Jim Roque took over as coach at Lake Superior
State before last season, just as Jeff Jackson did at Notre
Dame. This season, Jackson – a former LSSU coach –
has guided the Fighting Irish to the No. 1 spot in the nation.
Roque’s Lakers sit in sixth place in the CCHA.
But all jobs are not created equal, and Roque
said he is “ecstatic” with where his team is.
So Happy Together: Senior forward Jeffrey Rainville
and Lake Superior State are part of a tight cluster
of teams battling for home ice in the first round
of the CCHA playoffs.
“Notre Dame has had NHL-caliber players
in their program for a few years now, so Jeff knew they
were going to be good when he went there,” Roque said.
“He didn’t take Lake State’s job again,
you know? He waited for Notre Dame.
“As for us, we didn’t know what
we had coming into the year. We had concerns with having
four freshmen on defense. But we’ve been in almost
every game we’ve played. If I have any complaints,
I thought we’d score a little more. We’re still
playing an offensive game, letting guys be creative. We’re
not sitting back and trapping or anything like that.”
Roque would love to recruit more blue-chip
offensive firepower, similar to what Jackson has in South
Bend. He has long understood that it’s not easy to
lure high-end players to Sault Ste. Marie, but it won’t
keep him from trying. He used the example of NHL veteran
Doug Weight, who played at Lake State from 1989-91, and
he also singled out freshman forward Nathan Perkovich as
the kind of player he seeks.
“We just need a couple of good breaks,”
Roque said. “We try every year to get different kids
to visit us, and we haven’t been able to pull it off.
We’re going to go after the best player we can get,
bring them up here and show them everything we have.”
That’s all in the future, though. At
present, the Lakers are near the top of a tightly bunched
gaggle of teams trying to secure home ice for the first
round of the league playoffs. It’s a good position,
but a tough test looms this weekend with a series at Miami’s
new Steve Cady Arena. The RedHawks have fallen to third
place and are desperate to regain some traction.
“We’re probably more excited about
going down to Miami than we’ve ever been, because
of the new building,” Roque said. “If you look
back, we had some tough times at the old Goggin through
the years. So we’re looking forward to playing in
that new arena.”
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
Swallowing the whistle: Mark
Wilkins refereed Michigan State’s 5-1 win over host
Nebraska-Omaha on Friday. It was the first college hockey
game with zero penalties since Lake Superior State beat
Notre Dame, 3-0, on March 5, 2004.
Wilkins did that game, too. But it’s
just a coincidence, he says.
“I was joking with (CCHA director of
official) Brian Hart that the last game I did before Friday,
I had Bowling Green and Alaska, and we had 28 penalties,”
Wilkins said this week from his office in Indiana. “I’ve
been known to call a lot of penalties, all the way back
to my days of doing minor pro hockey. So, it’s just
the way the game unfolds.”
Wilkins said he became more and more cognizant
of the fact that the game was penalty-free as it went along,
but there was “no way” that it influenced his
officiating. MSU coach Rick Comley was quoted in the Lansing
State Journal as saying, “For two and a half
periods, it was legitimate. Late in the third, I thought
there were a couple that could have been called.”
Wilkins agreed that the aggressiveness picked
up late in the game, but he said even the hardest of hits
were clean. Even better, he said, was there was no after-the-whistle
chippiness by players, nor complaining by the benches. From
an officiating standpoint, it was a perfect game.
“The game is for the players, we’re
just sidenotes,” Wilkins said. “We only step
in when the players force us to, just reacting to what happens.
I don’t get a bonus or an ‘attaboy’ or
anything like that because I don’t call a penalty
for a game. It does me no good. I call the penalties that
The Falconer: Bowling Green
has gone from 16 wins in 2004-05 to 13 last season to five
this season, but coach Scott Paluch believes this year’s
group is getting better.
“There’s no question we’re
not where we want to be, but we’re a much-improved
team from the beginning of the season,” Paluch said.
“That said, we’re still not earning points,
which is what it’s all about, and I still believe
that’s what this team here right now can do.”
In terms of the standings, the Falcons don’t
have much to play for. Eleventh-place Ferris State has twice
as many points as BGSU (14-7). But every team makes the
CCHA playoffs, so Paluch is pointing toward that as an opportunity.
It all starts this weekend, he said, when Michigan visits
for a single game Friday.
“This game is an opportunity to put
a great challenge in front of the guys and see what we can
do,” Paluch said. “I think they know how big
this win would be right now.”
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Western Michigan
There are sexier matchups this week, such as MSU-Michigan
and UNO-Notre Dame, but this series at Lawson Arena
will have great bearing on who sells tickets for the
first round of the league tournament, and who will
pack their bags and jump on a bus (or plane). The
Nanooks and Broncos are part of a three-way tie for
eighth place in the league, and eighth place is important
because that’s the last home-ice slot in the
While you’re there: Stick
around Sunday and watch the United Hockey League’s
Kalamazoo Wings host the Fort Wayne Komets at 4 p.m.
The only downer is that you’ll miss the K-Wings’
Valentine’s Day pink-ice game by a few days.
Day in Michigan, the brainchild of the CCHA,
is this weekend, and it has created a pretty good
buzz in just its second year of existence. Among other
things, the Red Wings will hold an open practice,
three high school games will be played at Joe Louis
Arena, Fox Sports Net will televise a CCHA doubleheader,
and hundreds of children from across the state will
participate in “Hockey is Fun” clinics
from Detroit to Marquette. Nice job all around
is 0-2-2 in its last four games, its longest
winless skid since March 2005, and it is just two
points ahead of fourth-place Michigan State, which
has three games in hand. The good news for the RedHawks
is that they’re 12-3-1 at home, and Lake Superior
State visits this weekend.
• Nebraska-Omaha suspended senior Bobby
Henderson and sophomore Adam Bartholomay, both defensemen,
for the remainder of the season after they were arrested
for public intoxication Sunday night at a casino in Council
"They were in a situation they shouldn't
have been in," coach Mike Kemp told The Gateway
Citing the police report, the paper also reported
that Henderson told officers, "I am a hockey player.
I'll get out of this." In the squad car, Henderson
head-butted the cage and yelled, "I play for the Mavs,
you can't (expletive) with me."
Bartholomay, who also plays forward, had 19
points in 29 games this season. Henderson had an assist
in 11 games.
• Michigan freshman defenseman Chris
Summers skated on a forward line during practice this week
after finishing Saturday’s game up front in the wake
of a shoulder injury to Brian Lebler. Lebler is expected
to play this weekend, but Summers might still play forward
after scoring the first goal of his career Saturday (albeit
• Good anecdote from Michigan defenseman
Matt Hunwick on ccha.com: “The
best part of growing up in Michigan, especially in the metro
Detroit area, is having the Red Wings and living close enough
to Canada to get CBC and being able to watch 'Hockey Night
in Canada' every Saturday night. I used to love watching
HNIC, and I still do. Don Cherry in the Coach’s Corner
was a highlight of my Saturday night when I was younger.
After home games at Yost, I still put on CBC in the players’
lounge after Saturday night games.”
• We always try to acknowledge when
the players hit the 100-point mark for their career. Sometimes,
we miss one (sorry, Alex Nikiforuk). But as impressive as
it is to hit the century mark, it’s incredible in
this era of hockey to hit 200, as Michigan’s T.J.
Hensick did it with a four-point game at Western Michigan
last week. With 66 goals and 137 assists for 203 points,
Hensick became the 12th Wolverine to reach the mark, and
the first since Bill Muckalt in 1998.
• LSSU senior forward Jeff Rainville
(9-8–17) will play against Miami this weekend after
getting “banged up” and missing last Saturday’s
game against Northern Michigan, Roque said.
• Alaska will have four sets of brothers
on its roster next season. Wow.
Brandon and Dion Knelson will be sophomores,
Aaron and Jeff Lee will be a senior and a sophomore, Jordie
and Jamie Benn have signed letters of intent to be freshmen,
and Dustin and Bryant Molle will be a sophomore and a freshman.
(Dustin has transferred from Alaska Anchorage.) The Nanooks’
brotherly love worked during last weekend’s three-point
effort against Miami, as Aaron Lee scored the winning goal
Friday and Jeff Lee notched the tying tally Saturday.
• Notre Dame is ranked No. 1 for the
first time in school history, which Jackson said two weekends
ago might be the worst thing that could have happened to
the team. But the undeniable good news for the Irish is
that they're the first squad to lock up a first-round bye
in the CCHA tournament.
• Now this is a great promotion. At
Saturday’s Northern Michigan vs. Ohio State game in
Columbus, there will be free haircuts for fans, courtesy
of Great Clips.
• Fun with numbers: Ohio State is 8-0-3
when defenseman Sean Collins has a positive plus/minus number.
... Saturday’s Michigan vs. Michigan State game at
Joe Louis Arena pits the team with the nation’s longest
unbeaten streak (MSU, 6-0-1, tied with North Dakota) against
the team with the nation’s longest winning streak
(U-M, six). ... Last weekend, Kyle Greentree became the
first Alaska skater to net 20 goals in a season since Jeff
Trembecky in 1997. ... Just like football (except in reverse,
and before the bowl games): Michigan and Ohio State rank
first and second nationally in short-handed goals.
• Angela Ruggiero, a stalwart on the
last three U.S. women’s Olympic teams, will be the
analyst for Fox Sports Net’s coverage of Saturday’s
Alaska at Western Michigan game. Your hockey-dumb co-workers
might know her from the current season of Donald Trump’s
A variety of sources
were utilized in the compilation of this report. James Jahnke
can be reached at email@example.com.