November 10, 2005
UAH's Ross Charges Forward

By Thomas Baldwin

 College Hockey America Notebook

With the likes of forward Bruce Mulherin on board, it's little wonder Alabama-Huntsville coach Doug Ross has sustained success with the Chargers.

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Coaching 700 career games at any level of hockey – or in any sport, for that matter – boggles the mind.

Consider the number of seemingly endless bus rides. Traffic jams. Airport delays. Every type of weather imaginable. Visitor’s locker rooms with no hot water and one towel for 25 guys. Referees adored and abhorred. Memorable wins and forgettable losses.

Alabama-Huntsville coach Doug Ross – who seemingly started career during Prohibition – reached that milestone in Rochester, N.Y., Saturday and recorded a victory to boot, as the Chargers defeated RIT. Not that he knew anything about it.

“I don’t keep track of it,” Ross said in typical coachspeak. “I’m a coach. I just coach.”

He wasn’t kidding. He had no idea it was his 700th game. Not only was he unimpressed, but he didn’t care if it was true.

“It’s gone by slow,” laughed Ross, who skated for the U.S. team at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck and started his coaching career at Ohio University the following fall. “It’s a lot of work. Every Friday and Saturday night…it is a big part of your life.”

Of the 700 games he’s coached, Ross has been behind the Alabama-Huntsville bench for 480 of them over the course of the last 24 years. His Charger teams won NCAA Division II national titles in 1996 and 1998 and took CHA regular-season honors in 2001 and 2003, though the league’s playoff championship – and the NCAA Tournament automatic berth that accompanies it – has thus far been elusive.

“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been surrounded by a lot of good people,” he said. “If you are surrounded by a lot of good people who are very helpful, it makes your job a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable [and] if you get the students in here that have the educational goals, everything falls into place. The people are the key.”

When milestones of this magnitude are involved, the obvious question is, how long does he plan to keep coaching?

It’s a year-to-year thing. I would like to go for a couple of more years,” said Ross, who turned 54 last month. “I thought after [son and former Charger standout] Jared graduated, I might want to get out a couple years after that. I’m still kind of sticking to that plan a little bit so I can spend more time watching him play, if he is still playing. I miss him a lot.”


Great Weekend Getaway
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Niagara at Alabama-Huntsville
It's the best league series of the weekend and one that should serve as a measuring stick for both teams. "We just seem to be getting better as the weeks go by," said UAH forward Todd Bentley. "It will be a good starting point.”
Stick Salute

Whether the move was intentional or just the result of a scheduling quirk, how cool is it that Air Force travels to Army for a non-conference series that kicks off on Veteran's Day? Regardless of the sport, contests pitting the service academies against one another are always taut, heated affairs.

Bench Minor

Kennesaw State's aborted stab at starting a Division I hockey program leaves the CHA in a bad way for the 2006-07 season and beyond. Unless a replacement for Atlantic Hockey-bound Air Force is found prior to the start of next year, the CHA will drop to five members and lose its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. It would be a shame, especially considering how well the CHA representatives have played in the national tourney.

Solid Debut for Pagliero Niagara made a goaltending switch Saturday as freshman Juliano Pagliero getting the start against Wayne State after senior Jeff VanNynatten started the Purple Eagles’ first seven games. VanNynatten has been steady this season, going 4-3-0 with 3.16 goals against average and a .913 save percentage, but his replacement didn’t disappoint – Pagliero made 39 saves in a 3-3 overtime tie.

“I thought this would be a good opportunity to get someone else a chance to play,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said of the decision to start Pagliero. “Other than the power play chances, I thought he was pretty solid.

“Obviously, there were a little bit of jitters there playing in my first game as a freshman,” Pagliero said. “I was…a little nervous. I think the game went fairly well. I’m just happy to get my legs underneath me. It’s always nice knowing you have done it before.”

In giving the starting nod to Pagliero, Burkholder bypassed junior Allen Barton (2-4-0, 4.18 GAA, .872 save pct. last season) and sophomore Scott Mollison (3-4-0, 3.23 GAA, .874 save pct. in 2004-05).

“Some of the toughest moments of the week happen Thursday night when we…decide who plays and who doesn’t. I kind of went with a gut instinct on Saturday,” Burkholder said. “I think the silver lining is that we will graduate a goalie and we have our three goalies for next year in place.”


• Alabama-Huntsville’s David Nimmo scored a rare natural hat trick in the Chargers’ win against RIT Saturday. His first goal of the game near the end of the first period gave the Chargers a 2-0 lead and was the eventual game-winning goal. The second came in the second period as Alabama-Huntsville capitalized on a two-man advantage, while his final tally came in the third period when the teams were playing four-on-four.

• Think coaches spend their weekends off in front of the TV, laying back in the recliner with a cold beverage in one hand and the remote control in the other? Guess again. Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley spent his off week on the road recruiting.

“I was all over. It was a productive off-week, let me tell you,” Schooley said in an exhausted tone from an airport via cell phone.

• More on RMU: The Colonials’ Brett Conley has nine points – all assists – in six games this season, and all nine have come on the power play. It’s an interesting statistic, but also a cause for concern. The Colonials only have scored three even strength goals in six games.

“That is concerning,” Schooley remarked. “Our power play is not going to click at 30 percent all year, so we need to start figuring how to score some five-on-five goals.”

• Wayne State, which had been abysmal on the power play this season, entered last weekend’s series at Niagara with only two power play goals in 33 attempts. But in a critical juncture in Saturday’s tie with the Purple Eagles, the Warriors capitalized on a five-minute power play when Nate Higgins tied the game at one, and John May gave the Warriors a 2-1 lead just 32 seconds later. In the series, the Warriors scored power play goals while only surrendering one.

“It was good to see the power play get going,” Wayne State coach Bill Wilkinson said. “Special teams have been a thorn in our side. I thought that was a pretty positive sign for us.”

• Niagara forward Randy Harris, who had registered at least one point in each of his team’s seven games this season, had his streak snapped in Saturday’s game against Wayne State

• Alabama-Huntsville’s Dominik Rozman had three points in the Chargers’ win at RIT last Friday. In his previous 58 career games, he had scored a total of 12 points.

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