March 19, 2003
Brothers in Arms
Close-knit Buckeyes rally again, face Michigan for Mason Cup

Ohio State 4,
Miami 3 (OT)
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

1-MIA Mike Kompon (13) PP
16:36 Unassisted
Second Period
1-OS Rod Pelley (10) EV
6:36 P. Caponigri
2-MIA Todd Grant (14) EV
15:51 C. Michael, A. Greene
Third Period
2-OS Paul Caponigri (16) PP
5:28 JB Bittner, R. Pelley
3-MIA Mike Kompon (14) EV
9:46 G. Hogeboom
3-OS Dan Knapp (12) EV
12:54 Unassisted
5-OS JB Bittner (12) EV
0:23 P. Caponigri, R. Pelley
OS: Dave Caruso, 60:23, 18 saves, 3GA
MIA: Brandon Crawford-West, 60:23, 24 saves, 4 GA
Penalties: OS 3/6; MIA 3/6
Power Plays: OS 0-2; MIA 1-2
Attendance: 11,216

By Mike Eidelbes

DETROIT – None of the players on the Ohio State roster are old enough to remember the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, but the two teams share similar traits.

The Buccos adopted the Sister Sledge disco hit "We Are Family" as their theme song in honor of their all-for-one, one-for-all approach to the game. They ended up winning the World Series.

The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are a close-knit group devoid of stars (and Stargells) and, after Friday's 4-3 overtime win against Miami, one victory away from capturing the Mason Cup, awarded to the CCHA playoff champion.

"Last year, there could have been a few guys on different pages," said sophomore forward Rod Pelley, who scored a goal and two assists. "This year, everyone wants the same thing."

It doesn't take Maurice Clarett's tutor to figure out the differences bewteen this year's Buckeyes and the team of one year ago. One notable change is the across-the-board balance that makes up for the lack of eye-popping talent.

"We may not have guys who are going to score 80 points a year," Pelley said, "but we've got guys that will chip in every night whether it's blocking shots, taking hits or making good saves."

Pelley also points to the character in the locker room as a key component of the team's recent success. The fact that the Buckeyes will face Michigan for the CCHA playoff championship even though they haven't held a lead for one second in either of their two Super Six games is all the proof one needs.

The last time OSU faced the Wolverines was in Ann Arbor in early January. The Buckeyes lost a 3-2 decision in the series opener, but were shellacked by the home team in the second game, a disappointing weekend for a team that harbored legitimate aspirations of a run at a CCHA regular season title. Now, Michigan is all that stands between Ohio State and a league championship.

"Everyone wants the same thing," Pelley said. "When we all get behind each other, we just keep motivating each other. In the dressing room, it's all confidence and trying to building each other up. With everyone playing their own roles and specific jobs, anything can be accomplished."

Michigan 5,
Northern Michigan 1
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

No scoring
Second Period
1-UM Brandon Kaleniecki (17) EV
10:14 E. Werner, M. Gajic
Third Period
2-UM Brandon Kaleniecki (18) PP
0:28 M. Gajic, T.J. Hensick
3-UM Jeff Tambellini (15) EV
8:42 T.J. Hensick, D. Rohlfs
4-UM David Moss (8) EV
9:23 J. Ryznar
5-UM T.J. Hensick (12) EV
11:15 J. Tambellini, D. Rohlfs
1-NM Dave Bonk (4) EV
18:26 M. Hunter, B. Selden
NM: Tuomas Tarkki, 57:29, 29 saves, 5 GA; Brian Garavaglia, 2:31, 0 saves, 0 GA
UM: Alvaro Montoya, 60:00, 19 saves, 1 GA
Penalties: NM 4/8; UM 3/6
Power Plays: NM 0-3; UM 1-4


Remember the finale of the John Belusi-Dan Akroyd classic “The Blues Brothers”? Jake and Elwood elude every law enforcement officer in the Chicagoland area in their erstwhile cop car, only to have the vehicle fall to pieces on the courtyard of the Richard Daley Building.

Northern Michigan experienced a similar fate against top-seeded Michigan Friday afternoon in the first of the day’s two CCHA Super Six semifinals.

The Wildcats’ magical whirlwind tour – with out-of-nowhere goalie Tuomas Tarkki serving as guide – ended for all intents and purposes in the third period when the Wolverines got a quick power play goal from Brandon Kaleniecki to take a 2-0 lead en route to a 5-1 win.

“They went out and got that quick one and I think that really hurt us,” said NMU junior forward Matt Hunter, who scored the Wildcats’ lone goal. “We came out and kept playing and kept playing, and they just kept hammering us.”

“We tried to keep the game close,” said Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle. “Our guys were dead.”

The team traveled from Marquette to Alaska-Fairbanks for a first round playoff series and bounced the host Nanooks in two games. Then it was back to the Upper Peninsula, where the Wildcats had just enough time to feed the dog and get on a bus Tuesday for a jaunt to Detroit for the CCHA Super Six. No more than 48 hours later, NMU ousted third seed Michigan State to advance.

“This just shows what a boost of confidence can do for the younger guys on our team,” Hunter explained. “It’s good for us…it’ll get us started off on the right foot next year.”

Both Kyle and Hunter brushed off the notion of moral victories, saying the loss is a bitter pill to swallow, but the turn of events will be remembered in
Marquette for years to come.

“No one expected us to be here except us,” Hunter said. “We’re the only ones that really believed in us.”

Tonight's Three Stars
3. Tuomas Tarkki, Northern Michigan
Sure, he gave up five goals, but as coach Walt Kyle said, there wasn't a whole lot he could've done on any of them. He kept the Wildcats in the game early with 13 first period saves.
2. Bittner, Caponigri and Pelley, Ohio State
The trio combined for eight points against the RedHawks Friday and each factored into the game-winning goal, scored by Bittner. Don't forget the little things – Pelley won 10 of the 13 draws he took.
1. T.J. Hensick, Michigan
Scored a goal and two assists. His two-on-one with Jeff Tambellini – during which Hensick waited...waited...waited, then wired a pass to Tambellini at the last possible moment – was as pretty a play as you'll ever see.


• The strangest aspect of the Miami-Ohio State game was that even thought the RedHawks held the lead on three occasions, they never seemed to capitalize on the momentum associated with breaking the tie. OSU managed to keep the RedHawks on their heels even after Mike Kompon gave Miami a 3-2 with a little more than 10 minutes left in regulation.

"There were a few soon as we scored a goal, we'd let up a little bit," Miami defenseman Andy Greene said. "They came right back and stopped the momentum we had from scoring."

• The loss to Ohio State was Miami's first OT defeat this season. The RedHawks' mark in the extra session prior to Friday was 1-0-4. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are 2-2-0 in OT games and one of two teams without a tie (Yale is the other).

• Red Berenson switched up his lines for Friday’s game against Northern Michigan and, while Michigan exploded for five goals in the final 30 minutes, the Wolverines’ bench boss said the barrage wasn’t a result of the new combinations.

“It’s not the lines,” Berenson said. “It’s the attitude. It’s the effort.”

• With the Michigan-Northern Michigan game well in hand, Kyle put backup goaltender Brian Garavaglia in for Tarkki with 2:31 left in the third period. The Lapeer, Mich., native was summoned from the Northern Michigan student body to serve as Tarkki’s backup while erstwhile starter Craig Kowalski nursed a groin injury. Garavaglia didn’t face any shots.

“He did us a favor,” said Kyle of Garavaglia, who met the Wildcats in Fairbanks last weekend. “So we did him a favor in return.”

• Without retreating to the archives at INCH World Headquarters to get a definitive answer, we feel confident in saying Friday’s Miami-Ohio State game marks the first time in college hockey history that a goalie from California (Miami’s Brandon Crawford-West, a San Diego native) has faced a Georgia netminder (the Buckeyes’ Dave Caruso calls the Atlanta suburb of Roswell home).

• Calling all Boston College fans: the banner honoring the Eagles’ December triumph at the 2003 Great Lakes Invitational is conspicuously absent from the Joe Louis Arena rafters. Statistics on such matters aren’t kept, but the GLI banner seems to disappear for long stretches when a team from outside the Great Lakes State takes top honors.


Though his Wildcats were on the short end of the 5-1 decision against Michigan, those who attended coach Walt Kyle's post-game press conference could sense how proud he was of his team's effort during its last 15 games of the season. NMU was 10-3-2 during stretch. The rest of the CCHA would be wise to note that the Wildcats had 12 freshmen and sophomores in the lineup Friday.

Very few people were around to witness it (former Enron accountants announced a crowd of 11,216 for both games at Joe Louis Arena Friday) but the third period of the Miami-Ohio State contest was an entertaining 20 minutes, with three goals and plenty of big plays,

To Miami, for wasting a fine performance by senior forward Mike Kompon. The Thunder Bay, Ont., native scored a pair of goals for the RedHawks. He's got 10 points in the team's last six games.

Members of the assembled media – present company excluded – chose Al Montoya as the first star of Friday's first semifinal game. The Wolverine goaltender had a decent outing, stopping 19 of 20 shots, but Hensick or Brandon Kaleniecki (two goals) were far more deserving.


Michigan and Ohio State play for a championship Saturday. Hmmm...have these two schools ever met for conference bragging rights on a Saturday in any sport?

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