Owns the Wildcats?
Niagara Purple Eagles if they're not all that intimidated by big,
bad New Hampshire. A 2-0 series record will breed such confidence.
Niagara pulled off the biggest shocker of the young college hockey
season Saturday, upending the top-ranked Wildcats 5-2 on day two
of the Xerox Punch Imlach College Hockey Showcase at HSBC Arena
The victory validated Niagara's upset of New Hampshire in the
2000 NCAA West Regional. This one might have been even sweeter.
"It was the first time in our short, eight-year history as
a program that we got the chance to test ourselves against the
No. 1 team in the country," Niagara coach Dave Burkholder
said, while reminded of the Purple Eagles' upset of second-ranked
Michigan in 1998. "And beating them is something our kids
will carry with them for a lifetime. We'll hang our hat on that
for awhile. We're still riding high."
Just about everybody in attendance Saturday agreed that Niagara
truly out-played New Hampshire. No flukes. No luck. The better
team simply won.
"It was the first time in about four years that everything
came together in one game for us," Burkholder said. "We
got good goaltending (from sophomore Jeff VanNynatten), every
line of ours made an impact on the game. A lot of little details,
winning loose pucks, getting the puck deep at the end of shifts,
all went right."
Tallari has yet to score a goal for Niagara this season. Still,
the Purple Eagles downed top-ranked New Hampshire last week.
the Purple Eagles were spurred by junior captain Barret Ehgoetz's
hat trick. The reigning CHA Offensive Player of the Week has now
scored 12 goals in his last six games, dating to last season.
His production (4-0—4) has made it easier to look past star
Joe Tallari's inability to find the net thus far (0-3—3).
"Our first two games (this season) were horrible," Ehgoetz
said to the Buffalo News, referring to a 4-2 loss to
Union on Oct. 11 and a 6-1 defeat at the hands of UMass-Lowell
on Friday. "We didn't look good at all. I think we knew we
were a better team than that, and hopefully, we can build off
Niagara's spirits weren't even dampened by the fact that New Hampshire
was playing with much less than a full roster Saturday. Eight
Wildcats were suspended after a baseball-related riot on campus
two weekends ago and captain Patrick Foley missed the game with
a shoulder injury. Burkholder had a tough time feeling sorry for
"Not only are they used to playing in big buildings, but
we've never had an NHL draft pick in the history of our program,"
Burkholder said. "They had eight dressed Saturday. So it's
still a big win for us."
In other Niagara news, Burkholder plans to rotate three goalies
for the foreseeable future. VanNynatten, senior Rob Bonk and freshman
Allen Barton all merit playing time, Burkholder said. Sophomore
forward Jason Williamson (separated shoulder) might make his season
debut this weekend.
AND HEARD IN THE LEAGUES
Lord have Mercyhurst: Lost in the afterglow of
Niagara's win over New Hampshire was another major upset of a
Big Four school by one of the Little Two.
Mercyhurst went into nationally ranked Ohio State and beat the
Buckeyes 3-2 on Friday night. The victory snapped the Lakers'
10-game nonconference losing streak, marked their first ever win
over a ranked team and provided for a happy homecoming for Mercyhurst
assistant Dave Smith.
Smith played for OSU from 1988-92, amassing 140 career points.
Now in his second year in Erie, Smith is Rick Gotkin's recruiting
coordinator. He gave a first-intermission pep talk to the Lakers
on Friday, chiding them for not giving their all during the first
"We weren't playing the right way," Smith said. "We
were very tentative and seemed to be saying, 'Maybe we're not
supposed to beat these guys, so let's not ruffle any feathers.'
We weren't skating. We were waiting for Andy Franck to make 75
saves and keep us in it. But it was the players who turned it
around in the last two periods. Even if we had lost, we would
have been happy with the effort."
Smith thinks the Lakers might have been intimidated by the 17,500-seat
Value City Arena at first.
"When we went into Denver and Minnesota last year, you could
tell our kids were kind of in awe of the buildings," Smith
said. "But the kids want to play the best teams in the country,
so we jump right into the fire in scheduling. More and more, with
each game we play, our jaws are starting to come up off our chests
a little bit."
As for his return to Columbus, Smith had no complaints.
"They tell you when you go to college that it's going to
be the best four years of your life, but you really don't realize
it until you're gone. It's a special place for me. Ohio State
is a great program and I watch them very closely from afar."
Great Weekend Getaways
at Quinnipiac (Fri.):
Not only will this intrastate battle be the Atlantic Hockey
both schools, but it should give each team a pretty good
barometer of where it's at in the league. Quinnipiac must
guard against a
letdown after playing at Michigan and Wisconsin the last
two weekends. UConn, on the other hand, is trying to establish
as a dangerous team in the AHA. After a season-opening loss
to Massachusetts, the Huskies have tied Rensselaer and split
While you're there: New Haven's Wooster Street section
Italy) is famous for its pizza, especially at Pepe's and
Be prepared to wait, though. Lines are typically well out
the door. But several U.S. presidents, including Bill Clinton,
will tell you it's worth the wait. If you're more thirsty
than hungry, go to a student Halloween party dressed as
Rebecca Lobo. You'll be the hippest cat there.
takes this honor again - and it's not for the win over New
Hampshire. The Purple Eagles' women's hockey team raised
nearly $710 at its alumni exhibition game Saturday to help
out with the medical costs of former player Jennifer Goulet,
who has throat cancer. Goulet, who scored 47 points in 104
games for Niagara
from 2000-03, played in Saturday's exhibition, registering
two goals and an assist. Donations for Jennifer can be still
made at the women's hockey office in Dwyer Arena during
hard to deride Quinnipiac when it has played
Wisconsin so tough on the road the last two weekends. But
Bobcats might have been able to pull off an upset if its
units had converted even once during eight consecutive minutes
advantage time in the second period of their 2-1 overtime
loss to the Badgers on Friday. The eight-minute stretch
included two separate 5-on-3 intervals. In all, the Bobcats
put only 17 shots on net during the game.
School: Quinnipiac has lost four straight after winning
the season-opening Q-Cup. Obviously, that's not what coach Rand
Pecknold wants, but the losses were a little easier to take because
they came on the road at Michigan and Wisconsin.
The Bobcats' goaltending has been solid, but scoring has been
hard to come by. Senior goalie Justin Eddy has been fantastic,
posting a 2.30 goals-against average and .939 save percentage
in his three games. He sparkled Friday, making 46 saves in a 2-1
overtime loss at Wisconsin – a week after stopping 51 at
Junior Jamie Holden has a 3.95 GAA and a respectable .906 save
percentage in his three starts. But neither goalie has been helped
by the Bobcats' lack of puck control. They were outshot 97-37
by Bucky this weekend. Which backs up the observation made by
one of my Madison-based spies at the Kohl Center: "If Quinnipiac
wants to beat good teams (or even UW), they need more than a couple
of good goaltenders." Harsh. And noted.
and done: The only two-game series in either league this
weekend is Air Force's set at Alabama-Huntsville on Friday and
Saturday. Otherwise, AH and CHA teams will be involved in 10 different
one-night stands, both in-league and out.
The most interesting of the solitary tilts will test the mettle
of the color purple. The Purple Eagles play at Michigan –
Big Blue – on Saturday, while purple-clad Holy Cross has
a date with the Big Green of Dartmouth in Hanover the same night.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
having a 6-0 lead Saturday, Alabama-Huntsville switched
goalies with 2:07 to play. Why? Because starter Adam
MacLean had to serve a 10-minute penalty for asking the assistant
referee if he was trying to give UConn a goal. No. 1 goalie Scott
Munroe came in and made two saves to preserve the shutout. MacLean
must have forgotten how to watch his mouth during the 364 days
that had elapsed since his last start for the Chargers.
win was the 450th in the career of Alabama-Huntsville
coach Doug Ross, good for 16th on the all-time list.
two service academies – Air Force (4-2)
and Army (2-1) – are only teams in either Atlantic Hockey
or the CHA with a record above .500. Five schools in the leagues
are right at the mark.
Coccimiglio had one assist in four games for Canisius this
junior co-captain Fred Coccimiglio (right) is likely done
for the season because of two ruptured discs in his back.
He had surgery Monday. Coccimiglio was the Golden Griffins co-leading
scorer (12-11—23) last season.
State and Findlay combined for nine goals in the Oilers'
6-3 win Friday night. The strange part? The teams only totaled
the same game, the Warriors broke their eight-day-old
school record for quickest two goals. After netting markers
10 seconds apart on Oct. 16, Derek MacKay's and Chris Vail's tallies
were separated by just nine seconds Friday.
State unveiled new third jerseys against Minnesota State,
Mankato last weekend. The
slightly Bruins-esque threads didn't help very much, however,
as the host Beavers lost 3-1 on Friday and tied 2-2 on Saturday.
Bemidji is 0-2-2 on the year and is 0-for-22 on the power play.
No. 26 is unlucky. Bemidji forward Ryan Huddy switched
to the jersey numeral – which, incidentally, is
13 times two – after the school retired his previous number,
24, last weekend. Huddy then fanned on pass in front of a wide-open
net Friday night and had a goal disallowed because of a teammate's
interference penalty Saturday.
is completely irrelevant, but Niagara will play Wayne State in
Plymouth, Mich., on Friday. Plymouth borders and shares a school
district with the city of Canton, the hometown of Kirk
Jones, who survived a plunge over Niagara Falls without
any protective apparatus on Oct. 20. No word yet on whether Jones
plans any similar stunts to celebrate Niagara's visit this weekend.
(Playing chicken with the Zamboni, perhaps?)
Hockey America is 2-1-0 against ranked teams this year
(Findlay over Michigan State and Niagara over New Hampshire).
The loss was Findlay's to Boston College. The CHA's non-league
winning percentage (.474) is higher than the CCHA's (.417) and