Maybe this league is so
even an individual performance determines who wins the regular
season title…or the playoff championship, for that
In western New York last weekend, Bemidji
State and Niagara played a crucial series that featured
a gaggle of the CHA's top talent. But one player –
Niagara’s Randy Harris – overshadowed everyone
else, scoring five goals and adding three assists in the
Purple Eagles’ sweep.
“That’s as good a weekend series
as anybody has ever had in a Niagara jersey,” coach
Dave Burkholder said.
“He looked like a man amongst boys out
there this weekend,” said Purple Eagles' goaltender
Not only were the goals he scored huge, but
also the manner in which they were scored added a dash of
pizzazz to his phenomenal achievement. One was 360-degree
spin-o-rama job. Another came after his original attempt
was stopped by the Beavers' goalie. No problem – Harris
tracked down the rebound, circled the net and stuffed the
puck in on the other side.
“It just happened to be a good weekend
and it was something I had personally worked on for weeks
and weeks and weeks,” said Harris, who missed three
seasons due to injuries. “I knew my best hockey wasn’t
going to come at the beginning or even the middle of the
season. All my efforts were going to be for my betterment
at the end of the season.
“It was nice to see that translate to
Friday’s match was as entertaining a
hockey game as one could ever want to see, as Niagara had
to earn a 6-5 victory the hard way. Bemidji State scored
three goals in a 45-second span of the first period. The
Purple Eagles could have sagged – they had a first-period
goal disallowed – but Niagara persevered. Harris scored
with just under five minutes left in regulation, forcing
overtime. In the extra session, Sean Bentivoglio scored
Niagara’s biggest goal of the season on an odd-man
“(Ted) Cook gave it to me and (Les)
Reaney was coming in a little later,” Bentivoglio
said. “I passed it to Reaney…he made a nice
move on their guy and went wide and I beat my guy back door
and Reaney made an awesome pass. It was a nice goal all
Friday's game marked another instance of a
disturbing reoccurrence for the Beavers.
“We’ve got to hold the lead better,”
BSU coach Tom Serratore said. “We’ve given up
too many leads in the third period this year. You have to
play lockdown hockey and we have had a bad disease…the
second half of the year.”
Saturday’s game was nothing like the
series opener as the Purple Eagles overwhelmed the Beavers,
5-1. Harris got Niagara started with a goal late in the
first period and it steamrolled from there.
“He got us going…with a pretty
good individual effort,” Burkholder said. “That
took a little bit of pressure off of us. We were a little
Niagara finishes the season at Robert Morris,
a team fresh off a surprising sweep at Air Force.
“I think the attitude we are approaching
(this weekend) with is a little bit different,” Harris
said. “It’s not us being afraid to lose, but
more so we are going to be aggressive to win. That’s
the attitude we are going to take down to Robert Morris.
We want to capture the CHA championship instead of just
falling into it.”
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CHA
Huntsville Still the Hunted:
Alabama-Huntsville took care of business this past weekend,
sweeping Wayne State to remain two points ahead of Niagara
in first place in the league standings. As he has all season
long, senior Bruce Mulherin scored an important goal for
the Chargers, tallying with just 1:11 left in the third
period to lift the hosts to a 2-1 victory.
Like the Niagara-Bemidji State series, Saturday’s
game was a rout as UAH blasted the Warriors, 6-1. Brett
McConnachie led the Chargers with three goals while Mulherin
had a goal and three assists.
RMU Goes Fourth: In a mildly
surprising sweep, Robert Morris traveled to Colorado Springs
and swept an Air Force club that had been playing its best
hockey of the year. The Falcons entered the weekend set
having won three in a row and four of five.
“We went out and played a complete weekend,”
RMU coach Derek Schooley said. With the sweep, the Colonials
clinched the fourth seed in the CHA postseason tournament.
They'll face either Air Force or Wayne State, who meet in
Detroit this weekend.
In Friday’s night game, Sean Berkstresser
scored an unassisted goal in overtime to give the Colonials
a 3-2 victory in a game in which the Falcons outshot RMU
by a 42-17 margin. On Saturday, Chris Margott scored twice
and added an assist in a 5-1 RMU victory. RMU goaltender
Christian Boucher was solid against Air Force, stopping
75 of 78 shots in his team's two victories.
“We got great goaltending, which we
hadn’t gotten the previous two weekends,” Schooley
said. “Boucher was excellent when he needed to be.
It was good to see him get back on the horse. I’ve
said all year he is one of the top goalies in the league.
He made the big saves when he had to, and that’s what
good goaltenders do.”
at Bemidji State (Fri.-Sat.) Obviously, there is a lot on the line in
this one. BSU is four points back of Alabama-Huntsville.
Even if the Beavers sweep, the Chargers still own
the tiebreaker, so the best they can do is sweep UAH
and hope Niagara loses twice so they can get into
second place in the league and earn and a bye into
next weekend's CHA Tournament semifinals.
“We still have to fight for second place,"
said BSU's Serratore. "There is still hope for
that. We’re at home and then we have to get
ready for the tournament. We can’t worry about
what happened this past weekend.”
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• 1,321 fans watched
Niagara defeat Bemidji State at Dwyer Arena Saturday, giving
Niagara a new single-season attendance record of 17,461.
VanNynatten set two records this past weekend. His 28 saves
Friday night gave him 938, a new Niagara record for saves
in a season. He also recorded his 50th CHA victory in the
game, becoming the all-time leader in conference victories.
“To go out like this, it was just perfect,”
he said after Saturday’s game. “I will get lots
of sleep tonight.”
• Robert Morris
was the only CHA club to sweep Air Force in Colorado Springs
this season. Of all the teams in the CHA, Air Force might
be the toughest to figure. The Cadets are 5-7-0 against
the top three teams (UAH, Niagara and Bemidji) but are only
1-5-0 against Robert Morris and Wayne State.
• Air Force
defenseman Brooks Turnquist has played in 139 consecutive
games, second most in CHA history. Air Force’s Scott
Zwiers (2000-2003) holds the record with 147 straight games
played. Neither player missed a game in his career.
Jeremy Schreiber, who had five assists against Wayne State
last weekend, is now the all-time CHA leader in assists
(64 in 123 games played) and points (85) by a defenseman.
• Wayne State is 5-5-2 when scoring
first, but only 1-15-4 when it gives up the game's first
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report.