There was a time when Jamie Hunt thought about
pursuing his lacrosse career but fortunately he stuck with
Box lacrosse's loss has proved to be Mercyhurst's
Hunt has become one of the top offensive-minded
defenseman in college hockey. He leads all Division I blue-liners
in points per game (1.65) and is second among all players,
recently bumped from the top spot by Chris Collins of Boston
College (1.67). Hunt is also the nation's top set-up man
with 1.22 assists per game.
"I always knew I had the talent to put
up some points,'' Hunt said, "and be considered one
of the better offensive defensemen in, maybe, my conference
but it's nice to get some (national) recognition.''
With 10 goals and 28 assists, Hunt is one
of five defensemen in the nation who currently leads his
team in scoring.
"I have a lot more confidence this year
moving the puck and the players around me are doing a great
job of burying the pucks around the net,'' Hunt said. "I've
been trying to make the right plays and the right reads
on the power play. Things have been working out.''
It certainly helps to play alongside Conrad
Martin, a stay-at-home defenseman who was voted the top
blue liner in Atlantic Hockey last season, and on a team
with incredible offensive weapons in Scott Champagne, Dave
Borrelli and Ben Cottreau.
"Jamie has been putting up incredible
numbers,'' said Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin. "He has
played well for us all year, both offensively and defensively.
He skates so well, he handles the puck so well and he sees
the ice so well, which has been a huge part of Jamie's success.''
Gotkin said Hunt has the skills of a forward,
which shouldn't be surprising because that's where he played
as a youth hockey player in Calgary, Alberta. With size,
skill and the ability to make breakout passes out of the
defensive end, several junior coaches moved him back to
the blue line and that's where he stayed.
"I wasn't too mad about (the switch),''
said Hunt, who idolized Calgary's Jarome Iginla while growing
up. "On defense you get so much ice time back there,
and on the power play. There are plenty of chances to create
offense from the back end, too.''
Hunt said he learned a lot from former Mercyhurst
teammate T.J. Kemp, who is now playing minor league hockey.
"Without him at the start of this year,'' Hunt said,
"I felt I had to step it up and put up some points.''
Hunt said he was afraid to jump into the offensive
play last year but growing confidence and a new aggressive
style has made all the difference.
"We don't restrict our guys too much,''
Gotkin said. "We pretty much tell them if you are in
the play you can stay in the play and be in the play but
there are times when Jamie leads the rush and Jamie leads
the forecheck. He has the green light, as long as he doesn't
try to do too much and he's been great with that.''
Hunt's teammates have learned to keep an eye
on him and cover for him on the ice.
"They have been good,'' Hunt said. "They
know I like to get into the play and make plays down low.
If I wasn't putting up the points I think they would be
a little more mad because I wasn't on the back end and they
were covering for me but it's gone good this year.''
"He's great,'' praised Borrelli. "When
he gets it on his stick, half the time he is making an unbelievable
pass or it's in the back of the net.''
Jumping into the play is not a conscious decision
for Hunt, more a reactionary move.
"When we break the puck out,'' Hunt said,
"if I see an opening or if I can beat one of their
forwards up the ice I know I can create a chance. That's
what I've been doing so far, beating their forwards up the
ice and guys have been making really nice plays and I've
been able to capitalize on it.''
Case in point on Tuesday. Trailing 7-6 late
in the third period to the U.S. Under-18 team, Hunt realized
one of the USA forwards had turned his back so he pinched
in toward the net and converted a pass for the tying goal.
Hunt also produced the game-winner in overtime – unfortunately
for him, his three points from the exhibition win won't
count toward his collegiate totals.
A former high school quarterback and junior
lacrosse standout in Alberta, Hunt gave up those sports
once he received his lone scholarship offer from Mercyhurst.
Hunt loves the small-college atmosphere and has excelled
in the classroom, hoping to put his pending finance degree
to good use back in oil-rich Calgary. He wouldn't mind playing
a little pro hockey first, though.
"I don't think there is any question
he will play pro,'' Gotkin said. "He is getting some
looks now from some NHL teams.''
Right now the focus is on holding the top
spot in Atlantic Hockey, winning the league tournament and
playing in the NCAA tourney for the second year in a row.
Said Hunt: "If the points still come,
fine, but if they don't ... as long as I am doing my job
and helping my team win, the most important thing is winning
the championship and garnering more respect for our team
and our conference and getting back to the NCAA tournament
and hopefully upsetting the top seed.'
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Red Light and Blue: Mercyhurst
needed a late third-period goal and an overtime goal, both
by Jamie Hunt, to overcome the USA Under-18 team, 8-7, in
a wild exhibition on Tuesday in Erie. Tyler Small made 35
stops in net for Mercyhurst. Matt Warren also scored twice,
with Ben Cottreau and Dave Borrelli each notching two assists
for the Lakers.
"There are some great players on that
team,'' Hunt said. "They are going to be excellent
players and some of them are going to go on to the NHL.''
Hunt was very impressed with the American
"It just shows that USA Hockey and their
developmental programs are getting better and better,''
he said. "You could tell they are younger but they
definitely had the talent.
"It was a tough game to play because
they move the puck as well if not better than any Atlantic
Hockey team. We can learn things from them, just the way
they move the puck on the power play and how intense they
Team USA is 24-14-2 overall and 5-13-2 against
NCAA teams this season. In 2004-05, the Under-18 team posted
an 11-11-5 record against collegians (7-8-3 versus Division
I, 4-3-2 versus Division III).
Team USA beat Canisius, 5-2, on Oct. 15. The
American kids also split with future Atlantic Hockey member
RIT two weeks ago, winning 9-6 and losing 8-5. Team USA
closes its NCAA schedule with two games at RIT on Feb. 24-25.
Fourteen former National Team Development
Program players were on NHL rosters at the start of the
season. They are Keith Ballard (Phoenix), David Tanabe (started
the year in Phoenix before being dealt to Boston), Rick
DiPietro (New York Islanders), Adam Hall and Ryan Suter
(Nashville), James Howard and Brett Lebda (Detroit, although
Howard has since been sent down), Andrew Hutchinson (Carolina,
placed on injured reserve today), Ryan Kesler (Vancouver),
Mike Komisarek (Montreal); Jordan Leopold (Calgary), John-Michael
Liles (Colorado), Freddy Meyer (Philadelphia, has bounced
between the Flyers and their AHL affiliate) and, Brad Winchester
(Edmonton, now in the AHL.)
Great Weekend Getaway
Cross vs. Bentley(Fri. in Waltham,
Mass; Sat. in Worcester)
Connecticut at Yale(Sun.)
A Commonwealth showdown pits two teams itching to
stay in the top half of Atlantic Hockey. Holy Cross
needs just one victory to move ahead of Mercyhurst
(which has just one non-league game Sunday against
RIT) and a sweep would give the Crusaders a three-point
lead on the idle Lakers. Bentley trails Army by just
one point and could leap-frog the Black Knights, who
have a challenging two-game set with Sacred Heart.
Make the weekend complete with a non-league affair
along I-95 as Connecticut tries to snap its losing
ways against Yale from the ECAC Hockey League.
Heart had any hope of catching Mercyhurst
for the regular season title, a sweep was in order.
Call FedEx because the Pioneers’ package was
delivered with a resounding effort.
matchup doesn’t necessarily lend itself to quality
hockey. Mercyhurst and Sacred Heart
evenly split 56 penalties over their two-game series.
There were nine incidents of coincidental penalties
on Friday and two more on Saturday. Rugged play is
encouraged; sloppy or vengeful action is not.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Blow hards: Officials gave their whistles
a workout during the weekend clash between Mercyhurst and
Sacred Heart. Referee James Doyle whistled Mercyhurst for
18 penalties and Sacred Heart for 16 in their series opener.
Cooler heads prevailed on the second night with referee
Ed Boyle making 10 calls against the Lakers and 12 against
The constant parade to the sin bin left fans with just 25
minutes, 35 seconds of five-on-five hockey on Friday and
27:36 of full-strength action on Saturday. In all there
were 147 penalty minutes, with 51 minor penalties, one major
and four misconducts.
• I remember being that busy: Sacred
Heart goalie Jason Smith made 54 saves in Saturday’s
win over Mercyhurst, tying his own school record originally
set Oct. 11, 2003, at Providence in Smith’s collegiate
• Roberts rising: Army senior goalie
Brad Roberts is 106 saves shy of setting the all-time career
mark at West Point.
• We love the bus: Holy Cross owns an
11-4 road record this season (including 1-1 in neutral arenas).
The Crusaders were 11-10-1 in 2004-05, 12-9-2 in 2003-04,
8-11-1 in 2002-03, 8-6-4 in 2001-02 and 1-17-1 in 2000-01.
Holy Cross can extend its overall win streak to six games
(matching its longest streak since 2003-04) with a win at
Bentley on Friday.
• No scratching: Bentley senior Josh
Chase has played in 93 consecutive games since his rookie
season, and junior Kyle Larman has not missed a start in
89 career games.
• From cold to hot: Canisius freshman
Dan Giffin followed up seven consecutive losses with back-to-back
shutouts of Army and Connecticut. He posted 26 saves in
his shutout victory on Friday. The next night Giffin needed
to make a career-high 50 stops in order to secure a 5-2
victory. His shutout streak reached 147 minutes, 34 seconds,
the best by any Canisius goalie since the program turned
Division I in 1998-99.• Double O’s: The consecutive
shutouts for Canisius marked the first double blanking since
Oct. 16 and Oct. 22, 1999.
• Primed for 100: Mercyhurst has two
players ready to reach 100 points in their careers. Scott
Reynolds needs one point and Scott Champagne needs three.
Both players were shut out in two weekend losses to Sacred
• See you soon: Mercyhurst
and Rochester Institute of Technology renew their series
with a non-league game in Erie on Sunday. The teams have
not met since 1998-99, with RIT leading the series 16-9-3.
RIT joins Atlantic Hockey next season.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report.