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RedHawk-tober: Can Miami maintain its strong
By Mike Eidelbes
Maybe there's a reason Miami coach Enrico Blasi has the best
poker face this side of the movie "Rounders".
The RedHawks are off to a 6-2-0 start and are currently ranked
14th in this week's Inside College Hockey.com Power
Rankings. Blasi downplays the team's opening –
he may be thinking back to the beginning of the 2001-02 season,
when his team opened with a 5-2-1 record, and then lost 19
of the next 28.
Miami has been impressive. The third-highest scoring team
in the NCAA at 5.25 goals per game, the RedHawks average just
under 41 shots on goal per game
opponents a little more than 18 shots per outing. Three skaters
have already racked up more than 10 points this season. Junior
Mike Kompon, with six goals and nine assists, ranks tied for
second nationally in total points. Fellow junior and linemate
Greg Hogeboom has 5-7—12 through eight games, including
four power-play goals, the third-best total nationally.
forward Greg Hogeboom
Blasi says the offensive explosion starts at their own zone.
"We're playing solid team defense," says the fourth-year
coach, "and from that we're generating some pretty good
chances. They're focused on what they need to do. It really
boils down to being ready to play."
The RedHawks have benefitted from some early confidence-building
victories. The team won the season-opening Lefty McFadden
Invitational in Dayton for its first tournament title since
1997. After a non-conference split with St. Lawrence in Oxford,
Miami gained a split at Nebraska-Omaha, where they had won
once in four previous tries. Last weekend, they swept Northern
Michigan at Goggin Ice Arena – the RedHawks
entered the series with a 4-23-1 all-time record against the
"It was important for us to get a win in Nebraska,"
said Blasi. "I've always said that, in our league, if
you can get on a little roll and keep it going for a while,
it's to your advantage."
And while the confidence is great, Blasi contends his team
is focused on avoided the pitfalls that nullifed the RedHawks'
strong showing early last season.
"We've got to look forward," said Blasi. "If
you're not ready to play, whatever you've done in the past
is all for naught. It's great we're off to a good start, but
every weekend is bigger and bigger."
Michigan Tech's 1-2-2 start doesn't quite measure up to that
of Miami. That doesn't mean there isn't cause for optimism
on the Keewenaw Peninsula.
The Huskies, who have won fewer than 10 games in five of the
last six seasons, gave defending national champion Minnesota
fits last weekend in Houghton in the first WCHA series for
both teams. On Friday, Tech jumped out to 2-0 and 3-1 leads,
only to see the Golden Gophers rally to win 5-4 on Thomas
Vanek's goal with 5:26 left in regulation. The Huskies also
held a 2-0 advantage Saturday, but Minnesota scored three
straight goals to take the lead early in the third period.
Defenseman John Scott salvaged one point for Michigan Tech,
however, with his first career goal with less than five minutes
remaining in regulation.
"We played them tough both nights and we feel we earned
a little respect from them," said junior right wing and
team captain Brett Engelhardt. "There are some positives
that we as a team can take out of the weekend."
the type of situation you wish for: a breakaway in
overtime. I've got to bury those." –
Maine forward Colin Shields, who was stopped by Western
Michigan goaltender Scott Foster late in Sunday's
4-4 tie with the Broncos.
put up 63 shots (Saturday) and 42 (Friday). What can
you do?" – Bemidji State head
coach Tom Serratore, whose Beavers are 0-1-3 following
an overtime loss and tie against visiting Union this
had (Tony) Hrkac, (Bob) Joyce and (Steve) Johnson. These
guys move the puck the same way, but they're younger.”
– North Dakota head coach Dean Blais, on the
prolific scoring line of freshman Zach Parise centering
sophomores Brandon Bochenski and Quinn Fylling.
Mike Sertich's squad is a young group – the
sophomores and freshmen (21) nearly outnumber the juniors
and seniors (eight) by a 3-to-1 margin. And despite letting
a pair of two-goal leads slip away this past weekend, Engelhardt
says the performances have buoyed the team's confidence.
"The guys are excited right now," said the Sheboygan,
Wis., native. "With (Minnesota) being defending national
champions...heck, if we can play with them, we can play with
anybody. We need to learn how to play with a lead. Once we
learn to do that, we should take off."
The scoring is taking off already. So far this season, Tech
is averaging 3.8 goals a game. The team managed just over
2.3 goals per game in 2001-02. Newcomer Chris Conner ranks
second in the WCHA in freshman scoring with 2-5—7, and
Bryan Perez shares the team lead in points with 3-5—8.
But the main offensive thrust centers around the line of Englehardt,
junior Jon Pittis and sophomore Colin Murphy, one of the better
units in the conference. All three are among the league's
top 20 scorers in this young season.
"We really have begun to understand each other,"
said Engelhardt, who paces the Huskies in goals (six) and
shares the team lead in points (eight). "It's become
more evident to me the more we play together.
"Pittis is quick and sees the ice very well. Murphy can
shoot and pass and sees the ice very well. All the things
that we have, combined, come together to make up a good line."
Engelhardt believes the Huskies are benefitting from being
more comfortable with Sertich's strategies. The team is also
getting a better understanding of the long-time coach's mental
approach to the game. Tech will need that mental edge during
its upcoming stretch of games. The Huskies, who've played
the nation's toughest schedule in each of the last two seasons,
travel to Colorado College this weekend to face a team they
haven't beaten in their last 30 regular-season meetings. After
that it's series with Denver, Minnesota, Wayne State and a
single game at Northern Michigan. Following the Christmas
break, the Huskies play Michigan and either Michigan State
or Boston University at the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit.
"We can look into the future but that's not going to
do us any good," Engelhardt explained. "We have
to focus on Colorado College right now. We have to go in there,
get some points over the weekend and come home. Then we get
a week off to prepare for Denver.
"The stretch is going to be very difficult. But we need
to remember that the season isn't won or lost in one weekend."
Hockey announced the roster for the team it will send to the
Deutschland Cup, a four-team international tournament that
runs from Nov. 8-10 in Hannover, Germany. Switzerland, Canada
join the U.S. and the host country in the three-day event.
It's the first time the tournament, which debuted in 1987,
has featured an American entry.
The 20-man U.S. roster, which is comprised of players competing
in European professional leagues, is a veritable cornucopia
of former WCHA and CCHA standouts, as 75 percent of the squad
hail from one of the two leagues. The breakdown:
Keith Aldridge, Lake Superior State (EHC Eisbaren Berlin)
John Gruden, Ferris State (EHC Eisbaren Berlin)
Brett Hauer, Minnesota-Duluth (Geneva)
Chris Luongo, Michigan State (Nuermberg)
Nick Naumenko, North Dakota (Die Adler Mannheim)
Andy Roach, Ferris State (Die Adler Manheim)
Mark Beaufait, Northern Michigan (EHC Eisbaren Berlin)
Brian Bonin, Minnesota (Langnau SCL)
Kelly Fairchild, Wisconsin (EHC Eisbaren Berlin)
Brian Felsner, Lake Superior State (Linkopings)
Pat Mikesch, Michigan Tech (Kassel Huskies)
Kevin Miller, Michigan State (Davos)
Derek Plante, Minnesota-Duluth (ZSC Lions)
David Roberts, Michigan (EHC Eisbaren Berlin)
Chris Tancill, Wisconsin (EV Zug)
Former North Dakota defenseman and NHL veteran Craig Ludwig
serves as assistant to head coach Lou Vairo. The USA Hockey
delegation leader is ex-Wisconsin letterwinner Jim Johannson.
SAVED BY SCOTT
this scenario unfolding in your fourth career collegiate game.
Tied at four against Maine, last year's NCAA runner-up, in
raucous Alfond Arena in Orono. The Black Bears have rallied
to send the game into overtime thanks to two goals in the
last five minutes of regulation. Forward Colin Shields, a
29-goal scorer as a sophomore, bearing down on you with a
That's exactly what happened to Western Michigan freshman
goaltender Scott Foster, who stoned Shields and preserved
the tie for the Broncos.
"He came in from a long distance," Foster told Larry
Mahoney of the Bangor Daily News. "He must have
gotten the puck at the blue line or beyond. That gave me time
to get set. I waited for him to shoot and I think I got both
my stick and pad on it."
Foster improved to 2-1-1 on the young season with Sunday's
"I had the five-hole but I didn't get the puck off the
ice enough and it hit his stick and glanced up into his pads,"
said Shields. "He made a good save and I made a bad shot.
FROM TODAY’S HEADLINES
Great Weekend Getaways
Denver at Wisconsin
The WCHA opener for both teams, the weekend
series also marks a matchup of former teammates –
Denver coach George Gwozdecky and Wisconsin bench
boss Mike Eaves were Badger teammates in the mid '70s.
The Pioneers have enjoyed the trip to Madison in recent
years, sporting an 8-2-2 record in Bucky's house since
the start of the 1995-96 campaign. While you're
there: If you can't find anything fun to do in Madison,
check yourself for a pulse. State Street and the area
around campus is always fun – we're partial
to the Kollege Klub, the Mad Hatter and State Street
Brats. But no trip to Mad Town is complete without
a stop at the Nitty
Gritty. If you see Jeff Sauer there, tell him
we send our best.
2. Boston College at Notre Dame –
For the last few years, this game has coincided with
the contest pitting the only two Catholic institutions
playing NCAA Division I football. And like Saturday's
football game, Friday's hockey game is a sellout.
If you can't get a ticket from a scalper, head over
to the basketball side of the Joyce Center for the
football pep rally at 6 p.m. or the men's basketball
exhibiton game at 9 p.m.
3. Alabama-Huntsville at Minnesota–
We're not expecting this two-game set to rival the
'72 Summit Series, but Gopher fans will swell with
pride when the school's fourth national championship
banner is raised to the Mariucci Arena rafters in
a pre-game ceremony Friday. Which brings up an interesting
question – where will Minnesota's men's
golf national championship banner hang?
Your weekly Gopher injury update –
Minnesota forward Barry Tallackson will be sidelined for six-to-eight
weeks after separating his shoulder in Friday's win at Michigan
Tech. The sophomore had one assist in four games prior to
the injury. He joins forward Grant Potulny in the infirmary
– the junior is out until at least January
with a broken leg.
And your weekly Badger injury update –
Wisconsin defenseman Jon Krall is questionable for this weekend's
series with Denver at the Kohl Center. Krall injured his left
foot when blocking a shot in the Badgers' 4-2 loss at Boston
College Friday. X-rays were negative. Fellow blueliner Dan
Boeser is shelved indefinitely with a broken hand.
to be tied – The NCAA Ice Hockey
Rules Committee has ruled the Maverick Stampede semifinal
game between Colgate and Nebraska-Omaha is officially a tie
and only the statistics for the first 65 minutes of play will
count. The Oct. 11 game was played with a five-minute overtime,
followed by a 20-minute period when the game was still tied.
According to the NCAA, the only way to break ties in order
to determine advancement in an in-season tournament are 20-minute
overtimes to conclusion or a five-minute overtime followed
by shootout. The game is officially recorded as a tie under
the second scenario. UNO advanced to the Stampede title game
on a Scotty Turner power-play goal with 1:15 left in the second
Workin' overtime –
Bemidji State, off to a 0-1-3 start, has gone to overtime
in each of its first four games. The Beavers posted a pair
of ties in their season-opening series vs. Sacred Heart. BSU
dropped a 4-3 decision to Union Friday on Jordan Webb's second
goal of the game two minutes into the extra session before
earning a 5-5 draw with the Skating Dutchmen the following
Strange, but true –
Last weekend's Michigan's sweep of Alaska-Fairbanks at Yost
Ice Arena marks the first time the Wolverines have taken both
ends of a home regular-season series from the Nanooks since
Nov. 17-18, 1995.
Departures – Nebraska-Omaha
freshman defenseman Craig Zubersky left the Mavericks this
week and has joined the Western Hockey League's Kootenay Ice.
The Victoria, B.C., product, who didn't record a point in
two games with UNO. Meanwhile, Bowling Green has suspended
sophomore defenseman Matt Lynn for violating team academic
rules. His status will be re-evaluated upon the completion
of the fall semester. Lynn hadn't scored in six games this
Like Mike – Most
of the credit for Ferris State's strong start (the team's
best since 1983-84) goes to forward Chris
Kunitz and the Bulldog offensive arsenal. But sophomore
goaltender Mike Brown is quietly putting together the beginnings
of an all-league – if not All-American –
season. A 2002 all-CCHA rookie team selection, Brown ranks
second in the conference with a 1.67 goals against average
and boasts an otherworldly .951 saves percentage, trailing
only Denver's Adam Berkhoel among NCAA netminders in that
category. It's not as if Brown's not seeing rubber –
he averages a little more than 31 saves per game. Among CCHA
goalies, only Bowling Green's Tyler Masters make more saves
With six you get egg roll –
Denver senior forward Kevin Doell, who Monday was named the
WCHA's Offensive Player of the Week, recorded a six-point
game (one goal, five assists) in Friday's 7-0 win against
Alabama-Huntsville. He's the first Pioneer to notch a half-dozen
points in one game since Brent Cary turned the trick vs. Air
Force on Dec. 27, 1995.
Wayne's world revisited –
Wayne State extended the nation's longest current unbeaten
streak to 14 games with a pair of wins against visiting St.
Lawrence last weekend. The path gets tougher for the Warriors,
however, as coach Bill Wilkinson's group plays 10 of its next
12 games on the road – at Vermont and Dartmouth
this weekend, at Ferris State for two with the high-octane
Bulldogs and then a league series with Bemidji State. A pair
of home contests with Alabama-Huntsville follows, then it's
back to visitor status with series at Michigan Tech and Alaska-Fairbanks.
us if we brag – Congratulations
to former Michigan State defenseman and designer of this web
site, Mike Weaver. He was recalled by the Atlanta Thrashers
Wednesday after starting the season with Chicago of the AHL.
Check it out – Don't
miss this recent feature on CCHA.com – Ohio
State defenseman Scott Titus' first-person account of
resuming his career after sitting out the 2000-01 due to a
bone infection in his arm. Good stuff.
WEEK’S NHL TRANSACTIONS
Atlanta Thrashers: Recalled defenseman Mike Weaver (Michigan
State) from Chicago of the AHL.
Predators: Assigned defenseman Mark Eaton (Notre Dame) to
Milwaukee of the AHL.
Philadelphia Flyers: Recalled forward Andre Savage (Michigan
Tech) from Philadelphia of the AHL.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this