February 17, 2004
Dr. Phil at Findlay

By James Jahnke

Atlantic Hockey/CHA Notebook

This week's schedule
National TV Schedule

Hockey East Notebook

WCHA Notebook

Pat Ford admits he has had plenty of Dr. Phil moments since Findlay announced its intention of dropping its hockey program after the season.

But, despite 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.

"I feel 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."

The Oilers' 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.

But don't 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.

"Adversity 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."

Team captain and leading scorer Kris Wiebe also feels the Oilers have overcome the situation.

"It's 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."

Wiebe, like 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.


UConn Do It
Only five teams in the country have won four-straight
games, and Connecticut is one of them. Yes, UConn.

The Huskies 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.

"Everyone 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.

"He hit 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."

Chasers – 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.

Among their 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 season.

"We always 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 Day One.

"Different 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
120x60 - Brand Red

Alabama-Huntsville 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 defensive scheme.

While 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.

Stick Salute

Big 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?

Bench Minor

Unfortunately, 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!

On the 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) (bleep)!"
Vail: "Yeah? You're (bleeping) dead when this is done!"

Yes, love certainly was in the air this night.

CHAmpionship 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 by six.

But Niagara has another golden opportunity to gain ground this weekend, as they host Air Force while the Beavers must deal with UAH.


• Don't 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.

"It was a lot of fun," said Segreve, 13. "It was really good for those guys to come down and help us out."

"It was 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 age."

Bentley's 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 Bentley series.

• Despite 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.

• Speaking 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 said.

Bemidji 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.

• Scoreboards 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.

AIC 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.

Holy 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.

Wayne 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.

Mercyhurst 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.

UConn 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."

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

Send this to a friend

About Us | Advertiser Info | Site Map | Privacy Policy
© 2004 Inside College Hockey, Inc., All Rights Reserved