Monday, February 12, 2007

G-B-U: Ohio State

Over the weekend, the Wildcats traveled south and faced off against the Ohio State Buckeyes in a two-game set. NMU returned to Marquette with no points after falling to OSU, 3-2 and 4-1. The Wildcats will now take a week off to reflect on mediocrity before finishing out the regular season. Before the break, though, here's a look back at a weekend to forget.

The Good

1) Scoring from the quiet guys

In the two losses, NMU netted goals from Zach Tarkir, Matt Siddall and Andrew Sarauer. Before the weekend those three guys had combined for 12 goals. It's good to see them get on the board, even if no one else can. It always seems like the player that really sparks a team in the playoffs is a quiet guy that no one expects. A guy more like Andrew Sarauer and less like Mike Santorelli.

2) A week off

In reality, this is a mixed blessing.

On the one hand, the Wildcats get an extra week to prepare for one of their toughest homestands of the season, an extra week to ready themselves for playoff hockey and an extra week to line up for a run at the CCHA Tournament.

On the other hand, NMU must sit home this weekend and watch as teams like Lake State and Alaska determine their fate for them. It's a tough pill to swallow, but the Wildcats are on the outside looking in right now and they are the only ones responsible for it.

The Bad

1) Special teams

The NMU special teams, on a whole, were sub-par over the weekend. They converted on one of nine power-play attempts (11%) and killed 12 of 16 OSU power-plays (75%).

The Wildcats are not offensively talented this year, that much is known. With this in mind, they need to be able to be able to take advantage of a power-play situation. They need to also be able to take care of things on the defensive side of special teams. Any playoff team worth its weight will come out on top in the special teams category.

2) Mike Santorelli's goal-less-ness

Santorelli failed to pick up a point in the final LSSU game two weeks ago and then again on Friday against OSU. The two game pointless streak was also his first of his season. After scoring ten goals in seven games during a January streak, Santorelli has scored only one marker in his last five contests.

Ted Cook is first in the nation with 27 goals and his Niagara team was inactive over the weekend. Santorelli, who has played in four more games than Cook, is second with 26 goals. Niagara has six games remaining on their schedule. Northern has just two.

The Ugly

1) Playing on someone else's home ice

After the dissapointing weekend, the Cats are tied with Alaska for ninth in the CCHA with 19 points. They are two points behind LSSU in eigth, and four behind WMU in seventh. LSSU and Alaska both have four games left and the 'Cats only have two, but NMU has to hurdle both other teams.

So, it is still possible for NMU to get a home playoff game. If LSSU loses out and Alaska loses three of four and NMU sweeps Miami in Marquette, then the Wildcats would host a playoff game on the first weekend of March.

Hey, I said it was possible. I didn't say it was likely.

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