October 16, 2003
Grateful for another chance

By James Jahnke

 Atlantic Hockey/CHA Notebook

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"My time coming, any day, don't worry 'bout me, no. Been so long I felt this way, ain't in no hurry, no."

Those are the words Chad Fifield's favorite band, The Grateful Dead, sing at the beginning of the song "Estimated Prophet." Up until a week ago, they also applied to Fifield's hockey career at Army.

The Eden Prairie, Minn., native played mostly for Army's JV squad as a freshman in 2001-02, only dressing for seven games of varsity duty. He did, however, play one varsity game at night after posting a hat trick in a JV contest during the afternoon, becoming "the only known cadet" to play at both levels in the same day, according to the Army athletic Web site.

But Fifield, a physical, defensive-minded forward, was cut from the Black Knights prior to last season because of an acknowledged attitude

"I was kind of d--king around in practice and didn't always have my head
on straight," Fifield said. "And Coach decided he didn't need that on the

Now a junior, Fifield has changed his outlook and he's back on the ice, making the most of his second chance in West Point. He notched two goals and three assists in Army's 9-2 exhibition romp over Ryerson last weekend. For a change, he's also on coach Rob Riley's good side.

"It feels awesome, it really does," said Fifield, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder. "The year off really did a lot for me."

Not that it was his choice. Riley simply said he had "personal differences" with Fifield, but the player admitted that he was the one to blame for the rift that led to his ouster from the team.

"The attitudes here (at Army) aren't always the best, just because of all the stuff we go through," Fifield said. "It takes a lot out of you. I wasn't as focused as I needed to be. Plus, I broke my foot right before the season, so I had a lot of things working against me."

Fifield, 21, hardly skated at all during his year in hockey purgatory – aside from a few drop-in games when he went home for Christmas. He stepped up his training regimen last spring after Riley invited him to rejoin the team, and so far this season, Fifield has worked well with linemates Seth Beamer and Chris Migliaro.

"They've been, by far, our most aggressive line," Riley said. "They're our defensive line, our momentum-changing line. We haven't had that here in a while. They've really clicked together so far, so we'll just keep our fingers crossed that it continues."

Fifield said his line's chemistry – plus a steady diet of ice time – eased his transition back onto the ice.

"We were put together a week before Ryerson, and we were just flowing right off the bat," Fifield said. "I got a few chances and my confidence just shot up right away. That makes it so much easier. I don't see any reason why our line can't put up multiple points a game this year.

"I'm feeling good, and I've got two good years left here. Thinking about
that really gets me fired up."


Striking oil
– Undoubtedly, Findlay had the most impressive weekend of any CHA team, upsetting Michigan State in the first round of the Ice Breaker Tournament before falling to Boston College in the championship game in East Lansing.

New Oilers coach Pat Ford earned his first career win by topping the
Spartans. Forward Brian Sherry, a native of Lansing suburb Holt, notched a goal in each contest and added a helper in the victory. Captain Kris Wiebe tallied Friday's game-winner with a quick shot off a faceoff in the Spartans' zone. Goaltender Jon Horrell made 27 saves for the win.

At the final horn, the Oilers piled onto the ice for a spirited celebration. But Ford was all business.

"Is it a huge win? Yeah it is," Ford said. "But I told the guys, this is a tournament. We can enjoy it for 10 minutes and then we've got another game to play against a hell of a team. As excited as I'd like to be and they'd like to be, we have another game.

"It was pretty hard for (MSU) to sit over there and not be complacent coming into this game. They weren't playing Michigan. We just hung around long enough and, all of a sudden, it's a funny game."

Said Sherry: "I'm very excited right now. I grew up playing (at Munn Ice Arena) as a little kid, and this is my first college game here. To play in front of my family and friends and come out with a big win is great. We've been working hard all summer, but it's paid off. The 6 a.m. workouts early in the year, this is what you do it for. I think the guys have realized that."

Hall of a game to miss – Wins were hard to come by at Air Force last season, so you can bet Falcon head coach Frank Serratore was at least a little upset he missed the Academy's 4-2 victory over Bentley in the first round of the Q-Cup on Friday. But Serratore had a good reason to play hooky – he had a hall of fame induction to attend.

The Coleraine, Minn., native is one of four new members of the Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame after ceremonies held late last week. Serratore piloted the River City Lancers of the USHL for just one season – 1989-90 – but he went 36-12-0 and won both the Anderson and Clark cups during his tenure. He is largely credited with turning the Omaha franchise into a junior hockey powerhouse. Former Omaha Knights players Bill Fairbairn, Max McNab and Terry Sawchuk were also inducted Friday.

Serratore returned to the Falcons' bench Saturday for the Q-Cup title game – a 4-3 overtime loss to Quinnipiac. The Falcons play in their second-straight tournament this weekend at the Nye Frontier Classic in Anchorage.

Big weekend for AH – Several teams for the newly formed Atlantic Hockey league get to take shots at major-conference foes this weekend. Quinnipiac hits the road for a pair at Michigan, Lake Superior State visits Canisius for two, UConn plays a single game at Rensselaer, and either Sacred Heart or Holy Cross will battle host Maine in the Black Bear Classic.


Great Weekend Getaways
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Clarkson at Bemidji State: The Beavers host ECAC foe Clarkson for a pair Friday and Saturday at
John S. Glas Fieldhouse. It's the back end of a travel deal that saw the teams split a series in Potsdam last November. Not only will Friday be the Golden Knights' first game of the season – and first under new coach George Roll – but the series is also their only road test before a nine-game homestand. Will they overlook the hosts? They'd better not. Bemidji State has the most experienced team in the CHA and they'll be
honoring their unbeaten, untied 1983-84 Division II national
championship squad during Saturday's game.

Lake Superior at Canisius: A pair of teams looking to rediscover the winning ways of yesteryear will
meet at the Buffalo State Sports Arena on Friday and Saturday. Canisius took one point from a series against Holy Cross last weekend. This will be the season-opener for Frank Anzalone's Lakers. Anzalone is an alumnus of the nearby University of Buffalo.

While you're there: Rekindle your Frozen Four memories of Chippewa Street. You do remember the Frozen Four, right?

• No, Jess Bechard didn't defect to a communist country. But Findlay's hockey sports information director was indeed in Cuba while his Oilers were wreaking havoc at the Ice Breaker. Bechard, a Brantford, Ont., native is an infielder on the Canadian national baseball team competing in the World Cup in Havana from Oct. 12-26. He went 2-for-2 with an RBI against Russia in his first game of the tournament. Canada is in Group A with Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Italy, Korea, Nicaragua and Russia.

• Sacred Heart didn't do much to help out its goaltenders last weekend. Junior Kevin LaPointe made 40 saves Friday, but lost 4-2 to Merrimack. The next night, heralded freshman Jason Smith stopped 54 shots in his collegiate debut, but fell 7-2 to Providence. In all, the Pioneers were outshot 105-45 for the weekend.

• Niagara is now 1-7-0 on opening nights after dropping a 4-2 decision to Union on Saturday. "I shouldn't even have been allowed in the building today," Purple Eagles coach Dave Burkholder joked.

• Wayne State will raise its CHA Tournament championship banner before its game against Findlay on Thursday at Compuware Arena. Though both teams are in the CHA, the contest won't count in the league standings. The schools play four league games later in the season (and another non-conference game Oct. 24). Similarly, Army's tilt with American International on Saturday is not an Atlantic Hockey matchup.

• Wayne State head coach Bill Wilkinson twice tied his alma mater, St. Lawrence, last weekend.

• Although it's the beast of Atlantic Hockey, Mercyhurst has lost 10 consecutive nonconference games. The Lakers' next chance to stop the streak will be Oct. 24 at Ohio State.

• By defeating Air Force in the Q-Cup championship game Saturday, Quinnipiac earned its fourth-straight Q-Cup title. The Bobcats have claimed six of eight Q-Cups overall.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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