Sophomores Nick Johnson, Erik Boisvert, Dave
Jarman and freshman Adam DeJong rank in the top seven in
team scoring, accounting for 27 points thus far. Along with
old dependables Bear Trapp and Alex Parent, the Pioneers
have managed to piece together a sufficient offense to stay
within striking distance of the league lead.
"I'm pleased with our progress at this
point of the year and the steps that we are making,"
said Sacred Heart coach Shaun Hannah. His team is in fourth
place, but just two points behind league-leading Army –
those two clubs play a home-and-home this weekend starting
Friday at West Point.
Eleven players have contributed goals and
five more have helped with assists. Sacred Heart –
with its 27 goals scored – is 14 goals behind the
rocket pace it set last year. That is no surprise given
O'Brien ranked first in career points (158), third in goals
(67) and fourth in assists (91).
"It's no secret that losing a guy like
O'Brien, everyone is going to have to pitch in offensively,"
Hannah said. "We're real pleased to see we have been
able to spread the offense around."
Johnson is tied for the team lead with four
goals and has nine points, one behind Trapp.
"Nick competes real hard," Hannah
said. "He has a good shot and a good nose for the net.
He battles hard in the one-on-one battles – he's great
in that part of his game."
Boisvert has yet to score but he leads the
team with seven assists.
"He has great speed and quickness and
is real creative with the puck," Hannah said. "He's
got a good shot. He hasn't scored yet this year but he can
score and he's also got a great head to make plays."
Jarman is a player who came on strong in the
second half of his freshman season. He has two goals and
four assists. "He is a guy who plays both ends of the
rink, a two-way center," Hannah said.
Sacred Heart's seven-game road trip comes
to an end on Friday. The Pioneers opened with a win at Connecticut
but lost at Bentley and Niagara (twice). That added to the
significance of last weekend's series at Mercyhurst and
the Pioneers escaped Erie with a 3-2 win and 2-2 tie, both
Sacred Heart held Mercyhurst's power play
to 1-for-16. Adam Dejong produced a tying goal in the third
period and Eric Giosa scored at 3:01 of overtime in Friday's
3-2 win. Alex Parent produced the tying goal in the third
period in Saturday's 2-2 draw. Stefan Drew made 31 saves
in the opener and 28 in the nightcap.
"That was very crucial," Hannah
said. "We played some good hockey (at Niagara) but
didn't capitalize on a few chances to score goals which
might have changed the outcome. We knew we needed to continue
to play good hockey at Mercyhurst and get those points."
Hannah said he would like to see better production
from the power play and his team's five-on-five offensive
production. The Pioneers rank second in the league with
an 89.9 percent penalty kill.
Hannah said he wants his team to head into
the holiday break on a positive note.
"That helps you build momentum and you
are not doing so much chasing (in the standings),"
said Hannah, whose team faces Denver in the Denver Cup on
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Shootout Situation: College
hockey uses five-minute overtime periods in an attempt to
break ties. When it comes to in-season tournament action,
though, officials have to resort to shootouts.
American International College was four minutes
away from pulling off a first-round upset of the host at
the RPI Holiday Tournament. Paul Kerins ruined the Yellowjackets'
storyline, though, when he beat Tom Fenton with 3:19 to
Following overtime, the teams moved to the shootout round.
Andrei Uryadov and Tyler Helfrich scored for RPI and Mike
McMillan scored for AIC, and the Engineers moved to the
"It would have been extra special to get into the finals
of the tournament, against no less than Notre Dame,"
said AIC coach Gary Wright. "I thought we competed
hard overall and I was proud of our kids."
Wright had never participated in a shootout before so drawing
up his batting order was a new thing. So how did he choose?
"It was based on goal scoring, puck poise, guys you
can go either way – shoot or deke – and perhaps
have strengths in both, proven players as much as possible,"
Wright said. And to prove it's not all scientific, Wright
added. "There was some guessing to it, too."
Would Wright like to add the shootouts to college hockey?
He says it has some merits.
"It's exciting for the players and certainly exciting
for the fans. There is something to be said for that,"
Wright said. "I think if you are going to have a shootout
you should be able to preserve one of those points (like
the NHL does). If the shootout is the end-all, I don't think
it's a fair way to end the game, especially if you battled
for 65 minutes."
Great Weekend Getaway
Here's a series that will determine
the first-half look of Atlantic Hockey. Bentley's
young team is a point out of first place but the Falcons
need a breakthrough weekend to break a recent string
of weekend splits. RIT left six points on the table
during its six-game homestand (2-2-2) and now must
embark on a killer 10-game roadstand, six before the
goalie Jay Clark is coming up large in his early season
appearances. He preserved a 1-1 tie at RIT on Saturday
by stopping Jay Clark on a back-handed penalty shot
just 17 seconds in overtime.
Yes, we know
Miami is the top-ranked team in college hockey but
Canisius was not very epresentative in a 4-0, 11-1
weekend sweep. The Golden Griffins' penalty kill is
going to have to tighten up after surrendering two
power-play goals on Friday and five on Saturday.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• Your place, and mine – Think
of how many Thanksgiving dinners were split between in-laws'
houses. Well, Atlantic Hockey has its own version this weekend
as home-and-home series pit Mercyhurst and Canisius, Sacred
Heart and Army, and Holy Cross and Connecticut.
• Louie, Louie – If it's not the
chant of the fans at RIT's Ritter Arena, it should be. RIT
sophomore Louis Menard was named the Atlantic Hockey goalie
of the week after making 62 saves in a pair of ties with
Army. Menard has a 2.94 goals against and .904 save percentage.
• No contest in tug-o-war – Army
and RIT battled to ties of 2-2 and 1-1. Army last posted
consecutive draws on Jan. 27-28, 2006, with visiting Bentley.
The last time RIT did it was Jan. 16 and 23, 2004, when
the Tigers were a Division III team and they drew SUNY Fredonia
and SUNY Geneseo.
• Early break – No one would ever
accuse a West Point cadet of taking it easy – they
do more before 8 a.m. than most students – but Army
is the first Atlantic Hockey team to reach the holiday break.
The Black Knights face Sacred Heart in a home-and-home this
weekend, and then have off until Dec. 29 when it faces the
host in the U.Conn Hockey Classic.
• Home at the Hive – American
International College opens a five-game homestand at the
Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield, Mass. Air Force
visits for two this weekend, Connecticut visits on Tuesday
and Rochester Institute of Technology comes in for a pair
next weekend. It's the longest AIC homestand since Nov.
23-Dec. 13, 2003, when the Yellow Jackets went 3-3.
• Bruised, and no wins to show for it
– Mercyhurst netminder Matt Lundin made 66 saves in
a loss and tie – both in overtime – to Sacred
• Floodgates – Bentley and Dartmouth
were tied at 1-1 heading into the third period of their
non-conference showdown in Hanover on Saturday. The Big
Green erupted for goals from Josh Gilliam, Connor Shields,
Kyle Reeds and Adam Estoclet – three against freshman
netminder Joe Calvi and one into an empty net.
• Double-digit dunking – Top-ranked
Miami (Ohio) closed a weekend series with an 11-1 thrashing
of Canisius. It was the first time the Golden Griffins'
surrendered double-digit goals since Oct. 23, 1998.
"Miami showed us that a great team will
play hard and disciplined in all situations," Canisius
head coach Dave Smith said. "That is a tough lesson
and hopefully it will benefit us in the future and is something
that we can take out of this weekend."
• National rankings – Army linemates
Luke Flicek and Owen Meyer are tied for fourth in points
per game (1.50). Flicek is tied for first in assists per
game (1.0), and Dale Reinhardt is tied for 10th (0.90).
Meyer is tied for eighth in goals per game (0.75). Ryan
Driscoll is tied for sixth in power play goals per game
(0.50). Bentley's Dain Prewitt is tied for second with two
short-handed goals. Sean Erickson of Connecticut is tied
for seventh for defensemen points per game (0.90). Mercyhurst's
Matt Lundin is ninth in saves percentage (.940). Holy Cross
has the top power play in the land (16-for-53, 30.2 pecent).
RIT (19.8) and Canisius (19.2) rank fourth and fifth in
penalty minutes. Connecticut (90.3) and Sacred Heart (89.9)
rank sixth and eighth in penalty kill.
• Mid-week madness – Following
this weekend's action, five Atlantic Hockey teams will play
mid-week contests. On Tuesday, Holy Cross will host Merrimack
and Connecticut plays at American International. On Wednesday,
Bentley will host Sacred Heart.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Ken McMillan can be reached