Sunday, March 4, 2007

Get Shorty - Cats advance

Having a short handed goal scored on you can be a real kick in the cherries.

Thanks to the efforts of Zach Tarkir and Darin Olver, the Buckeyes were kicked in the cherries twice Sunday night...

...and we all get to listen to those damn commercials for one more week. I'm very proud to have quit drinking Mountain Dew so I don't have to associate myself with that damn product.

The Wildcats disposed of the Ohio State Buckeyes with a 3-2 win Sunday night at the OSU Ice Rink to advance to the second round of the CCHA playoffs. The No. 10 Cats defeated the No. 7 Buckeyes, 2-1, in the best-of-three series and will now travel to Michigan for another best-of-three bout.

OSU held a 1-0 lead after the first intermission. Tyson Strachan notched a power-play goal off of a Bobby Selden penalty late in the period. The Cats had nearly scored twice in the first period but one goal was disallowed after replay and another was not checked despite requests by Walt Kyle.

Northern exploded in the second with Tarkir seizing the momentum from Ohio State, posting the Wildcats first shortie of the night off a feed from Nick Sirota. The Beaver Dam Golden Beaver (Yes, that is really Beaver Dam High School's mascot) picked up a score of his own before the second intermission struck.

Olver made himself even more popular in the city of Columbus by sinking the dagger into the heart of the Buckeyes' season as he and his teammate, linemate and good friend Pat Bateman took off on a break away. Olver held the puck and put it past Joseph Palmer to put NMU up 3-1.

Olver notched two goals on Saturday night and was almost ejected for kneeing on Friday.

The Buckeyes scored again just before the end of the game, too little, too late, however.

Even more amazing than the Wildcats two shorties or even the fact that they shook the Curse of Columbus (the Courtney Curse up next?), was the play of freshman goaltender Brian Stewart.

Stewart, who relieved senior Bill Zaniboni on Friday and made 42 saves Saturday, continued his Tuomas Tarkki-like run Sunday by stopping 34 of the 26 shots he faced in Sunday night's win.

Like last night, tonight's win for the Wildcats presents a number of questions and not just for NMU.

First, is Bill Zaniboni done for the season? Has he lost his job to Brian Stewart?

I think there is a good chance we'll see Stewart on Friday night but he will have a short leash. Zaniboni made 36 saves in a win this season at Michigan but had lost his four prior bouts with the Wolverines.

Stewart is the hot goaltender right now and Walt Kyle must stay with him. A hot goaltender, like Tuomas Tarkki in 2003-04, can carry a team very far.

Second, can Darin Olver continue his clutch play?

If Olver is hoping to improve his stock for the New York Rangers, he is doing very well. With each clutch goal, the dollar amount on his contract goes up.

All season long Olver has sat in Mike Santorelli's shadow. It's like we have all forgot that Olver is the high round draft pick. After almost being tossed from Friday's game, Olver has shown why he has been the Cats top offensive threat since he threw on the green and gold.

Third, is this the end for OSU head coach John Markell?

Unlike the Wildcats, the Buckeyes are not allowed to be in a rebuilding mode. After two stellar seasons in 2003-04 and 04-05, the Buckeyes have gone nowhere and been ousted in the first round of the CCHA playoffs each of the past two seasons. This after winning the Mason Cup in 2003-04. OSU was second in the regular season and playoffs in 04-05.

Does Markell get one more year? I'd like to think so.

In other CCHA action Sunday:

- The Lakers finally won a playoff series, beating the Ferris State Bulldogs, 3-2, in Sault Ste. Marie. Nik Sellars had the game-winning goal with 2:09 left in regulation. LSSU had a 2-0 lead after the first period but the Bulldogs rallied with two scores in the second.

- The Alaska Nanooks are playing for the greatest prize of all among college students - the right to miss more class time. That can be a very powerful motive for a group of college students.

Alaska made the hot seat of Western Michigan coach Jim Culhane a little hotter Sunday by ousting the Broncos with a 3-1 win Sunday. The Nanooks will now remain in the lower 48 states.

CCHA playoffs, second round match ups:

- No. 10 Northern will return to Yost Ice Arena to play the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines. Northern split at Yost earlier this year and somehow made Billy Sauer look good. Puck is set to drop at 7:35 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, if necessary.

- No. 11 Alaska heads to South Bend, Ind. to meet the CCHA regular season champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame swept the Nanooks in the four-game regular season series. The Irish closed out the regular season with a sweep of Alaska in Fairbanks.

- No. 8 Lake Superior State travels to Oxford to play the No. 3 Miami Redhawks. The Lakers lost 3-of-4 against Miami and were swept at Miami.

- No. 5 Nebraska-Omaha will play at Munn Ice Arena against the No. 4 Michigan State Spartans. MSU took 3-of-4 points from Omaha in Omaha during the regular season. State lost 4-of-5 to close the regular season. Two of the losses were at home to Bowling Green and Western Michigan.

1 comment:

Josh Pifke said...

So, about ME being told by you to take it easy on ripping the radio broadcasts... :p