When Rick Gotkin arrived at the Mercyhurst
College campus in the summer of 1987, he figured he'd stick
around for a season or two as head coach of the Lakers and
then head off to an assistant coaching position at a larger
Gotkin went to Mercyhurst with bigger opportunities
in mind. He's still there, 20 years later.
Twenty years later, Gotkin is still making
Erie, Pa., his home, and displaying the same passion he
had as a rookie coach, though he's probably much wiser.
By virtue of a 5-2 victory over Canisius on
Saturday night, Gotkin joined an exclusive club of active
Division I coaches who have reached 350 victories –
only 10 others have reached that mark, and just four have
done so at one school.
"This is home, and this is the best place
for my family and myself," Gotkin said.
Gotkin took over the Mercyhurst program after
serving as an assistant under Mike Addessa at RPI. He saw
the program's transition from club hockey to Division III
and finally to Division I.
"I guess I thought I would be doing this
20 years later," Gotkin said. "I really feel like
this is where I am at, this is where I want to be and hopefully
I will retire here someday."
Mercyhurst was a perennial 20-game winner
and championship contender until falling on hard times the
past two seasons. The Lakers were 9-20-6 last season and
are 3-11-2 this season.
"It's been a little bit hard, I am not
going to lie to you," Gotkin said. "Winning is
a great feeling and having that instant success and instant
gratification. … The philosophies have stayed the
same. I have coached more in the last year and a half than
I have in a long time."
Mercyhurst has been injury plagued this season.
Two of his four seniors have missed action the last three
weeks: Ryan Toomey (tear in his abdominal muscle) has been
out for the last six games and Ben Cottreau (leg) has missed
the last five.
"It's been tough to evaluate but I've
liked this team from the outset and I still do," Gotkin
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Power-Play Surge Sparks Falcons:
Defending playoff champion Air Force pulled ahead of Army
for first place in Atlantic Hockey following a 6-3, 4-2
sweep (its first of the season) at American International
College. Air Force's power play, which was dormant for the
first month of the season, has come alive of late. The Falcons
were 4-for-8 with the man advantage on Friday and added
two more power play goals on Saturday – Air Force
is 8-for-its last 18 on the man-up.
"It's great to see our power play starting
to hit," said Air Force coach Frank Serratore after
the Friday win. "We needed it to click tonight. I told
the guys I thought we were playing a fabulous game in the
first period and then we took it up a notch in the second
Air Force had five power play goals on its
first 69 opportunities of the season. Eric Ehn and Josh
Frider lead the team with three power-play goals.
Air Force is unbeaten in its last four games
(3-0-1) and has scored 15 goals in its last three outings.
The nine wins by Air Force (9-4-1) ties for the most before
holiday break in school history. The Falcons were 9-8-3
last season. Four earlier Falcon teams also won nine games
Giving The Old Boss The Business:
Canisius coach Dave Smith was unbeaten against his old boss,
Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin, over a five-game stretch (2-0-3)
until Saturday's setback.
"I thought we had good energy and good
focus," Smith said following Friday's 4-0 win. "We
stayed with our game plan and execution by our players made
it 4-0. Mercyhurst played hard and is an excellent skating
team. We had a timely power-play goal and an excellent third
Great Weekend Getaway
at Air Force
(Fri.-Sat.) Canisius heads to the Rockies with hopes
of stealing a few points from the new Atlantic Hockey
leader – the Golden Griffins split a set in
Colorado last season so it's not out of the question.
Canisius has snipers Josh Heidinger and David Kasch.
Air Force counters with Hobey Baker candidate Eric
Ehn and Brent Olson.
What makes this weekend series special
is the eighth annual toy drive conducted by Air Force.
Fans are encouraged to bring a stuffed toy (wrapped
in plastic) and receive $1 admission. Assuming Canisius
doesn't play the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, the fans
can through the toy on the ice once Air Force scores
its first goal on each night. More than 3,800 toys
have been collected in the first seven seasons of
While You're There: Duh. It's the
Rockies. Think skiing.
congratulations go out to Canisius forward Ryan Klusendorf,
who posted his first collegiate point in his third
season. What's amazing is Klusendorf missed all but
his first three games of his freshman season due to
injury. He also had a medical hardship waiver after
suffering a season-ending injury in his true freshman
had an opportunity for a season sweep Sacred Heart
for the first time since they became conference foes.
However, home-rink advantage and scoring five goals
wasn't enough as the Falcons dropped a 6-5 decision.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• One slip and Army drops a notch –
Army came from behind twice to beat Sacred Heart, 4-2, in
a series' opener at West Point. The power play betrayed
the Black Knights in the second game, however, as Sacred
Heart salvaged a split with a 4-2 win in Milford –
Army was 1-for-12 with the man advantage and failed on its
last eight tries. "We'd like to see some more goals
with our power play but we were getting pucks to the net,"
said Army coach Brian Riley. Army fell to 3-11-1 at Milford
Army's split and Air Force's sweep dropped
the Black Knights into second place.
Army managed two goals from player of the
month Owen Meyer and freshman Cody Omilusik, and Sacred
Heart got the same from Erik Boisvert.
• You again? – Mercyhurst and
Canisius split a weekend home-and-home series. Canisius
won the opener in Buffalo, 4-0, behind the 34-save shutout
by Andrew Loewen – it was the Golden Griffins' first
shutout since Dan Griffin stopped 37 AIC shots on Feb. 24,
2006. Mercyhurst bounced back with a 5-2 win in Erie with
the help of two Kerry Bowman goals. The nightcap was the
50th career meeting and Mercyhurst leads the series 29-14-7.
• Come on in – Canisius drew 1,168
fans to the Buffalo State Arena for the Mercyhurst game.
It was the second-highest crowd at BSA for a Canisius game
(1,235 vs. Niagara on Jan. 22, 2004). It was the fourth
Canisius crowd of at least 1,000 at BSA and the second time
this season. Army drew a season-high 1,704 to the Sacred
Heart game on Friday.
• Short-handed success – Mercyhurst
picked up short-handed tallies from Kerry Bowman and Kirk
Medernach in the win over Canisius. It was the first time
the Lakers had two short-handed tallies since March 11,
2006. The Lakers have four short-handed goals this season,
doubling last season's total.
• Hate those bus trips – Canisius
is 2-0 at home this season but 1-10-2 on the road.
• Sheen is shining – Holy Cross
freshman Everett Sheen is gaining a hot hand of late. In
the weekend series with Connecticut, Sheen scored once in
Holy Cross' 4-1 road win on Friday and twice in the Crusaders'
3-3 tie in Worcester. Sheen posted his team-leading eighth
goal on Tuesday night as Holy Cross bounced back from a
2-0 deficit to tie Hockey East's Merrimack, 2-2, at the
Among rookies nationwide, Sheen ranks second in goals and
16th in points per game (0.77).
• When did the Yankees start playing
hockey? – It's not often when both starting goalies
get pulled from action in the same game but that's what
happened Friday in West Springfield. Air Force netminder
Ian Harper (two goals allowed on four shots) was pulled
after one period in favor of Andrew Volkening (one GA on
11 SOG). AIC starter Tom Fenton (four GA on 17 SOG) was
pulled after 27:47 in favor of Dan Ramirez (two GA on 22
• Sacred streaks – Nick Johnson
has a 10-game point streak for Sacred Heart. Teammates Erik
Boisvert and Bear Trapp have a point in eight of the last
nine games. Trapp needs three points for 100 in his career.
Alex Parent had two goals in Wednesday's 6-5 win at Bentley,
avoiding a season-sweep by the Falcons. Sacred Heart leads
the series with Bentley, 17-13-2.
• Broom squad – Air Force has
swept all six meetings from American International since
joining Atlantic Hockey last season. Here is the Falcons'
record against the rest of the league: Army 2-1; Bentley
3-3; Canisius 2-2; Connecticut 2-2; Holy Cross 2-0-3; Mercyhurst
3-3; RIT 2-3-1; Sacred Heart 1-0-2.
• Tightening the noose – Air Force
is allowing 23.4 shots per game, and not allowed more than
20 in its last six contests.
• Tigers on a roll – Rochester
Institute of Technology has quietly posted a five-game unbeaten
streak (2-0-3). The Tigers traveled to Bentley and posted
a 3-2 win and 2-2 draw. RIT has been held to three goals-or-fewer
in the last six games but posted a 2-1-3 record –
the Tigers had scored four goals in five of the first eight
• Whistles working overtime –
The referees didn't swallow the whistle late in Saturday's
RIT-Bentley matchup. Each team had a power play in the overtime
but neither scored in a 2-2 draw. Bentley freshman netminder
Joe Calvi had a career-high 42 saves.
• Extending his mark – Bentley's
Jeff Gumaer posted his 40th career goal on Friday, extending
his own Division I school record.
• Looking ahead – RIT is headed
to American International for a weekend set. The Tigers
swept all four meetings last season. … Bentley makes
the short trip to Massachusetts-Lowell on Saturday. Bentley
has lots its last eight out-of-conference games. The Falcons
lost their last two games with Lowell (5-2 in Nov. 2003,
8-0 in Nov. 2004). … AIC plays a pair at Mercyhurst,
the lone Atlantic Hockey matchups on Dec. 14-15. The clubs
split a pair in West Springfield last season. Before that,
Mercyhurst had beaten AIC in 15 consecutive games.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Ken McMillan can be reached