This Week in the CCHA: Feb. 7, 2002

The World Is Still Spinning, But…

So, knock any wood lately? Throw salt over your shoulder? Find yourself a talisman?

Don’t tell me you’re not superstitious. You’re a hockey fan, after all, and if you’re team’s on a hot streak chances are you haven’t changed your underwear in weeks.

(Okay. Maybe you only wear that lucky pair on game days.)

Even if you consider yourself a rational being, you have to admit that things around the CCHA have been a little on the weird side lately. Twenty-three goals in two games? The first chance to use a broom? A giant legume banging its head against the glass?

The only logical explanation, of course, is Mercury in retrograde. That pesky little planet that appears to be moving backward through the zodiac is wreaking havoc with communications, which explains the following:

23 Skidoo?

The collective defenses of the Nanooks and Irish must have missed the memo that said, “Hey! Play defense!” What else explains the scorefest in South Bend, when UAF swept Notre Dame by the scores of 7-5 and 6-5?

Apparently, only one goaltender from the teams’ collective roster was spared duty in this series, as Lance Mayes and Preston McKay saw action in the Nanook net, while Morgan Cey, Jeremiah Kimento, and Tony Zasowski each had a turn (or more) in net for the Fighting Irish.

Bobby Andrews had seven points in the two-game set (1-6), while Aaron Voros notched four goals and a helper on the weekend.

Can you imagine registering seven points in two games and losing? Well, Notre Dame’s Connor Dunlop had two goals and five assists in the losses against UAF.

Home Sweet Home?

In January, the Wolverines were 2-2-1 in Yost Arena. That’s a .500 record at home, which is par for the Michigan course this season.

Apparently, someone forgot to send the Wolverines the memo about how tough it is to play in Yost, about how a team is supposed to defend its home turf.

Given that Mercury is still retrograde until after Friday, look for Michigan to split against UNO this weekend, losing Friday, winning Saturday.

Sophomores, Slumping

Someone — or a couple of someones — in Columbus failed to get the memo about the sophomore slump, or failed to read the part about how and against whom to break out of said slump.

Dave Steckel, who had two goals this season going into OSU’s home stand against Michigan State, registered two goals and two assists against MSU. R.J. Umberger — who leads the Buckeyes in scoring, but who has been streaky — scored racked up two goals and three assists against the Spartans, and one of the those goals is a good candidate for the most beautiful seen in Value City Arena.

You’d think that Steckel may have thought about breaking his slump against, say, Lake Superior State a couple of weeks ago, and that Umberger would excel against the Lakers, the Bulldogs, and other teams with non-super-human netminders.

Of course, Paul Caponigri and Scott May missed the sophomore slump memo completely, and are two of the most consistent frontmen the Buckeyes dress.

Apparently, however, Coach Markell got the memo about splitting up Steckel and Umberger, who were on the same line for much of the season.

They Play College Hockey There?

Inexplicably, someone forgot to tell Friday’s crowd at Value City Arena that in Columbus, college hockey games are quiet affairs.

The crowd of approximately 9,000 fans (over 11,000 announced) was loud, particularly in the lower bowl. They chanted. They cheered — at the right times. Brutus Buckeye banged his big ol’ head against the glass.

According to the players, it was the best crowd they’ve seen at the Schott.

And somehow, the note to the arena staff about keeping the Schott warm was misplaced. Lately, it’s been cold enough to wear a sweater in there. Go figure.

Miller Time Out

Ryan Miller allowed six goals against OSU, a then-unranked team, in two games last weekend. That’s more than he’s allowed against a league opponent since MSU’s losses to UNO Oct. 26-27.

This is noteworthy only because it’s so rare, proof of the heavens in disarray.

From The Files Of The Truly Unfair

The Bowling Green Falcons, suffering from a distinct lack of offense this season, scored four goals against Western Michigan Saturday — and lost. Before the 5-4 decision, BGSU was 5-0-0 this season when scoring four or more goals.

Brooms Available In Kalamazoo

Western Michigan’s 8-1 and 5-4 wins over Bowling Green mark the first time this season the Broncos have swept an opponent. The four conference points put WMU in a tie with FSU for seventh place, just three points behind OSU and the coveted sixth-place, home-ice slot.

And He’s Still Leaving

Ron Mason. AD, not head coach. Proof enough for anyone of deus ex machina.

What’s In The Water In Omaha?

Definitely not affected by anything in heaven or — seemingly — on ice, Nebraska-Omaha’s Dan Ellis was named CCHA Defensive Player of the Week for the third week in a row, after shutting out Miami twice last weekend.

Ellis has posted three shutouts in his last four games, and is a big reason for UNO’s eight-game winning streak, during which the Mavericks have outscored opponents 25-9. During that span, Ellis has allowed two power-play goals, and just one second-period tally.

Ellis now has a 1.99 goals against average and .936 save percentage on the road this season, with a 2.62 GAA and .911 SV% at home.

The sophomore’s shutout streak is now at 175:17, and Ellis has allowed just one goal in the last five games (247.05). During UNO’s four-game home stand, Ellis recorded a 0.25 goals against average, and a .989 save percentage.

When Ellis last faced the Wolverines, he stopped 43 shots (Nov. 16), a school record for saves in a game.

And guess who’s coming to town?

Games Of The Week

The Wolverines are two points out of first place, behind Michigan State. With a sweep, the Mavericks can catch Michigan.

You had to guess?

No. 13 Nebraska-Omaha (18-9-3, 12-7-3 CCHA) at No. 11 Michigan (16-8-5, 13-5-4 CCHA)
Friday and Saturday, 7:35 p.m., Yost Arena, Ann Arbor, Mich.

So, you know about the team that posted two shutouts of a single opponent last week, and you know all about this guy who’s riding a shutout record into the weekend, right?

Of course, you know about Michigan and Josh Blackburn. Right?

With Cammalleri’s illness, a .500 record at home and goaltenders like Ellis and Miller getting ink, Michigan senior Josh Blackburn seems to have slipped everyone’s attention this season, but — quietly, perhaps — the streaky netminder is doing what he can to keep the Wolverines in the running.

Last week, Blackburn posted career shutouts Nos. 12 and 13, surpassing former Wolverine Marty Turco’s school record (and former NCAA “modern-day” record) for career shutouts.

And Blackburn owns Lake Superior State. Last week, the Wolverines beat the Lakers 5-0 (Jan. 31) and 1-0 (Feb. 2), Blackburn’s fourth and fifth blankings of LSSU.

Blackburn is riding a career-best shutout streak of 152:56 into this weekend’s match with the Mavericks. Blackburn has four shutouts this season.

Here’s an abbreviated look at this week’s premier pairing:

  • Michigan averages 3.14 goals per game in league play (fourth); UNO 2.64 (ninth)
  • Michigan and UNO are tied for goals allowed per conference game (2.05, second)
  • Michigan’s power play is third (.192); UNO’s sixth (.157)
  • Michigan’s penalty kill is first (.920); UNO’s fourth (.879)
  • Michigan is 6-2-2 in the last 10 games; UNO is 8-1-1
  • Michigan’s top scorer is John Shouneyia (8-23–31); UNO’s top scorers are Jeff Hoggan (17-19–36) and Andrew Wong (10-26–36)
  • Michigan’s top netminder is Josh Blackburn (2.33 GAA, .908 SV%); UNO’s is Dan Ellis (2.36 GAA, .921 SV%)

    The Wolverines lead this all-time series 5-2-1, but remember that Michigan is struggling at home and Nebraska-Omaha is playing well on the road.

    Pick: UNO 3-2, Michigan 3-2