It's called the College Hockey Showcase for
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.
Kevin Porter and linemate Chad Kolarik led Michigan
to its first College Hockey Showcase sweep since 2002.
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
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
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
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.”
Great Weekend Getaway
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!
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.
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.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• 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