Ice Hockey: CCHA Tournament Preview

The No. 10-ranked Michigan ice hockey team opens play in the CCHA Tournament with a best-of-three series against Northern Michigan University at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. With the second round of the tournament set to get underway, GBW brings you a preview of the eight teams remaining in the conference tournament.

The second round of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament starts tonight at various campus sites. With the Wolverines opening postseason play tonight, GoBlueWolverine has put together a preview of the teams remaining in conference play.

Notre Dame
Mascot: Fighting Irish
Coach: Jeff Jackson, 2 Years (222-77-32)
Record: 27-6-3
National Ranking: #1/#1
Tournament Seed: #1
Season Recap:

The Fighting Irish continued their miraculous turnaround under Jeff Jackson in his second season as the Notre Dame coach. After leading Lake Superior State to a pair of titles in the early 90's, Jackson has stormed his way back into the CCHA leading Notre Dame to its first No. 1 ranking in school history. Senior goalie David Brown has led the Notre Dame resurgence and must be considered the favorite for the Hobey Baker Award presented annually to the most outstanding player in college hockey. Brown leads the nation with a 1.68 goals against average and recorded a school record five shutouts for the Irish this season.

Key Players:
F – Erik Condra (13-26-39, +22)
F – Ryan Thang (17-17-34, +17)
F – Kevin Deeth (16-18-34, +22)
D – Kyle Lawson (3-13-16, +18)
G – David Brown (1.68 GAA, .927 save percentage)

Michigan
Mascot: Wolverines
Coach: Red Berenson, 23 Years (608-290-64)
Record: 23-12-1
National Ranking: #10/#11
Tournament Seed: #2
Season Recap:

One of the favorites at the beginning of the season, Michigan looks to secure a bid to the NCAA Tournament by advancing to the CCHA Final Four at Joe Louis Arena. After an inconsistent start to the season, the Wolverines rebounded with a strong second half. U-M goalie Billy Sauer held opponents to 2.53 goals per game in the new year, and the Wolverines went 10-4-1 over the same time frame. T.J. Hensick is second in the nation in scoring and is the key to the Michigan offense. As T.J. goes, Michigan goes. Hensick and defensemen Matt Hunwick and Jack Johnson were all named first team All-CCHA earlier this week.

Key Players:
F – T.J. Hensick (17-39-56, +16)
F – Kevin Porter (19-31-50, +17)
F – Andrew Cogliano (20-21-41, +2)
D – Jack Johnson (15-16-31, +18)
G – Billy Sauer (3.03 GAA, .899 save percentage)

Miami
Mascot: RedHawks
Coach: Enrico Blasi, 8 Years (153-127-27)
Record: 23-11-4
National Ranking: #9/#9
Tournament Seed: #3
Season Recap:

After winning the CCHA last season and opening the season with their brand new state of the art arena, expectations are high in Oxford, Ohio. The RedHawks didn't disappoint at the start of the season, but after the break the CCHA's third seed hit a slight slump. The RedHawks have a pair of top notch goalies in Jeff Zatkoff and Charlie Effinger, but look for Zatkoff to get the nod in the playoffs. Nate Davis and Ryan Jones are both second team All-CCHA members at the forward position and pack plenty of fire power for the Miami offense.

Key Players:
F – Nate Davis (20-28-48, +17)
F – Ryan Jones (27-17-44, +17)
F – Jarod Palmer (11-19-30, +13)
D – Alec Martinez (9-14-23, -1)
G – Jeff Zatkoff (2.25 GAA, .917 save percentage)

Michigan State
Mascot: Spartans
Coach: Rick Comley, 5 Years (707-548-89)
Record: 19-12-3
National Ranking: #13/#13
Tournament Seed: #4
Season Recap:

Michigan State must be considering this season a disappointment. As late as the middle of January, the Spartans were as high as #6 in the national polls and had a streak of 10 straight without a loss. So what happened? A sweep by Western Michigan and a split with BGSU dropped the Spartans to the bottom of the bubble entering the CCHA Tournament. The Spartans are dangerous though, and goalie Jeff Lerg has the ability to steal a game from anyone at any given time. In the Spartans 3-3 tie with Michigan in their final regular season meeting, Lerg stole the show with a 54 save performance; if MSU can muster the offense to back Lerg, than lookout.

Key Players:
F – Bryan Lerg (21-11-32, +10)
F – Tim Kennedy (13-20-33, +4)
F – Justin Abdelkader (14-12-26, +6)
D – Daniel Vukovic (4-3-7, +11)
G – Jeff Lerg (2.45 GAA, .912 save percentage)

Nebraska-Omaha
Mascot: Mavericks
Coach: Mike Kemp, 10 Years (162-185-45)
Record: 18-14-8
National Ranking: NR
Tournament Seed: #5
Season Recap:

In its 10th year as a program, the Mavericks level of play continues to grow. Despite a slight drop in record from 2005-06, the Mavericks offense is still one of the most potent in the nation. Senior Scott Parse finished just short of T.J. Hensick's lead for the scoring title and is capable of putting the puck in the net at any given time. In order for the Mavericks to take the next step, however, Nebraska-Omaha needs to play tight defense to compliment their offensive fire power and get good outings from Jeremie Dupont in the net. Nebraska-Omaha has been a team on the rise the second half of the season and could easily wind up one of the CCHA Final Four.

Key Players
F – Scott Parse (24-28-52, +12)
F – Brandon Scero (18-15-33, +12)
F – Brian Marshall (11-25-36, +9)
D – Mark Bernier (3-8-11, +11)
G – Jeremie Dupont (2.82 GAA, .887 save percentage)

Lake Superior State
Mascot: Lakers
Coach: Jim Roque, 2 Years (34-31-10)
Record: 19-17-3
National Ranking: NR
Tournament Seed: #8
Season Recap:

Lake Superior State is powered by senior goalie Jeff Jakaitis. As far as Jakaitis takes them, LSSU will go. With a goal against average of 2.25 and a save percentage of .931, Jakaitis is one of the best goaltenders in the nation. Finishing behind just David Brown in CCHA voting, Jakaitis is known to steal games from teams considered to be superior to that of Lake Superior State. Trent Campbell and Derek A. Smith are the leading point scorers, but expect a low scoring game if you see the Lakers on their path to Joe Louis Arena.

Key Players:
F – Trent Campbell (11-16-27, +5)
F – Josh Sim (15-10-25, 0)
F – Dominic Osman (6-9-15, +7)
D – Derek A. Smith (9-17-26, +5)
G – Jeff Jakaitis (2.25 GAA, .931 save percentage)

Northern Michigan
Mascot: Wildcats
Coach: Walt Kyle, 5 Years (102-82-17)
Record: 15-22-2
National Ranking: NR
Tournament Seed: #10

Despite a lackluster regular season, the Wildcats used the same recipe as Lake Superior to advance past the first round of the CCHA Tournament; strong goalie play and good defense. Bill Zaniboni patrols the nets for NMU, and does a good job of that. His goal against average sits at 2.53, and, when he's hot, he's hot. On the offensive end, Mike Santorelli provides the pop for the offense. The CCHA's leading goal scorer with 29 goals, Santorelli is capable of carrying the offensive load on his shoulders.

Key Players:
F – Mike Santorelli (29-17-46, +7)
F – Darin Olver (14-19-33, -2)
F – Tim Hartung (0-8-8, +2)
D – Zach Tarkir (7-12-19, +6)
G – Bill Zaniboni (2.53 GAA, .910 save percentage)

Alaska
Mascot: Nanooks
Coach: Tavis McMillan, 3 Years (46-52-15)
Record: 11-20-6
National Ranking: NR
Tournament Seed: #11

Alaska survived to the second round of the CCHA Tournament by taking out the #6 seed, Western Michigan. The Nanooks match up well with almost anyone in the conference due to their size and grit, but it could get tough from here on out for the Nanooks. Watch for goalie Wylie Rogers to get the nod in net for the Nanooks this weekend as they try and advance to Joe Louis Arena. Rogers is hot and cold, but has been good lately. The Nanooks have had trouble scoring goals, and they'll need to solve Mike Brown to advance to the Final Four of the conference tournament. Kyle Greentree must be on for Alaska if they have a chance of advancing past the Fighting Irish.

Key Players:
F – Kyle Greentree (21-20-41, +2)
F – Curtis Fraser (19-17-36, -2)
F – Darcy Campbell (4-20-24, -8)
D – Tyler Eckford (5-17-22, -8)
G – Wylie Rogers (2.90 GAA, .895 save percentage)


Second Round Match Ups
#11 Alaska @ #1 Notre Dame
#10 Northern Michigan @ #2 Michigan
#8 Lake Superior State @ #3 Miami
#5 Nebraska-Omaha @ #4 Michigan State

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