This Week in the CCHA: October 30, 1998

Ghosts? Goblins? Martha Stewart spinning hot caramel around unsuspecting apples? Things that go bump in the night?

Try things that go bump in the rink.

Try Notre Dame beating Ohio State 3-0, then losing for the first time this season to…Western Michigan.

Try playing Michigan State and Michigan…back to back.

Now that’s scary.

It isn’t magic that’s mixing things up in the CCHA; it’s the parity that everyone talked about last season, bearing fruit now. There are four CCHA teams in the national top ten, and another one knocking on the door–and the season stretches before us, wide open.

This is a tight league, and it should get a little tighter with Northern Michigan’s schedule this weekend.

Last week, league-leading No. 9 Notre Dame beat Ohio State 3-0, then lost to the aforementioned Broncos 2-1. The Irish are idle this week, while WMU–currently tied with OSU for seventh place in the CCHA–travels to Miami for two games.

No. 6 Michigan is second in league play so far. The Wolverines beat Alaska-Fairbanks 6-1 and 2-1 in Alaska last weekend. This week, Michigan looks at Bowling Green and No. 7 Northern Michigan, two games in Yost.

Bowling Green is currently third in the CCHA with five points. The Falcons got shelled by No. 5 Michigan State 7-1 Friday, then turned around and beat Ferris State 2-1 Saturday. The Friday game in Ann Arbor is Bowling Green’s only action this week.

Northern Michigan, Michigan State, and Ferris State are all tied for fourth in the league. No. 7 Northern flexed a little muscle with two road wins over Clarkson, 6-5 and 3-2. As a reward, the Wildcats travel to East Lansing for one game against the fifth-ranked Spartans, then on to Ann Arbor for a game against No. 6 Michigan.

No. 6 Michigan State beat Bowling Green 7-1 on the road, then tied Ohio State 4-4 in Munn. The Spartans’ game against Northern is their only game of the weekend.

The Bulldogs lost their only game of the week to Bowling Green, 2-1 on the road. This week, Ferris State hosts Alaska-Fairbanks for two games. With no points, the Nanooks are currently tied for last place in the league with Lake Superior State.

With just one league win, the Buckeyes have dropped out of the top ten, and are tied with Western for seventh in the league. Last week, Ohio State got blanked by Notre Dame and tied No. 5 Michigan State in Munn. This week, the Buckeyes travel to Buffalo to take on the tough Niagara Purple Eagles.

Western Michigan flexed a little muscle of its own last weekend, beating the formerly undefeated Irish 2-1. This week, the Broncos travel to Goggin Ice Arena for two games against the RedHawks.

Miami split a pair of games out East last weekend, beating Providence 5-3, then losing to New Hampshire 4-1.

Lake Superior lost a pair of games against the same teams, 5-2 to New Hampshire and 7-2 to Providence. The Lakers are idle this week.

Last week’s record in picks: 9-4 Overall record in picks: 19-8

It ain’t witchcraft.

No. 7 Northern Michigan (6-0-0, 2-0-0 CCHA) at No. 5 Michigan State (2-0-2, 1-0-2 CCHA) Friday, 7 p.m., Munn Ice Arena, East Lansing, MI No. 7 Northern Michigan at No. 6 Michigan (4-1-0, 3-0-0 CCHA) Saturday, 7 p.m., Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI

The Northern Michigan Wildcats are rolling this season, but don’t look for head coach Rick Comley to be too excited about that, or about Northern’s top-ten ranking.

"It’s early," says Comley.

True, but this is a team that lost only three players in the offseason, a team that beat Clarkson twice in Potsdam.

"Those were two close games," says Comley. "They were hotly contested games. We had the advantage because we already had a few games behind us, and those were the first games they played this season."

Come on, Coach–isn’t there something to be happy about?

"I’m encouraged because we are hoping to take a step from last year. We have to not only play as well as last year, but move beyond that to stay in step with the league."

Anyone who’s seen the Wildcats play will tell you that this is a solid team from top to bottom, a team that’s playing at least as well as it did last season–and that was already pretty good. The ‘Cats are a team of hard-working, hard-grinding, blue-collar players who give it all every game. There’s no real star in Marquette.

"It’s been pretty balanced," says Comley.

Six different Wildcats scored in the two wins over Clarkson. Roger Trudeau scored a pair in the 6-5 win, and Bryan Phillips had three goals on the weekend, including both game-winners. Phillips also had an assist on Ian La Rocque’s goal Friday; Trudeau had an assist on Fred Mattersdorfer’s goal Friday. Buddy Smith had two assists Friday night.

Another plus for Northern Michigan is goaltending. Junior Duane Hoey and sophomore Dan Ragusett are each 3-0-0 overall. Hoey boasts an overall save percentage of .923, while Ragusett’s is .921.

As solid as his team is, Comley knows that this weekend presents an enormous challenge.

"We’re playing probably the two best teams in the conference. In this conference, everybody has to prove that they’re better than Michigan and Michigan State."

And Comley isn’t fooled by Michigan State’s two ties or Michigan’s rocky weekend against Niagara. "I don’t think either of them has anything to prove. They’re both pretty patient coaches."

Comley says he’s looking for one thing this weekend from his team. "We’re going to try to continue to get better."

Northern Michigan vs. Michigan State

"You have to appreciate what they’ve done so far," says Spartan head coach Ron Mason of Northern Michigan’s 6-0-0 start. "I think what really made a statement was the two wins at Clarkson. They’re for real."

The Spartans and Wildcats are two evenly-matched teams. The all-time series between these two currently undefeated squads is 9-9-1, 4-4-1 at Munn Ice Arena. Last season, the two teams split the regular season 1-1-1.

In their last regular-season meeting, Northern Michigan beat Michigan State 5-1 in Marquette. Joe Blackburn was in net for the Spartans in that game.

In their last meeting, period, the Spartans beat the Wildcats 5-1 in the CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena, a game in which Michigan State scored all five goals in the third period.

To sum up, Mason says, "We’ve had some great games."

Last weekend, the Spartans scored seven goals in a 7-1 win over Bowling Green and a 4-4 tie with Ohio State. The Spartan offense is potentially explosive; Michigan State equaled its offensive production from its first two games–four goals–in less than five minutes at Bowling Green Friday night.

Michigan State’s top line of Mike York, Bryan Adams, and Adam Hall combined for six goals and eight assists in the two games; Adams tallied his first collegiate hat trick against Ohio State.

Mason says that the style of this year’s Spartan team differs from last year’s in that the emphasis is now on offense. In the two ties this season at Munn–1-1 versus Western Michigan, 4-4 with Ohio State–the Spartans outshot their opponents nearly two-to-one.

"For one reason or another, both teams were outplayed."

Of last weekend’s tie with OSU, Mason says, "They had an opportunity to put us away in the first period and didn’t do it."

Mason says that it’s the mark of a very good team when opponents walk away happy with a tie, and he’s encouraged by what he sees in his new-look bunch.

"I think we have a team that’s going to continue to improve. I think this team has real potential. Our team has an upside to it."

Of course, Mike York looks fabulous for the Spartans. So do his linemates. And with Chad Alban and Tyler Harlton gone, it’s easy to forget that this is a team loaded with talent on the defensive side of the puck.

Particularly impressive is junior defenseman Mike Weaver. "For two years he’s been overshadowed by Tyler Harlton," says Mason. "He’s a solid a defensive defenseman as you get."

And how. Against the Buckeyes, Weaver looked amazing, blocking shot after shot on the power play with the length of his body prone to the ice, then quickly recovering to help clear the rebounds.

It’s too soon to say how Joe Blackburn will do in the Spartan net. Mason is pleased with him, and until the Ohio State game, Blackburn had not given up more than one goal in any given game. His league save percentage is .905.

Northern Michigan vs. Michigan

Michigan hockey has had a tough couple of weeks. After squeaking by Niagara at home with a 6-5 overtime win, the Wolverines lost the following night 2-1.

Last weekend, Michigan went all the way up to Alaska to beat Fairbanks 6-1 and 2-1. Those wins, by the way, extend the Wolverine’s all-time undefeated streak against the Nanooks to 17-0- 0.

"Niagara’s a pretty good team," says Berenson. "They were every bit as good as we were. Now, we outshot them so we had them a little bit on their heals."

After facing Bowling Green on Friday, Michigan hosts Northern, a team that’s physically punishing.

"This will be a good test for us now," says Berenson. "Northern is one of the elite teams in our league. The good thing is that we have four games under our belt."

Berenson says that the physical game that Northern plays is something Michigan has seen again and again from opponents.

"That’s a style we’ve run into over the years simply because we’re Michigan. People play us hard. We’re a target."

One thing that concerns Berenson about the Wolverines’ next two games is his players’ ability to recover from the trip to Alaska.

"It’s a long trip. When you get back, with the time difference, you don’t know whether you’re coming or going, and then kids have to get caught up in school. We hope the whiplash from that doesn’t affect us."

So far this season, the Wolverines have played a bit inconsistently but have managed to come out ahead–mostly. The 6-5 win over Niagara came from a Josh Langfeld goal with just seconds to spare in overtime, a game in which rookie goaltender Josh Blackburn let in five goals on 16 shots.

"We’re not the team we were last year," says Berenson. "We don’t have a Billy Muckalt, Matty Herr, Marty Turco. We don’t have a player of that caliber at this point in the season. Maybe we will later in the year, but not just yet."

What Michigan does have is a bunch of guys who play hockey well. A Wolverine has earned CCHA Player of the Week honors each week this season. Blackburn earned the CCHA Rookie of the Week during the first week, Mike Comrie was Rookie of the Week the following week, and Mike Van Ryn was the CCHA Defensive Player of the Week for last weekend’s play.

Van Ryn scored both game-winners against UAF.

While it’s still early in the season, Van Ryn (2-2-4), Comrie (1-2-3), Dale Rominski (0-3-3), and Dave Huntzicker (0-3-3) have all made some CCHA scoring noise.

In three league games, Blackburn has a GAA of just 0.67, and a save percentage of .962. In addition, Michigan’s penalty kill has been perfect on 20 tries in league play.

Lastly, Michigan is 10-8-0 against Northern, including 6-1-0 under Berenson.


Of the Wildcat-Spartan matchup, Mason says, "These are two teams that are technically undefeated. It’s going to go a long way early in the season to see how the league is going to shape up."

Michigan State is unbeaten in its last 16 games in Munn Ice Arena (12-0-4), the third-longest home unbeaten streak in school history.

Berenson says, "We’re not that good, and every night’s going to be a tough game."

Comley says, "Playing on the road is probably tougher for us than anybody other than Fairbanks. Coaches come in here and complain because of the travel, and we do that every time we go on the road.

"If we get close to .500 on the road, we’re looking pretty good, and we’re 3-0 on the road now."

Both goaltenders will play for Northern this weekend, and one of them will earn his first loss of the season in Munn–which means a .500 weekend.

Michigan State over Northern, 4-2; Northern over Michigan, 3-2

Bowling Green (3-2-1, 2-1-1 CCHA) at No. 6 Michigan (4-1-0, 3-0-0 CCHA) Friday, 7 p.m., Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI

For Bowling Green, it’s so far, so good.

The Falcons split last weekend, losing 7-1 to Michigan State, but beating Ferris State 2-1.

"We’re playing pretty well as a team," says BG head coach Buddy Powers. "We gave a couple of soft goals to [Michigan] State, but we carried the play pretty much against Ferris."

While the Falcons took two points last weekend from the Bulldogs, Bowling Green has been outscored 12-15, and Powers is concerned about the lack of offense.

"We only scored two goals from our forwards last weekend. But we’re getting chances and not finishing. When you’re not getting any chances, that’s more of a problem."

Curtis Valentine (2-2-4), Doug Schueller (3-0-3), Chris Bonvie (1-2-3), Dan Price (1-2-3), Mike Jones (0-3-3), Ryan Murphy (1-2-3), and Adam Edinger (0-3-3) are largely responsible for the Falcons’ scoring. Unfortunately, they’re all at zero or worse in plus/minus.

Adding to the Falcon woes is the early-season play of Shawn Timm, the sophomore goaltender with lots of potential. Timm’s league GAA is 4.22, and his league save percentage is just .792.

Conversely, senior Mike Savard is looking solid. Savard earned the win against Ferris State; his league GAA is 2.72, and his league save percentage is .897.

Powers is keeping quiet about who will start this weekend. Any guesses?

Michigan leads this all-time series 48-27-2, and has been 8-1-1 against the Falcons in the last ten meetings. The Wolverines swept the Falcons last season, winning 4-2 at BG, 4-2 in Yost, and 5-4 at BG.

Berenson says, "Bowling Green will be tough. Obviously, they’re a better team than they were last year."

And a team with something to prove. Powers says he expects an "up-tempo, end-to-end" game. He also says that Yost can be a real factor, given the youth of the Falcon team.

"But I tell them it’s better to have someone yelling to rip your head off than it is to have people disguised as chairs."


This could be a tougher game than most people expect. If the Falcons solve the problem of finishing chances, they can do some serious offensive damage in this league.

But it may be too soon in the season for that.

Michigan 4-2

Western Michigan (1-2-1, 1-2-1 CCHA) at Miami (1-4-1, 0-3-1 CCHA) Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m., Goggin Ice Arena, Oxford, OH

Last weekend, the Broncos did what no other team had been able to do this season: they beat Notre Dame 2-1.

"We talked to [the players] about putting together a game plan to shut down the Simon line," says Western head coach Bill Wilkinson, "and that’s what we did."

So that’s how you do it. Is everyone taking notes?

The Van Arkel-Kopischke-Henning line scored the lone goal against the Broncos, and it was an even-strength marker.

"It was a wash on power play," says Wilkinson, "since we didn’t get any either."

But it’s an important wash. Aniket Dhadphale has been ripping opponents to shreds, both even-strength and on the power play. Wonder how much bootleg tapes of this game are selling for around the league.>{?

Still, Wilkinson says that there was at least a little luck in the game. "We scored one off [Forrest] Karr’s head."

That doesn’t hurt.

Wilkinson talks about his team scoring as a committee, and like Powers, he’s concerned about scoring only two goals.

"We don’t have the high-profile type player," says Wilkinson. "We buckle up the chin strap and go hard–go hard or go home.

"We have two lines set. I’m not saying they’re the best two lines in the league, but they’re two lines that can generate offense."

Chuck Mindel and Steve Rymsha scored against Notre Dame, but Wilkinson says that Jason Redenius–who had an assist on Rymsha’s goal–is the current Spark for the Bronco offense.

Matt Barnes, with 31 saves against Notre Dame, looks very good this season, posting a 1.62 league GAA and a .943 league save percentage.

Another impressive Bronco is walk-on rookie defenseman Derek, who in three starts has a plus/minus of +1.

One other Bronco note of interest: The one-game suspensions imposed on all team members in the aftermath of last month’s team party fiasco will be completed when Anthony Battaglia sits out Friday’s game.

Meanwhile, the RedHawks participated in their own first last weekend–their first win of the season, 5-3 over Providence.

"We are very young," says Miami head coach Mark Mazzoleni, "and you can’t hide that fact. But we’ve shown a real good competitive instinct this past weekend, an instinct we did not have our first weekend of play."

The ‘Hawks also lost 4-1 to New Hampshire.

"Against New Hampshire, both teams played really well defensively. We didn’t penetrate them really well, we didn’t get to the net very well, but they didn’t get to the net very well either."

Mazzoleni is encouraged by what he’s seeing from his very young team.

"We didn’t play badly, and we’ve improved each weekend.

"You’ve got to strive to improve, in practice every day, from game to game. After Christmas, these players will no longer be freshman. We’re making a lot of fundamental mistakes that we need to address now."

Sophomore Ernie Hartlieb scored twice against Providence (his second goal was the empty-netter); Alex Kim, Pat Leahy, and Gregor Krajnc each had goals.

Jason Deskins had the lone goal against New Hampshire.

Junior goaltender Ian Olsen had 50 saves on the weekend. In three league games this season, Olsen’s GAA is 4.32 and his save percentage is .889.


Miami took two of three games from Western last season, and the Broncos have lost eight of their last nine games in Goggin Arena.

Neither team is generating many shots on goal. In net, Western has an edge–Matt Barnes looks superb.

Western is knows for its very physical style of play. "They’ll come in very determined and confident because they’ve been playing well," says Mazzoleni. "They’ll compete very hard. That will be consistent between all four of their lines."

It’s hard to pick against Miami in this two-game series. The RedHawks may be young, but they have more potential fire power than do the Broncos. And as good as Barnes is, Goggin can be a tough place for visiting teams, as Western’s recent record there shows.

Miami 4-2, 3-2

Alaska-Fairbanks ( 1-3-0, 0-2-0 CCHA) at Ferris State (2-2-0, 2-2-0 CCHA) Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m., Ewigleben Arena, Big Rapids, MI

The Nanooks opened their CCHA season with two losses to Michigan, but losing to Michigan is nothing new for Fairbanks; UAF has dropped all 17 of its games against the Wolverines.

Alaska-Fairbanks lost 6-1 and 2-1 in two penalty-filled games at home. Dwayne Zinger scored the only goal for the Nanooks in the 6-1 loss, a tally which tied the game at 1-1 very early–and very briefly–in the second period.

In the 2-1 loss, Darren Tiemstra scored late in the third when the Nanooks were down 2-0.

The Nanooks were outshot by the Wolverines 61-39. Senior goaltender Ian Perkins made 53 saves on the weekend.

Now, UAF makes its first trip to the lower 48 this weekend, to visit Big Rapids. Last weekend, Ferris State lost to Bowling Green 2-1.

Geoff Bennetts scored the sole Bulldog goal, while Vince Owen made 40 saves on 42 shots on goal for Ferris state.

There can be little doubt that Ferris State has the edge in these two games, at least on paper. They’re at home. Owen’s league save percentage is .915, compared with Perkins’ .869. The Bulldogs have more CCHA games behind them than do the Nanooks. And the Bulldogs didn’t have to play Michigan twice last weekend.


This pairing matches what appears to be the biggest team in the CCHA–Fairbanks–with what may be the smallest–Ferris. Expect these games to be physically demanding for each team. Alaska-Fairbanks takes a lot of penalties, and the Nanooks force their opponents to as well.

Ferris State has the advantage on both sides of the puck, and may have another advantage if the cooler heads prevail for the Bulldogs.

Ferris State 4-1, 4-2

Ohio State (1-4-1, 1-2-1 CCHA) vs. Niagara (2-2-0) Saturday, 5 p.m., Marine Midland Arena, Buffalo, NY

All right–will whomever has stolen the Buckeye offense please return it? Just drop it off in Buffalo, no questions asked.

Hugo Boisvert: one point last weekend. Chris Richards: one point last weekend.

Boisvert led the league in scoring last season, and Richards was third.

What’s up with that?

"I don’t know," says head coach John Markell. "We’ve got to pick up their games."

One thing that has hurt the Buckeye offense is the absence of Boisvert’s linemate, Eric Meloche, who will probably be out until the Bucks’ Nov. 13 home opener against Michigan State. He could be the spark that the first line is missing.

What about that second line? Perhaps the loss of Todd Compeau was greater than anyone realized. Without him, Richards has been struggling to put it in the net. Louie Colsant didn’t work there, so Neal Rech–who works very well with Richards on the penalty kill–has been moved there.

There are a couple of upsides to this rocky start for the Buckeyes. In Meloche’s absence, senior Brandon Lafrance has been give the chance to play, and he’s been sparking offense left and right. Look for him to receive additional help from rookie Mike McCormick, who returns to play after missing most of this season with a sprained knee.

Another upside has been the emergence of sophomore Vinnie Grant as a playmaker.

And yet another plus has been the development of the young Buckeye defense, which while allowing way too many shots on goal, is improving weekly. Rookie Scott Titus and sophomore Jaisen Freeman have been particularly fun to watch.

Injuries have plagued the Buckeyes since. In addition to Meloche and McCormick, several Buckeyes have been playing injured–including Dan Cousineau, Louie Colsant, Vinnie Grant.

"I haven’t played with a full compliment since the Boston College game," says Markell.

This is the first-ever meeting between the Niagara Purple Eagles and the Buckeyes.

Last weekend, the Eagles lost 5-3 to Union before beating Moncton 7-6 in the consolation game of the J.C. Penney Classic at the University of Maine. Jay Kasperck had a hat trick and two assists in the Moncton game.

Niagara goaltender Greg Gardner had 45 saves on 56 shots on the weekend.

Two weeks ago, the Eagles lost a close 6-5 game to Michigan in Yost before beating the Wolverines 3-1. For his 79 saves in two games against Michigan, Gardner was named the U.S. College Hockey Online Defensive Player of the Week.


The Buckeyes are intimidated by large arena venues–something they need to get over quickly, given that Marine Midland holds just about a thousand more folks than does the Schottenstein Center.

The one very encouraging thing about this Buckeye team was the way in which it rallied against Michigan State to tie the Spartans 4-4 in Munn. You can listen all you want to Spartan afficionados who claim that Ohio State wasn’t in that game, and about how lucky the Buckeyes were–then you can look at the score.

"I think they’re going to be a lot like Yale," says Markell of Niagara, "coming at us fast.

"Gardner played well in net for them when they beat Michigan. They’re going to be in their home town. They’ll be a spirited bunch, with everything to gain and nothing to lose–and that’s always a dangerous game."

A Halloween treat for the Buckeyes?

Ohio State 4-2 (with an empty-netter)