There are a gazillion questions a college
hockey player might face when spotted by a fan on
campus. The guess here is that the Derek Smiths at
Lake Superior State hear, “Now, which one are
you?” more than most.
Two Derek Smiths, one Laker hockey team.
No, they’re not related. They didn’t even
know each other until Derek A. Smith, the defenseman,
took his recruiting visit to Sault Ste. Marie and
met Derek R. Smith, the forward who was a freshman
at the time. They went out to lunch, perhaps thinking,
“This is the guy I read about when I Googled
myself last year.” But probably not.
Anyway, shortly after that lunch, middle
initials suddenly became a part of their identities.
The Soo became a two-Derek Smith town, and for the
past two seasons, they’ve caused headaches for
“My parents tell me that when
they’re following the game at home, it’s
sometimes tough to tell what’s going on,”
Derek A. said.
“They get confused a little bit,”
Derek R. confirmed about his folks. “I always
have to clarify to them whether it was me doing something
or the other guy.”
Their jerseys simply say “Smith”
on the back, with only numbers differentiating them.
Both of them hail from Ontario, with Derek A. growing
up a couple of hours east of Toronto in Belleville,
and Derek R. living an hour north of Toronto in Elmvale.
They live across the street from each other at Lake
Superior, meaning their phone numbers are just one
digit apart. It’s enough to make your head spin.
But on the ice, they’re as different
as can be. Derek A. breaks the mold of the big, bad
Laker defenseman, playing an up-tempo, finesse style
of game. Derek R. is a banger down low at forward,
looking to rough someone up as often as he looks to
score. Still, when people are talking, confusion can
“You’ve got to pipe up your
ears a little more,” Derek R. explained, “to
tell who the coaches are talking about.”
Nicknames help. Derek A. can be known
as Smitty 2 or Smitty D or Smitty Sophomore. Derek
R. responds to Smitty 1 or, most often, Smeagol, after
the Lord of the Rings character. Rumor has
it that former coach Frank Anzalone purposely misspelled
one of their names “Derrick” all of last
year to help keep them straight.
The players say sharing a name has made
them closer than they might have been otherwise. For
instance, they know each other’s middle names
(Anthony and Robert Allen), which isn’t common
on the team. But we put their friendship to the ultimate
INCH test, asking each whom would be the next Derek
Smith to score a goal. Derek A. has two goals and
seven assists in 26 games, while Derek R. has four
goals and six assists in 26 contests:
“I’ll give it to him. But I’ll set
“I’m hoping it’s me. We’ll
all be happy if either of us score, but I’m
hoping it’s me.”
AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
-hi- State (there’s no
O): It’s been one of those years for
Ohio State coach John Markell. Not only has his team
been unable to score at full strength, he’s
lost his second and third leading scorers in the past
week. Domenic Maiani (5-13– 18) broke his ankle
upon accidentally crashing into the boards during
Saturday’s morning skate and will miss the rest
of the season. Mathieu Beaudoin (8-8–16) played
that night against Notre Dame, but hadn’t realized
he cracked his wrist the night before. He’s
out 4-6 weeks.
All of this is bad news for a team averaging
just 2.5 goals per game and has just 11 goals in its
last eight contests.
“I’ve got a tall order here,”
said Markell, who already was missing top-four defenseman
Tyler Strachan. “The shots that went in last
year just aren’t going in this year –
I can’t explain it. The effort is always there,
that’s the scary thing. You’ll see other
teams where the puck will hit something and go in
the net, but that just doesn’t happen for us.”
Markell wants to see better cycling
and more speed through the neutral zone for his team,
in addition to continued hot play by goalie David
Caruso, who ranks fourth in the nation with a 1.61
Rookie camp in Oxford:
Miami leads second-place Lake Superior State and Michigan
by 11 points in the CCHA standings, easily the biggest
spread of the six Division I conferences. The next
biggest is Boston College’s six-point lead over
Boston University in Hockey East.
The RedHawks also are ranked No. 1 nationally
for the first time in school history (the first time
a Miami team in any sport can say that). And RedHawks
senior forward Matt Davis has an interesting theory
as to why his team has been so dang good this season.
He thinks it’s because the freshmen moved to
campus during the summer, allowing the on-ice meshing
to take place long before preseason camp started.
“That was the first experience
I’ve had where every single one of the freshmen
was here, living with us and getting to know everybody
in the summertime,” Davis said. “I think
that’s a huge part of our success.”
Great Weekend Getaway
State at Michigan (Fri.-Sat.) These Big Ten rivals have some work
to do if they want to come close to realizing
preseason expectations - or even get a postseason
bye. If the playoffs started today, Ohio State
would have to play in the first round while
U-M would earn a bye by one point. So while
this isn’t the battle for the regular-season
championship, as some expected, it should be
a spirited tussle between two talented teams
trying to salvage a season. The Wolverines are
coming off of a Tuesday night game, which might
cause some tired legs.
While you’re there:
The historic Michigan Theater is screening Brokeback
Mountain through Thursday night. It’s
the touching story of a boy who gets cross checked
from behind by Jack Johnson.
you to the league and all programs who make
home-and-home series, such as this
weekend’s Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
set, possible. When the CCHA puts out its schedule,
every series is a two-game homestand for one
team. But schools know that there are certain
geographically proximate squads that should
play in their building every year, regardless
of whether they’re in the same scheduling
cluster. So these programs “swap”
home games with each other to make sure that,
for example, Western Michigan plays at Michigan
and Michigan plays at Western Michigan every
year. It’s for the good of the fans and
college hockey in general, and we appreciate
Longtime Detroit Red Wings
color commentator Mickey Redmond called his
first college game Saturday, Michigan’s
5-5 tie with MSU, for Fox Sports Detroit. While
Redmond was a pleasure to listen to overall,
he did have one bummer of a moment. After the
Spartans notched the tying goal, MSU fans launched
into what might be the school’s most famous
cheer. It obviously was new to Mick, though.
“Are they chanting ... go green ... go
white?” a seemingly perplexed Redmond
asked aloud. Yep, you deciphered it, man.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Think Alaska Fairbanks isn’t
excited about Miami’s new ranking heading into
this weekend’s series in Oxford? Consider that
UAF already has beaten No. 1 Minnesota and No. 1 Michigan
among its 10 wins this season.
• Everyone with a rooting interest
in the CCHA should be Northern Michigan and Connecticut
fans this weekend. With Commissioners’ Cup play
wrapping up, the CCHA is a point behind the ECACHL
in the interconference competition. Northern Michigan
hosts Wayne State of the CHA on Saturday while Yale
of the ECACHL hosts UConn of Atlantic Hockey on Sunday
to decide the whole shebang.
NMU vs. WSU is a two-game series, while
Bowling Green plays one at home against RIT (coached
by former Falcon Wayne Wilson) in the league’s
other nonconference action this weekend.
• You wouldn’t know it by
last weekend’s one-goal performance, but Notre
Dame’s offense is much improved. To wit, the
Fighting Irish scored only 60 goals all of last season.
With another month and change to play this year, they
already have 65.
• OSU’s Caruso (11) and
Notre Dame’s David Brown (six) both tied school
records for most career shutouts last weekend.
• After two ties last weekend,
the Michigan vs. Michigan State rivalry stayed as
tight as anybody’s business lately. MSU won
the series 1-0-3 this year (barring a postseason meeting),
but the rivalry is split 2-2-5 in the last two seasons
and 6-6-6 dating to March 2002. Six of the past seven
games have gone into overtime.
There was controversy both nights last
week, however. In Game 1 in East Lansing, MSU defenseman
Ethan Graham shot a puck through the net that would
have given the Spartans a 2-0 lead. CSTV had a clear
shot of the goal, but the only camera available for
video review – an overhead shot – was
inconclusive, meaning the ruling of “no goal”
on the ice stood after roughly 10 minutes of review.
The game ended 1-1. But MSU got the break the next
night when Chris Mueller appeared to kick the puck
into the net to tie the score 2-2 at Joe Louis Arena.
The play was not reviewed, so the goal stood, helping
the Spartans to a 5-5 tie.
• Injury report: Miami goalie
Charlie Effinger should be OK this weekend despite
taking a puck to the head while on the bench Saturday.
... Lake Superior State forward Marty Gurnoe (concussion)
is probable, forward Dan Eves (shoulder) is doubtful
and defenseman Alex Dunn (shoulder) is out for this
• Miami coach Enrico Blasi became
the school’s all-time winningest coach with
Friday’s win over Ferris State, breaking a tie
with Steve Cady. After triumphing again Saturday,
Blasi now has a 123-111-23 record in his seven years
• Four players must sit out Friday
after picking up game disqualifications for fighting
during last weekend’s UNO-UAF series. The Mavericks’
Mick Lawrence and captain Mike Lefley will miss their
series opener against Lake Superior State, while the
Nanooks’ Kelly Czuy and T.J. Campbell won’t
be able to participate in Game 1 at Miami.
• Western Michigan backup goalie
Eric Marvin picked up a strange penalty in Saturday’s
tie with Northern Michigan. As the teams were skating
off the ice at the end of the second period, Marvin,
who wasn’t playing in the game, bumped NMU starting
goalie Bill Zaniboni, drawing a 10-minute misconduct.
His sentence was to watch half of the third period
from the penalty box instead of the bench.
• Michigan junior David Rohlfs
moved back to his natural forward position last weekend
after skating 23 games as a defenseman this season.
He responded with a goal Saturday against MSU and
two assists Tuesday against Western Michigan.
• Nebraska-Omaha won for the first
time ever in Alaska last weekend, beating UAF on Friday
to improve upon an 0-10-4 mark.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation
of this report.