Last weekend, Wayne State took three of four
points from Niagara while Bemidji State and Alabama-Huntsville
split their two-game set in Minnesota.
“We’ve been playing well the last
month and have played well since Bemidji,” said Wayne
State coach Bill Wilkinson. “Our goaltending and special
teams have come along, and getting Jon Grabarek, Tylor Michel
and Mike Forgie back in the lineup has helped.”
Against the Purple Eagles Friday, Jason Bloomingburg,
Forgie and Jarred Katz staked Wayne State to a 3-0 first-period
lead and they never looked back. Ted Cook’s power-play
marker was the only blemish on senior goaltender Will Hooper's
night as he earned his third victory of the season.
The Warriors showed some moxie in the series
finale Saturday with third-period goals from Bloomingburg
and Grabarek to overcome a 4-2 Niagara lead.
“We hadn’t beaten them in four
tries and we’re looking at a fourth-place finish,
not fifth,” said Wilkinson. “I’ve been
trying to tell people we’re not as bad as our record.
Our kids want to compete and playing the 17th-ranked team
provided some extra motivation.”
Regardless of what they do over the next two
weeks, the Warriors are locked into the 4-5 playoff game
with Alabama-Huntsville in Des Moines March 9. Since losing
a pair of closely fought games at Bemidji State in early
January, the Warriors are on a 6-4-1 run, including 4-3-1
mark in conference play.
SEEN AND HEARD IN CHA
Niagara falls: After a 14-3-2
stretch, Niagara has hit the skids in February with just
one point in their last four contests. But the coaching
staff liked what they saw Saturday as the Purple Eagles
built 3-1 and 4-2 leads in its tie against Wayne State.
“We haven’t played like we did
earlier, but Saturday was a gritty, gutsy effort and I thought
we deserved more than a tie,” said Niagara head coach
Dave Burkholder. “I think it’s more a case of
running into two teams who are playing well and we’re
“We can’t pinpoint one area —
collectively we’re not playing as a team. If a forward
breaks down, then it puts pressure on our defense and goaltender.
Every team has times of mental fatigue in every season,
but there has been a different energy in practice this week.
The last two weekends have definitely gotten our attention.”
Leading the Chargers: Alabama-Huntsville
was also strutting Saturday after overcoming a 3-1 Bemidji
State lead by scoring once in the second and two more in
the third for a 4-3 road win and a split of their series
against the Beavers at Glas Fieldhouse.
Senior forward Steve Canter put up a four-point
weekend with a goal and an assist in each game and January
addition Blake MacNicol made 38 saves and registered his
second victory in three starts in net.
Eye on Iowa: Among the CHA's
top three teams, the playoff possibilities are virtually
endless. Bemidji State plays its final two conference games
this weekend at home. A BSU sweep would force Niagara to
win three of its final four leage matches to tie (and win
the title via head-to-head tiebreaker). It would also force
Robert Morris to sweep its last four contests (and have
Niagara lose two of four) to tie for first.
Wayne State. meanwhile, is just two points
behind Alabama-Huntsville with two games in hand for fourth
place in the conference and the last line change for the
teams' first-round playoff match.
Great Weekend Getaway
Morris at Niagara (Fri.-Sat.) The Purple Eagles will likely have revenge
on their minds as they harken to the series earlier
this month in which the Colonials started Niagara
on its current 0-3-1 skid. RMU, meanwhile, tries to
rebound from a pair of non-league losses against Miami.
While you’re there: There’s
not a lot to do in February (besides jump-starting
cars and shoveling). Try your luck at the Fallsview
Casino if for nothing else than the great all-you-can-eat
State goalie Will Hooper allowed one power-play
goal and made 20 saves, picking up his third victory
of the season (and first since Dec. 16) in Friday's
6-1 rout of Niagara.
Niagara goalie Juliano Pagliero allowed six goals
on 15 shots — including three on three shots
in the second — before being pulled in the blowout
loss to Wayne State.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Wayne State senior defenseman Taylor
Donahoe is due back in the lineup for the Bemidji series
this weekend. He has missed seven games with a deep skate
cut on his foot.
• Niagara confirmed it will start Juliano
Pagliero in goal Friday and Allen Barton Saturday for Senior
Night against Robert Morris.
• Alabama-Huntsville leads the CHA in
goals in conference games this season (58), but the Chargers
have also allowed a league-high 66 tallies.
• Wayne State freshman Jared Katz has
at least one point in 11 of his last 13 contests.
• Bemidji State’s Luke Erickson
became the first player in the school's Division I era to
record 50 career goals and 50 career assists.
• The first Alabama-Huntsville-Bemidji
Statei tilt last weekend featured a penalty-free first period.
• Wayne State has won just twice and
tied twice in 16 all-time visits to Bemidji.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Warren Kozireski can be
reached at email@example.com.