November 24, 2004
Holy Cross Holds Out Hope

By James Jahnke

Atlantic Hockey/CHA Notebook

Holy Cross senior Tony Coskren

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Throw out Monday’s loss to Boston College. That’s not what has Holy Cross fans worried. What’s more alarming to the Worcester faithful are the five games that preceded the Eagles tilt.

A 1-2-2 record against Atlantic Hockey doormats American International, Army and Bentley? The lone win resulting from a three-goal, third-period comeback? That’s not the way things are supposed to be for the defending league champions.

Holy Cross, which led the league wire-to-wire in 2003-04 and also captured the playoff championship, has had trouble scoring goals most of the season. The Crusaders are in a tie for 48th nationally at 2.30 goals per game. During their five-game winless streak, they’ve produced just seven markers.

“It is frustrating playing a team like AIC and getting 45 shots and only scoring one or two goals,” senior defenseman Tony
Coskren said. “It’s a team you figure you should be able to bury a lot of goals against, and then you don’t. And the frustration carries over from one game to the next game to the next game. It builds up.

“But I think it’s just a phase. We’re working hard. Our top two lines aren’t really scoring for us, but when they get going, we should be rolling over teams. It’ll come back.”

Surprisingly, Coskren is tied for second on Holy Cross’ roster with nine points. He already has three goals this season after being shut out last year (he called it “a dry streak for a season”). For a while, it felt like everything Coskren shot toward the net was going in.

“It’s fun to raise your stick once in a while,” he said.

But if Coskren is leading the offense, there’s a problem. Sophomore Jimmy Sixsmith (10 points) and junior Pierre Napert-Frenette (nine points) are playing OK, but other difference makers such as captain Andrew McKay (three points) and freshman Cal St. Denis (one point) haven’t gotten up to speed yet.

Coskren acknowledges that it’s harder to defend a championship than it is to win it the first time because everybody’s gunning for No. 1. He said some of the team’s freshmen trying to crack the lineup might be a bit nervous out there, and the Crusaders have run into a few hot goalies. But if there was one theme that ran through Coskren’s analysis of Holy Cross’ standing, it was optimism.

“We’re not worried,” Coskren said. “We’re aware of the situation, but we’re only, what? Five or six games into the (league) season? We’re equally as skilled, if not more, than last year. We’re a team – we win together and we lose together. It’s not just because the forwards aren’t doing their job. We all play offense and we all play defense. We just have to keep working.”


Happy Holidays – Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore has a lot for which to be thankful this week, but three road wins against strong league competition might be at the top of the list. The Beavers came out of a grueling four-games-in-five-days trip through Niagara and Wayne State with three victories. Most impressively, Bemidji swept Niagara in a battle between the two popular preseason picks to win College Hockey America.

The Beavers, who have won five of their last six, look a lot different than the team that was shut out on back-to-back nights by Minnesota State, Mankato earlier this month.

“Every team in the nation is going to have its ups and its downs,” Serratore said. “We had a bad stretch earlier this season, and you know what? We’re going to have it again. It just happens that way. But we’re playing pretty well right now, and you take it when you have it.”

Turnabout is Fair Play – After Wayne State’s 7-3 home loss to Bowling Green last Thursday, the Warriors did what everyone expected them to do in Saturday’s rematch in northern Ohio. They scored nine goals and won by six.


INCH spies say BG could not have played a worse game, with defensemen making “millions” of turnovers, forwards failing to backcheck, and goalies giving up softies. Wayne State, meanwhile, got a hat trick from freshman Adam Krug and solid goaltending from confident Matt Kelly.

The Warriors have now defeated representatives of Hockey East (Merrimack, Providence), the ECACHL (Clarkson), the CCHA (Bowling Green) and Atlantic Hockey (Canisius) this season. But barring a matchup in the NCAA tournament, no WCHA teams are on the schedule.


Great Weekend Getaway
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54th Annual RPI/Bank of America Holiday Tournament (Fri.-Sat.)
RPI didn’t exactly stick out its neck when inviting teams to its tournament, but it worked out for all you CHA and AHA fans who like seeing multiple teams in one place. Friday’s first-round matchups are Robert Morris vs. the hosts and Air Force against Sacred Heart. It would be pretty surprising if the Engineers don’t win it all, but the Falcons/Pioneers game should be interesting. And there’s a decent chance you’ll get to see Frank Serratore and Derek Schooley match wits for the third time in nine days in the consolation game.

While You're There: Downtown Albany is a short ride from Troy, and the bars near Pepsi Arena are full of hockey fans during Frozen Fours, NCAA regionals and ECACHL championship weekends at that venue. Check out the Big House Brewing Company, which houses several rooms, all featuring a unique environment, and find the "scene" that suits you.

Stick Salute

A great line from Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley after his team’s 5-0 loss to Air Force last weekend: “They came out like they were shot out of a cannon, and we were the clown in front getting shot in the gut.”

Bench Minor

Want a ride? There’s plenty of room on the Connecticut bandwagon right now. The Huskies, thought to be one of the up-and-coming teams in Atlantic Hockey, have gotten off to a rough 2-9-1 start this year. Granted, one of the wins was against Massachusetts, and the rest of their schedule hasn’t been easy, but not many people would have guessed that UConn would have had just one win entering Thanksgiving week (the Huskies beat Bentley on Tuesday). UConn is off this weekend before hosting Army and Canisius – just its third and fourth home games of the year – in early December.

Army sophomore goalie Treye Kettwick turned in two impressive performances against Holy Cross last week – including a 2-0 shutout Friday – and he did it in front of some pretty good company. After his whitewash, Kettwick was presented with the Superintendent’s coin, which honors outstanding service at the Academy. Making the presentation was Lt. Gen. William J. Lennox Jr., West Point’s superintendent, and U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker.

Alabama-Huntsville didn’t have a bad trip to Mankato last weekend, but it could have been better. The Chargers couldn’t cash in on 1-0 and 2-1 leads in their 4-2 loss Friday, then let a 3-0 advantage get away in Saturday’s 3-3 tie. At one point Saturday, UAH was outshooting MSU 24-3.

• Reading Quinnipiac’s box scores for the past week has been like leafing through the middle of a baby names book – Marks, Matthews and Michaels out the wazoo. Didn’t see any Montells, though. For the record, Mark Van Vliet had two goals and an assist, Matt Froehlich had two assists and Matt Craig had a goal and an assist Friday. On Saturday, Van Vliet, Froehlich, Craig and Michael Bordieri all scored and Van Vliet and Craig had assists. On Tuesday, Froehlich scored and had an assist, Craig helped on two and Matt Sorteberg also had an assist. From now on, fans in Hamden can call me Mames Jahnke.

• It sounds like a bad sequel, but last Saturday could have been billed as “The Return of the Goalie” across the CHA and Atlantic Hockey. Among the returning netminders (with their situation and results): Connecticut’s Scott Tomes played for the first time since injuring his knee in early October, and allowed five goals on 17 shots in a loss to Canisius. Niagara’s Jeff Van Nynatten returned from a two-week unofficial team suspension to make 39 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss to Bemidji State. Quinnipiac’s Josh Siembida, who began his college career at North Dakota, made his first regular-season start for the Bobcats in a 37-save 5-0 shutout of Bentley. Finally, former Findlay netminder Jon Horrell got a relief call for
Bowling Green during Wayne State’s 9-3 win. It was his first action as Jordan Sigalet’s understudy with the Falcons, and he stopped nine of the 14 shots he saw in 33 minutes of work.

• Bad news out of Colorado: Junior Mike Knaeble, Air Force’s leading returning scorer from last year, will miss six to eight weeks after fracturing his fibula Friday against Robert Morris. Knaeble has just one goal and two assists thus far, but he’s been a streaky player throughout his college career.

• Better news out of Colorado: Sophomore Brandon Merkosky set a CHA single-game record with 12 shots on goal during Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win. The previous record was 11, set by UAH’s Jared Ross (12/1/02) and tied by Niagara’s Joe Tallari (2/22/03). Strangely, Merkosky was kept off the scoreboard during his 12-shot barrage. He had a goal and three assists in Friday’s series opener.

Canisius, sitting atop Atlantic Hockey with a 5-1 record and 10 points, had never been in sole possession of first place in a Division I league until this week.

• Perhaps the biggest surprise in the CHA thus far has been Niagara senior forward Ryan Gale, who has nine goals and five assists in 13 games this year after notching 16 goals and 11 assists in his first 99 games as a collegian. “We had him penciled in as our third-line right wing, first penalty killer over the boards and, potentially, playing on the power play,” Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder said. “But he has just deserved to get more ice time. Now, he’s playing with Barret (Ehgoetz) and I don’t know where we’d be without him.”

• If Jared Ross is kept in check at Western Michigan this weekend, expect several career CHA marks to fall when Niagara heads to Alabama-Huntsville on Dec. 3-4. The question, simply, is who will break them? UAH’s Ross and Niagara’s Ehgoetz are staging nearly simultaneous assaults on the all-time league records for goals, assists and points (all currently held by former Air Force Falcon Andy Berg). As it stands, Ross trails Berg by four points (142 to 138), four goals (64 to 60) and is tied in assists at 78. Ehgoetz is seven points, four goals and three assists behind the leaders. Former Purple Eagle Joe Tallari also has 60 career goals and is tied for second with Ross and Ehgoetz in that category.

• After slow passage through the NCAA Clearinghouse, Robert Morris forward Sean Berkstresser was declared eligible two weekends ago. He has played in all four games since, registering one assist.

• Despite getting blown out, Wayne State set a school record with 25 shots on goal during Thursday’s second period against Bowling Green. They tallied two of their three goals during the stanza.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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