"We had a few bad bounces," Erickson
said. "We were trying to do too much, blocking too
many shots where we caused ourselves more trouble."
Erickson remained patient, and once a young
Husky lineup matured a bit and took coach Bruce Marshall’s
simplifications to heart, the positive results have become
Atlantic Hockey leader Rochester Institute
of Technology rolled into Storrs last week and Erickson
performed his best Pink Floyd karaoke, hitting all the right
notes in "The Wall." His 40 stops on Friday supported
a 3-0 UConn victory and his 30 saves on Saturday were good
enough to secure a 1-1 tie.
Erickson said every game in a tight Atlantic
Hockey league is important but you have to get up to face
the top teams.
"Anytime you face the No. 1 team in your
league, and they’re ranked in the country, it makes
it exciting and gives you a chance to put your team on the
map," Erickson said.
Staying busy is what Erickson likes. He has
stopped at least 30 shots in 15 of 23 appearances and stopped
more than 35 in five games, all since Dec. 30. His season-high
was 41 saves against Mercyhurst on Jan. 19, the weekend
before his heroics against RIT.
"I love it," Erickson said of his
heavy workload. "You have to stay sharp every night.
I like the work. I like the shots. It’s easier to
get into the groove. When you are busy, you don’t
think – you do."
Erickson leads all Atlantic Hockey goaltenders
with 691 saves – the next closest is Louis Menard
of RIT with 617 (only Jeff Lerg of Michigan State, with
705, has faced more shots nationwide).
Erickson has surrendered the second-most goals
(62) but his save percentage ranks third (.918). He is 3-1-2
in his last six outings.
"I feel like I am playing pretty well
right now," Erickson said. "I am seeing the pucks.
I am stopping the ones I should and a few that I shouldn’t."
Part of that has to do with Marshall’s
decision to refocus efforts on the defensive end of the
"We tweaked some things to simplify it
for them," Marshall said. "In principle, (our
system) is the same but what we allow you to do and what
not to do is changed a bit."
The result is the Huskies are giving up a
few more shots but not the high-quality shots, Erickson
"The younger defensemen are starting
to understand their positioning out there," he said.
"When a shot is taken, they make sure that they let
me see it, and if there is a rebound they do a good job
of clearing it. I am not really battling or fighting through
screens ... and if you see it, you have to stop it."
Erickson hails from Iowa and played juniors
with Sioux City of the U.S. Hockey League. He had several
college offers but he chose Connecticut because the coaches
told him he would have a chance to play right away.
"I wouldn’t change it," Erickson
said. "The chance to play in college is unbelievable.
To know you are going out every Friday and Saturday night
in front of all those fans, it’s exciting and fun."
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Mr. 2-to-1: Army junior Josh
Kassel went to Brian Riley after a recent loss to Canisius
and asked his coach to give him another shot to keep his
starting job. Riley agreed, and Kassel has delivered with
three consecutive 2-1 wins over Canisius and Air Force (twice).
"This is Kass just playing with a lot
of confidence," Riley said. "Kass is basically
giving us a chance to win in the last three games."
The three Army wins come on the tail of a
streak of eight winless contests.
"Army, (Sunday), was the best team we
played all year and we played some pretty damn good teams,"
Air Force coach Frank Serratore said. "I thought that
they were stronger, they were more determined and they were
better coached than we were. Their focus was great and they
basically as the game went on imposed their will on us."
On The Wrong Side: Air Force
coach Frank Serratore is none too pleased about the power
outage his offense is having. The Falcons have dropped three
consecutive games by 2-1 scores, once at Colorado College
and twice at Army. Air Force ripped off 35 shots in the
Friday loss to Army and only 25 in the Sunday setback.
"The game is about putting the puck in
the net and keeping it out," Serratore said. "If
we continue to score one, we're good enough to lose a lot
of heartbreakers and that's what's happening."
"When we hold a team to two goals, we
should win," Serratore added. "We should have
beaten Colorado College last week and we should have beaten
Army. If you can't score three goals a game, you don't deserve
Air Force will have to do so without all-star
forward Eric Ehn, who missed his first two games since fracturing
the tibia in his left leg two weeks ago.
Paging Herb Brooks: Connecticut
coach Bruce Marshall said his team played one of its most
complete games of the season when the Huskies blanked RIT,
3-0, on Friday as Andrew Olson had a pair of goals.
"We were being physical and paying attention
to detail," Marshall said.
It was a lot tougher on Saturday when Connecticut
escaped with a 1-1 draw.
"We might have been gassed," Marshall
said. "When they scored we found a way to answer the
Maybe the team is in better shape than he
thought. It was mid-December when Marshall and his coaching
staff sent a message loud and clear to the underachieving
"We had a real reality check before we
went into the break, about why we stumbled badly,"
Marshall said. "We had to send messages. (The practices)
weren't fun. It wasn't fun coming to the rink. There was
going to be a price to pay."
Former Olympic coach Herb Brooks helped get
the undivided attention of the 1980 U.S. hockey team by
skating the players into exhaustion following an exhibition
in Europe while making his point about commitment.
"It wasn't that bad," Marshall said
of his methods, "but there weren't many pucks out there
(on the ice)."
Great Weekend Getaway
Mercyhurst at Holy Cross
This matchup has proved to be one of
the more exciting, going back to the MAAC Hockey League
days. The season advantage has bounced back and forth
for the past five seasons, and Holy Cross has the
edge to make it six, having posted a 4-1 win and posting
a 2-2 tie in an earlier set in Erie. Mercyhurst has
earned a point in five of its last six games. Holy
Cross has split each of its last two weekend series.
Mercyhurst's Ben Cottreau has 23 points and is seven
shy of 150 for his career. Brodie Sheahan (24 points)
and Dale Reinhardt (23) are battling for the Holy
Cross scoring title. Six Crusaders have scored against
the Lakers thus far.
of RIT earned player of the month honors with his
four goals and six assists in eight games. It's no
wonder the Tigers have leaped into first place in
and Rochester Institute of Technology both clawed
their way into the national polls, only to be bounced
with disappointing road efforts. It just goes to show
that Atlantic Hockey doesn't have that one dominant
team to make headway in the national college circles.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• An empty weekend: When Air Force dropped
a pair of 2-1 games at Army, it marked the first time the
Falcons failed to earn a point in a weekend slate all season.
The three-game losing streak is Air Force's longest since
dropping five (Mercyhurst 2, RIT 2, Canisius) from Feb.
• Oh, that's too cruel: American International
was one second – one second! – away from a 3-2
victory at Dartmouth only Jon Grecu had other ideas, scoring
with the extra attacker. AIC is 0-4-2 in non-league games
this season and is winless in its last 21 (0-19-2) versus
out-of-conference foes. The last Yellow Jacket non-league
win came in Dec. 2003.
• End of the Crusades: Sacred Heart
extended its win streak to seven over Holy Cross with a
5-1 decision in Milford on Friday. Eric Giosa scored twice
and defenseman Reade Wolansky set up three tallies. Holy
Cross bounced back with a 4-2 win in Worcester the next
night. Adam Roy proved better in the nightcap, making 28
stops. Of the six goals, five came on the power play.
• A closet full of ties: Mercyhurst
and Bentley played 130 minutes of hockey and came away with
identical 3-3 ties. Bentley's Erik Peterson had a pair of
goals in both games. Matt Pierce notched a pair in the nightcap.
It was the first time Bentley posted consecutive ties since
knotting Army, 2-2 and 3-3, on Jan. 27-28, 2006. Mercyhurst
earned single points on Nov. 18 and 21, 2006, tying Canisius
(3-3) and Yale (4-4).
• Turnabout is unfair play: Canisius
goalie Andrew Loewen won the league's goalie of the month
award for his three shutouts. On Sunday, however, it was
time for coach Dave Smith to turn to freshman Taylor Anderson,
who gave up four goals on 23 shots as Merrimack blanked
the Griffins. It was the third time Canisius was shut out
• This Weekend: Sacred Heart plays a
pair at Canisius. Sacred Heart earned a 5-4 win and 2-2
draw when it played Canisius in Milford back in October.
The Pioneers took three of four from the Griffins last season,
splitting the pair in Buffalo. … AIC stunned RIT,
4-1, when the clubs met Dec. 7 in West Springfield. RIT
bounced back with a 5-0 win the next night, and now the
Tigers host the Yellow Jackets for a pair. RIT swept all
four games last season. … Army had its six-game unbeaten
streak against Connecticut come to an end on Dec. 29 when
the Huskies prevailed 4-1 in their own tourney. The clubs
each own a win as they head to West Point for two. …
It's Falcon vs. Falcon as Bentley travels to Air Force.
The teams split an October series in Masschusetts. Each
team had a win and loss at home last season.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Ken McMillan can be reached