Robert Morris is on one of those offensive
streaks over the last four games where the forwards make
sure they put their equipment on the same way every time
and tap the goalie pads in the same order every game.
The Colonials have scored 27 goals over their
last four games—about one goal for every nine minutes
Hockey America Notebook
Cruthers has 10 points in his last four games, leading
a suddenly potent Robert Morris offense.
After tying a team record by putting up seven
goals at Alabama-Huntsville before the holiday break, the
Colonials then shattered the mark with a ten-spot at American
International last weekend.
Senior Ryan Cruthers is now tied for seventh
in the nation in scoring and goals with five goals and five
assists over the four-game span while junior Chris Margott
tallied one goal and seven assists to take over third in
the country in helpers.
Sean Berkstresser, Nathan Longpre, and defenseman
Denny Urban combined for 13 assists as well.
"If you look back not too far, we couldn't
buy a goal and now…" said Robert Morris head
coach Derek Schooley. "This is not characteristic of
Colonial hockey, but our top guys are performing right down
In spite of their recent run, the coming weekend
at Niagara could go a long way in clearing the clouds of
the CHA regular season race.
It's early, but a sweep by either team will
determine which will have a shot at catching first place
Bemidji State, who is five points ahead of both at the start
of the weekend.
The scenario, of course, depends on the results
of the Bemidji State at Alabama-Huntsville series also taking
place this weekend, but a Niagara sweep keeps them within
shouting distance of the Beavers with two games-in-hand.
A Colonials sweep puts them in the same spot, but with four
games-in-hand and a chance at their first regular season
title in just their fourth season of existence.
"We have a 3-2 split in the conference
and the schedule favors Bemidji with six games against each
of the lower two teams," said Schooley. "You always
hope for a split on the road and win your home games. This
weekend will be determined by whose defense and goaltending
A split for Niagara likely means an end to
its two-year hold on the regular season title no matter
what Bemidji State does. For RMU, a split still puts them
in control of their destiny with the extra four games.
It sounds like a series the Beavers' brain
trust will be checking online between periods at the Von
Braun Center. At least on Friday; Saturday they face the
Chargers at 5 p.m. ET and should be finished somewhere during
the first period in Niagara Falls.
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CHA
Defense Boosts Bemidji State: It seems Bemidji
State is in first place five points in front of the pack
in relative obscurity. Maybe that's because most people
don't talk much about or notice defense.
They are just now on the radar among teams
receiving votes in the national polls.
The Beavers feature the nation's 11th best
goaltender in goals-against average in senior Matt Climie
and got a shutout from freshman goaltender Matt Dalton to
earn a split with Minnestoa-Duluth over the weekend. It
marked the fifth shutout of the season for the team, equaling
the total from the 2004-05 season when they pitched two
shutouts in the playoffs on their way to their last NCAA
appearance. For Dalton it marked his first shutout and first
The primary blueline group of Cody Bostock,
Riley Weselowski, Graham MacManamin, John Vadnais, Chris
Peluso, and Dave Deterding, with Kyle Hardwick stepping
in for Vadnais the last two games, have allowed more than
three goals in a game just once all season on home ice.
They also helped the team block 48 shots over two games
last weekend in the home-and-home series.
In fact, over a 10-game span of conference
games,with only four on home ice, the Beavers have allowed
just 16 goals total.
Niagara Seeks Right Kind of Shutouts:
Niagara suffered its worst shutout defeat since a 6-0 loss
at Robert Morris in January 2005 when they dropped the opener
at Cornell 6-0 last Friday. The shutout also marked the
first time since 2001-02 the Purps have been blanked twice
in one season (also at Bemidji in November).
After being one of just eight teams in the
nation with ten wins at the break, all of a sudden Niagara
is on a three-game losing streak with the key series against
Robert Morris on the immediate horizon.
"That was not our best game and not a
Niagara hockey game," said head coach Dave Burkholder
of the Friday shutout. "We had a lot of guys play OK
and that's not good enough, especially against a team with
all the history and Cornell has and add that we're playing
in their home rink."
Niagara and Robert Morris split their meetings
in Pennsylvania in November with, ironically, Niagara winning
their game via shutout. Senior captain Matt Caruana, who
scored 8 goals over the first 13 games this season, has
been held goalless for the last five games. He scored twice
in the earlier Purple Eagles win over the Colonials.
Great Weekend Getaway
Morris at Niagara
(Fri.-Sat.) Can the Purple Eagles stop the offensive
firepower of Robert Morris, which has averaged better
than six goals per game over the last four?
While You're There: Blues/Rock artist
Warren Skye & Friends is at the Seneca-Niagara
Casino from 1:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday.
freshman goaltender Matt Dalton is now riding a 97:47
shutout streak dating back to an Oct. 27 appearance
versus St. Cloud State.
penalty-killing unit has allowed four power-play goals
over the last 12 man-advantage opportunities—all
during a three-game losing streak.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• Wayne State captain Mike Forgie returned
to the line-up last weekend after recovering from a broken
foot. He returns still tied for third on the team in scoring
despite missing six games.
• Wayne State is 0-6 all-time versus
Northern Michigan heading into this weekend's series in
• Alabama-Huntsville hosts Bemidji State
for a pair with 23 days off behind them. Junior Matt Sweazey
scored half of his season total four goals the last time
the two teams met in early November.
• Bemidji State freshman Emil Billberg
recorded his first collegiate assist and goal in consecutive
games last weekend.
• Niagara defenseman Tyler Gotto, who
was second in the conference in defensive scoring, sat out
the second game last weekend with a back injury.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Warren Kozireski can be
reached at email@example.com.