The human skull can be shattered by an impact at 7-10 kilometers per hour.
When stationary, however, it can apparently survive blows from faster-moving objects with such little consequence as a bump, loss of blood, and a couple of staples to the scalp.
It’s estimated that head injuries occur with the frequency of 610 per 100,000 people, most from automobile accidents.
Statistics on how many of those injuries are incurred when someone sustains a blow to his or her naked head from a hockey puck are not available.
It can take up to 24 hours for the severity of a head injury to become apparent, and one can cause loss of consciousness or immediate memory, severe headache, lethargy, confusion, seizures, vision problems.
And when the scalp is cut, it bleeds. A lot.
Interestingly, headaches resulting from a severe blow to the head are caused in large part by the same mechanism that causes headaches from caffeine withdrawal. The culprit behind both is adenosine, which is released from body cells after tissue damage occurs, causing pain and vascular dilation.
And here’s something to keep in mind (no pun intended): it’s normal for the area around a tetanus shot to become swollen, red, and itchy. These symptoms can last for up to five days.
In short: when you go to a hockey game, Gentle Reader, please keep your eye on the puck.
And now back to our regularly scheduled preview…
Last weekend saw the CCHA rearrange itself a bit, and now that everyone has played at least seven games, a much clearer hierarchy has been established.
Sitting alone at the top of the league with 13 points is No. 4 Notre Dame. The Irish beat Bowling Green 6-2 and tied No. 8 Michigan 2-2. This week, the Irish host Western Michigan Friday, head down to Yost for a Saturday rematch, then go up to Grand Rapids to play Ferris State Tuesday.
No. 5 Michigan State is in second place in the league with 12 points. The Spartans lost 3-2 to Ohio State before beating up on Miami 5-0. Michigan State heads to Michigan Friday and Western Michigan Saturday.
No. 8 Michigan has third place with 11 points, beating Alaska-Fairbanks 6-3 Friday before tying with Notre Dame Saturday. The Wolverines host the Spartans and the Irish this weekend.
With 10 points, No. 9 Northern Michigan is fourth in the league. The Wildcats beat Miami 4-3 before losing to Ohio State 4-2. This week, Northern Michigan hosts Ferris State for two games.
After tying Lake Superior 1-1 and losing to the Lakers 3-1, Ferris State drops to fifth place with nine points. The Bulldogs head to Marquette for two games against Northern this weekend before a Tuesday night game with Notre Dame in Grand Rapids.
Ohio State doubled its league point total with wins over Michigan State and Northern Michigan. The Buckeyes possess eight points and climb to sixth place. This weekend, they share a home-home series with Miami, with "home" being Columbus Friday.
With seven points, Bowling Green is in seventh place. The Falcons lost 6-2 to Notre Dame and 6-5 to Alaska-Fairbanks. Bowling Green is idle this week.
Western Michigan and Alaska-Fairbanks are tied for eighth with six points each. The Broncos are back in action this week after taking last weekend off, traveling to Notre Dame and hosting Michigan State.
The Nanooks return to Fairbanks with two points from their road trip, and will sit this weekend out.
Tied for tenth place with four points each are Lake Superior and Miami. The Lakers notched their first CCHA win of the season and took three points from Ferris State last weekend, and will spend this weekend idle.
Miami lost to Northern Michigan and Michigan State last weekend. The RedHawks have that home-home series with Ohio State this weekend.
Last week’s record in picks: 6-4 Overall record in picks: 36-20
No. 5 Michigan State (6-1-2, 5-1-2 CCHA) at No. 8 Michigan (6-2-1, 5-1-1 CCHA) Friday, 7 p.m., Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI No. 4 Notre Dame (8-1-2, 6-1-1 CCHA) at No. 8 Michigan (6-2-1, 5-1-1 CCHA) Saturday, 7 p.m., Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
The Wolverines returned to action after a weekend off by beating Alaska-Fairbanks 6-3.
"Alaska put up a pretty good fight," says Michigan head coach Red Berenson.
A good fight–perhaps a little like a fish on a line. With the win, the Wolverines swept the Nanooks for the season and continued their dominance in the all-time series. UAF has never beaten Michigan.
The six goals tied Michigan’s best this season, and that from a team which has scored two goals or fewer five out of nine games. "That was our best offensive production in a while," says the coach.
"We don’t know who our offense is," says Berenson. "We’ve got four sophomore forwards who are struggling."
Berenson adds that he expects this sophomore class to step up and take on leadership responsibilities. "It’s their role. They were a high-profile rookie class."
Stepping up against Fairbanks was sophomore Josh Langfeld, who tallied his first collegiate hat trick, including the game-winning goal.
Rookie Mike Comrie isn’t waiting for the sophomore class to wake up. Comrie leads the team in scoring (5-9–14) with three goals on the power play. He’s also tied with Dave Huntzicker for the team’s highest plus/minus ratio with plus-6.
Comrie has a four-game scoring streak on the line going into this weekend, and he’s scored in seven of Michigan’s last nine games.
While the Wolverines are having difficulty finding offense, Berenson says that the strength of this Michigan team is its defense. "[Bubba] Berenzweig and Huntzicker are playing really well."
Another plus for Michigan has been the play between the pipes of rookie Josh Blackburn.
"I’d say Josh has been pretty consistent," says Berenson. "For a freshman he’s playing pretty well. He’s had two games out of the eight that have been weak, but for the most part it’s been pretty good."
Blackburn is 6-1-1 with a 2.27 GAA and overall save percentage of .898. Of his 17 goals against this season, nine were allowed in just two games. Take away those two "weak" games and his GAA is 1.42.
In addition to a good defensive effort, the Wolverine special teams are beginning to click. Last weekend, Michigan’s power play went 6 for 14. In conference play, the Wolverines have allowed just four goals in 47 chances for a penalty kill of 91.5 percent.
The First Taste of the Best Rivalry in CCHA Play: Michigan State vs. Michigan
"It’s a shame that it’s sort of overshadowed by the Ohio State football game," says Berenson.
Football? Never heard of it.
This is the 225th meeting between these intrastate rivals. Michigan holds the lead in the all-time series 118-100-6, but the Spartans owned the Wolverines last season, taking four games (the regular-season series and the Great Lakes Invitational).
The four-game Spartan win streak is the longest since the Wolverines dropped six consecutive games from Dec. 9, 1988 to Dec. 10, 1989.
After experiencing their first loss of the season to Ohio State last weekend, the Spartans thumped Miami 5-0, earning sophomore goaltender Joe Blackburn–no, they’re not related–his first collegiate shutout.
Mike York finally has a goal in conference play. The momentous score came at 2:33 of the second period against Miami, and it was–appropriately enough–unassisted. York paces the Spartans with one goal and 11 assists in CCHA play, tying him for fifth in league scoring with Notre Dame’s Aniket Dhadphale.
York’s linemate Bryan Adams (6-3–9) and Shawn Horcoff (4-4–8) round out the top three scorers for the Spartans.
While the Michigan State offense isn’t exactly explosive, the defense is nearly impenetrable. The Spartans are outshooting their opponents more than two-to-one (34.7-17.2), and they’ve outscored opponents 27-12. Led by Chris Bogas and Mike Weaver, this is one of the most intimidating Ds in the league.
Joe Blackburn has been more than just solid for the Spartans this season–he’s been sterling. Blackburn has allowed no more than one goal against every team he’s faced except for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are the only team that’s been able to solve him, scoring four (in a tie) and three (in a win).
In nearly 500 minutes of play, Blackburn has the lowest league GAA–1.47–so far this season. His league save percentage is .913.
And when considering how the Wolverines and the Spartans may match up, consider this: The Spartans are shutting down opponents like no one else in the league, having allowed more than 20 shots in just three games.
Notre Dame vs. Michigan
The Wolverines and the Irish skated to a 2-2 tie last weekend, and Berenson was happy about the way his team played the game. "In terms of overall work ethic, sticking to the game plan, good goalkeeping, our penalty killing had to play well–it was a good game."
The Wolverines hold a 49-33-3 edge in this all-time series. In the last six games between the Irish and the Wolverines, Notre Dame won once in regulation, Michigan won twice in regulation, Michigan one twice in overtime, and there was one tie.
In those six games, Michigan has outscored Notre Dame by a 16-14 margin.
This is going to be a good one.
Notre Dame head coach Dave Poulin says that this last meeting was "a little bit of a chess match, with each team feeling the other out in the first period."
But, he adds, "It wasn’t trapping and boring hockey at all."
Rookie David Inman’s fifth goal of the year was the first for Notre Dame at 10:05 of the opening stanza, but Dave Huntzicker answered on the Wolverine power play one minute later.
Mark Kosick made it 2-1 for Michigan on the power play in the second, and Ben Simon scored his sixth goal of the season just 26 seconds into the third.
For the Wolverines, Blackburn made a career-high 34 saves, while Notre Dame’s Forrest Karr faced just 22 shots in the 65-minute match.
"We have been playing well defensively," says Poulin, whose Irish have outscored opponents 43-24 in overall play. Until the return of Nathan Borega last weekend, Notre Dame had been playing without at least one defender since the middle of last season.
There is no secret to the Irish success this season. The top Notre Dame line of Ben Simon (5-9–14), Brian Urick (6-7-13), and Aniket Dhadphale (6-6–12) is the most dominant in CCHA play. Simon is tied for second in scoring with Northern Michigan’s Buddy Smith. Urick is third in the league, and Dhadphale is fourth.
Another key to Notre Dame’s success is its forceful power play. Nearly half (19 goals) of Notre Dame’s overall scoring has come on the power play. The league-leading Irish have scored 13 power-play goals on 45 conference attempts, and are converting at a rate of nearly 30 percent–ten percent more than the CCHA’s number-two power play, which just happens to be Michigan.
A powerful defense, an explosive offense, and Forrest Karr. In nearly 500 minutes of league play, Karr’s GAA is 1.86, and his save percentage is .912.
The Spartans last won in Yost on Oct. 25 of last year, a 4-2 win over Michigan, but the last game played by Michigan State in Yost was a 4-3 overtime loss to Ohio State in the NCAA tournament.
During that game, Spartan fans had to endure the spectacle of Michigan fans actually rooting for Ohio State.
Berenson says that in recent years, these two teams have matched well against each other. "The teams should be better matched this year than they were last year. I think that makes a rivalry better. For some years, this team or the other was really better, but now we’re more evenly matched."
Berenson says that the Wolverines played their best game of the season in the 2-2 tie with Notre Dame, and that "it’ll be a good measuring stick to play them again so quickly."
The Spartans should extend their streak against the Wolverines to five games.
And, remember, where Notre Dame’s concerned, this girl reporter is a convert.
Michigan State over Michigan 4-1; Notre Dame over Michigan 3-2
Ferris State (5-3-2, 4-3-1 CCHA) at No. 9 Northern Michigan (9-3-0, 5-3-0 CCHA) Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m., Lakeview Arena, Marquette, MI
Friday the 13th wasn’t just freaky for top-ten teams. Consider what happened to Ferris State.
The Bulldogs tied the Lakers 1-1 Friday, and helped the Lakers earn their first win of the season Saturday–in Big Rapids.
"We’ve been playing really well, so we were ready for a glitch," says Ferris State assistant coach Drew Famulak. "But I give the Lakers high marks. They competed hard, and they were ready."
The Bulldogs allowed three first-period goals in the second game–the Laker win–and if it weren’t for Geoff Bennetts’ goal at 19:32 of the third in the tie, Ferris would have lost all four points on the weekend.
And to add insult to injury, it’s reported that Lake Superior called to measure Ferris goaltender Vince Owen’s glove before the start of the second game.
Owen has looked solid for Ferris State, with a .914 league save percentage and a 2.39 GAA.
A trio of players has seven points for the Bulldogs. Joel Irwin (3-4–7), Kevin Swider (3-4– 7), and Bennetts (6-1–7) are currently tied for 20th with a bunch of other folks in CCHA scoring. Rob Kozak (2-4–6) and Brian McCullough (3-2–5) are also among the lead scorers for Ferris State.
Famulak says that the Bulldogs are well aware that they’re going into one of the toughest arenas in college hockey, to play one of the hardest-working teams in the league.
"They’re tenacious, they’re physical, and they’re fast," says Famulak of Northern Michigan.
Like virtually every other top-ten team, the Wildcats lost points to an unranked opponent last weekend, in the form of a 4-2 loss to Ohio State.
Head coach Rick Comley wasn’t too surprised after the game in Columbus. "We played well for two periods and then they kind of shut us down.
"They battled very hard, and they’ve really been beat up until now. We were competitive Saturday. I think the difference was goaltending. Maund is very good, and the two teams matched up very well."
The loss to Ohio State notwithstanding, Northern Michigan has been playing some of the best hockey in the country. With 12 goals and three assists in conference play, J.P. Vigier is by far the league’s most prolific goal-scorer. His linemate, Buddy Smith, has two goals and 12 assists, and is second in league scoring.
The third man on that line, Roger Trudeau, has four goals and four assists.
The physical, fast Wildcats have a pair of fine goaltenders in net. Dan Ragusett has a league GAA of 2.00 and a .919 save percentage. Until the loss to Ohio State, the goalie with the hot glove hand was undefeated.
Duane Hoey has shared time with Ragusett in net. Hoey’s league GAA is 3.51, and his save percentage is .863.
The Wildcats have lead this series by a 29-9-1 margin, including a 19-4-0 advantage in games played at Lakeview Arena. However, the ‘Cats and ‘Dogs have split their contests in 1990s (5-5-0) with Ferris capturing the season series last year by a 2-1-0 margin.
Comley says that Ferris State is "probably the most mature team in the league." In fact, this is a meeting between the league’s two most mature teams, and the play should reflect that.
Northern Michigan 4-2, 4-3
Western Michigan (1-3-4, 1-3-4 CCHA) at No. 4 Notre Dame (8-1-2, 6-1-1 CCHA) Friday, 7 p.m., Joyce Center, South Bend, IN No. 5 Michigan State (6-1-2, 5-1-2 CCHA) at Western Michigan (1-3-4, 1-3-4 CCHA) Saturday, 7 p.m., Lawson Ice Arena, Kalamazoo, MI
Western Michigan head coach Bill Wilkinson says that there are just a few things the Broncos are doing differently to make them competitive this season.
"We’re not taking as many penalties as we did last year. And our defense is a little bit more mobile than last year, a little bit more experienced.
"Offensively, we’re physical and aggressive–but without the penalties."
The Broncos are being outscored 16-26 by opponents, but when they do have some success–as they have against the two ranked opponents they meet this weekend–it’s because of one simple plan.
"Circle the wagons around Matt Barnes," says Wilkinson. "That’s our team strategy.
"He’s playing solid, and he played well last year but maybe didn’t get the defensive support in front of him. In general, we’re clearing pucks better for him."
Senior Matt Barnes has always been a well-respected goaltender, and he’s capable of spectacular play. This season, his league GAA is 2.46, and his save percentage is .913.
On the other side of the puck, David Gove (3-3–6) and Jason Redenius (3-2–5) lead the Broncos in scoring.
Notre Dame vs. Western Michigan
The Broncos lead this all-time series 26-12-2 (15-6-1 since the Irish rejoined the CCHA in 1992-93), but Notre Dame owns a 4-3-1 edge in the last eight games.
This is the rubber match of the season series, as the teams are 1-1 this year. The Irish spanked the Broncos 7-1 on Oct. 10 in the Joyce Center, a game in which Brian Urick and David Inman scored two goals apiece.
But the Broncos made Notre Dame pay with the first Irish loss of the season on Oct. 24. Although Notre Dame outshot Western Michigan 32-22, the Broncos won 2-1 on goals by Chuck Mindel and Steve Rymsha.
The Irish are 1-12-0 in Lawson. Good thing this ones in the Joyce.
Michigan State vs. Western Michigan
The Spartans lead the competition 47-19-4, including a 20-13-0 lead in Lawson Arena. The Spartans and Broncos tied 1-1 on Oct. 16, a game in which Barnes made 36 saves.
Michigan State took the series 2-0-1 last season, and is 4-0-2 in the last six meetings between the two teams. In the past six games between the Spartans and the Broncos, Michigan State has held Western to just seven goals.
Trivia: this game pits the seventh-best conference power play (Michigan State) against the seventh-best conference penalty kill (Western Michigan).
Wilkinson is well aware that Notre Dame possesses the top line in the league, and one of the best players in Ben Simon. "They’re certainly very dangerous, and he’s a very capable with the puck.
"We played them pretty good here, when we circled the wagons around Barnes."
Wilkinson doesn’t put too much stock in tying Michigan State early. "When we played MSU, they only had one game under their belts."
Western Michigan’s fortunes this weekend depend on how well they can protect their own end. Both of these ranked teams like to shoot the puck, and often.
On a completely unrelated topic, this note is too good to pass up: Spartan rookie Joe Goodenow, who had MSU’s only goal against WMU in the Oct. 16, is an avid horseman and member of the MSU rodeo club. It’s safe to say he’s no stranger to Broncos.
Let the groaning begin.
Notre Dame over Western Michigan 4-2; Michigan State over Western Michigan 4-1
Miami (2-8-2, 1-7-2 CCHA) vs. Ohio State (3-6-2, 3-3-2 CCHA) Friday, 7 p.m., OSU Ice Rink, Columbus, OH Saturday, 7 p.m., Goggin Ice Arena, Oxford, OH
Slumping? Who’s slumping?
After a very slow start to the season, the Buckeyes did everything right in two games against ranked opponents last weekend, handing Michigan State a 3-2 loss–the first of the Spartan season–before beating Northern Michigan 4-2, the fourth consecutive Buckeye win over the Wildcats.
But don’t look for head coach John Markell or his players to gloat.
"We have to build on what we did right this weekend," says Markell. "As coaches, we’re discovering that how we practice is how we play. We have to continue on with the intensity."
Intensity is one thing the Buckeyes had in spades last weekend in two gritty games in the teeny, tiny OSU Ice Rink. Against Michigan State, the intensity led to committing retaliatory penalties that Markell called "troubling."
Against Northern Michigan, however, it led to a focus that allowed Ohio State to put together its first back-to-back wins of the season.
After a dismal start, Ohio State began to turn it around with a solid performance in a 3-1 loss to Michigan State two weeks ago, and 2-2 to Western–the last two games at the end of a nine-game road run.
With a healthy Eric Meloche–the team’s sparkplug–and a healthy Mike McCormick–the rookie forward who will be the team’s surprise–Ohio State was able to put everything together for two solid wins.
Hugo Boisvert (3-5–8) snapped out of his slump for one goal and three assists, earning him USCHO Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Jeff Maund looked like the goaltender who took OSU to the Final Four last year, stopping 59 of 63 shots and earning CCHA Defensive Player of the Week Honors. Maund’s .925 save percentage is the best in league play.
McCormick scored his first collegiate assist against Michigan State, and his first collegiate goal against Northern Michigan–the game-winner–and earned CCHA Rookie of the Week honors.
Shades of February 1998.
With the four points, the Buckeyes leaped from ninth to sixth place in the league, improving their league record to 3-3-2. And the win on Friday the 13th over Michigan State makes Ohio State 5-0 under Markell on Friday the 13th, in any month.
The two teams that OSU defeated last weekend were the two teams that beat Miami. While the Buckeyes delivered Michigan State’s first loss on Friday the 13th, the RedHawks lost 4-3 to Northern Michigan.
And while OSU beat NMU 4-2 Saturday, Michigan State was taking out a little frustration in Goggin, shutting out the ‘Hawks 5-0.
"We played well that first night," says Miami head coach Mark Mazzoleni. "But we’re fighting for confidence.
"The second night, well, they’re a very, very difficult team to penetrate. It was 2-0 with two minutes to go in the second period and they scored two goals and deflated us. We just hung on in the third period. You got that sense that we were just hanging on."
The RedHawks are a young, talented, and injured team. Junior forwards Gregor Krajnc and Dustin Whitecotton, two of the team’s scorers, were both injured when the ‘Hawks visited Alaska-Fairbanks.
Krajnc, fourth on the team in scoring at the time of his injury, suffered a second-degree sprain of his medial collateral ligament during Thursday’s practice skate. He will probably be out for four to six games.
Whitecotton, the team’s top returning scorer from a year ago, was lost Saturday when he broke his left humerus during the first period. He’s out for the season.
Pacing the RedHawks in league scoring are Mark Shalawylo (4-6–10), Alex Kim (4-6–10), and Jason Deskins (4-5–9).
"We have one senior forward and two juniors," says Mazzoleni. "All the rest are freshmen and sophomores. We play four freshmen defensemen."
Ian Olsen has started most games in net for the RedHawks. Olsen’s league GAA is 4.01 and his league save percentage is .870.
Mazzoleni says that the RedHawks play fairly predictably, and the key to turning the team around is confidence.
"In mostly every game this year, we play a very good first period. Then when our opponents find success, that’s when we fall apart. They go back into the locker room after their good second period and lose some of their emotion, and we come out to work and play a good third period.
"That’s the pattern."
Ohio State holds a slight 37-34-6 advantage over Miami, but the RedHawks are 19-3-3 against the Buckeyes in the last 25 games. OSU won the last two meetings between the teams last season, both at the OSU Ice Rink.
Ohio State took the season series 2-1-0 last year, the first time the Buckeyes beat the RedHawks in a season series since the 1990-91 season.
It was the Nov. 8 come-from-behind 5-4 win over Miami to which current Ohio State players often point as the moment last season when the Buckeyes first believed in themselves.
"When they beat us," says Mazzoleni, "it was like they’d won the Stanley Cup.
"They’re beyond that now. They know they’re a good team, and they don’t need to prove themselves to us."
Mazzoleni says he’s well aware of what Ohio State can do, but his focus this week is completely in-house.
"I don’t want to be disrespectful, but we have enough to concern ourselves," says Mazzoleni. "We have to sail our own ship. There’s a lot we have to do ourselves, so that we won’t necessarily be thinking about Ohio State."
John Markell doesn’t talk like a coach with nothing to prove, and at 3-3-2 in league play, the preseason media darlings probably feel like they do.
"This is what makes the CCHA so interesting," says Markell, "a weekend like this with Miami. Miami, [which] doesn’t have many wins, can step up and beat you.
"We know the Miamis of the past have been good and they’re very well-coached. Traditionally, they’ve been a lot better than we have."
There’s no strutting in Columbus after beating two top-ten teams. "While you’re patting yourselves on the back," says Markell, "other teams are plotting to beat you."
Ohio State 4-2, 4-3
No. 4 Notre Dame vs. Ferris State Tuesday, November 24, 7 p.m., Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI
Notre Dame took the first meeting between these two teams this season, a 5-3 decision in Big Rapids.
Five different Irish players scored the five goals, while Geoff Bennetts has two of the three Bulldog goals.
Notre Dame went two-for-four on the power play, while Ferris State went one-for-five.
Forrest Karr made 25 saves for the Irish. Vince Owen saved 18 of 23 shots for Ferris State.
Pick: Notre Dame 5-3
USCHO covers the CCHA all week long on the CCHA Blog, with weekend recaps on Monday, picks on Friday, and updates during the week.