February 19 , 2004
Caruso Control
Ohio State backup steps front and center

By Mike Eidelbes

 CCHA Notebook

Ohio State goaltender Dave Caruso has allowed four goals in his last three starts, all wins.

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Being a back-up goaltender can be a lot like being a left-handed relief pitcher in baseball. You’re asked to sit around for long stretches, not sure when you’re going to get the call to appear. And when you’re summoned for duty, you’d better be ready to perform or else it’s back opening the door on the bench (or spitting sunflower seeds in the bullpen.)

If that’s the case, Ohio State netminder Dave Caruso would be making a strong bid for a reliever of the year honors. He’s played just seven games for the Buckeyes this season and owns a 6-1-0 record. He’s been particularly impressive in the team’s last three games, allowing four goals on 72 shots and helping OSU to back-to-back-to-back wins.

“You don’t see too many goalies in the NHL come in right away and play,” Caruso said, referring to players such as Colorado’s David Aebischer and former Michigan standout Marty Turco, now with Dallas. “It helps being the backup.”

Caruso’s route to Ohio State was a circuitous one. Born on Long Island, he lived there until he was seven, when his family moved to Roswell, Ga. Despite the transfer to the Deep South, Caruso continued to play hockey in suburban Atlanta. He was the sole netminder on most of the teams he played for while growing up. Caruso stayed in Georgia until he completed midget hockey, then moved on to play for the Boston Bulldogs, an independent junior team.

Even though his favorite goaltender is New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur – Caruso became enamored with the Devils in 1994 while his mother and uncle rooted for their beloved New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals – the sophomore credits his philosophy to Anaheim backstop Jean-Sebastien Giguere and his mindset during last year’s NHL playoffs.

“Stopping one shot at a time. That’s my motto,” Caruso explained. “Giguere said it during the playoffs last season. I know it’s a cliché, but I just try to take it one day at a time. Day by day, week by week.”

With his notoriety heightened because of his play over the past two weekends, we wondered whether Dave Caruso (the goaltender) ever gets asked if he’s David Caruso (the actor).

“I don’t get it a ton,” the Buckeye netminder replied. “Not too many people know about David Caruso from “NYPD Blue” and “CSI: Miami.

“If they do ask, I’ll tell them, ‘No, I’m Dave Caruso, the hockey player.’”


IRISH "D" DOES IT ALL – Notre Dame defenseman Tom Galvin gained possession of the puck just inside of the Ferris State blue line less than three minutes into the first period of Saturday’s game at the Joyce Center. With three opposing skaters in front of the net occupying the Fighting Irish forwards, the Bulldogs dared Galvin to beat them.

He did just that, nimbly moving wide of an oncoming forward then cutting toward the center of the ice with the puck on his backhand. Using the traffic jam in front of FSU goaltender Mike Brown as a screen, Galvin ripped a shot into the net to give his team an early lead.

Galvin’s goal was the first of three from the blue line in Notre Dame’s 4-1 win over the visiting Bulldogs. Three goals by defensemen isn’t normal for the Irish – the team’s rearguards have combined for 13 markers this season. It is, however, a testament to the versatility the Irish blue line corps possesses.

“Our defense is real dynamic,” said Galvin, who hails from Miller Place, N.Y. “If we keep playing as well as we have been, we’ll be an important stepping stone for what’s ahead.”

The unit earns its keep with their play in front of goalies Morgan Cey and David Brown. Want to know how a team that ranks tenth in the CCHA in offense can challenge for home ice in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. The Irish – behind a talented corps featuring Galvin, Komadoski, senior Brett Lebda, junior Joe Zurenko, sophomore Chris Trick and freshmen Wes O’Neill and Noah Babin – are tied for first in the league in scoring defense (2.37 goals per game) and lead the conference in penalty killing. They boast an 88.9 percent success rate, and the team hasn’t allowed a power-play goal since Jan. 23.

“We’re confident in both David and Morgan to make the great stop and the easy save,” Komadoski said. “It’s up to us to clear the front and make sure they’re seeing shots. If a shot does get through and…[the goalie] can’t get the rebound, it’s our job to clear the guys out and get the puck to the corner to make sure they can’t get second and third chances.”

While taking care of business in its own end is the top priority, Poulin is encouraging the defensemen to help out offensively. He’d like to see more shots from the point and he’s getting just that, as evidenced from the 27 shots from Irish blueliners in last week’s series.

“If we get the puck to the net and nobody touches it and it goes in, that’s great,” Komadoski said. “But we’ve got some big forwards that can bang in front of the net. If there is a rebound, they’re going to out-muscle a d-man and put the puck in the net.”

Regardless of whether they give the Irish a shot in the arm offensively or not, Poulin knows his defensemen will play a major role in team’s fortunes from here on out.

“At this time of the year, it’s going to be defense that does it,” Poulin said. “Goals are going to get harder and harder to come by. Going into this time of year, to be playing well defensively is integral.”

Great Weekend Getaway
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Ohio State at Western Michigan (Fri.-Sat.): The league is bereft of marquee matchups this weekend, so this series at Lawson Ice Arena gets the nod by default. The Buckeyes and Broncos are caught in that Dan Ryan Expressway-on-Friday evening jam in the CCHA standings in races so close, one wonders if commissioner Tom Anastos will have the teams in the middle of the pack play first-round playoff series at a neutral site. Adding a bit of intrigue to this series is the fact that both OSU and WMU are about as predictable as a Jeremy Roenick soliloquy.

While you’re there: The INCH staff, for the most part, doesn’t spend much time following college basketball. In fact, we don’t pay much attention to the sport unless it messes with face-off times or parking plans. Our friends at ESPN, however, have dubbed Saturday “Bracket Buster Saturday” and are devoting the bulk of their airtime to showdowns featuring mid-major schools. The schedule includes Western Michigan, leaders of the MAC’s West Division, against perennial Southern Conference powerhouse College of Charleston. The game tips off at University Arena at 4 p.m.

Stick Salute

It’s hardly the most stirring arena in the CCHA, but Notre Dame has succeeded in making the Joyce Center a surprisingly electric hockey venue. Virtually every seat in the arena at Saturday’s game was filled. The school’s pep band is first rate, and they’re a vociferous group when not playing the greatest fight song in the world. The Joyce Center added a St. Louis Blues-style foghorn to celebrate goals and a siren similar to the one at the old Montreal Forum marks the end of each period. The highlight of the evening – besides Tom Galvin’s pretty goal to open the scoring in the first period – was the mini-mite exhibition during the first intermission. Terrific stuff.

Bench Minor
Far be it from me to criticize the job Atlanta Thrashers’ G.M. Don Waddell has done this season, but binary code that formed last week’s notebook had barely been assembled when the Thrash sent defenseman Mike Weaver – if you don’t know who he is by now, shame on you – back to its AHL affiliate in Chicago. Weaver has been up and down before, but this trip to the parent club was so short, the cup of coffee he bought at Tim Horton’s in Calgary following his only game with Atlanta last week was still hot when he landed at O’Hare.


• One of the changes NHL general managers proposed last week in an effort to increase scoring is to prohibit goalies from playing the puck below the goal line. Michigan’s Al Montoya, one of the more active netminders in the college game, obviously is against such a rule.

“I don’t think it would be a good idea for the game,” Montoya explained. “You’re eliminating athleticism somewhat. Besides, I think there are more goalies that make mistakes behind the net. You see more goals go in when goalies are standing behind the net than goalies making assists halfway down the ice.”

While Montoya is proud of his acumen in moving the puck, it should be noted that more that one NHL scout feels Montoya plays the puck too much.

• As we mentioned last week, Miami’s power play was in the throes of an extended drought, a skein that mercifully came to an end last weekend as the RedHawks scored on their first mad-advantage chance against Michigan Saturday, ending an 0-for-22 skid. Opponents have succeeded in shutting down Miami’s extra-man attack by pressuring the point men – the Wolverines’ Dwight Helminen and Mike Brown were particularly effective Friday – and making them quickly move the puck into the corner. The RedHawks like their point men to set up inside the blue line, unleash a heavy shot from the point and let the forwards to crash the net in search of rebounds.

• Ferris State is idle this weekend, welcome news for a team whose training room looks like a Civil War battlefield. The Bulldogs, who entered last weekend’s series at Notre Dame without defensemen Jeremy Scherlinck and Matt York and forward Matt Rutkowski, lost junior forward Jeff Legue after he was hit in the head with a puck in Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Fighting Irish. The following night, junior goaltender Mike Brown had to leave the game after he was hit in the throat with a shot.

Brown, who was taken to a South Bend hospital as a precaution, was replaced by sophomore Tom Mueller, a Cadillac, Mich., native who transferred to Ferris State from Division III Minnesota-Crookston and had been the Bulldogs’ third-string goalie up until last weekend. Mueller acquitted himself nobly, stopping 15 of the 17 shots he faced in Notre Dame’s 4-1 victory. Coach Bob Daniels was effusive in praising his team.

“We played probably as well or better than could be expected,” Daniels said. “I thought the kids played well. Some guys had some opportunities that they don’t normally get. I thought they responded pretty well. I’m displeased with the loss, but I’m not displeased with their effort.”

• The Obscure Bowling Green Note of the Week has taken on a life of its own, so much so that people with much better things to do than send me e-mails…well, sent me e-mails. Thanks to the correspondence, I’m pleased to present Notes of the Week featuring goalie Jordan Sigalet, natch.

The first comes courtesy of Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune scribe Kevin Gordon, who notes that Sigalet and the Falcons have two shutouts this season – both scoreless ties against Lake Superior State – and adds that BGSU is 3-1-4 in games in which they allow one goal or less.

Meanwhile, numerologists will be pleased with this fact from the desk of CCHA Director of Communications Fred Pletsch, who reports that in Sigalet’s two scoreless draws against the Lakers, the junior made 36 saves Nov. 15 and stopped 21 shots last Saturday. Add those two numbers and you get 57 – Sigalet’s jersey number. Freaky.

• Congratulations are in order for Nebraska-Omaha senior forward Andrew Wong, who moved into second place on the school’s all-time scoring list after he picked up two assists in the Mavericks’ 4-3 loss at Ohio State Saturday. The Calgary native has 38-76—114 in 144 career games for coach Mike Kemp. David Brisson, with 144 points, is the top scorer in UNO history.

• Defenseman John-Michael Liles made his first trip to Detroit as a member of the Colorado Avalanche last weekend. The former Michigan State standout is more than familiar with Joe Louis Arena – he played many games there as a Spartan – and while he’s a relative newcomer to the Avalanche-Red Wings rivalry, he says it’s on par with the rivalry between MSU and Michigan.

“I think the college rivalries are a lot more up close and personal because you're going to class with a lot of the fans and you're always around them," Liles told Rick Sadowski of the Rocky Mountain News. "Plus, you have the bands and everything else that goes along with college sports."

Liles assisted on the game-winning goal in Colorado’s 5-2 win over the Red Wings. With former Bowling Green star Rob Blake sidelined with a leg injury, Liles has been elevated to the Avalanche’s top power-play unit.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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