Last week, the spotlight
was on Robert Morris and how the Colonials were starting
to roll as the CHA Tournament draws closer. Seven days later,
RMU's unbeaten streak is history and Air Force is the team
no one in the league wants to deal with right now. The Falcons
recorded an impressive sweep of first-place Alabama-Huntsville
last weekend, and the catalyst for the triumph was a player
who has underachieved all season.
Goaltender Peter Foster was magnificent in
Friday’s 3-1 victory against the visiting Chargers,
then turned aside 13 shots in Saturday’s 5-0 win.
The Air Force power play was the difference in Saturday’s
game – scoring five power-play goals – with
junior forward Brian Reese led racking up five points on
a goal and four assists.
The Chargers were sizzling coming into the
Air Force series – going 10-1-1 in their last 12 –
but were swept by a team playing its best hockey of the
“We’ve been a good team all year,”
said Air Force coach Frank Serratore. “Our goaltending
in the last four wins has been outstanding. We are a very
competitive team. I’ve never had a team that competes
at the Division I level like this team.”
The uneven play in goal from Foster and Ian
Harper had negated AFA's best efforts for the bulk of the
season, but Foster was razor sharp last weekend.
“He is on the top of his game right
now,” Serratore said of Foster, who has a .941 save
in his last four starts and will start in the Falcons' series
opener against Robert Morris Friday. "He will play
as long as he plays well. We will ride that horse as far
as he takes us.”
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CHA
Pat Answer for Niagara: Junior
defenseman Pat Oliveto was the unlikely hero for Niagara
in the Purple Eagles' 4-3 win against Wayne State last Friday,
scoring his first career game-winning goal with 1:21 left
“[Defenseman Andrew] Lackner made a
great play at the blue line and dumped it in to Les Reaney,”
Oliveto said. “The [Wayne State] guy went with [Ted]
Cook, who was covering me. It left a big hole for me, and
Reaney found me. I just snuck down the slot and put it in.”
The Purple Eagles wasted a two-goal performance
from Reaney in Saturday's 3-2 loss, settling for a series
split when a sweep was paramount. Wayne State's Adam Krug
and Jason Baclig scored power-play goals 1:50 apart late
in the third period to propel the Warriors.
“It is disappointing, but it kind of
goes to the league,” Oliveto said. “Every team
in the league is just as good as any other team. Air Force
took two from Alabama-Huntsville. If…we do get two
[wins] it is great, but we are happy with one.”
Streak-less in Bemidji:
Robert Morris’ five-game unbeaten streak was snapped
with a 5-2 loss at Bemidji State Friday. Joe Tuset started
in goal for the Colonials, but surrendered four goals on
just 14 shots before yielding to Christian Boucher.
The following night, Ryan Miller and Luke
Erickson each had two goals as the Beavers again won by
a 5-2 score. BSU, which had struggled recently on the power
play, got two power-play goals in the game and capitalized
on three of nine power play opportunities for the weekend.
Great Weekend Getaway
State at Niagara (Fri.-Sat.) It'll be a playoff-type atmosphere at Dwyer
Arena for this series matching the CHA tourney champions
from the past two seasons. Last season, the Beavers
came to Niagara and dominated the Purple Eagles. Even
Niagara coach Dave Burkholder could tell how badly
BSU wanted the wins by the way their players acted
on the bench. This season, the clubs split a series
at Bemidji in early December – Niagara won the
opener, 4-3, and BSU rolled in the finale, 8-1.
“It is definitely the biggest weekend of the
season and we are trying to get ready for it in practice,”
Oliveto said. “It is going to be the biggest
weekend of everybody’s careers, especially the
seniors because it is their last weekend at home.”
“There is a lot on the line right now,"
said Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore. "We’re
fighting for that [first-round] bye. They are going
to be very good games and will probably be tight games.
That is the history between these two schools.”
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Niagara's Les Reaney
was named the CHA Rookie of the Week for his performance
at Wayne State, during which he set league records for most
assists (23) and points (34) by a rookie. He also leads
the entire league in scoring.
“For what he did in arguably the best
league in Canada – the British Columbia Hockey League
– that usually projects out to the next level,”
Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “We were concerned
about his speed and would it be a deterrent to if he could
succeed up here, and it hasn’t at all. His skating
has been fine, and he has been a point guy at every level.”
• Air Force
scored five power-play goals in the second period of Saturday's
win against Alabama-Huntsville.
• Wayne State's
win against Niagara Saturday snapped the Warriors' seven-game
• BSU's Luke
Erickson scored two goals Saturday, ending a dry spell during
which he scored only one goal in a 13-game span.
“It was good to see Luke have a little
success,” Tom Serratore said. “He’s been
a little snakebit, and hopefully he can parlay that into
a pretty good weekend this weekend.”
• Prior to
Saturday’s game, Bemidji State honored its “50
Legends for 50 Years” team in conjunction with the
school’s 50th season of intercollegiate hockey. Among
the honorees were former NHLers Gary Sargent and Joel Otto,
a Hobey Baker Award finalist in 1984 and a member of the
Calgary Flames team that won the 1989 Stanley Cup.
• Niagara senior defenseman Marc Norrington,
who broke his hand against Air Force two weeks ago and missed
the team's series against Wayne State last weekend, is out
for this weekend's Bemidji State series. Norrington's hand
is in a cast, but it'll come off next week and he might
be ready to go in the Purple Eagles' regular-season finale
at Robert Morris.
“His injury hurts us,” Burkholder
said. “He’s been very good defensively for us.”
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report.