Biggest Hockey Rivalry In Jeopardy
A conflict in schedules has brought about
the end of the long-time rivalry between Army and Canada’s
Royal Military College of Kingston, Ont. The Army-RMC series
is recognized as the oldest continuous international rivalry,
having started in 1923 and played every year since 1949.
is trying to work out a compromise with Canada's Royal
Military College in order to continue the long-standing
hockey rivalry between the two institutions.
According to a long-term contract, this year’s
game was scheduled for February 10 in West Point. RMC has
a weekend league series with Toronto and Ryerson on Feb.
9-10. "It's disappointing," Army coach Brian Riley
said, "But who knows? We will get together to see if
we can iron some things out."
Former RMC coach Danny McLeod (1960-71) is
eager to see the series remain alive, and he is trying to
organize a committee made up of members from both schools
to see to it. He would like to see the teams play the contest
at the end of this season, although both schools have league
A conflict has arisen in recent years with
RMC using players who were non-traditional students, such
as member of the Canadian military. Army is bound by NCAA
rules that require traditional students taking a proper
load of classes. "It's just a difference in philosophy.
In my eyes, it's not cadet versus cadet anymore," Riley
said. "This, I think we had to fess up to, but the
commandant did not know this was happening and he took steps
to correct it as soon as it was drawn to his attention,"
McLeod said. RMC dismissed five-year coach Kelly Nobes after
last season, and replaced him with Jim Hulton.
The first meeting took place in 1923, thanks
to the efforts of West Point Superintendent Brig. Gen. Douglas
MacArthur and RMC's commandant, Maj. Gen. Sir Archibald
MacDonnell. The game has alternated between West Point and
Kingston, Ont., every year with the exception of nine seasons
when the game was not held: 1926, 1940-41 and 1943-48. "That
was the game anyone ever talked about," said Jack Riley,
a hockey Hall of Famer, Army's former long-time coach and
the father of Brian Riley.
McLeod has urged Jack Riley to join a committee,
but Riley says he will support whatever his son wants.
"I think there's too much respect for
one another to have something separating the two institutions,
and I believe that sensible people sitting down at a table
with the ultimate goal to have this great tradition continue
what we have to do to get it back on the rails," McLeod
said. "We've been through tougher things than that
McLeod said it's important to foster an "esprit
de corps" between the two academies. In terms of West
Point athletics, the Army-RMC hockey game was on par with
the Army-Navy football rivalry, though the addition of Air
Force to Army's schedule in the late 1960s diluted the significance
of the only two North American service academies facing
one another. Brian Riley said his team could benefit from
having an open weekend with two weekends remaining in the
Atlantic Hockey schedule.
"I think it's disappointing for the traditional
part of it because there is a lot of history to it,"
Riley said, "but time changes everything and maybe
it's just hard for two hockey teams to get together like
they once did."
— Ken McMillan
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
Club 700: Michigan State
coach Rick Comley is closing in on 700 career wins, and
there's a chance he'll get there during the must-see CCHA
series of the weekend. The Spartans, fresh off a Great Lakes
Invitational championship that gave Comley victories No.
698 and No. 699, travel to Miami for a set on Friday and
Comley (699-532-88) acknowledged that reaching
the milestone will be special, but he was quick to set it
off as a personal achievement rather than one for the MSU
program. The third-winningest active coach behind Boston
College's Jerry York and Boston University's Jack Parker
did the lion's share of his damage during his 26 years at
Northern Michigan before moving to East Lansing in 2002-03.
"Around here, the only number that matters
is Ron's," Comley said of Ron Mason, his predecessor
and college hockey's all-time winningest coach with 924.
"But I'm proud of it; I'll be joining elite company.
But I came here to win a national championship, not to get
X number of wins."
As for the Miami series, Comley said that
a sweep by the RedHawks in the teams' only meeting of the
season would make it quite difficult for the Spartans to
catch up later. The second-place RedHawks have a six-point
lead over the fourth-place Spartans, although MSU does have
a game in hand.
Both teams will be short one player because
of their involvement in the World Junior Championship: Spartan
forward Justin Abdelkader and RedHawk goalie Jeff Zatkoff.
— James Jahnke
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Former WCHA Commissioner Passes:
Those who knew Otto Breitenbach as a life-long Madison resident
and former University of Wisconsin football player long
before he was commissioner of the WCHA may be comforted
in the notion that some of his last conscious moments on
Earth were spent watching his beloved Badgers win a bowl
On Monday, Breitenbach suffered a massive
heart attack at his Madison home. He passed away on Tuesday
night at a Madison hospital at the age of 82.
He was an athletic administrator at Wisconsin
for 10 years prior to 1983, when Breitenbach began another
10 years of serving as the WCHA's head man.
The good things he helped bring to college
hockey during that span are nearly too numerous to mention.
Along with helping start the league's wildly successful
and lucrative postseason tournament, Breitenbach also helped
give a big boost to the then-upstart Hockey East Association
by fostering a joint agreement between the two leagues.
For a few years in the late 1980s, Hockey East and WCHA
teams would play each other every year, with the games counting
in the league standings.
"The interlocking schedule was a big
piece of the puzzle in launching the league and giving it
such a good reputation right away," said current Hockey
East commissioner Joe Bertagna. "Otto had a great deal
to do with how well the east and west get along today. There's
always been a rivalry, but there was an unhealthy edge at
one time, and I point to Otto playing a huge role in positively
changing the dynamic between east and west. Otto was a very
Breitenbach also played a role in helping
the NCAA hockey playoffs move to a 12-team regional system
in 1992, and was a friendly ambassador for the WCHA throughout
his term with the league. His friends and colleagues from
Madison and from the University were shocked at the news
of his sudden passing.
"There are very few people that had the
ability to build consensus and move organizations forward
like Otto. Be it at the University of Wisconsin, the WCHA,
or the Badger State Games, Otto led with class and integrity
second to none," said former Badgers coach Jeff Sauer,
who learned of Breitenbach's death while covering the World
Junior Championship in Sweden. "On a personal note,
he was like a second father to me. He will surely be missed."
"If there's one word that always comes
to mind when you'd think of Otto, it's 'gentleman,'"
said current WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod. "It seems
like I'd call him every couple weeks for some advice, not
necessarily about what to do but about how to do it in the
right way. He was always gracious and knew how to do things
in a way that wouldn't create controversy, but would build
Breitenbach will be laid to rest on Friday
at St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church in Waunakee, Wis.
— Jess Myers
SEEN AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
Unhappy Holidays: Jimmy Stewart
wanted to find out what things would have been like if he
never existed in "It's A Wonderful Life." Hockey
East teams did pretty much the same thing in this year's
Of the conference's 10 teams, only two (Boston
College and Merrimack) didn't participate in the festivities.
Of the other eight competing in seven tourneys, only one
came out a winner, two came in fourth place, and the rest
were somewhere in between – including Vermont, which
didn't even win its own tournament.
Maine stormed through the Florida College
Classic, doubling up Western Michigan, 8-4, and then Cornell,
6-3, in the championship. New Hampshire, however, saw its
nine-game winning streak come to an end in Estero, Fla.,
when it was upset by Cornell in the first round. The Wildcats
found a bit of southern comfort by beating Western Michigan
in the consolation round.
Then there were UMass and Providence, the
two teams that represented the Hockey Least portion of the
segment. The Minutemen and Friars failed to win a game in
their respective brackets.
Vermont faced similar embarrassment, dropping
a 4-2 decision in the championship game to St. Cloud State
on its home ice to lose the tournament known as the Catamount
Of the rest, UMass Lowell earned a second-place
finish in Denver while Boston University and Northeastern
each came in third place in their tournaments.
The eight teams combined for a 7-9 record.
They were 3-5 in opening-round contests, 1-2 in championship
games and 3-2 in the consolation bracket.
— Jeff Howe
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
ECAC Hockey League: Clarkson
won the Badger Hockey Showdown and claimed its first regular-season
tournament title since 1995, when it won the RPI Invitational.
Junior captain Nick Dodge had five points in two victories,
and was named tournament MVP. ... Dartmouth
lost twice in its own Ledyard Bank Tournament, scoring just
one goal in the two games. The Big Green are averaging under
2.00 goals per game in their last seven contests, and have
a 1-4-2 mark in that stretch. ... Cornell
impressively defeated then second-ranked New Hampshire 5-2
at the Florida College Classic.
CCHA: Northern Michigan has
lost seven straight games, by far the longest skid during
coach Walt Kyle's five-year tenure. The Wildcats outshot
their opponent during each of the first five losses, but
were outshot by Notre Dame in both ends of last week's Tour
de Indiana ... At 11-2-1 in the CCHA, Notre Dame
leads the conference. It’s the same record Miami had
last season en route to the regular-season championship.
This also marks the deepest into a season that Notre Dame
has been in first place. ... Ohio State
junior forward Tom Fritsche made his season debut at the
Ohio Hockey Classic, after missing OSU's first 18 games
with a severe intestinal ailment. The Buckeyes' two-time
leading scorer registered an assist 1:40 into his return,
and finished the weekend with two helpers.
WCHA: The much-publicized
comments of Dartmouth's athletic director last month had
many expecting a hostile (and abusive?) reception for the
Fighting Sioux upon arrival in New Hampshire for their holiday
tournament last week. TV stations and newspaper columnists
from North Dakota even traveled to Dartmouth
to cover the expected protests against the controversial
Sioux nickname and logo. According to North Dakota radio
man Tim Hennessey, instead of waves of protesters, the Sioux
saw just one woman in the crowd with a hand-lettered sign
reading "Indians Are People, Not Mascots!" Of
course, with so much media there to cover the protest that
never was, the one sign-bearing woman was world-famous in
eastern North Dakota for about 15 minutes.
College Hockey America: Senior
Shane Holman scored his second and third goals of the season
and goaltender Matt Climie won his 10th consecutive start
as Bemidji State beat a top-ten ranked
team for the first time in their Division I era with a 3-2
win at Colorado College Friday. The Beavers are now 5-1-0
against the WCHA this season. ... Niagara
has three players in the top-15 in the nation in scoring
- Les Reaney, Ted Cook and Sean Bentivoglio. Michigan, Nebraska-Omaha
and Maine are next with two players each.
Note: Our conference notebooks will return
A variety of sources
were utilized in the compilation of this report