It’s been eight months since the
biggest goal in Scott Champagne’s hockey career,
and the bubbly of excitement has not worn off.
It was one of those moments that define
a hockey career. Overtime. The Atlantic Hockey Association
championship on the line. A thousand screaming
fans in the stands.
Visiting Mercyhurst was taking the action
to host Quinnipiac in the extra session but Jamie
Holden was holding firm in net. Champagne was in his
usual position behind the cage when Dave Borrelli
made a pass out front and Ben Cottreau was stopped.
Holden surrendered a rebound, and quick as a cork
explodes from the bottle, Champagne swooped around
the cage and back-handed a shot through the goaltender’s
“I didn’t even have a chance
to react before everyone started jumping on me,’’
He actually never saw the puck go in
the net but he has seen a copy of the videotape. “That
was one I won’t forget for a long time,’’
Champagne said of his vintage moment.
That goal propelled Mercyhurst into
the NCAA tournament, where the Lakers gave Hockey
East champion Boston College a real scare in a first-round
loss in Worcester, Mass.
Champagne hasn’t lost his fizz
entering his junior season. His three goals and seven
assists in Mercyhurst’s 3-1 start leads Atlantic
Hockey in set-ups and points (he also had two assists
in an exhibition win over Brock) and ranks third nationally
in both categories. Champagne has a point in 23 consecutive
regular-season games dating back to the second week
“The season is early but he came
out of the gates very strong and we’re not surprised,’’
said Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin.
Champagne has come of age, Gotkin said,
but not without some consternation along the way.
Player and coach disagreed over Champagne’s
level of fitness heading into his sophomore season,
and an injury contributed to a slow start. Early in
January Gotkin placed Champagne on a line with centerman
Cottreau and winger Borrelli and the trio clicked
The unit has remained intact for this
season and has thrived on special teams with Champagne
leading the league in power play points (two goals,
“Our power play is clicking really
good right now,’’ Champagne said. “We
have good players there and we are working the puck
well. My linemates are really helping me out. They
are making it easy on me, finding the open ice to
Gotkin says Champagne has all the tools
for a productive offensive player: ice vision, anticipation,
great puck control, play-making patience and a quick
“He can be one of, if not the
best player in our conference,’’ Gotkin
said. “I don’t think there’s any
question he can do that. I think he showed that last
year and at times during his freshman year. We expect
him to be one of our top players and we expect him
to continue putting up points, goals and assists.
We expect him to be a go-to guy.’’
Champagne grew up in Cornwall, Ont.,
10 minutes from the Quebec border so he is partial
to the bleu, blanc et rouge of the Montreal
Canadiens. Scott’s mother is French and he is
bi-lingual. He chose Mercyhurst over Maine and Clarkson
because he liked the coaching staff and enjoyed the
small-school atmosphere. He is prepping for a career
in accounting but is holding out hope to play professional
“I don’t regret anything,’’
Champagne said. “I am glad I came here. The
hockey is great, we are competitive every night and
every year we have a chance to win a championship.’’
As for his namesake, Champagne is not
particular toward the sparkling white wine; he much
prefers a Labatt Blue on occasion.
Great Weekend Getaway
at American International (Fri. at 7 p.m.; Sat.
at 4 p.m.) Mercyhurst has dominated the series
the past four seasons, winning all 11 meetings,
including six in Springfield. Overall, the Lakers
own a 16-1-1 advantage. It could be a tough
go for AIC, which is allowing a league-worst
5.5 goals per game while Mercyhurst is tallying
a league-best 4.5 per game.
While You're There: While
wandering around campus, visit “The Spirit
Rock,” a 2,000-pound boulder available
for painting by students to promote their events.
It is located between Pouch Hall and the Old
Science building. Make Saturday a doubleheader,
starting with a 12:30 p.m. home game with Saint
Anselm. Observers say the fall foliage is “past
peak” but you can be sure to find plenty
of color on a drive through the Berkshires,
especially on Routes 9 and 116. For fans of
roundball, a must-see is the James Naismith
Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.
Smith posted 24 saves to lead Sacred
Heart to a 3-0 shutout of Canisius on Oct. 28.
It was his first career “bagel”
and the first blanking by the Pioneers (not
counting exhibitions) since a 3-0 playoff win
over Connecticut on March 13, 2004, a span of
38 games. Smith made 30 stops the next night
to hand Canisius a 5-3 setback.
had a rough foray into ECACHL territory, bowing
8-1 to Union and losing 3-1 to Colgate. The
Falcons were 1-for-16 on the power play in those
AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
M*A*S*H unit in Erie –
Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin is heaping praise
on his talented cast of seven freshmen but he is counting
the days until he can get four of his veterans back
in the Laker lineup. Defensemen Jamie Coghlan (upper
body) and Conrad Martin (leg) are still healing from
offseason surgery and are expected back in January.
Forward Erik Johnson broke a bone in his hand in the
opening series against Michigan Tech and is expected
back within a few weeks. Forward Matt Warren is an
academic casualty but is expected back sometime this
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• A pair of Canisius losses at
Sacred Heart last weekend marked the first time the
Golden Griffins dropped two weekend road games to
an Atlantic Hockey opponent in two seasons.
• Canisius is 7-1 at home against
Army since 2000-01 season. The Golden Griffins won
both meetings in Buffalo last March, 4-2 and 5-2.
Overall, the teams have split 21 meetings (10-10-1).
• Luck of the Irish: Brothers
Billy Irish-Baker and Brandon Irish-Baker each had
career-best outings for Canisius against Sacred Heart
last Saturday. Billy tied his career-high with two
goals. Brandon had a career-best two assists.
• Army’s 0-6 start is the
worst since opening 0-5-1 in the 1999-2000 season.
The 1942 team opened 0-11 before winning its finale.
It is Army’s longest losing streak since dropping
six in a row from Dec. 1991-Jan. 1992. The 1987-88
team lost eight in a row in January and February.
• Holy Cross won last season’s
series with Connecticut, 2-0-1. The teams tied 2-2
in Worcester, and the Crusaders won both games in
Storrs, 6-3 and 5-0.
• Jamie Holden, the second-team
All-Atlantic Hockey goaltender a year ago for Quinnipiac,
posted his first professional win Tuesday night for
Cleveland in the AHL. Holden stopped all five Hershey
Bears attempts in the shootout to earn the win. Former
Holy Cross star Patrick Rismiller is a teammate of
Holden's on the Barons.
A variety of sources were utilized
in the compilation of this report.