defenseman Mark Persick will probably never get as much publicity
or acclaim for what he does on the ice as for what he does off.
But he doesn't mind. Nor do the countless people he has helped
through his good deeds.
of five finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, has been
heavily involved in charity work since his midget days in Saskatchewan.
His junior team, the Melfort Mustangs, mandated that if players
didn't have class or work in the morning, they had to go play
cards with senior citizens or a similar function.
brought those values with him to Buffalo.
role models for people, whether we like it or not," said
Persick, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder with one assist for the Golden
Griffins this season. "It's an important part of our job
description. We've been fortunate with the breaks we've had –
on scholarship, playing hockey, doing what we love. Not everyone
is so lucky."
In three years
at Canisius, Persick has organized regular player visits to the
Buffalo Women's and Children's Hospital, a food drive for St.
Anne's orphanage every Canadian Thanksgiving, fund-raisers for
the Roswell Cancer Institute and recreation activities for immigrants
at Vive La Casa trying to get into Canada. He also participated
in a cleanup of the Hamlin Park area and is currently working
on a citywide food drive pitting Canisius, Buffalo State and Buffalo
against each other in a battle to see which university can generate
the most donations.
really just a guest in Buffalo," says Canisius defenseman
been this way since he came in as a freshman," Griffins coach
Brian Cavanaugh said. "He's always coming up to me and saying,
'I've got an idea for another project.' Whatever free time he
has, he tries to devote it to helping others and getting others
to help others."
up with many project ideas on his own, but he also gleaned some
from the national Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, in which
he was Canisius' student representative.
like to win the Humanitarian Award (the other nominees are Patrick
Foley of New Hampshire, Dan Boeser of Wisconsin, Derek Nisula
of Babson and Chanda Gunn of Northeastern), but he said it's an
honor just to be a finalist.
of the stuff I organized seemed pretty simple in comparison to
what some of the other nominees did," Persick said. "When
you put a name on something and hold it every year, it seems pretty
impressive. We're building toward something like that with the
hockey team here.
from Saskatchewan, so I'm really just a guest in Buffalo. I'm
a long way from home, but I've been treated very well here, so
I just take the chance to give back to the community."
AND HEARD IN THE LEAGUES
SHUtdown – Coming into the season,
there was a little bit of buzz about Sacred Heart being a possible
contender for the Atlantic Hockey crown. While that scenario isn't
completely out of the picture, the Pioneers (4-14-3) have had
a rough go of it so far.
the nation's longest winless streak (10 games, 0-7-3) into a home-and-home
series against Connecticut this weekend and have struggled finding
the net (2.49 goals per game). They haven't won since November,
but coach Shaun Hannah said the group's spirits are still up.
enthusiastic, and they aren't dragging themselves to the rink
or anything," Hannah said. "There's no morale problem.
Thank goodness for that."
With 10 points,
Sacred Heart is tied for fifth in Atlantic Hockey – not
bad considering their current slide. Helping matters, if "helping"
is the right word, is the fact that only four of the Pioneers'
last 10 contests were in-league battles. So they haven't lost
too much ground on, say, fourth-place Canisius (13 points). But
they need to start winning soon if they want to climb in the standings.
a young team, so I knew it was going to be a season of learning,"
Hannah said. "We were going to take our lumps. But you've
got to go through things like this as a team if you're going to
improve your game. I think we've progressed. This stretch has
made us stronger.
kids really want to improve. Obviously, there's a big emphasis
on winning games, but if that were our only emphasis, we'd be
a pretty down and depressed group right now. Fortunately, that's
not the case."
Griffins? – Canisius Athletics
Director Tim Dillon isn't so much concerned about what's going
to happen to his team during the Great Conference Shuffle after
this season (which no doubt isn't over after today's announcement
that Robert Morris will join the
CHA). He's worried about all the schools struggling to make
With the ECAC,
CHA and Atlantic Hockey all in a state of flux, college hockey
appears to be on a collision course with realignment sooner rather
than later. And it probably will be a little bumpy. Every day,
teams are rumored to be going to this league or that. Canisius
is one of the schools in the middle of the whirlwind, as the speculation
is the Griffins would like to be in a league with cross-town rival
be fine with Dillon, but he doesn't want to see anyone else drop
their program – as Findlay did earlier this season.
to continue to grow our sport," said Dillon, a member of
the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee, who came to Canisius
from Alaska Anchorage. "A change in the number of conferences
wouldn't worry me, it's the number of teams that's important.
We need to preserve that."
like to increase his scholarship total from the Atlantic Hockey
maximum of 11, but he said he wouldn't pursue that if it would
set off a chain of events causing other programs to be dropped.
He said Canisius'
No. 1 goal at the end of all of this is to be in a league with
similar schools. That's not necessarily the case in Atlantic Hockey
these one-sport conferences, it's often a marriage of convenience.
There are a variety of schools in the same league with no real
rhyme or reason except they all needed a home. If we were to look
at other options, we would say, 'Who would we like to be with?'
I think that would be other schools that we could aspire to be
As far as
realignment plans, Dillon offers a unique solution.
we should do it like they used to do on the playground,"
Dillon said. "Have the conference commissioners as captains
and have them pick what schools fit their league. The problem
with that is, sometimes people don't get picked on the playground,
and we can't have that. This might not even all shake out by next
clash – Like a good bowl game,
Northern Michigan's interregional series at Alabama-Huntsville
this weekend should be intriguing. The Wildcats are making the
trip to fulfill an agreement that brought the Chargers to Marquette
features one of college hockey's northern-most schools –
from a major conference, no less – heading down into the
heart of Dixie for a tussle with a much smaller, less respected
squad. I feel like I should read "The Killer Angels"
problems with this series are that Walt Kyle doesn't look much
like U.S. Grant, and UAH wears blue instead of gray. I wonder
if NMU's Dirk Southern has any mixed loyalties.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Mercyhurst (Fri.-Sat.)
Atlantic Hockey's traditional powers collide in
what basically amounts to an elimination series to see who
will be able to seriously challenge first-place Holy Cross
for the Atlantic Hockey regular-season title. Second-place
Mercyhurst (10-3-0 in the league) trails the Crusaders by
five points, but has two games in hand. Third-place Quinnipiac
(7-2-2) is nine points back with four games in hand. If
one of these teams can take three or four points this weekend,
their outlook gets much rosier. The other squad? Well, there's
always the conference tournament.
While you're there: Spend a few hours at the nearby
Millcreek Mall and see if you can't find some Lakers garb
to wear to the arena. If you're rooting for the Bobcats,
you can buy the same stuff and just deface it with a big
red 'X.' If you're going to the mall, however, beware of
the RV and Powersport Show that will be there all weekend.
'em up to Niagara forward Barret Ehgoetz,
who could have scored on an open net Thursday night, but
instead passed to teammate Joe Tallari so that Tallari could
complete a hat trick. "That was one of the classiest
things I've ever seen," Tallari told the Buffalo
News after the game. Sure, the act might cheapen the
hat trick a bit, but in this day and age of stupid me-first
cell phone and Sharpie stunts, it's always refreshing to
witness selfless acts. Especially by a guy like Ehgoetz,
who is tied for the national lead in scoring (18-20—38).
our grandparents walking to school, Army must
feel like it's skating uphill no matter which way it's going
this season. The much-maligned Black Knights continued their
woeful offensive season with a pair of doughnuts against
Quinnipiac last weekend. That makes three straight games
Army has been shut out. One problem has been the power play,
which is just 6-for-107 this season. Much like the chicken
or the egg, you have to wonder which came first: No offense
leads to bad power play or bad power play leads to no offense.
Either way, as Kramer once said, "That's bad chicken.
Mess you up."
junior Jared Ross reached the 100-point plateau with
a second-period goal against Air Force on Friday. Then he blew
past the benchmark with three more points Saturday. Ross now has
103 points in 89 career games with the Chargers, including 35
points in 18 games this year. He continues to lead the nation
in points per game (1.94).
Saturday night, UAH junior defenseman Ryan Brown
tied a CHA record with five assists in the Chargers' 6-2 win over
the Falcons. The five-point night is even more
impressive when you consider Brown had just seven points this
season and 16 for his career beforehand.
senior Joe Tallari became the Purple Eagles' all-time
leader in games played by dressing for his 130th contest Thursday.
He also played Saturday, upping his school mark to 131. But Tallari
wasn't just an idle participant for Niagara – he potted
four goals, including a hat trick Thursday. He now has nine goals
and five assists in his last eight games.
Look at the box score from Mercyhurst's 7-4 win
over UConn on Friday and tell me you don't see
all the names starting with "E-R-I." In the first period
alone, UConn's Eric Helstedt and Mercyhurst's Erik Johnson had
two goals apiece. UConn's Eric St. Arnauld assisted on both of
Eric Helstedt's goals. If that weren't bad enough, UConn's Eric
Nelson added an assist in the second period and then Erik Johnson
finished his hat trick in the third. Whew.
senior defenseman Daryl Pierce (0-7-7) will miss the
first game against Army this weekend because of a mandatory one-game
suspension for a fighting disqualification picked up after the
final horn in Saturday's tie against Niagara.
At roughly the same time, Purple Eagles assistant coach Jerry
Forton picked up a game misconduct for chastising the officials
as they left the ice. But Forton won't be suspended, Niagara sports
information director Jonathan Chu said.
about consistency: Bemidji State scored two goals
in all six periods of its sweep of Wayne State last
weekend. The Beavers, notorious for keeping opponents' shot totals
down this season, also held the Warriors to just five total shots
through two periods Friday and 12 for the game. In the teams'
four-game series this season, Bemidji outshot Wayne State 183-61
(or 45.8 to 15.3 per game).
junior goalie Jamie Holden became the first tender in
Bobcats history to record back-to-back shutouts when he blanked
Army twice last weekend.
of goalies, Findlay's duo of Will Hooper and
Jon Horrell was certainly kept busy at Ferris State. Hooper made
47 saves in the series-opening loss, while Horrell turned aside
49 shots to preserve a scoreless tie in game two. Horrell has
not won since the season-opener against Michigan State, despite
earning ties against Ferris State and Brown in two of his last
were to start getting more playing time for the Oilers after Saturday's
performance, there might be just one clear-cut No. 1 goalie left
in the CHA: Niagara's Jeff VanNynatten. Freshman
Peter Foster has steadily stolen playing time from senior Mike
Polidor at Air Force, while Layne Sedevie has
played in three of the last four games at Bemidji (where
Grady Hunt was the incumbent starter). Wayne State coach
Bill Wilkinson has flopped between Marc Carlson and Matt Kelly
all year, as has UAH boss Doug Ross with Adam
MacLean and Scott Munroe.
what Air Force coach Frank Serratore had to say
about Foster after the rookie beat UAH and set
a school record with 131 consecutive shutout minutes against Division
I competition Friday: "Peter Foster is one cool customer.
He has poise and is confident. He has been impatiently waiting
his chance to play, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Mike Polidor
has won a lot of games for us and he'll be back. But right now
we have to stick with the hot hand. It is nice to know that we
have two goaltenders that can win games for us."
won't matter to anybody else, but I have to put it out there so
I don't giggle every time I see the names Jaymie Harrington and
Marc Norrington the rest of the season. Harrington, a Canisius
defenseman, has the exact same name (except for an extra
"Y" in the first name) as my two-time college roommate's
girlfriend in Virginia. Meanwhile, Norrington, a Niagara
forward, was a childhood play pal with my girlfriend and her little
brother in Grand Blanc, Mich.
I don't have to think about it ever again. These pointless nuggets
are made somewhat timely by the fact that both Harrington and
Norrington notched points when their teams played each other last
weekend. Harrington had an assist Friday, giving him 4-3-7 for
the year. Norrington scored a goal in each game – running
his goal streak to three games.
Cross boss Paul Pearl will be the guest of honor for
the American Hockey Coaches Association's next "Ask the Coach"
feature. Fans can submit questions to Pearl at ahcahockey.com,
and the coach will answer them Feb. 4.
CHA tournament will be broadcast locally in Kearney, Neb. by KXPN
(1460 AM), the station announced last week. The station is also
looking to air the games on the Internet. Tickets for the entire
tournament are available for $45. Single-game tickets will go
on sale for $10 in February. Call (308) 338-8809 for more information.