January 17, 2008
Who's The Fairest Of Them All?

By Warren Kozireski

Apparently Robert Morris and Niagara both looked in the mirror this weekend, and saw each other.

Tied for second place in College Hockey America, the Purple Eagles took it to the Colonials 7-2 in game one, but Robert Morris returned the 7-2 favor one night later at Dwyer Arena.

College Hockey America Notebook

Niagara forward Matt Caruana scored two goals in the Purple Eagles' 7-2 win over Robert Morris last Friday.

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The mirror image goes a step further. Friday, the Colonials were leading 2-1 before Niagara scored six unanswered goals. Saturday it was the home team holding a 2-1 advantage before RMU netted six in a row.

“We weren’t happy with how we played last night, but I was very proud with how our guys responded,” said Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley following Saturday's victory. “We had some key points we wanted to stress and I think we did a good job of it. Last night was not indicative of us and I’m sure Niagara is saying the same thing about tonight.”

The split leaves the two teams tied for second place, seven points behind league-leading Bemidji State, but Robert Morris has two games in hand on Niagara and four on the first-place Beavers, who easily swept Alabama-Huntsville and still control their own destiny.

Niagara forwards Matt Caruana and Ted Cook both netted two goals and defenseman Tyler Gotto had a goal and two assists to lead the attack Friday.

For Robert Morris on Saturday, Chris Margott tied the game in the second period with his second goal of the game. Thirty seconds later, Sean Berkstresser put the Colonials ahead for good. Third-liners Tom Biondich and J.C. Velasquez helped ice the game with third-period goals.

Both teams are having goaltender issues of late. Robert Morris yanked starter Christian Boucher in favor of backup Jim Patterson late in the second period of Friday's rout. The Purple Eagles used two netminders in each game of the series. In five games since Jan. 1, Niagara has used two goaltenders in a game four times. The Purps are 1-4 over the stretch.


DEE-FENSE! (clap clap): Bemidji State continued its torrid defensive pace by limiting Alabama-Huntsville to just one goal in two games in its sweep of the host Chargers, extending the lead in CHA to seven points.

Goaltender Matt Climie, the INCH National Player of the Week, made 54 saves over the two games, one of which was his fourth shutout of the season. The senior from Leduc, Alberta is tied for the NCAA lead in that category. Climie, who has blanked the Chargers three times this season, also extended his school record to 11 career shutouts and also earned wins nos. 39 and 40 of his career, which also broke the school's Division I-era record for victories held previously by Grady Hunt (2000-2004).

The Beavers held the Chargers' power play in check at 0-11 on the weekend. The wins marked the third time this season that BSU held an opponent to a lone goal over a two-game series.

This weekend, it’s off to Colorado to face Colorado College and the University of Denver. The Beavers upset the then-no. 8 Tigers in Colorado Springs as the teams split a series last season.

Wayne State went 3-for-14 on the power play — two of the extra-man markers coming in Saturday's 3-2 overtime win — in its series sweep of Northern Michigan. The wins were the Warriors' first against the Wildcats, who entered the weekend with an 8-0 edge in the series between the two teams.

Sophomore defenseman Jeff Caister had a four-point weekend, while senior forwards Mike Forgie and Tylor Michel each scored three points. The biggest surprise was freshman goaltender Mike Devoney. In his first two collegiate starts, the Buffalo Grove, Ill. native picked up two victories, stopping 54 of the 57 shots he faced.

The Warriors' overtime win Saturday came exactly one year after their last extra-session victory, a 2-1 triumph over another CCHA member, Ferris State.

Wayne State hosts Niagara for two games this weekend. Friday’s tilt will be played at the Taylor SportsPlex, where the Warriors are 2-1 all-time. Saturday 's game takes place at the Palace at Auburn Hills, with faceoff set for 3:30 p.m. Wayne State is currently riding a three-game home unbeaten streak against the Purps dating back to the 2005-06 season, but the Warriors have dropped six of the last eight meetings between the two teams overall.

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Niagara at Wayne State (Fri.-Sat.)

The Warriors are coming off a road sweep at Northern Michigan, while the Purps need a sweep to stay within hailing distance of Bemidji State. Friday's game is at the Taylor SportsPlex. Saturday's match starts at 3:30 p.m. at the Palace at Auburn Hills, the opener of a college hockey doubleheader. Michigan and Notre Dame meet in the nightcap.

While you’re there: Stick around for the Wolverines and the Irish, or if you want to see how the other half lives, drive to the western suburb of Plymouth, where the Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers host the London Knights in an OHL match-up at Compuware Center Saturday night at 7pm.

Stick Salute

Wayne State’s Mike Forgie set a school record by scoring just 11 seconds into the Warriors' win over Northern Michigan Friday.

Bench Minor

So Robert Morris forwards J.C. Velasquez and Brandon Gay were playing in just their fifth and fouth games of the season, respectively. It’s January; there's no excuse for them not having names on the backs of their jerseys.


• Niagara sophomore forward Egor Mironov scored his sixth goal of the season Saturday against Robert Morris, but his first since Nov. 17. It was the first time this season the Purps have lost a game when he has tallied after going 5-0.

• Niagara sophomore defenseman Tyler Gotto will miss the first game at Wayne State this weekend due to a game disqualification for fighting in the final minutes of the Saturday loss to RMU.

• Wayne State senior forward Stavros Paskaris had a goals and two assists in his team's 3-2 overtime win at Northern Michigan Saturday, his first three-point game since 2005.

• Bemidji State sophomore forward Tyler Lehrke snapped a 31-game goal-less drought with a tally at Alabama-Huntsville Friday.

• Alabama-Huntsville hosts Yale for two games this weekend. The Chargers are 4-4-1 all-time against Ivy schools.

• Wayne State has scored the first goal of the game three times this season with a 3-0 record in those contests. They are 2-15-2 in games in which the other team scores first.

• In conference games, Robert Morris has allowed 11 goals in the second period and a total of 11 against in the first and third periods combined.

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