Sophomore Jinx? Not for Cottreau
Mercyhurst's Ben Cottreau knew there
would be pressure on him to live up to his Atlantic
Hockey rookie of the year honors, but apparently he
thrives on it.
Cottreau ranks among the league leaders
in scoring with 50 points, which is tied for first
with linemate Dave Borrelli. He heads into the league's
Final Four weekend riding an 11-game point-scoring
The Atlantic Hockey scoring records
may have to be revised by time Cottreau is through.
He has 84 points late in his sophomore season. When
next season rolls around he will rank fourth on the
active leaders list behind Scott Champagne of Mercyhurst
(112), Pierre-Luc O'Brien of Sacred Heart (112) and
James Sixsmith of Holy Cross (98), all current juniors.
The three current sophomores chasing him are Alexandre
Parent of Sacred Heart (63), Dale Reinhardt of Holy
Cross (55) and Joel Kitchen of Canisius (41).
"I think he did nothing this year
to change anyone's mind,'' said Mercyhurst coach Rick
Gotkin. "He clearly continues to put up numbers.
He's a goal scorer. He loves to put the puck in the
net. He has played well for us. I think he can still
play better. His best hockey might still be in front
Inside College Hockey: How
did you feel about your sophomore season?
BC: I got off to a bit of a slow start this year but
through line combinations and stuff we found the right
match. I feel happy coming into playoffs now.
INCH: Was there any genuine
concern about the "sophomore jinx?"
BC: I heard a lot of people talking about it but you
never like to think of yourself as being a part of
that. In the beginning of the season when I got off
to my slow start, some people were mentioning it but
I tried to turn it around as quick as possible.
INCH: You won the rookie
of the year last season. Does that carry a burden
for the following season?
BC: The only burden that it carries is there is a
lot of pressure. A lot of hockey players enjoy pressure
and play their best hockey under pressure so I looked
at it that way and turned it into a positive and just
tried to play as well as I can.
INCH: Was it the pressure
of having to live up to expectations from teammates
BC: I am sure every rookie of the year has pressure
to perform well and continue where they left off on
the last season. There wasn't any direct pressure
but you can feel some pressure and the pressure that
you put on yourself as well.
INCH: How did you fight
out of the early season slump?
BC: I think staying positive. My linemates really
helped me out. Dave Borrelli and Scott Champagne kept
me positive and joked about certain games if I wasn't
doing so well. But just keeping a positive attitude
and working hard did the trick.
INCH: Do you benefit from
playing with those two guys or do they benefit from
playing with you?
BC: I think it's a combination of everything. I like
to say our line has it all, pretty much. We all work
very hard, we will go into the corn
No. 1 Holy Cross
Record: 24-9-2 (19-7-2 AHA)
Crusader note: The
Crusaders earned the No. 20 ranking in the nation.
Holy Cross hosted the league finals in 1999
and won (it also hosted in 2001 but did not
qualify). Of the three goalies named to the
league all-star teams, Tony Quesada is the only
one still competing.
How Holy Cross wins: The Crusaders
have a way of holding teams at bay before pulling
away in the final period. Holy Cross is going
to have to be mindful of skaters crashing its
net and limiting second-chance opportunities.
Record: 21-12-1 (19-8-1 AHA)
Laker note: Should
Mercyhurst reach the finals, it's worthwhile
to remember that the Lakers won the 2005 league
playoff championship in Quinnipiac's building.
How Mercyhurst wins: Mercyhurst
needs to utilize the deepest lineup of quality
goal scorers in the league. The Lakers need
to move their feet and fight through the checks.
The Lakers must be mindful of Bentley's quick
freshman line, and stay out of the penalty box.
No. 4 Bentley
Record: 13-16-5 (11-12-5
Bentley joins Holy Cross and Mercyhurst as the
only three-time semifinalists over the past
four years. The double-overtime win over Army
last weekend was the longest in league history.
How Bentley wins:
In the speed rankings, Bentley is the slowest
of the four semifinalists so the Falcons must
find a way to slow opponents down in the neutral
zone and lay on some hits. The Falcons need
to ride the hot hand of Ray Jean in net.
No. 6 Connecticut
Record: 11-22-2 (9-18-1 AHA)
Husky note: Conn
has played well at the Hart Center (one win
in November; three wins and a tie in past six
seasons), perhaps negating a bit of the home-ice
factor for Holy Cross.
How Connecticut wins:
The Huskies need to play with the energy they
did in their last two upset wins over Sacred
Heart. With speed on the offensive end and size
on the defensive side, UConn can be troublesome.
The Huskies will play with a nothing-to-lose
ers and get the puck out. We complement
each other very, very well. We get along really well
on and off the ice, which makes it easy to play on
the ice as well.
INCH: You and Dave Borrelli
are locked into a death struggle for the team scoring
lead. What's that like?
BC: We haven't even mentioned it to
each other. We have the stats pages up in the dressing
rooms. The big picture is win as a team and whatever
happens as individuals is just a bonus.
INCH: There's a late breakaway
with you and Dave Borrelli on an open net? Do you
pass him the puck?
BC: Of course, in a second. I knew he would give it
INCH: How improved are you
as a player since your freshman season?
BC: Coming into the college game I had
to work on getting faster. Throughout freshman year
I worked on that, and even my sophomore year. It's
a case of controlling the play and dictating it at
your own pace, how it's going to go. And then you
can turn on the speed when you need to. It's just
those quick, first couple of steps that I really wanted
to work on.
INCH: One thing we have
learned is you are not afraid to shoot the puck.
BC: (laughs) You can't score
if you don't shoot. I will look to pass first and
look for the open man but if a shot is there I will
INCH: What's your offensive
BC: It breaks down to our line as a whole. We're not
afraid to do things and we're not afraid to make mistakes.
I know I have the support of my linemates if I fire
a puck maybe when I shouldn't have -- they will correct
me but at the same time they will support me. There
is no fear of shooting the puck on our line. Good
things happen when you put the puck on the net, especially
when you have linemates driving for the net. It's
never a bad play to shoot the puck.
INCH: Are you a big-game
BC: Every hockey player likes to think of themselves
as a big-game player. Coach puts myself and my line
into situations where we can be known as big-game
players. It's just taking care of those situations.
INCH: Is the playoffs your
favorite time of the year?
BC: That is definitely mine. You can
see who comes out to play. It's always fun winning
so trying to get to that point is a challenge and
something everyone looks forward to.
INCH: It's the morning of
a playoff game. How do you feel?
BC: You're a little nervous because you know what's
on the line. You want to stay focused and make sure
you can do everything you can to prepare for that
night's game. I am pretty laid back on game days,
I don't like to focus way too much on the game. I
like to stay relaxed. Once you get to the rink that's
when it sinks in.
INCH: Do you get used to
BC: This year it was easy to get used to traveling
because our first road trip was up to Michigan Tech
and it was a 16-hour bus ride. You don't even realize
it. They are all like seven, eight or nine hours.
I don't think anyone on our team has a problem with
it. It was an adjustment because when I played in
Toronto my furthest drive was 30 minutes.
INCH: What is the secret
to a good bus trip?
BC: Good movies and lots of sleep.
INCH: You have 84 career
points now. The potential is you can smash a lot of
scoring records. Have you given it any thought?
BC: Not at all. I don't look ahead that far. I take
each year at a time. By the end of my four years I
will see what I have done.
INCH: What would it mean
to you to have the all-time scoring mark?
BC: It would be pretty nice. It's not
something you can look at now and try to achieve.
It's too far ahead.
INCH: Do you have pro aspirations?
BC: Yeah, I don't know exactly where and what I want
to do after I finish school. Everyone is playing for
the team first but once you get to the point where
you have to move on that's when you start looking.
INCH: Tell us something
interesting about you, off the ice?
BC: I am a marriage and family studies major. I would
like to pursue a career in possibly grade school teaching
or counseling when I finish school.
INCH: What have you learned
BC: It's not as easy at it seems. We'll see when I
get to that point.
INCH: Do you think all men
should take a course like that?
BC: It would be helpful (laughs) and could
save a lot of marriages.