Pat Ford admits
he has had plenty of Dr. Phil moments since Findlay announced
its intention of dropping its hockey program after the season.
significant anger and scores of questions and doubts, the Oilers
coach kept his crew together through one of the toughest circumstances
a college hockey team can face.Not one player has left the team
since the school's announcement Jan. 6. Nor has anyone stopped
giving effort. If anything, Ford says, the heartache of January
galvanized his troops.
good about the way we're playing," Ford said. "The guys
are playing hard, I think, because they are relaxed. Everybody
handles things differently – some were upset to the core
at first. But we just told them that this is an opportunity to
have a lot of good memories
of this year and have some fun."
results since the announcement don't convey much success. They
are just 2-7-1, although one win was against formidable Niagara
and the tie was at Ferris State. Findlay is mired in fifth place
in the College Hockey America standings at the moment, and doesn't
seem to have anything to play for except being a spoiler in the
regular season or the league tournament.
underestimate the Oilers' passion to play for each other. That's
what is going to make them a dangerous opponent for the final
month of their existence.
either brings people together or blows them completely apart,"
Ford said. "I think we're tighter now than at any point this
season. We're not the slightest bit intimidated of anybody. There
was some putting out of fires and keeping the ship together, but
out of this tragedy has come some good."
and leading scorer Kris Wiebe also feels the Oilers have overcome
still disappointing, it still hurts," said Wiebe (13-3—16),
a junior forward. "But it's been something to motivate us,
something to look at and say, 'Let's go prove ourselves.' Don't
get me wrong, it's been a tough pill to swallow, but you realize
you can only feel sorry for yourself for so long. In the grand
scheme of things, we're still kicking."
most of Findlay's underclassmen, will transfer after the season.
He has yet to pick a destination. He said the first order of business
is trying to win the CHA Tournament.
AND HEARD IN THE LEAGUES
UConn Do It – Only
five teams in the country have won four-straight
games, and Connecticut is one of them. Yes, UConn.
might be the most inexperienced team in the NCAA, with 14 freshmen
and 15 newcomers on the roster, but they're coming off back-to-back
sweeps of Bentley and Canisius. The four wins in February equal
the number they had in November, December and January combined.
had hoped that we would get things rolling right away," UConn
coach Bruce Marshall said. "But it took time to mold these
young guys into a team. We didn't know whether they would mesh
properly. But there really are no egos. We've been in a lot of
one-goal games that could have gone our way this year."
On the Huskies'
resume are nonconference wins over Alabama-Huntsville and CHA-leader
Bemidji State and ties against Rensselaer and Brown. They also
led Vermont, 3-0, in December before crumbling into a 4-3 defeat.
A big reason
why UConn has moved into fifth place in Atlantic Hockey is leading
scorer Tim Olsen (11-17—28). The junior from Vandais Heights,
Minn., has become a stabilizing force for the baby-faced Huskies.
more posts than I don't know what at the beginning of the year,"
Marshall said. "I didn't know if it was going to happen for
him. But he's a 10 times better hockey player now than he was
last year. He's playing well in both zones. We've got a real competitive
group around him, so he needs to work hard in practice or he'll
get his bell rung."
– Bentley put out an interesting release about
Korean-born twins Josh and Jeremy Chase, sophomores on the Falcons
hockey team, last week. Among their similarities: They stand 5
feet, 7 inches tall, weigh 170 pounds, were raised in Big Rapids,
Mich., played junior hockey for the Soo Thunderbirds and currently
major in business management at Bentley.
differences: Josh was born first, but picked up hockey a year
after his brother. The defenseman has frosted tips, wears No.
7, wants to own a restaurant, and is superior at PS2 Tiger Woods
golf. Jeremy, a forward, has shorter hair, wears No. 17, wants
to be a coach, and is the better golfer in real life. At 3.7,
he also has a slightly higher grade-point average than his brother.
But Josh Chase
leads the brotherly points race, nine (2-7) to four (2-2), this
compete against each other," Josh said. "We always push
each other, and compete with one another to get better."
And it's no
mistake they landed in Waltham together. That was their plan from
schools looked at each of us," Jeremy said. "But we
really wanted to reach our goal of playing together in college.
We ended up being kind of a package deal."
Great Weekend Getaway
at Bemidji State (Fri-Sat.): The Beavers have drawn a bead on the CHA regular-season
championship, but this series against the dangerous Chargers
is a major obstacle to overcome. The teams split in Alabama
before Christmas, and a similar outcome this weekend would
open the door for second-place Niagara, which lurks just
two points back of Bemidji. The Beavers will have home-ice
advantage, but it remains to be seen whether their four
losses to WCHA competition the last two weekends deflated
their spirits or fired them up. On UAH's side of the ledger
is the question of whether star center Jared Ross and his
linemates can find room to maneuver around Bemidji's airtight
you're there: Daytime Saturday might be a good time to head
to the south shore of Lake Bemidji to snap some pictures
of your buddies next to the giant statues of Paul Bunyan
and Babe the Blue Ox. Afterward, head to Tutto Bene, as
fine of an Italian restaurant as you'll find anywhere for
a superb pregame meal.
ups to my girlfriend, who had me convinced
we were going to some restaurant in Mt. Clemens for dinner
on Valentine's Day. Instead, she cooked my favorite food
(linguini with white clam sauce) and got us tickets to the
Wayne State vs. Northern Michigan game that night. And she
nabbed a puck that deflected into the stands, to boot. Sounds
like a keeper, eh?
I was disappointed by the attendance at the game.
I figured that with a CCHA squad in town, there would be
at least a grand at Compuware Sports Arena. Instead, there
were 817, and seemingly half of those were cheering for
the Wildcats. I know the Warriors aren't great this year,
I know the arena is 25 miles from campus and I know Michigan
was playing Miami a few miles down the road, but if Wayne
State can't draw when a team like Northern Michigan is nice
enough to visit, it reflects poorly on everybody involved.
Tickets are $5, get out there!
other hand, the rink was quiet enough and my seats were
good enough to overhear this exchange between Northern Michigan's
Alan Swanson and WSU's Chris Vail, who were sent to the
penalty box at the same time for roughing each other:
Swanson: "You're a (bleeping) (bleep)! You're a (bleeping)
Vail: "Yeah? You're (bleeping) dead when this is done!"
love certainly was in the air this night.
CHAse – You knew UAH was going to come
back and split the series with Niagara after the Purple Eagles
spanked the Chargers, 8-0,
on Thursday, didn't you? There's just something about a blowout
that stirs up a team. So, with Niagara unable to complete the
sweep, Bemidji remained in first place in the CHA with six games
to go. The Beavers lead the Purple Eagles by two points and UAH
has another golden opportunity to gain ground this weekend, as
they host Air Force while the Beavers must deal with UAH.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
make any jokes about who won, please. Six Bentley players
and head coach Ryan Soderquist played a community outreach scrimmage
against students at nearby Watertown Middle School last weekend,
and even surrendered a hat trick to Watertown captain Kenny Segreve.
No final score was reported from the hour-long exhibition, but
everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
a lot of fun," said Segreve, 13. "It was really good
for those guys to come down and help us out."
a real treat for our kids to play against some Division I hockey
players," Watertown coach Steve Russo added. "And it
was good for Bentley to remember what hockey was like at that
sweep of Quinnipiac last weekend marked
the Falcons' first wins over the Bobcats in 17 games, dating to
1997. "We've just been snakebit," Quinnipiac coach Rand
Pecknold told the New Haven Register – before the
optimism that junior goalie Simon St. Pierre (sore knee) would
be back in the net for Bentley last weekend,
he missed his third and fourth consecutive games. Sophomore Geordan
Murphy played well in his stead, making 33 and 21 saves to stymie
Quinnipiac's potent offense. There's been no
word as to whether St. Pierre will be able to play in the Falcons'
single game against Canisius on Friday.
of injuries, three of the top forwards in the CHA were wearing
suits and ties while their teams played last weekend. Bemidji
junior forward Brendan Cook, who ranks tied-for-second nationally
with five game-winning goals, and might be the best player in
the league not named Ross or Ehgoetz, bruised his shoulder Friday
and sat out Saturday. It snapped a streak of 96 consecutive games
played for Cook (19-12—31). Meanwhile, a bruised knee kept
Air Force's leading scorer, senior Spanky Leonard
(10-15—25) out of the lineup against Holy Cross.
And Wayne State rookie Jason Baclig, second on
the Warriors with 9-7—16, was "on the injured list"
for the third and fourth straight games, WSU spokesman Jeff Weiss
led both of its games against St. Cloud
State last weekend – including a 1-0 advantage just
18 seconds into Friday's game – but, as with the Minnesota
series two weeks ago, the Beavers couldn't find a way to win.
Bet they're glad the WCHA portion of their schedule is over. Bemidji
went 1-6-1 against its four bigger instate foes, scoring just
14 goals in the eight games.
were lighting up from Storrs to Milford (OK, they're both in Connecticut)
on Saturday night, as Atlantic Hockey teams flexed their offensive
muscles. Holy Cross hung eight goals on Air
Force on Friday, which UConn (vs. Canisius)
and Sacred Heart (vs. American International)
matched on Saturday. Those make Mercyhurst's
five- and six-goal outputs against Army look
pretty weak, don't they?
But even the
offensively challenged Black Knights are putting up impressive
shot totals nowadays. They have 30+ shots in four straight games,
after reaching that mark just five times in their first 18 contests.
cycled through three goalies in its 8-1 loss to Sacred
Heart on Saturday. Chad Davis played just less than 28
minutes, allowing seven goals on 19 shots, before giving way to
Frank Novello. He gave up one goal on 19 shots in the next 25
minutes. With the game already out of reach, coach Gary Wright
gave true freshman Matt Tourville his first game experience for
the last eight minutes. Tourville didn't face a shot.
Cross junior Andrew McKay amassed six points (two goals,
four assists) in the opener of a wild nonconference series in
Colorado Springs last weekend. McKay, now tied for the team lead
with 28 points, helped the Crusaders to an 8-4 win over Air
Force on Friday. But the Falcons responded with a 5-2
win, with two empty-netters the next night. "We were the
better team tonight, and it would have been a shame if we would
have lost," Air Force boss Frank Serratore declared afterward.
State players received their championship rings from
the 2003 CHA Tournament in a pregame ceremony Friday, much to
the delight of a season-high crowd of 1,019. Unfortunately for
the Warriors, they were swept by Northern Michigan, setting a
school-record with an eight-game losing streak in the process.
got a major boost by sweeping Army last weekend,
moving within three points of first-place Holy Cross
in the Atlantic Hockey standings. But the Crusaders have a game
in hand on Mercyhurst, so the Lakers had better hope West Point
is as kind to them next month at the league tournament.
and Quinnipiac meet Saturday in game three (of
three) of the Heroes Hat series. Quinnipiac is 1-0-1 thus far,
but even the Bobcats were to lose Saturday, Marshall thinks they
would retain the traveling trophy. "We're not going to get
into goal differential or fewest penalty minutes or anything,"
Marshall said. "They've had our number the last few years,
so they'll probably keep it. We have other things to focus on."
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.