Obligatory Playoff Talk
Ten teams are in. Two are out. What more do you need to know?
Most of the drama of the playoff race has ended. Unless Bowling Green sweeps Michigan and Northern sweeps Lake, the Wolverines have the regular-season title.
Northern, Michigan State, and Lake jockey for position near the top; Miami, Western Michigan, and Bowling Green do the same near the bottom.
Notre Dame and Ferris State are each fighting for fifth place and the last home-ice spot.
Girl Reporter League Awards and All-CCHA Team
There’s nothing earth-shattering about my all-CCHA picks. Forwards Mike Comrie, David Gove, and Shawn Horcoff; defensemen Jeff Jillson and Mike Weaver; goaltender Jayme Platt.
Player of the Year: Jayme Platt. Not only is he good, but imagine the Lakers without him.
Coach of the Year: Scott Borek. The guy followed Jeff Jackson, managed to get rid of a lot of deadwood, managed to put together a hard-working team of nice kids, and has done it all in the Fishbowl of College Hockey — without much support from his academic institution. And he can quote William Blake in a pinch.
Rookie of the Year: Chris Gobert. When this Wildcat is on the ice, good things happen. Fourteen goals. Nine assists. Plus-13.
In addition to these standard league awards–and in lieu of some others–Girl Reporter Productions proudly presents the following awards for the 1999-2000 season.
Team of the Year: Nebraska-Omaha. Not only did the Mavs turn out to be a delightful surprise as a hockey team, but they bring to the CCHA all-around nice guy Mike Kemp and the population of a small city’s worth of fanatical fans. They draw 300 people to their weekly luncheon when Miami comes to town. 8,000 and then some at games. They also add a way-cool road trip to the CCHA itinerary.
Surprise of the Year: Lake Superior State. If the planets are aligned correctly, the Lakers could take second place. It won’t happen, but a year ago, no one but Scott Borek thought they’d have a chance at home ice.
Surprise of the Year, Take Two: Notre Dame. Wasn’t this supposed to be the year they arrived, again?
Tank of the Year: Ohio State. The Buckeyes miss not just Hugo Boisvert, but Chris Richards and Dan Cousineau. Little offense all season, and no on-ice leadership at the start of the year. The Bucks are the first to admit that they screwed up, but that doesn’t make the early departure from the 1999-2000 season any less stunning. It’s the first time since 1982 that OSU has bowed out before the playoffs.
Victims of the Year: Michigan. 691 penalty minutes in conference play, and every single one of them retaliatory.
Defenders of the Realm: Ferris State. Although Michigan State has climbed to 12 in the PWR, for the longest time, only the Bulldogs and Wolverines were showing well enough to be invited to the NCAA tournament. At 19-13-2, the Bulldogs have the fourth-best overall record in the league, and are 5-1-0 against nonconference opponents, excluding the decisive wins over Bemidji State. Ferris also outscored opponents overall by an impressive 107-89 margin.
Team Most Likely to Surprise Folks in the Postseason: Ferris State. If they get to the Joe, don’t count them out. If they go to the Big Show, definitely don’t count them out. Honorable Mention: Nebraska-Omaha.
Perseverance Award: Miami RedHawks. They lose Jason Deskins and Gregor Krajnc early in the season, then Evan Cheverie late–and they never give up. Kudos to Enrico Blasi for weathering a very difficult first season as head coach, and for doing so with such a positive attitude.
And kudos to Dustin Whitecotton, who wins this year’s Attaboy Award for shouldering so much of the burden in Oxford after sitting out much of the 1998-99 season himself.
Courage Under Fire Award: Guy Gadowsky. In that other CCHA fishbowl, Fairbanks, Gadowsky made a bold move, removing local favorite Kerry Hafele from the team. There’s little news from Alaska during this disappointing Nanook season, but the word around the league is that UAF is no longer a doormat.
The Chris Richards Man-Most-Likely-To-Be-Overlooked Memorial Award: Michael Bishai. This scrappy sophomore plays on a tenth-place team, has a plus/minus ratio of -6, but is fifth in the league in scoring, and has 10 power-play goals and three game-winners. And he’s second on his team in scoring, behind Dave Gove. If Bishai gets mentioned for either first or second all-CCHA team honors, the league would have to omit another player, like Adam Hall or Brian McCullough. Come to think of it, the latter could be the runner-up for this award.
Most Likely to Leave Early Award: Mike Comrie. Will Comrie follow in the footsteps of fellow Wolverine Mike Van Ryn and other former CCHA Rookies of the Year Mark Eaton and Marc Magliarditi? If the Wolverines win a national championship–a real possibility–I wouldn’t be surprised.
The Aniket Dhadphale Garbage Man Memorial Award: Eric Meloche. And, no, it isn’t for his trash-talking, which has landed him six misconducts this season. Meloche leads the nation in power-play goals (14), many of which were earned by picking up the trash around the net.
Wow Award: Ryan Miller. Shut out opponents in his first three collegiate games. Wow.
Best Offensive Goalie Award: Ray Aho. The OSU netminder has three assists this season, the most points for any goaltender in the CCHA.
1999-2000 Goon Squad: OK, so this is college hockey, and they’re all good boys. They all play clean. But if I had to pick a few to be on my side of an alley fight, I’d opt for Michigan’s Bob Gassoff, Miami’s Pat Leahy, UAF’s Chad Hamilton, and Notre Dame’s Nathan Borega. Remember, it’s not the minutes in the man, but the man in the minutes.
Quote of the Year: "Went to my old bread-and-butter move, I guess. That’s what I like to call it. It works better than anything else I do." Ohio State’s Benji Wolke, after scoring on a breakaway against Colgate in January. Wolke finished the season with three goals overall.
League’s Best Fans: The Good Folks of Omaha. Can there be any doubt? Three hundred people for the weekly lunch when Miami was in town! Double that for Michigan State! Holy moly!
League’s Most Juvenile Student Sections: Bowling Green and Michigan. Why? Obscenities.
League’s Most Proficient Emailers: Michigan. The bulk of my weekly email comes from Wolverine fans, many of whom tell me that I just suck, I just suck, I just suck.
League’s Dumbest Fan: Ohio State. For throwing Yoo-Hoo onto the ice in response to penalties. This has led to a warning for a bench minor, and it’s a waste of a good chocolate-like liquid, too. Unbelievable.
Best Small Barn: Bowling Green. When the student section isn’t saying something I wouldn’t want my mother or small child to hear, it’s a rockin’ place. And I like it even though the blue lines are brown, and the center line orange.
Best Large Barn: The Bullpen. I haven’t even been there yet, but I know the truth when I hear it–and everyone who’s been to Omaha has returned awed.
Best Rink Food: Michigan State. Ice cream is a food, and those little cookie-and-ice-cream sandwiches they sell are a puck-sized slice of heaven.
Worst Rink Food: Michigan. Don’t eat the hot dogs. Ever.
Best Uniforms: None. There’s little originality when it comes to sweaters in this league. Ohio State has new uniforms, but they’re not very sharp. I’ve always liked Lake State’s away sweaters, with the golden anchor on the field of blue, but the names on the back are impossible to read. Western’s attempt to revamp the school’s colors is noble but misguided. It’s a fashion emergency all over this conference.
Take Notes. There Will Be a Quiz
After the drama of the past month, this week seems anti-climactic. It’s almost a wait-and-see week; where teams travel seems to be all that’s left to decide.
Here are a few trivia questions–some easy, some more difficult–for CCHA fans.
1. The Ferris State Bulldogs are one win away from 20. When was the last time FSU had 20 wins in a season? How many times has it happened in the program’s history?
2. If you’ve read the column carefully, you know the last time Ohio State missed the playoffs. When was the last time Michigan missed the playoffs? Michigan State?
3. How many times in program history has Ohio State gone to the NCAA tournament? Bonus points: Which Big Ten team has made more NCAA appearances than any other?
4. You know the Mavericks are in their first year of CCHA play, but do you know how many years the program has existed?
5. What is Northern Michigan’s school record for shutouts? What is the record in the CCHA for shutouts by one team in a single season?
6. The last six CCHA Coaches of the Year have skippered six different teams. Name them, in order.
7. The award for Best Defensive Forward has been handed out since 1990. Name the team represented more than any other among the recipients.
8. In the 1990s, the Rookie of the Year Award went to players from teams outside of Michigan twice. Name the players and the teams. (Hint: one has been named already in this column.)
9. In the 1990s, the Player of the Year Award went to players from teams outside of Michigan twice. Name the players and the teams.
10. What did University of Illinois-Chicago Flame Colin Chin do on Nov. 12-13, 1982, that was so unusual?