weekend's North Dakota-Colorado College series in Colorado
Springs is the sportswriter's equivalent of an empty-net
goal. There's no shortage of storylines here.
Fighting Sioux and Tigers are battling for the upper hand
in the WCHA regular season championship race. Should one
of the two earn three or four points this weekend, they'll
likely ascend to the top of the national rankings. Both
continue to jockey for No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
And on an individual level, the series boast the two leading
candidates for the Hobey Baker Award in Colorado College
junior forward Peter Sejna and North Dakota freshman forward
as much like a playoff atmosphere a series can get in the
regular season," Colorado Coach Scott Owens said. "It’s
definitely as big as a regular season series can get."
also about as even as a regular season series can get. Both
teams have scored 124 goals in 26 games. Colorado College
has allowed 57 goals on the season, while North Dakota has
given up 71 markers. No surprise, then, that special teams
play a huge role in this weekend's outcome. Both teams boast
top-notch power plays – the Tigers are first nationally,
while the Sioux are fifth in that category. CC is fifth
in the NCAA in the penalty killing; North Dakota, meanwhile,
a bit of a cliché, but it really comes down to special
teams and goaltending at this time of year," North
Dakota coach Dean Blais said. "It’s the little
things right now – faceoffs, taking advantage of odd-man
situations, power play, penalty kill."
teams will have a little bit of a different look this time
around. Because of the IIHF World Junior Championships,
the Tigers were minus the services of forward Brett Sterling
and rearguard Mark Stuart when the teams first met earlier
this month, while the Sioux played without defenseman Matt
Greene and Matt Jones and Parise.
has found a way to get his points no matter who’s
been covering him," said Blais who believes the host
team might have a slight edge because of the World Arena's
Olympic-sized ice surface "He’s been shadowed
by teams, but he’s always managed to make a big play
here or there and get his share of points."
offers an interesting fact about the significance of this
series. North Dakota and Colorado College have combined
to win seven of the last nine WCHA regular season championships
– the Sioux captured the McNaughton Cup in 1997-99
and 2001, while the Tigers took top honors from 1994-96.
In those previous seasons, however, the teams were never
really battling each other for first place in the standings.
That changes this year.
the final time we will meet in the regular season,"
Owens said. "There’s a little bit of significance
there in that you want to do well against them at this point,
because you’re not going to get a shot at them again.”
BRINGING BACK BGSU
battled to get both ties this weekend, so I'm not
disappointed at all. This has been our thing all year.
These kids don't give up." – Minnesota
State University, Mankato coach Troy Jutting, following
last weekend's draws vs. Minnesota at Mariucci Arena.
hold that club down to one goal for two nights –
and really to zero goals until 51 seconds left in
the weekend – that's very gratifying. It speaks
volumes about the way our guys approached the game
and the way our guys were committed to playing sound
defense." – Nebraska-Omaha coach Mike
Kemp, on his team's sweep of visiting Ohio State last
fight the demons in my head wondering why I can't score
anymore...I feel like a dog named "Stay."
– Minnesota-Duluth alum and current Detroit
Red Wing Brett Hull, in a first-person article in last
week's Hockey News.
Green coach Scott Paluch is the definition of perpetual
motion behind the bench, always moving, talking, clapping
and encouraging his troops. Fitting for a man who's been
charged with jump starting a tradition-rich program that
had stagnated in recent years.
challenges he faces range in scope. For example, trailing
by one goal in the third period of a game against Wayne
State last week, Falcon freshman defenseman Don Morrison
tried to clear a puck away from the slot in the BGSU end.
Instead, he inadvertantly fired it into the net, putting
the Warriors up 3-1.
the frustration was visible in the body language of his
players, Paluch remained vibrant, clapping his hands, keeping
his troops energized and offering words of encouragement
to a disconsolate Morrison. The Falcons would rally, earning
a 4-3 win on the strength of a Mike Falk goal with 12 seconds
left in regulation.
"What I liked a lot about that play was not only Donny
coming back strong, but the rest of the team just kept going
after that," Paluch said. "Those kind of things
happen in hockey."
overall and 3-12-2 in the CCHA, Bowling Green harbors slim
aspirations of postseason success. A closer look, however,
reveals the Falcons are moving in the right direction. Their
record includes a win against Michigan State, a sweep of
Northern Michigan and a tie with Michigan. One-third of
their losses have been by one goal. And they're a respectable
3-3-1 in the month of January.
seeds of transformation are also apparent in Bowling Green's
style of play. A group that was listless and uninspired
for most of last season, the Falcons now play with greater
resolve and discipline, a direct reflection of Paluch's
less time you spend in the penalty box, the better you are,"
said senior goalie Tyler Masters. "Coach Paluch is
holding guys accountable for stupid penalties and stuff
like that. He's a very energetic guy. He expects a lot out
of us energy-wise and expects us to remain upbeat."
are looking up at Bowling Green, but Paluch, a BGSU alum
who helped Jerry York with a similar rebuilding effort at
Boston College, has a lot to do. The Falcons are in dire
need of more offensive punch (they're 10th in the CCHA in
scoring) and allow netminders Masters and sophomore Jordan
Sigalet to face too much rubber (both average more than
32 saves per game). Outside of X's and O's, the program
has to re-establish BGSU Ice Arena as one of the CCHA's
most inhospitable rinks, continue its facilities upgrades
and emphasize the teams and players from the past that made
the Falcons one of the nation's top powers.
got to stay the course and understand what makes programs
strong and what makes programs consistent," Paluch
said. "Our hard work and discipline are going to be
become a tradition at Minnesota-Duluth: bring in a young
goaltending prospect, get him in net right away and ride
him until he graduates. In the days before freshman eligibility,
backstops such as Chico Resch and Jerome Mrazek put in yeoman-like
efforts for the Bulldogs; Rick Heinz was a workhorse in
the mid-'70s; during the latter stages of the Mike Sertich
era, Taras Lendzyk and Brant Nicklin routinely made 30 or
more starts over the course of their four-year careers.
in his third season behind at UMD, coach Scott Sandelin
has found a netminder who looks to be in the same mold as
the aforementioned stalwarts. Freshman Isaac Reichmuth (pronounced
RYECH-mooth) is poised to etch his name into the school's
record books this season and is one of the major reasons
the Bulldogs have the opportunity to earn home ice for the
first round of the WCHA playoffs for the first time since
have the confidence and the attitude that we can earn home
ice," Reichmuth said. "We feel that we can play
with anyone and we’re definitely shooting for home
ice. It’s one of our main goals right now. We’d
actually be a little disappointed if we didn’t get
Book on Reichmuth
WCHA coach breaks down Isaac Reichmuth's game:
"He's a technically sound goalie with a
great butterfly. He's aggressive without being too
aggressive, keeps his chest up and squares himself
to the shooter. You can beat him if you make him move
laterally – he can throw his leg out to make
the first save, but scrambles a little if the defense
can't clear the rebound."
hasn't disappointed Bulldog fans so far this season. With
a 11-7-2 overall record in addition to a 2.12 goals against
average and a .912 save percentage, the Fruitvale, British
Columbia, native ranks second among WCHA goalies in GAA
and save percentage. Reichmuth, who ranks sixth nationally
in GAA and 13th in sv%, has been even better in conference
play, sporting a league-best 2.10 GAA and a .924 sv%. His
breakout game – Nov. 8 at Denver, when he turned aside
41 shots in a 3-2 win over the Pioneers.
solid numbers for a freshman in the high-scoring WCHA. But
Reichmuth came to Duluth prepared for the offensive stylings
of the "W"; he spent two years with the Trail
Smoke Eaters in the run-and-gun British Columbia Hockey
League. In his final season in Trail, he owned a respectable
90.1 sv% despite recording a 20-21-0 mark and a 3.63 GAA.
BCHL is a really offensive-minded league and not as much
defense is played in BC as compared to the WCHA, so it probably
prepared me more than I’d like," Reichmuth admits.
he still has a long way to go before he can be compared
with Bulldog greats from seasons past, Reichmuth does have
the advantage of leaning on one of UMD's former goaltending
stars for advice. Taras Lendzyk, who shares the school record
of 60 career wins with Rick Kosti, is the team's goaltending
comes around two or three times a week," Reichmuth
says. "He’s helped me keep my mind clear and
keep focused on hockey."
yes, let's not forget those single-season school records.
At his current pace, Reichmuth would set new UMD marks for
save percentage (the current record is 90.1%, shared by
Nicklin and Bill Halbrehder) and goals against average (Kosti,
FROM TODAY'S HEADLINES
Ineligible: Michigan defenseman Eric Werner was
declared academically ineligible for the winter semester
by the Big Ten Conference last week, bringing the sophomore's
season to a premature end.
who currently leads Wolverine rearguards in scoring with
13 points, was cited by the Big Ten because his overall
grade point average wasn't up to conference standards. The
Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., native attributed his struggles
in the classroom to personal problems.
good news for Michigan is that junior Andy Burnes, who has
been sidelined with a groin injury, should return to the
lineup for this weekend's Ferris State series, giving the
Wolverines five solid defensemen: Burnes, senior Mike Roemensky,
sophomores Nick Martens and Brandon Rodgers and freshman
Danny Richmond, a talented offensive player whose defensive
prowess has lagged. Coach Red Berenson is expected to fill
the sixth position with either Dave Wyzgowski, who has played
forward prior to this season, and redshirt freshman Reilly
Didn't Know: What two characteristics do these
six teams – Boston College, Denver, Massachusetts,
Miami, Northern Michigan and Providence – share? First,
all six are ranked among the nation's top 25 according to
Tuesday's Pairwise Rankings ranging from sixth (BC) to 24th.
Second, none of the half dozen have more wins over their
last 12 games than Michigan Tech. The list (in order of
cogs in Tech's improvement during the team's last dozen
outings? Sophomore goaltender Cam Ellsworth ranks fifth
in WCHA games in saves percentage (90.7%), ahead of well-known
names such as Travis Weber of Minnesota and Denver's duo
of Wade Dubielewicz and Adam Berkhoel. The Leamington, Ontario,
product has faced 583 shots in conference play, nearly 100
more than any other goalie in the league – Alaska
Anchorage's Kevin Reiter ranks second, having seen 495 shots
against WCHA foes. Freshman Chris Conner leads the Huskies
in scoring with 24 points in 24 games. He ranks third among
WCHA rookies in that category, trailing only Zach Parise
of North Dakota and Minnesota's Thomas Vanek.
Activities: The college ranks are well-represented
at this weekend's National Hockey League and American Hockey
League All-Star festivities. They include:
All-Star Weekend; Sunrise, Fla.
Conference All-Stars: Ed Belfour (North Dakota),
Toronto Maple Leafs; Dany Heatley (Wisconsin), Atlanta Thrashers.
Western Conference All-Stars: Marty Turco
(Michigan), Dallas Stars; Rob Blake (Bowling Green), Colorado
Avalanche; Doug Weight (Lake Superior State), St. Louis
Eastern Conference YoungStars: Ryan Miller
(Michigan State), Buffalo Sabres.
Western Conference YoungStars: Jordan Leopold
(Minnesota), Calgary Flames; Tyler Arnason (St. Cloud State),
Chicago Blackhawks; Adam Hall (Michigan State), Nashville
All-Star Weekend; Portland, Maine
All-Stars: Joe Corvo (Western Michigan), Manchester
Monarchs; Jeff Taffe (Minnesota), Springfield Falcons; John
Pohl (Minnesota), Worcester Icecats; Matt Herr (Michigan),
Providence Bruins; Andy Hilbert (Michigan), Providence Bruins;
Mike Peluso (Minnesota-Duluth), Norfolk Admirals; Mike Komisarek
(Michigan), Hamilton Bulldogs.
Canadian All-Stars: Travis Roche (North
Dakota), Houston Aeros; Duvie Wescott (St. Cloud State),
Syracuse Crunch; Curtis Murphy (North Dakota), Houston Aeros.
Great Weekend Getaways
North Dakota at Colorado College: Haven't
we said enough about this series? What's not at stake
here? The Louisiana Purchase? The AWA Intercontinental
Tag Team belt (vacated by Greg Gagne and Jimmy "Superfly"
Snuka)? By the way, for those of you who can't make
the trip to Colorado, WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks will
feature streaming video of the series on its web site,
you're there: My anonymous source in the Springs –
let's call her Mrs. Peacock – reports a number
of options for postgame entertainment. The top club
is Bourbon Street at Rum Bay, featuring seven different
venues under one roof. For a true taste of the area's
history, make a trip to the Broadmoor Hotel and the
Golden Bee. The Bee's selling points according to
Peacock: "piano music, killer cosmopolitans and
the best cheese spread you can possibly imagine."
2. Ferris State vs. Michigan (home-and-home):
The Wolverines have two games in hand over the Bulldogs
– and if George Costanza taught us nothing,
it's the importance of hand. These games mark the
start of a hellacious end-of-the-season run for Red
Miami at Michigan State: Another key
CCHA series, as the suddenly resurgent Spartans welcome
the RedHawks, fresh off a split with Ferris State
in Oxford, to Munn Ice Arena. By the way, the last
time Miami scored a regular-season goal in East Lansing
(January 8, 1999), Enron stock was trading at $32
Milestone for Dahl: It's not quite on the level
of his 300th career victory behind the St. Cloud State bench,
which he achieved earlier this month vs. Providence, but
Huskies' coach Craig Dahl did accomplish another first in
last weekend's series vs. Minnesota-Duluth. Dahl earned
his first-ever bench minor in SCSU's 3-2 victory at the
National Hockey Center Friday after stepping on the ice
to, ummm, have a word with referee Bill Mason.
Laceration: State senator Ralph Seekins received
more than 50 stitches after getting hit in the head with
a puck during the first period of Friday's Alaska-Fairbanks
game against Western Michigan. Seekins, a Fairbanks resident
who was elected to the Alaska state senate in November,
is the father-in-law of former Nanooks forward Ryan Reinheller.
Sen. Seekins was back at the Carlson Center for Saturday's
series finale between the two teams.
Must Read: The latest in the ongoing series of
vignettes on CCHA.com written by one of the league's players
is the best of the lot so far. Make a point in reading Ohio
State goaltender Mike Betz's account of a trip he made to
Tanzania last summer. It's a thoughtful, well-written,
Mankato and Minnesota: Last weekend's series
was played with a playoff-like intensity, and both games
were exciting, see-saw affairs featuring a full range of
emotions and drama. From a fan's perspective, it was an
Michigan: The Broncos have quietly slipped
into a sole possession of fourth place in the CCHA standings
thanks to a sweep of host Alaska Fairbanks last weekend.
WMU enjoys a weekend off before traveling to Ohio State
and engaging in a home-and-home series with Ferris State
to open the month of February.
Alaska Anchorage: The Seawolves
won their first game of the season - and have posted a 0-16-7
mark since, including a pair of losses at Michigan Tech
last weekend. UAA ranks 59th out of 60 NCAA Division I teams
in scoring offense (1.62 goals per game). Coach John Hill
tries to get his team off the schneid this weekend when
the Seawolves entertain Minnesota. Hill was an assistant
under Don Lucia at Colorado College and Minnesota.
power play: Can it be true that the Badgers
are that bad with the man advantage? Bucky failed to notch
a PPG against Colorado College last weekend, the 10th straight
game that has happened. Wisconsin, which hasn't scored a
power-play goal on the road this season, owns the nation's
worst power play at 7.8 percent (9 for 116).
THIS WEEK'S NHL TRANSACTIONS
Ducks of Anaheim: Assigned forward Rob Valicevic
(Lake Superior State) to Cincinnati of the American Hockey
Flames: Recalled defenseman Jordan Leopold (Minnesota)
from Saint John of the American Hockey League.
Carolina Hurricanes: Recalled defenseman
Steve Halko (Michigan) from Lowell of the American Hockey
Florida Panthers: Acquired center Matt
Cullen (St. Cloud State), defenseman Pavel Trnka and a 2003
fourth-round draft pick from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
for defensemen Sandis Ozolinsh and Lance Ward.
Angeles Kings: Recalled forward Mike Cammalleri
(Michigan) from Manchester of the American Hockey League.
York Rangers: Assigned defenseman Dave Karpa (Ferris
State) to Hartford of the American Hockey League.
Coyotes: Assigned forward Jeff Taffe (Minnesota)
to Springfield of the American Hockey League.
MINOR LEAGUE TRANSACTION OF THE WEEK
Ice Cats: Recalled forward Ernie Hartlieb (Miami)
from Arkansas of the East Coast Hockey League.