Ray Jean always dreamt about playing
for his home state Maine Black Bears, but when he
fell to the bottom of a three-goalie depth chart in
Orono it was more important just to play.
Jean made the tough choice to leave
Maine following his sophomore season, and now he is
happy and thriving for the Bentley Falcons.
“It feels good,’’
said Jean, 23. “It’s something I haven’t
felt in about three years. It feels good to be back
behind the team again."
Jean had played 13 games for Bentley,
posting a 6-6-1 record and 3.08 goals-against average.
The recent holiday break allowed Jean to return to
basics and work on the technical aspects of his game.
The result has been five strong starts in January
with a 3-2 record, 2.00 GAA and .942 save percentage.
“I think I am playing pretty well
right now,’’ Jean said. “There are
things I could do better. I feel better about my game
than when I started the year."
Jean’s first game in nearly a
year-and-a-half was against Air Force in the Q-Cup
tournament hosted by Quinnipiac.
“I think it’s the first
time in my hockey career that I’ve ever been
nervous," he said. “The guys did a great
job of keeping the shots to the outside. It was a
pretty easy game to step back into."
There wasn’t much smooth sailing
after the opener. Robert Morris tallied four power
play goals against Jean in a 5-2 win over Bentley
on Oct. 22. Jean followed that with an 8-1 clunker
against Union on Oct. 28.
“The Union one was pretty tough,"
Jean said. “I was frustrated for a couple weeks.
I sat down and talked with coach (Ryan Soderquist).
He told me how he could see I was frustrated and how
it was rubbing off on the team."
That was an eye-opening revelation for
“He told me how the team looks
at me and what they expect from me," Jean said.
Attention is always focused on the goaltender,
but perhaps more so when you are a transfer from a
highly successful program, Jean said.
“I think there is more pressure,"
Jean said. “I think some of the guys look at
me differently because I came from (Maine), especially
when I first came in. Now I don’t think they
notice any more ... they know I am part of the team."
Being part of the Black Bears program
is all Jean wanted growing up outside of Augusta.
Recruited out of prep school, Jean was brought in
at the same time as Frank Doyle and Jim Howard. Before
long, Doyle and Howard assumed most of the ice time.
Jean made three relief appearances and played just
“I don’t think I played
badly," Jean said, “but they played so
well it was hard for me to get in. Schools are that
way when you have a lot of depth."
It didn’t get any better for Jean’s
sophomore season as he was limited to 13 minutes in
two relief outings.
Doyle used up his eligibilty but Howard
had earned the nod as the Bears’ starting goalie
in 2004-05. “It didn’t make too much sense
to stay around," Jean said.
Jean considered several schools for
transfer purposes and settled on Bentley.
“Bentley was the best place for
me," Jean said. “They offered me the opportunity
to come in and play right away. They looked to me
like a team that was on the verge of doing something
in this league, whcih is a good opportunity for me."
Transfer rules forced Jean to the sidelines
for all of last season. He made good use of the time
by working on the technical aspects of his game, utilizing
the tutelage of senior Simon St. Pierre.
“I got leaps and bounds better,"
Jean said. “I think (the technical work) helps
me to be more consistent because if you are always
reacting to the puck you are going to struggle. Now
I can find I am not on my game and still play a solid
game by getting in the way. I cover angles better,
make plays better and have learned when to stay down,
when to scramble and when not to."
One other thing Jean has learned of
late is to rid himself of most of his pregame rituals
and superstitions. He still gets dressed with his
left side first (“because it feels comfortable,"
he says) but gone are the strict schedules on when
to nap, when to eat and listening to the same music
before every game.
“It’s a lot easier to play
now," Jean says with a laugh. “I am not
worried about anything before the game. It takes a
lot of stress away."
It is Jean’s goal to lead the
Falcons to a home playoff game and perhaps a berth
in the Atlantic Hockey championship game. “I
expect a lot from myself," Jean said.
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
A helping hand: A series
of circumstances has Army coach Brian Riley believing
in guardian angels.
His Black Knights fell behind 2-0 to
Holy Cross last Saturday before rallying for a 3-2
triumph on the night the team honored former team
captain Derek Hines, who was killed in combat in September.
On the first shift of the game, the
puck sailed into the stands and grazed Hines’
“It was almost like Hinesy was
there saying, ‘Okay, mom, quit
yakking and watch the game,’" Riley said.
Lyle Gal’s first collegiate goal
proved to be the game-winner. He wears uniform No.
23, the same number Hines wore on his high school
team. And, by the way, Gal uses the same locker stall
that Hines used.
“I don’t know if people
believe in it, but I think that Hinesy certainly had
something to do with the outcome of that game,’’
Riley thanked Holy Cross for their cooperation
with the pre-game ceremony and the Crusaders’
willingness to stay on the ice for the playing of
West Point’s alma mater. Holy Cross has also
honored the fallen Hines by wearing a “DH”
sticker on the players’ helmets all season.
“That’s a classy move by a classy program,’’
A much better ride home: The
schedule makers had Mercyhurst making long trips eastward
on consecutive weekends. On the first trip, Army swept
the Lakers for the first time, winning 5-0 and 3-2
“No one likes to lose," said
Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin. “I can tell you
around here it’s not fun. We’re a program
that is used to winning. We love winning. We’re
not used to losing. When you lose a game, or back-to-back
like we did, it doesn’t sit well. You could
tell on the bus ride home and you could tell in practice
all last week that the guys were very, very disturbed
Gotkin praised the inspired play by
Army and identified a host of little things the Lakers
had to work on, including an entire practice spent
on the penalty kill.
Last weekend Mercyhurst received its
bounceback, sweeping Connecticut 6-3 and 4-3.
“There were a lot of little things
that we just did better at UConn," said Gotkin,
who noted the bus ride home from Storrs went much
The game at Army was the first for Mercyhurst
in 27 days, while Army played in the UConn tournament
between Christmas and New Year's. Before the series,
Gotkin was convinced the layoff was much needed and
would not be detrimental, but now his thinking has
changed a bit. Gotkin said he plans on evaluating
how he schedules around and during the holiday break.
Great Weekend Getaway
Heart (Fri.) and Holy Cross (Sat.) at Dartmouth The Big Green from the ECAC Hockey
League will be hosting two of Atlantic Hockey’s
best, each of whom have winning records (3-2)
in non-conference play. After this weekend,
Atlantic Hockey has just two non-conference
and two exhibitions remaining on its schedule.
Dartmouth is 2-2-1 since Christmas. Seniors
Mike Ouellette (20 points) and Eric Przepiorka
(19 points) lead the Big Green scoring.
While You're There: Tired
of breaking down a power play? You can attend
Friday afternoon seminars on the highest energy
particles in nature and the development of bioinformatics.
For a more down-to-earth setting on Saturday
morning, watch some sports heroes take part
in the Upper Valley Special Olympics Winter
Games at the Dartmouth Skiway. Bring a piece
of cake for Wolfgang Mozart’s 250th birthday
celebration and concert on Sunday at the Rollins
won one for its fallen captain, rallying
from two goals down to post a 3-2 victory over
Holy Cross on an emotional night dedicated to
the memory of Derek Hines. It was the first
time Army rallied from behind to win a game
went 0-for-10 on the power play and managed
just 41 shots in a pair of home losses to Sacred
Heart. The Griffs’ power play is just
1-for-its last 24. Thank goodness for a red-hot
penalty kill – in the last six games the
Griffs have killed off their last 30 man-down
situations. Canisius is going to have to send
a lot more shots on net to cool the hot hand
of Army’s Brad Roberts this weekend.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• This season Atlantic Hockey
is 12-23-1 against schools from the other five Division
I hockey conferences. The 12 wins represents the best
mark by MAAC Hockey/Atlantic Hockey since the league’s
inception in 1998-99.
• Top Crusader: The new career
wins leader at Holy Cross is senior Tony Quesada.
His 4-3 victory over Army last Friday was the 46th
of his career, breaking a tie with Paul Pijanowski
• (Wishing it wasn’t) Unforgettable:
The 10-game losing streak by Canisius ties the longest
mark in school history first set by the Golden Griffins
in 1988-89. The Griffs were winless in 10 (0-8-2)
in 1998-99. Other forgettable streaks by Atlantic
Hockey teams: Connecticut dropped 12 in a row in 1988-89
… Holy Cross dropped 11 in a row in 1989-90
… Sacred Heart lost 11 in a row in 1998-99 …
American International lost 10 in a row in 2001-02
… Bentley lost nine consecutive games in 2000-01,
and was winless over 17 (0-15-2) in 2001-02 …
Army lost seven in a row to open the 2004-05 season
… Mercyhurst lost six in a row in 1990-91.
• Lucky seven: The seven goals
scored by Bentley in its 7-3 win over American International
on Friday represents the Falcons’ highest goal
total in almost four years, and marked the team’s
first three-game win streak in three seasons. One
night later, AIC snapped a seven-game winless streak
• Shutout king: Army’s Brad
Roberts blanked American International, 2-0, on Tuesday.
It was his third of the season and seventh of his
career. It was also Army’s second road win of
the season. Army plays its next five games at home
(two with Canisius, two with Bentley, the opener of
a home-and-home with Sacred Heart), where the Black
Knights are 6-2-1.
• A bad start: Canisius has surrendered
the game’s first goal in the last five games
(all losses), in 10 of the past 12 games and 14 of
the last 17.
• Welcome to the club: Bentley
senior Paul Markarian is the third Falcon to register
70 points at the Division I level.
• Endangered species: The Yellow
Jackets of AIC are 1-18-1 against Mercyhurst. The
Lakers host AIC for a two-game set this weekend.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation
of this report.