| CHA | WCHA
needs a bandwagon when you've got a bus? Not Denver, which
won the Maverick Stampede
road trip – a time-honored tradition in which college
buddies build camaraderie by getting into a vehicle, driving
far, far away and taking part in a shared experience. Thanks
to his team’s showing in last weekend’s Maverick
Stampede, Denver’s George Gwozdecky has become the
Eric “Otter” Stratton of college hockey coaches.
attempt to build unity, the Pioneers boarded a charter coach
Wednesday evening and embarked on the 540-mile trip to Omaha.
They not only came back a tighter unit – “We
have good chemistry on this team,“ says senior forward
Kevin Doell – but they also returned to the Mile High
City early Sunday morning with two impressive wins in tow.
Omaha being not so far away, we decided 'Hey, let’s
bus instead,'” said Gwozdecky. “I would have
to give the credit to (assistant coaches) Steve (Miller)
and Seth (Appert). The good thing was that it coincided
with the new rule in the WCHA that, if you play a non-league
opponent, you can travel your entire roster.”
Pioneers solidified their status as worthy national championship
contenders, winning the Maverick Stampede by downing two
CCHA foes. The defending MacNaughton and Broadmoor Cup champions
opened the tournament with a dominating 5-0 win over Michigan
State, outshooting the Spartans by a 35-21 margin.
then posted a 3-2 victory over the host Mavericks Saturday,
with sophomore Luke Fulghum tallying the game-winning goal
with 1:25 left in regulation after picking off an errant
UNO clearing attempt. The Pioneers owned the shot advantage
in the championship game, 41-18.
keys to Denver’s success – solid goaltending
from the duo of Hobey Baker Award candidate Wade Dubielewicz
and Adam Berkhoel and an up-tempo style of play that forced
opponents to commit turnovers and leading, in turn, to quality
I see (on his team) is a bigger ego than a bigger
workload, and I don’t mean that too negative.
But if your workload isn’t your No. 1 talent,
good teams will make you look foolish.” –
Michigan State head coach Rick Comley, after the Spartans
were drubbed by Denver Friday in Omaha.
tell everyone that Joel Maturi has three things going
for him – he‘s an (Iron) Ranger,
he‘s Italian and he graduated from Notre Dame.”
– Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, introducing
the school’s new director of athletics at the
team’s media day earlier this month. Lucia,
as you may have guessed, also falls into all three
was already working on my list of the five guys I'd
have take our shots in the shootout.” –
North Dakota head coach Dean Blais, after his team’s
overtime win against Michigan in Buffalo Saturday.
we followed that plan, we were pretty effective,”
said Gwozdecky, who noted the team‘s biggest challenge
on the weekend was responding to the physical pounding Nebraska-Omaha
administered to the Pioneers in the first period Saturday,
disrupting the game‘s flow in the process. “As
always at this time of year, there are areas that we need
to work on. But we saw some things that are going to be
trademarks of our team this year, most notably our movement
and speed up and down the ice.”
bunch is a veteran unit – only three skaters in the
lineup for the season opener have less than 30 games of
collegiate experience. Still, he really didn’t know
what to expect from his team heading into the weekend.
had no idea how our team was going to perform,” Gwozdecky
said. “We really didn’t have any game experience
or anything to go on to say, “This team needs work
here, or this team is good here. But we were able to experience
some pretty good challenges and succeed in those experiences.”
rate, Gwozdecky may want to book a Buffalo-bound bus in
coaches new to high-profile programs endured similar starts
last weekend. Rick Comley of Michigan State and Wisconsin’s
Mike Eaves were on the wrong end of lopsided losses Friday,
but salvaged the weekend with one-goal victories Saturday.
who left Northern Michigan to fill the vacancy created when
Ron Mason was named MSU’s athletics director, was
less than pleased with Friday’s 5-0 loss to Denver
in the first round of the Maverick Stampede in Omaha. State
then earned a tougher-than-expected 2-1 win over Colgate
Saturday. The bright spot on the weekend – the play
of inexperienced goaltenders Justin Tobe, a freshman, and
sophomore Matt Migliaccio.
the last of our concerns as we try and pull this thing together,”
said Comley, whose priorities are addressing a dearth of
team speed and carelessness with the puck. “Both goalies
Eaves’ Badgers gave up five unanswered goals in a
5-1 loss to Rensselaer in the first round of the IceBreaker
Invitational. Wisconsin recovered the next night, however,
downing a tough Northern Michigan squad by a 4-3 score in
the tournament’s third-place game. Junior Rene Bourque
scored the game-winning goal with a little more than a minute
left in regulation.
Great Weekend Getaways
Michigan State at Northern Michigan
Comley can earn his 600th career win as a head coach
in Marquette this weekend. Ironically, he would accomplish
the feat behind the Michigan State bench instead of
with the host Wildcats. It’s an important early-season
CCHA series – thanks to the league’s cluster
scheduling format, the Spartans and Wildcats will meet
four times this year. Walt Kyle, meanwhile, makes his
regular-season debut at the Berry Events Center. The
guess here is that Comley won’t reach the milestone
this weekend. In fact, he’ll be fortunate to get
one step closer.
While You're There: Check out Up Front and Company,
one of Marquette's newest spots for postgame entertainment.
With its wood and stone interior, it's got a trendy
feel. They've got live music most weekends and last
year's Thursday night special – $2 pints of Labatt's
draughts – is the best deal in the CCHA.
Nye Frontier Classic – The annual event, hosted
by Alaska Anchorage, features an intriguing first-round
contest between Maine and Colorado College. Iona and
the Seawolves are the other teams taking part in this
year’s tournament. Worth the trip just to see
Alaska Anchorage fans launch semi-frozen fish on the
ice following their team’s first goal.
Miami at Nebraska-Omaha – There’s a general
lack of scintillating matches in the CHA, CCHA or
WCHA this weekend – the Minnesota-New Hampshire
and Denver-in-Beantown series are out east, so I can’t
recommend them due to geography – so this is
pretty much the best of the rest. Miami has struggled
mightily in Omaha, including back-to-back shutouts
at the Civic Auditorium last season, so we’ll
know more about the RedHawks mettle following this
an overall view it was a step in the right direction,”
said Eaves of the weekend. “I think that perhaps the
biggest thing is that it will energize the team to continue
to working hard. The pieces are starting to come together
a little bit, but it is still far off.”
hard to imagine a freshman starting his college career any
better than Western Michigan forward Vince Bellissimo. The
Toronto, Ont., product was named the CCHA
Rookie of the Week after scoring two goals, including the
game-winner, in the Broncos’ season-opening 7-6 win
against Bowling Green Friday and addiung another game-winning
goal and an assist in the team’s 3-2 victory over
the visiting Falcons the following night.
then there’s forward Zach Parise of North Dakota.
College Hockey.com preseason
all-rookie team selection and the choice of WCHA coaches
as the favorite to win the league’s Newcomer of the
Year honor, Parise led the Fighting Sioux to the Xerox Punch
Imlach College Hockey Showcase championship over the weekend.
He scored three goals and an assist in North Dakota’s
opening-round win against Canisius, then picked up two goals
and two assists in his team’s overtime victory against
was really nervous before the game, but then (sophomore
linemate Brandon) Bochenski asked me if I had ever played
a game before. He said, ‘Well, this is the same thing.
Just go out and play another game.'"
BEN IS BACK
Tharp was no different than any other kid growing up in
everyone’s dream to play for the Gophers,” said
the Hastings, Minn., native. “I think if I would’ve
passed that up I would’ve regretted it.”
along with high school teammates Jeff Taffe and Dan Welch,
signed a letter of intent with Minnesota. The defenseman
posted respectable numbers in two seasons with the Gophers
– 12 assists in 32 games as a freshman and four goals
and four assists in 38 games as a sophomore. But something
wasn’t a good fit for me personally,” said Tharp.
getting a second chance at a school with a rink smaller
than some of the arenas at which he played in high school.
Miami’s Goggin Ice Arena only has room for a couple
thousand fans, but there’s no place Tharp would rather
be. A member of the United States Hockey League’s
Chicago Steel last season, he signed with the RedHawks in
the fall after coming away impressed by head coach Enrico
Blasi and his staff.
coaching aspect is one of the reasons why I came here,”
said Tharp, who scored nine goals and 18 assists for the
Steel in 2001-02. “All three of the coaches are really
easy to talk to. I really felt they wanted me to come here
and help me out.”
in return, has helped his coaches. Even though he’s
in his first year at Miami, he provides much-needed experience
for a team that boasts nine freshmen on its roster. And
he’s off to a good start with two assists and a +3
plus-minus rating in four games. The RedHawks, picked to
finish 10th in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association
in both the coaches and media preseason polls, are off to
a 3-1-0 start, but enter a difficult four-game stretch against
Nebraska-Omaha and Northern Michigan.
learned a lot about the defensive part of the game last
year playing in Chicago,” the 6-foot, 175-pound junior
explained. “You can be one of the premier players
in the (CCHA) just by playing good position and playing
happy to be back in the collegiate ranks – “I
couldn’t even explain the feelings I had” during
his first game in a Miami sweater vs. Air Force Oct. 4 –
and he’s even happier about being in Oxford.
Tharp, “I definitely don’t have any regrets
about leaving Minnesota.”
FROM THE HEADLINES
Potulny shelved – Minnesota forward Grant
Potulny, who will always be part of Golden Gopher hockey
lore thanks to his overtime winner in the 2002 NCAA championship
game, is expected to miss six weeks after breaking his leg
in the second period of Saturday’s 7-2 win against
Ohio State in the Hall of Fame Game in St. Paul. The Grand
Forks, N.D., native is Minnesota’s leading active
goal scorer with 37 goals in 87 games.
Burnes is, too – Michigan defenseman Andy
Burnes is sidelined for three weeks with mononucleosis.
You may remember the Wolverines' Mike Cammalleri was sidelined
for a couple months last season due to the ailment. Michigan
State freshman forward Colton Fretter has also had his collegiate
debut delayed thanks to mono. He could see his first action
as soon as this weekend's series at Northern Michigan.
At least one of our staff members could win a medal –
Congratulations to former Wisconsin coach and current Inside
College Hockey.com columnist Jeff Sauer, who will serve
as an assistant coach on the U.S. entry in the 2003 International
Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships, which
take place Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Sydney and Halifax, Nova
Tom Terrific – Joining play-by-play announcer
Paul Braun in the television booth for Wisconsin games this
season is Tom Sagissor. Sagissor, a four-year letterwinner
from 1986 to 1990, was loved by Badger Nation and loathed
in every other WCHA rink, especially after junior and senior
seasons during which he racked up 119 and 122 penalty minutes,
respectively. He could play a little, too, scoring 19 goals
and 27 assists in 1989-90 en route to a national title.
Charger challenge – Since we’ve got
Badgers on the brain, Wisconsin hosts Alabama-Huntsville
this weekend. The Chargers’ first three series of
the season? At Wisconsin, at Denver, at Minnesota.
Galactic border patrol – Lake Superior State’s
18-hour trip to Maine for the Black Bear Classic was extended
by more than 90 minutes when the team’s bus was held
up at the U.S.-Canadian border. Seems one of the team’s
Canadian players was without the proper paperwork.
Dad’s day – Those expecting Red Berenson
to step down as Michigan bench boss in the near future may
want to take this into consideration – the 62-year-old
coach skipped Saturday’s game against North Dakota
in Buffalo to fly to Saskatchewan, where his dad was celebrating
his 90th birthday in Regina.
And maybe Soundgarden is classic rock – The
Wolverines are sporting new uniforms this season. According
to sports information director Paul Thomas, the look is
a throwback to sweaters Michigan wore in the early-to-mid
1990’s. I propose a new rule: if kids in junior high
can remember when the team wore the original jerseys, it
can’t be considered a throwback. And while we’re
on the subject, let me be the first to lobby for Western
Michigan to don those gaudy brown-and-yellow uniforms from
a few years back.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this