December 18, 2005
2005-06 Atlantic Hockey Mid-Season Report

By Ken McMillan

Mid-Season Report

Mid-Season Reports
Hockey East


Bentley’s goals-against average has crept up, the Falcons are giving up more shots, taking more penalties and killing fewer man-down situations and yet the team is sitting firmly in fourth place. The preseason coaches’ poll had the Falcons penciled in for sixth. Three of Bentley’s top four scorers are freshmen, and Falcons are getting the job done where it counts – they are 4-0 in one-goal decisions and they have defended home ice with a 4-2-1 mark at the John A. Ryan Arena, one more home win than all of last season.


Jason Smith arrived in Atlantic Hockey with the distinction of being a draft choice of the New Jersey Devils, but it wasn’t until this season that we got to see the Sacred Heart goalie prove the scouts right. The junior has thrived in the role of No. 1 netminder for the Pioneers, raising his save percentage by 37 points and dropping his goals-against average by almost a goal-and-a-half.


Sacred Heart has done a very nice job in recent seasons bringing in at least one freshman who makes an immediate impact. Two seasons ago it was Pierre-Luc O’Brien. Last season it was Alexandre Parent. The pioneering Pioneer this season is Bear Trapp, a talented forward out of Saskatchewan. Trapp already has nine goals and nine assists, and four of his tallies have been game-winners, tying him for third in the nation. Trapp is a product of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, having posted 28 goals and 45 assists with the Estevan Bruins last season.


Atlantic Hockey has managed just nine non-conference wins thus far, but only two against teams with a winning record … make that one team: Rensselaer. In the span of a week, the Engineers lost a pair of one-goal decisions at home, battling from two goals behind in each game. Holy Cross posted a 3-2 win on Nov. 25 and Sacred Heart followed with a 4-3 overtime win on Dec. 2. Given the 44-save effort by Jason Smith, we give the edge to Sacred Heart's win as the biggest upset of the first half.


Army coach Brian Riley jokingly refers to himself as a knucklehead for agreeing to a schedule that placed his Cadets on the road for 14 of the first 19 games. Army has managed to “steal” four road points already (a win and two ties), which is one more road point than all of last season. The good news for the Black Knights comes in the second half – they play 12 of their final 18 at home.


Holy Cross has an unenviable schedule in the second half. The Crusaders play tough non-conference games with Ohio State, Dartmouth and either Miami or Rensselaer. The team has a stretch in late January when it plays five games in 10 days. To cap matters, Holy Cross finishes the season with home-and-homes against the two teams that will likely be nipping at its heels: Sacred Heart and Bentley.


There will be three weeks left in the season when Holy Cross takes to the road to face Mercyhurst in a weekend set on Feb. 17-18. A week later Holy Cross and Sacred Heart will play a home-and-home set. First place in Atlantic Hockey will likely be determined by those four games.


There had to be some trepidation in Storrs, Conn., about having to replace 100-point scorer Tim Olsen. So far, the Connecticut Huskies have done just fine. UConn has scored three-or-more goals in seven of 14 games thus far. Thirteen Huskies have lit the lamp so far, led by freshman Chris Myhro’s eight tallies. Coach Bruce Marshall’s team ranks fourth in best-goals-improvement (up from 2.43 a game to 2.71).


Tom Fenton appears to have won the goaltending job at American International College, beating out fellow freshman Coby Robinson and junior Matt Tourville. Fenton has AIC’s lone win thus far and has already garnered three weekly awards from the league. How Fenton plays the rest of the way may very well determine if AIC can escape the cellar.

INCH's First Half All-Atlantic Hockey Team
Player Of Note
Tony Quesada, Holy Cross, and Jason Smith, Sacred Heart Whom do you choose? Quesada has returned to the form that made him an all-star as a sophomore. Smith has made the most of his promotion to top goalie in Fairfield.
Jamie Hunt, Mercyhurst Hunt has become an elite playmaker. He leads the nation’s blue liners with 27 points, 10 better than all of last season, and is second in the country with 22 assists.
Jon Landry, Holy Cross The junior blueliner has posted 12 points thus far and is a leader on a Crusader defense that leads the league.
Scott Champagne, Mercyhurst The toast of Erie recently had a 35-game point-scoring streak snapped. The junior left winger already has 28 points (good for third in the nation) and is on pace for 50-plus points.
Tyler McGregor, Holy Cross The power play is McGregor’s friend. Seven of the senior’s 11 tallies have come in man-up situations, placing him fifth in the nation.
Pierre-Luc O'Brien, Sacred Heart The junior is a strong playmaker – his 14 assists ranks third in the league. Nine of his 22 points have come on the power play.