Wheels Into New Year
The last time
we checked in on Ferris State, the Bulldogs had shut out Nebraska-Omaha
in Big Rapids Nov. 22 to salvage a series split. It was a welcome
victory for the defending CCHA regular season champions, who had
lost six of seven prior to their 4-0 win against the Mavericks.
"It's good to see the guys bearing down," junior goaltender
Mike Brown told me after that game. "We've got a lot to look
Brown's prophecy has come to fruition as FSU hasn't lost since,
reeling off a seven-game unbeaten streak with the last of five
wins during that span coming Sunday in Madison when the Bulldogs
downed Wisconsin, 3-1, in the Badger Hockey Showdown title game,
ending the host's 15-game unbeaten streak in the process. Now
Ferris (8-8-2 overall, 4-7-1 CCHA) heads into the latter part
of the season with full head of steam.
Simon Mangos has 10 points during Ferris State's seven-game
no doubt that beating Wisconsin...is a huge step in the right
direction," coach Bob Daniels said following his team's Thursday
practice. "We're kind of looking to the future and saying,
'Now we're going...let's see what kind of damage we can do in
the second half."
It was fitting that Daniels used New Year's Day to discuss the
Bulldogs' struggles during the early stages of the season, namely
the team's hangover from the previous season.
"When the season started – and I'm guilty of it, too
– we all kind of hoped for a seamless transition from last
year," Daniels explained. "I think we really lost sight
of some basic fundamentals. Little things like puck movement and
playing better in our defensive zone."
Perhaps the best part of Ferris State's 5-0-2 stretch is that
everyone is contributing, including a number of key players who
were noticably quiet during the first seven weeks of the year.
Defenseman Simon Mangos, who had 21 points last season, hadn't
scored FSU's first 11 games but recorded 10 points during the
unbeaten streak, including 1-3–4 at the Badger Hockey Showdown.
Derek Nesbitt has five goals and two assists since Nov. 22. Likewise,
Derrick McIver has 4-3–7 during the streak while highly
touted freshman Mark Bomersback – the 2003 Canadian Junior
A player of the year – has three goals and six points in
the last seven games. Even Brett Smith, who's been the team's
most consistent offensive threat thus far, has ratcheted his play
up a notch, tallying 5-7–12 during the span.
"We are scoring more," Daniels said, "but I think
a lot of that is because we're taking better care of the puck.
We're not turning the puck over as much, or making low percentage
plays on our end of the ice."
When the Bulldogs do suffer a defensive lapse, Brown has been
there to erase the mistake. He's allowed a total of 14 goals during
the streak and has made 27 or more saves on four occasions, including
38 stops in FSU's win against the fourth-rated Badgers.
Certainly, Ferris State has not reached the level of sustained
consistency of last year's NCAA Tournament quarterfinalists. But
they've got the potential to make a charge toward the higher reaches
of the CCHA standings, especially with 11 of their remaining 18
games at home and a team that Daniels says has plenty of room
"We're improving...but there are certain areas of our game
that are not even close to being up to speed yet," Daniels
said, specifically making reference to the Bulldogs' power play
(the CCHA's worst with a 10.3 percent success rate) and penalty
"What we're trying to do is emphasize to the guys that we
can be a lot better."
AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
BEN THERE, DONE THAT – Ben Tharp is a senior
leader and experienced member of the Miami defensive corps. But
at the Dodge Holiday Classic in Minneapolis earlier this month,
he added another title to his repertoire: tour guide.
Tharp, a native of nearby Hastings, Minn., started his college
career at Minnesota alongside high school teammates Jeff Taffe
and Dan Welch. None of the three completed their eligibility with
the Gophers, with Tharp was the first to leave. Despite playing
70 games and scoring 20 points in two seasons at Minnesota, he
departed after the 2000-01 campaign and arrived at Miami last
season after spending a year in the USHL.
"Everybody was asking me questions about everything,"
Tharp said following the RedHawks' 5-3 win against Providence
in the tournament's third-place game Dec. 21. "What the rink
is like, how big is the crowd going to be. I tried to fill them
in on what I knew."
Even though he was to the RedHawks what Sherpas were to Sir Edmund
Hillary and was about to play two games in front of a throng of
family and friends, Tharp had to conquer some butterflies of his
own during the team's pre-tournament practice at Mariucci Arena.
"I wasn't sure what to expect. I actually felt nervous for
some reason," Tharp said. "I hadn't been back here since
I made the decision to leave, so it was a different feeling being
in the visitor's locker room and all that."
Tharp didn't seem agitated on the ice. He didn't score a point
and had an even plus-minus rating on the weekend. Getting the
opportunity to chat with a few acquaintances during the tournament
may have helped Tharp relax. He spoke briefly with Minnesota captain
Grant Potulny, exchanged pleasantries with television color commentator
Doug Woog – who brought Tharp to the Gophers when he coached
the team – and planned on renewing friendships with others
following the tournament, a luxury he enjoyed since he skipped
the team flight back to Ohio to spend the holiday with his family
in the Twin Cities.
my teammates are a little jealous of me that I only have a half-hour
ride," Tharp said. "I'm right here at home. It's pretty
Great Weekend Getaway
Green at Minnesota Duluth (Fri.-Sat.): It was 20
years ago that the Falcons and Bulldogs played one of the
more memorable NCAA title games, with Bowling Green rallying
for the tie late in regulation, then winning its only national
championship in the fourth overtime. UMD will honor that
1983-84 squad (the school's first WCHA title team) this
weekend while the current squad will try to get back on
track following the losses they suffered at North Dakota
before their holiday break. BGSU, meanwhile, ended December
by snapping an eight-game winless streak with a win against
Findlay Dec. 12.
you're there: On a winter Saturday in the Twin Ports, a
nice lunchtime getaway can be had if you're willing to put
a few miles on the car. Just 20 minutes or so up the North
Shore of Lake Superior you'll find the tiny town of Knife
River. In the middle of town (on the bank of the river for
which it is named) sits Emily's, a little Scandinavian deli
which features great sandwiches, homemade salads and fresh
fish chowder made with that morning's catch from the big
lake they call Gitchee Gumee. It's not quite like driving
up to Bar Harbor for a fresh lobster roll, but in the Midwest,
Emily's is as close as you'll find.
hard to look past Ferris State after the Bulldogs'
performance at the Badger Hockey Showdown last
weekend, where they beat a solid team in UMass Lowell and
downed a very good (albeit shorthanded) Wisconsin club.
Interesting note: FSU has won four tournament titles in
its hockey history. Three of them – this year's Badger
Hockey Showdown, the 1999 Minnesota Duluth Silverado Shootout
and the 1993 Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis – have
come in WCHA arenas.
with players violating unspecified team rules?
It happened with Boston College, Wisconsin and Miami. Three
RedHawks were benched for the team's Dodge Holiday Classic
contest against Princeton for their transgressions. Remember
that list of rules the coach went over at the start of the
season? You might want to take another look at them.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• The four parties that form the nucleus of the
annual Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit – Michigan,
Michigan State, Michigan Tech and Olympia Entertainment, which
owns and operates Joe Louis Arena – agreed to a five-year
deal prior to this year's tournament that will keep the Wolverines,
Spartans and Huskies involved in the holiday event through 2008.
GLI has such tradition and it really belongs at Joe Louis,"
Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "It is the tournament
all the top schools in the country want to get into."
is right. Since 2000, Michigan, MSU and Tech have been joined
at the GLI by Boston College (twice), North Dakota and Boston
University. Future fields include New Hampshire (2004), Colorado
College (2005) and Harvard (2006).
Interesting note from the World Junior Championships courtesy
of Sports Illustrated. Michigan sophomore forward
Jeff Tambellini was assigned to a room with 16-year-old
phenom Sidney Crosby – the leading scorer in the major junior
ranks with 76 points in 33 games – at Team Canada's training
camp prior to the holiday break. Jeff's father, Steve, the Vancouver
Canucks' vice president of player personnel, played for Canada's
entry in the WJC 25 years ago and roomed with a 16-year-old phenom
named Wayne Gretzky.
Since we're on the subject of the World Junior Championships,
USAHockey.com is featuring journal entries filed from
Finland by Michigan State forward David Booth. The highlight
from the Dec. 27 soliloquy: Booth stepping up to a challenge issued
by a couple of teammates to cut his hair. "[My teammates]
know that I had the best flow at the [WJC]," Booth reported.
"I took them up on it since my pride could not be damaged."
did Booth feel about his new look?
look like Mr. Bigglesworth," he wrote, referring to the Dr.
Evil's hairless cat in the "Austin Powers" movie trilogy.
The Hockey Humanitarian Foundation this week announced the
12 nominees for the 2004 Humanitarian Award, presented
annually to college hockey's finest citizen. Among those on the
list are a pair of CCHA seniors – Ohio State goaltender
Mike Betz and Notre Dame defenseman Neil Komadoski.
CCHA players have earned the honor since its inception in 1996
(Michigan's Blake Sloan in 1997 and Jason Cupp of Nebraska-Omaha
in 2001). The award committee will pare the list to a group of
five finalists next week. The Hockey Humanitarian Award will be
presented April 9 in Boston.
From the Strange But True Dept., Notre Dame's 1-0 win against
Maine at last week's Everblades Classic marks the first time in
school history that the Irish have posted two victories against
Hockey East foes in the same season. Earlier this year, Notre
Dame shut out Boston College in Chestnut Hill by a 1-0 score.
Sophomore forward Mike Walsh scored the lone goal in each of those
With Scott Paluch's team in Duluth to face UMD in a rematch of
the classic 1984 NCAA championship game, this week's Obscure
Bowling Green Note of the Week looks back at the Falcons'
run to the title 20 years ago. While the four-overtime title match
thriller is the stuff of legend, many fans forget that Bowling
Green pulled off an impressive rally to qualify for the Frozen
Four. Needing four goals in a finale of a two-game, total-goal
quarterfinal series to advance to Lake Placid, the Falcons beat
host Boston University, 4-1, to force a sudden death overtime
and advanced courtesy of Mike Pikul's winner during the extra
A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this
this to a friend
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