When we last left our other winged-helmet wearing heroes they were 4-0-1 and coming off a tie against Michigan State. Since that time Michigan has split with Alaska Fairbanks on the road--as predicted in this space--and swept the Fighting Irish in a home and home to run their record to a highly respectable 7-1-1. Andrew Cogliano is in the process of blowing up all over the CCHA, recording 15 points in his last 6 games.
If you will it, Dude, it is no dream. I done figured some stuff out, and though the grab-convert-edit process is an unwieldy thing requiring three different programs, it's done. I wouldn't expect this every week, but I'll try to get up some clips on a semiregular basis. Strictly links at this moment; I hope to get non-crushing embedding going soon. Also, these clips are much smaller... perhaps too small(?). They're about 3-5 megs. On with the show, IBFC style. (All clips in WMV, should play no problem in Windows Media Player. Does this work for Mac people? Please inform. Right click and "Save As" to get a clip
in your belly on your hard drive.)
First on the docket are a pair of nice plays from the Friday game against Notre Dame that ended 8-5 for the good guys due in large part to one Andrew Cogliano. One is a sweet cross-ice pass to give TJ Hensick a tip in; the other is a Tambellini special where Cogs warps into the offensive zone and gives the water bottle a ride.
Second is Cogliano's goal from Saturday against ND. It's not a hard shot but it's well placed and uses a screen cleverly.
Third is Chad Kolarik's first goal against ND, which is a combination of sloppy penalty killing and a healthy fear of one Jack Johnson. Notice how when he gets the puck everyone freaks out. Kolarik's left wide open for a tap-in rebound.
Fourth is some additonal Cogliano hotness--if I was Sam from BC&RS I would make some refence to it being Brandon-Inge-ass-level hawtness. Fortunately for Brandon Inge, I'm not. Anyway, Cogs receives the puck from Johnson on the power play and then whips an unpossible cross-ice pass right to Kolarik's stick; Kolarik then roofs it. A real NHL '95 special here, and a beauty.
Finally we have TJ Hensick using his quickosity to pick up a loose puck and bury a wraparound before anyone realizes what's going on. The color commentator, former Michigan player Sean Ritchlin, has just finished claiming that Hensick's the premiere player in college hockey. Good on yer, Sean.
- I had been disappointed with Cogliano early in the year and was wondering if he could end up with Milan Gajic disease. Yeah... not so much anymore. That cross-ice pass from above is a thing of beauty and the rifle shot from Friday is pure Tambellini...
- Goddammit, I hate you, LA Kings.
- Both of the goals Sauer yielded on Saturday against Notre Dame were pretty soft. On the first one he left a Star Jones rebound lying right in the crease on a puck he should have been able to kick to the corner. He failed to hold the near post on the second one and was going down in a butterfly as the stoppable ND shot flew by him. A Josh Blackburn special.
- But, yeah, he didn't give up five.
- Refereeing level was "harmless monkey."
- Ebbett and Kal haven't been filling up the scoresheet but it's just a matter of time, as Ebbett is playing very well.
- Remember when we thought this team would have trouble scoring? Yeah: we're #2 with 4.56 goals per game. That will probably come down as the year rolls along but Hensick, Colgiano, Porter, Kolarik, Johnson, Hunwick, Ebbett, and Kal are a hell of a scoring combination. Cogliano has 15 points and is leading all freshmen in scoring. Johnson is #2 with 14.
- Powerplay is diiiirty, having gone 24 for 72. That's 33 percent, and is tops in the nation by a wide margin. The penalty kill is 55 for 60 and is fourth nationwide.
That OSU-preseason-favorite thing went in the tank after, oh, about a weekend of CCHA play. After getting three points from Bowling Green the Buckeyes went on to get swept by Western Michigan and Miami. Miami actually has the look of a good team, but Western's four games against non-OSU competition: loss to second-year program Robert Morris, loss to Niagara, and a sweep at the hands of Lake State, including a 10-0 whomping. Lake State used to go a month without scoring 10 goals under Crazy Frank Anazalone. Suffice it to say that the already ghostly Buckeye bandwagon has entirely ceased to exist.
Miami and Michigan State, and UAF have emerged as Michigan's main competition for the league title. Miami has swept UNO and OSU; State has swept Northern, tied us, and tied Ferris State. UAF has a split with us and three points on the road from Ferris. Then there's a group of no less than five teams currently .500 in league play. Major shmozz at the moment.
Two nonconference series of note from two weeks ago: Notre Dame split with Princeton and Michigan State split with Cornell, both par for the course. The CCHA has already put itself in a much better position than it did last year for tournament seeding. The next major nonconference test for the CCHA will be the always-huge College Hockey Showcase over Thanksgiving.
The Nonconference Opponents
Why? Well, when Mr. Pairwise comes around he's heavily based on how our opponents do. Better opponents means better seeding relative to our record. I'll keep an eye on how they're doing.
The first bit of good news is that Quinnipiac came off its opening-weekend sweep at the hands of the Wolverines and ran off eight straight victories. Granted, six of those wins are against the very bottom of D-I, but the Q did sweep its first-ever ECAC weekend, taking one each against Harvard and Dartmouth. Boston College is 3-2-1, having had last weekend off after beating UNH. They'll be a Hockey East contender as per usual. Merrimack, on the other hand, is going to be berry, berry bad.
- A "Mr. Johnson" clapclapclap after he danced during "I Can't Turn You Loose," like, again.
- The tiny shirtless guy who's, like Cogliano's creepy best friend or something was back, this time with a shirt.
The Next Weekend
A pair in Marquette versus Northern Michigan, who were just swept at the hands of Michigan State. The Wildcats always give Michigan trouble and really need to pull something out of this weekend or they'll be reeling. The results will depend heavily on the refereeing. Michigan's been awful attempting to clear the puck from their zone 5 on 5 and (obviously) lights out on special teams. If ticky-tack home crowd-hating Wilkins shows up Michigan will have a major advantage. If the ref lets them stay out of the box, the Wildcats will take at least one.
I'll stick with my bold split pronouncements: 4-3 NMU Friday, 5-3 Michigan Saturday.