This Week in the WCHA: Nov. 22, 2007

I was going to say I’ll try to keep this short this week, but holidays are no excuse; the column must go on, and go on as usual.

Red Baron Pizza WCHA Players of the Week

Red Baron WCHA Offensive Player of the Week: Chad Rau, Colorado College.
Why: Had four points (3g, 1a) including two shorthanded goals and a game-winner in the Tigers’ sweep of Wisconsin.
Also Nominated: Tyler Ruegsegger, DU; Josh Meyers, tUMD.

Red Baron WCHA Defensive Players of the Week: Peter Mannino, Denver and Alex Stalock, Minnesota-Duluth.
Why: Mannino stopped 56 of 57 shots and had five shutout periods in the Pioneers’ sweep of Minnesota State, as well as two assists on Saturday. Stalock, meanwhile, stopped 65 of 67 shots and didn’t allow an even-strength goal as his Bulldogs took three points from Michigan Tech.
Also Nominated: Jon Olthuis, UAA; Nate Prosser, CC.

Red Baron WCHA Rookie of the Week: Kane LaFranchise, Alaska Anchorage.
Why: Scored his first collegiate goal and had his first multi-point game in Friday’s win over Minnesota as well as helped kill 10 of 11 power plays and was a +2 for the weekend.
Also Nominated: Richard Bachman, CC; Dustin Jackson, DU.

Assignment: I’m Thankful For …

With this being Thanksgiving, I decided to ask the league’s coaches what they’re thankful for this season. Here are some responses:

Troy Jutting, MSU-M: “I’m thankful to be done with the five straight weeks on the road. We’ve played five weekends — we had one home game, but we had to travel that weekend too — so we’ll have played, to start the season, five straight weekends on the road.”

George Gwozdecky, DU: “The thing that has really been fun and pleasing for me and I think the rest of the coaching staff is that how hard these guys have worked to develop the team, to come together, to build this team. To me, that has been just so refreshing … I’m thankful for a coaching staff that has done just a marvelous job with recruiting.”

Mike Eaves, UW: “We got a great group of kids. They’re hungry to come to the rink, they want to get better and they work together to try to get that done and right now because of our youth, it’s a process.”

Scott Owens, CC: “I’m thankful to have an opportunity to coach at my alma mater. I’m thankful to have a group of great character kids that are fun to coach and come to work every day. I’m grateful for the fact we’re a relatively healthy team right now, having played this many weekends of ranked opponents in a row.”

Dave Shyiak, UAA: “I’m thankful we got our first WCHA win (chuckles) and it would have been nice to continue to play this weekend, but we got another bye week, but I’m excited to have Thanksgiving dinner with my family and enjoy the Alaska Shootout (basketball tournament).”

Bob Motzko, SCSU: “I’m thankful that we’ve been able to stay fairly healthy and knock on wood that that’s something that continues with us. We’ve just had a couple little things and that’s what we’re thankful for.”

Rocky Mountain Showdown

This weekend’s series against Denver and Colorado College will not be just another run-of-the-mill rivalry game between the two schools to battle it out for the Gold Pan. Nay, the home-and-home series pits the league’s current leaders and hottest teams, two of the top four teams in the nation.

“Well, it should be a good one as the way it’s shaping up,” said Owens, “two of the hottest teams in the country.”

“I think that if both teams were in the bottom of the league, not even ranked, I don’t think there would be a whole lot of interest from a national perspective, but we’re on the national stage right now,” said Gwozdecky. “For an early-season showdown, it definitely is creating an awful lot of interest.”

Part of the interest, and part of what should make this series a great one, is the similarity between the two teams.

“I think both teams, in many ways, are mirror images of each other. Both teams have been very stingy at giving up goals, both teams have been very productive in generating offensive opportunities and scoring,” said Gwozdecky.

“I think there’s no question that probably we have less of a question mark as who our starter was going to be in goal as compared to what CC was going through regarding Richard Bachman who answered all those questions and has played extremely well and Peter [Mannino] has played extremely well so it’s a great match-up.”

Owens concurred.

“They’re playing so well defensively and getting timely goals and we’re doing a good job so it should be a heck of a match-up.”

Must Have Been a One Game Trial Deal

In Friday’s game between Michigan Tech and Minnesota-Duluth, the public address guy at the DECC accidentally announced a penalty on Tech’s Mark Malekoff as “drawing a two-minute minor for cross-dressing,” which I think is too much information for us all.

Reader Mailbag

Faithful reader Joe Chiesa asked what the deal was with the little t used in “tUMD.” For those of you who don’t already know, it started out as a joke between Bulldog fans on the USCHO Fan Forum, mocking THE Ohio State University.

Since the Bulldog (tBulldog?) faithful have used the little t for a few years now — and I’m easily amused — I figured I’d use it this year. I’ve gotten a few complaints, but Bulldog Nation appreciates it and therefore it stays.

For now, anyway.

Matchups By the Numbers

With the holiday comes some more non-conference tilts as well as what should be two very exciting conference matchups. Here are the numbers:

No. 15 Minnesota-Duluth @ No. 6 North Dakota
Poll Movement: tUMD — up two spots after taking three points from MTU. UND — dropped one after being idle.
Overall Records: tUMD is 5-3-2 (4-3-1 WCHA). UND is 5-3-1 (3-3 WCHA).
Head-to-Head: UND leads the overall series 125-69-8.
Top Scorers: tUMD — Josh Meyers (4-4–8). UND — T.J. Oshie (6-3–9), Ryan Duncan (3-6–9) and Robbie Bina (0-9–9).
Goaltenders: tUMD — Alex Stalock (10 gp, 5-3-2, 1.97 GAA, .929 sv %). UND — Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (9 gp, 5-3-1, 1.29 GAA, .948 sv %).

No. 3 Denver vs. No. 4 Colorado College (home-and-home)
Poll Movement: DU — up one spot after sweeping MSU-M. CC — up three after sweeping UW.
Overall Records: DU is 8-2 (5-1 WCHA). CC is 7-3 (7-1 WCHA).
Head-to-Head: DU leads the overall series 151-102-10.
Top Scorers: DU — Brock Trotter (5-8–13). CC — Bill Sweatt (4-8–12).
Goaltenders: DU — Peter Mannino (10 gp, 8-2, 1.31 GAA, .949 sv %). CC — Richard Bachman (8 gp, 7-1, 1.62 GAA, .947 sv %).

No. 10 St. Cloud State @ No. 7 Clarkson
Poll Movement: SCSU — up three spots after doing nothing. Clarkson — up one after beating Yale and Brown.
Overall Records: SCSU is 6-2-2 (3-2-1 WCHA). Clarkson is 9-3 (6-1 ECACHL).
Head-to-Head: SCSU leads the overall series 4-2.
Top Scorers: SCSU — Ryan Lasch (8-9–17) and Garrett Roe (7-10–17). Clarkson — Chris D’Alvise (5-7–12).
Goaltenders: SCSU — Jase Weslosky (7 gp, 5-2, 1.72 GAA, .936 sv %). Clarkson — David Leggio (11 gp, 9-2, 1.73 GAA, .933 sv %).

No. 13 Minnesota @ No. 5 Michigan State, No. 2 Michigan
Poll Movement: WCHA UM — down one after splitting with UAA. MSU — down two after being swept by Miami. UM — stayed put after sweeping LSSU.
Overall Records: UM is 7-5 (3-5 WCHA). MSU is 8-3 (4-2 CCHA). UM is 11-1 (8-0 CCHA).
Head-to-Head: WCHA UM leads the overall series with both schools; with MSU 100-41-9 and with CCHA UM 127-114-4.
Top Scorers: UM — Blake Wheeler (5-5–10). MSU — Tim Kennedy (10-5–15). UM — Kevin Porter (13-5–18).
Goaltenders: UM — Jeff Frazee (9 gp, 5-4, 2.66 GAA, .903 sv %). MSU — Jeff Lerg (10 gp, 7-3, 2.51 GAA, .907 sv%). UM — Billy Sauer (12 gp, 11-1, 2.08 GAA, .913 sv %).

No. 12 Wisconsin @ No. 2 Michigan, No. 5 Michigan State
Poll Movement: UW — down three after being swept by CC. UM — stayed put after sweeping LSSU. MSU — down two after being swept by Miami.
Overall Records: UW is 5-5 (2-4 WCHA). UM is 11-1 (8-0 CCHA). MSU is 8-3 (4-2 CCHA).
Head-to-Head: UM leads the overall series with UW 23-15-5 and MSU leads the overall series with UW 23-16.
Top Scorers: UW — Kyle Turris (5-10–15). UM — Kevin Porter (13-5–18). MSU — Tim Kennedy (10-5–15).
Goaltenders: UW — Shane Connelly (9 gp, 4-5, 2.89 GAA, .898 sv %). UM — Billy Sauer (12 gp, 11-1, 2.08 GAA, .913 sv %). MSU — Jeff Lerg (10 gp, 7-3, 2.51 GAA, .907 sv %).

Alaska Anchorage, No. 19 Michigan Tech and Minnesota State
These guys are lucky and get a break to enjoy their turkey.

Poll Movement: UAA — went from receiving four votes to receiving three after splitting UM. MTU — down one after getting one point from tUMD. MSU-M — stayed out of the rankings after being swept by DU.
Overall Records: UAA is 4-3-3 (1-3-2 WCHA). MTU is 5-6-1 (4-5-1 WCHA). MSU-M is 3-6-1 (1-6-1 WCHA).
Top Scorers: UAA — Kevin Clark (5-6–11). MTU — Tyler Shelast (7-2–9) and Drew Dobson (1-8–9). MSU-M — Mick Berge (6-2–8).
Goaltenders: UAA — Jon Olthuis (9 gp, 3-3-3, 2.93 GAA, .888 sv %). MTU — Michael-Lee Teslak (8 gp, 3-3-1, 1.63 GAA, .939 sv %). MSU-M — Mike Zacharias (7 gp, 2-3-1, 1.93 GAA, .926 sv %).

And Me?

I’m thankful for hockey, my friends, my family, my hockey friends and family and all of you fabulous people who read this dreck every week.

Now that this is in, I’m going to enjoy some turkey, football and pumpkin pie. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.