had a pretty good feeling he'd be wearing green and white in college,
but he didn't anticipate having a funky hockey stick emanating
from a "Y" on the front of his jersey.
Nor did he
think he'd be going to school in Erie, Pa., or playing in front
of just a few hundred fans at home games.
Mercyhurst junior forward and runner-up for the latest INCH National
Player of the Week award, had big plans coming out of the Ontario
Provincial Junior Hockey League in 2001. Massachusetts, Ferris
State, UMass Lowell, Bowling Green and St. Lawrence were all after
him. So was Michigan State, the only school he visited and the
program to which he might have committed if a paperwork snafu
hadn't messed everything up.
a late start on a lot of things like getting my stuff to the NCAA
Clearinghouse because my junior team was in the playoffs at the
time," Wrigley recalled. "It was pretty intense playing
games every other night – and we went five rounds that year.
So I didn't really have time to do anything else."
As a result,
Wrigley wasn't assured of being eligible to play his freshman
season in 2001-02. Fearing that possibility, most schools –
including MSU – backed off and decided to sign other players.
know all the inside information, but I understand why they did
what they did," said Wrigley, 23. "There's no bad blood
coach Rick Gotkin does know the inside information – or
at least some of it. He said he got a call from his buddy Dave
Smith, who was a Bowling Green assistant at the time, after Wrigley
had to cancel his official visit to BG because of conflicting
schedules. Smith has since become an assistant at Mercyhurst.
me if I needed another forward, and I said, 'Yes, I do,'"
Gotkin said. "He said there was this kid named Wrigley out
there and he didn't know what he was going to do, but I should
take a look at him. There's no question we try to find the kids
that are good enough to play at major programs but slip through
the cracks for whatever reason. And now, here he is."
know much about the Lakers or any other team in the old MAAC at
the time. But when his other options dried up, he learned about
them in a hurry.
One of the
reasons Mercyhurst stood out was its highly competitive 4-3 loss
to Michigan in the 2001 NCAA West Regional. Wrigley figured that
if he couldn't play for an established team, he wanted a chance
to beat them.
I first came here, I was still kind of bitter about not going
to a big school," Wrigley said. "Those programs get
the best of everything. Their budgets are bigger, the fan support
is greater, they get more NHL scouts to come see you play. Everything's
everything happens for a reason and I don't think I'd want to
be anywhere else right now. The campus is unbelievable. It's kind
of cool helping a new program get seen and gain a little respect.
Even in just my three years here, it has hands-down become a better
doing his part. He scored four goals in Friday's 7-2 rout of Army
and then added two assists in Saturday's win over UConn. He would
have had another goal, but he missed a penalty shot 12 seconds
into overtime against the Huskies. He responded by setting up
(Dave Borrelli and Scott Champagne) were feeding me the puck better
than ever before," Wrigley said. "I had two empty-net
goals just because the passes were so good. It just seemed like
everything I shot was going in."
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE LEAGUES
it Alfalfa? Or was it ...? – Wanna know why Air
Force (6-4-0) is right there with St. Cloud State when you think
about surprise teams (in a good way, Gopher-haters) this young
season? It's because of senior forward Spanky Leonard.
has paced the Falcons offensively and provided invaluable leadership
in the locker room. The 6-foot, 195-pounder from Elk River, Minn.,
whose given name is Jed, is in a six-way tie for 10th on the national
He added two
assists to his total Friday against Bentley before exploding for
three goals on Saturday. All three tallies came on the power play,
including two within 45 seconds of each other to break a 2-2 tie
with four minutes to play. It was Leonard's first career hat trick.
been struggling on the power play, but out power play clicked
late in the game," Falcons coach Frank Serratore said. "We
just kept working hard on the power play and we started executing
better. We weathered the storm early and then rallied late in
the game. Our seniors came through tonight. Shane Saum drew the
penalty that led to the power play and Spanky Leonard scored our
A Look Back –
Alabama-Huntsville had a chance to upend Miami
on Friday, leading 2-1 heading into the third period. But the
RedHawks tallied thrice in the final 20 minutes to squelch the
Late goals were the story elsewhere, too. Canisius
scored with two seconds left in regulation to send its Friday
game against UConn into overtime. The Huskies won, however. The
next night, UConn was victimized by a last-minute goal again,
as Mercyhurst netted the game-winner with 56 seconds left in overtime.
Finally, Niagara got its winning goal with 4:31 to play at Wayne
State on Saturday. That, of course, was after the Purple Eagles
allowed the Warriors to erase a 3-0 lead.
My best bet for craziness this weekend? The home-and-home
series between Bemidji State and Minnesota-Duluth, starting Friday
Great Weekend Getaways
Michigan at Niagara (Fri.-Sat.)
By the time this series is over, the Purple Eagles will
have played twice as many games against CCHA teams (four)
as against CHA teams (two). Western is the only CCHA team
Niagara gets at home, though. The Broncos haven't been able
to spend much time in scenic Kalamazoo lately. They have
criss-crossed the country from Ithaca to Fairbanks and now
to Buffalo in the last three weeks.
you're there: Stick around an extra day and head to Orchard
Park for the Bills vs. Texans game Sunday. I know Houston's
defense isn't all that good, but Buffalo's offense is so
poor they might not match the offensive production of the
The Holy Cross Crusaders honored their late friend and former
teammate John Bombard with a ceremony before
Friday's game against American International. Bombard, 24,
died on July 2 after a battle with spinal cancer. The Port
Jefferson, N.Y., native amassed 4-8—12 in 89 games
at Holy Cross from 1999-2002. He also played varsity baseball
for the Crusaders and was involved in the Army ROTC program.
of the nation's six winless teams dwell in Atlantic
Hockey. Sacred Heart (0-6-0), Canisius (0 6-3)
and AIC (0-8-0) have all had chances to get in the W column,
but have fallen short each time. The dreadful start is especially
surprising at Sacred Heart, which seemed to have the pieces
in place for a run at the conference title. Instead, the
Pioneers have scored more than two goals just once this
season. Fortunately, at least one of these squads should
pick up its first win by the end of Dec. 5 –
the date on which Canisius plays at AIC. The 0-8 start is
the worst in Yellow Jackets history. But, on the bright
side, they will play their first home game this weekend.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Force sophomore forward Matt Bader had his five-game
goal-scoring streak stopped by Bentley on Saturday.
It was the longest such streak by a Falcon since Justin Kieffer
tallied in 10 straight contests in 1996-97. Perhaps Bader's assault
on the net concluded because he started helping his teammates.
His first assist of the season finally came Saturday.
By taking two from Bentley in the "Battle
of the Falcons" this weekend, Air Force earned
its first road sweep since December 2001 (Army). AFA has played
just two home games this year, largely because Cadet Ice Arena
and surrounding campus areas were under construction all summer.
Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin celebrated his 44th
birthday in style, leading his Lakers to a 7-2 win over Army on
said college hockey is losing players to major juniors because
universities don't play enough games should look at Bentley.
The Falcons are in the middle of an NHL-like run of five contests
in nine days. After two games against Air Force last weekend,
Bentley lost 5-2 to UMass-Lowell (its first ever Hockey East opponent)
on Tuesday and now has a pair scheduled at home against Canisius
• Holy Cross
alumnus Pat Rissmiller was recalled by the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday (they sent ex-Maine Black Bear Niko Dimitrakos back to Cleveland). Rissmiller could make his NHL debut for the Sharks Thursday night.
put 34 shots on goal against Army on Saturday.
The Black Knights responded with 12. Guess who won? Yep. Army.
3-2. Golden Griffins goalie Max Buetow stopped just one of four shots in the Black Knights' three-goal second period. But look
on the bright side, young Max. That .250 percentage would be good
enough to be the Detroit Tigers' All-Star representative.
win over Canisius gave head coach Rob Riley his
250th career victory at West Point. He also stands
at 299 wins overall, meaning he'll have a shot at No. 300 during
a home-and-home series with Sacred Heart this weekend.
finally notched its first power-play goal on its 29th chance this
season. The Beavers got their second, too, going 1-for-7 on Friday
and 1-for-2 Saturday at Findlay. Friday's man-advantage
tally, scored by John Haider, jump-started a five-goal first period
for Bemidji. They held on for a 5-3 win over the Oilers.
or at least its sports information department, felt the Oilers
got robbed in Saturday's 3-1 loss, though. Quoting from the school's
athletic web site, "The Bemidji State University
Beavers were lucky to leave Clauss Ice Arena with a victory on
Saturday night as The University of Findlay had the tying goal
disallowed with just over 11 minutes remaining in the game to
preserve the Beavers' lead. Freshman Kurtis Peterson was skating
in all alone on Bemidji goaltender Grady Hunt when referee Mark
Wilkins blew the play dead due to an injured Bemidji State player
lying on the ice. A fraction of a second later, Peterson let loose
a thunderous slapshot to beat Hunt. Findlay fans and players alike
all thought the Oilers had tied the game but when the dust settled,
the score remained 2-1 in favor of the Beavers."
Heart junior forward Garrett Larson (1-1—2) and
Quinnipiac freshman defenseman Troy Maleyko (0-0—0)
both earned game disqualifications for fighting Saturday. Thus,
they will sit out their team's next game, which is a little way
off for Maleyko because the Bobcats don't play this weekend. He'll
miss the Nov. 21 contest at Army.
announced that it will air the CHA championship game live on March
experts pointed to Huntsville sophomore Scott
Munroe as one of two elite goaltenders (along with Bemidji's
Hunt) in the CHA before the season. But, so far, Munroe
has split time with senior Adam MacLean, and MacLean (2-1-0, 1.35,
.954) has posted better numbers than Munroe (1-2-0, 4.28, .866).