Wakefield lost his sophomore season to back
surgery, the same kind which sidelined NHL standout Ed Belfour.
Following an arduous physical rehabilitation, he lost his
bid to be the Lakers' No. 1 goalie last season when freshman
Tyler Small emerged as the new backstop.
Small got the nod once again this season but
he decided to quit hockey altogether in December, and Mercyhurst
coach Rick Gotkin once again turned to Wakefield, a red-shirt
senior who won a playoff game in relief as a freshman.
Gotkin's faith in Wakefield is starting to
pay off. The veteran coach saw something in Wakefield in
a pair of relief outings against Rochester Institute of
Technology, and he has started ever since. Wakefield has
played the last 12 games, posting a .920 save percentage
and 2.95 goals against average (lowering his season GAA
Wakefield had a stellar weekend at Air Force,
stopping 50 shots in a 7-5 shootout win and making 40 stops
in a 3-2 overtime victory. "If Jordy didn't play as
well as he did, we probably don't win either one of those
games" Gotkin said.
"He is playing well," Gotkin added.
"He is a real cool customer, he doesn't get rattled
The post-holiday blues are over for the Lakers, who are
unbeaten in five games and winners of four in a row. Mercyhurst
(8-16-5, 8-12-3 AHA) has built a tiny cushion from the dreaded
play-in spots, and is just four points out of a home playoff
berth with five games to play.
Even though Wakefield still has a year of
eligibility remaining, coach and player agreed before the
season that Wakefield would graduate with his class and
pursue other options. Gotkin said Wakefield may pursue professional
hockey opportunities, or finish off his masters studies
in Canada, where he would have two years of college eligibility
remaining – the universities of Ottawa and Alberta
have inquired about his services, Gotkin said.
Gotkin will also lose red-shirt senior Mike
Ella, who may also go the Canadian University route. Gotkin
will bring in two freshman netminders – reports have
Ryan Zapolski of Mahoning Valley from the North American
League and Ian O'Brien of the Pittsburgh Junior Penguins
(Empire League) joining the squad.
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Soderquist shuffles lineups:
Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist has provided a boost to his
top two lines, promoting Marc Menzione (5G, 11A)and Boston
University transfer Pat Percella (8G, 6A). Menzione is paired
with Anthony Canzoneri and Dain Prewitt and Percella, who
has four goals in his last six games, is teamed with Jeff
Gumaer and Marc Zwicky.
Soderquist has shuffled up net duties as well.
Senior Ray Jean has not been sharp in the second half of
the season, Soderquist said, and has been benched for the
past six games. Jean was expected to start Tuesday's game
at Quinnipiac but suffered a bad bruise in Monday's practice.
Instead, Jason Kearney earned his fifth consecutive start.
Jean is expected to start at least once this weekend against
Bentley has not gained any traction in the
new year, splitting four series and dropping a pair to Mercyhurst.
"Things are not exactly where we planned
to be at this time," Soderquist said. The graduation
of nine seniors left the Falcons as one of the league's
youngest teams. "That's why we have had some ups and
downs and not had the ability to win back-to-back games."
Soderquist was unsatisfied with last weekend's
split with American International. "We played well
enough on Friday night to win and didn't come back focused
on Saturday night's game," he said.
"We're working on that, but we're about
to run out of time," he added. "It's focus. There's
no doubt that when you have young guys you get the attitude
that there is always tomorrow, and with only two seniors
in the lineup it's hard to combat that. They have to realize
that every night has to count. This league is so close you
can't take any nights off."
Bentley owns an 8-3 mark at home but is just
3-12 on the road, dropping nine in a row since winning at
RIT, 3-2 in overtime, on Nov. 17.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
Air Force at RIT (Fri.-Sat.)
The last time Atlantic Hockey's newest members faced
one another, neither school had made a huge impact
in the league. Three months later, RIT is ever so
close to a championship and Air Force is closing in
on a coveted home-ice playoff game. Air Force is 3-0-2
in its last five games at RIT, including a 3-2 overtime
win on Feb. 13, 2006. RIT's last series win was 5-2
on Oct. 15, 2005, in the Quinnipiac tournament.
While You're There: Sure, Oswego
has been buried with lake-effect snows and now it's
Rochester's turn to shovel the white stuff. Five-to-seven
inches of snow are expected this weekend, and the
wind chill will be downright frigid. If you like action
on the hardwood, RIT is hosting Hartwick in a basketball
doubleheader on Friday night right next door. When
the games are over, head over to the Ritz Sports Zone
for a late-night band jamboree (10 p.m.-1 a.m.). The
RIT women's hockey team plays Manhattanville on Saturday
afternoon. Later that night, the Student Alumni Union
is hosting a post-fashion show party at 10 p.m. and
Ingle Auditorium is hosting a two-hour comedy fest
at 11 p.m.
is the new kid on the block but he's not playing like
any rookie. The Connecticut netminder held
Sacred Heart to back-to-back one-goal efforts,
stopping 66 shots in a pair of Husky wins, the first
UConn weekend sweep since December of 2005.
may ultimately gain the top seed in the Atlantic Hockey
tournament but it looks like it will come from the
No. 2 position. Sacred Heart has fallen five
points behind playoff-ineligible RIT thanks
to a pair of losses to Connecticut. The Pioneers can't
afford any more slip-ups down the stretch.
• Magic numbers: Rookie member RIT inched
closer to winning the regular-season championship with a
road win over Canisius. The bottom four clubs – Bentley,
Mercyhurst, Canisius and AIC – have been mathematically
eliminated from title contention. The remaining magic number
of points for elimination are: Holy Cross (1), Connecticut
(3), Air Force (5), Army (5) and Sacred Heart (8). RIT is
not eligible for the post-season.
• At streak's end: The Rangers' derision
chant "19-94" has not caught on with Islander
fans yet, but that is also the last year Mercyhurst suffered
through its last losing season (12-13). Only a sweep of
five regular-season games, three playoff games and one NCAA
contest would extend the streak to 13 seasons.
• Getting into the action: A total of
178 Atlantic Hockey players have scored goals this season.
A total of 206 players have set up goals, including four
goaltenders: Scott Tomes (Connecticut), Ian Dams (Holy Cross),
Ray Jean (Bentley) and Jason Smith (Sacred Heart).
• Beat 'em early: RIT leads the league
with 43 first-period goals. The Tigers have scored 38 in
the second period and 27 in the third.
• Strong bookends: RIT has allowed the
fewest first-period goals (14) and fewest third-period goals
• Kissing your sister? No way: American
International, Michigan and Wayne State are the only teams
which have not forged a tie this season. All 59 Division
I teams registered at least one tie last season, and all
58 the season previous. In 2003-04, Yale and Ohio State
were the last teams to go an entire season without one draw.
AIC has not played an overtime session in
30 games, including 27 this season. When the Yellow Jackets
play extra time, you might as well sign the scoresheet ahead
of time – AIC's last 10 OT contests have finished
in ties (six last season, four in the season previous).
The last OT loss took place Dec. 4, 2004, a 3-2 home setback
to Mercyhurst. AIC has played 81 games without losing an
Wayne State has beaten Ferris State and the
USA Under-18 team in overtime this season while Michigan
has beaten the USA Under-18 team and Northeastern in extra
• Broken Heart: In Sacred Heart's pair
of losses to Connecticut, the Pioneers went 1-for-12 on
the power play. The 4-1 loss on Saturday featured a minus-four
for Pierre-Luc O'Brien and minus-three for Bear Trapp. It
was the second time Sacred Heart was swept this season (RIT).
• Road Warriors: Canisius and RIT traded
road wins, Canisius winning the opener, 4-1, and RIT prevailing
in the nightcap, 4-2. The teams also swapped road wins on
Oct. 21-22, 2005. It was the fourth time RIT has dropped
a Friday game only to respond with a win on Saturday (Bentley,
Army, Connecticut). Canisius snapped a five-game winless
streak (0-4-1) and four-game road losing streak. Canisius
netminder Andrew Loewen stopped 61 of 66 shots he faced.
• Defending the house: Bentley and AIC
earned home wins, Bentley taking the opener, 4-2, and AIC
capturing the nightcap, 5-2. The five AIC goals on Saturday
marked only the second time the Yellow Jackets have scored
that many (six vs. Bentley in 6-1 win on Jan. 12). Bentley
surrendered five goals for the 12th time this season (1-11
record). AIC was whistled for 17 penalties and Bentley was
called for 24 fouls.
• Hard work, no points: Air Force fired
97 shots but still lost twice to Mercyhurst. The vaunted
line of Andrew Ramsey, Eric Ehn and Mike Phillipich scored
once on 15 shots in the 7-5 loss on Friday and managed just
one goal on 18 shots in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss. Air
Force has dropped three in a row at home, its longest drought
since dropping five in Feb.-March 2005. Alaska was the only
other team to sweep Air Force this season (Oct. 13-14).
• This one is for Jack: Owen Meyer tied
the game with 37 seconds to play to lift Army into a 3-3
tie with Holy Cross on Jack Riley Night. A breakaway attempt
by Holy Cross in the closing seconds was foiled when the
puck rolled off a stick. Army failed to score on six overtime
shots. The draw was Army's fifth of the season, one shy
of the six posted in 2005-06 and 2001-02. Holy Cross also
has five draws, one shy of the six posted in 2004-05. Holy
Cross won the season series, 2-0-2.
• Looking ahead: Sacred Heart has won
the last four meetings with Mercyhurst, including 6-4 and
5-4 decisions in Milford in November. The Lakers last prevailed
on Nov. 19, 2005 (3-1). Sacred Heart is 7-6-3 on the road;
Mercyhurst is 4-5-3 at home. … Holy Cross has won
five of its last six meetings with Canisius and is 12-1-4
in the last 17 contests. Holy Cross swept the Griffins,
5-4 and 6-3, on Nov. 3-4 in Worcester. The Crusaders are
just 2-10-3 in road action; Canisius is 5-6-1 at home.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Ken McMillan can be reached