Last year at this time, we learned that hockey means never having to say you’re sorry. In fact, we learned that the word hockey can be substituted for the word love universally–when used as a noun and not a verb, of course, but let’s save that for another column.
Hockey makes the world go ’round.
Hockey will keep us together.
All you need is hockey.
In the spirit of both love and hockey, I asked CCHA fans to share with me their impressions of the nicest fans in the league. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that the response was small.
In general, people are impressed with the niceness of Michigan State and Ferris State fans, and many people commented on how nice Wisconsin fans are. Not a few folks complained about the student fans at Yost and Bowling Green. In all, there were no surprises.
"My overall impression is that Michigan State has the most congenial fans of anyone in the CCHA," writes Chuck Cliff, a longtime Lake Superior State fan. "Over the years just have met a number of nice Spartan fans. I also can’t remember any jerks along the way.
"I have met many fans from around the country. Wisconsin has to have the best fans in the nation."
Ben J. Buss, an Ohio State student and fan, has a similar view of Spartans–but you have to put his experience in context.
"I’d like to commend the Michigan State fans who came over and sat on the OSU side last year during the CCHA playoff game against M*ch*gan [sic]. They were great! (They told us some good stories too!)
"And contrary to popular belief, nice Cornell fans DO exist–I met one in 1997 on a road trip."
Michigan State fan Mark Kollar says that he prefers the fans of Northern Michigan and Ferris State to any other school he’s visited. "The fans I’ve sat around at both venues were very nice to an out of place Spartan fan and his wife."
Fellow Spartan Adam Loch says that the Nanook fans are the nicest he’s encountered. "They usually seemed gracious, a lot more than I would be after flying in from Alaska." Wolverine fan Joe Zurawski says the nicest fans he’s ever met are from Bowling Green. "I’ll never forget meeting several of them at Riverfront in Cincinnati [at the 1996 NCAA championships]. They were very friendly and were handing out stickers to be proudly worn proclaiming for all to see, ‘It is a great day for hockey.’
"A close second are the fans from North Dakota. I met several at Van Andel Arena during the 1997 West Regional, at the Bradley center a week later and at Yost Arena at the 1998 West Regional."
Another Wolverine fan tells a story about the Lynah-Yost link. "The nicest fans I’ve run into are Cornell’s and Yale’s," writes Donald Steven Adamek.
"Michigan fans have not forgotten that Cornell fans taught us their cheers in ’91. We didn’t just steal them, some of them took the time to teach the cheers to us. Since then, they’ve been our favorite team outside of the CCHA."
Kent Kanipe, a fan of both the Wolverines and Spartans–now, there is love–writes about Minnesota fans who left a lasting impression on him and his wife after a tough Golden Gopher loss.
"My wife and I traveled up to East Lansing for the NCAA regional match-up between Michigan and Minnesota on a Saturday afternoon. We picked up tickets at the door and they just happened to be right in the middle of the Minnesota section (actually sitting just a couple of rows in front of their pep band). If you remember the game you will recall that it was a tight battle, and Michigan pulled it out on the now-famous Mike Legg goal.
"Well, the Minnesota fans were incredibly gracious after the game ended, even staying and chatting with us for a while. They seemed very impressed with the Michigan team and its coaches, and wished us success during the rest of the tournament.
"What impressed me the most was the sportsmanship demonstrated in defeat. They said nothing disparaging and even though their team lost, they truly seemed to enjoy the game and the tournament atmosphere. Since that day I have tried to model myself after those Minnesota fans and parents, because that is what the game is supposed to embody."
Former CCHA commissioner Bill Beagan often described his relationship with college hockey as a great romance. Having met so many wonderful people along the way, I know exactly what Bill meant.
Happy Valentine’s Day, hockey fans.
With a 2-2 tie in South Bend and a 3-2 win over the Lakers at the Joe, No. 3 Michigan State remains in first place with 36 points. This weekend, the Spartans host No. 7 Notre Dame on Friday night.
The Buckeyes took four points on the road two surge into second place with 33 points. No. 9 Ohio State beat Bowling Green 3-2 Friday before beating No. 8 Michigan 3-2 Saturday. Ohio State travels to Northern Michigan for two this weekend.
No. 8 Michigan lost twice at home, 6-3 to Lake Superior State and 3-2 to No. 9 Ohio State. The Wolverines, two points behind the Buckeyes in the standings, travel to Western Michigan for one game Saturday night.
No. 7 Notre Dame tied No. 3 Michigan State 2-2 before defeating Alaska-Fairbanks 5-2. Notre Dame holds onto fourth place in the CCHA with 29 points. This weekend, the Irish travel to Munn before hosting Ferris State.
With 25 points, the Northern Michigan Wildcats are in fifth place. The ‘Cats were idle last week, and host No. 9 Ohio State for two this weekend.
Knocking on Northern’s door is Ferris State, sixth in the standings with 24 points. The Bulldogs were also idle last weekend, and this week they travel to face Western Michigan and No. 7 Notre Dame.
The Bowling Green Falcons remain in seventh place with 19 points after dropping a pair of games last weekend, 3-2 to Ohio State and 4-1 to Western Michigan. This weekend, the Falcons travel to Alaska-Fairbanks for two.
In a three-way tie for eighth place, Western Michigan, Miami, and Lake Superior State have 14 points each.
After firing head coach Bill Wilkinson, the Broncos took four points last weekend, beating Alaska-Fairbanks 6-3 and Bowling Green 4-1. This weekend, Western hosts Ferris State and No. 8 Michigan.
Miami was idle last week, and travels to Lake Superior for two. The Lakers beat No. 8 Michigan 6-3 in Yost before losing 3-2 to No. 3 Michigan State.
In last place with 11 points, the Nanooks head home after a disappointing trip south, having lost 6-3 to Western Michigan and 5-2 to Notre Dame. Alaska-Fairbanks hosts Bowling Green for two this weekend.
Last week’s record in picks: 2-6 Overall record in picks: 87-67
I’ll never ask you to do the math again.
No. 7 Notre Dame (16-7-4, 13-6-3 CCHA) at No. 3 Michigan State (21-3-6, 15-2-6 CCHA) Friday, 8 p.m., Munn Arena, East Lansing, MI Ferris State (11-10-5, 10-8-4 CCHA) at No. 7 Notre Dame (16-7-4, 13-6-3 CCHA) Saturday, 7 p.m., Joyce Arena, South Bend, IN
Notre Dame’s big names and top line earned the Irish three points last weekend.
After trailing for the first sixteen minutes of the home game against the Spartans, Benoit Cotnoir (6-10–16) scored his fifth goal of the year, unassisted, on the Irish power play to bring Notre Dame to within one. Ben Simon (14-18–32) tallied his 14th goal of the season, assisted by Aniket Dhadphale (12-9–21), in the second period to create the deadlock.
In Saturday’s win over Alaska-Fairbanks, Brian Urick (11-18–29) and Dhadphale scored on the power play in the first, Cotnoir and Joe Dusbabek (4-8–12) scored even-strength in the first, and Simon added a second-period goal.
The Irish outshot their opponents both nights. On Friday, Notre Dame had 28 shots on goal to Michigan State’s 25; Saturday, they nearly doubled the shots on the Nanooks, 41-21. Forrest Karr (2.48 GAA, .903 SV%) logged the 125 minutes in the Irish net.
"We’re rolling along," says head coach Dave Poulin. The Irish are 7-2-2 in 1999, and are 10- 0-2 at home this season.
Poulin says he’s happy to have Urick back in the lineup after the high-scoring forward missed a few weeks because of a broken bone in his right hand. "He’s as complete a player as I’ve coached."
Urick is tied for fourth in conference points with Bowling Green’s Dan Price. Linemate Ben Simon is tied for second with BG’s Adam Edinger.
The Irish are leading the league in goals per conference game with 3.59. They are also among the stingiest teams in the CCHA, allowing just 2.23 goals per league game.
Speaking of rolling, the Irish power play continues to roll along at a stunning 24 percent in league play. Notre Dame’s penalty killing is just average, succeeding 85 percent of the time, but the Irish are the second least-penalized team in the league, averaging 18.36 minutes per game.
Others to watch are Dan Carlson (5-16–21), rookie David Inman (5-6–11), Chad Chipchase (8-3–11), and defenseman Tyson Fraser (1-9–10). Fraser has seen his share of injury this season, and the Irish are a decidedly-better team when he’s in the game.
No. 7 Notre Dame vs. No. 3 Michigan State–Part 2
Dave Poulin jokes about the schedule with the Spartans. "Well, you know, we don’t see them again until, well, this Friday, and then we don’t see them after that until next Friday."
One week after testing Notre Dame’s undefeated home record, these two teams get to do the same thing in Munn, where the Spartans are unbeaten in 25 games.
The Spartans tallied their two goals against the Irish last week in the first period, on the power play. Rustyn Dolyny (11-9–20) scored his 12th of the year and Bryan Adams (7-2–9) his 16th.
The Spartan power play has moseyed up from 10th place to eighth in league play, as Michigan State has scored eight times on its last 28 man-advantage opportunities (28.6 percent). The Spartans have at least one power-play goal in each of their last six games.
"I thought we played really well down there," says Michigan State head coach Ron Mason. "Those two power-play goals may surprise some people, but we won the special-teams battle, and that kept the game tied."
In Saturday’s 3-2 win over Lake Superior State in Joe Louis Arena, Shawn Horcoff (10-15–25) scored his 12th goal, Mike York (10-18–28) scored his 17th–unassisted, shorthanded–and Mark Loeding (3-2–5) had the game-winner on the Spartan power play at 19:58 in the second.
The Spartans allowed the two Laker goals in the third period. Spartan Joe Blackburn made 15 saves as the Spartans outshot the Lakers 38-17. The sophomore had 41 saves on the weekend.
"We played really well," says Mason, "and I thought they played kind of slow at first. The night before might have taken a lot out of them.
"The nice thing about [last weekend] is that we are still in first place. That’s all we think about–we don’t think about streaks or ties or anything. We just want to be in first place at the end."
Michigan State leads this all-time series 41-28-5, and 24-12-1 in East Lansing. The Spartans are 14-1-4 against the Irish since Notre Dame rejoined the CCHA in 1992. Of course, the series is even this season with the one tie.
Poulin says that Michigan State "sure looked good against us." He adds that while Mike York didn’t have a point in that first meeting, "he was a factor on the ice, no question."
Surprise us once, Dave, just once.
Ron Mason says, "When you are coming off a game like the one we had last Friday, it’s fresh in everyone’s mind the style that they play and the kind of effort we are going to need."
Again with the surprises.
Here’s what you really need to know. Not only is Michigan State unbeaten in its last 25 home contests, but the Spartans are unbeaten in their last 17 games overall (13-0-4), the third-longest streak in MSU history and the best since 1988.
The Spartans also enjoy a 14-game unbeaten streak against conference opponents, the last loss a 2-1 decision to Michigan in Yost on Nov. 20.
Sophomore goaltender Joe Blackburn is first among NCAA goaltenders in overall goals-against average (1.45), and he’s first in the CCHA (1.49). He’s second in the country in overall save percentage (.928), and second in the league (.926).
Yeah, I got the memo early in the season about Notre Dame, but this is Michigan State, this is Munn, and my pick percentage stinks worse than any locker room I’ve ever encountered.
Michigan State 3-2
Ferris State vs. No. 7 Notre Dame
The slumping Bulldogs bring a five-game winless streak to South Bend, where Notre Dame hasn’t lost a game this season.
Two weeks ago, Ferris State took just one point at home from Miami, losing 5-1 and tying 2-2. Prior to that, on a swing through Ohio, Ferris lost to Ohio State 3-0 and tied Bowling Green 4-4. The week before, the Bulldogs blanked Michigan 4-0 at home before losing 2-1 to Northern to start the streak.
Junior center Brian McCullough (9-8–17) leads the Bulldogs in scoring, and is the top Bulldog on the road with seven points in 10 away games. He’s also big in conference games, with 17 of his 20 overall points earned in league action.
Along with McCullough, Kevin Swider (7-5–12), Joel Irwin (6-7–13), Jim Dube (3-9–12), Brent Wishart (4-8–12), Geoff Bennetts (8-2–10), and Kenzie Homer (6-4–10) are the top contributors to the Bulldog scoring committee. Swider, a sophomore, is just one point away from 50 for his career.
Underrated sophomore defenseman Jim Dube is just one point away from equaling his total of last season, with 16 overall in 25 games this year. Dube is also +5 in league play–and not every high-scoring Bulldog can boast of a positive plus/minus this year.
It’s a shame, really, that the Bulldogs have slumped while sophomore goaltender Vince Owen remains solid. With a 2.24 league GAA and a .918 conference save percentage, Owen has the third-highest save percentage in the conference, and one of the best in the country.
While Ferris State is four league wins away from tying the school record of 15 set by the 1990-91 team (which finished third), the Bulldogs are not traditionally a strong-finishing team, so those wins may be hard to get. Ferris State is 28-40-4 in the last eight regular-season games of each year from 1990 on.
If the Bulldogs were playing some consistent hockey, Notre Dame might be a little more alarmed at facing Owen, who is absolutely the real deal. Ferris State is 22-9-3 against Notre Dame in the all-time series, and 6-2-1 against the Irish in the last eight matches.
Earlier this season, Ferris State lost 5-3 at home to Notre Dame, but beat the Irish 4-2 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
Here is where I regain my faith. It’s all about the picks, baby.
Notre Dame 4-2
No. 9 Ohio State (17-10-4, 15-6-3 CCHA) at Northern Michigan (16-9-3, 11-8-3 CCHA) Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m., Lakeview Arena, Marquette, MI
This series brings together two teams with nearly identical conference records, two teams riding nearly identical unbeaten streaks. The Buckeyes are 6-0-2 in their last eight contests, while the Wildcats are 5-0-3 in theirs.
One key difference is that Ohio State played hard last weekend and travels far this week to play, while Northern Michigan had the weekend off to rest up for "Oh-How-I-Hate" Ohio State.
(Only in Marquette do fans stoke any kind of rivalry at all with Ohio State. Talk about your long memories.)
The Buckeyes played in two electrifying games last weekend in arguably the two toughest road venues in the CCHA, and came away with four points and second place as a pair of Buckeyes tallied their first game-winning goals of the season.
Ohio State trailed for just six minutes on the weekend, after Ryan Murphy scored for Bowling Green at the 5:57 mark of the first period. All three goals in the 3-2 win over the Falcons came on the Buckeye power play.
Hugo Boisvert (13-21–34) scored his 19th of the season at 11:49 in the first to tie it up. Jeff Maund (0-1–1) got his first point of the season on Brendan Lafrance’s (5-2–7) eighth goal of the year just under three minutes later. Brian Morrison (1-2–3) scored his first of the season–the game-winner–with 15 seconds remaining in regulation.
Neal Rech (4-2–6) set the pace of the OSU-Michigan game with his fifth goal of the season at 1:05 in the first. Eric Meloche (5-9–14) followed up on the Buckeye power play exactly three minutes later, his eighth of the season. Boisvert had the game-winner, a steal from Bobby Hayes at the Michigan blue line when Hayes fell down and lost the puck, at 11:20 in the second. The junior’s 20th goal of the season was his first game-winner.
Jeff Maund (1.88 GAA, .932 SV%)–the goalie of assist fame–also looked pretty good in net for the Buckeyes, too, allowing just one even-strength goal on the weekend in 49 shots. Maund leads the league in save percentage and is second in goals against. He has given up just eight goals in his last seven games.
That first Buckeye line is playing incredibly well. Boisvert is +12 in league games, and his right winger, Eric Meloche, leads the Buckeyes at +14. Boisvert also leads the CCHA in league and overall points. The left winger on that line, captain Dan Cousineau (2-1–3) is just +1, but Cousineau has played only 16 games this season because of injury, and has been with the top line for just the second half of the season.
Other Buckeyes to watch include the always-underrated Chris Richards (5-15–20), who is not only among the league’s best defensive forwards, but combines lethally with Boisvert on the power play; J.F. Dufour (7-8–15), who seems to have found life on the second Buckeye line; and three defensemen: Andre Signoretti (3-12–15), Jason Crain (2-8–10), Ryan Jestadt (6- 2–8).
Jestadt and Signoretti lead a defense that is now second in the league, allowing just 2.00 goals per conference game. Jestadt, Signoretti, and Crain are also important components of the power play, which has performed at 25 percent during this unbeaten streak.
(This is especially important when you consider that OSU’s power-play percentage against Northern Michigan during the teams’ previous four meetings is 30 percent.)
Signoretti ranks third among defensemen in the league in scoring, and he picked up three assists last weekend. This sophomore is hot; Signoretti has not been on the ice for an opponent goal of any kind in the last six games. In those six, he has been on the ice for just 10 Ohio State goals.
Before getting last weekend off, the Northern Michigan Wildcats took three of four points against the Nanooks in Fairbanks, winning 3-2 and tying 2-2 Jan. 29 and 30.
Jeff White (3-5–8), Chad Theuer (4-11–15), and Sean Owens (3-2–5) had the goals in the first game, while Roger Trudeau (10-7–17) and Bryan Phillips (5-4–9) scored in the tie. Buddy Smith (2-23–25), and J.P. Vigier (17-9–26) assisted on Trudeau’s goal.
Dan Ragusett (2.40 GAA, .907 SV%) was the goalie of record both nights.
Vigier and Smith are seventh and eighth, respectively, in league scoring with Vigier leading the CCHA in goals (17) and power-play goals (10), and is tied for first in game-winning goals (5). Smith leads the league in assists (23).
The current Wildcat unbeaten streak is their best since winning eight in a row in February and March, 1992. The ‘Cats began the season with a six-game win streak.
During the current streak, Northern is outscoring opponents 29-15, including 16-5 during the third periods of those games. Rookie Chad Theuer leads the team in scoring during those eight games with three goals and seven assists, while Tyson Holly and Jeff White have scored the most goals, with four each.
Nevertheless, the games in the streak have been close, with three one-goal wins and three ties. And Ragusett has been hot, posting a 1.82 GAA and .929 save percentage in that span.
If all this information about Ohio State seems like overkill to you, consider that this team began the season 1-6-2, and since then has tied the season series with No. 3 Michigan State, and taken it from No. 7 Notre Dame (2-1-0) and No. 8 Michigan (2-0-1). The Buckeyes are currently one game off last season’s Final Four pace, and are outscoring opponents 72-48.
Northern Michigan is outscoring league opponents 69-61.
"Ohio State is coming into this series with a lot of momentum, and we’ll have to be ready to go as soon as the puck drops Friday night," says Northern head coach Rick Comley.
OSU head coach John Markell says he sees "the keenness" in his players’ eyes, something that he says has been missing since late last season. But he takes absolutely nothing for granted.
"We could go up there and play our best game and still not take a point. Northern’s an excellent team, and we have tremendous respect for them."
The all-time series is tied 17-17-3. Northern has a 12-4-2 edge in games against OSU in Lakeview, but Ohio State took two games there last season, and the Buckeyes are 4-0-0 in their last four games against Northern.
"It should be an exciting, fast-paced series, and we’ll need to win a couple games if we’re going to have a chance at getting home ice for the first round of the playoffs," says Comley. "Hopefully, our week off last week will allow us to rest up from our trip to Alaska and get ready for the stretch run."
Markell says, "I think it’s going to be an evenly-matched series. Whoever works the hardest is going to get the points. It could come down to a bounce here and a bounce there."
Markell’s right. The hardest-working team will win these games, and there are few teams that work as hard as Northern Michigan–and the Wildcats are playing for home ice.
That having been said, the Buckeyes are playing great hockey right now, and they want to finish ahead of those Wolverines in the standings.
Maund and Boisvert over the excellent Northern first line and the solid Ragusett, 3-2, 4-2
Miami (7-16-5, 5-13-4 CCHA) at Lake Superior State (7-18-3, 6-14-2 CCHA) Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m., Taffy Abel Arena, Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Eight teams make the CCHA playoffs. Both the RedHawks and the Lakers are tied with the Broncos for eight place.
To quote Ella Fitzgerald, something’s got to give.
The RedHawks last played two weeks ago, when they took three points from Ferris State in Big Rapids, winning 5-1 and tying the Bulldogs 2-2.
Mark Shalawylo (10-9–19), Alex Kim (7-7–14), Patrick Leahy (5-7–12), Jason Deskins (10- 8–18) and Gregor Krajnc (3-4–7) had the goals in the first game, all scored even strength. Deskins had both goals in the 2-2 tie, the first shorthanded and unassisted.
Andy Marsch (3.31 GAA, .887 SV%) had 26 saves the first night and 32 the second as the ‘Hawks were outshot 36-24.
Last weekend, the Lakers defeated No. 8 Michigan at home 6-3, their first win over the Wolverines in 10 games. Even Jeff Jackson never won in Yost.
Tobin Praznik (11-6–17) scored goals 11 and 12 of the season in that game, the second goal holding up to be the game-winner. Also scoring for the Lakers were Jeff Cheeseman (7-3–10), Mike Henderson (1-3–4), Fred Slukynsky (7-4–11), Trent Walford (6-7–13).
In their 3-2 loss to Michigan State Saturday, Walford scored his sixth of the season. Ben Keup (4-5–9) had the second goal.
Jayme Platt (2.89 GAA, .901 SV%) was in net both nights, with 24 saves in Yost, and 35 in Joe Louis Arena as the Spartans outshot the Lakers 38-17.
Both teams are heating up at the right time of the season to take points, but neither is playing with any consistency. Both have recently beaten ranked teams or teams well ahead of them in league standings.
Miami has a tendency to blow games late, and the RedHawks give up lots of goals at the end of any given period. The RedHawks are 2-6 in one-goal games this season, and have allowed 22 goals in the last two minutes of any period. In the final two minutes of regulation, Miami has allowed 10 goals, including four game-tying goals and four game-winners.
The Lakers are scoring 2.55 goals per game to Miami’s 2.50. Lake Superior State is allowing 3.14 goals per game to Miami’s 3.27.
The Laker power play converts at just over 15 percent, while Miami’s is struggling at about 11 percent. The Miami penalty kill is successful 85.8 percent of the time, to Lake Superior’s 83.8 percent.
The RedHawks have more spark than do the Lakers, but this series is in the Soo. It may not at all decide eighth place, at least not in the standings.
Picks: Lake Superior 4-3 Friday, Miami 4-2 Saturday
Bowling Green (12-14-3, 8-12-3 CCHA) at Alaska-Fairbanks (6-19-1, 5-18-1 CCHA) Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. AT, Carlson Center, Fairbanks, AK
Lack of consistency is something that plagues each of these teams, especially the Falcons, who have loads of talent but seem to lack that certain something to put them firmly in the running.
Last weekend, Bowling Green lost 3-2 to Ohio State and 4-1 to Western Michigan. The Western Michigan game turned into "a circus," according to head coach Buddy Powers.
"Savard [BG goaltender Mike Savard] was in the box for ten minutes in the third. [Jason] Piwko played well going in for him, but it’s hard to score goals killing penalties, and we had to kill a lot of penalties last weekend."
In fact, the Falcons lost the game Friday on Brian Morrison’s power-play goal with 15 seconds left in regulation. As for Saturday, Powers says, Western goaltender Matt Barnes played exceptionally well.
"He was the story of the game. What else can I say? We should’ve been up 5-1 over Western."
Ryan Murphy (7-17–24) scored from Dan Price (9-20–29) and Adam Edinger (13-19–32) on the Bowling Green power play to open the scoring against Ohio State Friday night. Craig Desjarlais (7-7–14) had the second goal in that 3-2 loss.
Edinger’s assist and goal on the weekend extended his career-best point streak to nine games.
Mike Savard (3.46 GAA, .878 SV%) was stunning in the Falcon net, saving 30 shots on goal Friday as the Buckeyes outshot the Falcons 33-22.
Edinger scored the sole goal in the 4-1 loss. Savard allowed 4 goals on 14 shots; in relief Jason Piwko stopped all 10 shots.
Piwko, a senior who doesn’t see much time in net, has improved his career save percentage from .830 at the start of the season to .852 by stopping 19 of 20 shots he’s faced in relief this season.
Bowling Green currently has a three-game losing streak, during which time the Falcon power play is two-for-15 (13.3 percent) while opponents have scored on nine of 19 chances (47.7 percent).
The Nanooks are 1-1-10 in their last 12 league games dating back to January 1, most recently having lost 6-3 to Western and 5-2 to Notre Dame.
In the 6-3 loss to Western, Chris Kirwan (9-4–13), Sjon Wynia (5-6–11) and Aaron Grosul (1-4–5)–the only Nanook on the plus side of things in conference play at +1–had the goals. Wynia and Kirwan had the goals in the loss to Notre Dame.
Ian Perkins (4.17 GAA, .878 SV%) made 36 saves, as the Nanooks were outshot 21-41 by Notre Dame. Perkins made 15 saves on 21 shots against Western.
Bowling Green leads this all-time series 9-6-1, and the Falcons are 4-2-1 in the Carlson Center. The Nanooks won the previous game this season, 6-5 in Bowling Green on Nov. 14.
Games against the Nanooks are not gimmes, but Bowling Green has been playing well above the level of this competition. Few defenses are a good match for the Price-Edinger-Jones line, and the Nanook defense gives up a lot of goals per game.
Pick: Bowling Green 4-2, 5-2
Ferris State (11-10-5, 10-8-4 CCHA) at Western Michigan (5-16-6, 4-13-6 CCHA) Friday, 7 p.m., Lawson Arena, Kalamazoo, MI No. 8 Michigan (17-8-4, 14-6-3 CCHA) at Western Michigan (5-16-6, 4-13-6 CCHA) Saturday, 7 p.m., Lawson Arena, Kalamazoo, MI
The Broncos moved from 11th place to a three-way tie for eighth with their first back-to-back wins of the season last weekend, 6-3 over UAF and 4-1 over Bowling Green.
With his two goals against Fairbanks, Chad Kline (4-4–8) earned CCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors, and freshman Anthony Battaglia was the CCHA Rookie of the Week after helping kill 12 of 13 opponent power-play attempts.
Also scoring in the game against the Nanooks were Corey Waring (6-6–12), Steve Rymsha (4- 5–9), David Gove (6-11–17), and Geoff Collard (1-4–5). Daryl Andrews (2-6–8), Chuck Mindel (10-5–15), Jason Redenius (7-2–9), and Matt Addesa (5-5–10) scored in the win over Bowling Green. That’s nine Broncos combining for a 10-goal weekend.
Matt Barnes had an excellent weekend, with 27 saves against the Nanooks and 39 in the Bowling Green game.
Before last weekend, the Bronco power play had scored no goals on its last 15 chances, but converted 5-of-13 times last weekend, for a two-game conversion rate of 38.5 percent. The 10 goals the Broncos scored were in stark contrast to the single goal Western had scored in its three previous contests.
Geoff Collard’s goal was his first in 101 games. Talk about a dry spell. Jason Redenius snapped a 12-game scoreless streak, and Chuck Mindel’s 10th goal of the season Saturday gives him the lead among Bronco goal-scorers. One more for Mindel and he’ll match his career high, achieved as a rookie with Illinois-Chicago.
Ferris State vs. Western Michigan
Western lost 3-1 to Ferris State in the Broncos’ season opener, and the teams skated to a 2-2 tie in Big Rapids on Dec. 5, when Ferris was the ninth-ranked team in the country. Western leads this all-time series 50-26-6.
After taking just one point from Miami at home two weeks ago, the Bulldogs have had a lot of time to adjust their game in order to beat teams they should be beating with Vince Owen in net. Western Michigan is one of those teams.
Interim Bronco head coach Jim Culhane says, "All I’ve asked from our team is to compete. We’re fighting for a playoff spot and each game is like a playoff game for us. We’re really not doing anything different than before.
"Ferris is shooting for a home ice spot, and after having last week off, and will be rested for us."
Pick: Ferris State 4-1
No. 8 Michigan vs. Western Michigan
Culhane says, "Michigan should be very disappointed after losing twice last week at home. When’s the last time that happened?"
Well, Jim, since you asked, the last time Michigan dropped back-to-back games at home was Feb. 12 and 13, 1998, against Lake Superior State.
Michigan’s last five-game winless streak came in the 1988-98 season, when the Wolverines went 0-7-2 from Nov. 18 through Dec. 16.
After losing 6-3 to Lake Superior State and 3-2 to those pesky Buckeyes last weekend, look for the Wolverines to attempt to return to winning form in Kalamazoo, in spite of the fact that Michigan is 0-4-2 in its last six games away from Yost. In those six games, the Wolverines have been outscored 15-7.
What’s happening with Michigan, a team that went 6-0-2 in its first eight games on the road this season?
"I think it’s a combination of everything," says Wolverine head coach Red Berenson. "Look at the scheduling of those last five games. Three were against top-ten teams. I don’t think there was much to choose from between those teams, and the Lake game was just one of those things."
One of those things when freshman goaltender Josh Blackburn (2.22 GAA, .907 SV%) allowed six goals on 23 shots. Blackburn did rebound with an excellent game against Ohio State the following night, stopping 21 of 24 shots on goal. Toward the end of the third, Blackburn made an incredible save on a J.F. Dufour-Neal Rech breakaway to keep the Wolverines to within one.
Mike Van Ryn (7-7–14), Jeff Jillson (3-10–13), and Josh Langfeld (11-7–18) had the goals against Lake Superior State. The Michigan power play was effective against Ohio State in the 3-2 loss, accounting for both goals. Sean Ritchlin (7-2–9) scored his eighth goal of the season and Josh Langfeld his 13th.
Berenson says, "I think we’re struggling to be the same kind of team we were in the past, but we’re competitive. We’re not dominating anyone.
"We’re about where I thought we’d be going into this season. We’re not a great team; we’re a competitive team.
"We lost seven games after Christmas, and it’s a struggle lately. We’ve blown too many chances, given up too many goals. We’re getting trapped, making poor choices. It’s disappointing."
Team-leading freshman Mike Comrie (10-14–24) is the only Wolverine to reach double digits in both goals and assists. The last rookie to lead Michigan in goals was Denny Felsner, who netted 30 goals during the 1988-89 season, on his way to leading Michigan in goals all four of his seasons with the Wolverines.
Bubba Berenzweig (3-12–15) played an impressive game Saturday, assisting on Langfeld’s goal. With that assist, the senior defenseman topped his previous career-high 19 points in one season, established in both his sophomore and junior seasons.
The Wolverines lead this all-time series 40-22-7, and are undefeated against Western Michigan in the last seven meetings (6-0-1). In the last 36 matches between the Wolverines and the Broncos, Michigan is 28-3-5.
Michigan beat Western 6-3 at Yost on Jan. 16, a game in which senior Dale Rominski (11-5–16) notched his first career hat trick.
Jim Culhane says that since this game is televised, the Wolverines "are definitely going to be motivated to play."
Pick: Michigan 6-3