December 16, 2004
2004-05 Atlantic Hockey Mid-Season Report

By James Jahnke

Mid-Season Report
Mid-Season Reports
College Hockey America
Hockey East


Canisius. Funny that the surprise team made the surprise decision of the fall. The Golden Griffins’ abrupt firing of 24-year head coach Brian Cavanaugh last week was only slightly more unexpected than their soaring start to the season. Picked in the bottom half of the league by most polls and prognosticators, Canisius has a two-point lead over second-place Sacred Heart in the AHA standings at the halfway point. Not only that, but the Griffs (8-7-2) are one of just two Atlantic Hockey teams with a winning record overall (even if that might not be true after this weekend’s trip to Grand Forks). Senior goalie Bryan Worosz (2.14) has dropped more than a full goal off his GAA since his sophomore season (when it was 3.23), and freshman forward Joel Kitchen (7-6—13) has added some offensive punch to a crew that badly needed it.


Tony Coskren, Holy Cross defenseman. With three goals and nine assists this season, the senior from Walpole, Mass., already has set new career highs for markers and points, and tied his previous best assist total. Defensively, Coskren is as sound as ever, but his unforeseen offensive contributions were what helped keep the Crusaders afloat during a tough opening month. INCH also would like to send out birthday wishes to Coskren, who turned 22 on Wednesday.


Ben Cottreau, Mercyhurst forward. Even though his numbers are less than staggering, the most-heralded freshman in Atlantic Hockey hasn’t been a disappointment. Cottreau, of Toronto, has just four goals and eight assists, but that’s good enough for a tie for second on Mercyhurst’s star-studded points list. He still needs to prove he can score against top-tier competition (only one of his goals has come during nonconference play), but his abundance of talent is evident even to casual observers. “I think he’s going to be a great one,” said his coach, Rick Gotkin.


Tim Olsen, Connecticut forward? There was little argument against making Olsen the preseason Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year back in September, but he hasn’t played to that level yet. In fact, Olsen’s struggles (6-3—9 in 15 games) have mirrored those of his team. With Olsen as the propulsion, UConn was expected to break into the top half of the league standings this season. But without his offensive heroics, the Huskies have stumbled to a 3-10-2 mark overall and 2-4-1 record in the AHA. Detractors should be warned, however, that Olsen had just eight points at this time last year before exploding for 33 after Christmas. A similar outburst would make us look like fools.


Army, 3-2, over Colgate, Oct. 30. The Black Knights have just two wins this season, but one of them came at Colgate, whose 12 victories are fifth most in the nation. So how did one of the worst teams in Atlantic Hockey beat one of the best teams in the ECACHL? Well, goalie Treye Kettwick’s 29 saves helped. As did clutch goals by Seth Beamer and David Andros to tie the game after Army fell behind 1-0 and 2-1. Then there was Luke Flicek’s game winner with less than eight minutes to play in the game. Army hasn’t scored more than three goals in a game this year, but thanks to a disciplined defensive performance, three was just enough on this night.


Mercyhurst. Two months into the season, the Lakers have had two home games. And when they’ve ventured away from the lake for 14 other contests, they haven’t faced patsies. Gotkin’s squad played twice at Wisconsin and at Colgate and once each at New Hampshire, Union, Rensselaer and Massachusetts. In the league, the Lakers have faced first-place Canisius twice and second-place Sacred Heart once thus far.


Holy Cross, by a hair over Quinnipiac. The Crusaders still have all three of their games against league leaders Canisius, Sacred Heart and Mercyhurst remaining, plus tough trips to Hamden and Storrs. Throw in a nonconference weekend at Union and Rensselaer, and the fact that Holy Cross has already played five of its six games against lightweights Army and American International, and the homestretch will be grueling.


Sacred Heart at Mercyhurst, March 4-5. The wide-open nature of Atlantic Hockey this year makes it difficult to pinpoint one particular series that will decide the conference championship. After all, only two teams can share the ice at one time, but at least five seem to have a realistic shot at winning the league title. But if neither Canisius, Holy Cross nor Quinnipiac have wrapped up the AHA by the final weekend, this tussle between Lakers and Pioneers could have a lot on the line. Right now, Sacred Heart and Mercyhurt are in second and third place, respectively, and both have multiple games in hand on first-place Canisius. The squads tied earlier this month in their first meeting of the season. When they renew acquaintances in Erie, more than a handful of the league’s elite players (SHU’s Pierre-Luc O’Brien, Alexandre Parent and Garrett Larson; the Lakers’ David Wrigley, Rich Hansen and T.J. Kemp) will be on display.


Who, if anyone, will replace Quinnipiac in the league roster? Good timing on this one, eh? The Rochester Institute of Technology was introduced Wednesday as the newest member of Atlantic Hockey, effective in 2006-07. Quinnipiac, of course, is bolting for the ECACHL after this season, leaving a one-year gap between its tenure and that of RIT (two in regards to the postseason tournament). We don’t know whether Atlantic Hockey will play with eight teams in 2005-06 or whether further expansion is in the works. There have been rumors that some degree of mutual interest exists between Atlantic Hockey and CHA members Air Force and Robert Morris, but such a move would be devastating for six-team College Hockey America.


How will Canisius react to a new coach in the second half? Cavanaugh’s former assistants, Clancy Seymour and Stephen Fabiilli, are in charge right now, which will give the Griffins some continuity systemswise for the time being. But if a head coach is brought in from outside the program during the second half, there likely will be a severe adjustment period. We’ll see whether athletics director Tim Dillon elects to let Seymour and Fabiilli ride out this campaign as interims or perhaps promotes one of them into the head job. Thus far, the athletics department has been mum on both the circumstances of Cavanaugh’s firing and its plans for the future, save for the initial press release. Such uncertainty could weigh on a club experiencing new heights of Division I success.

INCH's First Half All-CHA Team
Player Of Note
Bryan Worosz, Canisius Easy pick. Senior leads the league in goals-against average (2.14), save percentage (.934), wins (eight) and minutes played (898:12).
Reid Cashman, Quinnipiac Bobcats’ most dynamic blue liner, Cashman is tied for second most goals (three) and third most points (nine) among AHA defensemen.
Tony Coskren, Holy Cross Assistant captain ranks third in the conference with nine assists. Leads AHA defensemen with 12 points.
Matt Craig, Quinnipiac Senior from London, Ontario, has been effective as scorer (eight goals) and set-up man (seven assists).
Pierre Napert-Frenette, Holy Cross With 7-7—14 totals, Napert-Frenette
is one of few Crusaders forwards that had a good first half.
Pierre-Luc O'Brien, Sacred Heart League’s points leader (16) also is tied atop goal-scoring list with nine.

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