November 3, 2005
Champagne's the Toast of Erie

By Ken McMillan

 Atlantic Hockey Notebook

Scott Champagne's 23-game point-scoring streak stretches back to last January.

National TV Schedule

CCHA Notebook
CHA Notebook
ECACHL Notebook
Hockey East Notebook
WCHA Notebook

Champagne's Scoring Streak
Date Opponent G-A
Jan. 14 Holy Cross 0-2
Jan. 15 American Intl. 0-2
Jan. 18 Canisius 1-0
Jan. 28 Bentley 0-1
Jan. 29 Bentley 1-1
Feb. 4 Quinnipiac


Feb. 5 Quinnipiac 0-1
Feb. 11 Army 0-4
Feb. 12 Army 0-3
Feb. 18 Connecticut 0-1
Feb. 19 Connecticut 1-0
Feb. 25 Holy Cross 0-2
Feb. 26 Holy Cross 1-0
March 4 Sacred Heart 0-3
March 5 Sacred Heart 0-1
March 12 Connecticut 0-1
March 18 Holy Cross 1-0
March 19 Quinnipiac 1-0
March 25 Boston College 0-1
Oct. 7 Michigan Tech 1-1
Oct. 8 Michigan Tech 1-1
Oct. 28 Connecticut 0-1
Oct. 29 Connecticut 1-4

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 legs.

“I didn’t even have a chance to react before everyone started jumping on me,’’ Champagne said.

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 of January.

“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 right away.

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, five assists).

“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 feed them.’’

Gotkin says Champagne has all the tools for a productive offensive player: ice vision, anticipation, great puck control, play-making patience and a quick shot.

“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 hockey.

“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
120x60 - Brand Red

Mercyhurst 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.

Stick Salute

Jason 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.

Bench Minor

Bentley 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 two losses.


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 month.


• 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.