January 31, 2004
This Team Stinks

By Mike Eidelbes

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Remember that “Seinfeld” episode when Jerry dropped his car off with a valet, only to have said valet befoul the vehicle with a obnoxiously pungent odor that clung everything that came into contact with it, including Elaine’s hair? And try as they did to subdue the smell – taking the car to a detailer, washing their hair with tomato sauce – it still lingered.

That’s kind of what the Miami RedHawks are like. And that’s a compliment.

Miami senior forward Derek Edwardson

Similar to that stench in Seinfeld’s luxury import, the RedHawks aren’t going away. That’s despite the sentiments of just about everyone who monitors the CCHA, who are counting the days until a more heralded team Lysols Miami from the top of the league standings.

“These guys,” said RedHawks coach Enrico Blasi following his team’s 2-1 win at Michigan State Friday, “have done it all year.”

Through the first 40 minutes of the series opener, it didn’t look like the RedHawks were going to get it done. Seven minutes into the first period, the host Spartans took the lead when Adam Nightingale bulled his way up the right wing, cut to the net and pancaked Miami goalie Brandon Crawford-West, completely blowing the freshman netminder out of the crease. The puck trickled in as both players lay sprawled on the ice and, incredibly, referee Kevin Hall called no penalty on the play. Miami trails 1-0.

Seven minutes into the second period, back-to-back penalties on the Spartans’ Brock Radunske and David Booth give Miami a two-man advantage. The RedHawks, owners of the CCHA’s best power play, fail to score. A sell-out crowd of 6,623 roars its approval. Big Mo is waving green and white pom-pons.

Still, an odor still lingered in the air at Munn Ice Arena.

“There was no panic in the locker room,” Blasi said. “There was no panic on the bench.”

Why would they? Less than a minute into the third period, freshman Marty Guerin – a Lansing native playing in front of 30 family members and friends – scored a fortuitous goal to tie the game, then suffered the indignity of having the Spartans’ public address announcer pronounce his last name “GREW-in.”

Fifteen minutes later, Guerin gathers in a faceoff won by senior linemate Derek Edwardson and threads a pass – “You’ve got to appreciate it from ice level with all the sticks going by,” Blasi said – that finds the tape of the linemate and fellow freshman Matt Christie. Christie rocketed into the MSU zone, sped past Spartan defenseman A.J. Thelen, shifted the puck to his backhand and slid it between goaltender Dominic Vicari’s legs for the game-winning goal.

“Every single point is huge,” Guerin said. “Regardless of whether it was Michigan State or Lake Superior State…it’s another game, another win.”

The RedHawks’ modus operandi works because they came back today to earn a 2-1 victory and maintain their perch atop the CCHA standings.

“Nobody gives us a chance to win,” Christie said. “We pick up the paper and see we’re not supposed to win. Everybody in this room knows how to win. There’s no question we’re going to succeed this season.”

Smells like a winner to me.

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