Bowling Green remained one of the hottest
teams in the country even without one of its best
players last weekend.
Sophomore forward Jonathan Matsumoto,
who leads the Falcons with 12 goals, was suspended
for the entire sweep of Ohio State after running afoul
of the law hours after the team’s win over Colgate
last week. According to Kevin Gordon of the Bowling
Green Sentinel-Tribune, Matsumoto, 19, was cited
at 2:30 a.m. Jan. 4 for underage drinking and petty
Matsumoto was reinstated by coach Scott
Paluch this week and practiced for the first time
since the incident on Wednesday. He probably will
play in this weekend’s home-and-home series
against Western Michigan.
“He’s back,” said
Paluch, who wouldn’t comment on the incident.
“He served his suspension and has been reinstated.”
The situation somewhat overshadows the
Falcons’ dramatic turnaround over the past month,
which has included six straight wins over teams from
four leagues (St. Lawrence, Massachusetts, Connecticut,
Colgate and Ohio State). BGSU has climbed to sixth
in the CCHA and sits just one game under .500 overall
after a dismal 3-10-1 start to the season.
Reason No. 1 for the improvement has
been cutting down on goals against. Senior Jon Horrell
is on a roll, winning all six games during the streak
and not allowing more than two goals in a game since
early December. That’s really saying something,
considering BGSU is 53rd in the nation at 3.82 goals
against per game even after this recent about-face.
Above all, Horrell has benefited from
much better defensive work in front of him.
“We’re playing a safer style
of hockey after making some bad reads and turning
the puck over too much earlier in the year,”
Paluch said. “We’ve made adjustments with
our defensemen and gotten our forwards into better
position for transition. We’re just keeping
things simple, keeping the puck in safe areas and
staying away from turnovers.”
On a side note regarding Matsumoto,
one rumor we heard this week had him leaving school
to play in the Ontario Hockey League. That turned
out to be unsubstantiated, as did similar theories
about Ohio State sophomore forward Tom Fritsche and
Nebraska-Omaha sophomore defenseman Joe Grimaldi floated
on message boards this week. Officials with the Buckeyes
and Mavericks say Fritsche and Grimaldi have shown
no signs of contemplating a move away from campus,
and they are expected to play against each other this
weekend in Columbus.
Not Running with the Devils:
Despite whispers to the contrary, Northern Michigan
coach Walt Kyle said he never was contacted by the
New Jersey Devils about their coaching vacancy, let
alone offered the job.
“Total speculation,” Kyle
said. “From my vantage point, there was nothing
to it. No one ever contacted me, and I’ve been
in the business long enough to know you need that
to happen to get a job.”
Kyle’s alleged candidacy popped
up in the New York Post while he was leading the U.S.
team at the recent World Junior Championships in Vancouver
– and simply added to what already was a whirlwind
few weeks. After dropping the bronze-medal game to
Finland last Thursday, Kyle and U.S./Miami forward
Nate Davis drove to Seattle for the night, then had
a 4 a.m. wakeup call for a flight to Cincinnati, landed
at 2 p.m. and drove to Oxford for Friday night’s
NMU vs. Miami game. After all of that, Kyle’s
12ish-hour bus ride back to Marquette on Sunday was
“The World Juniors is a tiring
tournament, for sure,” Kyle said. “But
it was a great experience. I enjoyed it.”
Hopeful Irish: Notre
Dame is on a three-game unbeaten streak after a successful
trip to UNO, and first-year Fighting Irish coach Jeff
Jackson thinks it might be a sign that he and his
players have finally figured out each other.
“Really, it’s taken a half
a year for me to really get to know our personnel
and for them to know me,” Jackson said. “I
think they understand that I’m not going to
tolerate not working hard, not giving the effort.
If they do that, they’re going to sit, whether
it’s a senior, junior, freshman, whoever. Some
guys have learned that and are turning the corner,
while others are still learning.”
One of Notre Dame’s most pleasant
surprises has been freshman Erik Condra, who is tied
for the team scoring lead with 18 points. He and co-leader
Josh Sciba have formed an effective forward pair despite
a rotating cast of wingers on their line.
“Coming into the season, I didn’t
know who was going to create for us,” Jackson
said. “But Condra has been good. He’s
smart and he competes hard. If we can bring in players
like him on an annual basis, we’ll be doing
Great Weekend Getaway
at Ohio State (Fri.-Sat.) Cynics might already consider these
underachieving squads to be out of the league
race. That’s probably not true just yet
in the tightly packed CCHA, but whoever comes
out on the wrong end of this weekend’s
Dan Knapp Bowl can probably forget about catching
Miami, et al. So what does that mean? Desperate
hockey, which is always fun to watch. OSU coach
John Markell wants nothing more than a consistent
level passion from his club, while Mike Kemp’s
crew heads into an incredibly tough six-week
stretch riding a 2-4-1 skid.
While you’re there:
If this is your first trip to the ‘Bus
since last year’s Frozen Four, you had
might as well revisit the scene(s) of your greatest
glory. For us, that would be O’Shaughnessy’s
Public House in the Arena District.
goalie Billy Sauer had an 18th birthday
to remember, notching his first career shutout
with an 26-save effort against Alaska Fairbanks
on Friday. Even better, the freshman displayed
a bit of clairvoyance. He said he woke up that
morning knowing it was going to be a good day.
through January, it’s too bad that OSU
coach John Markell still has to scratch some
of his regulars in an effort to motivate
his team. On Friday, he sat John Dingle.
On Saturday, he scratched Bryce Anderson and
Domenic Maiani, although Maiani also had a finger
injury. For Tuesday’s win over Miami,
it was Andrew Schembri. “We can’t
scratch everybody that probably deserves it,”
Markell told the Columbus Dispatch on
Saturday. For a veteran group, that says a lot
about where the team’s focus lies.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• In case you missed it, three
CCHA players were among 18 nominees for the Hockey
Humanitarian Award: Western Michigan goalie Eric Marvin,
Michigan State forward Drew Miller and Notre Dame
defenseman Chris Trick. Five finalists will be announced
Jan. 20, and the award presentation is April 7 in
• Michigan State swept Wayne State
in the only nonconference action for the CCHA last
week. The games didn’t count in the Commissioners’
Cup standings, but we’ll give you an update
anyway. The CCHA (5-4-1) is tied for second place
with the CHA, one point behind the ECACHL, with just
two total Cup games remaining. For the CCHA to win
outright, Northern Michigan must defeat Wayne State
on Feb. 4 while UConn beats Yale on the same night.
• The only “nonconference”
game in the league this week is Michigan hosting the
U.S. Under-18 Team, a crosstown foe, for an exhibition
Friday. Many Wolverine regulars are expected to get
the night off (read: banged-up Brandon Kaleniecki
and at least a few of U-M’s World Junior participants)
as they rest up for Tuesday’s showdown at MSU.
• Injury report: Ferris State
freshman Dan Riedel (3-13-16) is expected to be back
in the Bulldogs’ lineup for this weekend’s
visit to Northern Michigan after missing six games
with mononucleosis. ... MSU goaltender Dominic Vicari
was held out of the Wayne State series because of
an eye infection caused by his contact lenses. He
is expected to be available this weekend.
• Nebraska-Omaha forward Bill
Thomas and Miami goalie Jeff Zatkoff were honored
by CSTV and the Hockey Commissioners’ Association
as the national player and goalie of the month, respectively,
for December. Thomas had nine goals and six assists
in six December games, while Zatkoff went 2-0-1 in
three December games against ranked teams.
• From the sound of it, Michigan
and Alaska Fairbanks were lucky to have their entire
rosters available to them for Saturday night’s
game. Near the end of U-M’s 4-0 win Friday,
something between a scuffle and a brawl broke out
among players on the ice. The level of chaos differs
with each viewpoint, but at least one Wolverine thought
it was a big deal. “I thought (Michigan’s
Jack) Johnson and (Travis) Turnbull were gonna get
kicked out,” U-M forward Chad Kolarik told USCHO
after the game. “They
were throwing punches left and right. I was a little
nervous, but (captain Andrew Ebbett) tried to go talk
(the referee) out of it, and I guess he did a good
job persuading.” Throwing punches left and right?
In this year of the DQ, it sounds like there could
have been some.
• Minutiae: Bowling Green recorded
two shutouts in the same week for the first time since
1977. ... Miami is the only team in the country not
to have given up more than three goals in a game this
season. ... MSU’s goal scorers in Friday’s
3-1 win over Wayne State (Corey Potter, Jared Nightingale
and Nick Sucharski) had combined for seven career
goals in 271 games played before the contest.
• Ferris State coach Bob Daniels
on senior forward Greg Rallo, who leads the team with
12 goals after only scoring seven in each of the last
two seasons: “He broke his ankle playing softball
in the summer before last season, and it really affected
his skating. He was never the same last year, until
he started getting better sometime in March. But this
year, he’s really stepping up and having a great
senior season. In that way, he reminds me of Chris
Kunitz. He’s not just getting it done offensively,
he’s playing well from a defensive standpoint
and he’s one of our top penalty killers. It’s
nice to see.”
• Only two teams are represented
among the league’s top four point-scoring defensemen:
Michigan and Miami. The Wolverines have the co-No.
1s, Jack Johnson and Matt Hunwick, with 21 points
apiece. The RedHawks boast No. 3 Andy Greene (16)
and No. 4 Mitch Ganzak (15), who is, by far, the least
heralded of the quartet.
• Miami goalie Charlie Effinger
lost for the first time in 364 days Friday, dropping
a 2-1 decision to NMU. Since losing to MSU on Jan.
7, 2005, he had built a 12-game unbeaten streak.
A variety of sources were utilized
in the compilation of this report.