January 2, 2004
Reunited (And It Feels So Good)

By INCH Staff

Atlantic Hockey/CHA Notebook

This week's schedule
National TV Schedule

CCHA Notebook
Hockey East Notebook
WCHA Notebook

Coleraine, Minn., nestled on the western end of northern Minnesota's Iron Range, is a textbook example of a quiet small town. With approximately 2,000 residents, it's the kind of place where not much happens, and people like it that way.

Like most communities in that neck of the woods, however, Coleraine is a hockey-mad burg. And the town's love of the game should reach a fever pitch Saturday when two native sons – brothers, no less – bring their Division I teams to a bandbox of a rink called Hodgkins-Berardo Arena that should be filled to capacity...and beyond.

“The place looks like hockey, smells like hockey and a lot of great hockey has been played in that building over the years,” said Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore, a 1982 graduate of Greenway H.S., located in Coleraine. "It's a historic rink."

Tom Serratore would like to add to the barn's history at the expense of older brother Frank (Greenway H.S. class of '75), bench boss at Air Force. More important to the younger Serratore, however, is keeping his team in its groove against College Hockey America foes. At 5-1-0 in the CHA (8-6-2 overall), the Beavers are off to their best-ever start in conference play.

Interestingly enough, the neutral site game in the Serratore's backyard sort of just happened. Upon release of the conference schedule last summer, Tom Serratore wasn't pleased to learn that Bemidji State would host a home series against Air Force during the first weekend in January because the school's students would be on holiday break, making for sparse crowds at the Beavers' home rink, John Glas Fieldhouse. Tom unsuccessfully discussed alternate dates with his older brother. That's when Frank tossed out the notion of playing the game in Coleraine.

"It would give us the opportunity to spread college hockey to the Range and give us the potential to play in front of a full house,” said Tom Serratore, noting that he and BSU athletic director Rick Goeb had previously discussed playing neutral site exhibition games in different northern Minnesota cities.

While the game serves as a homecoming for the Serratores, it should also be noted that both rosters feature players from the area and, of course, it never hurts to showcase one's program in front of an audience that may include future recruits. And even though the contest is technically a Bemidji State home game, expect a bi-partisan crowd to bring a different level of energy to the proceedings.

“Everyone’s really looking forward to it,” Tom Serratore said. “People are going to be treated to a great show.”


Charge of the Light Crusade
– While Atlantic Hockey has another week off before conference play resumes, league leading Holy Cross hosts one of the weekend's most intriguing matchups against last year's CHA regular-season champion, Alabama-Huntsville.

The Crusaders have struggled outside the league, posting an 0-3-0 record, but those losses have all come against teams in the top 15 – Maine, Massachusetts and Dartmouth, the latter two by 2-1 scores.

This series promises to be a better matchup for the Crusaders. UAH, which stands third in the CHA, is a bit more of a mystery than they were at this time last season, in part because they've played the fewest games of any team in Division I (10). They are 1-5-0 in their last six, and winless on the road (0-4-0) after trips to Miami and Niagara.

Classes are still a couple of weeks away in Worcester, so the Chargers will have a little friendlier welcome than they might have in front of the increasingly rabid Hart Center crowd.

Great Weekend Getaway
120x60 - Brand Red

Wayne State at Colorado College (Friday): Last March the Warriors quite nearly pulled off the unthinkable upset against the nation's No. 1 team at the NCAA Midwest Regional. Now they meet again, with much different rosters. Four former Tigers are now in the NHL, while Wayne State lost quite a bit to graduation. So far, CC has handled its departures better, but the Warriors – who played last weekend in North Dakota – may be able to catch their hosts flat-footed. The Tigers haven't played since Dec. 13 and are missing arguably their two best players (Brett Sterling and Mark Stuart, both at the World Junior Championship).

While You're There: Can't afford a room at the Broadmoor? Neither can we. But we can afford a drink at the Golden Bee, a classic old tavern on the famous hotel's grounds. And you get complimentary bee stickers thrown at you by the bartenders.

Stick Salute

To Mercyhurst's David Wrigley, who continues to torment higher-profile opponents. He had two goals in the Lakers' 3-2 win over Rensselaer, giving him 4-6-10 in eight non-conference games this year.

Bench Minor

We understand that kids leave college sports programs for various reasons – many of them understandable – but Jeremy Hall's departure from Niagara is curious because it seems as if the forward never wanted to play for the Purple Eagles in the first place. According to published reports, Hall harbored doubts about his choice of schools right from the start and had been talked out of leaving by coach Dave Burkholder on at least one occasion. Nevertheless, Hall bolted western New York during the holiday break for Danville of the USHL, obstensibly to resurface at a higher profile school a year from now. It's Hall's choice – and right – to do what he did. It just doesn't
seem right.


Bemidji State's dalliance in neutral site games may expand in the near future should the school decide to build a new rink on the current site of John Glas Fieldhouse, reports Jess Myers in this week's WCHA notes. If a new arena is in the cards, the city of Thief River Falls would like to have the Beavers use their new rink – the new Ralph Engelstad Arena, a.k.a. the "Little Ralph" – as its home away from home until the construction in Bemidji is complete. The Thief River Falls venue, which features individual seats (with armrests) for 3,800, was financed by Engelstad before his death as a gift to his hometown.

More on the Serratore brothers, courtesy of the Air Force and Bemidji State sports information departments. The siblings are one of just two combinations in any Division I sport featuring family members coaching against each other in the same conference, joining the ACC’s Tommy and Bobby Bowden (Clemson and Florida State football, respectively).

Atlantic Hockey was like the OK Corral last weekend. Four teams participated in shootouts, with Holy Cross and Connecticut posting "victories". Holy Cross beat Concordia in an exhibition game in Montreal, while UConn got past Bentley in the first round of the UConn Hockey Classic. Sacred Heart also took part in a shootout at the UConn tournament, falling to Air Force in the semifinals.

UConn's win in its holiday tournament marked the Huskies' second championship in the event since they joined Division I. The Huskies' 1-0 win over Air Force in the title game marked their third victory over a CHA opponent this year (of five wins overall).

Quinnipiac makes its return to the airwaves Friday night with a NESN-televised game at Providence. The Bobcats' first televised game of the year very nearly produced a major upset - they fell 5-4 at Michigan. Since losing four straight – two to those Wolverines, two to No. 3 Wisconsin – Quinnipiac is 5-1-2, including Atlantic Hockey's first-ever win against a Hockey East team (Merrimack). They go for No. 2 against the Friars.

Bentley goaltender Simon St. Pierre now holds the school record for career saves with 2,095, after he stopped 45 shots in a 4-4 tie with Connecticut at the UConn Hockey Classic (UConn won the shootout, 2-1, to advance to the tournament's championship game).

• From the Frying Pan to the Fire Dept., Findlay and Wayne State certainly deserve kudos for their performances at the Subway Holiday Classic in Grand Forks, N.D., last weekend. Findlay led host North Dakota, 1-0, with 10 minutes remaining in the third period before the top-rated Sioux scored three unanswered goals to advance to the championship game. Wayne State, meanwhile, had already earned a berth in the title match on the strength of its 3-2 OT win against nationally-ranked Brown. The Oilers dueled to a 1-1 draw with Brown in the third-place game the following day.

How do the teams plan to wind down from last weekend? Wayne State plays at Denver and Colorado College this weekend. Findlay travels to Notre Dame for a single game Saturday.

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

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