Asked why all Notre Dame players are wearing
practices jerseys with the No. 7 on the back, Irish junior
Mark Van Guilder hemmed and hawed and said: “It’s
for Luke Lucyk. He was No. 7, and we miss him.”
INCH: You’re fibbing.
Dame senior forward Josh Sciba wears an 8 on his sweater
in game nights, but No. 7 in practice, just like the
rest of his teammates.
Van Guilder: “Yeah, I am. It’s
kind of a team secret, and you’re supposed to think
of something clever to say if people ask. I’m not
very good at that.”
Steve Wozniak of the South Bend Tribune
also tried to get to the bottom of the matter and got responses
such as, “It’s just a number,” (Wes O’Neill),
“It’s our lucky number, I guess,” (Jeff
Jackson), and “Lucky number 7,
that’s all,” (T.J. Jindra). Wozniak deduced
that the digit is some sort of reference to having a seventh
man on the ice, such as the guys on the bench or the fans
in the stands.
We’re pretty sure that it’s not
a reference to Lucyk, who left the Irish to return to juniors
Regardless, the seven mojo is working for
Notre Dame, which plastered No. 1 Boston College and Providence
during last weekend’s trip east. It has outscored
its opponents 21-6 in compiling a 3-1 start to the season.
Senior goalie David Brown is playing lights-out.
And the offense, led by Van Guilder (5-3—8), is displaying
as much firepower as has been seen in South Bend.
“Part of it is that the freshmen can
really play,” Van Guilder said, alluding to rookie
stars Kevin Deeth (4-3-7), Ryan Thang (3-2-5), and Dan Kissel
(3-1-4). “And the other part is that we’re all
on the same page with our systems now. We know what to do
with the puck and without it.
“The system isn’t any more offensive
than it has been, but we’re executing our defense
much better, and that’s led to offense. In the past,
teams would just cycle on us constantly, but now we’re
putting more pressure on the other team, forcing more turnovers,
and turning that into transition offense.”
Van Guilder denied that his two-points-per-game
average has him on par with Brady Quinn in terms of campus
popularity. But he does have at least one newfound
similarity to the quarterback: a scholarship.
Van Guilder came to Notre Dame as a recruited
walk-on from the Tri-City Storm, where the Irish staff first
noticed him while scouting, ahem, Lucyk. So the Rosedale,
Minn., native paid his own way the first two years on campus
before getting some financial relief this season. He says
the game continues to slow down for him, seemingly providing
more room to operate this year.
“If you give anyone time and space,
they’ll look a lot better,” he reminds.
Time and space might not be much of an issue
as the Irish host the inaugural Lightning College Hockey
Classic this weekend at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa,
Fla. ND opens with Army, followed by either Air Force or
“It’ll be nice and warm, but we’re
going down there to play two hockey games,” Van Guilder
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
Generation Gap: Northern
Michigan came away with the Mutual of Omaha Stampede championship
last weekend, but coach Walt Kyle is still trying to figure
out his squad. The Wildcats are a somewhat odd mix of seniors,
rookies and inexperienced second-year players — with
little middle ground.
Thus far, they’ve been swept by Wisconsin
in Green Bay, split with Michigan Tech, and beaten UMass
Lowell and Nebraska-Omaha to win the Stampede. NMU is averaging
only two goals per game, but Kyle says offense will come.
"We're just a young team," he said.
"We lost a lot of guys who gave us a lot of quality
minutes last year. We have not scored as much as we'd like,
but we're just feeling through it right now."
Ohio State heads to Marquette this weekend,
and it’s tough to know what
we’ll see from either team.
"Ohio State has a good roster,"
Kyle said. "You talk about (Sean) Collins and (Domenic)
Maiani and now that (Tommy) Goebel kid, those are some of
the top players in our league. They present a lot of issues,
they always play us tough up here and they got bit by Minnesota
last week, so you know they're going to come out hard."
Family secrets: A.J. Sturges
is a defenseman on the U.S. National Team Development Program's
Under-18 Team. The Americans played an exhibition at Michigan
State last Thursday. Sturges' brother, Dan, is a sophomore
on MSU's team. But because A.J. Sturges is verbally committed
to the Spartans and doesn't sign a national letter of intent
until next month, Dan couldn't talk about his brother with
the media because of NCAA recruiting rules.
But their father, John — a former Spartan
player himself — could talk, and he said Thursday's
5-4 upset by the U.S. team at Munn Ice Arena was thrilling
(and a little nerve-wracking at the beginning).
"They've been singing the Michigan State
Fight Song since they were old enough to talk," said
John Sturges, who traveled in with his wife from their home
near Madison, Wis. "A.J. was on the USA bench, almost
rooting for Michigan State but stopping himself, and Dan
was rooting for Michigan State to score, but not when A.J.
was on the ice."
John played for MSU from 1972-76, amassing
209 points, good for 10th on the school’s all-time
scoring list. He also spent a considerable amount of time
in the penalty box (ranking eighth in MSU history with 287
minutes), so a few friends and family members at Thursday's
game hoped Dan and A.J. would run afoul of the law to uphold
a family tradition. It didn’t happen, but the boys
will have more chances the next two seasons as teammates
for the first time in their lives.
“It will be a neat deal,” John
said. “Dan was kind of the deciding factor in A.J.
picking Michigan State over Wisconsin. It’s very exciting.”
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
State at Northern Michigan (Fri.-Sat.)
Both teams have showed weaknesses so far — NMU
with scoring and OSU with keeping teams from scoring
— but both also have the ability to be upper-echelon
CCHA teams. The Buckeyes’ rookie goalies and
struggling defensemen are going to have to adjust
to the Berry Events Center’s big ice quickly,
lest they let the Wildcats get on a roll. These four
points might look pretty big when the race for a first-round
playoff bye heats up in February.
While you’re there: Not sure
what to make of this, but there will be a midnight
production of “The Rocky Horror Show, the play”
on Saturday night in nearby Negaunee, including a
costume contest with prizes. Audience participation
is welcomed with props such as rice, toilet paper,
noisemakers, etc. Not suitable for children under
13! Good luck.
junior Brandon Scero set a school record with
four goals — his only points of the
season — against Niagara. UNO is in its 10th
season of hockey.
throttled Ohio State, 7-2, on Friday, Gophers freshman
Mike Carman was quoted as saying, “It’s
a huge rivalry. The football rivalry transfers over
to the ice.” OK, we tried to give the rookie
the benefit of the doubt, but after careful analysis,
only three of his 12 words even resembled
• The CCHA had a decent nonconference
showing last week, going 6-5-1. The Fighting Irish were
the big winners, while Ohio State (swept by Minnesota) and
Alaska (a loss and a tie versus Alaska Anchorage) bogged
down the league. This weekend’s pride is on the line
when Michigan hosts Northeastern for a pair, Michigan State
welcomes St. Lawrence and Sacred Heart, Lake Superior State
faces visiting American International twice and Notre Dame
plays in the Sunshine State.
• Commissioners’ Cup points are
on the line in Saturday’s Huskies-Wolverines matchup.
• The Columbus Dispatch reported
last week that Ohio State junior Tom Fritsche has returned
to classes and is working out after spending much of September
hospitalized with severe ulcerative colitis, which caused
him to lose 40 pounds. But Fritsche, OSU’s leading
scorer the last two years, has to make up a lot of ground
physically and academically if he hopes to play for the
Buckeyes this season.
• Congratulations to all the CCHA players
who notched hat tricks last week: Miami’s Nathan Davis,
Notre Dame’s Van Guilder and Kissel, Nebraska-Omaha’s
Brandon Scero (four goals), and, especially, Michigan’s
Chad Kolarik, who became the first Wolverine with hatties
in back-to-back games since Mike Knuble in 1995.
• By beating Providence on Friday, Bowling
Green earned its first road win over a Hockey East school
since Oct. 18, 1986, when the Falcons topped New Hampshire.
• Former Lake Superior State athletic
director Bud Cooper, who was instrumental in the Lakers
starting their hockey program and getting into the CCHA,
will be honored during Great Lake State Weekend —
LSSU’s equivalent of homecoming — during the
second intermission of Saturday’s game against AIC.
• Jason Blain, a transfer from Northeastern,
was cleared to play for LSSU last weekend. He skated in
both games against Clarkson without registering a point.
• Miami senior forward Matt Christie
was considered probable last weekend, but didn’t play
against Michigan because of an upper-body injury. A team
official said Christie is probable once again for the Bowling
Green series this weekend.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report