Niagara Close Again, But...
Though Niagara again
demonstrated again it can hang with college hockey's
upper echelon, the Purple Eagles fell short in a pair
of games against Cornell, the 17th-rated team in this
week's INCH Power Rankings, last weekend.
Niagara showed resiliency both nights,
erasing two-goal deficits to pull
even with the Big Red before eventually losing. On
Friday, Niagara trailed 3-1 in the second period before
tying the score on goals by Jason Williamson and Ted
Cook evened the score. In Saturday's rematch in Rochester,
the Big Red led 3-1 midway through the final period.
Niagara got power-play goals from Vince Rocco and
Justin Cross to pull even.
“Two nights in a row we
are tied 3-3 in the third period with a very respected
program on the other bench,” Niagara coach Dave
Niagara's goaltending situation bears
watching, especially heading into this weekend's crucial
league series at Bemidji State. Scott Mollison became
the third goalkeeper utilized by Burkholder this season
when he got the start in Saturday’s game and
recorded 29 saves in a steady effort.
“(Scott) played some big games
for us last year, and he deserved to start,”
Burkholder said. “We weren’t happy Friday
night. As a staff, we decided to make the change,
and Mollison was next in.
That said, maintains Burkholder, "Jeff’s
our number one goalie. He’s going to be the
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CHA
Wounded Eagle: In addition
to losing twice to Cornell, junior forward Sean Bentivoglio
suffered a bruised sternum in Friday’s game
at Lynah Rink and is out indefinitely. He is currently
tied for fifth among Niagara skaters in points with
6-7—13 in 12 games.
“We will know more when we get
back from Bemidji,” Burkholder said. “Losing
Benty is very difficult. He’s been a factor
offensively in every game he’s played for us
this year and he’s an upperclassmen with great
leadership. I don’t know if we will replace
him, but we need to persevere without him.”
“He’s a key player, and
he puts up good numbers,” said Williamson, the
Purple Eagles' leading scorer with 17 points in 13
games. “I think we have the depth to fill his
spot. We are going to miss him...but hopefully guys
fill the hole, and we won’t miss him too much.”
Winless Warriors: Wayne
State is still in search of its first victory, returning
to Detroit with a tie and loss in a non-conference
series at Union last weekend. This silver lining for
the Warriors (0-8-2) was a clutch goal from Mike Forgie
with just under eight minutes remaining in the third
period of Friday's 2-2 draw.
“I thought Friday night we played
relatively well," Wayne State coach Bill Wilkinson
said. "It was back and forth."
Forgie’s goal was set up by Stavros
Paskaris, the team's leading scorer from a year ago
who returned to the lineup last weekend after missing
a month with a knee injury.
“He did okay,” Wilkinson
said of the sophomore forward. “Stavros is a
kid who has lots of hockey sense and he certainly
helps us offensively.”
Though Wilkinson's team can glean some
positives from the Union series, the pressure on the
Warriors to get their first victory – they try
again this weekend at Air Force – continues
“It’s starting to be a monkey
on our backs,” Wilkinson said. “I think
we’ve played relatively well enough to win,
but maybe not well enough to win... if you get the
drift of what I am saying. But we will go out and
treat the Friday night game like any other game, that
it is importantly for us to perform to our capabilities.”
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Bemidji State (Fri.-Sat.)
The Purple Eagles are away from home
for the fifth and sixth times in their last
seven games. The Beavers, meanwhile, skate in
front of the home crowd for the first time since
“It always seems…when we play,
they are huge games,” said Niagara forward
Jason Williamson. “Even though we have
played some big games this year, this is definitely
our biggest weekend. Playing games against Cornell
and Vermont prepared us for this.”
the sixth consecutive year, the Air Force hockey
team lends a hand to needy children in the Colorado
Springs area with its "Toy Trick"
effort. At this weekend's games with Wayne State,
fans can bring a new stuffed toy, wrapped in
plastic. When the Falcons score their first
goal in each game, fans can throw the stuffed
toy on the ice.
With Cornell and Niagara tied late in the third period of Saturday's
game, referee Peter Kirk whistled the Purple
Eagles' Armando Scarlato for interference with
3:17 left in regulation. Ryan O'Byrne scored
the eventual game winner for the Big Red less
than 30 seconds later, much to the chagrin of
Niagara coach Dave Burkholder.
don’t like losing on the penalty kill
with three minutes left in a very, very good
college hockey game,” he said. “But...we
can’t control that.”
• A crowd of 2,324 turned out
at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester to witness Saturday's
Cornell-Niagara tilt. Niagara athletic director Mike
Hermann said the Purple Eagles will play Colgate at
the same neutral-site venue next season. Rochester,
by the way, hosts 2007 NCAA Tournament East Regional
• Robert Morris
also used a non-conference series to juggle its goaltending
alignment as Joe Tuset got a rare start for the Colonials
at Lake Superior State Tuset, who hadn't made a start
prior to his appearance in Sault Ste. Marie, made
32 saves in a 4-3 overtime loss
“Christian has done an
excellent job for us, but we need also to evaluate
Joe Tuset,” Schooley said. “We felt, being
our last non-conference game for a while, to give
Joe a look. Joe did a good job. He made some big saves.
I’m sure there is a goal or two he would like
to have back. But he did everything he could do to
give us an opportunity.
“But by no means is there
a goalie controversy here. Joe did a great job, and
we have every confidence in Joe, but Christian is
• It's hard to believe we're in
the first week of December and Alabama-Huntsville
had played just eight games. The Chargers, who were
idle last weekend, meet a streaky Ohio State team
in Columbus for a two-game, non-conference series.
The series with the Buckeyes marks the
first of six straight non-league tilts for Alabama-Huntsville,
which travels to Princeton next weekend and makes
the Maverick circuit during the holidays with road
contests at Nebraska-Omaha (Dec. 29) and Minnesota
State, Mankato (Dec. 31). The CHA preseason favorites
don't play a conference series until Jan. 6-7, when
Air Force visits Von Braun Center.
• Air Force won a pair of exhibition
games against German professional teams during a week-long
European swing. The Falcons downed Bad Tolz, 7-2,
and topped Rosenheim, 4-1.
A variety of
sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.