As Yale and
Princeton were devising their plans to beat Alabama-Huntsville
a couple of weeks ago, you could almost hear their coaches saying,
“What we really need to do is neutralize that top line of
Jared Ross and ... um ... oh geez. Those other two guys. What
are their names? Man! It’s right on the tip of my tongue!
Don’t tell me. Arrrrgh!”
Not to make
fun of those particular ECACHL teams. It’s just that outside
of College Hockey America, the names Craig Bushey and Bruce Mulherin
don’t carry the same notoriety as Ross’. Ross is the
face, the name and the star associated with Charger hockey around
the country. Bushey and Mulherin are just the two guys he plays
But as time
goes on, other staffs are learning what CHA coaches have known
for a year or more: Bushey and Mulherin can mess you up, too.
In six games,
Bushey has four goals and five assists, Mulherin has five goals
and four assists and Ross has five goals and six assists. Add
it up, and you have a 4-1-1 record (including wins over Holy Cross
and Yale and a tie with Princeton) heading into this weekend’s
series at Air Force.
easy to get points and goals out there with those two,”
Bushey said. “We’re all pretty talented players, so
the offense kind of takes care of itself.”
Ross are both playmakers, equally comfortable with setting up
someone else for a goal as they are with scoring their own. Bushey
admits he’s less of a creator and more of a finisher around
the net – but that’s exactly what two playmakers need
for a third component of a successful line. The trio has been
together (on power plays and penalty kills, too) since early last
season, and the comfort level the three have with each other is
were actually saying during captains’ practices this summer
how great it feels to not even have to look to know where the
other guys are,” Mulherin said. “And then you can
hear the other team’s coaches telling them to watch out
for Jared, which just means that there’s more room for us
to exploit their system.”
that playing with Ross makes things easier for him. He used Randy
Moss as an analogy.
watching Monday Night Football, and Daunte Culpepper was saying
that Moss was the biggest decoy on the field,” Bushey said.
“The other team’s always looking at him, worrying
about what he’s doing. And it just opens things up for the
other guys. That’s what it’s like when they try to
take Jared away.”
linemates say there’s no jealousy of King Jared in Chargerland.
After all, the bigger the pie that Ross bakes, the bigger the
slices everyone else gets.
brings more attention to us,” Mulherin said. “People
will hear about what Jared’s doing, and they’ll ask,
‘Who’s on his line? How’s he doing so well?’”
awesome for Jared,” Bushey said. “He draws scouts
to the stands, which gives everyone on this team an opportunity
to get noticed. They’ll be watching him and see someone
else with talent. Maybe it will be me.”
AND HEARD IN THE LEAGUES
Simon Don't Say – Bentley has the rare
ability to measure its improvement in months. As in, the Falcons
secured their first league win two months earlier this year than
they did last season. By beating Holy Cross (the defending league
champions, no less) on Saturday, Bentley improved to 1-2-1 in
the league and 2-4-2 overall. Last year, the Falcons were 1-9-2
at Christmas and didn't get their first league victory until Jan.
6 versus Sacred Heart.
at the exact time we needed it," coach Ryan Soderquist said
of the Holy Cross win. "And for it to be against the league
champs is even better. Not to take anything away from any team
in our league, but had we beaten AIC last weekend, it may not
have been the best jump for our guys. We needed to know that we
could compete with and score on anyone. We did everything we needed
to do to win, and we're upbeat and excited about the season."
surprise associated with Saturday's game might not have been that
Bentley won, but who was the triumphant goalie. Geordan Murphy
spelled struggling Simon St. Pierre and made 26 saves for the
5-3 victory. Soderquist said Murphy played well enough to earn
another start Friday against Bemidji State, but St. Pierre will
be back in the crease Saturday.
expected more out of Simon than we've gotten so far," Soderquist
said. "I don't think he's been focused. His save percentage
(.898) is inexcusable for him as a senior. He gave up five goals
against Sacred Heart (Oct. 24) and five against Canisius (on Friday),
and there were one or two goals in each game that, normally, he
Asked if he
were concerned about his star goalie, Soderquist said. "No.
Not yet at least. One thing about Simon is he plays his best when
his numbers are down. If he has a bad game or two, you know he'll
go out and have three or four good ones in a row."
man – Niagara junior Jeff Van Nynatten, almost
universally regarded as the top goalie in the CHA, didn’t
play at Western Michigan last weekend and won’t play against
Quinnipiac this weekend. Niagara is characterizing his absence
as a “coach’s decision,” but coach Dave Burkholder
doesn’t want to go into specifics.
was something we needed to do,” Burkholder said. With Van
Nynatten out of the lineup, sophomore Allen Barton and freshman
Scott Mollison are handling the goaltending duties. “The
two goalies that played at Western Michigan are the two who are
what the team needs right now,” Burkholder said.
said Van Nynatten is still a member of the Purple Eagles. The
goalie’s status for next week will be determined after the
Quinnipiac series. Van Nynatten is 3-4-0 with a 3.16 goals-against
average and .902 save percentage.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Niagara (Fri.-Sat.) It’s
commonly held that the quality of play in the CHA is slightly
better than in Atlantic Hockey, and Niagara will have a
chance to prove that this weekend as two of the best teams
from each league square off. Quinnipiac features goalie
Jamie Holden, who stole a win with a 42-save performance
against Dartmouth two weekends ago, while Niagara has a
potent offense led by Barret Ehgoetz, Ryan Gale and even
defenseman Pat Oliveto. You might not see a better gauge
of the CHA vs. the AHA this season.
you’re there: If you only have the attention span
for one hockey game this weekend, skip the series opener
and check out Colin Quinn’s comedy show Friday night
at the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts. No doubt
that Colin will provide some intermission scores to his
it be great if Wayne State forward Mark Nebus (who
had a goal each night against Providence last weekend and
is the CHA Offensive Player of the Week) scored an overtime
game winner sometime this season? The headline could be
“Save Us, Nebus.” Or maybe it would be better
if he were a goalie.
State had gone 60 straight games without being
shut out until last weekend, when the Beavers were blanked
twice by Minnesota State, Mankato. Bemidji (1-3-0) hasn’t
looked like the team the CHA coaches tabbed as the preseason
favorite this year. After this weekend’s home series
against Bentley, the Beavers go on the road for six straight
tough games (vs. Niagara, Wayne State and Lake Superior
State). Time to cowboy up.
will tell you that there’s nothing like an early-season
road trip to forge team unity, but it still was pretty surprising
to see that visiting teams went 6-0 in Atlantic Hockey games last
can bet that Wayne State forward Jason Bloomingburg
had an ear-to-ear grin when he scored against his former school,
Providence, in an upset win Friday night. Bloomingburg, who left
the Friars in part because of some legal trouble and in part because
he didn’t like their trapping style of play, has seven goals
this season and has been a key to the aggressive Warriors’
5-3 start (including splits against Clarkson, Merrimack and Providence).
from Wayne State’s win Friday, the CHA
and AHA lost their other eight games against “Big Four”
opponents last weekend. The leagues will only get three cracks
at a major upset this weekend, as Connecticut plays
a series at Ferris State and Mercyhurst plays
once at Massachusetts on Sunday.
only thing separating Wayne State coach Bill
Wilkinson from his 400th career win is former pupil Derek Schooley,
who played for Wilkinson at Western Michigan from 1990-94. Schooley
is now the head coach at Robert Morris, which
hosts the Warriors for its first-ever home CHA series this weekend.
Wilkinson is sitting at 399 victories.
one of just a handful of still-winless teams in the country, American
International obviously has some what-ifs in its memory
bank. Among them: A 2-0 lead that got away against Quinnipiac,
a wasted three-goal rally to tie a game against Sacred
Heart (eventually a 6-3 loss) and a blown 1-0 lead Friday
versus Holy Cross.
Canisius will host first-place Sacred
Heart in a battle for early-season Atlantic Hockey supremacy
this weekend. A big reason for the Golden Griffins’ success
thus far is a much-improved penalty-killing rate. Last year, Canisius
finished last in the league with a 78.1 kill rate. This year,
it’s leading the league at 85.9. Maybe this will be a magical
year in Buffalo. “It’s a funny thing,” captain
Fred Coccimiglio said. “The Redskins/election theory and
the Red Sox’s curse both ended this year. It’s the
year of change.” Does that mean Canisius might get its first-ever
NCAA tournament bid? “That’s what I’m
hoping,” Coccimiglio said.
who sat out almost all of last season after back surgery, has
a fifth-year of eligibility next season if he wants it. But having
earned his bachelor’s degree in just three years, the grad
student said he won’t decide whether to come back to the
Golden Griffins until after this season.
will be without the services of forward and assistant
captain Jason Williamson for Game 1 of its series against Quinnipiac
this weekend. Williamson is serving a mandatory one-game
suspension after fighting Western Michigan’s Vince Bellissimo
on Saturday. Word is, Williamson won, but that’s beside
the point. Burkholder said Williamson’s was the first fighting
penalty in the program’s nine-year history.
might have taken a little longer than expected this season, but
Mercyhurst bench boss Rick Gotkin earned his
300th win at the school and his 100th as a Division I coach with
a 2-0 whitewash of Army on Friday. Of course,
the Lakers also beat Connecticut on Saturday,
meaning those milestone numbers didn’t say nice and round
for very long. Throw in a 45th birthday celebration on Sunday,
and it wasn’t a bad weekend for coach Gotkin.
Heart still sits atop Atlantic Hockey with a 3-0-0 record
and six points. But while the Pioneers have had their way with
league opponents, nonconference games have been a different story.
Coach Shaun Hannah’s crew has been outscored 30-4 in five
nonleague games (vs. Vermont, Colgate, Cornell and Ohio State,
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.