Sunday, November 11, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
After jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a Nick Sirota goal with less than four minutes remaining in the first period, the 'Cats hit the wall and were unable to produce another point.
The special teams aspect of the game posed problems for NMU once more.
After going 0-5 on the power-play, NMU is now 1-16 on the season. Michigan was 2-9 with the advantage on Friday.
Northern also committed ten penalties to Michigan's six.
The Wolverines got a pair of goals from senior captain Kevin Porter and another from freshman Carl Hagelin.
And while it is obvious that this Michigan squad has talent, they don't measure up to last year's group. Yet.
Sure, their penalty kill was solid and their power-play produced when given enough opportunities (one 5-on-3), but they aren't as high-powered, offensively. When watching these two teams battle it out last year, it always seemed like the NMU fans were just holding their breath, waiting for the dam to bust (see Michigan's 8-3 playoff victory).
I didn't get that feeling on Friday. Porter is a very solid player, as is Kolarik, and the Wolverines have a lot of talented freshman, but this is a team that the Wildcats can easily compete with, as was demonstrated by the first period of play on Friday.
If they can stay out of the box and spark the same kind of offensive movement that they had in the first 20 minutes of game one, the 'Cats should walk away from this series with a split.
2) Chad Kolarik - UM
3) Nick Sirota - NMU
Final shots: NMU 14, MICH 30
Power-play: NMU 0-5, MICH 2-9
Final score: NMU 1, MICH 3
The Wolverine goal came from senior captain Kevin Porter during a 5-on-3 advantage. Stewart made the initial save, but Porter fired the rebound past the sprawling tender.
Michigan controlled the pace of play all period long, out-shooting the Wildcats, 9-2. Both of NMU's shots came from beyond the top of the circle.
Also working against the 'Cats in the period were six penalties. They spent nearly half of the period killing penalties and, until the 5-on-3 kicked in, did a fine job.
Power-play: NMU 0-2, MICH 1-7
Score: NMU 1, MICH 1
Sirota was busy all period and led the 'Cats with four shots on goal. He scored the lone goal with 3:57 remaining in the frame. The marker came from directly in front of the cage when Matt Butcher picked up the loose puck and directed it to Sirota, who backhanded it into the net.
Power-play: NMU 0-2, MICH 0-2
Score: NMU 1, MICH 0
Long story short, the Wildcats downed Tech on Friday and fell to UMD the next night. But tonight is when it really starts.
The Wildcats play host to the Michigan Wolverines (1-1) in their first conference series of the year. Despite losing a ton of fire power after last season, the Wolverines are perennial contenders and Chad Kolarik and Kevin Porter will test the Wildcat defense.
The Wolverines are much like the 'Cats in that they are fielding 12 freshman on their roster.
Wolverine goaltender Billy Sauer has allowed seven goals in his first two games while earning a .841 SV%. He looks like the Sauer of early last season and could be a weak point in the Wolverine D.
The puck drops in the first game tonight at 7:35.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The game, which was the first of two NMU games in the Superior Cup, took place in Houghton on Friday night. Wildcat goals rolled in from Nick Sirota, T.J. Miller and freshman Jared Brown.
Assists on the night went to Andrew Fernandez, Andrew Sarauer, Matt Butcher and Sirota.
More on the weekend after the weekend.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
The Northern Michigan captains for the 07-08 season will be sophomore defenseman TJ Miller and sophomore forward Billy Smith.
Between them, the two have a single year of in-game experience for the Wildcats (32 games by Miller last season).
Smith, a transfer from UAA, was forced to sit out last season (via NCAA rules) and has yet to play a minute for the 'Cats.
Although the move may seem surprising, Kyle said that the decision was an easy one, however. Smith has practiced with the team for the past year and the coach said that Smith was the hardest-working player every single day.
That's impressive for a guy that had no shot of playing last year.
Kyle has said again and again that the youth of the team with be their biggest asset and their biggest hindrance, adding both energy and inexperience.
After last season, NMU lost their veterans and their leaders and have returned only three seniors for this season (Siddall, Sarauer and Cosgrove).
Its unclear whether these young captains will be able to lead a young team to the promised land, but it is clear that Kyle has, at this point, put his faith in the squad's youth.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
But here's a new one:
The NMU Wildcats will have a newspaper article looking them in the face for the whole season. Why? Thanks to a South Bend Tribune article that pre-ranks the CCHA teams for the 2007-2008 season.
Here is the story, reprinted for the NMU fans to read:
RedHawks may soar in CCHA actionComments Wildcat fans? I'll dive deeper into this article later this week with some stats and commentary.
The Central Collegiate Hockey Association preseason coaches and media polls will be released at the CCHA Media Day on Sept. 25. Tribune hockey writer Steve Wozniak offers a look at his ballot in the media poll, with a brief preview of each team.
1. Miami: All eight defensemen return from last year's team, while Hobey Baker finalist Nathan Davis returns with his linemate Ryan Jones to pace the offense. The RedHawks will get solid goaltending for the third straight year from the tandem of Jeff Zatkoff and Charlie Effinger.
2. Notre Dame: The offense will be even stronger, and could be one of the most prolific in the nation. The defense will still be solid. The only thing keeping them out of the top spot now is the big question mark in the crease. If Jordan Pearce or Brad Phillips can succeed, the Irish will hang another banner above their hockey rink.
3. Michigan State: Yes, they're defending national champs and they return their entire core. But the Spartans will be the Spartans, which means a lot of inconsistent play. They'll lose games they shouldn't, win games they shouldn't, and when the postseason begins, there's no telling what they'll do. Just like every season in East Lansing under Rick Comley.
4. Michigan: T.J. Hensick, Jack Johnson, Matt Hunwick and Andrew Cogliano are all gone. It's a rebuilding year in Ann Arbor for coach Red Berenson, which means about 20-25 wins and a spot on the NCAA tournament bubble.
5. Ohio State: The Buckeyes are the best of the second tier in the CCHA. In fact, the Buckeyes could be the entire second tier. Joseph Palmer showed hints of stardom in goal last year, and NHL first-round pick C.J. Severyn could develop into Ohio State's biggest star since R.J. Umberger.
6. Nebraska-Omaha: The Mavericks will live or die by the play of sophomore goalie Jeremie Dupont. They'll likely do an equal bit of both.
7. Western Michigan: The Broncos surprised last year, thanks to the play of freshman forward Mark Letestu and frosh goalie Riley Gill. Letestu bolted for the NHL, but Gill returns to anchor what should be a much improved defensive team.
8. Ferris State: The Bulldogs won't score much, but goalies Mitch O'Keefe and Derek MacIntyre won't let their opponents score much either.
9. Lake Superior: Head coach Jim Roque last year said that goalie Jeff Jakaitas was the sole reason for the Lakers' success. Jakaitas is gone, and Lake Superior will have to now depend on an impressive but inexperienced class of incoming freshmen.
10. Northern Michigan: It's a wonder how coach Walt Kyle holds onto his job, after showing almost no success in five seasons with a roster laden with NHL talent. Expect the Wildcats to have an early season exit, and for Kyle to be shopping his résumé around in the spring.
11. Alaska: The Nanooks lost 40 percent of their scoring in forwards Kyle Greentree and Curtis Fraser to graduation. Coach Tavis MacMillan resigned, only to end up coaching high school hockey in Minnesota. What could Alaska possibly have going in its favor? It's not Bowling Green.
12. Bowling Green: First Jonathan Matsumoto, the Falcons' playmaker last year, jumped ship to the NHL. Then highly touted recruit Josh Unice reneged on his commitment, with the goalie instead opting for Canadian juniors. All of which leaves coach Scott Paluch with nothing but 19-goal scorer Derek Whitmore to hang his hat, and his team's chances, on.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
1991 Champions highlight video
ABC Sports Athletes of the Week
And something to get the fans excited for yet another season:
Go 'Cats Go!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Readers of the Mining Journal saw that the news was made official by NMU yesterday, and Rob will be joining the staff of the 'Cats this August.
The one "wish list" item that was not fulfilled by this hiring was goaltending experience. This will not detract from the hiring in any way, as it has been a wish list item for many years. Rob was the best candidate available for the position, and his experience with the USHL will be a benefit for recruitment.
Rob is no stranger to NMU hockey; Former winger Ed Ward and Rob are good friends.
Monday, July 16, 2007
While seemingly unknown among the fans of college hockey, Rob has been involved with many college hockey staffs with his work for USHL, North American Jr hockey, and volunteer work for the University of Nebraska-Omaha. His strength with the Wildcats will be in his recruiting ability, a trait that the two former assistant coaches have had.
In other news, Phil Axtell has indeed transfered to NMU from Michigan Tech and will be sitting out this season per NCAA rules. No word if "Living in Houghton for a year" is considered a hardship by the NCAA. (See NCAA Rules 14.2.4 (a.k.a. "The Andrew Contois Rule"))
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Mike joined his brother Mark in Nashville this past weekend to participate in the Predators prospect camp. Scrimmages between the two teams pitted Mike and Mark against each other, and from the limited coverage, Mark's scrimmage team was the better team.
A list of all attendees (no other NMU alums were invited) to the predators camp is available in PDF or Flash formats from the Predators' website.
Sunday, June 3, 2007
I did happen, however, to have an interesting phone conversation with NMU hockey coach Walt Kyle last week. Two points that Kyle quickly made were A) that NMU has never announced that ex-OSU goaltender Ian Keserich was going to be a Wildcat and B) that the 'Cats should, in fact, play next season with fewer players than the past year.
This disputes the claims that there was an impending 'logjam' of players at Northern (including what was initially thought to be four netminders) and that there would be fewer roster spots than heads.
Walt also warned against putting too much faith in blogs and message boards.
The coach also talked about the departure of Jacques Lamoureux, who will be attending the Air Force Academy next season. Kyle made it clear that he is personally happy for Jacques and that he wishes him the best, calling the departure a career move more than a hockey move.
While Kyle may be slightly miffed at losing one his younger players, Jaqcues was not an explosive talent. He stepped in during injuries and his role was not likely to change over the next two or three years.
To wrap up, Walt talked about the search for a new assistant coach, after previous NMU assistant John Olver went west. Recruiting ability and strong hockey ties are almost as important as coaching ability in the search, which is expected to wrap up soon. Kyle set the timetable for the new hiring as mid-June.
On a side note, I will be in Marquette putting together the summer issue of the NorthWind. Check it out for the full Walt Kyle interview.
Monday, May 21, 2007
The NMU offseason continues to produce some story lines to keep everyone busy. The Cats recently received a verbal commitment from Cloquet High School goaltender Reid Ellingson for 2007. According to Western College Hockey, Ellingson was the top senior high school goalie in Minnesota last year.
This announcement has started a bit of controversy with the Cats, since they presumably have four goaltenders for next season, but in fact the Cats will only have three.
Ian Keserich will not be coming to Northern at all next season, leaving Ellingson to sit behind Derek Janzen and Brian Stewart. It was first announced by NAHL.com that Keserich had committed to Northern, but it was Keserich who made that announcement, not NMU.
Buckeye fans can breath a sigh of relief that they did not let a keeper transfer within the conference and Wildcat fans can not expect multiple goaltenders on the ice at once.
In other news ... Mike Santorelli is still an NMU Wildcat. The chess match between him and the Nashville Predators could come down to the final move. Until now, all the Cats can do is sit and wait ...
... Northern is also not in a rush to hire a new assistant coach to replace the departed John Olver. The Wildcats are taking their time in making this hire ...
.... And now for a look around the CCHA ... The Wolverines are having a similar confusion surrounding their goaltending situation, which needs some work. It baffles me that Michigan can recruit the top fire power in the nation but habitually strikes out on netminders. They are like the New York Yankees of college hockey. The Evil Empire has seemed to work out the confusion however ...
... The Nanooks search for a head coach continues. The team formerly known as Alaska-Fairbanks will be bringing four finalists to Fairbanks for a two day interview. The cool part is on the second day, the candidates will meet the public. Northern did something similar when it hired its new volleyball coach, but the practice backfired when both candidates withdrew from consideration.
... And finally, a personal note. My four year run as the NMU hockey beat writer has come to an end. I graduated from Northern a few weeks ago and am looking to move on to something new. Look for me periodically in the Mining Journal this summer as I plan to remain in Marquette until the end of June, with some trips down to Wisconsin every now and then. I also plan to make one final appearance in The North Wind for the summer issue.
I plan to continue contributing to this blog as much as possible because I love NMU hockey. It has been a memorable four years. Thanks to everyone who supported me along the way.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The Rangers Jake Hauswirth was taken in the fifth round, No. 53 overall by the Omaha Lancers. In comparison, six other North American Hockey League players were taken ahead of Hauswirth including two from Mahoning Valley. The Phantoms Alden Hirschfeld was taken second overall by Columbus.
Another NAHL player, Kory Kaunisto from Sault Ste. Marie, was taken in the sixth round, No. 69 overall, by the Waterloo Blackhawks. Kaunisto, the younger borther of Ray Kaunisto, spent last season with Traverse City and is a 2008 commitment of NMU. Waterloo is where NMU's Matt Maunu played his junior hockey.
Western College hockey put in a shift Tuesday blogging the draft. You can read more about the players taken there.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
The Air Force was always a dream for Lamoureux, who posted a goal and an assist for NMU in 16 games as a freshman.
The fallout of Jacques decision is that his younger brother, Mario, will not come to Northern. Mario will return to Tri-City of the USHL and re-opened his search for a college. Mario had 15 goals and 19 assists for Tri-City this year in 60 games. Mario was originally also recruited by North Dakota, who offered him a scholarship. Jacques and Mario's older brother Phillippe is going into his senior season as the goaltender of the Fighting Sioux.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
The Wildcats are going to be in good company next year, as they are in a cluster with Lake Superior State, Michigan and Michigan State. They will have to play each team four times.
All three teams finished last season with winning records. Michigan knocked the Wildcats out of the CCHA Tournament last year and the Spartans, of course, are the national champions.
Between November 16 and December 29, the Wildcats play eight of ten games on the road. This could be very detrimental to the 'Cats if it wasn't so spaced out. They have a week off in early December and then another week off later in the month.
The last two games in that month will take place out west when NMU participates in the Denver Cup with Dartmouth, Denver and Sacred Heart.
Overall, the 'Cats have a difficult schedule next year, and the toughest part may come near the end, when they play Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska-Omaha and LSSU. Also adding dfficulty to the lineup will be three contests against UP-rival Michigan Tech, last year's surprise Final Five team in the WCHA.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Search for NMU hockey assistant may take time
As the headline suggests, the 'Cats are taking their time. The summer is not prime recruiting time therefore the hire does not need to be made ASAP.
Here are the candidates for the job:
- Scott Beattie, head coach, Kimberley Dynamiters (KIJHL)
- Joe Shawhan, assistant coach, Lake Superior State
- Jim Hiller, head coach, Chilliwack Bruins (WHL)
- Bruno Campese, head coach, Penticton Vees (BCHL)
- Steve Hamilton, head coach, Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
My two favorites out of the bunch are Shawhan and Campese strictly because of their goaltending background. The Wildcats have not had a goaltending coach for quite some time and it did not bite them until recently because they were blessed by the natural ability of Craig Kowalski and Tuomas Tarkki. Bill Zaniboni was average for the Wildcats the past two years and I say that because some nights he was great, other nights he got blown up.
Zaniboni, and even Kowalski and Tarkki, could have greatly benefited from a goalie coach, or at least an assistant with a netminder's background. With young keepers like Derek Janzen and Brian Stewart not coming up in the program, an assistant with a goaltending background is key.
Hiller would also be a dream hire but good luck pulling him away from Chilliwack and the WHL. Of course, I also joined Dave Danis in saying that about Olver and look what happened there. Olver and Dave Shyiak were strong recruiters and the next person will have to be of the same caliber. Hiller would be that kind of person.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Mark played last season with the Omaha Lancers (USHL) and picked up 30 goals and 35 assists in 61 games to lead the team in both categories. Mark will be looked to, much like his older brother Darin was, to spur some offensive production for NMU, something that they lacked last season.
Also signing NLIs were Andrew Fernandez and Eric Spady.
Fernandez is a defenseman from the Selkirk Steelers of the MJHL. Last season he scored 14 goals and tacked on 34 assists, both good numbers for a defenseman. With the departure of Bobby Selden and Matt Maunu, Fernandez will likely see some time at the blue line for the 'Cats.
Spady is the youngest recruit, with an '89 birthday, and is a defenseman from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL). In 56 games last season he scored 10 goals and picked up 34 assists. He will hopefully contribute as well, but with his young age, don't be surprised if he doesn't play much, or possibly not at all, during his first year.
The newly signed NLIs improve the NMU outlook for next season, and it must feel good to get Mark Olver's signature, despite his dad's recent departure to pro hockey.
According to one source, the only outstanding scholarship offer is to Andrew Cherniwchan, a forward from Drayton Valley (AJHL). He is commonly listed as an '08 recruit, but it seems that NMU has offered him the choice to play NCAA hockey this year.
Friday, April 27, 2007
John Olver Leaves Hockey Coaching Staff
The release does not say the position that Olver has taken with the Stars but it is rumored to be the general manager position and even more. Since the Stars are in the middle of a playoff run, do not expect anything to come from the organization until that is complete.
Olver was the head coach of the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL prior to coming to Northern in 2005. The Steelheads and Stars are both affiliates of the NHL's Dallas Stars. Olver won a Kelly Cup Championship with the Steelheads in 2004.
Word is that Olver will take over as general manager of the Iowa Stars and may hold other titles as well. During his five years in Idaho from 2000-2005, Olver also served as vice president of hockey operations.
Neither NMU or the Iowa Stars have released anything official on the move yet but NMU does have a posting for an "Assistant Ice Hockey Coach/Physical Education Instructor." Olver, like many other Wildcat coaches, does teach some health promotion classes on the side such as hockey and racquetball.
Unless assistant John Kyle has retired in order to further protect his 1.000 winning percentage as a head hockey coach, this opening is a result of Olver's pending departure.
Recently, team doctor John Lehtinen took on an expanded role with NMU and resigned his post with the Marquette Electricians Midget AAA team. Lehtinen spent a lot of time with the Cats in 2006-07, but he is not rumored to be taking the place of Olver, who handled much of the recruiting along with Walt Kyle.
Mark Olver, the son of John, is scheduled to join the Wildcats in the fall of 2007. Mark Olver has yet to sign a National Letter of Intent with NMU and remains only a verbal commitment. It is no known whether or not this will effect him coming to NMU, except he will not get free tuition from his father being a university employee. This could cost the Wildcats a scholarship athlete.
Olver had originally left Idaho in order to reunite his family in Marquette. His other son, Darin, played for NMU and his father the past two seasons. Darin signed an amateur try out deal with the Hartford Wolfpack following the Cats elimination in the CCHA playoffs but was recently released.
Mark Olver was originally scheduled to join NMU in 2006-07 to play with his older brother and for his father, but was held back to develop further in the USHL.
John Olver originally replaced long time NMU assistant coach Dave Shyiak, who left to become the head coach of Alaska-Anchorage in 2005.
This information about Olver's departure comes from a reliable source in the Marquette hockey community but it has yet to be confirmed by either Iowa or NMU. When more becomes available, it will be posted here as we attempt to get this fully confirmed.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Thus far, the only two recruits that have been officially signed are Erik Gustafsson and Greger Hansen, a pair of Swedish players from the SuperElit level.
Both were previously mentioned by Josh when they verbally committed.
Articles that detail the signings and the European recruiting process can be found here:
Hockey looks to Europe for talent
Recruiting Update: Wildcat hockey signs second recruit
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Santorelli was awarded with the Gary Emmons Most Valuable Player Award, the Bill Joyce Best Forward Award and the Steve Bozek Plus-Minus Award. The junior from Burnaby, B.C. led the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) in goals with 30. He led the Wildcats in goals and points (47) for the 2006-07 season and was second on the team in assists (17). Santorelli had a team-leading plus-minus of +6.
Maunu was named the winner of the Brad Werenka Coaches Academic Award and the Tom Laidlaw Best Defenseman Award. The senior from Esko, Minn. was named as a CCHA Scholar-Athlete for the 2006-07 campaign. On the ice he tallied five goals, 11 assists for 16 points.
Pat Bateman picked up the Dennis Sibilsky Memorial Senior Award. Bateman, from Calgary, Alberta, the captain of the team had 15 points for the season on seven goals and eight assists.
The Dallas Drake Defensive Player of the Year Award went to Marquette native and senior Rob Lehtinen. He ended the campaign with two goals, 14 assists for 16 points.
TJ Miller was chosen as the winner of the Don Waddell Best Freshman Award. The defenseman from Placetia, Calif. led all newcomers with 14 points on two goals and 12 assists.
Freshman Alan Dorich from Orland Park, Ill. was selected as the recipient of the Ed Ward Most Improved Player Award. Dorich ended the season with five assists.
Nick Sirota went home with the Steve Weeks Unsung Hero Award. The Beaver Dam, Wis. product and sophomore tallied 20 points for the 2006-07 season on 10 goals and 10 assists.
Senior defenseman, Zach Tarkir, from Fresno, Calif. walked away with the Jim Mussatto Memorial Fitness Award. Tarkir had seven goals, 13 assists for 20 points on the season. The award is presented to the player that holds the highest combined ranking in the following categories – three-mile run, bench press, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, squats and lowest body fat.
The Clara Pantalone Memorial Community Service Award was split among two of the goalkeepers. Bill Zaniboni, a senior from Plymouth, Mass., and Josh Hatinger, a senior from Negaunee, Mich., shared the award. Both student-athletes have volunteered extensively in the community. As a team the ‘Cats have volunteered for YMCA Healthy Kid’s Day Game, YMCA Reading to Youth Program, Food Festival setup and ice cream tent attendants, and the Special Olympics. Zaniboni led all goalies with a 12-21-2 slate, 2.65 goals-against average and a .906 save-percentage. Hatinger saw his first action of his NMU career with a 39-second stint against Miami in the final home game of the season.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
The second player is defenseman Erik Gustaffson of the Timrå J20 team. In seventy nine games played (two seasons at the SuperElit level) he had 10 goals and 17 assists. Erik also recorded 119 pim's in his two seasons at the SuperElit level.
Both are rumored to be diamonds in the rough and are good pick ups for the program. There should be an official announcement from the university within a week. More details will be posted after they sign.
Not only was this the strongest defensive outing by Kärpät in the playoffs, but the five goals scored marks the most goals Kärpät scored in the playoffs.
Game box score is available here.
The game did head down to the wire, as Jokerit scored at 6:06 in the third to tie the game at 2-2. In a note of trivia, former Green Bay Gambler and tUMD Bulldog Tim Stapleton assisted on the tying goal and scored the first goal for Jokerit.
With just over four minutes left in regulation, Kärpät's Ross Lupaschuk scored to give Kärpät their third lead of the game. Jokerit pulled their goaltender twice in the waning minutes of the game, only have Kärpät stun them each time with empty net goals.
And if anyone can read Finnish, enjoy this article that discusses Tuomas. If anyone could translate it for us, it would be most appreciated.
Maalivahti Tarkki playoffsien paras tulokas
Philips palkitsi torstain ratkaisevan finaaliottelun jälkeen Kärppien maalivahdin Tuomas Tarkin playoffsien parhaana tulokkaana.
Sensaatiomaiset pudotuspelit pelannut Tarkki ponnisti voittajaksi SM-liigan kriteerien ulkopuolelta. Liigan virallisen tulkinnan mukaan Tarkki ei ole tulokaspelaaja, sillä hän on 27-vuotias, mutta huikea voittoputki pudotuspeleissä - kymmenen ottelua, kymmenen voittoa - oli näyttönä ylittämätön.
Congratulations to Tuomas Tarkki and to Oulun Kärpät!!
1 - By my hand calculations. An easy to search database that we take for granted from USCHO and similar sites could not be easily located.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
This has quieted all the critics.
Former Northern Michigan University coach Rick Comley became the third coach in college hockey history to capture a national title at two different schools Saturday. Comley guided the Wildcats to a national title in 1991 and has now taken the Spartans, a bubble team in 2006-07, to the top of college hockey.
It was a feat that some in East Lansing thought would never happen under Comley.
Up until Comley's Mason Cup Championship in March of 2006 with MSU, "Fire Comley" threads were a common occurrence on the USCHO.com fan forum. Often these moronic, bitter and cruel jabs at Comley were started mid-season by people who just couldn't get over the fact that Comley was not Mason.
The early struggles of Comley, specifically against his former Wildcats, were not because he was a poor coach. It was because the boosters didn't believe in him. The players didn't believe in him.
Those one the ice could not get over the fact that Comley was not Mason as well.
But Mason believed. Now both of them are celebrating in St. Louis tonight with one hand in the air for victory and a middle finger directed right at those who had no faith.
Many point to Michigan's Red Berenson as being the best coach in the CCHA. In college hockey, most worship the ground that Minnesota bench Don Lucia walks on.
But it's easy to be successful with NHL all-star teams. It isn't to win with blue collar workers. Those who the NHL has passed up on.
While Red Wing draftees Justin Abdelkader and Tim Kennedy clinched the title for MSU Saturday, it was undrafted players like 5-foot-6 netminder Jeff Lerg and the other 18 pro free agents. The core of the Spartans are players like Lerg, Daniel Vukovic, Chris Mueller, Tyler Howells, Ethan Graham and Bryan Lerg.
These are Rick Comley's players. They are not Ron Mason's. This is his title.
NHL prospects do not equal championship teams, something the Northern Michigan Wildcats have come to learn in 2006-07.
Recently NMU has strived to be like the Michigans and Minnesotas who feature future NHL line ups on the ice night in and night out. Instead, Northern should model itself after the 2006-07 Spartans or even the 1991 Wildcats.
They should model themselves after what Rick Comley had originally built in Lakeview Arena - the teams that Walt Kyle played for and coached as an assistant.
A lot can be learned from the 2006-07 National Champion Michigan State Spartans, not only by NMU but by college hockey as a whole.
Talent can only get you so far. Heart is what makes a champion.
And also, think twice before you start a "Fire ______" thread on the USCHO.com fan forum. You could be the next one called out on ESPN.
Friday, April 6, 2007
Seven CCHA players were selected this season and a complete breakdown can be found at http://ccha.cstv.com/sports/m-hockey/spec-rel/040607aab.html.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
"We have been presented an opportunity as a family that I am excited about;
however, I am not at liberty to discuss just yet," said MacMillan. "This
decision was made with my family's quality of life in mind. It was not an easy
decision and it was not one I made on my own. It was made with nothing but my
family's best interest to guide me."
The complete release can be read at http://alaskananooks.cstv.com/sports/m-hockey/spec-rel/040507aab.html.
Comley last made an appearance in the finals with NMU back in 1991 when he brought the Wildcats their lone national title.
USCHO.com has complete coverage of the Frozen Four along with recaps and featured from the first national semifinal held in St. Louis.
From the ECHL:
2006-07 ECHL All-Rookie Team
PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL on Wednesday announced its All-Rookie Team for 2006-07 as determined in a vote of ECHL coaches, who were asked to select a goaltender, two defensemen and three forwards. A rookie is defined as a player who has played in less than 25 professional games prior to the start of the current season.
Jamie Milam of Gwinnett leads ECHL rookie defensemen with 22 goals, 13 power-play goals and is tied for the lead with 45 points in 66 games. He is second overall among league rookies with 13 power-play goals while his 22 goals tie him for sixth and his 45 points tie him for 11th. He is second among all ECHL defensemen in goals and power-play goals and is tied for sixth in points. He was named the CCM Vector ECHL Rookie of the Month for February after scoring 13 points (3g-10a) in 12 games.
And to complete the trifecta of NMU alums in pro hockey news (Oystrick yesterday at theahl.com, Milam at echl.com); Tuomas Tarkki gets mention for his stellar performance playing in the SM-Liiga Finnish league this season. Tuomas currently heads into the Championship series with a seven game win streak. Three of those seven playoff wins were shutouts.
Read about Tuomas at nhl.com
Darin Olver has been released from his ATO with the Hartford Wolf-Pack. Darin played in just six games where he scored just one goal and no assists for one point, eight shots, even on the +/-, and had eight minutes of penalties.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today the 2006-07 AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by AHL players and media in each of the league’s 27 member cities.
The team consists of one goaltender, two defensemen and three forwards. Each All-Rookie Team member will receive a custom designed crystal award in recognition of his selection to the 2006-07 AHL All-Rookie Team.
Previous selections to the annual AHL All-Rookie Team include Dan Cloutier (1997), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (1998), Zdeno Chara (1998), Brendan Morrison (1998), Marc Savard (1998), Daniel Briere (1998), J.P. Dumont (1999), Robert Esche (1999), Dan Boyle (1999), Cory Sarich (1999), Dmitri Kalinin (2000), Rico Fata (2000), Jonathan Cheechoo (2001), Barret Jackman (2002), Jason Spezza (2003), Michel Ouellet (2004), Cam Ward (2005), Chris Campoli (2005), Thomas Vanek (2005), Rene Bourque (2005), Brandon Bochenski (2005), Daniel Girardi (2006), Mike Green (2006), Patrick O’Sullivan (2006) and Ryan Shannon (2006).
The players and media have selected none other than NMU's former defenseman Nathan Oystrick to the All-Rookie Team for 2006-07. Oystrick is currently third in scoring among all AHL defensemen (not just rookies) with 14 goals and 30 assists, and a +17 rating. Nathan achieved this while playing in all 75 games for the Wolves. Former University of Denver player Kevin Doell is the only other Wolf to play in all 75 games to date.
As for other alumni playing pro this season, a comprehensive list has been compiled by fans of NMU at board.uscho.com.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Florek notched a goal and as assist at Lakeview Arena over the weekend where he spent his years playing youth hockey in Marquette. Florek has really bulked up since that last time I saw him when he first returned with Team USA in the fall. Florek has become a physically dominating player for the USNTDP under John Hynes. It was great to see the undersized Rangers make a run at Florek, only to be bounced back onto their own asses.
More about Florek's progress can be found in today's Mining Journal.
Electros search for new coach
Florek's former team, the Marquette Electricians Midget AAA program, is seeking a new coach after Jon Nebel resigned Saturday. Nebel had compiled a 314-211-66 record in nine years with the Electricians.
In the release, Nebel cited the departure of assistant coach Dr. John Lehtinen as one of the reasons why he would not be returning for a 10th year. Lehtinen, who is also the NMU hockey team doctor, has taken on additional responsibilities with the Wildcats. This season Lehtinen could be seen spending a lot more time at NMU practices and obviously it was not just to spend time with his son, Rob, during his senior season.
The Electricians have posted the job description and application on its website at www.mqtelectricians.com. I spoke with Marquette's winningest coach, John Kyle, this weekend and while he agrees he is the most qualified candidate for the job with his 1.000 winning percentage at the college level, he is not a candidate for the job.
Going, Going, Gone!
There were two notable flights from the CCHA last week which made many coaches breath a sigh of relief, besides maybe Red Berenson and for sure not Jim Culhane.
CCHA Rookie of the Year Mark Letestu of Western Michigan signed a two year, entry level deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins and was assigned to the AHL. Letestu notched 46 points for the Broncos in 2006-07 and was a huge reason for the Broncos run this year, which helped by Culhane another year.
Michigan's Jack Johnson is also not returning to play for Michigan in 2007-08. Johnson did not join the rest of the team on the plane back to Ann Arbor after the Wolverines fell, 8-5, to North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Johnson is planning to play for the Kings tomorrow night in San Jose and apparently the contract has been all but agreed upon, minus the signing bonuses, according to the Michigan Daily who broke the story Sunday.
Other recent notable departures included Alaska's Darcy Campbell and Wisconsin's Jack Skille and Joe Piskula.
Finally we'd like to congratulate former Northern Michigan head coach Rick Comley for guiding the Michigan State Spartans to the Frozen Four with a 2-1 win over Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional Finals.
It is the first Frozen Four appearance for Michigan State since 2001 and first Frozen Four appearance for Comley since winning the 1991 National Championship at Northern Michigan. For the CCHA, the Spartans are the first team since 2003 to reach to the national semifinals.
Comley has faced harsh criticism since he arrived at Michigan State and has been target by fans and boosters to be fired until he won the Mason Cup last season. Again the haters began to surface after Sparty finished third in the league. The team was picked to finish first.
Since Comley started playing with his own players and not Ron Mason's, MSU has made strides every year. Last year the team won the CCHA playoff championship and advanced to the regional finals. Now Sparty has reached the Frozen Four.
The Frozen Four appearance for the Spartans is not only a huge step for the program, but a huge personal victory for Comley who continues to silence his critics. Again, congratulations Rick.
Here, then, is a quick glimpse into Wildcat recruits. There are currently no new names to announce, but this is the current state of the incoming class of NMU athletes.
Class of 2007
Tyler Gron - RC - Spruce Grove (AJHL)
(60 GP-26 G-24 A-106 PIM)
Now in the playoffs, the Steelers have glided through to the finals, winning a pair of best-of-seven series, 4-1 and 4-0. In the nine games, Fernandez has four assists and 37 PIM.
(58 GP-18 G-30 A-64 PIM)
(32 GP-5 G-23 A-125 PIM)
$ Jared Brown - W - Lincoln (USHL)
(50 GP- 10 G-17 A-75 PIM)
Billy Smith - LW - Alaska Anchorage (Transfer)
(49 GP-27 G-28 A-76 PIM)
This is one prospect that Marquette-area residents seem to be particularly interested in. He hasn't yet signed, though, and therefore, coach Kyle can't actually say anything about him (Although they have asked on several occasions).
Ian Keserich - G - Tri-City (USHL)
(40 GP-22 W-11 L-5 OTL-2.53 GAA-.903 SV%)
The last I heard, however, it looked as though Keserich may not end up at Northern after all. This may have something to do with Brian Stewart's play late in the season, maybe not. The fact of the matter is that Keserich is not yet signed and may not be in Marquette come fall.
(50 GP-25 W-23 L-1 T-3.52 GAA-.896 SV%)
During the playoffs, Janzen went 3-4 with a 3.41 GAA as his Chiefs lost 4-3 in a best-of-seven series against the Burnaby Express.
Class of 2008
Andrew Cherniwchan - RW - Drayton Valley (AJHL)*
(60 GP-36 G-17 A-236 PIM)
(56 GP-10 G-34 A-117 PIM)
(45 GP-11 G-10 A-38 PIM)
Charlie Smith - C - Detroit Belle Tire*
(18 GP-3 G-7 A-2 PIM)
Kory Kaunisto - C - Traverse City (NAHL)*
$-Has already signed a National Letter of Intent
Friday, March 23, 2007
- Clarkson over Maine
- Notre Dame over Boston U.
- North Dakota over Minnesota
- Boston College over New Hampshire
Notre Dame over Boston College
- Clarkson over Maine
- Notre Dame over Boston U.
- Minnesota over Michigan
- Boston College over New Hampshire
- Boston College over Notre Dame
- St. Cloud over Clarkson
- Notre Dame over Michigan State
- North Dakota over Minnesota
- New Hampshire over Boston College
- Notre Dame over North Dakota
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Also scoring a goal over the weekend was recently departed 'Cat Rob Lehtinen, who netted a goal for his new team, the Johnstown Chiefs.
As is detailed in the article, Lehtinen is completing his NMU coursework via e-mail and is still on pace to graduate.
Lehtinen is currently living in an apartment with former Wildcat Geoff Waugh.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Santorelli has yet to sign with the Nashville Predators or its AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. A source who will remain nameless reported that Santorelli turned down the first offer from the organization.
Santorelli was unable to comment on the situation last week when I spoke with him concerning his future as a pro but he would talk about the possibility of returning and the advantage of staying in college.
“The season just finished on Saturday night so I don’t know where things are going yet. I can’t really comment on that,” Santorelli said about going pro. “College is a great place and it is another year to mature as a player to get bigger, stronger and quicker.”
Yay for insight! NMU head coach Walt Kyle had a little more to say and while during the season, he has been pretty open about Santorelli leaving, he did say last week that he believes Santorelli could return.
And if Santorelli does, the young, new-look Cats will survive through next season.
“When you recruit Mike four years ago, you recruited him to be here four years," Kyle said. "All our planning has been based on Mike being here four years. Mike is a scorer and we knew he’d be a scorer. If Mike is back, I think everything will be fine. We will be in real good shape if Mike is back.”
“Losing Santos will be a tough thing if we do but the truth is we’re here to bring these guys opportunities. It doesn’t always happen on our time frame.”
If and when a deal does get struck and Santorelli makes the jump, look for it to happen in June. Like Nathan Oystrick's deal with the Atlanta Thrashers, these type of deals take time.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Coach Kyle offers NMU hockey season review
Not the best headline but since I don't want to wake up at 5 a.m. to help lay out the paper, I'm not going to complain. Nice job coffee addicted morning team!
It's a long and extensive review that hit on some major factors from this season including extended losing skids, the lack of offense from everyone except Mike Santorelli and the average goaltending and defense that went with it.
This season opened the doors for some young players and it has opened the door for even more younger players next year. Here is a portion of the side bar which should be available in the print edition which includes the quote from NMU head coach Walt Kyle above on the blog banner:
The Wildcats are losing nine seniors this season and possibly a tenth
player if Santorelli decides to turn pro, which is not a lock according to both
Kyle and the Nashville draft pick. Either way, Kyle said the Cats will have an
entirely new look in 2007-08 that will include up to nine possible freshman, two
transfers and the return of goaltender Derek Janzen from the British Columbia
Junior Hockey League.
“We are going to bring in a lot of guys and we’re going to have to make
changes,” Kyle said. “Some of the guys that played this year are not going to
play the same amount in a year. They just can’t if we are going to move
Kyle refused to project where people will be next year. After projecting players like Andrew Sarauer and Matt Siddall to have break-out years, Kyle wants his players to earn everything. The philosophy is one that maybe reflects on the mentality going into next season.
“As a coach you always want to look ahead and project who is going to step
up and we did that a year ago,” Kyle said. “What we found out was you’re not always right on your projections. I’m not going to get into projecting who is going to do it.
I’m going to let these guys show me they are capable of doing it. I don’t want
to give anyone credit for something they haven’t done yet.”
Saturday, March 17, 2007
The Lake Orion native has 21 goals and 21 assists for 42 points in 60 games this season. Milam has returned to playing defense after playing his junior and senior year as a forward at Northern.
ECHL.com has an article by Christine Troyke of the Gwinnett Daily Post about Milam's transition back to his natural position. You can check it out below.
Milam Plays Both Forward, Defense For Gladiators
Friday, March 16, 2007
As of 10:20 am CDT, the following 'Cats have gone through AHL or ECHL transactions:
- Dusty Collins (Tampa Bay) - Springfield Falcons(AHL) ATO (3/15/07)
- Darin Olver (NY Rangers) - Hartford Wolf-Pack(AHL) ATO (3/16/07)
- Pat Bateman (undrafted) - Milwaukee Admirals(AHL) ATO (3/16/07)
Word also is that Bateman will be in the lineup for the Milwaukee Admirals vs. Chicago Wolves game this Saturday at 7 pm at the Allstate Arena in Chicago. Tickets for this matchup of Bateman vs. Oystrick are still available. Click the prior link, or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.
**EDITED 10:40 PM 3/16**
Rob Lehtinen (undrafted) - Johnstown Chiefs(ECHL) ATO (3/16/07)
I lied yesterday, THIS blog post will be updated today as more 'Cats are released through the transaction system.
Four CCHA skaters did manage to make the list, however, as Notre Dame's David Brown, Miami's Nathan Davis, Michigan's TJ Hensick and Nebraska-Omaha's Scott Parse are all finalists for the honor.
The complete list of finalists can be found here.
Notre Dame goaltender David Brown was named the CCHA Player of the Year as he beat out Santorelli and Michigan's T.J. Hensick
UNO senior defenseman Michael Eickman beat out Maunu as the CCHA Scholar Athlete of the Year.
The complete recap of the awards show can be found at http://ccha.cstv.com/sports/m-hockey/spec-rel/031507aaf.html
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Pictures and a Finnish description of the action is available from the Oulun Kärpät website.
For those that aren't quite familiar with the FEL playoff system, it's not too different than the CCHA playoffs. Kärpät was awarded a bye (from what I understand of this schedule) and is in a best of seven series to advance to the quarterfinals.
Dusty Collins (Tampa Bay) has been signed to an Amateur Try Out with the Lightning's AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. (3/15/07)
This space will be updated throughout the day and tomorrow as other (pending) announcements are released. There is talk that Pat Bateman has been also signed to an ATO. The AHL updates their transactions throughout the day, while the ECHL generates one transaction update per day.
Alaska junior forward Kyle Greentree has signed a professional contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. Also joining him in Philly will be fellow junior CCHA skater, Jonathan Matsumoto of Bowling Green.
The pair are the first CCHA players to sign NHL contracts this offseason.
To keep up on other off-season signings, check the constantly updated INCH chart, College to the Pros.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The release can be found at http://www.carolinahurricanes.com/news/news.asp?articleid=1730.
Starter Cam Ward was recently injured and Kowalski has been called in to serve as a back-up netminder. Former Lake Superior State Laker and seven-year NHL veteran John Grahame is currently starting for Carolina.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Ted Cook of Niagara, NMU's Mike Santorelli and Miami's Ryan Jones will sit and watch North Dakota's Ryan Duncan to see where they finish as the season come to a close this weekend.
Cook still currently holds the lead with 32 goals this season. Santorellis currently sits in second place, finishing the year with 30 goals while the best Jones can finish is fourth with 28 goals.
Duncan, who is one back of Santorelli with 29 goals, has possibly two games left in the season before the NCAA tournament starts. The Fighting Sioux will meet St. Cloud State in the first semifinal of the WCHA playoffs on Friday.
Santorelli Watch will be taking a whole new perspective in the upcoming weeks as Wildcat fans wait to see whether or not the junior forward will bolt for the professional ranks.
Santorelli was still in Marquette as of noon Monday. I ran into him outside the Superior Dome today and no, he was not wearing one of the God awful Milwaukee Admirals jerseys.
The Wildcats earned a best-of-three series with the Michigan Wolverines after an upset victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes (2-6, 3-2, 3-2) and they looked to carry some of that momentum into lower Michigan.
After dropping the first game, 4-1, Northern entered Saturday's contest with their backs against the wall. An absolute explosion from the Wolverine offense, sent the Wildcats packing, though, and Michigan won game two, 8-3.
TJ Hensick is, quite honestly, the best hockey player that I have seen all year. It has been said here in the past that although Mike Santorelli can score so well, he would be a much better hockey player if he could pass and set people up.
Hensick is that player. Not only can he control the puck while bobbing and weaving through defenders and seem to score almost effortlessly, but he is a brilliant set-up man. Every time he gets the puck on the wing, he is somehow able to direct a beautiful pass through the slot. This may explain why he has 42 assists in 38 games and why his linemates have combined for 37 goals in that time.
To top it off, Hensick picked up a hat trick on Saturday night, bumping his season goal total to 20. In his last game in Ann Arbor, Hensick, who has 62 points on the year, skated off the ice to chants of 'Hobey Baker'.
I wouldn't be surprised.
2) Brian Stewart
The frshman Stewart made the start on Friday night, giving up three goals in 17 minutes. After the third goal, though, Stewie played better than I have seen him play all season (granted, I wasn't in Columbus last weekend).
Maybe it just takes him 20 minutes to get warmed up.
He made numerous acrobatic kick saves and put his body on the line more than once and for the game, he faced 37 shots and allowed just the three goals.
He came into Saturday's game about halfway through and finished it out. His Saturday performance wasn't as sharp, but he got hung out to dry on a couple of those goals, as well.
During the past two weeks, Stewart was playing not just for playoff success, but most likely for a job next season, too. With Zaniboni's departure, the goaltending situation will be slightly muddled for NMU and Stewart, Derek Janzen and Ian Keserich could all compete for the starting role.
3) NMU Power-play
It's a little ridiculous to bring it up at this point, I know, but on Saturday the Wildcats went 3-5 on the power-play. Every NMU goal came with an advantage and that's something that the 'Cats haven't had all season.
The one aspect of the Wildcat offense that did seem to work was the aforementioned power-play. On a whole, though, the offense struggled greatly against what was thought to be a sub-par Michigan defense.
I hear people saying that Wolverine netminder Billy Sauer played well over the weekend and that he did his part to push them to the Joe.
This is a lie.
I understand that Sauer was not tested heavily in the series and that UM won both games. He stopped 35 of 39 shots (.897 SV%) over the weekend, but was only put in a position to make a big play around three to four times. He might have done it once.
At one point on Saturday night, Sauer had allowed two goals on five shots.
He finished out the night stopping 14 of 17 (.82 SV%), but Saturday should have been the best night for the goalie. It was game two of the conference quarterfinals and his team was attempting to end another team's season. That is a scenario when a goalie should step up.
The good news for Sauer, however, is that A) he has improved consistently since the beginning of the season when he was, honestly, terrible and that B) the Michigan offense is so disgustingly powerful that they may be able to carry Sauer for a period of time.
They will reach a point, though (namely the NCAA Tournament), when he will likely be relied upon to provide something that he cannot.
When the NMU Wildcats took the ice on Saturday night, they were hoping to keep up with the nation's most prolific offense. For the first 2:30 of the game, Northern controlled the play and the contest was tied.
And although Michigan controlled the pace of play for the majority of the first period, the game was still within reach when Santorelli netted one at the 2:33 mark of the second (score: 4-2).
That's when it got bad.
The Wolverines tagged on another goal and then NMU took three penalties within 1:30, giving Michigan a 5-on-3 advantage, which they promptly exploited for a goal.
Down by four goals near the end of that middle period, the Wildcats seemed as though they were almost skating the time out, just waiting for that trip to the locker room. Michigan scored again at the 19:37 mark of the second.
I understand that it had to be disheartening for those guys to get gutted like that in what turned out to be their final game of 2006-2007, but the fact that they let it show so much is what surprised me.
To their (and the coaching staff's) benefit, they came out in the third with much more fire.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
The Wolverines will advance to play Michigan State at Joe Louis Arena while the Wildcats begin looking for pro contracts and new recruits to fill the plethora of holes on this team.
Northern scored three power-play goals from Pat Bateman, Mike Santorelli and Ray Kaunisto. T.J. Hensick had a hat trick for Michigan.
Bill Zaniboni was pulled from the NMU net during the second period after allowing five goals. He allowed four in the second and while he looked shaky, there wasn't much he could do as the Wolverines sliced and diced the NMU defense. Brian Stewart finished the game but was pelted just as hard.
For a more complete look at tonight's game, check out our live game-day blog here. Kyle blogged live from Yost Ice Arena while I piped in from Marquette, watching on FSN Detroit.
The puck drops at 7:35 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on FSN. Live blog posts will also be posted on Tech Still Sucks II.
Friday, March 9, 2007
After digging a hole against the Michigan Wolverines, falling behind 3-0 in the first period, NMU just couldn't dig their way out, ultimately losing 4-1.
Freshman netminder Brian Stewart got the start for the Wildcats and began the game sluggishly, as did his teammates. In the first period alone, Stewart allowed three goals on ten shots.
After that first intermission, though, Stewart was a different goaltender and he made a plethora of sprawling saves to hold the Wolverine goal total at three. At the end of the night, Stewart had allowed just the three goals on 37 Michigan shots. All of this was done in front of a hostile Wolverine crowd that will call you every dirty name in the book as you head to the penalty box and will give a freshman goalie hell.
“Stewie was fine. They had one goal – their power-play goal – that was from a bad angle and it was something that he potentially could have had," NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. "Other than that I thought he did a great job. This is a tough environment. It’s a hell of a lot tougher place to play than it was down in
Walt would not yet announce tomorrow's starting goaltender.
Trailing 3-0, NMU got a little help from forward Nick Sirota when he opened the second period by netting a goal just 1:20 into the frame. The marker came after he took a pass from Bobby Selden and streaked along the boards toward the net. Coming in alone at netminder Billy Sauer's left side, Sirota fired a perfect shot, top-shelf and past Sauer's ear.
The single goal was all that the Wildcats could muster, despite numerous opportunities in front of the Michigan net and an oft-surprised Sauer.
NMU controlled the pace of play for nearly the entire third period, but every time the Wolverine forwards get the puck, they are a definite threat. UM's Andrew Cogliano finished out the scoring by firing in an empty-net goal at the 19:09 mark of the third.
The NMU power-play got little exercise tonight and the Wildcats were on the advantage for just 59 seconds in the game. Michigan, on the other hand, took advantage of nine NMU penalties. Although they went just 1-6 with the extra skater, the Wolverines fired twelve power-play shots and had a man advantage for 10:22.
If NMU hopes to win game two tomorrow they must control the pace of play and stay out of the box. It will be near-impossible to win a special teams game against the Wolverines. Also, Stewart (or whoever is in net) needs to, once again, stand on his head.
The two teams face off again tomorrow night at 7:35. The game will be brodcast on FSN, as well.
The other two finalists are Michigan forward TJ Hensick and Notre Dame goaltender David Brown.
Hensick, then a sophomore, was a nominee in 2005 for CCHA Player of the Year but was beat out by NMU senior goaltender Tuomas Tarkki, the last Wildcat to win the award.
The full release can be found here.
Other awards include Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Offensive Defenseman of the Year, Defensive Defenseman of the Year and Defensive Forward of the Year.
There are no Wildcat finalists in any other categories.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
After watching an open skate for an hour, the Wildcats practiced for an hour and a half today in the Yost Ice Arena. Then they were able to sit back and watch as Red Berenson led the Wolverines through a practice.
After boarding the bus, Walt yelled the above phrase to NMU captain Pat Bateman, who was in the rear of the bus. And it spoke volumes.
Bateman and the other seniors are 9-7 in the CCHA Playoffs and they have reached the Joe the last three years. But they have never won the year-ending tournament. And this is their last chance. After a skate around tomorrow, the Wildcats will face off against the Wolverines and they will try, once more, to make the 2006-2007 season longer.
That may prove to be a difficult task against a big, fast Michigan team. Miami, another quick team, visited Marquette to round out the regular season and they were hopefully a decent warm-up for the 'Cats.
I will try to make in-game posts, but the Yost internet setup was giving me trouble today. If I can't get the posts up in-game, I will put them up afterwards.
Video captured and posted by 'Wolfkeeper' at www.wolfkeeper.org.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
The team stopped over in Gaylord where they skated at the Otsego County Sportsplex, running through a 2+ hour practice. They looked fairly sharp, with Sardsy displaying his one-time wrister and Stewart looking great in net.
The start is his on Friday.
It's kind of too bad for Zaniboni, too, but everyone says that he is taking the shift well.
The 'Cats will get to skate in Yost tomorrow and will then rest up for the Wolverines.
I'll post more later, I'm exhausted now.
The complete list and release from the CCHA can be found at http://ccha.cstv.com/sports/m-hockey/spec-rel/030707aai.html.
No other Wildcats landed an all-league honor or even received any votes.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. - Matt Maunu has been designated as Northern
Michigan University's CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The CCHA
Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be chosen from among the group of 12 nominees
with the winner announced at the 2007 CCHA Awards on Thursday, March
Maunu, a senior from Esko, Minn., is an accounting/financial planning
major. On the ice the defenseman has 16 points on five goals and 11 assists for
the 2006-07 season. The faculty athletic representative at each school, in
consultation with the head coach, selected the institution's Scholar-Athlete of
the Year. Each school's Scholar-Athlete of the Year serves as the school's
nominee for CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Nominees must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 through the fall term of the
selection year to receive the school's Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. The
CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year is selected by the 12 faculty representatives.
Voting is based on a system that awards five points for a first-place vote,
three points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.
Northern is 0-2 this season on television, falling to Ferris State and Ohio State on CSTV. The last time Northern faced the Wolverines on FSN was on Jan. 28, 2005 at Yost Ice Arena in a 4-1 win for the Wildcats.
Monday, March 5, 2007
After losing game one by a score of 6-2, the Wildcats rebounded in dramatic fashion, taking game two in overtime, 3-2. On Sunday, NMU finished off the Buckeyes with another 3-2 victory.
While the outcome ended the season for OSU, it breathed surprising new life into a Wildcat team that seemed all but dead a couple of seeks ago. NMU will now continue their road trip as they head to Ann Arbor to face-off against the 2nd seeded Michigan Wolverines.
1) Brian Stewart
You can't say this enough in this space, but the performance of freshman netminder Brian Stewart buoyed the 'Cats in Columbus.
Entering the weekend, Stewie had played in only eight games and had a 1-2 record. He was allowing nearly 3.5 goals per game and had a .887 SV%. His lone win had come on the road against the Miami RedHawks, when Stewart stopped 39 of 41 Miami shots. the loss was only Miami's fourth loss in the last 26 home games.
Stewie turned into a brick wall this past weekend, though, and he backstopped the 'Cats into the second round of the CCHA Playoffs. After a mediocre showing in the second half of the Friday loss, the freshman made the start on both Saturday and Sunday. NMU won both games and Stewart stopped 76 of 80 OSU shots.
It would seem that at this point, Stewie has brought with him some sort of freakish BC magic and that the starting job is his to lose. A netminder is one of the most crucial aspects of any successful playoff team, and if NMU has found an efficient one (no matter how unlikely), coach Kyle will not likely be willing to tamper with it.
2) Senior Effort
For three minutes and fourteen seconds on Saturday night, the NMU season was just one Buckeye shot away from being over. Then, at the 3:15 mark of overtime, Wildcat senior Dusty Collins netted the game-winning shot to force a game three.
Time and time again over the past four years, the senior class of Wildcats has played their best with their backs against the wall. It was evidenced three years ago when they made a first-round playoff trip to Alaska to take on a heavily favored Nanook team. The 'Cats downed Alaska in two games and made the trip to the Joe.
On Sunday, the seniors stepped up again as Zach Tarkir and Darin Olver both netted short-handed goals on the way to a 3-2 Wildcat win and a first-round series victory. Over the three nights the seniors piled up six points and six assists and will need to continue to produce offensively to have any hope of keeping up with the high-powered Wolverine offense this weekend.
1) Friday Night
The Friday game against the Buckeyes was all sorts of ugly for the Wildcats. After falling behind 3-0 early, Kyle pulled senior goalie Bill Zaniboni, who allowed three goals on 22 shots, in favor of Stewart. In relief, Stewart allowed three goals on 21 shots and NMU fell by four.
The 'Cats were out-shot 43-24 and allowed Ohio State to go 2-5 on the power-play.
On top of that, senior leader Darin Olver was whistled for kneeing in the first period. He received a five-minute major and a 10-minute misconduct. Olver headed for the locker room, but was allowed back in the game when it came to the attention of the officials that they could not hand out both penalties at once. The break may have been the only one for the Wildcats on Friday night.
2) NMU Power-play
The Wildcats have not been a serious power-play threat all season long, and that continued against the Buckeyes. Over the course of the three games, NMU was 1-10 with the extra skater.
On the bright side, the NMU PK scored two goals (both shorties came on Sunday). However, it is never good when your power-play only converts on 10% of their chances. As Walt told me before the Ohio State trip: "Special teams will be a huge component in the playoffs for everyone. If we're going to do well, we're going to have to continue with that."
1) The OSU Ice Arena
The Jerome Schottenstein Center is the name of the ice rink where the Ohio State Buckeyes play their regular season games. It holds 17,500 people.
The OSU Ice Arena is the name of the ice rink where the Ohio State Buckeyes practice and where the women's team plays. The men's team played there untill 1998. It is also where OSU played their first-round CCHA Playoff series against the Wildcats. It holds 1,000 people.
While the atmosphere in the hockey barn may have been loud, it was only due to the size. The official attendance never topped 800 for the weekend, but USCHO correspondent Paula Weston said that the place was packed.
The Buckeyes were forced to play in the Ice Arena after they were ousted from the Schott by a high school wrestling tournament. All other venues were reportedly filled, as well.
Ohio State earned a home playoff series in the CCHA Tournament, and in reality, they never got it.
2) Being Road Warriors
The Wildcats will have become used to living from a suitcase by the time this is all over. And they will have traveled at least 2136 miles.
After traveling from Marquette to Columbus (630 miles), NMU played three games in back-to-back nights, their most compact stretch of the year. To celecbrate the win, the 'Cats immediately headed back to the U.P., but were forced by weather to stay in Munising overnight. They finally made it to Marquette on Monday morning.
They will now leave on Wednesday and travel to Ann Arbor (438 miles), where they will play 2-3 games over the weekend. The Wildcats will certainly be challenged as they attempt to retain some momentum through it all.
And, if everything falls into place and the 'Cats can escape Ann Arbor with a victory, as well, they will then be headed to the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit (454 miles).
On a side note, I am planning on going to Ann Arbor on Wednesday for the upcoming series and should be able to keep the blog updated on my travels in Wolverine country.