Alaska Fairbanks forward Kyle Greentree
boarded the team’s red-eye flight late Tuesday
night with enough gear in his luggage to last four
weeks. But he’s hoping the jaunt will last less
The Nanooks are right on the bubble
for home ice in the CCHA playoffs heading into the
final weekend of regular-season play. They are tied
for eighth place with Ferris State and Notre Dame,
this week’s opponent in South Bend, and as long
as they stay eighth or better, they’ll host
a series next weekend.
But if they have to open on the road,
they’re going to stay in the Lower 48 until
they’re eliminated from the playoffs, rather
than flying back and forth from Alaska. Thus all of
the heavy suitcases.
“We don’t want to think
that way,” Greentree said. “We want to
get two wins and come back here. But we have to be
One could argue that home ice means
more to UAF than any other team because of its location.
The Nanooks have traveled so much during their careers
that they don’t think twice about hopping on
a plane, but they certainly notice their advantage
when teams fly to their neck of the woods. From the
jet lag to the frigid climate to the rare-in-the-CCHA
Olympic-size ice, UAF has a psychological edge at
To be able to use it, the Nanooks must
succeed at Notre Dame. UAF is on a nice streak, going
4-1-2 in its last seven games, but it’s still
far from an offensive juggernaut. The team scores
2.44 goals per contest, which ranks 11th in the CCHA.
Talented forward Ryan McLeod left during the holiday
break because of academic troubles, placing a heavy
burden on playmakers such as Greentree.
“We struggled a little bit right
after McLeod left, I was playing center some, and
the points just weren’t coming,” said
Greentree, who has a team-leading 25 points (seven
goals, 18 assists). “But I’ve been playing
with Kelly Czuy and Adam Naglich recently, and we’ve
had set lines for three weeks in a row now. It’s
a big time of year to feel comfortable with who you’re
So Greentree has no worries heading
down to Notre Dame – and maybe beyond.
“Our team’s rolling right
now,” he said, “so it should be fun. It’s
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
One with the people:
Northern Michigan has been thrashing to stay afloat
all year but with one weekend to go, lo and behold,
the fifth-place Wildcats still have a chance for a
first-round bye heading into a home series against
Ohio State. A more realistic and attainable goal is
home ice for the opening round, but even that looked
questionable until last weekend’s sweep of Lake
The wins earned NMU the season series
against the Lakers, and thus, the Cappo Cup. The Cup
presentation Saturday exemplified the unique relationship
between the Wildcats and their fans, as NMU captain
Nathan Oystrick skated the trophy to the student-section
side of the ice, had someone open the door for him
and then took it up into the crowd for a celebration.
Upon returning to the ice for a team
picture with the Cup, Oystrick invited a large group
of students to come along with him, making for a crowded,
energetic photo of players and fans alike.
“One of the great things about
Northern Michigan University and Marquette is that
we’re kind of the embodiment of the community,”
Wildcat head coach Walt Kyle said. “We have
a phenomenal fan base, and we are proud of that and
need to recognize that.
“That is the U.P., and that is
who we are.”
Great Weekend Getaway
Fairbanks at Notre Dame (Fri.-Sat.)
The Nanooks and Fighting Irish
are part of a three-way tie for eighth place
with Ferris State, and we don’t have to
tell you the benefits of finishing seventh or
eighth as opposed to ninth or 10th in the new
CCHA playoff structure. If a team can “win”
this series, it’s almost assured of home-ice
in the first round, and the loser almost certainly
will hit the road. Notre Dame is the scariest
team in the bottom third of the standings, but
UAF ain’t no slouch either. Both squads
struggle to score at times, so expect a pair
of tight-checking doozies.
While you’re there:
Stick around after Saturday’s game to
honor Notre Dame’s six-player senior class.
These cats have seen the top (the school’s
first NCAA tournament appearance in 2004) and
the bottom (last year’s wretched five-win
performance). Show them some love.
deserves props for regularly drawing its opponents’
largest crowds of the season on the road. A
sampling: The Wolverines have provided Northern
Michigan, Nebraska-Omaha, Bowling Green and
Michigan State their largest crowds of the season,
in addition to sellouts at Alaska Fairbanks,
Notre Dame and Miami. Expect something similar
at Ferris State on Friday.
Already short-handed in terms of personnel, Ohio State
has been digging holes for itself by allowing
early goals for the past three weeks. Against
Michigan State on Feb. 9, the Buckeyes gave
up tallies at 2:07 and 2:22 of the first. At
Lambeau Field, Wisconsin scored 23 seconds into
the game. In Miami’s CCHA clincher, the
RedHawks scored at :16 and 2:40 (sandwiched
around an OSU goal). Against Ferris State on
Friday, OSU was down 1-0 at 2:10 and 2-0 at
5:59. Things got a bit better in the rematch
on Saturday, but the Buckeyes still allowed
the first two goals of the game (midway through
the first and midway through the second) before
rallying to win. Not a good habit.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Injury report: Michigan State
forward Jim McKenzie is expected to be available against
Lake Superior State after missing all but two minutes
of last weekend’s series with a shoulder injury.
... Ohio State forward Dan Knapp played Saturday –
his Senior Night – despite an aggravated shoulder
injury that kept him out Friday. He is expected to
be OK for the NMU series. ... Notre Dame goalie David
Brown returned Saturday after seeing his consecutive
games streak snapped at 23 because of the flu Friday.
... Nebraska-Omaha forward Tomas Klempa (broken wrist)
is 50-50 for this weekend at Western Michigan.
• Four CCHA teams are among the
top five in the nation in terms of number of power
plays this season. Ferris State (244) leads the way,
followed by third-place Michigan State (232), fourth-place
Ohio State (229) and fifth-place Bowling Green (228).
Only St. Lawrence (238) breaks up the sweep. Also
in the top 10 is Michigan at No. 9 with 223.
• If Ohio State hosts a first-round
playoff series next weekend, it will be at the old
OSU Ice Rink because the state high school wrestling
tournament is booked at the Schottenstein Center.
The Ice Rink is the former home of the Buckeyes (and
current home of the women’s team), with a capacity
of 1,200. Get there early.
• The Spartan crowd: Spotted Friday
at Munn Ice Arena were former Spartans and current
NHLers Ryan Miller and Jim Slater. Why Miller was
in East Lansing instead of Turin is one of life’s
great mysteries. ... Meanwhile, reports out of Michigan
State indicate that the usually solemn Munn fans have
had a bit more vigor lately, mostly because of the
recent expansion of the hockey band to 100-plus members.
• Nebraska-Omaha’s nine-game
unbeaten streak (6-0-3) isn’t just the longest
in the nation at the moment, it’s tied for the
longest in school history. The Mavericks went 8-0-1
during a stretch of January and February 2002.
• Notes from the box scores: If
you didn’t hear, there was high drama in Omaha
last weekend. On Friday, the Mavericks took a 3-0
lead early in the third period, only to see Michigan
tie it with 2:45 to play. But six seconds after the
tying goal, UNO’s Alex Nikiforuk tallied the
game winner. On Saturday, UNO’s Phil Angell
scored the tying goal of a 4-4 draw with 2:02 remaining
- and the Bullpen was rockin’ again. ... Notre
Dame sophomore Mark Van Guilder netted a hat trick
Friday. ... Before Saturday’s 3-1 win over Miami,
nine straight MSU games had been decided by one goal
or tied. During that stretch, the Spartans went 5-2-2.
The last time an MSU game has finished with a spread
of more than two goals was Jan. 13, a 4-0 win over
• National points leader Scott
Parse, a Kalamazoo, Mich., native, is headed home
this weekend as his UNO Mavericks play a pair at Western
Michigan. Think the Lawson Lunatics will catch themselves
wondering what might have been?
• UAF’s lone senior, Kelly
Czuy, celebrated his Senior Night with a goal and
two assists in Saturday’s win over Western Michigan.
• Lake Superior State will honor
its 12-member senior class - the largest in school
history - during Senior Night festivities Thursday.
• Third-place Michigan is in danger
of finishing outside of the top two in the CCHA for
the first time since 1990, when it finished fourth.
The Wolverines are two points behind second-place
Michigan State heading into the final weekend.
• Notre Dame rookie Erik Condra’s
33 points are the most by a Fighting Irish freshman
since Jamie Ling had 40 in 1992-93.
• Former Michigan State coach
Ron Mason will be featured on Fox Sports Detroit’s
“Spotlight” show at 10 p.m. Sunday and
7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday.
A variety of sources were utilized
in the compilation of this report.