December 6, 2006
All-CCHA D-men: Jack Johnson and ... Scott Parse?

By James Jahnke

Not many coaches can be short by three defensemen because of injuries, move a forward who has never been a rearguard back to the blue line, and then watch him score five points in a game. But Scott Parse has a knack for making coaches look like geniuses.

CCHA Notebook

Nebraska-Omaha's Scott Parse played on the blue line last weekend for the first time in his life, but it didn't slow down his scoring production.

National TV Schedule

The Nebraska-Omaha senior, the reigning CCHA Player of the Year, no less, suited up as a defenseman for the first time in his life Saturday against Bowling Green, and netted a hat trick and two assists. He was called to fill in because the Mavericks' blue-line corps has been decimated by injuries. First, it was Eddie Del Grosso. Then Dan Knapp. Then Mike Eickman went down Friday night.

Enter Parse, a.k.a. Plan D (in more ways than one).

"They came to me during the pregame meal and told me I was playing defense," Parse said. "I wasn't too happy about it at first, because it was the first time I had ever played it. But it's part of the game. You can't say no."

UNO coach Mike Kemp gave Parse the green light to jump into any play he saw fit, while freshman defensive partner Mark Bernier had to stay back and make sure he covered for potential gaffes. The good news for Bernier was that Bowling Green couldn't rush the other way when Parse was putting the puck in the back of the net.

"It's possible that (Bowling Green wasn't) used to having one guy all over the ice," Parse said, "playing defense then jumping up with the forwards in a rush."

Of course, everyone already knew Parse could score. He leads the Mavs with a 9-14-23 line this season. But how did he perform as a defenseman?

Well, he didn't face any odd-man rushes Saturday, which was "a good thing," he said – mostly because he doesn't have the slightest idea how to defend those. But the way it looks in Omaha, he might get more chances to learn.

With the injury situation still cloudy, Parse continued skating at defense during the early part of the practice week. With UNO hosting non-conference foe Bentley this weekend, it's possible that Kemp will rest his ailing troops and keep his best player in an unnatural position.


Rest for the weary: Lake Superior State goalie Jeff Jakaitis is playing the best hockey of his career. He's also playing the least.

After starting all but one game as a junior last year, Jakaitis is getting a few more breathers this season. Freshman Pat Inglis has started five of LSSU's 16 contests, and has proved that opponents won't hang a 10-spot if Jakaitis doesn't take the ice. (He's 4-1-0.) Perhaps the extra rest is why Jakaitis has a noteworthy 1.70 goals-against average and .949 save percentage heading into this weekend's series at Ferris State.

"You always want to play as much as you can," said Jakaitis, a Rochester, Minn., native who wasn't shabby last year with a 2.22 GAA and .920 save percentage. "But as much as you don't want to have a night off, maybe it gives you a little mental breather now and then."

During last weekend's sweep of rival Northern Michigan, Jakaitis picked up his 10th career shutout, breaking the school record. It came in his only action of the weekend. Natch.

"There's always going to be those nights when the puck looks like a pea and you can't stop anything," Jakaitis said. "But I think I've learned how to limit those, and I've been playing pretty well so far."

One-Nanook show: Kyle Greentree needs help. And Alaska coach Tavis MacMillan is starting to lose patience for the players he expected to aid the Nanooks junior.

Greentree has 12 goals (twice that of anyone else on the team) and a team-high 10 assists, but other Alaska veterans are lagging. Sophomore Kyle Jones, who had 10 goals last season, has none this year. Junior Aaron Lee, who also had 10 last season, has one. So does senior Lucas Burnett, who had seven last year.

"We're getting to the point where we're going to have to make decisions about giving some opportunities to other guys," MacMillan said. "Sometimes it's tough to score if you're not getting the time and opportunities, but there are guys who have continually had it. Something has to be done."

Talented freshman Dion Knelson is capable of taking some of the offensive load of of Greentree, but he's still fighting a shoulder injury from last month (which MacMillan said could nag him throughout the season), plus he's only 17 years old.

"It's tough to look down the bench and put it all on a 17-year-old kid," MacMillan said. "Where are the vets? Where are the older guys? They're the ones who should feel that pressure."


Great Weekend Getaway
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Notre Dame at Michigan (Fri.)
Michigan at Notre Dame (Sun.)

This is the second straight Sunday on which the Fighting Irish have played. Last week, the ND football team took over the Joyce Center for its banquet on Friday, pushing the hockey series against Alaska to Saturday-Sunday. This week, ND's home game was moved from Saturday to Sunday to accommodate ESPNU. This is a "statement" series for Notre Dame. U-M's Andrew Cogliano will miss Sunday's game as he heads to Team Canada's camp for the World Junior Championship.

While you’re there: Michigan's third annual Teddy Bear Toss to benefit Mott Children's Hospital takes place during Friday's first intermission. Fans are encouraged to bring a teddy bear(-enson?) or purchase one through the Dekers Club, and to wrap the bear in plastic prior to throwing onto the ice.

Stick Salute

Miami senior Matt Christie reached the 100-point mark in his career with an assist Friday against Ferris State, then blew past it with three more points Saturday. He'll soon be joined in the RedHawks' Century Club by junior teammate Nathan Davis, who sits at 99 heading into this weekend's home-and-home series against Ohio State.

Bench Minor

Hate to pick on Bowling Green again, but the Falcons have lost eight games in a row, their longest losing streak since dropping 14 straight from December 1990 to February 1991. BGSU has been outscored, 42-8, during this skid. On tap this weekend: a trip to Alaska.

• Western Michigan senior Kevin Labatte shocked us when he revealed that he is, in fact, "more of a Coors Light guy." But he did admit that his surname makes for a good pick-up line, provided his targets aren't sharp enough to notice the tweaked spelling. "I tell them I put an E on the end so people can't look me up in the phone book," Labatte said. Nice.

• Interesting factoid about Michigan's top line, which has accounted for 42.1 percent of the Wolverines' offense this season: Kevin Porter (Northville), David Rohlfs (Northville) and T.J. Hensick (Howell) grew up within 25 miles of each other in southeastern Michigan. U-M SID Matt Trevor is referring to them as the I-96 Connection, based on the highway that runs through their towns.

• Injury report: Michigan State does not expect to have senior defenseman Ethan Graham (knee) back in the lineup at Northern Michigan this weekend. The best bet for his return is the Great Lakes Invitational. ... Miami expects goalie Charlie Effinger (mononucleosis) to return Friday against Ohio State, but defenseman Mitch Ganzak (hand) is considered questionable. ... Michigan will be without defenseman Jason Dest (shoulder) for a month. Fellow defenseman Jack Johnson is day-to-day with a shoulder injury.

• At long last, we have a suitable explanation for the weird exchange at the end of this CSTV chat with Michigan State forward Justin Abdelkader. It seems that a buddy of Spartan captain Chris Lawrence came up from Pennsylvania hauling nearly 300 pounds of meat and a not-small grill for a tailgate with the hockey team before the MSU vs. Notre Dame football game on Sept. 23. Amazingly, the icers did away with every last bit of flesh and, presumably, increased the price of Pepto Bismol stock afterward.

• The CCHA had better take care of business in its last three nonconference games before Christmas: Nebraska-Omaha's home set against Bentley on Friday and Sunday (Creighton hoops occupies the Qwest Center on Saturday), and Western Michigan's one-day trip to Wayne State next Saturday. Sunday's UNO-Bentley game counts in the Commissioners' Cup standings. In those, the CCHA sits in fifth place with a 3-5-0 record.

• Laker personnel dept: Lake Superior State freshman forward Michael George left campus without playing a game and signed with Fort Wayne of the UHL this week. George never gained eligibility from the NCAA, apparently because of an issue regarding his retaking of a ninth-grade class in Saskatchewan. ... Odd quote from coach Jim Roque about recruit Tyson Hobbins, who signed with the Lakers this week: "I've only seen Hobbins on TV." Hmmm. Perhaps Roque next could recruit Scott Oake as a stay-at-home defenseman.

• Congratulations to those CCHA players who netted hat tricks last week: Michigan's Andrew Cogliano, Miami's Ryan Jones and Nebraska-Omaha's Parse and Bryan Marshall. Marshall became the first Maverick to score three goals in one period.

• Lineup oddities: Ferris State has experimented with senior defenseman Joe Van Culin at forward the past three games, and he has responded with a goal and an assist. Coach Bob Daniels termed the switch a day-to-day "experiment." ... Michigan freshman goalie Steve Jakiel earned his first career start Saturday, and beat Western Michigan, 6-5 ... Michigan State freshman netminder Bobby Jarosz, who has yet to start a game, made his second relief appearance on the same night.

• The weirdest moment of last weekend came in the Notre Dame vs. Alaska series opener when Nanooks forward Ryan Muspratt scored a goal that nobody seemed to notice, followed by the Irish picking up the puck and scoring at the other end of the rink. After the goal, referee Matt Shegos watched the instant replay, discovered that UA had scored first, gave the Nanooks a goal and took the tally away from Notre Dame. Obviously, the Irish should have snapped the ball before the replay official stopped the game. But it didn't matter in their 3-1 win.

• You know about the four CCHA players heading to the World Junior Championship. But did you know that MSU video coordinator Keith McKittrick was picked to fill a similar capacity for the U.S. team?

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report