November 16, 2005
Who's Got Next?

By Thomas Baldwin

 College Hockey America Notebook

Robert Morris was added to the CHA prior to last season. With Air Force on the move at the end of the year, where will the league find a sixth member?

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CHA Commissioner Bob Peters has been around college hockey a long time.

It’s this knowledge and historical perspective that allows him to see the whole picture regarding his league and its possible expansion. As everyone who follows college hockey knows, Air Force will leave the CHA after the season to join Atlantic Hockey, leaving the league in a fragile state.

“We are going to continue actively seeking a sixth member,” Peters said. “We were very close to achieving that goal with Kennesaw State, but we were unable to put it all together...rather....they were unable to put it all together at this time.

“So, that causes us to be looking, and we are. We still have our incentives in place for new membership. The other part of it is we do have the [automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament] this year, and we do have the option of accepting a two-year grace period.”

In other words, even if the CHA remains at six teams in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, its league champion would still get be an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Peters said the league was disappointed to lose out on a sixth team because it would have kept the CHA on solid footing. But there was another reason – geography.

“We wanted to establish a presence in Georgia,” he said. “As you know, Alabama-Huntsville is playing down there and it is only about three hours away. We thought it would be an excellent way of encouraging the growth of hockey, particularly college hockey, in that area.”

One avenue the CHA might explore for expansion is a university with a club hockey program. According to Peters, there are approximately 57 club teams in that area of the country.

“That was something I was really interested in,” he said. “I am very much a proponent of the growth of hockey. It might be because of when I started to play college hockey in the 50’s, we only had 18 Division I teams in the country. Look what we have today.

“We certainly would appreciate a geographically friendly additional member. But one of our policies has been to promote the game of hockey, and we would take an in-depth look at any potential or interested club team.”

The CHA currently doesn’t have any specific club programs in mind at this juncture. But in the grand scheme of things, Peters thinks the outlook is promising for both the expansion of the sport and the CHA.

“We will continue to be proactive,” he said. “We are continuing to look, explore and ask questions. Hockey is never been more popular and there have never been so many hockey players in our country. I have great hope for the future that we have more Division I hockey. I can see that we are going to need more opportunity for our people.”


Great Weekend Getaway
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Bemidji State at Ferris State
The Beavers travel to Big Rapids to test their mettle against yet another quality non-conference foe. This weekend, coach Tom Serratore's 7-1-0 bunch draws a challenge from Ferris State. The young Bulldogs are off to a respectable 4-2-4 start.
Stick Salute

Successful power plays are usually the domain of the teams with the most talent – and in college hockey that usually means Minnesota, Michigan, Boston College and the like. Joining that group is second-year program Robert Morris, as Derek Schooley’s Colonials are clicking at 31.6 percent with the man advantage through eight games. Seven players have a power-play goal for the Colonials, led by Kurt Wright with five.

Bench Minor

Wayne State gets a weekend off, and it couldn't come at a better time for the Warriors. At 0-3-1 in the CHA and and 0-7-1 overall, Wayne State is one of three Division I teams yet to win a game this season – American International and Yale are the others.

No Lead is Safe What a wild and wooly series in Huntsville this weekend.

On Friday, Niagara looked like it was in good shape, leading Alabama-Huntsville, 4-1, after two periods despite being outshot 36-10.

But then the roof caved in...big time.

The Chargers scored three goals in 5:24 the third came during a UAH two-man advantage and suddenly, the game was tied. The Chargers completed the comeback when Steve Canter scored his second goal of the game with a little more than seven minutes left in regulation.

Final score: Alabama-Huntsville 5, Niagara 4, in a game where the Chargers outshot the Purple Eagles 52-17 and were the better team despite needing an exceedingly admirable comeback to win.

“It was disappointing," Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. "We got dominated.”

The following night, Burkholder gave regular goalkeeper Jeff VanNynatten a rest in favor of freshman Juliano Pagliero. He probably regretted the decision when the Chargers roared out of the gate with three goals, including a shorthanded tally from Bruce Mulherin. At that point, Burkholder pulled Pagliero and inserted VanNynatten.

“I thought, the way Juliano played last Saturday, he deserved another chance,” Burkholder said of his decision to go with the freshman. “But he didn’t get a lot of help.”

The Purple Eagles answered with two power play goals before the first period was over to slice the deficit to 3-2, then scored seven of the next eight goals en route to an 8-4 win. Captain Jason Williamson notched a hat trick for the Purple Eagles.

“It was a real character game for us,” Burkholder said. “It says a lot about our locker room and about Jeff.”


• If not for a killer goal, Robert Morris would have registered a weekend sweep of RIT. In the series opener Saturday, the Colonials clung to a 5-4 lead, but RIT’s Simon Lambert scored with just 11 seconds left in regulation. The game ended in a draw.

In Sunday’s game, the Colonials scored three power play goals, beating the Tigers by a 4-2 margin. RMU's Sean Berkstresser picked up two goals and an assist – all on the power play.

• Speaking of killer goals, Air Force surrendered one Saturday. The Falcons trailed Army 3-0 with 10 minutes left in the third period, but roared back to pull even. Matt Bader started the comeback with a penalty shot goal, then Eric Ehn and Mike Phillipich scored to send the game into OT. But 90 seconds into the extra session, Chris Migliaro scored to give Army a 4-3 victory and a series sweep.

• Niagara's Burkholder, a 1984 RIT graduate and former goalkeeper for the Tigers, will face his alma mater for the first time as a head coach when the Division I upstarts visit the Purple Eagles this Saturday.

• The Wayne State power play, which showed a glimmer of life with two goals against Niagara November 5, regressed in this past weekend against Bemidji State. The Warriors went 0-for-13 in their two losses. The Beavers, meanwhile, keep rolling. BSU is 3-1-0 in league action and 7-1-0 overall, which is the best start since in the school's Division I era.

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