench for Saturday’s overtime, the three freshmen earned one of the team’s seven shifts, and Charleston and Klempa were spotted with other lines, giving them three shifts each.

Asked about the shelf life of his new wonder-line, Kemp pointed to the all-rookie unit of Brandon Scero, Bryan Marshall and the departed David Phillips that was a staple for UNO last season.

“If they keep playing this way, we’d be foolish not to keep playing them,” Kemp said.

Great Weekend Getaway
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Notre Dame at Miami (Fri.-Sat.)
It’s always a good decision to visit Oxford, but even more so when two upstart teams do battle. The RedHawks have allowed only 13 goals all season, a testament to the goalie tandem of Jeff Zatkoff and Charlie Effinger, and are tied for second place in the league standings. For comparison, the next fewest goals allowed by a CCHA squad is 20 by Lake Superior State and Alaska-Fairbanks. Notre Dame comes in on high after a thorough domination of Bowling Green, but the Irish still have to prove that they can handle forwards as quick as Miami’s – particularly while on the road. Notre Dame is averaging 3.62 goals per game this year, or about two more goals per game than last season.

While you’re there: If this is your last visit to Miami this season, be sure to say a proper goodbye to Goggin Ice Arena. It will be replaced by the brand-new Goggin Ice Center next year. Judging by these photos, construction is progressing swimmingly.

Stick Salute

Notre Dame’s 13 goals against Bowling Green last week were its most in a two-game series since hanging 14 on Mercyhurst in 1990. Not bad for a team that scored only 12 goals in its 11 games last January. Junior forward Josh Sciba chipped in four of the markers against BG, including a hat trick Thursday’s 9-4 win. It was Notre Dame's first hat trick at the Joyce Center since 1998.

Bench Minor

Somebody forgot to unlock the clapper of Lake Superior State’s victory bell Saturday, curtailing the Lakers’ traditional post-victory celebration. The Lakers usually run out to the bell just outside of the Norris Center shortly after a win and ring the thing, then come back inside the arena single-file through a tunnel of remaining fans in a tradition that dates to the early 1980s. But after Saturday’s 3-2 win over Miami, the bell was locked and the silence was saddening. We're told that Lakers coach Jim Roque has a copy of the key now, so there shouldn’t be any future problems.


• New Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said he’s pleased by his team’s level of effort thus far, but there’s another level that must be raised. “I want to see the commitment level be there, paying the price to win. That’s the last hump to get over, and that doesn’t happen overnight.”

• It has been said that playing against Bemidji State’s grinding defense is as much fun as a root canal. Well, now Ferris State’s Bob Daniels will have a point of reference. Daniels underwent the sometimes-painful dental procedure after practice on Tuesday and should be fine by the time his Bulldogs host BSU for a nonconference series this weekend. Asked whether delaying his appointment was an option, Daniels declared, “I don’t want to be a wuss.”

• Buckeye notes: We think Columbus is getting pumped for a certain football game on Saturday. Not only was “We Don’t Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan” a popular tune in the stands during Tuesday's win over Michigan State, the Ohio State band performed the incomparable “Script Ohio” on the ice at Value City Arena for the third time in school history during the second intermission. ... The victory stopped the Bucks’ five-game winless streak (0-4-1), which was their longest since the 2001-02 season, and got them out of last place in the league.

• Schedules, Schedules: Alaska-Fairbanks’ game at Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday has been pushed back a half-hour to 7:35 p.m. because of Creighton's afternoon basketball game at the Qwest Center. ... The Nanooks’ game at Michigan State on Jan. 14 has been moved ahead a half-hour to 7:35 p.m. to accommodate CSTV. ... The CCHA has decided that the famously suspended Bowling Green vs. Ferris State game will be replayed in its entirety, not picked up where it left off.

• Michigan State will wrap up a pro-like stretch of eight games in 16 days with a home-and-home series against Western Michigan this weekend. How did the Spartans' schedule get so cramped? For one thing, an end-of-season Ferris State series had to be moved to two Tuesdays because of the newly expanded CCHA tournament format. Secondly, the Spartans let Ohio State out of a February series so the Buckeyes could participate in the Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic at Lambeau Field. Those games were rescheduled to this past Tuesday and a Thursday in February.

• Lake Superior State goalie Jeff Jakaitis has been the only true workhorse in the CCHA this season, playing every minute of every Lakers game. He has played 51 minutes more than anyone else in the league. Ferris State’s Mitch O’Keefe is part of the next rung of goalies with a monopoly on minutes, along with Ohio State’s David Caruso and Northern Michigan’s Bill Zaniboni. Every other team seems to have a goalie tandem to some degree.

• When momentum swung in the Western Michigan vs. Ferris State series last week, it really swung. FSU scored the series’ first six goals in a 6-0 shutout on Friday night. WMU bounced back to score the first three goals of Saturday’s rematch, only to watch the Bulldogs tally the last five markers of the game and take the sweep.

• Despite being Western Michigan’s most talented player, forward Brent Walton is not above reproach in the eyes of coach Jim Culhane. “I believe he can be one of the elite players in all of college hockey,” Culhane said. “He has the physical attributes. But he needs to bring a consistent effort to the rink every single day. That’s something Walton needs to work on.”

• Know how to pronounce Western Michigan forward Paul Szczechura’s last name? Don’t feel bad. “Most people get about halfway through it, then just say ‘Paul,’” he admitted. For the record, it’s “Sha-HER-ah.”

• Injury update: Nebraska-Omaha sophomore goalie Eric Aarnio (leg) will miss the home series against Alaska Fairbanks this weekend, as he has the past two series. Kemp said Aarnio will be considered day-to-day starting next week. ... Ferris State defenseman Jeremy Scherlinck is skating with the team in practice and is believed to be almost ready to return to the lineup. He has only played one game this season.

• Northern Michigan has already lost more home games this year (three) than it did all of last season (two).

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.