Fans, coaches and players irked by the
high number of checking-from-behind penalties called
during the first three months of the season can take
comfort in knowing that this year’s initiative
might be reined in going forward.
The ice hockey rules committee is gathering
statistics, opinions and video examples from around
the country to make sure the rule is being interpreted
consistently across all leagues, CCHA commissioner
Tom Anastos said. The two major points the committee
wants to communicate to on-ice officials are to properly
differentiate between contact from behind (not a penalty)
and checking from behind, and between what warrants
a game misconduct (no suspension) and a game disqualification
“It’s probably inaccurate
to make the assumption that there will be some sort
of relief of the calls,” Anastos said. “But
to say that I’m comfortable with the way we
are, I’m not. I’d be lying if I said we’re
great where we are. But we’re working hard at
it, and we’re committed to get better.”
Anastos said the edict to strictly enforce
the checking-from-behind rule came down from the NCAA.
In the past, many checking-from-behind infractions
were called boarding or charging by referees and were
penalized with two-minute minors. Now, checking from
behind into the boards carries a five-minute major
and either a game misconduct or disqualification.
Checking from behind in open ice is still a two-minute
But consternation swelled as key players
were kicked out of games for nonviolent infractions
and five-minute power plays changed the momentum of
games. Prevailing perception held that the CCHA was
the most stringent conference in doling out the penalties.
“We’ve heard the same things,
and I think our numbers are slightly higher,”
Anastos said. “But our goal isn’t to win
some contest. Our goal is to be consistent with all
leagues. It’s a very difficult directive, and
the directive hasn’t changed. We’re just
trying to be as accurate and conforming as we can.”
Given that the rules committee, with
help from conference commissioners and officials supervisors,
is educating referees to differentiate between contact
from behind and checking from behind, it’s fair
to assume that fewer borderline calls will be made
during the second half of the season.
But everybody involved admits that it’s
still a work in progress.
“It’s difficult to ask our
referees to, half the season, call it one way and
then, all of a sudden, you’re going to change,”
Michigan State coach and rules committee member Rick
Comley said while ruing a checking-from-behind penalty
to Spartan defenseman Corey Potter at the Great Lakes
Invitational. “So I understand why (the referee)
But it wasn’t a penalty.”
Soon, the men in stripes might agree
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
McLeod-y skies: Alaska
Fairbanks coach Tavis MacMillan isn’t as broken
up about losing his leading scorer as you’d
think he would be.
MacMillan believes that the Nanooks
will survive the departure of sophomore forward Ryan
McLeod, who left school to sign with Victoria of the
ECHL during the team’s holiday break. McLeod
had 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) in 14 games
with the Nanooks, but he wasn’t as big on being
a “student” as he was an “athlete.”
Published reports indicated that McLeod
would have been academically ineligible next semester,
and MacMillan confirmed that grades were the impetus
of the player’s decision to leave. McLeod was
left home by MacMillan when the Nanooks visited Omaha
on Nov. 18-19.
“Ryan is a good kid that made
some mistakes,” MacMillan said. “We just
came to an agreement that it was time to move on,
that this was not the best situation for him right
now. It’s not a bad thing. He’ll be part
of the Nanook family forever.”
Sophomore forward Donald Johnson, who
had played two games without a point for UAF this
season, also left the program during the holidays
because of a lack of playing time. All of this comes
as the Nanooks prepare for a daunting two-week visit
to the Great Lakes State to play Michigan and Michigan
State on back-to-back weekends, starting Friday in
“I’m not concerned with
wins and losses right now,” MacMillan said.
“At the end of the year, we’ll add up
the W’s and the L’s and see where we are.
Right now, I want to see performance and effort. The
creates an opportunity for people to step up."
Great Weekend Getaway
Michigan at Miami (Fri.-Sat.) The first-place RedHawks carry a nation-best
10-game unbeaten streak (7-0-3) into this series
against a team most predicted would finish ahead
of them in the standings. But Northern hasn’t
lived up to expectations yet; its fourth-place
position is more a result of parity and having
played a league-high 14 conference games than
anything else. Wildcats coach Walt Kyle will
be making a beeline to Oxford after coaching
the U.S. team at the World Junior Championship
in British Columbia for the last three weeks,
so he might be mentally fatigued. Still, this
is one of the toughest series Miami has remaining
on its schedule.
While you’re there:
See if you can talk your way into a rec broomball
game on the auxiliary ice sheet at the Goggin.
But watch out for the frat teams. They can play.
Lake Superior State senior Mike
Adamek finally worked his way into
the lineup last month after an extended stay
in new coach Jim Roque’s doghouse for
academic reasons, and Adamek has been worth
the wait. He has scored in three of his four
games, which puts him in a tie for seventh on
LSSU’s goal-scoring list already. It’s
a welcome midseason addition for the offensively
During Michigan’s loss to
Colorado College in the Great Lakes Invitational,
on-ice officials gave the wrong
player a game misconduct then set a bad precedent
by changing their call during the first intermission.
U-M walk-on Chris Fragner checked a Tiger from
behind at 16:02 at the first period, but referee
Kevin Hall hung the major and misconduct on
linemate Tyler Swystun. Fragner “served”
the penalty for Swystun for the rest of the
period. Then during intermission, Michigan was
told the penalty had been switched. Fragner
was out, and Swystun, who had just gotten out
of the shower, was back in. Seems to us that
if the refs knew they needed video review to
determine the culprit, it should have been done
at the time of the penalty. If they didn’t
know that they weren’t sure, that’s
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Anastos checked in at No. 81
on The Hockey News’ list of the 100
people of power and influence in its Dec. 27 issue.
Anastos, the only college figure on the list, was
credited with bringing NCAA hockey “out of the
dark ages” through expanded TV coverage and
the ascent of the Frozen Four. He also was termed
a “forward-thinking executive” and a “commissioner-in-waiting
for a pro league.”
• UAF won the Governor’s
Cup series over rival Alaska Anchorage for the fifth
straight year, taking three out of four games from
the Seawolves. “I’m starting to think
(the cup) is part of my office furniture,” MacMillan
• Ferris State arguably had the
best holiday performance in the league, tying Boston
College and beating Denver at the Denver Cup. And
the Bulldogs did it with backup goalie Derek MacIntyre,
who subbed for freshman Mitch O’Keefe (high
ankle sprain). FSU is off this weekend, and coach
Bob Daniels said O’Keefe might be ready for
the trip to Northern Michigan on Jan. 13-14.
• In nonconference action last
week, Miami and Bowling Green won tournament championships
to join UAF and Ferris State as the CCHA’s big
winners. The RedHawks beat Rensselaer and tied Ohio
State to take the Ohio Hockey Classic, while BGSU
downed Massachusetts and Connecticut to win UConn’s
tournament. Michigan and Michigan State both beat
Michigan Tech but lost to Colorado College in the
Great Lakes Invitational. Ohio State shut out Holy
Cross to set up the title game against Miami, which
came down to a shootout. Northern Michigan beat Wayne
State before falling to Wisconsin at the Badger Showdown,
while Western Michigan lost to the Warriors and Badgers.
On Tuesday, Bowling Green continued its hot streak
with a convincing shutout of Colgate while Nebraska-Omaha
fell to Minnesota State, Mankato, its partner-in-Maverick.
The only nonleague games involving a
CCHA team this weekend are Wayne State’s two-game
set at MSU.
• Michigan State has moved Chris
Snavely from defense to forward, perhaps permanently.
The junior struggled at times as a rearguard, so the
staff moved him up front for last month’s series
at Fairbanks and was pleasantly surprised by his performance.
Snavely spent time as a forward in juniors and even
was recruited by New Hampshire as a center.
• The holiday break gave several
key players time to recover from injuries, most notably
Ohio State goalie Dave Caruso (missed two games with
knee surgery), Northern Michigan forward Andy Contois
(two games with a knee strain) and Michigan State
forward Tim Kennedy (16 games with a broken finger).
All returned for their holiday tournaments.
• Bronco notes: Western Michigan
played the first scoreless tie in school history (1,220
games) on Dec. 17 at Northern Michigan. But the 0-0
stalemate was old hat to the Wildcats, who registered
their school’s first scoreless draw last December
against Harvard. ... The 13,302 fans who watched the
WMU vs. Wisconsin game Dec. 30 in Madison comprised
the largest crowd to see the Broncos play since the
1991 CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena.
• Nebraska-Omaha forward Bill
Thomas continues to be the best player whom fans outside
of the country’s beef sector don’t know.
He netted a hat trick among five points in last week’s
win over Alabama-Huntsville, and now has 17 goals
and 14 assists in 20 games this season.
• Heading into this weekend’s
set at UNO, Notre Dame already has more wins (six)
and league wins (four) than it did all of last season.
• Michigan coach Red Berenson
received a reprimand from the league office for being
quoted as calling a call in a Dec. 3 loss to Miami
“embarrassing” in the Ann Arbor News.