| CHA | WCHA
College is surprising everyone...including themselves.
Prior to the start of the season, Colorado College coach Scott
Owens thought his team would be right around the .500 mark
at this point of the year. Instead, the Tigers are nowhere
near it. And that's a good thing.
forward Peter Sejna leads the nation in scoring with
a win and tie at Minnesota last weekend, Colorado College
improved to 9-1-2, extended its current unbeaten streak
to 10 games (8-0-2) and maintained a five-point lead over
Front Range rival Denver in the WCHA standings.
quietly," said Owens said after Saturday's tie at Mariucci
Arena, "we've been playing very well."
prevailing thought was the Tigers would have to lean heavily
on its experienced defensemen early. And while the defense
has been solid –
the Tigers lead the WCHA in scoring defense and penalty
sophomore goaltender Curtis McElhinney has emerged as a
capable replacement for the departed Jeff Sanger. The Calgary
native, who played in just nine games as a rookie, owns
a 7-1-2 record, a 2.38 goals against average and a .910
was at his best against Minnesota, stopping 59 of the 64
shots he faced and singlehandedly keeping the Tigers in
position to earn a tie Saturday with a number of clutch
saves on quality scoring chances.
definitely got a little more confidence than at the start
of the year," said McElhinney. "I know what it
takes to play in this league, and I've got a team that's
playing great in front of me."
the best two games in a row I've seen him play," added
Owens, himself a former Colorado College goaltender. "He
showed me incredible poise for a young kid. He stood in
there like a pro-style goaltender and made great saves and
didn't get rattled."
offense has been terrific, too, despite losing five forwards
from last year's team to graduation, Colorado College ranks
third in the conference in scoring offense, averaging nearly
4.6 goals per game, and owns the league's best power play
top two lines have been amazing and our power play has done
well," said senior defenseman Tom Preissing, who has
already surpassed a career high with 11 goals and is tied
for the conference lead among blueliners in points. "When
you get that kind of thing going, it's hard to beat us"
from freshmen have been an important component of the Tigers'
start. Forward Brett Sterling, a Dino Ciccarrelli clone,
has been particularly effective. He scored a goal in each
of his first seven WCHA games, and is tied for first among
league freshmen in goals and is third among conference rookies
in points. Center Marty Sertich, meanwhile, has found a
home on Colorado College's top line between senior Noah
Clarke and junior Peter Sejna.
freshmen, they're all adjusting really fast," Sejna
said. "We're playing really good defensively and we've
got players that can score."
say it, but Sejna clearly fits into the latter category.
With 23 points in 12 games this season, he's tied for the
NCAA lead in scoring and is establishing himself as a Hobey
Baker Award candidate. And as an undrafted free agent, he's
in position to make a boatload of money when he decides
to move on to the professional ranks.
scary part about Colorado College? They think they can improve.
still think there are glaring problems we need to address,"
Preissing said. "We've been getting fortunate and playing
well, so that's kind of covered up some of the mistakes.
I don't think we're quite at the place we thought we would
be at the beginning of the year –
I thought maybe we'd be back a little bit –
but we're still learning a lot and we have a lot better
hockey to play."
of teams that have been flying under the radar, Ohio State
has barely generated a ripple of interest in Columbus, what
with the football team's success this season. But the Buckeyes,
coming off two wins over visiting Michigan State last weekend,
have quietly put together a five-game win streak. OSU moved
to 8-2-1 overall and 5-0-1 in the CCHA with their first
sweep of the Spartans in 30 years.
a big-time player. When he wants to play, he's the
best player in the league" –
Colorado College coach Scott Owens, describing
Minnesota freshman forward Thomas Vanek.
I don't disappoint the boys. It's supposed to be karaoke
Former Michigan State goaltender Ryan Miller,
who had to forgo bonding with his Rochester Amerks'
teammates after he was called up by the Buffalo Sabres.
totally cannot understand it when you have all the time
in the world and you pass the puck right on the opponent's
stick for a goal." –San
Jose coach Darryl Sutter on ex-Michigan defenseman Jeff
Jillson, whose turnovers led to goals for perennial
Art Ross Trophy candidates Matthew Barnaby and Sandy
McCarthy in a 5-4 loss to the New York Rangers.
Buckeyes have amassed a formidable array of talent over
the past few years – they boast five NHL
draft picks, including 2001 first-rounders R.J. Umberger
(Vancouver) and Dave Steckel (Los Angeles) –
but OSU finally has the maturity to match the skill level.
guys are older and more patient," coach John Markell
said. "They understand what makes them successful.
We have good players who can make things happen."
think the past two years have been a roller coaster,"
said junior forward Paul Caponigri, who ranks third on the
team with 12 points and was named CCHA Offensive Player
of the Week for his efforts against MSU. "But we are
playing consistently this season throughout all our games."
Buckeyes are a junior-dominated team. Five of OSU's top
seven scorers – forwards Scott May, Caponigri,
Umberger and defensemen Daymen Bencharski and Doug Andress
– are juniors, as is Mike Betz, the team's
top goaltender. In the sweep of Michigan State, juniors
scored eight of the team's nine goals, while Betz notched
both wins between the pipes.
have a lot of talent up front and a solid defense,"
Andress said. "We are more confident to do what we
want with the puck. We just have to play hard and get the
the influence of the junior class, a pair of highly touted
freshman forwards have contributed to Ohio State's success.
Ironically, both are Michigan natives. Dan Knapp (Rochester)
has 13 points and a team-high six goals, while Ryan Kesler
(Livonia) has 12 points.
scoring goals by committee," said Markell, now in his
eighth season as Ohio State head coach, "and our freshmen
are doing a good job of adding offense."
Buckeyes will get the chance to test their mettle over the
next month against conference foes Ferris State, Miami and
Nebraska-Omaha. A trip to Florida for the Everblades College
Classic awaits the Buckeyes after the Christmas break, where
they'll play much-improved Massachusetts and either Cornell
learned what it takes to win on a consistent basis,'' Markell
said. "We expect to win each night.''
a question that's only been asked about 7,634 times –
what's wrong with Michigan State? The Spartans head into
Friday's game at Bowling Green with a 5-5 record and are
off to their worst start since the 1990-91 season, which
is also the last time State finished with a losing record.
has such high expectations based on previous success,"
coach Rick Comley said.
musician Michelle Branch offers the answer to MSU's woes
in her recent collaboration with Carlos Santana when she
sings, "A little bit of this, a little bit of that."
Spartans, who've been offensively challenged over the
past couple of seasons, are averaging 2.70 goals per game
this year. Last season, MSU averaged 3.15 goals per game.
State's scoring defense, tops in the nation last year,
has nearly doubled from 1.78 to 3.40 goals per game this
season. The loss of uber-goaltender Ryan Miller to the
NHL and a change in style of play have obviously contributed
to the increase.
teams have been a sore spot. MSU's power play, traditionally
among the nation's best, ranks seventh in the CCHA with
a 18.5% (10-for-54) success rate. The team's penalty-killing
unit, which was led the country last year, is eighth in
the CCHA at 78.6 % (33-for-42).
The Spartans are young, with 18 sophomores and freshmen
on the roster, compared to just eight juniors and seniors.
is leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to jump start
the stagnant offense. He's moved senior defenseman Brad
Fast, the team's leading scorer with nine points in 10 games,
to forward in practice this week.
really struggled to find a second offensive centerman and
you have to have two lines that can score," explains
Comley, who has experimented with sophomores Lee Falardeau
and Brock Radunske and freshman Nenad Gajic at that spot
without success. “Brad is a very skilled kid, he likes
to be up ice instead of back and I think we needed a little
bit of a new look this week.”
the team captain and one of the better defensemen in the
CCHA during the last two seasons, has embraced the change,
even though it leaves the Spartans with just six defensemen
on the roster.
now we're looking for a little more jump on the foward line,"
says Fast, who will most likely remain at the point on the
MSU power play.
to tinkering with the roster, Comley has also taken a minimalist
approach to preparations for the upcoming game at Bowling
gone back to square one in practice and reiterated a few
points," senior defenseman John-Michael Liles said.
"It's going to take a few weeks, maybe months before
we're playing how (Comley) wants us to play."
hockey fans, a notoriously fickle bunch who view the team
through green-colored glasses, will no doubt be distressed
by Liles' remarks. Comley continues to preach patience,
always frustrated with losing," Comley said. "But
I’m not frustrated with the path we’re taking.
At times, you can really see how far away we are. It doesn't
mean before it's all said and done, we're not going to contend
or we're not going to challenge."
believes the team's fortunes can be reversed with better
not playing like a talented team," Fast said. "We're
playing very soft. If you play soft and don't put any effort
into it, you're going to look terrible out there."
FROM TODAY'S HEADLINES
Brooks: Apparently, the college hockey world revovles
around Zach Parise these days.
latest case of Parise-mania involves a quote attributed
to former University of Minnesota player and coach Herb
Brooks which appeared in last Friday's Grand Forks Herald.
Brooks allegedly told Fighting Sioux beat writer Virg Foss
he advised Parise to attend North Dakota.
Great Weekend Getaways
Ohio State at Ferris State – Before
we get on with the analysis, just stop and think about
this. The top series this weekend is Ohio State at
Ferris State. What the hell is going on here?
this has all the makings of a great two-game set.
The Bulldogs are in first place in the CCHA despite
losing their first conference game to Western Michigan
last Saturday. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are riding
a five-game unbeaten streak. Both teams are fairly
equal in terms of offense, defense, power play and
penalty kill. FSU has the advantage of playing in
the dungeon known as Ewigleben Ice Arena, but OSU
is 3-0-1 against league foes on the road. Heck, it's
a CCHA series, so odds are goaltending and special
teams will be the determine the outcome.
you're there: Casey McNab's, which was traditionally
the most popular watering hole for the hockey crowd
in Big Rapids, was closed the last time I ventured
to Ferris. Not closed as in "come back during
business hours". Closed as in "no longer
doing business". So I'm afraid I'm not much help
here. There are lots of trees. And there will most
likely be some snow on the ground. The Ewigleben press
box is very spacious. Yeah, I'll quit now.
Minnesota-Duluth vs. St. Cloud State (home
and home) – Both of these teams have
canine nicknames. Both have records hovering around
the .500 mark. One team sees that as a good thing.
The other doesn't. I'll let you figure out which one
Bemidji State at Clarkson – The Beavers
travel to an isolated burg in the northern reaches
of New York State for a two-game series with the Golden
Knights. So now BSU will know what every visitor to
John Glas Fieldhouse feels like.
told him since he was the best player, he needed to go to
the school with the best tradition and facilities and coaching
staff," Brooks was quoted as saying. "And that
was North Dakota."
Brooks said the quote was inaccurate. And while Foss stands
behind his story, the consensus seems to be that Brooks'
words were taken out of context.
think it's a lot of hoo-yah about nothing," St. Cloud
State coach Craig Dahl told Bruce Brothers of the St. Paul
Pioneer Press. "I knew exactly what he meant. What
he must have said was, 'If that's where he wants to go,
then it's a great school with a great tradition and a great
coaching staff.' I think the part that got left out is,
'If that's where he wants to go.'"
NHLer J.P. Parise, Zach's dad, said Brooks never talked
to his son. Instead, the elder Parise sought out Brooks
for his advice on different schools.
gave us five or six different scenarios about different
schools," J.P. Parise told Brothers. "It all related
to different programs."
Da Man-tua: Saturday was quite a night for Western
Michigan goaltender Mike Mantua. He led the host Broncos
to a 4-1 win against Ferris State – the Bulldogs'
first loss in CCHA play this season – by
making 28 saves, including a stop on Mike Kinnie's penalty
shot in the second period.
the capper came late in the game, when the sophomore from
Northville, Mich., became the second goalie in collegiate
history to score a goal by shooting the puck into the net.
Ferris State, playing with an extra attacker, dumped the
puck into the offensive zone. Mantua gloved the puck, dropped
it onto his stick and lifted it toward the empty net. The
shot dropped just past the Bulldog blue line and slid into
the middle of the net.
promised my teammates this year I would score a goal,"
Mantua said. "I just wanted to make sure I got the
puck down flat and I wasn't going to miss this time."
who has a 2-3-0 record this year, scored a goal as a member
of the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey
League and narrowly missed lighting the lamp against Michigan
the only other goaltender to score on his own shot is Michigan
State's Chad Alban, a Kalamazoo native who accomplished
the feat in 1998 against Ferris State. Alban now plays for
the United Hockey League's Kalamazoo Wings.
the flag, part two: As promised, our look at the
performance of teams in non-conference play continues this
week with an assessment of College Hockey America.
Findlay (2-4-0): Oilers swept Canisius,
and was on the short end of one-goal decisions against Bowling
Green, Colgate and Miami (an OT loss, no less).
Niagara (3-7-0): Non-conference foes beat
Michigan State at home about as often as the Vatican elects
a new Pope, but the Purple Eagles almost did it twice. Niagara
also gave a valiant effort at North Dakota. A two-game set
against Ferris State looms in January.
Air Force (3-3-0): Split at Holy Cross looks impressive
given the Crusaders' start, but 12-1 loss to Miami in season
opener balances it out.
Bemidji State (0-2-4): Beavers could have
easily been 5-1 against non-league foes. BSU's next four
games – two at Clarkson and a home-and-home
series with Minnesota-Duluth.
Wayne State (3-3-0): Swept St. Lawrence
and split with Ferris State, but needed a win against either
Vermont or Dartmouth to move into above average range. Still
on the schedule are trips to Michigan Tech and Alaska-Fairbanks.
Alabama-Huntsville (0-6-0): No one expected the
Chargers to get a win against Wisconsin, Denver or Minnesota,
but the team was outscored 37-9 in those six games.
sits: WCHA commissioner Bruce MacLeod handed Denver
forward Max Bull a two-game suspension for on-ice incidents
in the Pioneers' last two league series against Minnesota-Duluth
and Michigan Tech. Bull, a junior from Faribault, Minn.,
has the right to appeal the ruling to conference's Executive
Committee. If he chooses to forgo the appeal, he'll miss
Denver's games against Alaska Anchorage this weekend.
hurtin': Nebraska-Omaha sophomore defenseman Chris
Claffey will miss the rest of the season after severing
his Achilles tendon in practice Monday. The Edmonton, Alberta,
native, who had one assists in eight games this year, was
struck in the back of the leg by a teammate's skate during
State goaltender Matt Migliaccio is expected to be back
in the lineup for Friday's game at Bowling Green. The sophomore
from Wyandotte, Mich., twisted his knee in Friday's loss
at Ohio State. Freshman Justin Tobe started for the Spartans
Saturday. Migliaccio did not practice Monday, but returned
to the ice Tuesday.
goaltender Wade Dubielewicz left Friday's 3-3 tie at Michigan
Tech in the third period after suffering a leg injury. He
should be ready for the Pioneers' series at Alaska Anchorage
enemy: Former North Dakota forward Jim Archibald
is among those being inducted into the school's Athletic
Hall of Fame this weekend. Archibald, who skated for the
Sioux from 1981-85, amassed 144 points in 159 games. But
he's probably best known as the WCHA's leader in penalty
minutes in a season (194 in 1984-85) and career (540).
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT...
Your life probably won't change by reading these items,
but it might
Sports Net North analyst Doug Woog made an interesting
comment regarding the early signing period during
Friday's telecast of the Minnesota-Colorado College game.
Woog dislikes the November signing date, saying coaches
should get a longer period to evaluate prospects. Based
on some of the players he inked to letters of intent –
Ryan Trebil, Clint Johnson, Bobby Dustin, Charlie Wasley,
Erik Day – he may have a point. Go ahead,
send me your
emails, Gopher fans. I know they're coming.
the opportunity to check out Ridder Arena, the brand-new
home of the Minnesota women's hockey team, last
weekend. Quite an impressive facility. If it belonged to
a CCHA school, it would be the league's third-best rink
behind Ohio State and Northern Michigan. Seriously.
couple weeks ago, we requested all the verses for
the Michigan Tech band's version of "In Heaven There
Is No Beer". Mission accomplished. A couple
people sent us the lyrics via email. Others provided us
to the band's web site. If you've heard about the Tech
band before but never experienced them, this site will give
you a pretty good indication as to why they've achieved
such legendary status.
the USHL, junior hockey guru Paul Shaheen tells INCH that
the first period of last week's game between Waterloo and
Chicago featured a combined zero shots on goal.
Waterloo ended up winning the contest by a 4-1 score.
examining Ohio State this week, we've determined the
Buckeyes feature one of the nation's most diverse rosters.
The 25 players on the roster represent four Canadian provinces
(Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan) and
12 U.S. states (Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois,
Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania,
Washington and Wisconsin). Kind of funny that there's no
one from Ohio on the team.
forget to check out the CCHA's
official web site for the latest installment
in the series of articles authored by student-athletes.
This week, Notre Dame's Rob Globke addresses his experiences
at the 2002 NHL Entry Draft in Toronto.
State, for losing that tying feeling and earning a pair
of hard-fought CHA victories at Wayne State last weekend.
Behind the stellar goaltending of Grady Hunt, who stopped
63 of the 64 shots he faced, the Beavers won 2-0 Friday
and took a 2-1 overtime decision Saturday. Of course, we
are talking about Bemidji State here, so at least one of
the games had to into OT.
Minnesota Vikings. Even though our college hockey allegiances
are divided among the Gophers, Huskies, Bulldogs, Mavericks,
Beavers and Sioux – there are probably even
a few renegade Badger boosters out there –
nothing unites us like a win over the hated Packers. Savor
it, Vikings fans, because it's probably the last week we'll
enjoy for the rest of the season.
Findlay goalie Jamie VandeSpyker, who allowed four first-period
goals on four shots in a 9-4 loss to Miami Friday. To his
credit, VandeSpyker stopped 37 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss
to the RedHawks in Oxford the following night.
University of Minnesota, which calls one faction of its
booster group the Gold Club. I know gold is one of the school's
official colors and the name has been around for years.
Still, seeing the Gold Club promotion on the scoreboard
last weekend had me wondering if Mariucci Arena has a Champagne
Room, and whether Patrick Ewing was there with a thick stack
THIS WEEK'S NHL TRANSACTIONS
Bruins: Recalled forwards Lee Goren (North Dakota)
and Andy Hilbert (Michigan) from Providence of the American
Hockey League; assigned forward Matt Herr (Michigan) to
Sabres: Recalled goaltender Ryan Miller (Michigan
State) from Rochester of the American Hockey League.
Flames: Recalled defenseman Rick Mrozik (Minnesota-Duluth)
from Saint John of the American Hockey League; assigned
Mrozik to Saint John.
Hurricanes: Recalled defenseman Steve Halko (Michigan)
from Lowell of the American Hockey League; assigned Halko
Red Wings: Acquired defenseman Jason Woolley (Michigan
State) from the Buffalo Sabres for future considerations.
Predators: Assigned defenseman Bubba Berenzweig
to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.
Bay Lightning: Activated forward Brian Holzinger
(Bowling Green) from injured reserve.
MINOR PRO TRANSACTION OF THE WEEK
Penguins (AHL): Recalled goaltender Mike Valley
(Wisconsin) from Wheeling of the East Coast Hockey League.