December 6, 2007
Fighting Irish Battle Their Way to CCHA Lead

By James V. Dowd

It might be only for a week, but the defending champions find themselves on top once again.

Having swept Nebraska-Omaha at home last weekend, Notre Dame took advantage of an Ohio State upset in Ann Arbor and its two games in hand to jump ahead of Michigan and Miami — teams which have sat atop the league and the national polls for several weeks.

CCHA Notebook

Regan-omics: Notre Dame forward Garrett Regan scored with 2:06 left in regulation in his team's 5-4 win against Nebraska-Omaha last weekend.

National TV Schedule

Heading into the final series before the midseason break, the Fighting Irish have slid under the radar in a way, allowing the Wolverines, RedHawks, and Michigan State to draw most of the attention in the CCHA and around the nation. But despite this lack of attention, coach Jeff Jackson has prodded his team to capitalize on lucky breaks and finishing games strong — the keys to their perpetual success last season.

Skating against the Mavericks in South Bend, the goal was no different.

During Friday night’s game, the Irish took advantage of a few fortuitous bounces and overcame a three-goal deficit for the second contest in a row, with a Garrett Regan goal with just 2:06 remaining sealing a 5-4 victory. Having seen his team fall behind early against underdog opponents, Jackson realized his players have to start games with more resolve to give themselves a chance against stronger opponents.

“I’m concerned about the way we’re starting games,” Jackson said after Friday night’s game. “I have to take the blame because I’m not doing a good job of getting them ready. At RPI (the previous Saturday), I felt we were coming on. Tonight, we weren’t playing well.”

Whatever Jackson did to inspire his team before Saturday’s game clearly had an impact. After going shorthanded less than two minutes into the first period, the Irish lit up the scoreboard first with a shorthanded goal by Mark Van Guilder after an odd-man rush.

Fortunately for Jackson’s squad, a faster start didn’t cost them in the later stages of the game. The Irish finished with a flurry of three third-period goals, giving them a 5-0 victory.

The Irish finish the first half of the season with a road series at Princeton, where they hope to preserve a seven-game winning streak.


A first in Fairbanks: Everyone knows that Alaska is a cold place. But home couldn’t possibly feel colder for the Alaska Nanooks as they prepared to host Northern Michigan at the Carlson Center last weekend. Eight games into the season, including six league contests, the Nanooks had recorded just a single point in the CCHA standings courtesy of a tie in Omaha the previous weekend.

Alaska finally got a glimpse of the [northern] light at the end of the tunnel as the Nanooks steamrolled Northern Michigan for their first win of the season, a 4-1 triumph, last Friday.

“The guys have finally been rewarded with two points,” Alaska head coach Doc DelCastillo said after the victory. “There has been a lot of work put into this first win. Honestly, we didn’t know when it was coming, but the guys have shown some perseverance and character.”

The victory was DelCastillo’s first as a head coach, but he knew there was no room to dwell on it with less than 24 hours until a rematch. The rookie coach joked that he had given his players just 30 minutes to revel in the win.

Regardless of the short-winded celebration, the visiting Wildcats found a way to overcome the Nanooks on Saturday night, winning in a 4-2 contest.

Heading into the break, the Nanooks couldn’t have a tougher four points to strive for, skating into Oxford, Ohio this weekend for a pair of games against Miami. The good news for Alaska is that the toughest part of their schedule will soon be behind them — come Monday, the Nanooks will have closed out a five-week stretch during which they played Michigan, Michigan State, and the top-ranked RedHawks.

Great Weekend Getaway
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St. Lawrence at Ohio St.
Take this chance to see how the CCHA matches up against ECAC Hockey as the Buckeyes host St. Lawrence in Columbus. OSU, winners of two of its last four games after enduring a horrific 11-game winless streak, looks to build some steam before heading to Alaska the following week.

And if you’re not up for two games at the beautiful Schottenstein Center, then head up the road to Bowling Green for Friday's game against Michigan or down the road to Miami for the RedHawks' games against Alaska.

While you’re there: Take in some of Columbus’ unique architecture. The city is home to the State Capitol, the Horseshoe, and, even more interesting, a picnic basket which serves as the Longaberger Basket Co. headquarters. The building, located in nearby Newark, is a replica of one of the company’s retail baskets and a site worth seeing.

Stick Salute

Here’s to Alaska finally getting its first league win and the first of coach Doc DelCastillo’s head coaching tenure. The Nanooks have earned three points over the past four games, and now sit right on the heels of Western Michigan (9th place) and Ohio State (10th) in the CCHA standings.

Bench Minor

Lake Superior State is only CCHA team without a win in league play. The Lakers will try to reverse this trend in Omaha in their final series of 2007 this weekend.


• Ferris State continued its strong season with a sweep of Western Michigan this past weekend. After falling twice two Bowling Green Nov. 9-10, the Bulldogs have rebounded nicely, winning three of four points against Nebraska-Omaha and then taking care of the Broncos. How well they fare in a home-and-home series this weekend with defending national champion Michigan State this weekend will serve as a barometer for the Bulldogs' chances to remain in the top half of the league during the second half of the season.

• While Ferris State has indeed been impressive thus far, Bowling Green sits just two points behind them in the standings with two games in hand. The Falcons swept the Bulldogs earlier this year, and have notched impressive wins over Western Michigan and Northern Michigan as well. This weekend the Falcons faceoff with Michigan, which showed its human side for the first time in weeks in a split against Ohio State last weekend.

• At first glance, It may seem like Northern Michigan is easily in contention for first-round home ice in the CCHA playoffs, but it’s worth noting that they’ve played two more league games than anyone else.

The Wildcats have this weekend off before skating a home-and-home series with Michigan Tech the following weekend. While the likes of Ohio State currently are a few games off NMU's pace, coach Walt Kyle's team will need an improved effort to solidify a first-round playoff series at the Berry Center.

• Michigan seniors Chad Kolarik and Kevin Porter were quite pleased to get the Minnesota monkey off their backs after beating the Gophers in the College Hockey Showcase two weeks ago, but the duo faces an equally frustrating nemesis in Bowling Green — yes, Bowling Green — this weekend. The Wolverines have enjoyed success against the Falcons in Ann Arbor, but have lost at Bowling Green each of the last two seasons.

• While they have played two less conference games than any of the three teams above it in the CCHA standings, Michigan State seems to have temporarily lost touch with the league leaders. Even with a sweep of Lake Superior State this past weekend, the Spartans are six points behind Miami and Michigan and eight points behind Notre Dame. But with four games against Michigan and two against the Fighting Irish remaining on the schedule, don’t count the defending national champs out yet.

• While Ohio State has recently struggled through some of the darkest days in the program’s recent history, a two-game win streak brought a little bit of life to the Buckeyes before Michigan downed them 4-2 at Yost Ice Arena on Saturday night. This weekend, Ohio State faces off with St. Lawrence before heading to Alaska the following week. Perhaps a few games against less menacing opponents will help give the Bucks some momentum.

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