Saturday, February 24, 2007

RedHawks dominate Cats, 4-1

In my four years covering NMU hockey, Friday night was one of the uglier games I've ever seen the Wildcats play. Here are my three keys to the loss:

1) While NMU head coach Walt Kyle felt the Cats' defense was okay Friday night, minus a couple breakdowns, I felt it was horrendous. The Wildcats have always prided themselves as a defensive team and Friday they looked far from that.

Zach Tarkir had an awful night and struggled to keep up with the RedHawks, specifically Nathan Davis. Tarkir got burned along the boards a number of times while a Miami forward streaked to the net. Davis burned Tarkir bad in the second to put Miami up 2-0.

2) Bill Zaniboni did appear to be a bit off Friday but not off enough to allow bad goals. Neither of the two he allowed were his fault in my mind. In fact, three of the four goals were because of bad defense, with the fourth being an empty netter.

Ryan Jones was untouched on his wrap-around score which made me sick. How can anyone leave the nation's third leading goal scorer unattended like he was on that play. It was like everyone just sat back and watched.

3) Mike Santorelli did nothing to help his cause Friday as he continues to watch Niagara's Ted Cook run away with the goal scoring title. Cook added another tonight, Jones tied Santorelli and Ryan Duncan of North Dakota pulled within one. Santorelli was completely off tonight and you wonder if he thinking ahead to his pro career.

I can tell that he really wants to put the puck in the net, but it can not be a "I score or no one scores" situation. Santorelli neglected to pass the puck on numerous occasions, hence wasting all the time he spent getting the puck in the zone and weaving through defenders.

Miami did a great job not allowing him to get an open look at the net, except once and Santorelli missed the net completely. That should have been a goal.

I made a point to Kyle Whitney during the game about great players. My example was Sidney Crosby, who is actually a phenomenal passer. I watched Crosby set up Mark Recchi for a hat trick one night. Crosby has had more of his unbelievable passes than goals appear on the SportsCenter Top 10.

Santorelli needs to find a way to use his skating ability to get other players open, then set them up for a goal. The most recognized offensive player of year is not recognized by the number of goals he scores, but the number of points he accumulates. In that race, an assist is just as good as a goal. Santorelli needs to realize that.

Olver did and that is why he is a much better all-around player. Maybe Santorelli isn't as ready for the NHL as we thought he was.

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