OXFORD – Every CCHA game tends to be hard-fought, but if last
weekend’s series was an indication of new standards for
officiating, the first few league series should keep the referees
busy.

Janna Hutz
The Wolverines struggled to slow down Miami on Friday, falling 8-3. (JOEL FRIEDMAN/Daily)

This season, the CCHA has vowed to crack down on hits to the
head as well as obstruction penalties. It appears there will be a
learning curve for players adjusting to the new, stricter
interpretation of the rules. In the two-game series between
Michigan and Miami (Ohio), referee Steve McInchak called a combined
52 penalties for a total of 123 minutes.

“There were a lot of penalties; some of them deserved and some
of them (were) questionable,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said.
“But if that’s the interpretation we’re going to see every night,
there’s going to be a lot of penalties until the players
learn.”

All players, especially defensemen, will have to learn what will
be enough to pass as normal contact and what is now considered an
infraction. In addition, teams will have to practice special teams,
as both teams had significant time on the powerplay and shorthanded
situations.

Goaltender Al Montoya, who was called for obstruction-tripping
on Saturday night, feels that the combination of new rules and
playing at Goggin Ice Arena made the situation appear worse.

“At first, (the CCHA officials) are going to be hard and strict
with their rules,” Montoya said. “It’s a small rink and people are
battling all day so there’s a going to be a lot of penalties called
here.”

Burnes Returns: Heading into this weekend, Berenson was debating
whether to play senior defenseman Andy Burnes, who injured his
ankle last week during practice.

Although it was only a minor injury, it was enough to scratch
his captain for Friday night’s game. According to Berenson, Burnes
said he was healthy enough to play, but decided to hold off to
prevent aggravating the ankle.

“Maybe I could have played him (Friday) night, but I wanted to
give him another day to feel better about it,” Berenson said.
“Maybe I should have in hindsight.”

Perhaps after seeing Friday’s result, it was worth
reconsidering. Burnes was in the lineup for Saturday’s game, and he
didn’t disappoint. He made his presence felt on defense, showing no
hesitation about slamming Miami players into the boards and diving
to block shots.

And in a game that had 11 penalties called against Michigan,
Burnes stayed out of the box, which gave some much-needed help on
the penalty kill.

“He made a big difference,” Berenson said. “He’s our leader, our
captain, a physical force on the defense and we’re a different team
(when he’s playing).”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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