comb the entire country and not find a team happier than Air Force
to have a 2-2 record.
nearly a week since the Falcons beat Miami 2-0 in the consolation
game of the Nye Frontier Classic, but they're still riding the
tidal wave of positive feelings generated by the win. It was the
Academy's first win over one of the Big Four conferences since
beating Yale in 1999. It was their first against a CCHA squad
since victimizing Alaska-Fairbanks in 1995. It was senior goaltender
Mike Polidor's first career shutout.
And ... "It
was the best win I've ever had at the Air Force," senior
captain Shane Saum affirmed. "What makes it even better is
that we weren't supposed to do good at all this year."
the truth? Few, if any, pundits expected the Falcons to escape
the basement of College Hockey America. Even coach Frank Serratore
had major reservations.
thought this was going to be a rebuilding year," Serratore
said. "We lost 14 games by one goal last year – when
we had a much better team. So going into this year we were like,
'Oh, wow.' In some ways, I was regretting this year. I thought
there would be games where, frankly, we wouldn't have a chance."
But that outlook
has changed just two weeks into the season. Aside from Miami,
the Falcons have also beaten Bentley and they were one goal shy
of topping Alaska-Anchorage and Quinnipiac (in overtime).
three reasons for the turnaround, Serratore says. One is the leadership
of the senior class, particularly Saum, Polidor and Spanky Leonard.
Saum, INCH's 2003-04 CHA Unsung Player, already has four goals
and two assists – well ahead of his 5-10—15 pace of
last season. He has also been instrumental on the Academy's penalty
kill, which has skated off 14 straight power plays.
hometown Seawolves on Friday, the Palmer, Alaska, native posted
a goal and two assists, good enough to earn him his second CHA
Offensive Player of the Week honor in as many weeks. Still, Saum
was more concerned about the 5-4 loss.
wanted to beat UAA, just to put it in their faces," Saum
said. "They never really showed any interest in me. I played
three years of junior hockey, and the Academy started recruiting
me in my third year. I would've taken just about any (scholarship)
offer at that point, but I'm grateful it worked out the way it
did. The Academy's a good fit for me."
second explanation for the turnaround is the emergence of his
freshman class, including forward Andrew Ramsey (2-0—2)
and Billy Devoney (0-2—2).
the removal of some "bad apples" from last year's squad.
can feel the difference in the locker room," said Serratore,
who wouldn't name the ousted players. "This group gets along
so well together and it's the best group we've ever had in the
weight room. I'm pulling for these guys."
know whether the good vibes in Colorado Springs will last, but
he's a lot more confident now than he was a month ago.
know if we'll win another game, but I'm looking forward to every
one now," Serratore said. "Our goal as a program is
to be the most difficult team to play against. We haven't always
been that, but you can ask Quinnipiac, Anchorage or Miami about
us this year."
Saum is aiming
even higher than his coach.
goal is to get to the NCAA Tournament," he said. "At
the beginning of the year, I didn't believe (we could), but everything
seems more achievable now."
AND HEARD IN THE LEAGUES
Time – Canisius coach Brian Cavanaugh is a father.
For the first time. At the ripe age of 50. And he loves it.
and his wife, Joanie, are the proud parents of a happy, healthy
6-month-old daughter named Erin Marilyn Cavanaugh.
a lot of my life to hockey, didn't I?" Cavanaugh said, explaining
his late start on parenthood. "I was fortunate enough to
fall in love and get married at the age of 38 and now I've been
blessed by God with a wonderful daughter.
lights up my life every day."
is in his 24th season behind the Golden Griffins' bench, and has
compiled a 323-286-50 overall record. He's seen the team evolve
from a club squad into a Division III program into a Division
II program into a MAAC member and now into Atlantic Hockey's charter
season. But overseeing the maturation of a college hockey program
pales in comparison to watching his
extremely exciting," Cavanaugh said. "You get a whole
new perspective on what's important in life."
At this time,
Cavanaugh, the youngest of eight kids, and Joanie, the second
youngest of nine, have no plans to try for a sibling (defensive
partner?) for young Erin.
in Springfield – Plenty of teams are still seeking
their first win of the year, but American International is one
of just two schools (Miami's the other) to have four losses already.
The Yellow Jackets' record fell to 0-4 with a loss 6-3 to Union
coach Gary Wright isn't overly worried about when the first victory
not necessarily critical, but it's important" to get in the
W column, Wright said. "You always have a little bit of concern
– are we a little bit more fragile mentally because we haven't
had a lot of winning success over the last couple of years? I
think our kids understand what's against us, and certainly we're
competing hard out there. We've just got to convert it into some
Union, AIC has also lost to Atlantic Hockey counterparts Quinnipiac,
Army and Bentley. Oddly, though, none of those three contests
were technically league games.
Jackets don't get their first home date until Nov. 14.
Over – It's not quite the ACC/Big Ten Challenge,
but there will be two Atlantic Hockey/CHA crossover series this
to Alabama-Huntsville coming off an encouraging tie against Rennselaer.
The Huskies, who have only gotten goals from freshmen this season,
actually led the Engineers 4-1 before collapsing late. Meanwhile,
Huntsville will finally be getting its season underway. The Chargers
won the CHA regular-season crown last year, but coach Doug Ross
must replace nine seniors. Huntsville plays just 30 games this
season, fewest in the CHA. The UConn series accounts for two of
their six scheduled contests before December.
On the other
side of the country, Air Force plays host to AIC this weekend.
The teams were rated 57th and 58th, respectively, out of the 58
Division I programs in INCH's preseason power rankings. So far,
the Yellow Jackets are living up to their end of the bargain,
but Air Force is making us look dumb.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaways
Punch Imlach College Hockey Showcase:
Sure, we sent you to Buffalo last weekend. We just forgot
to tell you to make it a 10-day trip. Both Atlantic Hockey
and the CHA will be on display at the Xerox Punch Imlach
College Hockey Showcase on Friday and Saturday at HSBC Arena.
Oh yeah, and the (depleted) No. 1 team in the country will
be there, too. Co-hosts Canisius and Niagara will take turns
playing top-ranked New Hampshire and UMass Lowell, with
the Golden Griffins getting the Wildcats first. The Purple
Eagles "warm up" with Lowell, which is coming
off a second-place tournament finish in Anchorage. The Hockey
East teams switch opponents Saturday.
you're there: Had enough of Chippewa Street? Sample the
chicken wings at The Anchor Bar, where the gifts from God
were created. Also, if you've never been to the Falls, the
autumn is a nice time to go. Dress warm and don't fall in.
to Niagara for donating all of its gate
receipts from Saturday's exhibition game to charity. The
Purple Eagles raised about $500 for the Skating Association
for the Blind & Handicapped (SABAH) by granting free
admission to the game and encouraging donations at the door.
At a time when every athletic department in the country
is scrounging for more money, Niagara deserves to be commended
for its good deed. The charitable fans were rewarded with
a 1-0 win over Brock, to boot.
going on at Sacred Heart? The Pioneers
were considered an upper-echelon team in Atlantic Hockey
– one that might be poised to challenge Mercyhurst
and Quinnipiac for the league title. But they haven't lived
up to that billing so far this season. Coach Shaun Hannah's
club is 0-3 and has also lost to the Under-18 U.S. National
Development Team. The Pioneers are averaging just two goals
a game, while giving up five. They have this weekend off
to regroup and then head out to Clarkson and Quinnipiac.
State retired Joel Otto's No. 24 prior to its 1-1 tie
with Clarkson on Saturday night. The number retirement –
the first ever at Bemidji – was part of a ceremony honoring
the Beavers' undefeated, untied 1983-84 Division II national championship
team. Otto won the Division II Hobey Baker Award as a senior that
season, leading Bemidji in scoring and finishing with 204 career
points. Otto went on to play 14 seasons for Calgary and Philadelphia
in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989.
• By making the No. 24 off-limits, Bemidji
left sophomore forward Ryan Huddy out in the cold. Huddy, who
had been wearing the number, switched to No. 26.
• Also at Bemidji on Saturday, Beavers
coach Tom Serratore played both of his goaltenders – Dannie
Morgan and Layne
Sedevie – for half the game. But the shared time wasn't
performance-related. Serratore made the switch because it was
Family Weekend at Bemidji. Gotta keep those hockey moms happy.
• Bemidji hosts Minnesota State, Mankato,
for two this weekend. The teams' coaches – Serratore and
Troy Jutting – were roommates for two years while playing
at Mankato. Not only is Mankato the second major-conference team
to travel to Bemidji in two weeks, these are the only two back-to-back
weeks Bemidji is at home all season.
senior goaltender Justin Eddy is the Atlantic Hockey goalie of
the week after making 51 saves – including 21 in the first
period – in a 3-2 loss at Michigan on Saturday. Eddy wasn't
helped by the Bobcats' 13 penalties, resulting in 10 U-M power
plays. The Wolverines converted just once, however. Bobcats junior
goaltender Jamie Holden played pretty well in the series-opener
Friday, stopping 36 Wolverine shots in a 5-4 loss. The downside
was that Michigan's two-goal third-period rally
snapped Quinnipiac's 32-game unbeaten streak (31-0-1) when leading
after two periods.
• In the that's-got-to-hurt category, Holy Cross
was outshot 24-1 in the second period of its loss to Maine in
the Black Bear Classic championship game. Maine won the shot battle
53-19 overall en route to a 7-0 win.
• Wayne State set a school record when
forwards Jason Baclig and Derek MacKay scored within 10 seconds
of each other in the first period of a 3-2 nonconference win over
Findlay on Thursday. It was the first collegiate
goal for freshman Baclig, INCH's 2003-04 pick as the CHA Best
junior co-captain Mark Persick was back in the Golden Griffins'
lineup against Lake Superior State on Friday after missing the
second game of the season-opening Holy Cross series when a shot
struck him in the chest about the same time he was blind-sided
with a check. Persick had played in 73 straight contests for Canisius
before sitting out the Holy Cross matchup. However, his subsequent
consecutive-games streak ended at one, as he was a healthy scratch
against the Lakers on Saturday.
has confirmed it will be part of next year's Nye Frontier Classic,
along with Minnesota, Massachusetts and host Alaska-Anchorage.
they start thinking about knocking off the Gophers, however, the
Golden Griffins must learn how to neutralize
the extra attacker. Lake Superior State scored with its goalie
pulled in the final minute of both games at Canisius last weekend.
Canisius held on for a tie the first time, but the Lakers went
on to win game two in overtime.