2005-06 Atlantic Hockey Mid-Season Report
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.
BEST NEW FACE
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.
TOUGHEST ROAD OUT
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.
TOUGHEST ROAD IN
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.
BIGGEST QUESTION ANSWERED
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
BIGGEST QUESTION REMAINING
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.
First Half All-Atlantic Hockey Team
Quesada, Holy Cross, and Jason Smith, Sacred Heart
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
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
Landry, Holy Cross
junior blueliner has posted 12 points thus far
and is a leader on a Crusader defense that leads
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.
McGregor, Holy Cross
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.
O'Brien, Sacred Heart
junior is a strong playmaker – his 14 assists
ranks third in the league. Nine of his 22 points
have come on the power play.