And It Wasn’t Even a Full Moon
Few people would call Ohio State head coach John Markell a prophet, but here are two quotes from last week’s column that are positively scary:
“They’re still going to be a very good team in our league. I have no reservations about whether they’re going to get stronger.”
“It’s nice to have that success, but our credibility is thrown out the door if we don’t come to play this weekend.”
That first quote referred to the team that OSU swept in East Lansing two weeks ago, the team that went to Kalamazoo and swept another good hockey team last weekend.
That second quote became a self-fulfilling prophecy. After becoming the first team to sweep Michigan State in Munn since 1995, the Buckeyes played Mercyhurst at home and lost. Granted, the Lakers are a good hockey team with veteran talent and are extremely well-coached, but if Andy Franck hadn’t stood on his head in the Mercyhurst net during the first five minutes of the game while the Lakers handed the Buckeyes a gazillion shots, the outcome might have been different.
Of course, even if Mercyhurst had spotted OSU several goals in the first few minutes the Buckeyes still could have lost. After the first period, the Lakers came to play — and the Buckeyes didn’t, really, for most of the game. They did, however, come to do one thing and do it well, which leads us to yet another quote from The Prophet Markell.
“We’re doing our job to stay out of the box — it’s a must this year. We get five penalties or more a game, and I’m livid.”
I’m guessing John Markell is really, really mad.
At Least They Were Howling in South Bend
Congratulations to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who upset Boston College on BC’s turf, shutting out the powerful Eagles 1-0 to win this year’s installation of that quasi-annual rivalry.
Apparently, the key to the victory was the pep talk given by NHL legend Ray Bourque, a former teammate of Dave Poulin who showed up at breakfast game day to inspire the Irish.
Freshman phenom David Brown’s 27-save performance had something to do with it, too, I think.
Twilight Zone Material
The Lakers — the Lake Superior State Lakers, that is — jumped out to a two-goal lead on the Miami RedHawks last Friday night.
That was, however, before allowing five unanswered goals from the end of the first through the end of the third, three of them on the Miami power play.
I’m guessing Frank Anzalone is really, really mad.
Things That Go Bump All Night
When Alaska-Fairbanks plays Ohio State this weekend, one of the league’s most interesting rivalries continues with little fanfare. At first glance, it would seem as though these two teams have little to carp about when playing each other, but a look at history — as ancient as history gets for the Nanooks, and as recent as last year — gives you enough to pay attention.
Two seasons ago, the Buckeyes traveled to Fairbanks for a good, old-fashioned butt-kicking at the hands of the Nanooks, who beat them 6-3 and 6-1. In that Friday game (Feb. 8, 2002), after he scored the fifth Nanook goal at 19:10 in the third to put UAF up 5-3, Aaron Voros skated by the Buckeye bench to deliver a good, old-fashioned taunting. There was a bit of predictable mayhem.
But the Buckeyes had the last laugh that season, as they eliminated the Nanooks 6-5 in overtime in the first game of the CCHA tournament in Detroit. In the first period of that game, Voros was ran OSU netminder Mike Betz, drawing an interference penalty and endearing himself to legions of Buckeye fans forever after.
Then there was the CCHA playoff play-in game, Mar. 7, 1995. Don’t remember this, you say? I was there. Current OSU assistant coach Steve Brent was in it. The Nanooks lost, 7-2. It was the teeny tiny creaky old OSU Ice Rink. People traveled from Fairbanks to see the game. No kidding. This, kids, was back in the day when the top eight teams in the league made the playoffs.
It doesn’t hurt that UAF head coach Guy Gadowsky seems to have figured out the key to beating the Buckeyes fairly regularly. UAF is 6-3-1 against OSU in the last ten games, and was 2-1-1 against the Buckeyes last season.
Aaron Voros has 10 minors for 20 minutes. OSU’s Nate Guenin has nine minors for 18 minutes.
And these two teams don’t like each other much. At all.
If you’re heading to these games, plan for a long night.
Games of the Week
These may not be the “biggest” games of the week, but it is Cup Fever, albeit Ohio style. And there’s some serious history here.
Miami (3-4-1, 3-1-0 CCHA) at Bowling Green (1-4-1, 1-3-1 CCHA)
Friday and Saturday, 7:05 p.m., BGSU Ice Arena, Bowling Green, Ohio
Miami is rolling. Really.
Two of the league’s top three scorers overall in this young season are RedHawks. The Miami power play is clipping along at a pace of 33.3%. Last weekend, the RedHawks recorded five power-play goals against the Lakers; Matt Christie (5-2–7) and Chris Michael (3-3–6) have three goals each on the Miami PP, and power-play goals have accounted for 15 of Miami’s 24 overall goals this season.
But, as in seasons past, the Miami penalty kill is problematic, owing in part to what’s going on in the RedHawk net — or what’s not. Not to be a killjoy for Miami fans, but without consistent goaltending that clips along with at least a collective .900 save percentage, all the offense in the world won’t compensate at the end of a regular season.
The Bowling Green Falcons have the opposite problem — strong ‘tending, little offense. Only two Falcons have netted two goals — Kevin Bieksa and Rich Meloche. The Falcons have been outscored 18-11 by their opponents in four games this season, but Jordan Sigalet — who has already made 161 saves in this young year — remains rock steady for Bowling Green.
Here are some early season overall stats to consider.
Bowling Green leads this all-time series 55-24-5, but the RedHawks are 4-0-0 against the Falcons in their last four meetings. Of course, the Falcons were the team that eliminated the RedHawks in the first round of the CCHA playoffs in 2000-01, in two games, in Goggin Arena.
The Ohio Cup has been around for 21 years, established by the Columbus-based Buckeye Sports Bulletin, and is awarded to the Ohio CCHA team with the best in-state head-to-head record. The Falcons have won 12 titles to lead all three schools — which includes Ohio State — while the RedHawks are second with five titles. OSU is the defending Cup champion.
Official Odd Stat Regarding Miami: Before heading to Sault Ste. Marie last weekend, the RedHawks were 0-4-1 on this young season when outshooting their opponent. Well, the Lakers broke that dubious streak for Miami in the 5-2 Friday game, during which the ‘Hawks outshot the Lakers 35-23.
Picks: As hard as the Falcons are working, and as much of a shame as it is that they have yet to be rewarded for that work, it’s difficult to call against Miami at this point. Miami 3-2, 3-2
Things That Make You Go Boo!
It’s early in the year, kids. Let’s keep all of this in perspective.
The reader who wrote to chastise me for mentioning baseball. “It’s about hockey,” he said, and he’s right — and it was about hockey for approximately seven pages, single spaced, until I mentioned the ALCS.
The reader who bemoaned the mention of “yet another cat” in my column. Moxy, apparently, is so distraught because of the Buffalo Bills’ offense that she wasn’t much paying attention to the ACLS.
The reader who wrote to me, Sunday morning, about picking Ferris State sixth in the standings this season. She was upset at my alleged lack of respect for the Bulldogs. She didn’t mention that I was wrong on the weekend series, since I picked FSU to win a game.
The reader who asked why I’m always at Ohio State home games. I live in Columbus. If I ever move to Marquette — from where this reader hails — I will attend all the NMU home games. Promise.
The reader who wanted to know why I talked about OSU in last week’s column. It has something to do with 1995.
Franco Corelli, Georgii Vladimov, Janice Rule.
USCHO covers the CCHA all week long on the CCHA Blog, with weekend recaps on Monday, picks on Friday, and updates during the week.