Its season has not been what could
be considered a soap opera, but it has been full of
intrigue. The latest – reportedly, an injury
in practice – almost changed a player’s
In the scope of things, after
a disastrous start which saw Wayne State start out
0-8-2, the Warriors have quietly been playing some
quality hockey lately, and have won three of their
last four and are 4-2-0 in their last six.
The streak started with a split at
Air Force in early December followed by a sweep of
Merrimack Dec. 9-10.
This past weekend, Wayne State got
spanked 6-2 by Northern Michigan in the first round
of the Badger Classic. However, the Warriors rebounded
in impressive fashion, defeating Western Michigan,
6-3, in the consolation game last Saturday.
“It is obviously good to
win,” Warrior coach Bill Wilkinson said. “The
first part of the season was tough because a lot of
the games were on the road, and we played without
Stavros (Paskaris) …..and Nate (Higgins) was
The key to Saturday’s victory
was quick starts to periods. Jason Bloomingburg gave
the Warriors a 1-0 lead just 1:56 into the game. In
the second period, Jon Grabarek (1:30 in) and Higgins
(2:31) scored to give Wayne State a 3-0 lead. Higgins
had two goals while Bloomingburg had a goal and an
“It was a great win for
us after we played, I thought, very poorly against
Northern,” Wilkinson said. “Give Northern
credit, they have a great team and stuck it to us
pretty good. On Saturday, we were much better prepared
mentally to come out and challenge Western. We got
a few breaks early, and certainly it was the difference
in the game, getting off to a good start.”
Now the bad news – the Warriors
lost junior forward Mike Forgie for the season when
he smashed into the boards during a recent practice
and suffered a serious neck injury – a potentially
“Fortunately, he didn’t
paralyze himself,” said Wilkinson, who has seen
all there is to see and then some in his extensive
Also, sophomore forward Ty Michel has
a broken fibula and should be out four to six weeks.
AND HEARD IN THE CHA
Nothing to show: Bemidji
St. has played very well in non-conference games this
season – and did again last weekend in the Sheraton/TD
BankNorth Catamount Cup in picturesque Burlington,
Unfortunately, Bemidji left New
England with nothing to show for it, dropping a 3-3
tie (yes, a tie) in the opener against No. 15 Clarkson
after losing 1-0 in a five-man shootout. The next
night Bemidji led late in the third period, 3-2, but
surrendered the tying goal with just 1:49 remaining
before Dartmouth’s Nick Johnson won the game
The Clarkson game was vastly frustrating
for the Beavers.
“I don’t care about
losing the shootout … we had a 3-1 lead and
gave it up,” Bemidji St. coach Tom Serratore
said. “That’s tough to swallow.”
The way the Beavers lost Saturday was
just as disheartening.
“It was a tough weekend
… we just couldn’t hold the lead on both
nights,” Serratore said. “It is very frustrating
when you can’t hold the lead. We actually played
pretty good hockey the whole weekend, but we didn’t
get a lot to show for it. You have to make sure you
are on your toes and playing smart, intelligent hockey
in the latter part of the game when you have a lead.”
On Monday the Beavers had a long bus
ride from Burlington to Pittsburgh, where they will
practice at Robert Morris’ rink before playing
the Colonials twice this weekend.
“They have a good hockey
team,” Serratore said of the Colonials. "They
are well coached, and Derek (Schooley) has done a
great job. They are always extremely difficult to
play against. It should be a great series.”
Saturday shocker: In
a startling outcome, Niagara traveled to New Hampshire
and whipped the No.13 Wildcats Saturday night, 6-2,
despite being outshot 20-1 during power-play opportunities.
“It’s one of our
best wins ... it ranks up amongst the best wins in
our 10-year history,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder
said. “All year we’ve been a pretty good
offensive team, and we are going to score our goals.
Every time there was a bad bounce or something it
went our way, which is great. You need that, especially
when you are the underdog.”
Niagara continues to get major production
from its freshman class. This time it was Vince Rocco
who came to the forefront, scoring two goals and adding
an assist in the victory.
“We have a lot of freshman
playing in key roles, especially on the power play,”
Burkholder said. “Vince went hard to the net
twice, and got a rebound goal and a goalmouth scramble
goal. He’s got really good poise and good hands.
But most importantly, he drove hard to the net.”
The Purple Eagles also received a sensational
goaltending effort from senior Jeff Van Nynatten,
who finished with 49 saves.
“He was a pillar back there,”
Burkholder said. “He was unfazed by the crowd
and by the traffic in front of the net. He was as
good as it gets. When you go in as a major underdog
you need a goaltender to step up, and he was solid.”
Great Weekend Getaway
at Minnesota (Fri.-Sat.) Niagara faces still another arduous
challenge this weekend when the Purple Eagles
play at Minnesota, the second-ranked team in
“I would say last weekend has to help
us,” Burkholder said. “We gained
some confidence coming out of UNH. We’ve
already had one opportunity on the Olympic (size)
ice, so I don’t think that will be much
of a factor. But obviously, we are moving up
to the number two team in the country. It’s
a huge test, but its something I know our players
are excited about, and we are going to go in
and play as hard as we possibly can.”
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Alabama-Huntsville coach Doug
Ross was not in a holiday mood during a 6-2 loss at
Minnesota State Mankato Saturday evening. He benched
players for taking too many penalties and yanked his
goaltender, Scott Munroe, with eight minutes to go
in the game.
“Scottie let a couple of
soft goals in,” said the usually blunt Ross.
“Our goaltender didn’t play his 'A' game
tonight, and neither did the team.”
It was not a great weekend for Munroe,
who surrendered seven goals in the 8-5 Friday night
loss to Nebraska-Omaha. On the weekend, Munroe gave
up 13 goals on 83 shots for a save percentage of .843.
• Air Force got goals at crucial
times in a 3-2 victory over Air Force Friday night.
Josh Schaffer gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead just 52
seconds into the game. Then, with just 27 seconds
left in the first period, Eric Ehn scored the eventual
The Falcons tied
the Tigers 2-2 Saturday to get three of four points
from the series.
• If Niagara's win over New Hampshire
didn't conjure up enough memories of the program's
lone NCAA Tournament win, which came against the Wildcats
in 2000, this weekend should. The Purple Eagles return
to Mariucci Arena, which was the site of that year's
NCAA West Regional.
A variety of sources were utilized
in the compilation of this report.