December 10, 2003
Bemidji Foes Need Booster Shots

By James Jahnke

Atlantic Hockey/CHA Notebook

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About the only things harder to find than flu shots nowadays are shots on goal by Bemidji State's opponents.

The Beavers completely choked the life out of visiting Wayne State in a sweep last weekend. Final two-game shot totals? Try 103 for Bemidji and 25 for the Warriors.

WSU coach Bill Wilkinson lightly disputed the numbers, but the dominance was undeniable. Bemidji hasn't allowed an opponent more than 20 shots in its last six games, surrendering an average of just 16.7 during that time frame. Only twice has an opponent topped 30 shots this season.

"We have a veteran team right now, and a veteran defensive corps," Beavers coach Tom Serratore said. "We stress attention to our defensive zone, no question. We work hard to block shots and contest shots and we have good gapping. We emphasize play away from the puck."

Serratore also credited his team's knack for staying out of the penalty box for keeping opponents' shot totals down.

But Bemidji's defense faces a stiff challenge if it wants to keep its stingy streak going. Two-way forward and assistant captain Andy Murray broke, dislocated and tore tendons in an ankle Friday night and will be out at least two months. Serratore stopped short of calling the injury devastating, but he couldn't downplay the loss of a forward who played about 30 minutes a game.

"Certainly, it's a big loss," Serratore said. "He's big. He can skate. He's mean. And, you know that half of having a good defense is having a good offense. When Andy was on the ice, the puck was in the other team's end 80 percent of the time. And then the line that comes out after him has a lot of offensive-zone faceoffs. So right there, you allow fewer shots."

With an increased role in Murray's absence, junior forward Brendan Cook netted a hat trick Saturday and won CHA Offensive Player of the Week honors in the process.


Snow Friggin' Way
– Apparently, there was some snow in New England last weekend and everybody panicked and postponed a bunch of sporting events. Among them were two Atlantic Hockey games: Bentley at Sacred Heart and Canisius at Quinnipiac.

There's no word on a rescheduled time for the Golden Griffins and Bobcats, but we're happy to report the Falcons and Pioneers have found a new date. They will tangle at 7 p.m. Jan. 6 in the Milford Ice Pavilion in Milford, Conn.

Knightmarish – Don't tell Army coach Rob Riley the Black Knights' football team looked bad in its 34-6 loss to archrival Navy last weekend. Riley would love his team to post a "6" in the score column. Or even a "3."

Army has struggled offensively the entire season, averaging less than two goals a game. In their last six contests, the Black Knights have generated just six goals. With a 2-6-2 league record, they are still tied for fifth in Atlantic Hockey, but Riley must be wondering if his team used up all of its offense in its 9-2 exhibition win over Ryerson in early October. Nine goals is more than a month's worth right now.

Book Your Ticket to Boston – Look at what former Niagara head coach Blaise MacDonald had to say about his old team as he prepares his UMass Lowell River Hawks for the Purple Eagles on Sunday: "Niagara is a team that if they get into the NCAA tournament this season, which they have a really good chance of doing, would not surprise me at all to see them win and advance and then win and advance again." Do the math in your head and realize he's saying Niagara could go to the Frozen Four.

Great Weekend Getaways
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Colgate vs. Sacred Heart at Bridgeport, Conn. (Fri.)
Sacred Heart is still looking for its first nonconference victory of the year, and what better place to get it than the home of the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers? The neutral-site game along Connecticut's coastline will mark a homecoming of sorts for three players – the Pioneers' Peter Giatrelis and Erik Roos and Colgate's J.R. Bria. Giatrelis, a freshman, is part of a five-way atop Sacred Heart's goal-scoring list with five markers this season. The Pioneers will be the first and possibly only Atlantic Hockey team the Raiders play this season.

While you're there: Coastal Connecticut is where New York City cool meets New England charm. Or something like that. Regardless, if you're in Bridgeport early enough Friday, swing by the Garbage Museum in nearby Stratford. I've never been there myself, but how could you not check out something called the Garbage Museum?

Stick Salute

Holy Cross (11-4-1, 11-1-1) is off to its best start since going 13-3-0 in its first 16 games of the 1979-80 season. The Crusaders have done it with terrific goaltending by Tony Quesada (1.87 GAA, .932 percentage) and strong offensive contributions from Pierre Napert-Frenette (9-8—17), Jeff Dams (5-12—17) and Greg Kealey (3-12—15). Few expected coach Paul Pearl's team to be where it is right now – leading Atlantic Hockey by 13 points – but they'll need the cushion because three of their final four games this year are against Quinnipiac and Mercyhurst.

Bench Minor

On the flip side of Holy Cross are the Bentley Falcons. By the time you read this, it will have been more than two months since they have won a game. Not what you'd expect from a team that was picked to finish third in the league by another college hockey site. But the Falcons have gone 0-8-3 since beating AIC 6-3 in the consolation game of the Q-Cup way back in October. Not coincidentally, that was the last time Bentley scored more than three goals in a game. The Falcons haven't been all that strong defensively, either, failing to hold opponents under two goals yet this year. On the bright side, they have potentially winnable games against UConn and either Air Force or Sacred Heart coming up in the UConn Hockey Classic.


• Amazingly, Mercyhurst didn't score a single power-play goal during its 9-0 destruction of American International on Saturday. The 0-for-3 performance wasn't what you would expect from the Lakers, who boast the best conversion rate in the country (31.3 percent). Equally surprising was the fact that Mercyhurst's nine goals came from nine skaters who weren't David Wrigley, Adam Tackaberry or Rich Hansen.

Alabama-Huntsville sophomore goaltender Scott Munroe left late in Saturday's game against Niagara with an undisclosed injury. There was no word this week on his availability for the Bemidji series this weekend.

Huntsville reinstated junior left wing Keith Rowe, sophomore center Bruce Mulherin and sophomore left wing Chris Martini last week and all three played in the Chargers' series against Niagara. No official reason was ever given for their four-game suspensions other than "a violation of team rules and departmental policy." Martini, a transfer from Iona, notched his first point for the Chargers with an assist Saturday.

• Holiday wishes go to all league teams that are done until the New Year – Air Force, Army, Canisius and Quinnipiac.

• Although we haven't even reached mid-December yet, Air Force has already come through on its New Year's resolution – to win a College Hockey America game. The Falcons snapped their 20-game conference winless skid with a 5-2 win at Findlay on Saturday. Ironically (or maybe not), the Academy's last league win also came at the Oilers' expense – way back on Nov. 24 of last season.

"I believe in this team," said Air Force coach Frank Serratore, brother of Tom. "They work hard every day and they come to play every night. This is a fun and focused group to be around. This is the most enjoyable group I have coached in a long, long time. I have a blast
coaching them "

The Falcons' weekend did end on a sour note, however, with a 4-2 loss to the U.S. Under-18 team in Michigan. But they have two good excuses for that: 1.) Starting goaltender Mike Polidor didn't play, and 2.) It was their third game in less than 48 hours.

• Five of the six most-penalized teams in college hockey reside in Atlantic Hockey or the CHA. Bentley leads at 25 minutes per game, followed by No. 2 Canisius (23.43), No. 3 Huntsville (23.25), No. 5 Quinnipiac (21.79) and No. 6 Sacred Heart (21.58). Only fourth-place Clarkson (22.33) keeps it from being a sweep by the Little Two.

Holy Cross junior defenseman Chris Sullivan will miss the Crusaders' Jan. 3 game against Huntsville after receiving a game disqualification for butt-ending against Army on Saturday. But he will be eligible for Holy Cross' exhibition holiday tournament in Montreal. Coach Paul Pearl's squad will face Concordia and Dalhousie at 9 p.m. on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28, respectively, Crusaders SID Katherine May predicted.

Niagara senior forward Nick Kormanyos was back in the Purple Eagles' lineup last weekend after missing four games with a head injury.

• In the AHA/CHA notebook three weeks ago, Wayne State senior goaltender Marc Carlson predicted he'd get a start in the Warriors' series at Bemidji last weekend. No such luck. Sophomore Matt Kelly got the nod for both games and faced all 103 shots the Beavers took."That's just the coach's prerogative," Wilkinson said. "Matt played very well Friday, so we went with him again. But we will probably split Matt and Marc for most of the next six games here."

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

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