Ladies and gentlemen, the 5-1-0 Ferris State Bulldogs.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 6-2-0 Miami RedHawks.
There is no magic formula for the early success of both FSU and Miami. Each team is averaging over five goals per game in overall play.
In fact, in the early going, every school’s offense seems to be producing with the notable exception of Lake Superior State. Michigan State and Nebraska-Omaha are each averaging 3.17 goals per game in overall play — and they’re tied for eighth in offensive production.
Yes, three. Notre Dame’s Rob Globke and Aaron Gill, and Northern Michigan’s Alan Swanson.
So, It’s Halloween, And You Haven’t Got A Thing To Do.
Halloween lacking the excitement of days gone by? Sure, it’s always fun to toilet paper your next-door neighbor — let alone his house and yard — but it’s so, well, predictable. Besides, he always retaliates — every friggin’ year -by painting the cat.
You’re in a holiday rut. You need to jazz up that old routine, create some new traditions, break your own jack-o-lantern for a change.
Why not join your favorite team in commemorating this autumnal event? Here’s a look at how each team in the league adds its own special touch to the season’s festivities.
In ancient times, people of the north would carve elaborate temples in the ice floes, and light them with candles to welcome back the dead. This would happen from July through the following May, roughly the entire length of winter in what is now known as Alaska.
These days, the Nanooks are lighting candles on the eve of Dia De Los Muertos, the day of the dead, to welcome back the spirit of their offense of days gone by.
Averaging 2.33 goals per game while giving up 3.67, UAF needs to find the path back to its winning ways of just one season ago — or risk perpetuating the curse of Coach of the Year.
Now, this is a team that’s dressed year-round for Halloween. Even the lines in the BGSU Ice Arena are prepared.
(Of course, the goalie creases were not prepared during the first weekend of play — but that’s another story.)
The Falcons celebrate Halloween by re-enacting John Carpenter’s Halloween. They’re really true to the original except that no one’s sister dies, there are no knives, and the blood on the ice belongs to the players.
Tyler Masters and Jordan Sigalet do, however, wear really cool masks, and the only Michael on the team — Mike Falk — is pretty much avoided for most of the day.
While John Carpenter is a native of Bowling Green in a state directly south of Ohio, this tradition at the BGSU Ice Arena, inexplicably, lives on.
This one is easy for fans to follow: Dress up like a dog. Scare the hell out of opposing goaltenders.
Lake Superior State
Much like the Nanooks are lighting candles to welcome former (successful) spirits on this eve of Dia De Los Muertos, the Lakers are lighting really, really big candles on this day to signify what is known as El Año de la Gloria Anterior.
According to Coach Anzalone, all that’s needed for success this year is, well, the players he had 20 years ago.
Have you seen The Birds? Do you know what Mike Kompon, Greg Hogeboom, Derek Edwardson, and Vince Pulera are doing to the opposition? These four are responsible for nearly half of Miami’s overall goal production this season.
You have brought the evil here.
The rumors you’ve heard about the Wolverines performing binding ceremonies to prevent hot players from leaving early are entirely untrue. In fact, the Wolverines merely avoid ladders, black cats, and cracks in sidewalks on this day — or any day, given the injury and illness bug that seems to plague this team.
It wouldn’t hurt to light a candle for these guys, and think good thoughts about their bones.
Being the land-grant university in the state of Michigan, MSU’s Halloween tradition is rooted (get it? rooted?) in farming activities that go back literally dozens of days — carving up the competition.
Lake State was MSU’s first pumpkin this season. Only three Spartans have notched (notched — get it?) more than one goal this season: Brad Fast (6-3-9), Duncan Keith (3-2-5), and Corey Potter (2-0-2).
That’s through six games. That is scary.
Have you heard of the tradition of corning? It’s new to me, but they have a lot of corn in Nebraska (maybe you’ve heard), and this is how it’s done:
Go into a cornfield. Pick some corn. Shuck some corn. Put said corn into brown paper bags. Hide bags from parents.
After dark, throw these bags of corn at unsuspecting houses, preferably those with aluminum siding. This allegedly causes no damage, but makes an awesome racket. Run like hell when you’re done.
Now that you know this, you should know that the Mavericks never, ever do this for Halloween. Instead, they engage in your standard disappearing act. This week, rookie defender Craig Zubersky vanished.
The Wildcats like to celebrate in a very traditional manner — in costume. Two weeks ago, NMU wore the “contender” costume, beating MSU 10-4 in a weekend split with the Spartans.
Last weekend, however, the ‘Cats looked more like dogs in Goggin Arena, giving up 13 goals to the RedHawks.
This week, look for new NMU costumes — the “really-ticked-and-going-to-take-it-out-on-a-weaker-team” look.
Ah, the Irish! As everyone knows, Halloween is rooted in Celtic tradition, and the holiday was co-opted by the Catholic Church.
The Celts celebrated Halloween as the Sabbath of Samhain, the Celtic god of the dead. This holiday marked the end of summer and beginning of winter — your standard harvest and long nights kind of thing.
As is fitting the weekend, the Fighting Irish exchange a game or two with fellow Catholic school Boston College.
How should you celebrate in the Notre Dame tradition? Confess, of course.
The Buckeyes play hockey in one of the most typically American cities in the U.S. Name a fast-food chain, a retail chain, an entertainment trend, and you’ll probably find it here. Columbus is the home of Wendy’s, the birthplace of the ATM and gas pump. The banana split was invented here.
In the spirit of such Americana, OSU has a very traditional Halloween celebration. It’s called trick or treat. If they’re playing on the road, there’s a 50-50 chance the Buckeyes will be tricked; if they’re home, the fans may be treated to some good hockey and a win or two.
This weekend, OSU hosts two ECAC squads, and very well may win both games, but the fans have a tradition of their own, one not limited to Halloween. Even if OSU beats Cornell and Colgate this weekend, the fans will still find a way to demand John Markell’s head on a platter.
In Germany, people put their knives away on Halloween, so as to minimize the risk to returning spirits.
In Kalamazoo, the fans don’t need knives to hurt returning CCHA opponents, and the Broncos need no other Halloween tradition than their very scary fans.
Games Of The Week
It’s the red-hot RedHawks vs. the floundering Falcons. Thus begins the battle for the Ohio Cup.
Bowling Green (2-5-0, 0-4-0 CCHA) at Miami (6-2-0, 3-1-0 CCHA)
Friday and Saturday, 7:35 p.m., Goggin Arena, Oxford, Ohio
BGSU head coach and all-around nice guy Scott Paluch isn’t daunted by the Falcons’ trip down I-75 this weekend — not because he’s overconfident about his team’s chances against Miami, but because these will be the second and third meetings between the clubs this season.
“We saw them earlier,” said Paluch, whose Falcons lost to the RedHawks 2-1 in the title game of the Lefty McFadden Invitational Oct. 5. “[Falcon goaltender] Tyler Masters played extremely well. The game was up in the air until the last five minutes, but they scored late in the third for the win.”
To say that the Falcons have struggled this year is an understatement. BGSU has been outscored by opponents 30-18 in seven games, and last week came from behind to beat Findlay 4-3.
“They’re [Findlay] off to a good start,” said Paluch. “It was a pretty even game for most of the game. We found ourselves down three-one in the third, got a power-play goal to make it three-two, then two, good hard-working goals.”
It was rookie Brett Pilkington who scored on the power play at 9:29 to give the Falcons some momentum. D’Arcy McConvey tied the game at 13:59, and Ryan Minnabarriet had the game-winner with 1:02 left in regulation.
That kind of work ethic pleases Paluch, and is the foundation on which he wants to rebuild the Falcons.
“What we’ve had right from the time we’ve met last April as a team, through the summer, through preseason and now in practice is that this group has worked extremely hard,” said Paluch. “We want to establish a core work ethic kind of as a staple of our team, and we’ve had that — on the ice and off the ice. Guys have gone out on campus being visible as good representatives of the program.”
Paluch knew before returning to his alma mater that there would be a period of “feeling out” before anyone saw results, and he remains very optimistic about the future of the program.
“We’ve been tackling a lot of points,” said Paluch. “We’ve been very solid in goal. Both goaltenders [Masters and Sigalet].have played extremely well. We’ve tackled a lot of issues on team defense.
“We’re improving every week, so we’re happy about that. I think one of our biggest hurdles this year is creating scoring chances.”
Improving this week against Miami will be challenging. The RedHawks are outscoring opponents 42-18 (20-9 in CCHA play), and have outshot opponents 327-149 through eight games this season.
“Right now they’re as quick a team as there is in the league,” said Paluch of Miami. “Their defensemen create turnovers so that their forwards can jump into scoring chances.”
Here are some points to consider in this intrastate pairing. Stats are from overall play.
By the way, this would also be the Grudge of the Week, were not there so many new faces on the RedHawk squad. The last time these two teams met in Goggin, BGSU upset the No. 2-seeded RedHawks (4-3, 4-3 OT) in the first round of the CCHA playoffs to advance to the last non-Super Six CCHA championship tourney (Mar. 8-9, 2001).
The Falcons are 24-12-2 overall in Goggin, but are 4-5-1 in their last 10 trips to Oxford.
Unless something ghoulish happens to either team before this weekend’s series, the Miami offense should overwhelm the Falcons.
Pick: 5-2, 5-2
UAF sophomore forward Aaron Voros earned two minor penalties for four minutes against Michigan last weekend, bringing his season total to seven penalties for 14 minutes.
He also registered one goal and one assist in the two-game series.
My Voros picks for last week? “Picks: In Ann Arbor, expect Voros to earn two points and no more than four minutes in the box.”
It’s a thing of beauty.
Speaking of things of beauty, it should be noted that the Nanooks are the least penalized team in the CCHA, averaging fewer than 10 minutes (9.67) in the box per game.
Picks: This week, with Ferris State in Fairbanks, Voros succumbs to a little — a very little — bit of frustration. Three penalties for six minutes, and two points.