Road trips to Robert Morris and Bemidji State
on back-to-back weekends and a home pair with the Beavers
added up to six of eight conference games against the upper
That would logically bring you to the conclusion
that the second half schedule would be much easier.
The Purple Eagles may have been thinking the
same thing last weekend when they needed a pair of comeback
efforts to beat tied-for-last-place, 15 freshmen on the
roster Wayne State.
Armando Scarloto, a defenseman who has played
on the fourth line much of the season but was listed at
defense all weekend, scored the game-winning goal with less
than three minutes remaining as Niagara came back from a
2-1 second period deficit to win.
"That goal was pretty special,"
said Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder. "One-on-one
between the legs; the bench was as excited as I've seen
them this season."
The next night the Purple Eagles, again down
but this time 4-1 in the second, had the captains take over
with two goals from Vince Rocco and a goal and three assists
by Matt Caruana to take the lead.
"We had a coaches and captains meeting
and we basically told them (Caruana and Rocco) that the
locker room was theirs," said Burkholder. "The
response has been amazing. The night Rocco had Saturday
was maybe the best game any Niagara player has ever had."
"They were two playoff games with both
teams putting defense first. There wasn't any time and space,
but we persevered and came from behind.
"We may look back and see Saturday as
the defining moment of our season. Thankfully our best period
of hockey of the weekend was the second period Saturday."
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CHA
Robert Morris Needs to Make Move:
It will be the first two of four meetings over the next
month, but the pressure is on Robert Morris this weekend
at Bemidji State.
Yes, they have four games-in-hand on the first
place Beavers. But two losses will put them 11 points behind.
A split still keeps their destiny in their own hands at
seven points back, but still a difficult road even for a
After going 0-4 over their first two seasons,
Robert Morris went 4-1 against Bemidji last season including
the last three including a semi-final 7-5 CHA playoff victory
in Des Moines. But the two teams split in Minnesota last
season with the RMU win by one goal and the Beavers picking
up a (does this sound familiar) shutout. Travis Winter scored
twice and Sean Berkstresser had a three-point effort in
the playoff win.
"Last year was last year," said
Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley. "We're a different
team with a nice mix of veterans and younger kids and they
are a different team as well."
The Colonials are 1-2 this season in first
games after a week or more off (they were off last week)
while Bemidji State is 5-1 this season in conference series
openers and 3-1-2 in game twos.
"Just like every team, we need production
from our big guns—your best players need to be your
best players," said Schooley.
One of those, senior captain Joel Gasper,
will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken collarbone suffered
two weeks ago at Niagara.
On the Bemidji side, they have allowed just
17 goals in 12 conference games with just five goals permitted
in their last six CHA tilts — four on the road.
Goaltender Matt Climie remains fifth in the
nation in goals-against average (1.78), tied for eighth
in save percentage (.927) and tied for first with four shutouts.
Don't expect any surprises in the Beavers
crease this coming weekend. Climie has started and finished
the last 11 consecutive conference games Bemidji has played
with an 8-1-2 record—that's all but the first one
way back on Nov. 2 in Niagara.
Bemidji State Could See More of the
WCHA: According to the Bemidji Pioneer,
"the WCHA has promised to compete more often in Bemidji.
But, there might be a catch. A $67 million catch. Bemidji
State University and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association
announced on Friday (January 18) that they have agreed to
a future scheduling agreement – but it refers to a
schedule to be competed at the proposed events center."
On the table reportedly was the WCHA considering
a four-year unbalanced schedule that would ensure Bemidji
State had 12 games vs. WCHA teams each season with half
Charging Into the Win Column:
Alabama-Huntsville picked up just their third victory of
the season and broke a seven game winless streak thanks
to third period goals from Matt Sweazey and Joe Federoff
to defeat Yale 3-2 and earn a weekend split.
It was their first win at the Von Braun Center
(home) since March 2, 2007 and they did it wearing their
third jersey. Alabama-Huntsville freshman Chris Fairbanks
netted the first goal and first point of his collegiate
career during the weekend.
Great Weekend Getaway
Morris at Bemidji State
(Fri.-Sat.) The Colonials still have four games in hand,
but a Beavers sweep would put them 11 points ahead
of RMU —an insurmountable lead— and seven
up on second place Niagara.
While You're There: If you're not
up for ice fishing, catch the Bemidji High School
Lumberjacks boys basketball team at home against Little
Falls on Saturday afternoon.
For the second
week in a row, but this time for his off-ice efforts.
Wayne State's Mike Forgie is a nominee for the Hockey
State senior Tyler Michel for his five minute head-butting
major and game misconduct Saturday. Coach didn't mean
to use it that way.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• Even with a combined eight power play
chances, all five goals in Niagara's come from behind 3-2
win at Wayne State Friday were at even strength. They made
up for it the next night collaborating on four extra man
• According to Chris Heisenberg's college
hockey recruit webpage, Wayne State has three of its players
committed to other programs next season. Defenseman Matt
Krug and Brock Meadows are transferring to Robert Morris
and Eric Roman has verbally committed to transfer to Division
III Adrian College.
• Robert Morris scored 35 goals total
in 20 conference games and 62 total in 33 games during their
first season (2004-05). This season, they already have 31
goals in just 8 conference games and 73 goals total in 20
• Niagara defenseman Jim Burchin is
out for at least two weeks with a broken ankle.
• Niagara has now had an in-game goaltender
change in five of its last seven games.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Warren Kozireski can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.