November 29, 2007
Wanna Beat Michigan? Wish Again

By James V. Dowd

It's called the College Hockey Showcase for reason.

Regardless of the season or records, when Michigan and Michigan State square off with Wisconsin and Minnesota every Thanksgiving weekend, you're virtually guaranteed to see four teams with lineups bursting at the seams with rising stars — players showcasing the skills which makes them top National Hockey League prospects.

CCHA Notebook

Senior Kevin Porter and linemate Chad Kolarik led Michigan to its first College Hockey Showcase sweep since 2002.

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This year, Michigan stole the show by knocking off the Badgers, 3-2, at Yost Ice Arena Friday before bulldozing arch-nemesis Minnesota in a 5-1 shellacking Saturday. And leading the way, as usual, were the Wolverines' senior forwards, Chad Kolarik and Kevin Porter.

Porter and Kolarik danced their way out of the Wolverines' six-game losing streak against the Golden Gophers — the most recent being Michigan’s only loss this season, a 4-3 defeat in the title game of the season-opening Ice Breaker Tournament in St. Paul — combining for four goals and 12 points on the weekend.

Looking back on their career record against the Gophers, the seniors decided it was time for a change.

“We had the seniors’ record in the College Hockey Showcase on the board [in the locker room,]” Kolarik said. “We were 1-5 and 0-2 at home. I don’t know what the record was against Minnesota ... 0-3, I think, so this is just huge. You can’t go your whole career without beating a team, especially a team like Minnesota.”

On Saturday, the pair jump-started the Wolverines late in the first period and early in the second, as Kolarik notched two quick goals to take some wind out of Minnesota’s sails. With 2:14 left in the first Kolarik followed Porter to the net on a semi-breakaway. Gophers’ goaltender Jeff Frazee gave up a rebound after stopping Porter's initial shot, and Kolarik was their to bang it in.

The two paired up for the second goal, and widened the lead to 3-0 on an unusual shorthanded goal in the second period. Michigan fired the puck into the Minnesota end during the penalty kill, but Frazee, who went behind the goal line to play the dump to a teammate, instead fumbled it. Porter, in hot pursuit of the puck, capitalized on the misplay, scoring on a wraparound while Frazee could only watch helplessly.

Porter added his fourth goal of the weekend late in the second period. Freshman Ben Winnett iced the game early in the third period with his third goal of the season.


New face in net: Three goals. Sixteen saves. One shutout. Fifteen players with a plus-minus rating of +1 or better. All terrific numbers.

But the most important number to Ohio State in its 3-0 shutout of Western Michigan in Kalamazoo Saturday was the two league points it earned for the win — the Buckeyes’ first of the CCHA season in eightl tries.

The key to Ohio State’s success began with its defensive corps, which helped keep the Broncos from mounting much of a threat against goaltender Joseph Palmer. WMU's offense managed just 16 shots on goal, allowing Palmer a night of relatively light work en route to the second shutout of his career.

“Out defense was great,” Palmer said in a postgame interview. “They got pucks deep, they got pucks out, and we blocked a ton of shots. The guys in front of me definitely played great.”

Mounting the team’s first conference winning streak of the season will be a tough task as the Buckeyes head to Ann Arbor this weekend to face a streaking Michigan team. OSU's challenge will be to maintain its work ethic throughout the game and playing with a newfound purpose.

“Last weekend was a good weekend for us,” senior forward Tommy Goebel said. “Everybody was working hard, and we’re a team which has to work hard to win. Everyone finally got on the same page and we got a win. The win just felt good — everyone is a lot happier with a ‘W’. Everybody is happy with the effort, but we’re at a point where we need wins.”

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Ohio State at Michigan (Fri.-Sat.)
Ohio State and Michigan. Need I say more?

College football’s greatest rivalry isn’t so bad on ice, either. And after the Michigan football team laid an egg at home against the Buckeyes Nov. 17, you know that the Yost Ice Arena crowd will be out for blood.

Ohio State has finally found a way to win a game; Michigan has been one of the hottest teams in the country. On paper, it seems like a lopsided match-up for Kevin Porter and the Wolverines, but the teams have split four of the last six season series, and each of the last three.

While you’re there: Although Ann Arbor is known primarily for the University, it has a lot to offer off of campus. Check out the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum, especially if you’re traveling with children. The clue is in the name with this one — you can touch all the stuff!

Stick Salute

This week’s cheers go to Ohio State for finally climbing out of the deep, dark hole better known as its 11-game winless streak. With so many young (albeit talented) players on the team, it can be hard to right the ship, but somehow the senior leadership on the team provided a steady hand and the Buckeyes finally prevailed Saturday at Western Michigan.

Bench Minor

Michigan State proved its mettle in the NCAA Tournament last season, but the Spartans have faltered as of late. With ties against Minnesota and Wisconsin in the College Hockey Showcase, the Spartans now have a seven-game winless streak in the annual event and currently sit in sixth place in the CCHA standings. Knowing coach Rick Comley, however, it shouldn’t be long before the Spartans turn this adversity to determination and determination into victories.


• Alaska coach Doc DelCastillo’s first point as a head boss couldn’t have been much sweeter. The former Nebraska-Omaha assistant led his team back from a 4-1 deficit in Omaha last Saturday to finish in a 4-4 tie. The Nanooks scored twice in the final five minutes of regulation to knot it up. Now, they'll try to use that turnaround to jumpstart their season when they host Northern Michigan this weekend.

• Michigan State’s two ties in the College Hockey Showcase last weekend bring their overall record in the event to 13-12-5 over a decade and a half. Their winless streak in the Showcase has now been extended to game games. MSU was looking for momentum heading into a weekend trip to Sault Ste. Marie to face Lake Superior State after six straight games at Munn Ice Arena, but the Spartans were a perfectly mediocre 2-2-2 during their homestand..

• One game before Ohio State ended its losing streak in Kalamazoo, it experienced exactly how it feels to be beaten by a goaltender. Western Michigan’s Riley Gill not only made a key save to preserve the Broncos' win in the late stages of the third period, he then dished the puck up the ice to teammate Patrick Galivan, who moved it to Jeff LoVecchio, who then scored the game-winner.

• It was hundreds of miles from South Bend, but Notre Dame still managed to find its trademark magic Saturday at the Rensselaer Holiday Hockey Tournament in Troy, N.Y. The Fighting Irish found themselves in a deep hole after host Rensselaer scored three times in the first 25:30 of the game, but Notre Dame got back into the game with two goals late in the second period, and added two more in the third period, earning a 4-3 victory. The Irish defeated Alabama-Hunstville Friday by a 4-1 tally.

• While small schools have been known to come up with huge college hockey upsets, there was little hope for Canisius in Oxford this weekend. Miami steamrolled the visiting Golden Griffins, notching 4-0 and 11-1 victories on Friday night and Saturday night, respectively. And if anyone was worried about Miami’s offense being too concentrated on stars Nathan Davis and Ryan Jones, that fear was assuaged when the RedHawks had eight different players score Saturday, only one of which was provided by either Davis or Jones.

• One season after Lake Superior State won the Father Louis Cappo Cup — the travelling trophy presented to the winner of the Lakers’ series with Northern Michigan — for the first time since 1999-2000, it looks as though it might be headed back to Marquette. In the first pair of games between the Upper Peninsula neighbors this season, Northern Michigan came out on top with a 4-2 win Friday and a 3-1 triumph Saturday. The teams resume their rivalry during the last week of the regular season.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report. James V. Dowd can be reached at