Mike Santorelli knows who Ted Cook is, and
he knows why he knows who Ted Cook is.
Cook, the dynamic Niagara sophomore, leads
the nation with 26 goals. Santorelli, the dynamic Northern
Michigan junior, is right behind with 25. Santorelli is
reluctant to talk about his personal achievements, but he
admits that winning the national goal-scoring crown would
be “a huge thing to have.” To do so, he’ll
have to pass Cook – who, like Santorelli, was at the
Maverick Stampede in October, although their teams didn’t
face each other – and hold off pursuers such as North
Dakota’s Ryan Duncan (21 goals) during the season’s
Patriotic Puckhead: 1st Lt. James Kolky, better known
as "Kujo" of Northern Michigan's rowdy Puckhead
fan group, mans the door to the Wildcats' bench during
last weekend's game at Nebraska-Omaha. For more on
Kolky, check out this week's Stick
“If it happens, it happens,” Santorelli
said, “but if it doesn’t, hopefully it will
just help me grow as a player.”
That’s a common theme with Santorelli,
a native of Burnaby, B.C. He readily credits assistant coach
John Kyle and his linemates, especially Rob Lehtinen, for
his success, and he tends to spin forward assessments of
his game. Instead of talking about what he does well now,
he’ll offer up how he wants to get better in the future.
Certainly, one of those areas for improvement
is defense. Like many gifted offensive players, Santorelli
struggles at times to give the same effort in his own zone.
The sixth-round Predators draft pick from 2004 knows he
must improve that facet of his game to play professionally.
But he also realizes that for Northern Michigan to be successful
this season, he has to put the puck in the net.
Santorelli has 40 points this season. Second-place
Darin Olver (who has led the Wildcats in scoring each of
the previous three years) has 27. After them, the next-highest
point total is 16. In terms of goals, Santorelli has 25,
Olver has 11 and no one else is in double digits. It’s
quite a burden for one player, but Santorelli doesn’t
“If I only had eight goals or something,
I wouldn’t be doing anything for the team,”
said Santorelli, who has 12 goals in NMU’s 10 games
since New Year’s Eve. “Coach always tells us
to do what we can for the team, and what I do is provide
offense. I take pride in scoring goals.”
Now if only some other Wildcats would. NMU
has the second-worst offense in the CCHA, at 2.47 goals
per game heading into this weekend’s rivalry series
against Lake Superior State. Having been swept by the Lakers
in December, Northern is in danger of losing the Cappo Cup
for the first time since 2000.
Even so, and even though the Wildcats are
in ninth place in the CCHA, Santorelli thinks they’re
close to gaining the form expected of a team with eight
NHL draft picks.
“We’ve been in probably 70 percent
of the games we’ve lost,” he said. “It’s
just a matter of learning how to play in some late-game
situations where you’re up a goal or down a goal with
five minutes left. I think we’re coming around.”
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
Bombarded Bulldogs: Ferris
State gave up 15 goals to Michigan last weekend, and the
11th-place Bulldogs have held their opponent under three
goals just once in 2007. (Fittingly, that one time was a
loss, 2-1 in overtime to Wayne State.)
Coach Bob Daniels said things aren’t
as bad as they appear, although he is frustrated that taking
care of the puck is one of the team’s weaknesses as
the calendar rolls into February. He said playing an aggressive
team such as the Wolverines exacerbated Ferris’ puck-possession
issue, leading to nine goals against Friday and six Saturday.
FSU’s goaltending hasn’t been
up to snuff, either, which has re-opened the race for the
No. 1 spot, once held firmly by sophomore Mitch O’Keefe.
Junior Derek MacIntyre has played in five of the last eight
games after playing just two before New Year’s. Neither
goalie’s numbers are good: O’Keefe is 4-17-3
with a 3.20 goals-against average and .879 save percentage,
while MacIntyre is 3-1 with a 5.00 GAA and .830 percentage
(he played every minute of Friday’s 9-4 loss at U-M).
So, for the time being, including this weekend against visiting
Ohio State, Daniels is going to rotate them.
“The issue we were having is that Mitch
was having trouble putting together back-to-back games,”
Daniels said. “He was playing well on Fridays, but
then struggling the next night. At one point, we looked
at his save percentages from one night to the next, and
they were drastically different. So, that, and the fact
that MacIntyre had been working very hard in practice, we
decided to do a split. We’ll go with that until one
of them emerges — or if the split works, we’ll
just stay with it.”
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
Michigan State at Nebraska-Omaha (Fri.-Sat.)
The Mavericks, afterthoughts for most of this season,
amazingly sit just three points behind the Spartans
for fourth place in the CCHA and the last playoff
bye. MSU does have one game in hand on UNO, but a
three- or four-point weekend by the Mavs would make
things quite interesting. The Spartans, meanwhile,
are tied with North Dakota for the longest winning
streak in the nation (five).
While you’re there: The stage
version of the Lion King is in Omaha for a month,
including a 2 p.m. performance Saturday at Orpheum
Theater. Think of it as your pregame skate.
(literally and figuratively) to Northern Michigan
and coach Walt Kyle, who invited Puckhead
legend Kujo to join the Wildcats on the bench as a
“guest coach” during last weekend’s
series in Omaha. Kujo, a.k.a. 1st Lt. James Kolky,
is being deployed to Iraq on Sunday, so this was his
last chance to see his beloved Wildcats before leaving.
He was on the bench in full uniform (U.S. Army, not
Puckhead) on Friday at the Qwest Center, and got a
standing ovation from the road crowd. Though the Wildcats
were swept by UNO, Kujo couldn’t have asked
for a better send-off. “He will be in our prayers,”
We deserve it. Last week, we forgot to mention
that Alaska senior Curtis Fraser also reached 100
career points in January. D’oh. In fact, after
a four-point weekend at Bowling Green, Fraser is up
to 106 (55g, 51a). Belated congrats, and good luck
against Miami this weekend.
• Notre Dame goalie David Brown works
regularly with a sports psychologist to make sure he’s
focusing on the proper things. But the Hobey Baker front-runner
would have to be a robot to not be salivating about playing
Bowling Green this weekend. The Falcons have scored just
seven goals in their last eight games (0-7-1).
• Isn’t it incredible that Saturday
against Western Michigan will be Senior Night for Michigan?
The Wolverines’ final six games of the regular season
are away from Yost Ice Arena.
• Fun with numbers: All 18 Ferris State
skaters had a shot on goal during Friday’s 9-4 loss
at Michigan. The Bulldogs finished with 40 shots in all.
... Maligned Michigan goalie Billy Sauer was great in January,
posting a 6-1 record, 2.01 goals-against average and .935
save percentage. ... Bowling Green (5-22-2) has not won
a game this season in which leading scorer Jonathan Masumoto
has failed to notch multiple points. The Falcons are 5-2-0
when he does.
• Does reading Michigan State defenseman
Daniel Vukovic’s name in the box score remind anyone
else of Daniel Vosovic from "Project Runway"
season two? No? Really? OK then.
• Speaking of great names, Bowling Green
freshman forward Tommy Dee doesn’t get enough credit.
Is he kickin’ it with Pam Anderson? Hyping Colt .45?
Chasing an escaped Harrison Ford? Being jocked by the girl
around the way? OK, sorry for the Beastie Boys reference.
That was a stretch.
• Lake Superior freshman forward John
Scrymgeour most likely will miss the rest of the season
with a knee injury, unless the Lakers go deep into the national
playoffs. He has three goals and two assists in 26 games.
• Notre Dame football coach Charlie
Weis was spotted at Friday’s ND-Miami game at the
Joyce Center. He’d make a good goalie, no?
• During his chat with media members
following his team's 2-2 tie with Miami Saturday, Notre
Dame coach Jeff Jackson said one of the goaltenders on the
first team he ever coached — that would be the Fraser
(Mich.) Avengers midget A team — was Jeff Zatkoff,
Sr., father of the current Miami netminder. Jackson diplomatically
reported that the elder Zatkoff, who stands 6-foot-8 and
played college hoops at Eastern Michigan, "was a better
• Former Spartan forward Ash Goldie
(2001-05) was scheduled to be on “The Price is Right”
on Wednesday morning. But we, being working men at INCH,
missed it. Hope he won A NEW CAR!!!! Or maybe he successfully
honed his Plinko skills during football tailgating at MSU.
A variety of sources
were utilized in the compilation of this report. James Jahnke
can be reached at email@example.com.