This Week in the CCHA: Nov. 13, 2003

Girls with Pigs

Confused? So am I, but only because my mother raised me right. In the past few days, I’ve received email with subject lines too good not to share.

And while I’ve never seen a girl with a pig at a hockey game, it is Buck-a-Brat night at the Schott Friday.

Oh No: This Time the Fortune Cookie Is Right

The Bulldogs and Wolverines split a home-and-home series last weekend, and if you said that they’d do so — with each team winning at home, and each game decided by one goal — it makes you, not psychic, but a smart, odds-playing kind of fan.

These teams have split four of the last five home-and-home series, including this one, in mostly close games. Last year, the Wolverines beat the Bulldogs 6-4 (Jan. 31) in Yost before Ferris State rebounded the following night with a 4-3 win in Ewigleben.

Two years ago, Michigan took both regular-season games against the Bulldogs, but in 2000-2001, it was Michigan 4, FSU 1 in Yost (Nov. 10) the night before it was FSU 5, Michigan 4 (Nov. 11).

Last weekend, it took the Bulldogs overtime to beat the Wolverines in Big Rapids, the game-winner coming from Brett Smith, who told USCHO’s Christopher Brian Dudek that the tally was “most definitely the biggest goal” he’d ever scored.

Michigan head coach Red Berenson credited the Bulldogs with taking the momentum, forcing the Wolverines to “spend time trying to get it back.”

In Saturday’s 3-2 Michigan win, the Wolverines scored in the first, and the Bulldogs answered. Then the Wolverines scored in the second, and the Bulldogs answered. At 1:34 in the third on the power play, Jeff Tambellini scored for the Wolverines — and this time, the Bulldogs barked no more.

“We always play pretty well against Michigan,” FSU head coach Bob Daniels told USCHO’s Courtney Lewis, “but the reality is we need to do a little bit of soul-searching and find out if we’re going to be a pretty good team or if we’re just going to roll over.”

The Wolverines — who are minus-three as a team when playing five-on-five — need to do a little soul-searching of their own, said Berenson. “This was not a big step forward for out team,” Berenson said. “The power play’s been our salvation, really. The best part of our offense, maybe the only part of our offense, has been our power play of late.”

Oh No: This Time the Fortune Cookie Is Right … Again

Quick — what are the odds of Ohio State winning Saturday night? Pretty good, considering the Buckeyes are 5-0-0 in Saturday games this season, but 2-4-0 Friday nights.

Predictably, the Buckeyes split with the Northern Michigan Wildcats last weekend, losing 2-1 Friday and picking up the 6-1 win Saturday.

So, head coach John Markell, your Buckeyes are 4-0-0 after a Friday night loss. What do you say to that? “There’s another side to that — it’s because we’ve lost on Friday night.

“We need to teach ourselves how to get that edge going before we get into those positions. We need to teach ourselves how to avoid that situation. When you’re sitting atop the standings, it’s a learning experience.”

The idea of success being a learning experience is getting wearing a bit thin ’round these parts. The Buckeyes seem to be a team of take-it-then-leave-it, and Markell says that this weekend’s games against Michigan will be a real barometer for OSU.

“If we have trouble getting up for this game Friday night,” said Markell, “then this team isn’t what I think it’s made of.”

Be a Stud Like the Old Days

Congratulations to Nate Guenin, who now leads the CCHA in penalty minutes (42). The OSU sophomore defenseman and assistant captain surpassed UAF’s Aaron Voros, who earned a single two-minute timeout last weekend.

Markell said that Guenin was responding to Nathan Oystrick’s play in the third period of the 6-1 win, when both were given minor penalties and 10-minute misconducts.

“I don’t mind guys defending themselves,” said Markell, who said that Oystrick grabbed Guenin’s face mask. “Taking 10 minutes is better than getting kicked out of the game, and I commend him for keeping his temper in check during that incident.”

What bothers Markell are the avoidable penalties, penalties that find Guenin in the box for roughing or hitting from behind. Guenin knows, said Markell, that he needs to learn how to control himself in those situations. “He’s not a dumb kid.”

The Wonder of You and Me

Congratulations to the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks and the Lake Superior State Lakers, who split a pair of games in Omaha, earning each team its first CCHA victory of the season.

In addition to pitting two teams with no league wins against each other at the start of the weekend, the series also saw two of the CCHA’s most quotable coaches.

USCHO’s Brian Brashaw asked UNO head coach Mike Kemp if he remembered the last time the Mavs had a four-goal period, as they did in the middle stanza of Friday’s 7-1 win.

“About the time they invented dirt,” said Kemp. “I really don’t remember back that far.”

Anzalone, the reigning CCHA King of Quotes, said, “I don’t think we were as bad as we were ugly. We’re embarrassed — not embarrassed by losing, but embarrassed by the score.”

Scott Parse and Mike Lefley had two goals each for UNO in the win, and Chris Holt made 27 stops in the near-shutout. Four Lakers contributed goals in LSSU’s 4-1 win Saturday, and Jeff Jakaitis earned the Lakers’ first league win of the season.

Football Season Is Here! Please Your Woman Better!

Take her to a hockey game! In fact, get her tickets to these two games, and you can forget all about that diamond you promised her!

No. 5 Michigan (8-2-0, 4-2-0 CCHA) at No. 14 Ohio State (7-4-0, 6-2-0 CCHA)
Friday and Saturday, 8:05 p.m., Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio

If there’s any antidote for the usual Friday slump of the Buckeyes, Markell says it’s a game against the defending Mason Cup Champions.

“Obviously, coming off a good road trip, momentum is important. Michigan may be the solution to that.”

A split in Marquette last weekend was good enough for OSU to stay atop the CCHA standings, one point ahead of the Michigan State Spartans, who earned three points against Notre Dame.

A split with the Ferris State Bulldogs in a home-and-home series was not, however, good enough for the Wolverines to remain tied for first.

“We’re not playing the kind of hockey we might have thought we were playing a week or two ago,” Michigan head coach Red Berenson told The Michigan Daily after the series. “We felt fortunate to win this [Saturday’s] game. I think there’s a lot of soul searching in this locker room. Guys know they really have to pick it up.”

With the end of the Big Ten football season looming one week away — and, for those of you playing along at home, that always means a Michigan-OSU game — these are the first two games between the clustermates this season. Whenever the Buckeyes and Wolverines play, there’s passion, there’s school pride on the line, and — lately — there’s some good hockey.

Last season, the Buckeyes and Wolverines tied two games in the Schott, 4-4 Mar. 7 and 3-3 the following night. It was Michigan that eliminated OSU from title contention in last year’s Super Six, 3-0, and the Wolverines who tossed out the Buckeyes in the 2001-2002 Super Six, 2-1 in overtime.

The Wolverines own this series with a 53-22-11 all-time lead; in fact, from Jan. 6, 1990 through Jan. 3, 1998, Michigan was 29-0-5 against OSU, which made for some feistiness between the two squads as recently as January of 2001, when then-Buckeye Eric Meloche called the Wolverines “a bunch of weasels.”

Now, however, you’re more likely to hear of the teams’ mutual respect than any trash talking. “They think we’re capable of competing at their level,” says Markell, noting that the Wolverines won’t overlook the Buckeyes in the foreseeable future.

“Last year, [Dwight] Helminen beat us,” Markell says. Helminen had a hat trick in the Wolverines’ 3-0 win over OSU in the Super Six. “He was the recipient of good teamwork, though, a good supporting cast.”

In the 4-4 tie, Eric Nystrom had two goals for the Wolverines, while Rod Pelley netted two for the Buckeyes. In the 3-3 tie, six different players between the two teams accounted for all six goals. Al Montoya had 67 saves for Michigan in the two games; Mike Betz made 61 saves on the weekend for the Buckeyes.

Here’s a look at the match. The stats are for overall games played.

  • Goals per game: UM 3.90 (first), OSU 3.36 (third)
  • Goals allowed per game: UM 3.00 (seventh), OSU 2.27 (second)
  • Power play: UM 26.0% (first), OSU 15.5% (ninth)
  • Penalty kill: UM 81.6% (seventh), OSU 85.0% (sixth)
  • Top scorer: UM T.J. Hensick (4-9–13), OSU Dan Knapp (2-10–12)
  • Top goal scorer: UM Jeff Tambellini (9), OSU Paul Caponigri (8)
  • Top ‘tender: UM Al Montoya (.894 SV%), OSU Mike Betz (.926 SV%)

    These teams play a similar game, each with a blue-collar work ethic, neither with blazing stars. Each team takes a similar number of penalties per game, but don’t expect these games to be chippy — there’s way too much at stake. Not only is OSU attempting to remain at the top of the standings, but the Wolverines have two games in hand on the Buckeyes, and the clustermates meet again later in the season.

    And their fellow clustermates are duking it out, down the road a ways.

    Picks: The Wolverines are 1-2-0 on the road this season, and the Buckeyes are 2-4-0 Friday nights. You do the math. Michigan 3-2, OSU 3-2

    This Will Make You Think This Weekend

    It’s not just a Buckeye-Wolverine weekend — the whole cluster is in on the act!

    No. 15 Michigan State (6-3-1, 5-2-1 CCHA) at Miami (5-5-2, 3-2-1 CCHA)
    Friday and Saturday, 7:35 p.m., Goggin Arena, Oxford, Ohio

    The Spartans have won nine of the last 10 meetings against the RedHawks, and are 57-15-5 against Miami all-time.

    And they’re on fire.

    Since losing two games at home to OSU Oct. 17-18, the Spartans are 5-0-1, the only near-miss being the 3-3 tie with Notre Dame last weekend — and absolutely anyone can lose to Irish netminder David Brown, so there’s no shame in that.

    Still, a win instead of a tie last Saturday would have given MSU a tie for first place. “We really wanted to get a sweep on these guys and put us ahead in first place,” forward Lee Falardeau told the State News this week. “It’s hard, but at least we got one point, but we really should have gotten two out of it.”

    Falardeau returned to active duty for the first time since a knee injury sidelined him Oct. 6.

    Head coach Rick Comley said that taking three out of four points “is never terrible.”

    “We didn’t play horrible,” Comley told the News, “but didn’t seem to have energy or the taste in our mouth to keep it going. If you don’t play well enough to win the game, you better say thanks and come back next week.”

    The Spartans hit the road to take on the Miami RedHawks, who beat visiting Alabama-Huntsville twice last weekend by a combined score of 9-4. Greg Hogeboom, Mike Kompon, and Matt Christie each had a goal in each game; the RedHawks held Huntsville to just 34 shots on net for the weekend.

    The two teams match well in net, each with goaltending tandems splitting time between the pipes. The Dominic Vicari and Matt Migliaccio have combined for a .895 overall save percentage for the Spartans, while Steve Hartley and Brandon Crawford-West are .890 overall for Miami.

    Each team is well equipped up front. Jim Slater (9-8–17), Tommy Goebel (7-7–14), Mike Lalonde (6-7–13), and A.J. Thelen (3-8–11) are the double-digit scorers for MSU. Derek Edwardson (7-8–15), Mike Kompon (3-11–14), Greg Hogeboom (5-8–13), and Matt Christie (8-3–11) are their RedHawk counterparts.

    The Spartans are allowing slightly fewer goals (2.80) per game than are the RedHawks (2.83), while scoring a few more (3.80 vs. 3.17). The power plays are comparable (MSU 25.0%, Miami 25.4%) and Miami has an edge on the PK (79.0% to MSU’s 70.0%). The RedHawks do seem to like to mix it up.

    So what’s the difference? It could be momentum. After a two-game sweep of a nonconference opponent, the RedHawks have a little; after a six-game unbeaten streak against CCHA teams, the Spartans have a lot.

    Picks: The RedHawks are unpredictable, and the Spartans are rolling. MSU 4-3, Miami 3-2

    Holiday Gift for Taco Lovers

    It’s snowing in Columbus as I finish this. It’s bright and crisp, with big, fluffy, floating snowflakes punctuating the air.

    It was in the 80s last week.