This Week In The CCHA: Dec. 7, 2000

They’ll Probably Have A White Christmas

Seven players representing four teams from the CCHA have been named to the 22-man U.S. National Junior Team, set to compete in the 2001 International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championship Dec. 26, 2000, through Jan. 5, 2001, in Moscow and surrounding Russian cities.

The CCHA leads the way among appointees to the team, which features 18 collegians. The team, considered the cream of the under-20 crop, includes returnees Andy Hilbert (10-19–29) of Michigan, making his third appearance and Notre Dame’s Connor Dunlop (4-5–9). Newcomers are Michigan defenseman Mike Komisarek (2-5–7, +4), Notre Dame forward Rob Globke (7-4–11), Ohio State forwards Dave Steckel (7-8–15) and R.J. Umberger (6-6–12), and Northern Michigan goaltender Craig Kowalski (2.77 GAA, .908 SV%).

Wolverine Mike Cammalleri (11-14– 25) is one of just three U.S. collegians invited to the Canadian Naiontal Junior Camp, from Dec. 13-18 in North York, Ontario. Cammalleri will be competing for a spot on the 22-man Canadian roster with 33 other invited players.

Aside from being an honor for these individuals, the teams they represent, and the CCHA itself, the appointment of these players to their respective countries’ rosters means that four teams will be without key players.

Should Cammalleri make the Canadian squad, the Wolverines will be without their top two scorers and their already banged-up defense will be even thinner without Komisarek for the Great Lakes Invitational tournament — and for two home games against the Lakers, a team that is always up for Michigan, no matter what the rest of the Lake State season resembles.

The Buckeyes will lose their top two centermen, Steckel and Umberger, for their holiday tournament in Florida, where they’ll face Cornell and either Clarkson or Maine, as well as two home games against Western Michigan in early January.

The struggling Irish will play St. Lawrence and the winner of the Rensselaer-Northeastern game in their holiday tourney, before hosting Ferris State in a battle that may determine whose season is longer come March.

Kudos to the Wildcats, who scheduled only one game against Michigan Tech for the time their starter, Kowalski, will be gone.

Ganga Watch

After a two-week absence, the Ganga watch returns with mixed news. Our hero, Nick Ganga, now has seven penalties for 14 minutes. The game in which he ran up his minutes was Ohio State’s Nov. 19 5-4 win over Bowling Green. Nick was in the box for six minutes, bringing his total to 12.

Two days later, Nick balanced things out a bit with his game-winner in OSU’s 10-0 trouncing of Findlay, and he kept his cool in a very chippy 6-1 Buckeye victory in Big Rapids Dec. 1, in which he had a goal and an assist, and no penalties.

The next night in a 1-1 tie, however, Nick added another penalty to his total (a slash, no less).

So, for those of you keeping score, Nick Ganga now has eight goals and two assists for 10 points, is +7, has two power-play tallies and two game-winners, a shorthanded goal, and a hat trick — and 14 penalty minutes, a full 36 shy of his self-imposed limit of 50 on the season.

Halfway there, Nick! We believe!

He’s Making A List, He’s Answering Mail

Have you heard? It’s that most wonderful time of the year.

In the U.S., it’s easy to be cynical in early December. Having been assaulted by retailers since mid-September, most of us know that the real magic of Christmas is the credit card slight-of-hand used to finance the whole season.

Instead of obsessing over which pair of slippers to buy Aunt Vera or what dessert to prepare for Uncle Al’s annual Messiah sing-along, wouldn’t it be nice to have some confirmation that the spirit of giving — that spirit that defines a traditional Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa — is still alive and among us?

As your faithful girl reporter, I had been working day and night to find evidence of this true meaning of the season, but with little success. I pored over game summaries, only to find more unsportsmanlike conduct calls than I’d care to reveal. I searched the Internet only to find the flame wars in full swing.

Then suddenly one day last week, a little bundle arrived via anonymous email. At first I was reluctant to open the attachment, given the results of my recent research and my history with fan mail. But just as I was about to flush the message into cyber-oblivion, something inside me said, “Have a little faith,” and I clicked on “view.”

After scanning detected no virus, to what did my wondering eyes appear? Messages from the Jolly Old Elf himself! Here were messages from Santa Claus, answering the requests of every team in the league!

And in the spirit of the season, Dear Readers, here they are, letters from Santa.

Dear Nanooks,

It’s always nice to receive mail from such close neighbors! Thank you for the useful ulu.

As for your request, I just don’t see how I can deliver David Gove to you, but I do understand your need to score more than 2.36 goals per game. While your Jim Lawrence (8-7–15) leads your team in scoring, I’ll do what I can to help the rest of the team along, and to help Jim find the scoring touch five-on-five as well as on the power play.

With a .924 save percentage, that young Preston McKay seems to be doing well in net, so perhaps you’re doing all you can to grant your own wish of lowering that pesky 3.57 goals allowed per game.

Let me add that I’m impressed with the way in which you nice boys have lowered your penalty minutes this season. You’re on the good list for that.

And unfortunately, I cannot alter the space-time continuum to allow for shorter road trips.

You boys just keep coming at your opponents the way you do, you keep rebounding on that second night, and you’ll do all right this season. I know, I know — a point on Friday night would be nice. I’ll see what I can do.


S. Claus

Dear Falcons,

Your request for scoring is certainly timely, but even though you are averaging 2.21 goals per game, I just cannot send you David Gove.

I’m on the hunt for some consistency, though. You have to understand that it’s not something my elves can simply whip up from scratch. Two losses to Alabama-Huntsville, yet a win over Ohio State and ties against Northern and Michigan State — can’t you boys make up your minds?

Put that Curtis Valentine on the ice, often. Good things seem to happen when he’s out there.

Way to stay out of the box this season, Falcons!


S. Claus

Dear Bulldogs,

I’ve been making a list and checking it twice. You boys have been naughty.

You can’t average 30 minutes in the penalty box per game and expect to get anything but coal for in your stockings.

‘Tis the season of giving, however, and I’m in a good mood. In the upcoming months, I’ll try to help with what you need most, besides patience: defense. Even though you’re allowing 3.93 goals per game, I cannot see my way clear to give you Ryan Miller.

I will give you a little piece of advice, Bulldogs. When a team’s penalty kill is effective about 75 percent of the time, it’s wise to play a clean game.

Best of luck,

S. Claus

Dear Lakers,

I understand that scoring 2.50 goals per game while allowing 3.39 puts you in a tight spot, but I can’t deliver David Gove.

You’ve returned most of your team from last season, including Ryan Knox, Ryan Vince, and Jayme Platt, yet you’re not scoring, not keeping them out of your own net, and your power play and penalty kill are a mediocre ninth in the league.

Well, there’s only one thing to do. I’m giving you something you didn’t even ask for: the gift of memory.

Remember what it was like to dominate with defense? To beat Michigan in Joe Louis Arena? To win? I’m sure you do. Dig deep, boys. There is still time to salvage this season, but only if you remember.

And thank your coach for that lovely volume of Yeats. The missus and I enjoyed it tremendously.


S. Claus

Dear RedHawks,

With the November you had, I’m surprised you wrote to ask for anything at all.

The strongest opponent you’ve faced is Western Michigan, and you split with the Broncos on the road — very impressive. A run of 7-1-2 in your last 10 games says a lot about the gifts you’ve already received, namely the returns of Jason Deskins and Gregor Kranjc.

So, you can score again, but that defense needs shoring up. I’ll see what I can do. As for the request for continued good health, this is hockey, boys. Injuries are part of the package, but I’ll do what I can there, too.

Respect. Now there’s something I wish I could grant. Given that even when you were recent NCAA tournament contenders you received no coverage from nearby Cincinnati — a city that boasts both an IHL and an AHL team — I’m not sure I can help you there.

Stay healthy,

S. Claus

Dear Wolverines,

You scamps. One minute it appears that you’re trying to be nice, reducing your penalty minutes from a nation-leading 30+ per game last season, then you take unnecessary penalties — especially in league play — and average between 22 and 25 minutes per game.

It’s a good thing your penalty kill is about 88 percent effective. In fact, you boys seem to be effective in every aspect of the game: power play at .247, averaging more than four goals per game in league play, allowing 2.18. Just what could you possibly want from me?

Since I’m Santa, however, I know what you need even when you don’t: cooler heads. And I know your defense could use some shoring up. I’ll see what I can do.

And, no, I’m not going to ignore the boys in East Lansing this year. That’s just not nice.


S. Claus

Dear Spartans,

In some ways, you are not the Spartans of old, the team with a single dominating offensive player who racks up the numbers. But you are a Spartan team that knows how to win, and that makes you very typically Michigan State.

Your dominating player this season is Ryan Miller, whose .948 save percentage and 1.34 goals against average in league play make him nearly impossible to beat. And this is a young man who is facing more shots this season than he did last year, proving doubters wrong.

You are allowing just 1.36 goals per game, and scoring 3.09. It’s a winning ratio, but not the best, perhaps. As long as Miller’s in net, all you need is two goals per game, but perhaps a pure goal-scorer would be a nice addition.

Your power play is .227, your penalty kill at .912, and you take just 16 minutes of penalties per game. What more do you want?

Perseverance would be a good gift for you, and health.

And, no, I will not ignore the boys in Ann Arbor this year. Can’t we all just get along?

All the best,

S. Claus

Dear Mavericks,

You have been blessed with a faithful following that reminds people that the word fan rooted in fanatic. These people will watch you win or lose, which is more than some other teams in the league have.

I understand that you’re struggling this year, and that the losses outnumber the wins. You are scoring the same number of goals per game in conference play that you are allowing, 3.30.

Last year, you had your first season of league play, a trip to The Joe, and the respect of your peers. This season, naturally, you want to make the playoffs. I can’t give you what you’ve asked for (David Gove is simply not available), but I can help you find the oomph you need to grit out a few more wins.


S. Claus

Dear Wildcats,

Well, you’re welcome. I knew you’d like those rookies.

I’ve made that list and checked it twice, only to find that you’re the nicest boys in the league. Just 15.71 penalty minutes per game in league play! Imagine! Good thing, too, since your penalty kill is 11th.

You’re playing well, and as always are among the hardest-working boys in college hockey, but your opponents are outscoring you 40-37 in conference play. This is something we can work on. You need someone with the scoring touch, and I hereby grant permission to Chris Gobert and Fred Mattersdorfer to find the back of the net more often. By my decree, they are allowed to double their league productivity of four goals each in their next two CCHA games.

Another gift you could stand is that of a consistent game the whole weekend through, the proverbial 120 minutes of hockey. Your record reads like a coded message: Tie, loss, win win tie. Win win win, tie. Loss loss, win, loss, win, tie. Loss, tie.

I see that you will be without rookie goaltender Craig Kowalski for a game. Not to worry. Dan Ragusett will prove capable.

Nice job on that new arena. Please tell that one fan to keep his clothes on.


S. Claus

Dear Fighting Irish,

You have many blessings, as you well know, given the number of drafted players on your roster. Why you are lingering in the cellar is a mystery to us all.

It’s clear that goaltending isn’t the issue. Tony Zasowski has a .913 save percentage, fourth-best in conference play, and both Kyle Kolquist and Jeremiah Kimento are solid as well.

Scoring 1.88 goals per game on average just isn’t going to do it, but I cannot bring you Mike Bishai and Steve Rymsha. Perhaps, instead, I can bring the scorer’s touch back to Dan Inman, Dan Carlson, and Brett Henning.

You boys stay out of the box — 26 minutes per game! disgraceful! — or it’s nothing but coal for you.

All the best,

S. Claus

Dear Buckeyes,

I’m glad you like the new rookies. I told you that you would.

I see from my list that you’re attempting to stay on my good side, reducing your ridiculous number of penalty minutes from near 30 per game to about 21 per game. Tsk, tsk. You were doing so much better at the start of the season. Keep cool, boys.

I see that you are doing well in most areas, fifth in league scoring and third in goals allowed. Your most notable improvement seems to be defensively. I suspect your captain, Andre Signoretti, with an overall plus/minus of +13, has something to do with that.

But there is one area where you can significantly improve, and one other gift you may need.

First, I send you the present of a good second night. In October and early November, you had the tendency to let down a bit the second night. Lately, the effort is improving on the second night — with wins in Lake Superior on the second night, against Bowling Green in the second game, and a tie in Big Rapids the nightcap — but you need consistency throughout a whole weekend.

The second gift you need is that of perseverance, when you lose your top two centermen, Dave Steckel and R.J. Umberger to the U.S. Junior team for your holiday tournament and games against Western Michigan. Someone will have to step up.


S. Claus

Dear Broncos,

You have David Gove, Mike Bishai, and Steve Rymsha. You also have Jeff Campbell, and a goaltender who is finally coming into his own.

While you’re allowing 3.33 goals per conference game, you’re scoring an outrageous 5.11. Your power play is sublime. Your penalty kill, more than adequate.

What do you want from me?

Well, I can do nothing for you other than grant you permission to continue tearing up the league.

I also happen to have a really good cookie recipe, from the mother of a good friend:

Dolly’s Cut-Out Cookies

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 tbs. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 cup butter

2 eggs

4 tsp. milk (1 tbs. + one tsp.)

1 tsp. vanilla


1. Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time. Add milk. Mix until smooth.

3. Stir dry ingredients into butter/sugar batter.

4. Divide into workable amounts and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate overnight or several hours.

5. Preheat oven to 375. Roll a small amount of dough to 1/8-1/4 inch; keep remaining dough refrigerated. Cut and place on ungreased baking sheets. Brush with beaten egg white and decorate with colored sugar. Bake 5-10 minutes. These cookies burn easily, so watch them.


S. Claus

Games and Grudges

The Game of the Week and Grudge of the Week will return after the first of the year.

Happy Holidays, everyone!


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