With all twelve teams making the annual CCHA
playoffs, those who fall short of the top four spots in
the league standings – those spots earning the four
respective teams a first-round bye in the tournament –
sticking in spots five through eight is a point of importance
for the remaining teams. Sitting in the that second tier
provides programs with the chance to host a first-round
series on their home ice, which is, typically and especially
in the rabidly competitive CCHA environment, an important
forward Bryan Marshall is Nebraska-Omaha's leading
scorer with 34 points and just one of four Mavs to
have played in all 24 games so far this season.
But for the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, who
currently have a tentative, one-point hold on the fifth-place
standings, home sweet home isn't always so kind. With a
pair of decisive losses to Miami last weekend, the Mavericks
fell to just 4-7-3 at home on the year, with just 2 of those
wins coming in league play.
Seeing as they're a respectable 5-5-0 on the
road, one has to wonder whether it would help them to drop
down past the four teams within three standings points of
them into an opening-round road system.
Not so fast.
The fans at Omaha's Qwest Center are some
of the most passionate in the CCHA, and senior Bryan Marshall
knows that he and his teammates need to take advantage of
"I feel bad for all these people that
came out. They were just waiting to explode," Marshall
said to the Omaha World-Herald. "As a team,
we feel more disappointed that we're not giving them anything
to cheer about than anything. We're trying, but we're just
coming up short. I don't know what else to say."
As the team continues to fight for playoff
positioning, they head to the road for the next four games,
traveling to Fairbanks for a set with Alaska before traveling
to Michigan State for another pair.
But after that, four of the team's last six league games
are in Omaha, and coach Mike Kemp is hoping that will be
a turnaround point.
"The fact we've had a dismal home season
is very disappointing, obviously," Kemp said to the
World-Herald. "The rule of thumb is you have
to have success at home, and hopefully you can split on
the road. We haven't done that. We've actually been a better
road team by comparison."
An added incentive for success in that final
homestand is that the visitors include Ohio State and Bowling
Green, will also be competing for those valuable home-ice
slots and a Maverick victory could be a knockout blow.
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
Late Goal Gets Irish a Point:
They waited until the very last moment, but Notre Dame found
a piece of its traditional magic last Saturday night, earning
a tie and holding their ground against Michigan State in
a 1-1 tie with the Spartans in South Bend.
After losing 3-1 to the Spartans on Friday
night, the Fighting Irish were at risk of falling behind
Michigan State – which has played two less games,
thus a loss would have been a critical negative turning
point for the Irish.
The two teams battled through a scoreless
first period, and remained deadlocked into the middle stages
of the second. But when Notre Dame forward Mark VanGuilder
failed to clear the puck out of his own zone, Michigan State's
Nick Sucharski picked it up and slipped a shot by Jordan
Pearce from the point.
Notre Dame, which has gone 0-for-30 on the
power play in its last six games, failed to capitalize on
five chances with a man advantage, and couldn't find the
back of the net, despite a 19-10 lead in shots after two
"We're a little snake bit right now,"
Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said after the game. "It
happens to the best of teams and the best of players. Everyone
is asking what's wrong with the power play. It's boiling
down to individual things. We're getting our chances and
just not finishing. Plus we faced a great goaltender."
Finally, with less than a minute left in regulation,
the constant pressure on Jeff Lerg paid off and sophomore
Ryan Thang found the back of the net for a tying goal.
After a chippy overtime period, the Irish
walked away with the point for a tie and third place still
in hand. The Irish will be hard-pressed to hold onto that
spot this weekend, as they face off against Michigan in
Ann Arbor on Friday and at the Palace of Auburn Hills in
the northern suburbs on Detroit on Saturday. Michigan State
travels to Ohio State.
Great Weekend Getaway
Dame at Michigan (Fri.)
Notre Dame vs. Michigan (Sat.) These games will have a strong impact on
the CCHA title race, with the potential to bring Michigan
back to the field or knock Notre Dame out of it. Michigan
may be looking for revenge for the Irish's victory
in South Bend in December 2006 which essentially put
the Wolverines out of contention, and the CCHA title
game later last season when the Irish beat Michigan
While you're there: If you're one
for shopping, the massive Great Lakes Crossing shopping
mall is just one exit past the Palace – home
of the Detroit Pistons. The mall has 180 stores, and
those who aren't interested in shopping can visit
the Rainforest Cafe, a 25-screen movie theatre, or
simply just people watch.
salute goes out to Lake Superior State for finally
notching their first CCHA victory of the season, and
in convincing fashion nonetheless. The Lakers are
hoping momentum from the win will help spur a turnaround
and help them fly into the playoffs rather than limp.
The win even took the Lakers past Western Michigan,
out of the league basement.
already mentioned, this week's minor goes to Notre
Dame's power play which has gone scoreless in its
last 30 attempts. If the Irish hope to stay in the
league race, they need drastic improvement in this
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• As the previously floundering Ohio
State Buckeyes look to pick up some momentum in a seven-game
homestand, they look to continue a recent trend of relative
success against Michigan State. The teams have split the
last 10 meetings, including their last meeting in Columbus
during the 2005-06 season. History is on Michigan State's
side though, as they hold a 12-26-5 all-time record in Columbus.
• If you're looking for signs that Michigan
State might be coming to life, look to goaltender Jeff Lerg,
who won his second-consecutive CCHA goaltender of the week
award. Lerg stopped 64 out of the 66 shots that he faced
last weekend, keeping the Spartans right on Notre Dame's
• There were some big skates to fill
when Jeff Jakaitis left Sault Ste. Marie, and the Lakers'
Brian Mahoney-Wilson has finally begun to step into them.
Mahoney-Wilson stopped 28 out of 29 shots in the Lakers'
first league win of the year, a 4-1 triumph at home against
Bowling Green. Mahoney-Wilson also stopped 36 shots against
Michigan State in a tie one week prior.
• During Friday night's Michigan-Western
Michigan tilt, the Wolverines had a special guest dropping
the ceremonial first puck. New head football coach Rich
Rodriguez, sporting a hockey jersey of his own, dropped
the puck and took in the game from the Yost Ice Arena stands.
• In the final regular-season series
between Detroit-based Wayne State, which will drop its program
at the conclusion of this season, and a CCHA team, the Northern
Michigan Wildcats left the visiting Warriors with a good
taste in their mouth. The Wildcats fell 4-1 on Friday night
and 3-2 Saturday night.
• While Michigan's Kevin Porter has
taken most of the national accolades and Hobey Baker attention,
linemate Chad Kolarik continued to make his for similar
accolades. Kolarik notched a goal and three assists on Friday
night, and a whopping 4 goals in Saturday's victory.
• Notre Dame and Michigan will play
Saturday's contest at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich.
These two teams met in The Palace four times in the 1990s,
with Michigan winning all four of those games.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. James V. Dowd can be reached