Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming
Did you know that I’m a slut?
Did you know that I’m a slut for Michigan State?
Well, you did if you were one of the two people who recently felt compelled to email me, anonymously, to tell me that he or she sees me for what I really am, as revealed through my work for USCHO.
I hate it when I have more fun than I know I’m having.
Taking a page from "Pops" Hendrickson, I’d like to offer a class in funny-bone location.
Paula Weston vs. The CCHA Fans or Sense of Humor 102
In case you missed it, my esteemed colleague, Dave "Pops" Hendrickson took some heat from a few utterly humorless RPI fans who didn’t understand that his prediction of a 15-0 UNH win over the Engineers was a joke. While I can’t say that the writing that has motivated the hate mail I’ve received lately has been intentionally funny, I can say that at least I have been laughing a lot lately.
The basic difference between Dave’s Humor 101 and Paula’s follow-up course is that Pops wanted you to understand the humor in his column, and I want you to understand how funny your angry email is.
Of course, both Dave’s and my courses could be subtitled, "How to Take Yourself Less Seriously as a Hockey Fan," or "Here’s the Clue You’ve Been Looking For."
Granted, as a writer and semi-public figure, I’m open to all kinds of ridicule and abuse. I’d go so far as to say that as Paula C. Weston I’m open to all kinds of ridicule and abuse. I welcome feedback from readers, and have enjoyed correspondence with many college hockey fans.
And I’m not disputing that I haven’t earned derision at one or many points in my career.
But when Alaska-Fairbanks fans start writing to tell me how disrespectful I am of their team, I’ve got to laugh.
One fan of UAF–the same Nanooks that have won two of eight CCHA contests–wrote to tell me that he’s tired of my "smak" [sic] and that I’ve never shown the Nanooks any respect. Another UAF fan let me know that I know nothing about hockey because I predicted that Ryan Miller would get his third consecutive shutout for the Spartans while playing in Fairbanks on Nov. 6. The email arrived Nov 5.
(The Spartans shut out the Nanooks 3-0 on Nov. 6. Miller was in net. My prediction? "Michigan State sweeps the weekend and maybe Ryan Miller gets another shutout. Michigan State 4-0.")
While the silence of the Notre Dame and Bowling Green fans has been deafening–and welcome, since I seem to be Public Enemy #1 in both South Bend and BG–pockets of people in places like Kalamazoo, Sault Ste. Marie, and–get this–Columbus have filled the void this season.
One Bronco fan wrote to tell me that "I’d be sorry" that I picked Western so low in my preseason poll. I’m not sure what that means, since it’s less specific than the letter which began, "No household names? Where the hell is your house?" (My Bronco season preview explains that one.)
From Sault Ste. Marie–where I’m apparently known as a slut–I’ve also heard that I have the "hots" for various players around the league, which, says this writer, explains why I’m "hung up" on Ryan Miller, Ray Aho (could it be the goalies?), David Gove (who actually should be a household name), and Daniel Carriere.
And in Columbus–where I live and breathe, the address that earns me my OSU homer designation–Buckeye fans have said that I’m too hard on their team. While I haven’t been labeled a slut by anyone here (probably because anyone in this city who knows me knows that I have no life), I have been told that what I "know about Buckeye hockey equals zero" and that, as one fan put it, I "must live in Ann Arbor, because I obviously bleed Maize and Blue."
Just let me pop a vein and check that for you, okay, buddy?
Of course, my favorite email of all time arrived recently, sent by a hockey fan who said he wrote early in the season so that I am "not overly humiliated as [I] will be as the season unfolds."
About my season preview, the same hockey fan wrote, "It is obvious that the person who wrote this article is from the east coast as it is so slanted in perspective and lacking in objectivity." He’s got me pegged–born and raised in the coastal city of Syracuse, NY.
And this same writer revealed that he reads USCHO regularly when he wrote, "The fact that the CCHA so strongly intimidates you shows that it must be the premier conference in the back of your frightened little mind."
So, to sum, I’m an east-coast slut for Michigan State, who has the hots for several players, who knows nothing of Buckeye hockey, who bleeds Maize and Blue, who has it in for the Nanooks (and Lakers, and Broncos, and…), and who is motivated to write that the CCHA is a weak sister compared to Hockey East not because of last year’s NCAA performance but because of my "frightened little mind."
And it’s just the second week in November.
I wonder who I’ll be in January?
Oh, and to those of you who have written to tell me off, to those of you who throw your angry energy my way, for those of you who take your sport so seriously that you need to spout in such unintentionally funny ways, I have just one thing to say:
Thanks for reading U.S. College Hockey Online.
Two Firsts, We Think
First first: Mavericks win.
With their 5-3 win over Notre Dame, Nebraska-Omaha registered the first CCHA victory in program history.
David Brisson had the game-winner at 7:16 in the second. Kendall Sidoruk, this week’s CCHA Defensive Player of the Week, made 23 saves in net for the Mavericks.
Second first: Two goals, four seconds apart.
Although no one has the stats on this one, it’s believed that the third-period Michigan goals against Ohio State on Nov. 6–at 10:33 and 10:37, shorthanded–are the fastest goals scored in league history. Well, at least in Wolverine history. Maybe.
Scott Matzka scored the first–his second shorthander of the night–and Bob Gassoff had the second. Gassoff’s goal was a long lob just seconds, obviously, from the faceoff. The puck bounced all the way from beyond the blue line to the OSU net, right over Peter Wishloff’s stick.
The last time two goals were scored within four seconds in collegiate play is unknown, but it happened last in the NHL on Dec. 15, 1995, when Deron Quint of the Winnipeg Jets scored goals at the 7:51 and 7:55 marks in the second period in a 9-4 win over Edmonton.
"You kind of feel sorry for the goalie," said Michigan head coach Red Berenson.
The Rest of the Story…
Notre Dame picked up a point and a little bit more in Omaha: the stomach cruds.
Head coach Dave Poulin said that the bug was sudden and vicious. "[Jeremiah] Kimento went down before the game. [Nathan] Borega was down in the second period. We had guys in the locker room, just lying on the floor, sick. They couldn’t get up.
"It was so fast and nasty that we thought it was food poisoning, until [Chad] Chipchase went down this morning [Tuesday]."
That would be goalie Chad Chipchase. With Kimento out, the forward dressed to back up Irish rookie Tony Zasowski in net.
Three Eggs, Thank You
With the Spartans’ 3-0 win over UAF (now, this is smack!), rookie net-wunderkind Ryan Miller earned his third shutout of the season.
Michigan State head coach Ron Mason is quick to point out, however, that Spartan Joe Blackburn deserves some of the credit.
"Joe’s the go-to guy here, and Miller doesn’t have the same pressure. When he [Miller] comes into a game, he can be relaxed because it’s the second game and Joe’s done the job the night before."
Mason also says that Blackburn is "a great kid," and that there are few goalies, "let alone players, who would handle this situation as well."
Miller’s three shutouts are two shy of former Bronco Marc Magliarditi’s single-season record of five. Mags did it as a rookie, too.
OK, So You Think Pops Is the Only Guy Out There With a Head Full of Useless Knowledge?
I’m not the trivial type–really, I’m not–but this trivia question is a good one, and fairly easy. Name the Florida team with two CCHA goaltenders on its roster. Bonus points: who’s starting, and who’s backing?
Send your answers to Paula Weston.
Games of the Week
Alaska-Fairbanks (3-7-0, 2-6-0 CCHA) at Notre Dame (2-6-2, 1-5-2 CCHA) Friday and Saturday, 7:05 p.m., Joyce Center, South Bend, IN
Yes, Irish head coach Dave Poulin was concerned that his players were dropping left and right before and during Notre Dame’s 5-3 loss to UNO Saturday, but as Poulin says, "The point is of more concern. The sickness goes away."
With one point on the weekend and four in league play, Poulin says that in the short term, Notre Dame’s aims are realistic."
"We just have to win a hockey game. We have very, very short-term goals."
Enter Alaska-Fairbanks, a team tied with the Irish in CCHA points, a team that was able to beat Ohio State and Michigan at home–and do very little since.
Last weekend, the Nanooks dropped two at home to Michigan State, 5-1 and 3-0.
It’s difficult to find a silver lining in a weekend when you’re outscored 8-1 in two games, but if UAF can be happy about something it has to be this: just 18 penalty minutes in two games. The Nanooks had been averaging 24.80 minutes in the box per game. After the series with MSU, they’re averaging 21.63 minutes per game.
Good thing the UAF penalty kill is effective 87.8% of the time, good enough for third-best in this season of special teams.
Fairbanks leads the series 12-9-0, but Notre Dame has dominated the past three years (7-2-0), outscoring the Nanooks 17-5 last season.
The story may be different this year, with each team so similar in stats early in this campaign. Some numbers to ponder:
Alaska-Fairbanks and Notre Dame are tied in goal production, each team averaging 2.38 goals per game in eight league contests.
Notre Dame is allowing 3.75 goals per game to Fairbanks’ 4.00
Each team has seven power-play goals. Notre Dame (.147) is fifth to UAF’s (.130) sixth in league man-advantage production.
Fairbanks has the edge in net. Lance Mayes, the rookie who as emerged as the Nanook starter, has a .897 save percentage in seven conference contests. In the Irish net, Kimento and Zasowski have combined for a .883 team save percentage in ten league games.
If Fairbanks stays out of the box, the games are evenly matched. But if the Nanooks revert to form for one or both of these games, the cool-headed Irish, averaging just 17.5 penalty minutes per game, may have the advantage.
That is, if Notre Dame can find the net.
"We don’t have a line that’s meshed," says Poulin. "Our good players are not playing well. And when things are down, it seems, everything goes against you. It’s magnified."
Dan Carlson and Ben Simon are leading Notre Dame in conference scoring. Each has two goals and three assists for five points. David Inman leads the Irish in goal production with four.
If the Irish have recovered from the ‘flu, and the Nanooks are lagging from the trip, look for a split with Notre Dame winning Friday night.
Picks: Notre Dame 4-3, Alaska-Fairbanks 5-3.
Grudge of the Week
#5 Michigan (8-1-0, 5-1-0 CCHA) vs. Miami (5-2-2, 2-1-2 CCHA) Friday, 7:35 p.m., Firstar Center, Cincinnati, OH Saturday, 7:05 p.m., Goggin Arena, Oxford, OH
Who in this league doesn’t hold a grudge against the Wolverines?
Michigan, now 1-1-0 in Grudge Match Play, faces the RedHawks, who have plenty to be disgruntled about following last year’s sweep by the Wolverines, including a last-minute 1-0 victory on Dec. 4 in Oxford. All told, Michigan bet Miami 1-0, 6-1 and 9-4 last season.
The Wolverines own this all-time series 48-14-2, and are 13-3-0 in the last 16 meetings.
Last weekend, each team beat up an Ohio CCHA clustermate, outscoring opponents by the collective total of 21-5. Michigan trounced Ohio State 6-1 in Ann Arbor before squeaking by the Buckeyes 8-4 in Columbus. Miami managed Bowling Green to the tune of 7-0.
"This will be a great challenge to us," says Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. "I don’t think I’ll have to motivate the players."
Could be good games, both.
Picks: Michigan 4-2, 5-3.
Alaska-Fairbanks (3-7-0, 2-6-0 CCHA)
Streak: five losses
Rookie goaltender Nathan Wheeler made his debut against the Spartans, stopping 34 of 37 shots on goal (.919 SV%) in the 3-0 loss.
Wheeler was down ice from Spartan netminder Ryan Miller, his teammate from the Soo Indians (NAHL) during the 1997-98 season. Both goalies were ranked first and second in most of the NAHL goaltending stats in their year together.
Sjon Wynia (4-0–4) had the sole goal for Fairbanks against Michigan State.
Bowling Green (3-2-0, 3-4-0 CCHA)
Streak: one loss.
Bowling Green’s 7-0 loss to Miami was the first shutout the Falcons have allowed in 48 games, since the Bulldogs did it on Feb. 21, 1998.
Every Falcon who’s skated in at least three games has a point this season. Greg Day (4-3–7) leads BG in league scoring.
Bowling Green has registered the first goal of a game just once this season, and the Falcons are 2-4-0 when opponents score first.
Falcon junior defenseman Louis Mass holds the dubious distinction owning the active lead for most games without a goal at 47. Mass last scored on Feb. 20, 1998, against Western Michigan.
Ferris State (4-6-0, 4-6-0 CCHA)
Streak: one win.
When the Bulldogs head to Bemidji State this weekend, they’ll be playing their first nonconference games of the season, and assistant coach Drew Famulak says that they’ll be more than motivated.
"It’s a point of pride for us. Coach Daniels emphasizes that other people in the league are going to watch how we play out of league."
The change of venue will also be welcome. "We’ve been at home for a while, so it’s good to take a bus trip. We’ve never been there, so our kids are excited."
Sophomore defenseman Chad McIver scored his first collegiate goal in Saturday’s win over Lake Superior.
Rookie Phil Lewandowski rides a four-game point streak into Minnesota, after scoring the game-winner Saturday.
Lake Superior (3-5-0, 3-3-0 CCHA)
Streak: One loss.
For the Lakers, the CCHA is Ferris State. Four of LSSU’s six league games have been against the Bulldogs.
Five of the Lakers’ six games have been one-goal affairs, with Lake amassing a 3-2-0 record in those games.
Ben Keup (7-1–8) and Trent Walford (4-1–5) are responsible for 11 of Lake Superior’s 16 league goals.
The Lakers take this weekend off.
Miami (5-2-2, 2-1-2 CCHA)
Streak: One win, two unbeaten.
Miami’s shutout of Bowling Green marked the second time in 72 contests between the Ohio rivals that the RedHawks have held the Falcons scoreless. The time Miami shutout over BG was a 4-0 win on Nov. 15, 1996.
Rookie goalie David Burleigh got the win. Burleigh is the first RedHawk freshman to post a shutout since Steve McKichan blanked Ferris State, 4-0, on Feb. 19, 1988.
Senior Jeremy Bautch earned his first collegiate hat trick in the 7-0 win. Two of Bautch’s goals were unassisted. His five goals this season are more than double (two goals, 36 games) his total from last year.
#5 Michigan (8-1-0, 5-1-0 CCHA)
Streak: four wins.
Sophomore Mike Comrie had seven points (2-5–7) in the series against OSU last weekend. Comrie is the first player in the country to reach 20 points this season and leads the country with 10-10–20. Comrie has at least one point in each game this season.
Seven Wolverines had multiple-point games against Ohio State. On Friday, Mark Kosick (2-1–3), Josh Langfeld (0-2-2), and Dave Huntzicker (1-1-2) registered more than a point, while on Saturday, Scott Matzka (2-1-3), Mike Cammalleri (2-1-3), and John Shouneyia (1-1-2) combined to make the Buckeyes miserable.
#4 Michigan State (8-1-0, 8-0-0 CCHA)
Streak: eight wins.
The Spartans’ 8-0-0 CCHA start equals Michigan State’s best conference start of all time (1986-87).
Michigan State has scored first in each of its wins this season.
Senior Shawn Horcoff (4-13–17) has equaled his career-best, eight-game point streak, averaging over two point per game in the last eight contests.
Sophomore Adam Hall (9-2–11) has nine goals in Michigan State’s eight-game win streak, and is one goal shy of equaling his regular-season goal production from last season.
Joe Blackburn and Ryan Miller have combined for .950 team save percentage in league play, allowing on average just 1.11 goals per game. Blackburn is clearly the slacker here, with his lousy .926 SV% and 1.55 goals per game.
(Michigan State fans: consult with Rensselaer fans on how to locate a funny bone.)
Nebraska-Omaha (1-3-2,1-3-2 CCHA)
Streak: one win, three unbeaten.
With the weekend series against Notre Dame, senior goaltender Kendall Sidoruk surpassed the 1,000 mark in saves and moved past Jason Mitchell for the all-time lead at UNO with 1,013 saves.
The Mavericks registered power-play goals in each game against Notre Dame, the first that’s happened for UNO since a series with Bemidji State last February.
Seven different Mavericks were responsible for the seven goals against Notre Dame last weekend.
Northern Michigan (6-3-1, 4-1-1 CCHA)
Streak: one loss.
Northern’s loss to Western Michigan was their first loss to the Broncos since rejoining the CCHA. The Wildcats are 7-1-0 in their last eight games against Western..
Junior Ryan Riipi carries a career-high four-game point and assist streak in to this weekend’s series with Ohio State. Riipi has 0-4-4 totals in his last four appearances.
The all-time series between the Wildcats and their opponent this weekend, the hapless Buckeyes, is tied at 18-18-3. Northern snapped a five-game losing streak against Ohio State on Feb. 13 with a 7-2 win in Marquette.
Notre Dame (2-6-2, 1-5-2 CCHA)
Streak: one loss.
Notre Dame scored twice in the first period of last week’s loss at UNO, after totaling just one first-period goal in the first nine games.
Senior Andy Jurkowski (3-1–4) has a point in four of the last games, including goals vs. Ferris State, Miami and UNO.
Senior Troy Bagne (1-0-1) scored his fourth career goal (and second career CCHA goal) in the 2-2 tie at UNO.
Ohio State (2-8-0, 1-7-0 CCHA)
Streak: nine losses.
Three rookies notched their first collegiate goals for the Buckeyes last weekend.
Nic Boileau (1-1–2) had the only goal in OSU’s 6-1 loss to Michigan Friday.
Luke Pavlas (1-1–2) and linemate Ryan Smith (1-1–2) had their first goals in Saturday’s 8-4 loss, and the line of Pavlas, Smith, and Yan Des Gagne (1-1–2) combined for three of OSU’s four goals on the night.
The four goals in OSU’s loss to Michigan Saturday equaled half the Buckeye goal production in their previous seven games. Ohio State has been outscored 40-14 in league play this season.
The current Buckeye losing streak is one short of a ten-game streak Ohio State endured in 1995-96.
Western Michigan (5-4-1, 5-4-1 CCHA)
Streak: one win.
Western Michigan’s five wins this season equal their total for the entire 1998-99 campaign. It took the Broncos until Feb. 5 to reach 11 points last year.
The Broncos snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Wildcats with that 5-2 win Saturday night, a game in which Northern doubled the Broncos in shots, 40-20.
David Gove (5-12–17) and Mike Bishai (8-6–14) have responsible for 13 of Western’s 34 conference goals, but Western scores by committee. All 11 Broncos who have found the net in conference games have scored at least two goals.