Stars at Alaska and Omaha Don't Kid Around
Here’s an idea. Instead of throwing
a fish on the ice to commemorate Nebraska-Omaha’s
first goal against Alaska this weekend, throw some lottery
tickets. That’s the only way a couple of underage
stars on the two teams could obtain them.
CCHA impact freshmen
Jeremie Dupont (left) of Nebraska-Omaha and Dion Knelson
of Alaska (right) will face each other on the ice
this weekend. Both players are 17 years old, and are
two of the three youngest players in Division I hockey.
Alaska forward Dion Knelson and UNO goalie
Jeremie Dupont would get laughed out of 7-11 if they presented
their IDs to buy cigars. (Not that they would, of course.)
They are 17 years old — and represent two of the three
youngest players in the NCAA — although neither is
playing like it.
Knelson is second among Nanooks with nine
points (4g, 5a) this season, and Dupont has played his way
into an early rotation with incumbent starter Jerad Kaufmann,
registering a shutout of Western Michigan last Saturday
after winning Friday’s match in relief. The rookies
will be on display again this weekend at the Qwest Center,
this time, head-to-head.
Knelson, who becomes of age on Jan. 4, is
the kind of high-end talent that doesn’t find its
way to Fairbanks very often. His brother Brandon, 1½
years his senior, also is a freshman at UA, and the duo
has been teamed with Alaska's best returning forward, Kyle
Greentree, thus far. But Dion Knelson doesn’t sound
all that impressed by his early accomplishments.
"You see a lot of people who have had
success in college hockey, and I know I can't compare myself
to them yet," Knelson said. "I'm fortunate to
be getting points, but I know I need to get a lot better
to take credit for the points I’m getting.
“Jonathan Toews got a lot of points
as a 17-year-old last year, and people might look at me
and say I’m doing the same thing. But am I as good
as Toews? I’m not even close, right? So I just view
potential as something to use to make me work harder.”
Knelson skipped first grade, so he’s
been the young guy most of his life. Dupont, on the other
hand, graduated high school in three years by taking summer
school and night classes so he could have a season of college
hockey under his belt before his NHL draft year came up.
He said the only time he’s felt like a 17-year-old
since he got to UNO was when, after a team meeting, he had
to fax a consent form to his parents because he wasn’t
old enough to sign it himself.
"I don't want age to be an excuse,"
said Dupont, who turns 18 on Dec. 18. "I want to play
well. The guys here are great. Maybe they’re at different
stages of their lives, but we’re all here to play
hockey, so that’s kind of a bond we all share."
Knelson said he gets along with his teammates,
too, even though Alaska’s age range is almost funny.
Senior forward Jordan Emmerson turns 25 the day after Knelson
"Emmerson razzes me a little bit, saying
he's old enough to be my father," Knelson said. "And
a couple of the older guys make jokes like, when they were
in Grade 8, I was in diapers. But this team is pretty close,
so you kind of forget how much older they are. The age gap
gets shrunk because they treat me as an equal."
It’s coincidental that Knelson and Dupont
— who hadn't heard of each other before INCH asked
— are meeting on the weekend before Election Day.
But don’t feel too bad for them not being old enough
to vote Tuesday. They're both Canadian.
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
Lighting Up Lerg: Michigan
State goalie Jeff Lerg's 3.01 goals-against average and
.840 save percentage look grotesque, especially for a player
named to this season's all-CCHA preseason team. But heading
into a brutal stretch of the schedule, MSU coach Rick Comley
said Lerg "is the last player on the team I'm worried
It seems the diminutive sophomore has been
victimized by a string of bad bounces, re-directions, and
fluky goals. MSU survived fairly well with a 3-1 record,
but the road gets tougher as Michigan (three times), Notre
Dame (twice), Minnesota and Wisconsin dot the November schedule.
"There have been some crazy bounces,"
Comley said. "I'm not sure that he's as sharp as he
was at the end of last season, but he'll be OK."
Comley also mentioned that he's confident
in freshman Bobby Jarosz, who has yet to play this season
but probably will get some time as Sparty plays nine games
in the next three weeks.
The tough slate starts with a home-and-home
against the archrival Wolverines this weekend (although
MSU can be confident knowing it is 3-0-5 in the last eight
games of the series). Michigan defenseman Jack Johnson will
miss the opener in East Lansing — UM's only visit
to Munn Ice Arena this season — after picking up a
game disqualification for fighting last Saturday. He'll
come back Saturday for what is a "Maize Out" night
at Yost Ice Arena.
Leaving the Falcons: This
weekend's series against Lake Superior State will mark the
end of Ron Fogarty's four-year run as an assistant coach
at Bowling Green. Effective Monday, Fogarty is moving on
to his new position, head coach of the start-up Division
III program at Adrian College.
"It's always tough to leave a program
that has great individuals involved with it," said
Fogarty, who was hired by Adrian last week. "I appreciate
what Coach (Scott) Paluch has done, allowing me to develop
over the last few years here, and the players have been
very supportive of my decision. But they're focused on the
task at hand."
The task at hand this week is the Lakers,
coached by Jim Roque, who worked with Fogarty as an assistant
at Clarkson. "It's a nice way to go out," Fogarty
He said he's confident that BGSU is headed
in the right direction after a last-place finish last year.
But in a few days, he’ll have a different set of issues
on his mind. Walking in to an expansion program makes for
a lot of prep work.
"I have my daughters drawing up jerseys
at night," Fogarty said.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Michigan State (Fri.)
Michigan State at Michigan (Sat.)
It’s always fun when these two get together,
although the games probably won’t be as crisp
this time of year as they would be in the winter.
The biggest question facing both squads concerns their
goaltender, which would be expected at UM but is shocking
at MSU. With a deep stable of forwards on both sides,
these games probably will be won and lost in the neutral
and defensive zones.
While you’re there: Both schools
have home football games on Saturday, although Michigan’s
noon tilt against Ball State is much more hockey-friendly
than MSU’s 3:30 kick against Purdue. In hoops,
both teams host exhibitions Sunday afternoon —
and against schools you’ll recognize: UM vs.
Michigan Tech and MSU vs. Tom Izzo's alma mater, Northern
By winning the Lightning College Hockey
Classic last weekend, Notre Dame coach Jeff
Jackson earned his 200th career victory.
P.S. The tournament in Tampa, which
the Irish host, will move to a Christmas time slot
in the future.
a little when we saw Army only posted seven shots
in a loss to Notre Dame on Friday. (What is this,
soccer?) But it was no laughing matter when
Northern Michigan mustered just 14 shots
on net in a loss to Ohio State on Saturday. Against
the Buckeyes’ so-so defense? On the big ice?
At home? C’mon, Wildcats.
• Yahoo, league! The CCHA went 7-1 in
non-conference play last weekend, the lone blemish being
Northeastern's upset of Michigan in the only game that mattered
in the Commissioners’ Cup standings. Oh well. The
only out-of-league action this week is Western Michigan’s
single home game against Wayne State on Saturday.
• Buckeye bits: Notre Dame assistant
coach Paul Pooley, Ohio State's all-time leading scorer
with 270 points, will have his No. 22 retired by the Buckeyes
on Saturday. It will be the first number retired by OSU’s
hockey program. ... The Buckeye Hockey Alumni Association
has launched a new Web site, osuhockeyalumni.com. ... Notre
Dame was able to wrangle about 7,000 people into the St.
Pete Times Forum for each day of the Lightning College Hockey
Classic last weekend. Yes, that’s in Florida.
So why could OSU only attract 4,700 and 3,600 to games against
powerhouse Minnesota on campus last month?
• Notre Dame has won four straight games
away from the Joyce Center for the first time since 1987-88
(over Army and Canisius). Yes, the Irish were credited with
four wins away from home in November 1991, but while they
did beat Lake Forest and Merrimack, their two "wins"
over Maine came via forfeit because the Black Bears used
an ineligible player.
• Michigan senior Tim Cook has been
skating as a fourth-line winger the last five games after
playing his previous 100 contests as a defenseman. He is
expected to be back on D in Johnson’s absence Friday,
then go up front again Saturday.
• Miami is wearing helmet decals bearing
the number 18 in honor of Tom Neziol, who played at MU from
1987-90. Neizol died of a sudden heart attack on Oct. 1.
He was 39.
• Western Michigan might have found
a good one in freshman Mark Letestu, who registered a hat
trick (and an assist) in Friday’s loss at Nebraska-Omaha.
He leads the team in scoring with seven points through six
• Ferris State should enjoy its bye
this weekend, because things get nuts after that. The Bulldogs
next play back-to-back series against Michigan State and
Michigan over a 12-day stretch.
• Michigan coach Red Berenson, former
Ohio State and Minnesota coach Glen Sonmor and former Golden
Gopher player Reed Larson are among five honorees who will
be given the Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service
to hockey in the United States at a luncheon ceremony Monday
at Joe Louis Arena. Steve Yzerman and Marcel Dionne will
also receive the award.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report