"He's a threat every time he touches
the puck," Gotkin says about his senior from Toronto.
"I think what people don't realize about Ben is how
good he is defensively and how good he is at playing the
body and how strong he is. People think of him as a goal
scorer but he does play a complete game."
That is, when he's in the lineup.
Cottreau missed seven games to injury as a
junior and seven more this season, and yet he's still within
striking distance of setting the all-time career scoring
mark in MAAC/Atlantic Hockey. The forward has 147 career
points (57 goals, 90 assists), trailing only 2007 graduates
Pierre-Luc O'Brien of Sacred Heart (67-91– 158) and
James Sixsmith of Holy Cross (48-104–152) and 2002
Louis Goulet (61-96-157).
Cottreau still has time to break the points
record – Mercyhurst has at least six more games remaining
and potentially 10 by time the Atlantic Hockey tournament
concludes on March 16.
"I do feel bad for Ben because he hasn't
been totally healthy the last two years," Gotkin said.
"That has clearly hurt his production and overall game."
Still, Gotkin believes Cottreau's accomplishments overshadow
the great scoring of Goulet because the talent in the league
has definitely soared in the past six seasons, the parity
is much better and the goaltending has become tougher.
"He's going to go down, in my mind and
in the annals of Mercyhurst hockey, as one of the top players
to come through here," Gotkin said.
Cottreau had a stellar rookie season in 2004-05,
leading all Atlantic Hockey freshmen with 34 points (17
goals). His most productive season was 2005-06 when he finished
tied for second in league scoring with 51 points (17 goals).
He led the Lakers in scoring as a junior with 14 goals and
21 assists. This season
Cottreau leads Mercyhurst with 27 points and is tied for
the team lead with nine goals.
What does his future hold? Gotkin has no idea.
Cottreau is doing well academically and could turn to teaching
or school counseling, Gotkin said, or he could end up playing
professionally in Europe, in the East Coast Hockey League
or perhaps the American Hockey League.
"He would like to play professional hockey
and in the right circumstances he could be good," Gotkin
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Building Castles in the Sky:
Army's Josh Kassel remains the hottest goalie in Division
I. He posted consecutive 4-0 shutouts over American International
College, making 41 combined stops. He earned the goalie
of the week and player of the week honors in Atlantic Hockey.
He was also named the Inside
College Hockey Player of the Week.
In his last five games, Kassel has four shutouts
and a 1-1 tie – he has stopped 123 of the last 124
shots he's faced, and has allowed one goal in the last 331
minutes, 3 seconds. His current scoreless streak is 170
minutes, 17 seconds. Kassel is unbeaten in his last nine
(8-0-1), with four shutouts and five one-goal outings. He
has not allowed an even-strength goal since Jan. 25, a span
The only goalie with a longer unbeaten streak
is North Dakota's Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, who is 10-0-1
in his last 11. Kassel has the better goals against and
save percentage over the last nine games; Lamoureux has
allowed 14 goals and has no shutouts over the same stretch.
Kassel has dropped his goals against to 1.88
(sixth in the nation) and raised his save percentage to
.924 (11th nationally).
Picking up steam: Mercyhurst
has points in nine of its last 12 games (6-3-3), starting
with a 3-0, 4-2 sweep of visiting Army on Jan. 11-12. The
Lakers are in fourth place at 11-8-5 and 11-16-5 overall.
This is the same team that opened the season
"We started to get healthy," said
coach Rick Gotkin. "We hit a stretch where we were
100 percent healthy. With that came some wins, which led
to more confidence. Actually, we have really played the
same way all year – I think I can count on one hand
the games where we just weren't very good. We felt we have
Mercyhurst is just four points behind league-leading
"Mathematically, the championship is
still within our reach," Gotkin said. The Lakers host
third-place Rochester Institute of Technology for a pair
this weekend and split a home-and-home with sixth-place
Canisius next week.
Bet on an upset: Atlantic
Hockey, and the MAAC Hockey League before that, is usually
good for one upset in the first round. Of course, the introduction
of a new best-of-three format may lessen those chances,
but Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin is convinced a bottom-five
seed will reach the Final Five in Rochester.
"I remember the scariest games I've been
involved in were that quarterfinal game at Mercyhurst, against
Army (in 2002, a 2-1 win) and Iona (in 2003, a 5-4 win),"
Gotkin said. "We were fortunate to beat them. Now those
(lower seeded) teams come into a top seed and win two out
of three – hey, they deserve to move on. It's no longer
a goalie beats you, or there's a tough call, a post, a skate."
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
Rochester Institute of Technology has
the coveted third-place spot in Atlantic Hockey, and
Mercyhurst wants it to avoid a Final Five play-in
game. The teams met in Rochester in November, RIT
answering a 6-3 loss with a 3-2 overtime win. RIT’s
Simon Lambert (17-21-38) would like to put the finishing
touches on a scoring title, and Louis Menard returns
to net following his suspension for dropping the gloves
against Canisius. Ben Cottreau leads the Lakers with
27 points and Matt Lundin has evened his record in
nets while raising his save percentage to .915. This
is RIT’s last taste of road cooking before the
posted consecutive shutouts of American International
College, leading Army to a record-breaking nine-game
sad in this age of instant communication that we can't
find one decent sports news site that can provide
constant score updates from all Division I games.
• If the playoffs were to start today
– No. 10 Connecticut at No. 1 Army (Army won three
of four); No. 9 AIC at No. 2 Sacred Heart (SHU won once,
one tie); No. 8 Holy Cross at No. 3 RIT (RIT won both games);
No. 7 Bentley at No. 4 Mercyhurst (two ties); No. 6 Canisius
at No. 5 Air Force (two ties, two games this weekend).
Army is the only team to have clinched home-ice
advantage in the opening round of playoffs. Magic numbers:
Sacred Heart 2; RIT 3, Mercyhurst 4, Air Force 5.
"We know the top five is important because
we can host (a playoff series)," said Mercyhurst coach
Rick Gotkin. "The top three, now you have a chance
to get out of the play-in game (on March 14) if you are
in Rochester (for the Final Five)."
• When was that last loss? – Army
has set the Atlantic Hockey record for the longest unbeaten
streak at nine (8-0-1). Ironically, Army's last loss –
a 3-0 setback to Canisius on Jan. 18 – capped an eight-game
winless streak (0-7-1).
• Finals preview – A lot can happen
between now and next week but it's shaping up as No. 1 vs.
No. 2 next weekend as Army and Sacred Heart close the season
with a Feb. 29 game in Milford and March 1 game at West
• Trust the force, Luke – Luke
Flicek is bidding to be Army's leading scorer for the third
season in a row. Flicek had nine goals and 18 assists as
a sophomore and 16 goals and 23 assists as a junior. The
senior has 10 goals and 20 assists, and leads linemate Owen
Meyer by one point.
• Injury report – Mercyhurst's
Ryan Toomey will miss the rest of the season. Teammate Brendan
Coccimiglio was injured against Air Force, and his return
• Twice as nice – Bentley posted
its first weekend sweep of the season, beating Connecticut
6-0 on home ice and 4-3 in an overtime affair in Storrs.
The Falcons' last win streak was three games in November
(AIC, Sacred Heart, UConn). Blake Hamilton had two goals
on Friday and ended the Saturday contest at 3:25 of extra
time. Anthony Canzoneri had four assists and Casey Russell
had three in the opener. Joe Calvi had 32 saves in his
shutout win and 24 the next night. The OT win was Bentley's
first since Nov. 17, 2006, at RIT (Dain Prewitt). It was
Connecticut's first OT loss of the season (3-0-3 prior).
• Oh my – Connecticut's shutout
loss at Bentley on Friday was the Huskies' sixth blanking
of the season.
• Crusaders, Griffins split –
Everett Sheen, Brodie Sheahan and Rob Forshner combined
for six points as visiting Holy Cross beat Canisius 3-2
on Saturday. Adam Roy made 22 saves for his seventh win.
Holy Cross' bid for its first weekend sweep was denied
as Canisius prevailed 2-1 on Sunday, keeping the Griffins
two points in front of the Crusaders. Cory Conacher broke
the tie with 3:57 to play in regulation. Taylor Anderson
had 16 stops in the Griffin net. The teams have split
their last three series.
• Breaking through – Mercyhurst
jumped out to a 2-0 lead and did not allow Sacred Heart
to pull into a tie as the Lakers prevailed 4-3, snapping
an eight-game winless streak (0-7-1) against the Pioneers,
who suffered only their second home loss of the season
(8-2-2). Matt Lundin made 28 saves for his ninth win.
On Saturday, Sacred Heart used two goals from Alex Parent
to even the series with a 6-3 win. The Pioneers scored
three power play goals and the Lakers had a pair. Lundin
had 31 saves and SHU's Stefan Drew had 32. Sacred Heart
won the season series, 2-1-1.
• One win shy of goal – Rochester
Institute of Technology could not hold a 2-0 lead and
had to get a power-play goal from Brennan Sarazin with
1:04 remaining to forge a 3-3 tie with visiting Niagara
on Saturday. RIT coach Wayne Wilson said he was hoping
for a win in order to secure a .500 record in non-conference
play but he will have to settle for a 2-3-1 mark. Wilson
had to go with sophomore
Jared DeMichiel (1-2-1 record) with Louis Menard sitting
out a second game for his part in the Feb. 9 brawl with
• Working OT – RIT played its
eighth overtime game of the season, tying Niagara 3-3
on Saturday. The Tigers have beaten Mercyhurst and Air
Force, lost to Air Force and have tied Army (2), Bentley
and Connecticut. Air Force has also played eight overtime
games this season (1-2-5). Canisius set the league record
with 13 in 2003-04 (3-2-8). By the way, Holy Cross has
tied its last 12 OT contests and Army has tied its last
nine OT games.
What team has played the most overtime games
in league history? Mercyhurst with 37 (8-11-18), followed
by Connecticut (9-10-17) and Holy Cross (5-5-24).
• Many positives – Brent Olson
of Air Force leads Atlantic Hockey with a plus-18 rating.
Army's Owen Meyer and Bryce Hollweg and Air Force's Michael
Mayra are next at plus-11. Luke Flicek of Army is a plus-10.
• Give and take – Canisius has
split its last three weekend series (Sacred Heart, RIT,
Holy Cross), dropping the opener and bouncing back with
• Top support – Army should
finish the season with the highest average home attendance
in the league. The Black Knights are averaging 2,036 fans
per game at Tate Rink, or 76.9 percent of capacity. The
team just wrapped up a nine-game homestand (7-1-1 record)
where it averaged 2,256 fans per game.
The most loyal fans, though, hail from Rochester
Institute of Technology. The Tigers are averaging 1,817
fans per contest at Ritter Arena, or 86.5 percent of capacity.
Air Force is drawing an average of 1,665 to the Cadet
Ice Arena, or 66.5 percent capacity. Sacred Heart averages
just 442 fans to off-campus Milford Ice Pavilion, but
that is 61.6 percent capacity.
• Looking ahead – Air Force
plays a pair at Canisius. The teams played to a pair of
3-3 ties on Dec. 7-8. Last season, each team split at
home. ... Army heads to Waltham, Mass., for a pair with
Bentley. The teams split a November series at West Point,
Bentley answering a 7-2 loss with a 3-2 win. Army took
three of four last year, winning once at the Ryan Arena.
... American International plays at Connecticut on Friday
and hosts the Huskies on Saturday. Each team won on home
ice in the first semester. ... Sacred Heart plays at Holy
Cross on Friday and hosts the Crusaders on Saturday. The
teams met last month with each team prevailing at home.
• Next week is finals – The
regular-season closes next weekend. There are home-and-home
series pitting Connecticut and Holy Cross, Mercyhurst
and Canisius and Army and Sacred Heart. Also, Bentley
travels to RIT and American International flies to Air
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Ken McMillan can be reached