This Week in the CHA: Feb. 6, 2003

It’s February? Did I not get the memo about this? Wow.

It’s a quiet week around the CHA: only Wayne State and Bemidji State are in action as they face off in Detroit. If you need your hockey fix, Detroit-Wayne County Airport’s not a bad destination. Trust me … I’m fighting the urge myself.

But before we get into that, some random thoughts for a slow week:

Family Tradition

A preview of coming attractions, as it were. I’m still waiting to talk to the two young players involved, but this is a great, great story in the making: Ryan Huddy’s dad, Charlie, and Carly Napier’s dad, Mark, both played for the Edmonton Oilers. Big deal, right?

You’ve heard me talk about Huddy before — he’s one of Tom Serratore’s fantastic freshmen up at Bemidji. But Carly Napier is at BSU as well — she just plays for the women’s team. And their dads were Oilers … together with the Great One.

Oh, the stories that could be told. I mean, wouldn’t you love to say, “Not only can my dad beat up your dad, but he can make a pass over to the Great One!” That would’ve shut me up on the playground.

Stay tuned next week.

Three CHA Players Pass First Round of Hobey Voting

Congratulations to the three young men who will represent the CHA in the Hobey Baker voting:

Top five and CHA players (through Feb. 5, 2003)

Rk Player 1st 2nd 3rd Points
1. Peter Sejna, F, CC 2,599 652 656 15,607
2. Tom Preissing, D, CC 1,358 2,061 634 13,607
3. Chris Kunitz, LW, Ferris 2,411 255 166 12,986
4. Brandon Bochenski, F, UND 1,154 1,375 390 10,285
5. Zach Parise, F, UND 1,529 628 445 9,974
26. Keith Stanich, D, WSU 219 252 138 1,989
28. David Guerrera, G, WSU 214 204 127 1,809
54. Grady Hunt, G, BSU 55 132 170 841

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m surprised by a number of things on this list.

Why are there only two schools represented? UAH, Air Force, Findlay, and Niagara fans … where’s the love? I’m not seeing it. Each of these schools has at least one player that you could reasonably push for the Hobey Baker. We’ll get to that in a moment, but really, folks. I’m surprised.

What also surprises me is that Stanich is above Guerrera. Stanich is a very good defenseman, but on the Warriors, I like Tyler Kindle better — and so, apparently, do the media and coaches of the CHA, since Kindle has received various accolades in the last couple of seasons.

Stanich is deserving of the recognition that he gets, but so are any number of other defensemen around the CHA. Who? Oh, like Tyler Butler and Ryan Leasa at UAH, or Brian Reaney at Air Force, Anders Olsson up at Bemidji, Paul Prefontaine in Findlay, Andrew Nahirniak at Niagara, Kindle at Wayne State.

And that’s just off the top of my head, so I know that I’m leaving someone out.

Dave Guerrera is the defending Player of the Year, and while Stanich has played well this season, Guerrera should command more respect.

Who else could and should have been nominated at the other schools? For starters, I’m surprised that Falcon SID Dave Toller didn’t have General Gilbert order every cadet to vote for Andy Berg or Reaney. Charger fans should have gotten behind Karlis Zirnis, the school’s first Division I 100-point scorer, or Steve Charlebois or Butler or somebody.

Oiler fans could have ridden the Jamie VandeSpyker bandwagon to victory … or the Kevin Fines one, either. And why were Niagara fans not chomping at the bit to make Joltin’ Joe Tallari their Hobey candidate?

Sure, it may be a few years before CHA fans can cheer on one of their own in the Hobey Hat Trick. But until the fans can recognize who the stars in the conference are and vote them on to victory, well, you have to wonder.

A Public Service Announcement

A warning to all CHA foes with Air Force yet on their schedule: do not take the Falcons lightly.

I told you this last week, and the Chargers didn’t listen the first night, as the Falcons outworked and outplayed them to tie that game in the third period. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is a disciplined group of young men that comes on strong at the end of every season, thanks to their own hard work, discipline, and great coaching by Frank Serratore, Derek Schooley and Co.

Of course, I’m sure that Tom Serratore will say the exact same thing about those Findlay Oilers. All reports out of Bemidji indicate that the Oilers may yet have begun to fight, and last week’s games seem to indicate it.

A Reprieve

Who knew the AQ could come and go in an instant? The NCAA surely didn’t mean it that way, according to USCHO’s Adam Wodon and Quinnipiac’s Jack McDonald. Short and simple: the law of unintended consequences nearly came about to bite the CHA and the WCHA right in the tuckus.

Just a friendly reminder to always read what you sign … you might never know what mess you might be creating for yourself.

The Matchup: WSU v. BSU

The Home Team: Wayne State University, 12-12-2 on the season.

KRACH: 52.86
CHA: 12 pts, 4th place
Streak: Unbeaten in four games and seven of its last eight
Offensive ranking: #28, 3.19 GF/GM
Defensive ranking: #34, 3.38 GA/GM
Penalties: #15, 17.7 PIM/G
Power play: #24, 25/129, .194
Penalty kill: #30, 124/154, .805

The Road Team: Bemidji State University, 8-8-7 on the season.

KRACH: 45.10
CHA: 15 pts, tied for 2nd place
Streak: Unbeaten in four games
Offensive ranking: #50, 2.57 GF/GM
Defensive ranking: #21, 2.83 GA/GM
Penalties: #53, 13.3 PIM/G
Power play: #40, 21/124, .169
Penalty kill: #41, 88/111, .791

All I heard early in the season from fans was, “What’s wrong with Wayne State?” My answer varied, but it was mainly, “Guerrera isn’t hot, and the offense isn’t there.” Well, the Warrior machine is primed, oiled, and picking up steam.

This will be one great series — which is good, as it’s the only one this weekend. Both of these teams are exactly .500, although they’ve taken vastly different routes to getting there. Does anyone want to posit that there won’t be at least one overtime game this weekend?

I look for two low-scoring affairs, especially with Hunt and Guerrera near the top of their games. When I think of players to watch in this series, it’s two newcomers: Derek Mackay at Wayne State and Ryan Huddy at Bemidji. Both have the ability to break something open, and it seems to me that whichever one does so will probably push his team to victory.

KRACH gives a slight edge to the Warriors, with a head-to-head winning percentage of 53%. Since they’re homestanding, I’ll give the Warriors the nod, picking a win and a tie to go to the home team.