OK, show of
hands. How many of you were surprised to wake up Sunday morning
and see Miami residing atop the CCHA standings? Seems like it
literally happened overnight, doesn't it?
While Notre Dame and Ohio State have shared the "it"
team designation in the conference during the first half of the
season, Miami (10-6-2 overall, 8-3-1 CCHA) quietly climbed to
the top spot after sweeping the Buckeyes in a home-and-home series
last weekend. The RedHawks, who started the season with a pedestrian
3-5-2 record that included ugly losses to St. Lawrence and Air
Force, have won seven of their last eight games.
"We had a lot of new faces coming in and playing right away.
We had two freshman goalies that came in right away and played,"
sophomore defenseman Andy Greene said. "It was a slow start,
but things are clicking now."
Firing on all cylinders may be a more apt description of Miami's
play over the last four weeks. They've allowed two or fewer goals
in six of their last eight outings, and they've scored four or
more goals a half-dozen times during that same span. The RedHawks'
penalty kill jumped from 42nd to 25th in the national rankings
after denying Ohio State in each of its 16 man-advantage opportunities
last weekend and the team boasts the nation's fourth-best power
play –- their 26 power play goals lead the country.
Greg Hogeboom is one of 10 Miami skaters to score a power
play goal this season.
just rely on the power play," said senior forward Greg Hogeboom,
the team's third-leading scorer with 21 points. "That's something
that we did a little too much last year, so we've worked hard
to get better five-on-five."
Whereas Miami primarily depended on the power play and the forward
trio of Hogeboom, Mike Kompon and Derek Edwardson in the past,
the team's balance has been a key to the recent hot streak. Arguably
the CCHA's deepest squad, the RedHawks have been boosted by contributions
from freshmen forwards Matt Christie (a team-leading 11 goals)
and Marty Guerin (14 points), rookie goalie Brandon Crawford-West
(8-1-1 record) and veterans Todd Grant and Ben Tharp, who are
on track to eclipse their scoring totals from last season.
"We've got a lot of forwards who can score and also play
defense," Greene said. "Same thing with our defensemen.
And our goalies are playing well right now."
Don't expect the RedHawks to take their recent hot streak and
current position in the league standings for granted. The team's
juniors and seniors were in a similar spot two years ago, but
faltered badly down the stretch and ended up 10th in the CCHA
after recording a 5-13-1 mark in its last 19 games.
"This year reminds me a lot of my freshman year when we finished
second [in the CCHA regular-season standings]," Hogeboom
said. "We're very balanced defensively and offensively. We
feel if we play 60 minutes hard every game, we won't lose a game.
"Our biggest thing is staying consistent. A lot of Miami
teams in the past have been up and down. We're in a great position
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
The Don of New York: No one monitored
Ferris State's remarkable run to the CCHA regular-season title
and the NCAA Tournament by Ferris State closer than a diminuitive
Division III forward from central New York. Conversely, players
in the Bulldogs' locker room kept a sharp eye on the race to the
D-III championship. It was a case of former teammates looking
out for each other.
While Ferris was in the midst of its most successful season in
school history, Don Patrick –- who spent two seasons with
the Bulldogs –- was propelling Oswego State to the cusp
of a national championship.
"I talked to the guys when they were in Minnesota [for the
NCAA West Regional],"Patrick said. "It was exciting
to see the whole team doing so well."
A native of nearby Fulton, N.Y., Patrick, who appeared in 15 games
at Ferris in 2000-01 and scored no points, did pretty well for
himself at Oswego State. He propelled the Lakers to a conference
title and a second-place finish in the NCAA Division III Frozen
Four, scoring 56 points –- including 41 assists, tops in
D-III, in 33 games. So far this season, he leads the nation in
scoring with 22 points in 14 games. A dynamic skater and terrific
puckhandler, Patrick is comfortable with his role, something he
can't say about his stint at FSU.
"There, I was a fourth-line checking center," Patrick
said following the Lakers' 5-4 loss to archrival and nationally-ranked
Plattsburg last Friday. "It gets to the point where you lose
confidence in your ability and that's when I decided it was time
Patrick isn't the only CCHA refugee on the Oswego State roster.
Former Bowling Green forward Sean Kotary plays for the Lakers,
ranked seventh in the latest D-III poll. And the D-III ranks are
peppered with players who once skated for D-I programs. Erstwhile
New Hampshire forward Travis Banga is now at New England College
and ex-Air Force netminder Zach Sikich is the top backstop for
St. Thomas (Minn.), just to name a few.
Each has a different reason for transferring. In Patrick's case,
he felt the Bulldogs' coaching staff wasn't giving him a chance
to crack the lineup.
"I saw guys playing up ahead of me and I thought I wasn't
being treated fairly," Patrick said. "I had time to
think about it that whole first semester [of my sophomore season]
and I got to the point where I couldn't deal with it anymore."
Patrick contends he left Big Rapids without regrets –-"I
met a lot of good people and I had a good time there," he
said –- and he's more than satisfied being a big part of
an Oswego State team that has national championship aspirations.
"We've got a good team," Patrick said. "It's a
You Be Illin': Coaches will sometimes say, privately,
that they're sickened by the play of their team. Then there's
Western Michigan goaltender Scott Foster, who became sick while
his team was playing.
Foster got the start for the Broncos in the front end of the team's
series with Notre Dame in Kalamazoo and was working with a 3-1
lead early in the second period when Brett Lebda halfed the WMU
advantage on a shot from the red line. Shortly after the red light
came on, Foster fell to his knees and released the contents of
his stomach on the ice.
all started in warm-ups," Western Michigan head coach Jim
Culhane told the Kalamazoo Gazette. "[Foster] started to
cramp up in warm-ups, but I thought he played sensational during
the first period and made some big saves for us on their power
play. Unfortunately, [the illness] caught up to him."
was forced to summon Eric Marvin –- who had never played
in a regular-season game –- to take Foster's place. After
giving up a goal on the first shot he faced, the sophomore from
Naperville, Ill., stopped 19 of the next 22 Notre Dame shots and
earned the win as the Broncos won a wild 8-6 decision over the
a game that will be remembered here for a long time," Culhane
said. "The guys really persevered, with everything that was
going on, and found a way to win the game."
recovered in time to start Saturday's game and helped his team
earn a sweep by making 20 saves in a 6-4 WMU win.
Great Weekend Getaway
at Lake Superior State (Fri.-Sat.): Slim
pickings on the circuit this weekend, so head on up to the
Soo to see catch the surging Nanooks against the vastly
improved Lakers. LSSU can still surpass its conference point
total from last season with a win against UAF. The visitors,
meanwhile, are attempting to solidfy its position in the
top half of the CCHA standings and notch their first road
win of the season –- the Nanooks are 0-6 away from
While you're there: Make the short trip across the locks
to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and visit the Soo Gardens, a
cool old barn that serves as the home of the Ontario Hockey
League's Soo Greyhounds. Among the NHL stars who have played
for the 'Hounds: Wayne Gretzky, Joe Thornton, Rick Tocchet,
Craig Hartsburg, John Vanbiesbrouck and Eric Lindros (before
he was traded to Oshawa). Afterwards, walk across the street
and enjoy lunch at the Time Out Lounge and hit Tim Horton's
on your way back to the States. Your coffee will still be
hot when you get to your hotel 20 minutes later.
Congratulations to Alaska-Fairbanks
senior forward Paul Austin, who netted the first
goal of his career against Nebraska-Omaha Saturday in his
64th game in a Nanooks uniform. A native of International
Falls, Minn., Paul's brother, Jon, scored 25 goals while
playing at Colorado College from 1995-99.
an 8-5-2 overall record and currently third in the conference
standings, Notre Dame has exceeded expectations
thus far this season and there's no question that goaltender
David Brown has been the CCHA's best freshman during the first
half of the season. But the Fighting Irish squandered a golden
opportunity to head into the holiday break atop the league
standings by losing two games at Western Michigan in uncharacteristic
"It was the details that bothered me the most; we just
didn't do the things that we've done well all year,"
Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin told the South Bend Tribune.
"It was the mental (mistakes) that led to the physical.".
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Northern Michigan goaltender Craig Kowalski
notched back-to-back shutouts for the second time in his career,
backstopping consecutive 3-0 wins against Upper Peninsula rival
Lake Superior State in last weekend's home-and-home
series. The shutouts were the ninth and tenth of his career, allowing
him to move past Dan Ragusett on the Wildcats' all-time list.
"There are nights that he has played outstanding and we haven’t
been able to give him enough goal support," said NMU head
coach Walt Kyle to the Marquette Mining Journal. "He
was able to make a lot of saves and keep second shots away by
controlling his rebounds. I think he’s the best goaltender
in the league and I think [this weekend] he did what it takes
to prove that.”
• Lost, perhaps, in Western Michigan's
WHA-like sweep of Notre Dame last weekend was
the performance of senior forward Dana Lattery. Lattery, who ranks
fourth among CCHA players in scoring with 22 points, scored a
goal in Friday's 8-6 win and added another marker in Saturday's
series finale, extending his goal-scoring streak to seven straight
games. The school record in that category is nine straight games,
a mark held by classmate Jeff Campbell.
• One final note regarding the Broncos: maybe we shouldn't
be shocked by the scoring in last weekend's series with Notre
Dame. After all, Western Michigan leads
the CCHA in team offense, averaging 3.47 goals per game, and the
team ranks last in the conference in team defense, allowing an
average of 3.63 goals per game.
• Some things just can't be explained. For example, following
last weekend's sweep of Nebraska-Omaha at the
Carlson Center, Alaska-Fairbanks improved its
home record against the Mavericks to 8-0-4 and the Nanooks are
unbeaten in their last 13 meetings (9-0-4) with UNO.
"You've got to take care of your home games first,"
said UAF goaltender Preston McKay to Richard Larson of the Fairbanks
Daily News-Miner. "It starts from there."
• We don't have access to the Nielsen overnight ratings,
but it would be safe to assume that Wednesday's Buffalo-Detroit
contest pulled pretty big numbers in the Lansing, Mich., market.
That's because East Lansing natives and cousins Ryan Miller, the
former Michigan State goalie, and Kevin Miller,
the erstwhile Spartan forward, clashed at HSBC Arena.
At the beginning of the week, a Miller family reunion seemed unlikely.
That's because they were both in the American Hockey League –-
Ryan with Rochester, the Sabres' farm club, and Kevin with Grand
Rapids, the Red Wings' top affiliate. Both were summoned to the
parent team because of injuries and thrust immediately into the
saw Ryan's dad (former Spartan Dean Miller) Sunday and kind of
said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to get called up," Kevin Miller
told the Detroit News.
photo of Ryan Miller wasn't taken during Wednesday's Red Wings-Sabres
an assist in the showdown while Ryan struggled, making 16 saves
in the Sabres' 7-2 loss to the Red Wings. Not that all the goals
were his fault; he was repeatedly hung out to dry by forwards
who refused to back check. According to media reports, the younger
Miller –- a renowned perfectionist –- was visibly
shaken after the game.
come back to practice tomorrow and see what happens," Miller
told reporters in the Buffalo locker room. "If I'm still
around, (I'll) work hard, get a start, go from there."
certainly couldn't blame [Ryan} tonight. Jeez," Red Wings
forward and former Minnesota-Duluth star Brett Hull said. "I
think every goal was from about 10 feet, wide open."
Once again, we dip into the NHL's current events file for an anecdote
to serve as our obscure Bowling Green note of the week.
General managers get to do rewarding tasks like assembling championship
teams or putting together outstanding draft classes. Of course,
they also fire coaches, which is what former Bowling Green standout
and Washington G.M. George McPhee had to do yesterday when he
pink-slipped Bruce Cassidy after a little more than a year on
By all accounts, Cassidy was as well suited for his job as Paris
Hilton. Media reports from the nation's capital indicate he was
often unprepared, showed up for games later than his players and
repeatedly questioned the commitment of his charges. The final
insult occurred last week, when Cassidy insinuated that the team
was more concerned with family issues than hockey matters.
"I saw a young guy who came highly recommended by some people
I admired," McPhee, the 1982 Hobey Baker Award winner, said
to reporters Wednesday. "I talked to a lot of people in the
business about him and he had done a nice job at every level and
was climbing the ladder and was successful at every level he coached."
A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this