The Wolverines have just two third-year players,
Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik, and they just so happen to
lead the team in goal scoring, with 12 and 11, respectively.
The duo used to play together, but now they're
snipers on different lines. They lived together for a couple
of years, too, but now Kolarik is engaged and living with
Nonetheless, Porter and Kolarik share a special
kinship as the sole members of their tiny class.
"We're like brothers almost," Porter
said. "He's a goofy kid, missing a few screws upstairs.
He gets rattled really easily. If you mess with his sticks,
any of his equipment, he loses it. But he's a great guy."
The players said having just one classmate
was a bigger deal when they were freshmen. Not only were
there no other rookies living in their dorm, they had to
band together against the practical-joking nature of upperclassmen
- without the safety of numbers.
"You had to keep your buddy close,"
Kolarik remembered. "You're trying to find your way
with the team, and you have something in common with your
classmates. I only had one classmate. So Kevin and I stuck
together pretty much."
Porter and Kolarik were teammates with the
U.S. National Team Development Program before taking Red
Berenson's only available scholarships and joining a veteran
U-M squad for the 2004-05 season. Both were picked by the
Phoenix Coyotes in the 2004 draft, with Porter actually
informing Kolarik of his selection before Kolarik's adviser
In Ann Arbor, each has seen his statistics
grow steadily, to the point where they're now the Wolverines'
go-to scorers. It helps that Porter's center is T.J. Hensick,
and Kolarik's is Andrew Cogliano, two of the top playmakers
in the nation.
At this point in their careers, Porter and
Kolarik rarely ponder how they are the end-all, be-all of
U-M's Class of 2008. The only exception is when they think
about next season.
"Senior night will be lonely," Kolarik
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
Labatte is not blue: Western
Michigan has played more league games than anyone, but all
the Broncos have to show for it is a 4-6-1 CCHA record and
a tie for sixth place. Few expected much from the Lawson
Lunatics' heroes this season, but senior forward Kevin Labatte
thinks the time for WMU to make some noise is coming.
He points to a stretch of eight straight home
games (and 11 of 12) from mid-January to mid-February as
a chance for the Broncos to flourish.
"If we can put some games together, we're
looking to cause some damage," Labatte said. "That's
the thing about hockey, some real funny things can happen."
The native of Ogden, Utah, who was discovered
in part because he lived next door to former WMU star Brent
Walton during their junior days in Ontario is taking on
a bigger role this season. He’s getting about 20 shifts
per game, including time on specialty units, and has three
goals to show for it, not the least important of which was
the overtime winner against Northern Michigan on Nov. 18.
Labatte didn't score as a freshman, had six as a sophomore
and two last season.
"It's up to us to lead the team,"
Labatte said of the seniors. "People get a little down
when we’re not having success, but all we have is
Bad boys: Nebraska-Omaha
coach Mike Kemp suspended four players - goalie Jerad Kaufmann,
and forwards Mick Lawrence, Bill Bagron and Chris Wilson
- for last weekend's series against Notre Dame for violating
All four have been reinstated for this weekend’s
set at Bowling Green.
The suspension of Kaufmann led to the first
start of the season for junior netminder Eric Aarnio. He
lost the series opener, but freshman Jeremie Dupont, who
seems to have a leg up on Kaufmann for the No. 1 goalie
job, won the series finale to snap the Mavericks’
eight-game winless skid (0-6-2). The sledding has been tough
for UNO thus far, but the schedule lightens from here to
the New Year.
After facing BGSU this weekend, the Mavericks
face Bentley, Princeton, and Yale to close out the year.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
Michigan at Lake Superior State (Fri.)
LSSU at NMU (Sat.)
The Wildcats have won the last seven games of the
Cappo Cup rivalry, but this series has "split"
written all over it. NMU and LSSU have significant
senior classes, yet are inexperienced on the whole.
Each team has a CCHA-low 12 letter winners back from
last season. (Miami has the next fewest with 15.)
An interesting subplot to the series: Lake Superior
freshman defenseman Steven Kaunisto and Northern freshman
forward Ray Kaunisto are cousins and former teammates
from youth through juniors. Their uncle is Joe Shawhan,
an assistant coach at LSSU.
While you’re there: Honor
the Upper Peninsula by eating nothing but pasties
all weekend. Your stomach will thank you! (Or stab
you with a kidney.)
14 games involving CCHA teams last weekend, and not
a single major penalty was called in any
of them. Isn't that refreshing after last year's checking-from-behind
We're going to have to go ahead and
get Bowling Green’s power-play units
another copy of the Bench Minor memo from two weeks
ago. During Saturday's 4-0 loss to St. Lawrence, the
Saints had more shots on BGSU power plays than the
Falcons did, 9-5. The Falcons didn't put a single
shot on net during a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:49. And
the Orange and Brown have scored on just two of their
last 75 man-up chances (2.6 percent).
• Labatte said WMU junior goalie Daniel
Bellissimo is battling "little" injuries, in addition
to a dip in confidence. Freshman Riley Gill has started
the last six games for the Broncos, and the coaching staff
has Gill penciled in for both ends of this weekend's home-and-home
• What a bummer of a nonconference holiday
weekend it was for the CCHA. Michigan State was swept in
the College Hockey Showcase while Michigan rallied to beat
Wisconsin before getting embarrassed by Minnesota. St. Lawrence
and Clarkson both shut out Bowling Green while Miami split
against the same teams (beating the Saints, losing to the
Golden Knights). And Ohio State came in last place at Rensselaer's
holiday tournament, losing the opener to Colgate before
coming back to tie RPI in the consolation game — then
losing in a cosmetic shootout. Earlier in the week, Nebraska-Omaha
tied Maverick namesake Minnesota State Mankato. Add it up,
and it was a 2-7-2 mark. At least none of the games were
• Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was at
Yost Arena with what appeared to be two of his young children
for the MSU vs. Michigan game two weeks ago, and the kids
gleefully participated in all of the Wolverines' G-rated
cheers. Wonder whether dad told them that he was there to
watch Spartan forward Justin Abdelkader, a Detroit draft
• Good quote from Michigan coach Red
Berenson after T.J. Hensick's terrific game-winning goal
in that game: "I'm not sure you can coach that, but
you can recruit it."
• While we're quoting U-M alums, here's
a nugget from Wednesday's NHL newsletter: "I'm a man
of my word. I said I'd do an interview with an Ohio State
football helmet on. We couldn't find a (football) helmet,
so we went with a hockey helmet," former Wolverine
Brendan Morrison, on the friendly gridiron wager he lost
to Canucks teammate and former Buckeye Ryan Kesler.
• Ohio State forward Tommy Goebel will
return to East Lansing for this weekend's series against
Michigan State for the first time since leaving the Spartans
after the 2004-05 season. He sat out last year per NCAA
transfer rules. Under Big Ten stipulations, Goebel cannot
have an athletic scholarship at Ohio State because he transferred
from another Big Ten school.
• Miami defenseman Mitch Ganzak, who
broke a couple of fingers on a slash against Nebraska-Omaha
two weeks ago, likely will miss his third and fourth straight
games this weekend against Ferris State. However, the team
expects to have him back against Ohio State next weekend.
• Fun with numbers: With a hat trick
in Saturday's 3-1 win over Lake Superior State, Alaska junior
Kyle Greentree notched his 11th goal of the season. Curtis
Fraser led the Nanooks with 11 goals all of last year. ...
Notre Dame has just two goals from defensemen this season
— one each by Noah Babin and Brock Sheahan —
and both of those have come in the last four games. Contrast
the Fighting Irish with Ohio State, which is led in scoring
by a pair of blue liners: Sean Collins (5-9—14) and
Jason DeSantis (1-13—14). ... Michigan is 2-20-3 in
its last 25 games when scoring two or fewer goals. ... MSU
is 1-6-0 on the road and 5-0-1 at home.
• Rensselaer coach Seth Appert, quoted
in the Albany Times Union after tying Ohio State
on Saturday: "Even though it was a shootout, it was
an opportunity to beat a Big Ten school. There are very
few power schools in college hockey, and Ohio State is one
of them." Perhaps Seth hasn’t seen the Buckeyes'
goals-against average (3.71).
• Chris Heisenberg reports that former
Michigan forward Zac MacVoy will join Lake Superior State
as a sophomore next season. MacVoy scored four points in
20 games with the Wolverines last season before going back
to the USHL.
A variety of sources
were utilized in the compilation of this report