November 15, 2007
At the Peak in Pittsburgh

By Warren Kozireski

As much as the Robert Morris brain-trust would like to receive offensive contributions from more than a few players, it was again senior Ryan Cruthers who came through for the Colonials as they earned a split in their home series with Niagara and first place in the conference.

College Hockey America Notebook

Ryan Cruthers' 10 points for Robert Morris include seven in four games of conference play.

National TV Schedule

The leading scorer for RMU last season, the Long Island-born Cruthers scored the Colonials first short-handed goal of the season midway through the second period to stake his team to a 2-0 lead and later iced the game with an empty-net goal. He earlier earned the primary assist on the first goal by Sean Berkstresser for the three-point effort.

That combined with Niagara going an anemic 1-for-11 on their own man advantage put RMU one point ahead of Bemidji in what is shaping up to be a tight three-way race.

This marks the latest point in a season that the Colonials have had sole possession of the top spot in the four-year history of the program.

“It was a great hockey weekend with good goaltending both ways,” said RMU head coach Derek Schooley. “But our better players stepped up (Saturday) and we got production from some other guys. Both teams had their big guys come through and I can’t say it enough — it was probably one of the best hockey weekends at the Island Sports Center.”

Even though it was early November, the importance of the series to both teams was evident as they turned to their number one goaltenders in both games.

Juliano Pagliero again had a strong first period with 19 saves for Niagara en route to his second shutout of the season and third of his career Friday. Christian Boucher followed with nine third-period saves Saturday for the Colonials to help salvage the split.

“In general we need to get better on the road,” said Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder. “Our record at home speaks for itself, but if we don’t get better on the road the season will not end like we want it to. We were unbelievable (Friday) as a group of five backchecking and getting back to the top of our crease and defending. Those are the little things that will win games.”

Niagara junior Ted Cook broke a five-game goalless streak with a tally in each game, giving him three for the season.

“It felt like I took a 250-pound weight off my chest and if I could have jumped over the boards I was so excited," he said. "It wasn’t like a slump, it was more that I wasn’t working hard enough, so I finally got an effort in that was acceptable for me and my team.”

Niagara puts their best-in-the-nation 20-game home unbeaten streak on the line this weekend when they face Sacred Heart for the first time ever. Robert Morris plays Ohio State this weekend at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh — the home of the Penguins.

“It’s going to be very exciting for our program," said Schooley. "We had close to 5,000 people last year against Notre Dame and we’re expecting the same or more with Ohio State. It’s a chance to showcase our program and show Pittsburgh what Robert Morris hockey is all about.”


Streak snapped, specially: Special teams seemed to be the theme as Wayne State used two power-play goals to break an eight-game winless skid with a 2-1 win over Lake Superior State and earn a series split in their series.

Freshman goaltender Kyle Funkenhauser registered his first collegiate victory in his fifth start with Jon Grabarek and Jared Katz scoring for the Warriors.

Streak snapped, specially, Part II: Alabama-Huntsville scored two power-play goals and added a short-handed effort to tie Bemidji State and salvage a weekend point. The tie broke a six-game losing streak that saw the Chargers outscored 25-5.

Beavers goaltender Matt Climie made 36 saves in the 2-0 Friday shutout — the ninth in his career, which tied him for the school record. After Travis Winter broke a 0-0 tie in the second period, Matt Francis scored his first collegiate goal in the third after playing 45 games with St. Cloud State and sitting out last season following his transfer.

After a weekend off, UAH will participate in the annual Rensselaer Holiday Hockey Tournament Thanksgiving weekend. The Chargers will be trying to make it a CHA repeat in the tourney after Niagara took the 2006 crown. They face Notre Dame in the first round, who the Chargers took to double overtime in the NCAA Midwest Regional in Grand Rapids last March.

Great Weekend Getaway
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Bemidji State at Wayne State (Fri.-Sat.)

The Warriors, who finally picked up their first win of the season last weekend, were 1-0-1 on home ice against the Beavers in their last meeting at the Fairgrounds.

While You’re There: Catch the lions, tigers and bears (oh, my) with the circus (Ringling Bros.) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Palace of Auburn Hills before the Beavers battle the Warriors.

Stick Salute

Niagara senior Matt Caruana for became just the ninth Purple Eagle all-time to reach the 100-point mark with a two-goal effort Friday.

Bench Minor

Niagara’s power play was just 1-for-11 with only 10 shots on net in a 4-2 loss to RMU.


• Niagara defenseman and assistant captain Travis Anderson suffered a separated shoulder in the third period Saturday. It is not known how much time he will miss.

• One-third of Alabama-Huntsville's scoring this season has come on special teams (four of 12 goals).

• Niagara played two defensemen on their fourth line over the weekend and Jim Burichin scored his first collegiate goal Friday when fed by fellow defenseman Armando Scarloto.

• The three points earned by Wayne State against Bemidji State last season is half their entire total (six points) in the last 18 meetings.

• Wayne State is 1-6 all-time in home league openers with four of the losses coming against Bemidji.

• Over the last four games, Robert Morris’ power play is clicking at almost 32% while the penalty kill is at over 93%.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report. Warren Kozireski can be reached at