and Sacred Heart Bring Momentum Into Weekend
As long as Rochester Institute of Technology
is ineligible for the Atlantic Hockey tournament, the Tigers
are looking toward this weekend's clash with league-leader
Sacred Heart as their playoffs.
Heart goalie Jason Smith helped the Crusaders score
one of the biggest non-league wins of the year for
Atlantic Hockey, by making 28 saves in a 2-1 win at
Cornell. Sacred Heart hosts RIT this weekend in a
matchup of the top two teams in Atlantic Hockey.
"Whenever you are playing a first-place
team it's a challenge," said RIT coach Wayne Wilson.
Sacred Heart (10-2-4) has 24 points and RIT
(10-3-1) has 21 points, with two games at hand. RIT is in
its second season of Division I play and first in Atlantic
Hockey so it cannot play in the post-season, so the regular-season
championship is all it can play for.
"That is a goal of ours, to win the league
championship," Wilson said. "I guess some of these
games down the stretch are our playoff games. Maybe we approach
it as a best-of-three series — it's important we don't
Both teams are coming off impressive non-conference
victories. RIT won 3-2 at Quinnipiac on Jan. 4.
"That was good for our league and good
for us," Wilson said of RIT's win. "We don’t
want to go up (to Quinnipiac) and play them for the sake
of playing them; we want to win them."
Two nights later, Sacred Heart posted the
league's top upset win of the season, a 2-1 decision at
No. 14 Cornell.
"This is a huge win for the Sacred Heart
program," said Shaun Hannah, who played for Cornell
(1990-94). "We've been playing well and this will just
give us more confidence."
Sacred Heart is one of the hottest teams
in the nation, posting an 11-1-3 record since the start
of November. The Pioneers have won their last four games
and are unbeaten in seven. The Pioneers are proving themselves
in the clutch, having headed into the final period tied
with their opponent in six consecutive contests.
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Well-rested and getting better: Jocelyn Guimond's
performance in goal for RIT is a testament to what a little
rest can do. The junior has dropped his goals against from
3.32 to 2.46 and raised his save percentage from 90.7 to
92.5. Roster depth in goal has allowed Guimond to sit out
some games, keeping him sharp.
"I know goalies want to play every game,"
said RIT coach Wayne Wilson, who has spelled Guimond with
freshman Louis Menard (9 games, 2.66, .909). "Maybe
he is not running on empty at this time of the year. He
is certainly fresh and maybe that’s part of it as
Guimond posted 33 saves in RIT's upset win
at Quinnipiac. "He honestly gives us a chance to win
any and every game," Wilson said. "That's what
you look for in any goalie."
A class of his own: Sacred
Heart senior Pierre-Luc O’Brien, 24, has established
school records for career assists and points. His two helpers
in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over American International College
gave O'Brien 81 assists and 144 points. O'Brien needs three
tallies to break the goals mark. Martin Paquet (1999-2003)
has the goals mark (65) and held the assists (77) and points
(142) records. The MAAC/Atlantic Hockey career goals leaders
are Tyler McGregor (2002-06) of Holy Cross with 70, Dave
Borrelli (2002-06) of Mercyhurst with 68 and Paquet. The
all-time points mark is held by Louis Goulet (1998-2002)
of Mercyhurst with 61 goals, 96 assists and 157 points.
O’Brien needs to average exactly one assist per game
to set the league standard.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Sacred Heart (Fri.-Sat.)
There will be three Hobey Baker candidates on the
ice as the top two teams in Atlantic Hockey square
off for the only time this season. Candidates Pierre-Luc
O’Brien and Bear Trapp and linemate Alexandre
one of the best scoring lines in the nation. They
will have to find a way
to beat RIT netminder Jocelyn Guimond. Sacred Heart
has been nearly unbeatable at home for the past year,
and RIT is proving itself a formidable road team.
While You're There: The Maritime
Aquarium at Norwalk is a short drive from Milford.
The state’s only zoo – the Beardsley Zoo
– is located in Bridgeport. The Peabody
Museum of Natural History in nearby New Haven features
a 67-foot brontosaurus.
goalie Jason Smith made 28 saves, 13 coming in the
final period, as the Pioneers escaped Lynah Rink with
a 2-1 win over No. 14 Cornell.
to the penalty box is not going to help Mercyhurst.
Lakers were whistled for 16 penalties in the series
finale with Air Force, giving up two power-play goals
and playing short-handed for 8 1/2 minutes in the
• Hobey Baker candidates: Atlantic Hockey
had five of its players nominated for the Vote For Hobey
portion of the Hobey Baker Award balloting: Eric Ehn of
Air Force, Jocelyn Guimond of RIT, Pierre-Luc O’Brien
of Sacred Heart, James Sixsmith of Holy Cross, and Bear
Trapp of Sacred Heart.
• An Erie flyover: Air Force swept a
series at Mercyhurst, winning 5-3 and 3-1. It was the Falcons'
first road sweep in Atlantic Hockey and its first since
sweeping Wayne State on the final weekend of College Hockey
America play last March. It marked the second time Mercyhurst
has been swept at home this season, the first coming Dec.
8-9 against RIT.
• An order of Buffalo win(gs): Army
gained a split with host Canisius in their only series of
the season, winning the opener 5-1 and losing the rematch
4-3. It was Army’s first win in Buffalo since Nov.
8, 2003 (3-2 win),
snapping an 0-3-1 skid. The Black Knights squandered a 3-1
second-period lead in the second meeting as Jason Weeks
of Canisius produced a short-handed tally to start the comeback
and the game-winning goal with 7:53 to play. Weeks now has
seven goals. Also, Wisconsin transfer Ken Rowe finally scored
his first Army goal in the team's 21st game.
• Crusading: Holy Cross extended its
recent dominance over in-state rival Bentley with a 7-4
victory on Friday, the seventh win in a row
posted by the Crusaders. It was the highest goal total of
the season for Holy Cross. Bentley prevailed 3-2 on Saturday
for its first victory over Holy Cross since posting a 5-3
win in Worcester on Nov. 6, 2004.
• Scoring touch: Bentley’s Jeff
Gumaer had a goal and two assists in both weekend games
with Holy Cross, and helped set up the winning goal on Saturday.
Gumaer was named the Atlantic Hockey player of the week.
• This Army can travel: Army’s
win at Canisius pushed the Black Knights’ road record
to 5-7-1. It is the team’s most road wins since capturing
six in 2002-03, and a far cry from its woeful 1-15-1 mark
just two seasons ago. Army has four more road contests:
two at Air Force and single games with AIC and Sacred Heart.
• Not so easy anymore: One factor in
Holy Cross’ success in recent seasons has been the
Crusaders’ ability to win on the road. Last season
Holy Cross had one of the finest road marks in the nation
at 15-6-1, and it’s been four seasons since posting
a losing road record. That streak is in danger as Holy Cross
is off to a 2-9-2 start with at least seven road contests
• National leaders: Air Force junior
Eric Ehn continues to lead in point scoring (1.82 per game,
19-21—40), James Sixsmith of Holy Cross ranks fourth
(1.57) and Pierre-Luc O’Brien of Sacred Heart ranks
ninth (1.52). Ehn is second in goals per game (0.86) and
eighth in assists per game (0.95). Sixsmith is second in
assists (1.10) and O’Brien is ninth (0.95). Jon Landry
of Holy Cross ranks second among defensemen for points (1.19
per game), Brent Patry of RIT ranks third (1.00), Tim Manthey
of Army ranks seventh (0.95) and Al Mazur of RIT ranks ninth
(0.87). Josh Heidinger of Canisius ranks sixth in rookie
scoring (1.19 points per game). For the first time in a
long time, no Atlantic Hockey player ranks in the top 20
in goals against average: Jocelyn Guimond of RIT is 21st
(2.46) and Army’s Josh Kassel is 27th (2.56). Mercyhurst
netminder Jordan Wakefield ranks eighth in save percentage
• Nine is not fine: With six non-conference
games remaining in the regular season, Atlantic Hockey owns
a 9-38-4 record against the other five leagues. Sacred Heart
(3-2) has one more game at Dartmouth. Air Force finished
at 3-5. RIT (1-4-1) secured an impressive win at Quinnipiac
last week. Holy Cross (1-3) and Bentley (1-3-1) each play
at Quinnipiac. Army (0-3), Connecticut (0-6) and Mercyhurst
(0-4-2) finished winless, with Canisius (0-5) and AIC (0-3)
each having one more chance to produce a win.
• Looking ahead: Mercyhurst skates into
West Point, mindful that it lost three of four meetings
with Army last season. … Bentley and American International
play a home-and-home starting Friday in Springfield, the
first of four meetings inside of 23 days. … Air Force
and Holy Cross meet for the only time, with the Falcons
making their second trip to the Northeast in as many weeks.
… Canisius travels to Connecticut riding a three-game
win streak over the Huskies, including two wins in Storrs
last season (5-0 and 5-2). However, the Golden Griffins
are winless in their last 13 road games (0-10-1 this season).
… Mercyhurst swept five games from Canisius last season.
So far this season, the Golden Griffins hold a 1-0-1 edge
with game three on Tuesday in Buffalo. … On Tuesday,
Holy Cross heads back to
Dartmouth, where the Crusaders upended the Big Green, 3-2,
on Jan. 21, 2006. Holy Cross is 1-4 in non-conference tilts;
the Crusaders were 8-3 last season.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Ken McMillan can be reached