Entering the season, the prevailing
consensus was the College Hockey America race would
be fairly even. It pretty much was in the first half
of the year, and the first weekend of play in the
second half again illustrated this concept’s
credence as Bemidji State and Robert Morris split
a series in suburban Pittsburgh.
“That’s college hockey,
there is a lot of parity,” Bemidji State coach
Tom Serratore said. “We are no different than
anybody else. I really feel we can beat almost anybody,
but we can lose to anybody. You better be prepared
every game and you better be sharp and... you better
be on your “A” game.”
The Beavers won the first game, 2-0,
and were the superior club, statistically speaking,
outshooting the Colonials in the series opener by
a 50-26 margin.
In the second game, forward Aaron Clarke,
who transferred to Robert Morris from Niagara, scored
both goals in the Colonials' 2-1 victory. Clarke gave
the hosts a 1-0 lead just 45 seconds into the second
period with a power play goal, then scored the eventual
game-winner less than six minutes later.
“No doubt,” RMU coach Derek
Schooley said when asked if it was a relief to finally
beat the Beavers after five straight losses to BSU,
including two that went to overtime. “For us
to break through and break our streak against a team
that is ranked high is a feather in our cap. We worked
extremely hard and got some timely goals."
Clarke has been a magnificent in three
games with the Colonials since his transfer period
ended with three goals.
“He’s doing a very good
job for us,” Schooley said. “We were excited
to get him eligible, and one of the things that he
brings to the table that we don’t have is that
he’s a very dynamic player.
"He produced since he’s been
back and we just want to get him more in game shape.
It’s a matter of him getting his legs back under
him, and hopefully he will be better than he has already
AND HEARD IN THE CHA
Layne playing stalely?:
Bemidji State netminder Layne Sedevie must feel like
he's playing in two separate seasons. Sedevie got
off to a sizzling start, going 6-0-0 in his first
half-dozen appearances. In his last four starts, however,
Sedevie’s record is 0-3-1.
Of course, it's not all the goalie's
“It’s not Layne at
all," Serratore said. "We have played an
extremely difficult schedule.” Indeed, since
the beginning of December, the Beavers have faced
a killer stretch that included dates with three teams
– Lake Superior State, North Dakota and Clarkson
– rated among the nation's top 20 in this week's
INCH Power Rankings along with meetings with Dartmouth
and Robert Morris.
Another factor for Sedevie’s
sinking record – along with the Beavers' overall
mark in general – is a lack of goal production.
In its last eight outings, Bemidji State has averaged
a meager 1.75 goals per game.
“Layne’s been a great
goalie,” Serratore said. “When you are
only averaging that many goals, that is a lot of pressure
on your goaltender. The bottom line is we have to
start scoring some goals, too. We were doing that
early and had some success. We are not scoring right
now and that’s the way it goes.”
Gored in Gold Country:
It was a tough weekend for Niagara in Minneapolis,
where the CHA's first-place team traveled to face
a powerhouse Gophers squad.
The Purple Eagles, brimming with confidence
gained from a stunning 6-2 victory at New Hampshire
Dec. 30, figured momentum from that huge win might
carry over. It didn’t –
the Gophers downed the Purple Eagles convincingly,
5-2 and 7-1.
“They were as good and then some,”
Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said when asked if he
thought the Gophers, second in this week's INCH Power
Rankings, were as good as advertised. “I thought
they were clearly the fastest team that we played
and top to bottom had the most depth.”
The first game might have been a little
closer, but Niagara failed to convert on a 5-on-3
situation in the closing minutes of regulation.
Niagara goaltender Jeff VanNynatten
finished with 48 stops in Friday's loss. In the second
game, VanNynatten set a CHA record with 59 saves despite
giving up seven goals. For the weekend, he faced a
total of 119 shots.
Great Weekend Getaway
at Air Force (Fri.-Sat.) After a long trip (in both mileage
and outcome) to Minnesota and back, the Purple
Eagles board a plane once again for a long trip
to Colorado Springs and a league series against
Air Force, where the Falcons have compiled a
3-3-1 record this season. Not bad for a team
that's 4-11-1 overall. According to Burkholder,
fatigue should not be a factor with his team.
“I don’t think it should be an
issue,” he said. “The kids are on
break, and the guys aren’t in classes.”
After Saturday's game, Niagara takes an NHL-style
red eye from Denver to Buffalo.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• As if VanNynatten wasn't busy
enough given the volume of rubber he faced at Minnesota,
he also stopped a penalty shot Saturday, turning aside
an attempt by the Gophers' Gino Guyer in the second
period of the host's 7-1win.
“It was an unbelievable weekend
for (Jeff),” Burkholder said. “It’s
not what we had in mind going into the weekend. But
he is a senior that thrives in that kind of pressure.
I haven’t seen any signs of fatigue, physically
or mentally. I am going to continue to ride him.”
• More from Minnesota, where
Niagara captain Jason Williamson was ejected from
Saturday’s game after tangling with Gopher defenseman
Chris Harrington in a disagreement that, by most accounts,
was fairly tame. Nonetheless, both players were tossed
and received mandatory one-game suspensions.
“It’s a shame because we
don’t play a lot of games,” Burkholder
said of the suspensions. “To take away a game
from two players that I thought showed great restraint
and great discipline in not getting into a full-scale,
what most people would call, a hockey fight. In that
sense I felt bad for both players."
• Alabama-Huntsville got a sweep
of Air Force this past weekend, downing the Falcons
3-2 Friday and 6-3 Saturday.
The key to Saturday’s victory
was the second period, a peculiar 20 minutes in which
the Falcons actually outshot the Chargers, 20-11,
but were outscored, 6-2.
• Wayne State stayed with Michigan
State in Friday night's series opener, losing by a
3-1 margin despite being outshot, 41-19. On Saturday,
the Spartans again had a huge advantage in shots on
goal and won easily, 5-1.
A variety of sources were utilized
in the compilation of this report.