We couldn’t find evidence in the
Bible, but God apparently is a Miami fan.
After the RedHawks scored twice in the
final 22 seconds of Saturday’s home game to
beat Western Michigan, 4-3, divine intervention seemed
like a reasonable explanation.
“When you’ve got a broken-stick
slap shot that goes eight feet in the air, comes down,
hits a leg and goes in the net, you’ve gotta
feel like there’s some higher power looking
out for you,” said sophomore forward Nate Davis,
whose leg provided the tying goal. “There’s
something in the water down here. Our coach is a pretty
religious guy, so maybe that has something to do with
That coach, Enrico Blasi, isn’t
sure that holiness is playing a role. But if it is,
he’ll take it.
“To have a season like we’re
having, you’re going to need a little luck at
times,” Blasi said.
Heading into a weekend series at formidable
Ferris State, the RedHawks lead the CCHA by a robust
nine points over Northern Michigan. Michigan, with
three games in hand on Miami, is in the “best”
striking position: fourth place, 11 points behind.
The RedHawks have succeeded this year with stellar
defense (they still haven’t given up more than
three goals this season) and with timely offense,
such as Saturday’s escape.
WMU took back-to-back penalties in the
final minute that, combined with Blasi pulling his
goalie, gave Miami a 6-on-3 advantage for Davis’
goal. Marty Guerin then scored the game winner during
a 5-on-4 advantage with 1.6 seconds left on the clock.
(If you haven't seen it, click
It’s been that kind of charmed
season for the RedHawks, which begs the question of
whether they’re a team of destiny.
“I think those are things you
look back and reflect on after the season is over,”
Blasi cautioned. “You don’t think about
that when you’re living in the present. Our
sole focus is on Ferris State this weekend.”
The 10 goals Miami scored in the sweep
of the Broncos relieved some of the pressure that
had built upon the team’s offense. The RedHawks
are in the middle of the CCHA pack in scoring at 3.12
goals per game. That lack of explosiveness might catch
up to them in the postseason, but Davis thinks they’ll
“I saw a lot of (the top college
players) at the World Junior tournament,” Davis
said, “and I think we can compete with them.
I hope so. Can we win the national championship? I
don’t know. Hopefully, it comes down to a few
of those lucky bounces.”
AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
Bronco Brent: For all
senior Brent Walton has done during his Western Michigan
career – 141 points and counting – he
has one simple hope for March: a home playoff series.
He hasn’t played in one yet, and after the meltdown
at Miami, things don’t look good this year either.
At 5-11-2, Western is in last place in the CCHA, five
points out of eighth place and a home playoff series.
It’s been a “very, very, very” frustrating
season for Walton, who is tied for the CCHA goal-scoring
lead with 18 but has little help from his teammates.
“At least we know we haven’t
peaked at the wrong time,” he deadpanned.
The good news for the Broncos is that
they return home for a series against Northern Michigan
this weekend after spending an eternity on the road.
WMU has played just once at Lawson Arena since Dec.
2, and it hasn’t had back-to-back home games
since Nov. 4-5. Even their rivalry with NMU has been
road-weighted in recent years, with the last 13 Bronco-Wildcat
tilts coming in Marquette.
But now eight of Walton’s final
12 regular-season games will be in Kalamazoo, and
he hopes there are a few more come playoff time.
“It’s been kind of a downer
being on the road, because our home fans are so great,”
Walton said. “You miss playing in front of the
Lawson Lunatics. They make you want to go out and
score a goal or make a big hit for them, so this will
be nice. I’d like to make a run coming down
the stretch here. I don’t want to end my senior
year in last place.”
We Hardly Knew Ye: When sophomore Victor
Oreskovich left Notre Dame for the Ontario Hockey
League in December, it marked the end of a disappointing
tale in Fighting Irish coach Jeff Jackson’s
eyes. The highly regarded recruit out of Oakville,
Ontario, a second-round pick of Colorado, never lived
up to the hype in South Bend, netting only three goals
and three assists in 46 career games.
Jackson thinks Oreskovich was a victim
of the modern trend to recruit ever-younger players
to college hockey. Oreskovich had a sub-par season
in his only year in the USHL, scoring 37 points in
58 games for Green Bay before arriving on campus at
Notre Dame. Jackson, who is in his first year with
the Irish and had no role in Oreskovich’s recruitment,
thinks the player needed to play another year of juniors.
But because of the fast track Oreskovich was on (having
committed to ND as a 16-year-old), he headed to school.
“I’m just finding this out
now,” Jackson said earlier this month, “but
he was under so much personal pressure to perform
because he was a high draft pick and so forth. And
yet he came into Notre Dame with very little confidence
because he didn’t play well his one year in
Green Bay. You need to have success at the level you’re
at before you move up, whether that’s from juniors
to college or college to pros. And he didn’t
have it, so he struggled.”
For those reasons, Jackson said he understood
that a change of scenery would benefit Oreskovich,
who has three goals and three assists (seen those
numbers before?) in nine games with the Kitchener
Rangers. Jackson harbors no hard feelings.
Great Weekend Getaway
at Michigan State (Fri.); Michigan vs. Michigan
State in Detroit (Sat.) The middle of the CCHA standings is
so dense that teams can go from being in position
for a playoff bye to staring at a first-round
road trip with a
bad weekend or two. Obviously, these rivals
would like nothing more than to solidify their
own standing while sending their nemeses into
a panic with a sweep. MSU is at the end of another
grueling stretch of eight games in 16 days,
but the Wolverines have more injury issues.
Plus, Michigan has lost four straight road games
for the first time since 1989-90. Goaltending
probably will make the difference.
While you’re there:
The Peanut Barrel in East Lansing makes the
finest Long Island iced tea we’ve ever
tasted, so you might want to spend the night
at MSU and drive to Detroit the next day. The
“D” won’t be as hopping this
weekend as it will the next (when a big football
game hits town), but that just means the outdoor
ice skating rink downtown at Campus Martius
will be less crowded. Take a few laps before
heading to the Joe.
were a-flowin’ for CCHA members last week.
Michigan assistant coach Billy Powers
won the American Hockey Coaches Association’s
Terry Flanagan Award for his 14-year body of
work as a college hockey aide, while Michigan
State forward Drew Miller and
Notre Dame defenseman Chris Trick
made the list of seven finalists for the Hockey
Humanitarian Award. Kudos all around.
is a week old, but nothing else has irked us
recently. At the Michigan vs. Michigan State
game on Jan. 17, there were more media members
than there were seats in the Munn press
box. So the MSU sports information
department sent reporters from the State News
and the Michigan Daily, the schools’ student
newspapers, among others to the auxiliary press
box – a vacant camera stand with no power
on the other side of the arena. The way we see
it, there are only a few media outlets that
cover MSU and U-M hockey on a daily basis, and
these papers are two of them. Seems like they
deserve better accommodations.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Saturday is Hockey Day in Michigan,
which, among other things, will include a Northern
Michigan at Western Michigan and Michigan vs. Michigan
State doubleheader on Fox Sports Detroit. Lake Superior
State is offering free student tickets for its Friday
game against Bowling Green (yeah, they’re a
day early), while WMU is holding its annual “Black
Out” on Saturday. Saturday also is “Wildcat
Night,” during which NMU alumni gather across
the country to hang out.
• Injury report: Ferris State
forward Matt Stefanishion is out several weeks with
an injured wrist, while defenseman Chris Zarb has
missed the last four games with an “upper-body
injury.” Zarb is considered questionable for
this weekend’s Miami series. ... Ohio State
defenseman Jason DeSantis came back last weekend after
missing 15 games with a pulled abdominal muscle. ...
Michigan forwards Brandon Kaleniecki (groin) and Jason
Bailey (rib) are questionable for this weekend’s
MSU series, with Kaleniecki more likely to play than
• The goaltending situations at
Michigan and Michigan State aren’t as clear
nowadays as they seemed to be back in September. In
Ann Arbor, senior backup Noah Ruden has started three
straight games over freshman Billy Sauer, although
Sauer had to provide relief during Saturday’s
loss to Bowling Green. In East Lansing, freshman Jeff
Lerg has started eight
straight games over junior Dominic Vicari, some when
Vicari was battling an eye injury. Meanwhile, Notre
Dame freshman Jordan Pearce saw his first action since
Dec. 2, replacing David Brown in Saturday’s
come-from-behind win at NMU.
• Two No. 3 goalies made their
college debuts last Friday: Miami senior John Richmond,
who made one save in four minutes against WMU, and
Alaska Fairbanks freshman Brandon Cross, who stopped
one of two shots in eight minutes against Ohio State.
• Notes from the box scores: Darin
Olver produced NMU’s second hat trick in as
many weeks with Friday’s three-goal, one-assist
performance against Notre Dame. On the night, Northern
scored five goals on 16 shots. Sure, one of them was
an empty-netter, but even discounting that, the Wildcats
shot 26.7 percent. ... Offensively challenged Ohio
State has been shut out three times in its last six
games. ... Michigan junior defenseman Tim Cook scored
his first goal in 82 career games Friday, and his
inexperience showed. “I don’t even know
what was going on,” Cook told the Ann Arbor
News. “I think I blacked out in the celebration.”
• Michigan State coach Rick Comley
had a busy weekend, turning 59 years old last Friday
and becoming a grandfather for the first time Saturday.
Comley’s daughter, Gillian, and her husband,
Brian Murphy, welcomed baby Kathryn Elizabeth into
the world at 4:54 a.m.
• Lake Superior State and Ferris
State have tied three times this year, marking the
first time in Lakers history that they have tied the
squad thrice in a season.
• Prediction from a Buckeye football
fan: Ohio State will beat Notre Dame by an aggregate
score of 34-20 this weekend.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation
of this report.