2007-08 College Hockey America Mid-Season Report
mentioned in the season preview, the early play of
Bemidji State should not be a surprise
to anyone who has even mildly followed the conference.
Over the past two years, the Beavers finished a combined
three points behind first-place Niagara, and won the
league the year before that.
said, the pre-season coaches poll had them slotted
third, and that has obviously proved a bit of a motivator
for the green and white. They have taken at least
two points from every conference weekend with half
of their six conference wins coming via shutout.
Climie has stood among the leading goaltenders in
the nation in goals against and save percentage while
freshman Matt Read, with sophomore Joey Moggach and
upperclassmen Travis Winter, Tyler Scofield, Matt
Pope and Blaine Jarvis has given the Beavers two bona
fide scoring lines. The key for Bemidji State will
be keeping Scofield healthy. He has missed six games
already plus checking forward Brandon Marino has missed
odd note for a first-place team — BSU isjust
1-6 in one-goal games this season, but only one of
those was against a conference opponent.
Bemidji State enjoy sitting on the sidelines and watching
during the final weekend of the regular season? If
either Niagara or Robert Morris is in a position to
catch and/or pass them for first place over the last
two games, you can bet that the Beavers would rather
be able to do something about it on the ice, but there
is that scheduling matter of having five teams.
Bemidji State sophomore defenseman Graham
McManamin registered just one point in 10
games as a freshman, and didn’t even see the
ice for the first four games this season. After going
minus-4 over his first eight games, the Anchorage,
Alaska native has reversed direction at plus-6 over
his last six games heading into the break, a stretch
in which he notched four of his six assists on the
year. Being paired with rock-solid senior Riley Weselowski
hasn’t hurt his cause.
BEST NEW FACE
With Wayne State and Alabama-Huntsville
each carrying more than one dozen freshmen, there
are plenty of new faces around the league. But one
stands out. Bemidji State forward Matt Read
leads his team in scoring and assists and plays in
every situation. The former Des Moines Buccaneer saves
his offensive contributions for key games, with all
but one goal and all but five points tallied in conference
tilts a big reason the Beavers have opened up a five-point
lead in the league race. Robert Morris’s Nathan
Longpre is a close second in this category.
WHAT HAPPENED TO…
|Robert Morris forward Jason
Towsley scored the game-winning goal in the Colonials'
come-from-behind win against Boston University
in the first round of this year's Nye Frontier
Classic in Anchorage.
... Niagara’s dynamic duo of Ted
Cook and Les Reaney? After combining for
92 points as sophomores, the juniors have just 22
points at the midway point of this season. We say
"just” because of the standard the two
have set in their first two seasons; Cook, for example,
led the country in power-play goals in 2006-07.
The Niagara power play is getting contributions
from elsewhere, however. With seniors Sean Bentivoglio
and Pat Oliveto running the show, the Purple Eagles'
man advantage scored at a 20 percent clip last season.
Without the two departed seniors this season, Niagara
is at 19.5 percent (16 goals on 82 chances) through
In their first game of the season, Robert
Morris traveled to Anchorage, Alaska to participate
in the Nye Frontier Classic and a first-round draw
against Boston University. The Colonials
overcame a 2-0 deficit on goals from Sean Berkstresser,
Scott Kobialko, and Jason Towsley over the final 13
minutes of the third period to win, 3-2. RMU beat
Wayne State in the second round to win the tournament
TOUGHEST ROAD OUT
Niagara has played
six of its first eight conference games against the
league's top two teams, and four of those six games
were on the road. With that in mind, a 4-3-1 record
and third place doesn’t seem quite so bad.
Niagara has 12 conference games remaining;
eight are against teams at the bottom of the standings.
But if the Purps are going to three-peat as regular
season champs, they will need help.
TOUGHEST ROAD IN
Robert Morris plays
just three games the rest of the way that are outside
of conference. Among their 14 league games are four
at Niagara and two more at Bemidji State. The Colonials
are in the midst of a stretch of eight consecutive
road games. That run ends in mid-January as RMU hits
the highway for series at Bemidji State and at Niagara.
Thankfully for Robert Morris, the crucial conference
series are separated by a bye weekend.
It's probably the Robert Morris
at Niagara series Jan. 11-12. The two meet
again in New York on the next-to-last weekend of the
regular season, but the January series will go a long
way in determining the pecking order among the big
three. Will the Colonials and Purps continue to beat
up on each other (and not gain any ground on first-place
Bemidji State), or will one team emerge from the pack
with a sweep?
BIGGEST QUESTION ANSWERED
Prior to the start of the season, the
buzz around Moon Township, Pa. and other CHA burgs
revolved around whether Robert Morris senior
netminder Christian Boucher could regain his freshman
form, when he posted a 2.86 goals against
averange and a .916 save percentage. After two declining
seasons —a 3.21 GAA and a .903 save pct. as
a sophomore, a 3.58 GAA and .899 save pct. as a junior
— the answer is a resounding "yes."
Through 12 games, the Orleans, Ontario
native has a 2.86 goals against average and a .905
save percentage. Boucher's resurgence is a big reason
the Colonials are off to a 4-1-1 start in league play
and won the first tournament (the aforementioned Nye
Frontier Classic) in the program’s history.
BIGGEST QUESTIONS REMAINING
What does the future hold for
the College Hockey America? Or is there a
future? Three months have now passed since Wayne State
announced the dissolution of their men’s hockey
program, jeopardizing the conference's existence (not
that it was on terra firma previously) and we still
have no news as to where the conference is headed.
The coaches may deny it, but the uncertainty
has to have affected recruiting efforts for the four
remaining teams, not to mention 2008-09 scheduling
and the impending rink deal in Bemidji. Most fans
— not to mention the teams (and the media) —
are at the point where they just want to know, regardless
of the answer.
First Half All-CHA Hockey Team
sixth in the nation in goals against average and
second in shutouts; the Beavers are 1-5 when he
doesn’t play, 7-3-2 when he does.
his team in scoring — as a sophomore, no
less. Power play is centered around his shot from
the left point. Has nearly matched last season’s
point total already.
of his team-high 11 assists have come in league
play. His four-point weekend heading into the
break after sitting out for a game could be good
karma for both Gotto and the Purps.
slowed a bit of late, but the senior carried the
Niagara offense for much of the first half. Shows
great anticipation on the penalty kill and in
the faceoff circle.
overall; 11 points in just six conference games.
Has been a solid 5-on-5 player, though half of
his goals have come on the power play.
|Three of his five
goals this season have been game-winners. This
junior seems to know where rebounds are heading,
and he finds his way on the score sheet almost