10C - The Michiga aily - Faceoff '97 - Mond&October 13, 1997
The predominant themes in the CCHA this season are youth and rebuilding.
Although the favored teams in the conference have experience as an asset, most
teams see this as a season of uncertainty. For the first time in several years, the
CCHA title is legitimately up for grabs.
M y, October 13, 1997 - Fag
Nanooks aim I
young and the-rest ess
Experience might translate into
CCHA Rank - Coaches Poll
If there's one thing that sets Michigan
State apart from the rest of the CCHA,
In a year when most teams must rely
on freshmen at key positions, the
Spartans return 16 players from a team
that finished as the runner-up in last
season's CCHA championship tourna-
As a result of that experience, the
Spartans are ranked first in the presea-
son CCHA coaches poll for the first
time in seven years.
In his 32nd year of coaching and his
19th year at Michigan State, Ron Mason
knows that experience by itself doesn't
"I've been in the league a long time,
and realize how hard it is to get two
points," Mason said. "There's a number;
of teams who can finish first because of
the long season, and so many things
have to go right in order to be in first."
As was the case last season, the ;
strengths of this year's Michigan State
team are goaltending and defense.
In goal, the Spartans will rely primar-
ily on senior Chad Alban, who garnered
honorable-mention All-CCHA honors ;
last season. Alban's .899 save percent-
age lead the CCHA last year, and his
2.88 career goals against average is sec-
ond all-time at Michigan State.+
On defense, the Spartans return all six+
defensemen, including last year's recipi-
ent of the CCHA's best defensive
defenseman award, senior Tyler Harlton.
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Harlton is
a tough, stay-at-home defenseman with
the size and strength to keep opposing
forwards away from the net.
'-'On defense, we have a solid group of
returning people that have experience
and strength;" Mason said.
The Spartans' main weakness is scor-
ing goals. If Michigan State is to win its
first CCHA championship since 1990, it
will have to improve on last year's aver-
age of only 3.63 goals per game.
At center, the Spartans feature senior
Sean Berens and junior Mike York.
Berens garnered second-team All-
CCHA honors last season and was sec-
ond on the team in scoring with 20 goals
and 44 points.
York was the team's leading scorer
last year with 18 goals and 47 points -
good enough for 10th place in the
After Berens and York, however, the
Spartans don't have much proven scor-
ing ability and will need contributions
from its four freshmen wingers.
9CCHA Rank - Coaches Poll
Ferris State, or at least that's what coach
Bob Daniels is hoping.
After failing to earn a CCHA playoff
bid last season, breaking a streak of 11
straight appearances, the Bulldogs are
looking to get back on track in 1997-98.
_ What went wrong for the Bulldogs
last season? The better question is: What
went right? Ferris State suffered from
poor special teams as well as subpar
"Our save percentage as a group was
down around 84, percent which is not
good enough to win hockey games,"
In goal, sophomore Mike
Szkodzinski is hoping to rebound after a
subpar year, in which he tallied a 4.22
goals-against average. If Szkodzinski
falters, expect senior Jeff Blashill to
receive time in the net as well.
With the obvious question marks in
goal, Ferris State's defensive unit will be
heavily relied upon.
Daniels has confidence in a young
defensive squad led by captain Brett
Colborne, a skilled player both defen-
sively and offensively.
Ferris State seems to have no offen-
sive shortcomings, returning nine of its
top 11 scorers from last season.
Leading the offensive onslaught will
be left wing Kenzie Homer, who was
one of the best young players in the
CCHA last season as a sophomore.
Homer was the Bulldogs' leading goal
scorer last season, tallying 18 goals.
Rounding out Ferris State's offensive
attack will be right wingers Geoff
Bennetts and Joel Irwin.
- Pranay Reddy
CCHA Rank - Coaches Poll
In only itsthird season in the CCHA,
Alask- Fairbanks's goals are somewhat
"Our goal, certainly, is to finish in
seventh place or better," Alaska-
Fairbanks coach Dave Laurion said.
The Nanooks were picked to finish
last in the CCHA in both the preseason
coaches and media polls.
In net, the Nanooks will rely on
sophomore Chris Marvel, who was
named to the CCHA All-Rookie team
last season. Marvel's strong play last
year in relief of then-No. I goaltender
Ian Perkins was a key factor in the
Nanooks' late season 10-1 surge, which
resulted in the Nanooks' first playoff
appearance as a member of the CCHA.
In front of Marvel, the Nanooks have
added three freshmen defensemen who
should bring much needed size to their
"We've got some bigger defensemen
now," Laurion said. "The three freshmen
defensemen we've recruited are all over
six feet tall and over 190 pounds. I think
they'll help shore-up some of the weak-
nesses we had there last year."
At forward, Alaska-Fairbanks returns
junior Jeff Trembecky, whose 24 goals
and 17 assists led the team last season
and senior Sean Fraser, who recorded an
Alaska-Fairbanks's single season-record
138 penalty minutes last year.
Joining Trembecky and Fraser up
front will be five sophomores and six
freshmen, who the Nanooks will be
In Alaska-Fairbanks's third season in the CCHA, the Nanooks are thinking big.
Unfortunately, they're still ranked last in the league.
After years of Michigan dominance, Michigan State finally has a realistic chance
of capturing the CCHA crown. The Wolverines are in a state of renewal, which
leaves a void at the top of the conference and the title up for grabs.
Continued from Page 14C
Tom Connerty shared the duties, but
Connerty's departure to the OHL leaves
Aho as the main man. Jeff Maund, an
imposing 6-foot-2 freshman, could chal-
lenge Aho for playing time.
But it's on offense where the
Buckeyes are hurting. The top two Ohio
State scorers graduated. But there is a
bright spot as the remaining six of the
top eight scorers are returning.
Hugo Boisvert, a CCHA All-Rookie
selection a year ago, Ohio State's top
returning scorer. Junior center Chris
Richards and sophomore Eric Meloche
also should contribute to the offense
With several questions on offense
and a somewhat steady defense, Ohio
State contests this season might result
in close, low-scoring affairs.
- Sharat Raju
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