in September when the CCHA's top goaltender was junior Mike Brown
of Ferris State and Notre Dame freshman David Brown was nothing
more than a promising rookie? Two months into the season, the
younger Brown has been the conference's best netminder while the
elder Brown is struggling to regain the form that made him an
first-team All-American in 2003.
In front of 1,700 fans in Big Rapids Saturday,
Mike Brown proved he's ready to turn the corner with a sterling
effort in the Bulldogs' 4-0 win against Nebraska-Omaha. The Calgary
native stopped all 35 shots he faced in recording his first shutout
of the season and the seventh of his career, a new school record.
"I struggled early in the year," Brown
said. "The whole team did. It's just not one person or an
bear out Brown's assessment. Last season's offensive juggernaut
has scored just 31 goals in a dozen games and the power play is
a woeful 7-for-61 (11.5%). The Bulldogs are in the middle of the
pack in terms of penalty killing but lead the conference in penalty
minutes. His numbers are also indicative of his uneven play –
with a 3.38 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage,
Brown doesn't rank among the the CCHA's top 10 netminders in either
Brown, a big
goaltender at 6-foot-0 and 195 pounds, is at his best when can
sqaure his body to the shooter and use his size to fill up the
net, giving opponents the illusion that they have nowhere to shoot.
That's exactly what he did against the Mavericks Saturday. He
also benefitted from a fortunate dose of puck luck, something
that's eluded him thus far.
"All year, I haven't been getting the shorthanded
bounces...off a skate, off a stick," Brown said. "It's
nice to finally get the return favor to me. Obviously, our defense
bailed me out a few times. It's good to see the guys bearing down.
We've got a lot to look forward to."
What Brown and his mates have in mind is a sweep
of Bowling Green Dec. 5-6. A pair of wins against the Falcons
would give the Bulldogs a 6-8-0 record heading into the holiday
break and put them right back into the race for a home-ice berth
in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.
"It gives us a chance after Christmas to
get back into the race," said Brown of the next week's Bowling
Green series. "It's early enough in the season where the
damage isn't too out of control."
Helping Ferris State get back on track might force
Brown to break with a superstition he's developed this season.
He's used a different goalie stick in every game, which he claims
is partly born out of necessity as paddles made from composite
materials break frequently. After Saturday's shutout, however,
Brown says he may have to give his current branch the benefit
of the doubt.
"I might have to go back to that one,"
Brown said, laughing. "It fared well this weekend."
AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
KISIO'S MAJOR DAD – On the surface, Brent
Kisio's story is similar to "Romeo and Juliet." Kisio's
father, Kelly, enjoyed a long NHL career and is now the general
manager of the Western Hockey League's Calgary Hitmen. As a 17-year-old,
Brent knew his best option was to pursue a college playing career
and the free education that goes along with it.
In case you
didn't know, the major junior and college hockey camps haven't
exactly held hands around a bonfire singing "Kumbaya."
There's plenty of acrimony between the two sides. But unlike Shakespeare's
most famous work, however, Brent Kisio's story won't become a
it comes right down to it, every player is different," said
Kisio, in his first season at Nebraska-Omaha. "Every player
has to make a choice and the [WHL] is a great choice for some
guys and college is a great choice for other guys."
A 5-9, 175
pound forward, Kisio has been a solid contributor for the young
Mavericks this season. He's scored three goals and added two assists
but, more importantly, plays with a maturity rarely found among
very evident that he comes from a family where he was well-schooled
to play the game," said UNO coach Mike Kemp. "His instincts
and his hockey savvy are superior to most freshmen we get in the
college hockey ranks. It's certainly a tribute to his upbringing."
about his thinking man's approach to the game and he'll downplay
his heady play.
not thinking," he said, "you're going to get killed
coaches recruiting Brent Kisio may have felt like asking the police
chief's daughter to the prom – "Some colleges might
have been tentative," he said – the family's main goal
was to get their son into the best situation hockey-wise and academically.
one of those thinks where you'd think it would be a contentious
situation," Kemp explained, "but Brent was playing in
Vernon [of the British Columbia Hockey League] as a 20-year-old
and it was very evident...that he was trying to get a scholarship.
Obviously, they saw the value of education and wanted [Brent]
to play college hockey."
brother Kurtis is a freshman at MSU-Mankato, is pleased with the
way the season is shaping up at UNO. One of 14 freshmen or sophomores
in the Maverick lineup at Ferris State Saturday, he says the team
is stocked with talent but has to develop a killer instinct. Specifically,
avoiding Saturday losses after Friday wins.
we start bringing that heart every night and become consistent,
we're going to be a good hockey team," Kisio said. "We're
right on the brink. Once we get over that brink, watch out."
Great Weekend Getaway
at Nebraska-Omaha (Fri.-Sat.): We
folks in fly-over country know Massachusetts is a good team
– they've been ranked among our top 10 the entire
year. We just don't get the chance to see the Minutemen
much. So if you're in the general vicinity of Omaha, drop
by the Qwest Center and take in this interesting non-league
tilt. The Mavs are a young team – 14 freshmen and
sophomores were in the lineup for Saturday's loss at Ferris
State – and while they lack experience, this may be
the best skating bunch in the program's short history and
they've got a pair of promising goalies in freshmen Chris
Holt and Kris Tebbs. The Minutemen are led by Thomas Pöck,
the best defenseman you'll see play in Omaha this season.
Yes, we're aware that Keith Ballard and Ryan Suter have
been there already.
While you're there: Sources close to INCH say you can't
go wrong by hitting Omaha's Old Market District to while
away the time after games. Two of the hottest spots are
the Underground and the Safari Bar, the latter being a dance
club that skews toward the younger crowd. Before the puck
drops, check out the lounge at the Courtyard by Marriott
on 10th Street, a gathering spot for UNO Blueline Club members.
the plan was to honor Bowling Green and Ohio State for their
success at Colgate and Cornell. Throw in Miami, winner of
two games against Alaska-Fairbanks, and the CCHA's
Ohio-based members posted a combined 4-0-2 mark
last weekend. It's a case, as the Dayton-based funk legend
Ohio Players once opined, of players doin' their own thing.
the guy who operates the celebratory horn at Ewigleben
Ice Arena. Sure, everyone gets excited when a goal
is scored. And there's nothing wrong with it in theory: I'm
a big fan of the horn that rumbles after every St. Louis goal
at the Savvis Center. At Ferris, however, the guy that holds
the cord acts as if he's the conductor of a train engine trying
to worn a stalled school bus full of children of impending
doom. No wonder visiting teams try to cut the hose that powers
the air horn.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Perhaps Kemp and Ohio State coach John
Markell should get together and exchange notes. In this space
last week, we chronicled the Buckeyes' Friday struggles –
OSU is 2-5-0 on Fridays after beating Colgate last week and have
seven wins in as many Saturday outings. UNO,
meanwhile, has won three straight Friday games but are 1-4-1 on
Saturdays. Throw out their 4-2 win vs. Northern Michigan Nov.
15, and the Mavs' Saturday goal total is six.
hit of the season to date occurred during the second period of
Saturday's UNO-Ferris State game, courtesy of
Bulldogs' junior defenseman Matt York. York caught the Mavericks'
Chris Claffey circling back toward the UNO offensive zone with
his head down and delivered what is known in football parlance
as a "de-cleater", hitting the forward so hard his skates
flew out from under him. Claffey took a moment to gather himself,
retrieved his stick and skated to the bench no worse for wear.
is the kind of stuff that may interest only me, but Notre
Dame has played 35 overtime games since the start of
the 1999-2000 season, the most recent being a 2-2 tie with Lake
Superior State Saturday. The Fighting Irish's record
in OT contests during that span: 5-2-28. Maybe Poulin has watched
the tape of the 1966 Notre Dame-Michigan State
football game one too many times.
such honor exists, but if the CCHA presented an award for best
interview, Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin would
be a shoo-in for the title. Just weeks after comparing his line
combinations to the players on the classic Nintendo Ice Hockey
game, he dropped another gem on the same subject to South Bend
Tribune writer Steve Lowe following his team's 5-3 win
over Lake Superior State Friday.
line combinations are formed similar to good nicknames,"
Poulin mused. "They just happen. All the planning in the
world and all the thought process, and you come out of a rotation
and somebody gets with someone else and you say, 'Wow, that's
something I really hadn't thought of before.'"
we're shamelessly stealing quotes from various sources –
hey, it says we do so at the end of this notebook every week –
statements uttered by former Michigan State star
Shawn Horcoff following Saturday's Heritage Classic in Edmonton
sound awfully familiar to things heard after the Cold War at Spartan
Stadium two years ago.
"Just the start, walking out there for the
first time was pretty amazing,'' said Horcoff, whose Oilers dropped
a 4-3 decision to Montreal in front of 57,167 at Commonwealth
Stadium. "Looking in the stands and seeing that many people
was such a big thrill, something that will probably never happen
Apparently, television viewers thought the same
thing. The game was the highest-rated regular season contest in
CBC history. Of course, the match was unavailable in the U.S.
except to those limited pockets of the country that receive CBC
or subscribe to DirecTV's NHL Center Ice package. It was a great
event, though. Just take the word of another former Spartan and
"This was something I'll remember,'' said
Mike York. "It's something everybody will remember forever.''
wouldn't be a CCHA Notebook without an obscure Bowling
Green note of the week, this one straight from the Falcons'
minister of hockey information Kris Kamann. In his last three
starts, goaltender Jordan Sigalet – this week's conference
defensive player of the week – has posted a 0.92 goals-against
average and a .970 save percentage. His record during that span?
No wins, no losses and three ties – BGSU skated to a scoreless
draw with Lake Superior State Nov. 15, earned
a 1-1 tie with Cornell Friday and played to a 2-all score at Colgate
A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this