October 20, 2005
Spreading the Wealth

By Thomas Baldwin

 College Hockey America Notebook

Christian Boucher made 25 saves as Robert Morris posted a 5-2 win at Western Michigan last weekend.

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It’s been a season of firsts for Bemidji State. But the positive vibes for the CHA don't start and stop with the Beavers.

Two weekends ago, as you well know, BSU recorded the CHA's first-ever sweep of a WCHA opponent when it downed Minnesota-Duluth on the road. Last weekend, the Beavers swept Minnesota State in Bemidji, which was enough to propel coach Tom Serratore's club into the top 15 in all three national polls (BSU is 14th in this week's INCH Power Rankings).

As was the case following the UMD series, Serratore didn’t celebrate his team's latest sweep. It's not just that he and his charges expect to win these games. It's also because he didn't have the time – even though the Beavers are off this week, the coach was scrambling to a meeting Monday evening, followed by a check on study hall for the players. The next day, he was in Minneapolis recruiting at a junior tournament.

It was nice weekend for us,” Serratore said. “The thing that is the most pleasing is that we are playing pretty consistent hockey right now. We are getting balanced scoring and we are getting really good goaltending.”

While BSU has been in the spotlight for its efforts, other CHA clubs have acquitted themselves nobly against quality non-conference opponents. Niagara, for example, beat Canisius last weekend. Mind you, the Golden Griffins aren't at the same level as UMD or Minnesota State, but they're the Purple Eagles' most bitter rivals and the games are almost always wars.

“Bemidji’s start is unbelievable for Tom and his staff, but also for our league,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “I don’t think there is anyone anymore that doesn’t go into non-conference games playing to win and expecting to win."

That list includes upstart Robert Morris. The fledgling Colonials, just starting their second season of Division I hockey, got three third-period goals and 25 saves from goaltender Christian Boucher en route to a 5-2 win over CCHA member Western Michigan in Kalamazoo Saturday.

"I give full credit to the goaltender, Boucher," Bronco coach Jim Culhane told the Kalamazoo Gazette. "He had a heck of a game.''

“Our league is a good league,” Serratore said. “We’ve done pretty well outside of the conference…..very well, in fact. That’s why we have such a strong non-conference schedule in the CHA. Those teams know that it is not only going to be good competition, but it is going to prepare those teams properly for their own league play.”


Great Weekend Getaway
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Alabama-Huntsville at Maine (Fri.-Sat.)
The Chargers are one of just nine teams in the country to tee it up for real. They'll do so in one of the toughest road venues in college hockey against a team that's fresh off a sweep of the two-time defending NCAA champions. What a way to start the post-Jared Ross era, eh?

While You’re There: Maine's football team is a middling 2-4, but the Black Bears host the seventh-ranked team in NCAA Division I-AA, Massachusetts, Saturday.

Stick Salute

Saturday's 5-2 win against Western Michigan had to be especially sweet for Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley. Schooley graduated from WMU in 1994. Kudos are in order for the entire Colonials program, however. Sure, the Broncos aren't Boston College, but it's a nice non-league victory nonetheless.

Bench Minor

Talk about a lost weekend – Air Force stumbled badly at the Quinnipiac Q Cup, losing to Bentley and Division I newcomer RIT. One could surmise that the Falcons ran into hot goaltenders (AFA outshot its foes by a combined 70-47). But a woefully inept power play – Air Force was 0-for-23 with the man advantage – is a more reasonable explanation.

Battle of Buffalo – Following an intense, 3-2 victory over Canisius Friday, Niagara players presented the game puck to assistant coach Jerry Fortran, who reportedly interviewed for the Canisius head coaching vacancy during the summer, a job that eventually went to former Mercyhurst assistant coach Dave Smith.

The gesture was a nice conclusion to the evening for the Purple Eagles, who showed grit in coming from behind on the road against a fierce rival.

“I was really happy with the way responded,” Burkholder said. “We were down 2-1 after two and our goal all week was to outwork them. When the game was on the line, I thought we did a good job of that.”

Niagara also capitalized on an ill-advised Canisius penalty. Midway through the third period, Niagara captain Jason Williamson was flattened from behind by Canisius forward David Kasch, who was hit with a five-minute major. Sean Bentivoglio scored the game-winner during the ensuing man advantage.

Burkholder held Williamson out of contact drills at the team's Saturday skate, but he's expected to be in the linuep when Niagara hosts Western Michigan this weekend.

Frankly Speaking: The conference's other Serratore – Air Force head coach Frank – signed a new five-year contract which will extend him through the 2009-10 season, the school announced earlier this week.

Serratore, in his ninth season with the Falcons, has a 120-154-18 record at Air Force and an overall record of 169-246-27 in 13 seasons as a college head coach. Serratore holds the school record for Division I wins. Prior to his arrival in Colorado Springs, the Falcons had won 86 Division I games in 29 seasons. Serratore currently has 88 Division I wins in eight seasons.


After getting shut out for 119:53 by Michigan State and Miami at the Lefty McFadden Tournament in Dayton, Ohio, two weekends ago, Wayne State finally scored some goals in a 6-1 exhibition romp over Guelph last Friday.

“Any time you score it is fun for the kids, and it is nice confidence-wise,” Wayne State coach Bill Wilkinson said. “We played pretty tough teams in that tournament. I didn’t feel so bad after I realized how good those two teams were.”

The news wasn't all good for Wilkinson and Co., as the Warriors learned they'll be without sophomore forward Stavros Paskaris for up to four weeks with a separated shoulder.

“It is a void we have to fill,” Wilkinson said. “Better early in the season that the end of the season. It’s not the end of all end, but it is a big loss.”

Paskaris, who was injured by a shoulder-to-shoulder check, led Wayne State in scoring last season with 33 points in 35 games and was a 2005 CHA all-rookie team selection.

Air Force senior captain Brooks Turnquist played in his 114th straight game last weekend to move into 10th place among CHA ironmen. Turnquist, who hasn't missed a game in his college career, will likely move into eighth place on the list after the Falcons' weekend tilts against in-state foes Denver and Colorado College. Former Niagara standouts Barrett Ehgoetz and John Heffernan sit one game ahead in a tie for eighth.

Since we're on the top, we may as well point out that the odds of Air Force getting off the schneid this weekend are quite long. Friday's opponent, Denver, has won 17 in a row against the Falcons while Colorado College, which plays Air Force Saturday, owns a 22-game winning streak and a 29-game unbeaten streak against its crosstown rival.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.