2006-07 College Hockey America Mid-Season Report
Without a doubt, it's Niagara.
Picked in the pre-season to finish behind Bemidji
State in College Hockey America, the Purps have almost
run the table in the conference (one road loss) and
had impressive road non-conference wins against St.
Lawrence, RPI, Colgate and a home victory over Holy
Cross. Plus, the four-game season series with favored
rival Bemidji State is already complete with a win
and three ties.
The top line of Sean Bentivoglio, Les
Reaney, and Ted Cook has accounted for 88 points combined
(47.5 percent of the offense) and second-liners Matt
Caruana and Chris Moran aren't far behind. Sophomore
Kyle Rogers has also stepped up his game this season
and has become a force on the penalty kill.
"I told the guys after the game,
with the sweep of Wayne State we went from a good
semester to a great semester," said Niagara head
coach Dave Burkholder.
It is the first time a Purple Eagles
team went a full semester of a season without a loss
at Dwyer Arena.
Newcomers Tyler Gotto and Ryan Annesley
with the return from injury of Travis Anderson have
stabilized the blueline while sophomore goaltender
Juliano Pagliero has stepped into Jeff Van Nynatten's
shoes nicely. The scary part is that the team is scheduled
to lose just four seniors and only two of those play
This is between junior transfer Ryan
Cruthers of Robert Morris, senior Allen Barton from
Niagara and sophomore Travis Winter from Bemidji
State with the nod to Winter.
The St. Cloud, Minn. native registered
just one goal and four assists in 16 games last season
and has already tripled that with five goals and 10
assists in 14 games.
His two-goal, two-assist weekend helped
the Beavers overcome their 0-3-1 start with a sweep
at Minnesota State in early November. Bemidji has
lost only one game since.
BEST NEW FACE
|Niagara freshman Chris
Moran is setting a scoring pace that will rank
him near the top of the Purple Eagles scoring
charts by the time he finishes his career.
With apologies to goaltender Brett
Bothwell, who has all three of Wayne State's victories
this season, Niagara's Chris Moran
The freshman forward is manning the
point on the power play and is fifth on the team in
scoring with four goals and 17 assists. That is more
than double the point total of the next best freshman
He is on a pace to equal the point totals
of Ted Cook and Les Reaney from their 2005-06 CHA
co-Rookie of the Year season.
WHAT HAPPENED TO…
Bemidji State senior forward
Ryan Miller. After leading the team with
17 goals last season, Miller had two goals and three
assists through his first ten games.
After scoring a goal in the second game
of the season at Maine October 14th, Miller didn't
get another until December 2nd at Wayne State. He's
been moved from centering the top line to centering
the second line and occasionally right wing. Maybe
a three assist effort last weekend will kick-start
his second half.
He did miss four games during the first
half with a leg injury, but more was expected after
his breakout junior campaign.
Cornell lost only three home games all
of last season and just two through the midway point
of this season. One of those was a 5-4 win
by Wayne State on Thanksgiving weekend at Lynah,
spearheaded by Jason Baclig's three-point effort.
Even stranger was that the Warriors entered the game
with a 2-9 record, had been shutout a team-record
four times (now six), and have lost five straight
since. That's why they play the games.
TOUGHEST ROAD OUT
For the second year in a row, Wayne
State played just four of its first 17 games
at home. Trips to top-ranked Minnesota, Cornell, and
Lake Superior State were sandwiched around conference
trips to Alabama-Huntsville and Niagara.
The road gremlins have made life difficult
for the Warriors as they have been shutout in six
of their last 12 games. That and injuries to key contributors
such as Dan Iliakis, Jon Grabarek, and now senior
forward Mike Forgie haven't made bus life much fun.
Time to make hay with 11 of their last 17 games, including
all six CHA games in February, at the Fairgrounds.
TOUGHEST ROAD IN
With the Air Force defection to Atlantic
Hockey, the odd number of teams left in CHA means
each team will play one other CHA team six times during
the regular season instead of the traditional two-home
On top of Alabama-Huntsville
drawing Bemidji State for six games this season, the
Chargers will make the 1,200 mile trip twice —
once this weekend and once in mid-February. The lake
should be plenty frozen by then, and so will the men
from the south, as they try to get that first-round
conference playoff bye.
Alabama-Huntsville at Bemidji State, Feb. 16-17. The
Beavers have won their last three home games against
the Chargers and have beaten UAH in the playoffs each
of the last two seasons. But UAH is 16-10-1 head-to-head
with the Beavers since 2000. That, and the Chargers'
Marc Narduzzi has started to look like the goaltender
they thought they would have.
BIGGEST QUESTION ANSWERED
Niagara's goaltending after
the departure of four-year starter Jeff Van Nynatten.
Sophomore Juliano Pagliero has stepped in and led
the Purple Eagles to the top of the conference standings.
Included was his 41 save effort for his first collegiate
shutout December 8th against Wayne State.
BIGGEST QUESTION REMAINING
Can Robert Morris meet the pre-season
predictions and finish third in the conference?
With lots of weekends off during the first half, the
Colonials will not have another after Christmas. The
toughest four-week stretch comes just prior to the
end of the regular season with consecutive weekends
home against Niagara and Bemidji State, a home-and-home
with nationally-ranked Miami and then at Niagara.
With playoff seedings at stake, barring
injury, expect goaltender Christian Boucher to play
all but one of the Miami games during the stretch
— a test for any goaltender.
First Half All-CHA Team
|5-2-3 with two
shutouts and a 2.64 GAA which includes the six
he allowed at Maine in game two of the season.
That's how well he's played since.
|The senior has
matched last season's goal total and only six
away in assists.
|He has already
eclipsed his career high in helpers.
|Cook leads the
country in goals and power-play goals.
|19 of his 32 points
and 8 of 12 goals have come in conference games.
|The senior is on pace for his
best offensive season and regularly kills penalties.