Game Pipe Dreams
Northern Michigan, Michigan defenders
hit posts, wonder "what if?"
Kolarik, M. Mitera
Potter, D. Booth
Graham, C. Lawrence
Mueller, C. Fretter
Noah Ruden, 59:42, 20 saves, 4 GA
Jeff Lerg, 60:00, 25 saves, 1 GA
UM 8/16; MS 6/12
Plays: UM 0-3; MS 2-5
DETROIT – Nathan Oystrick and Matt Hunwick
are among the best handful of
defensemen in the CCHA. On Friday, both of them skated down
unchecked. They took perfect centering passes. They shot.
They hit the post. Their teams lost.
The similarities of the two plays were striking.
So were the results. Thus, Oystrick’s Northern Michigan
Wildcats will play Hunwick’s Michigan Wolverines in
Saturday’s consolation game at CCHA championship weekend
at Joe Louis Arena.
Miami overcame a 2-0 deficit - it would have
been 3-0 had Oystrick hit twine instead of pipe on his second-period
attempt - to beat Northern, 5-2, in Friday’s first
semifinal. Michigan State will play the RedHawks in the
final after thwarting rival Michigan, 4-1, in the late game.
Hunwick’s shot, which came about halfway
through the third period, would have tied the score at 2-2.
“We didn’t capitalize on our chances,”
Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “It was just one
of those things. Disappointing.”
Oystrick came straight down the seam from
practically center ice, screaming for the puck from Andrew
Contois. He said he saw room high on Miami goalie Charlie
Effinger’s glove side. He simply missed.
“About an inch inside, it would have
gone in,” said Oystrick, the Wildcats’ senior
captain. “Just got unlucky.”
The two pipes weren’t the only deciding
factors of the games. Michigan State’s defensemen
did a masterful job keeping the swift Wolverine forwards
at bay, for the most part. MSU coach Rick Comley cited the
Spartans’ right to last change as being a major advantage
because he could dictate matchups. And even when the MSU
defense failed, 5-foot-6 goalie Jeff Lerg stood tall, making
The Spartans also got two goals from freshman
Tim Crowder as MSU overcame
a 1-0 deficit created by Andrew Ebbett’s first-period
goal for Michigan.
THEY’LL TAKE IT
5, Northern Michigan 2
Bateman, N. Oystrick
Greene, M. Ganzak
Greene, M. Davis
Bill Zaniboni, 57:53, 13 saves, 4 GA (1 ENG)
Charlie Effinger, 59:39, 19 saves, 2 GA
NM 2/4; MIA 4/8
Plays: NM 0-4; MIA 0-2
Miami got away with at least one, maybe two,
high sticks on goals Friday. The first was questionable.
On a delayed penalty, super Miami defenseman Andy Greene
took a shot from the point that hit “about six”
(his estimation) players on the way to the net. It appeared
to us that its last deflection before fluttering over NMU
goalie Bill Zaniboni was off of freshman forward Brian Kaufman’s
high stick. But Greene was credited with the goal until
about a half-hour after the game, when it was switched to
Kaufman, which seems pretty damning.
NMU coach Walt Kyle said he thought the puck
was hit with a high stick, too, but he refused to comment
“You can’t criticize the officiating,”
he said. “You get fined.”
Kaufman was not available for postgame interviews.
The second instance came on Miami’s
third goal, the game winner. As forward Nathan Davis cut
across the slot en route to the goal, the puck took a high
hop and he clearly brought it back down to the ice with
a high stick, then snapped a shot past Zaniboni. Nobody
seemed to notice in real time, but it was evident on replay.
Davis said he didn’t realize it, either,
until somebody mentioned it in the locker room.
“I don’t know, it happened pretty
quickly,” Davis said. “I just heard about it
about five minutes ago. It didn’t feel like it was
high. It felt like it was right around waist level.”
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
• Four teams, four pep bands, plus the
Northern Michigan cheerleaders. That’s batting 1.000
in our book.
• Things can change in an instant, but
indications at the Joe were that Western Michigan coach
Jim Culhane will keep his job for next year.
• Sweater spotters didn’t have
much to work with. Aside from the four participating teams,
the only college jerseys we saw were Nebraska-Omaha and,
ahem, New Hampshire. If we missed you, sorry. Make yourself
• Dave Ellis of the Spartan Sports Zone
television program wanted a Stick Salute from INCH for collecting
on a bounty on an Ann Arbor News writer with a
crushing check during Thursday’s media hockey game
at the Joe. He gets into our Seen and Heard instead.
• Miami’s fan section was largely
drowned out by the raucous Puckheads of Northern Michigan,
but there was a decent amount of red in the stands. Or were
those just the empty seats?
• Northern Michigan defenseman Geoff
Waugh made the crucial turnover that
allowed Nino Musitelli to give Miami a 4-2 lead at 7:03
of the third period. In a corner of the defensive zone,
Waugh tried to control a behind-the-net pass from Oystrick,
but the puck squirted off his stick right to Musitelli in
front of the net.
“I take full responsibility for it,”
Waugh said. “I should have had it. Just getting used
to the boards. We play on an Olympic sheet back home, and
I don’t know if you saw, but a few of us ran into
the boards thinking we had more room than we actually had.
The angle of my stick just sent it into the slot, unfortunately.”
INCH's Three Stars of the Night
Corey Potter, Michigan State
was a tremendous on-the-puck defender against Michigan,
and he set up MSU’s first goal of the night
with a shot into Jack Johnson’s skates in front
of the net
Nathan Davis, Miami
Davis netted the game winner in the second
period with a shot that sneaked between NMU goalie
Bill Zaniboni’s body and left elbow. He also
hit a post in the first period and was Miami’s
most threatening forward.
Jeff Lerg, Michigan State
Lerg didn’t have to stand on his head,
but he was effective when he needed to be. He kept
rebounds out of dangerous areas and never looked unsteady
against the uneasy Wolverines.
PLUSSES AND MINUSES
Joe Louis Arena always has a few TVs in the concourse tuned
to the NCAA basketball tournament during this CCHA weekend,
which was nice for the Michigan State fans who wanted to
be at the rink and still follow the hardwood action Friday
night. Of course, that George Mason guy ruined their fun,
but it was the thought that counted.
After his news conference, Rick Comley joined the unwashed
masses of the media to watch the end of the Minnesota vs.
St. Cloud State barnburner on a press-room TV. When Ryan
Potulny knotted it at 7-7 in the waning seconds, Comley
stomped his foot in good-natured disgust and bolted out
of the room with a smile.
Attendance wasn’t very good, even for the U-M vs.
MSU nightcap, which is the best draw the CCHA has. The announced
figure was 10,487.
Steve Piotrowski is a good referee, but it’s a shame
those two Miami goals were so questionable. And then the
NMU shot at the end got waved off. The Wildcats did not
(repeat, NOT) get jobbed by the officials, but
Miami certainly got more breaks.
MSU and Miami meet in Saturday’s title
game, with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA
tournament likely on the line. Both would like to be the
No. 3 overall seed and head to Albany instead of Worcester,
where the Boston schoolslikely await. The Spartans swept
Miami in their only meetings this year, but those were in
East Lansing and just a few days after the RedHawks clinched
the regular-season title. Saturday’s circumstances
are far different.
Michigan heads into the consolation game with
an NCAA bid seemingly secured, but the Wolverines will feel
a whole lot better about themselves and their situation
with a win. “If we don’t (have a good game Saturday),
I don’t know if we deserve it,” Berenson said.
Northern appears to have no shot at the national
tournament, so their primary motivation will be to send
the seniors out as winners.