What the heck
happened to Niagara last weekend? That's what Purple Eagles coach
Dave Burkholder would like to know.
crew was in control of its own destiny for the College Hockey
America regular-season crown before getting murdered, 6-2 and
8-3, by fourth-place Findlay last week. And those games were in
upstate New York, no less.
of having a colossal showdown with first-place Bemidji State to
decide the Peters Cup this weekend, the Purple Eagles have a less
important showdown with the new Peters Cup champions.
our team afterward that one weekend does not define our season,"
Burkholder said. "It was just one of those weekends when
nothing went right. But I think it's behind us."
The most shocking
aspect of the Findlay series wasn't even that the Purple Eagles
lost twice. It was the way they lost – allowing 14 goals
on just 35 shots. As Burkholder said, "We just couldn't keep
the puck from going in our net."
the defensive problems, Findlay became the first team to hold
standout Niagara forwards Barret Ehgoetz and Joe Tallari scoreless
for an entire weekend. In fact, the duo was a combined minus-14
in the series, and that's not a bit misleading.
actually pretty accurate," Burkholder said. "It was
probably the first time in three years I had to go to a postgame
press conference and talk about Barret not playing well. We got
down, got frustrated, and the guys on that line started playing
on their own instead of like the dominant line they are when they
But, of course,
the show goes on. Niagara will still travel to Bemidji this weekend,
and there's still plenty for which to play this season. Winning
the Peters Cup is nice and all, but both teams would rather win
the CHA tournament and automatic NCAA bid next week in Kearney,
get into the NCAAs, I know a lot of people will forget about this
Findlay weekend," Burkholder said. "Including our goalies."
the Beavers are rejoicing in their first Division I conference
championship. Bemidji was a Division II hockey power for decades
and racked up 17 such league titles, but the Beavers hadn't won
anything since 1995.
it's exciting and a sense of accomplishment for the team,"
Bemidji coach Tom Serratore said. "We tried to build the
team to win a championship, and they did. But, the most difficult
task is the one that awaits. The pinnacle of the season is the
credited his senior class, led by Bryce and Bill Methven, Wade
Chiodo, Anders Olsson, and Jared Hanowski, for leading the Beavers'
steady charge toward the CHA title. The senior class won just
four games as freshmen, 12 as sophomores and 14 as juniors. Already
this season, they have 18 victories, and the Beavers will look
to add to that total against Niagara and in the postseason.
seniors earned it more than anyone," Serratore said. "I'm
really excited for them and the couple of classes before them,
because they were the ones that really helped us form our program.
You can look at their track record. They were with us when we
only won four games their freshman year."
AND HEARD IN THE LEAGUES
Force plays at Wayne State in the only CHA series of any significance
this week (the teams are tied for fifth place), and Falcons forward
Will Zimmerman might not dress for the games. He might not even
travel to Detroit. But the sophomore is still in a darn good mood,
for the simple reason that he's back on the roster.
Zimmerman was removed from Air Force's squad by coach Frank Serratore
for being a negative influence. His grades were OK, but he wasn't
taking care of his military duties – and his play on the
ice wasn't impressive enough to compensate. He dressed for just
eight games as a freshman and failed to register a point.
having trouble saying 'Yeah, I messed up,'" the Long Island
native recalled from his freshman year at the Academy. "When
someone was yelling at me, I was always talking back and trying
to get the last word in. You can't do that when you're new here.
You have to take responsibility if you mess up and not try to
weasel your way out of it."
dismissal from the team, Zimmerman decided it was time for an
attitude adjustment. He began showing his officers more respect
and set out to get back in Serratore's good graces. In the fall,
he watched the team's practices and games from the stands, put
himself through a strict weight training regimen and worked out
alone on the ice whenever he could.
to show him and the team that I really cared, and that I had changed,"
improved work ethic led to a sterling recommendation from his
squadron leader, which prompted Serratore to invite him back to
the team in January. Zimmerman has played just once since then
– the Falcons' 5-2 win over Holy Cross on Valentine's Day
– but he felt good on the ice, considering his layoff. Now,
he's hoping to set the stage for a bigger role next fall.
I could do it all over again," Zimmerman said. "I would
come in here with a different attitude. I really want to be a
guy everybody wants to be around."
Bobcats Lair – Construction could start as early
as this summer on a $25 million hockey and basketball complex
at Quinnipiac. The building, which has been in the works for five
years, recently gained approval from local authorities, and the
school hopes to have the facility ready for the 2006-07 season.
Until then, the Bobcats icers will continue leasing ice time from
the nearby Northford Ice Pavilion.
director Jack McDonald said the exact number of seats for the
new hockey arena hasn't been set, but it's expected to be in the
range of 2,500 to 3,000.
be great for the fans to be able to sit in comfort and have all
the amenities of a Division I building," McDonald said. "And
it will be great for the students to have a building right on
the complex will have views of the New Haven skyline and the Long
Island Sound, in addition to luxury suites, film rooms, weight
rooms and the other frills of modern arenas. He also acknowledged
that the upgraded facilities could make Quinnipiac more attractive
for a future jump to the ECAC or Hockey East.
in sports would want to elevate their status," McDonald said.
"If the opportunity came, we would welcome it."
Time – Holy Cross is No. 1 and American International
is No. 9, but every other seed in the Atlantic Hockey tournament
is still up for grabs this weekend. Mercyhurst needs just one
point against Canisius to sew up second. Right below the Lakers,
third-place Quinnipiac beat fourth-place Sacred Heart on Tuesday
night, moving a point ahead of the Pioneers in the standings.
Both teams have just one game remaining – Quinnipiac at
Holy Cross and Sacred Heart at AIC. Nothing against the Yellow
Jackets, but despite the one-point deficit, the Pioneers still
might have the advantage.
Canisius has a three-point lead over sixth-place Connecticut,
but the Golden Griffins have a tougher final weekend with a home-and-home
against Mercyhurst. Meanwhile, UConn will probably be favored
to sweep AIC and Army. That race could get interesting.
Knights are one point ahead of Bentley for seventh place, which
is good news for Army because nobody wants to be a part of the
No. 8 vs. No. 9 play-in game on the first night of the tournament.
The fewer games you play, the fewer chances to lose, right? Making
the race for seventh even more interesting is that the Falcons
and Black Knights meet in West Point on Friday. If Bentley wins,
Army will be in the perilous eighth position with one game left.
Great Weekend Getaway
at Bemidji State (Fri.-Sat.) Yeah, this series no longer means anything in the
race for the Peters Cup. But, the smart money says it will
be a preview of next week's CHA tournament championship
game to determine who goes to the Big Dance. So, forget
about Niagara's shocking losses to Findlay last week, photocopy
a few scouting report forms and analyze the matchups on
this ice this weekend. Odds are, you'll see them again when
the stakes are for real.
you're there: Bemidji fans have already had a week to celebrate
their team's regular-season title, but Beavers faithful
are always up for a little more revelry. If Bemidji wins
either game this weekend, head to the Keg N' Cork bar for
some postgame merriment with north-central Minnesota's best
No. 1 is for Army senior netminder Bill Moss,
the reigning Atlantic Hockey co-Goaltender of the Week.
Moss posted a .932 save percentage and led the Black Knights
to a win over Connecticut and a narrow loss to Sacred Heart
last weekend. Not bad for a guy who spent his first two
years in West Point on the JV squad and played just two
regular-season games as a junior on the big club. He has
gotten the call six times this year as Brad Roberts' backup,
and has posted a 1-2-0 record and a 2.52 GAA. The word is
that Moss has never once sulked about his playing time,
No. 2 goes to Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore,
who simply has his older brother's number. The younger sibling
is 10-0-1 all-time against brother Frank Serratore's Air
Force Falcons. Maybe it's a little payback for getting picked
on as a kid. Also, with two wins last weekend, Tom Serratore
passed Vic Weber and moved into sole possession of second
place on the school's all-time wins list. His 44 victories
at BSU are just 658 behind school record-holder (and CHA
commissioner) Bob Peters. "I'll have to coach until
I'm 85 to catch him," Serratore quipped.
goaltending is a big reason why the Purple Eagles
were in the league title hunt until the second-to-last weekend
this year. But, on said weekend, the tending tandem of sophomore
Jeff VanNynatten and senior Rob Bonk let the team down.
VanNynatten and Bonk combined to allow 14 goals on just
35 shots in a series sweep by underdog Findlay. At home.
If you left your calculator at home (and are unable eyeball
a relatively easy fraction), the Oilers shot 40 percent.
In Saturday's rout, VanNynatten and Bonk made eight saves
and allowed eight goals (50 percent). I wish shot that well
in my pickup basketball games.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
because Holy Cross has already clinched its No.
1 seed, don't expect the Crusaders to play any differently this
weekend. "This is college hockey, not the NHL," Holy
Cross coach Paul Pearl said. "It's not like we have some
secret system that the guys have been going over for 18 hours
a day that we're going to break out now. We're not going to change
minutes were flowing like Cristal at Nelly's house in two league
games last weekend. Quinnipiac and Bentley
combined for 181 PIM in a chippy (to say the least) Bobcats
win Friday. Three players from each team (Matt Froehlich, Troy
Maleyko and Ty Deinema for Quinnipiac and leading scorer Brendan
McCartin, Brett Murphy and Ryan Lessnau for Bentley) received
game disqualifications for fighting and had to sit out their teams'
Saturday contests. The short bench forced Quinnipiac coach Rand
Pecknold to play forward John Kelly as a defenseman in the 3-3
tie with Holy Cross.
But if you
thought Quinnipiac and Bentley had short tempers, look at the
box score from Wayne State's win at Alabama-Huntsville
on Sunday. They combined for 187 PIM, although much of
that punitive time came from 10-minute misconducts. UAH's Keith
Rowe received a game DQ, meaning he'll miss the team's first game
at Findlay this weekend. The two teams' 187 minutes,
UAH's 100 PIM and Rowe's 29 PIM all set CHA single-game records.
were a few surprises between the pipes in Atlantic Hockey games
last weekend. For instance, Army starter Brad
Roberts didn't play against Connecticut or Sacred
Heart, as senior Bill Moss got the nod instead. Similarly,
Quinnipiac played Justin Eddy both nights instead
of using Jamie Holden. The Bobcats duo usually shares time in
net. In both cases, school officials say, it was just a case of
the coach going with a hot hand. Holden played Tuesday night,
and Roberts is expected to see time this weekend. Meanwhile, Bentley
junior Simon St. Pierre returned to the crease Saturday
after missing seven games with a sore knee. It was a rough welcome
back, however, as he surrendered seven goals to Mercyhurst.
Ryan Cruthers could become the first plebe to lead the
Black Knights in scoring since 1978-79. In official NCAA games,
the Farmingdale, N.Y., native's 16 points lead sophomore Seth
Beamer by one. But Army counts exhibitions in its statistics,
meaning Beamer's 22-point total is one better than Cruthers' in
the eyes of the Academy. Regardless, Cruthers will get the chance
to claim the undisputed scoring crown against Bentley
and UConn this weekend.
is reporting that both sophomore defenseman Joe Testa
(2-3—5) and sophomore forward Joe Dumais (4-3—7) are
done for the year with undisclosed injuries. The ailments are
the latest health woes for the Bobcats, who have resembled an
infirmary as much as a hockey team this season.
State, for all its problems this season, earned its first
road sweep in more than two years by dusting off UAH
last weekend. The wins ended a school-record 10-game losing streak
and marked the Warriors' first back-to-back victories since November.
Goaltender Matt Kelly, who had been sitting behind Marc Carlson
most of February, earned both wins and is 2-0-1 with a 1.33 goals-against
average in his last three starts.
On the subject
of road sweeps, Findlay took a pair of road conference
games (at Niagara) for the first time in five
could view American International goaltender
Chad Davis' Saturday performance against Canisius
two ways. You could say he had a remarkable game, amassing 50
saves. Or you could say he played poorly, allowing six goals and
absorbing the loss. We'll lean toward the former and blame the
AIC defense for allowing a so-so Golden Griffins attack to generate
so many shots.
third line of Ryan Huddy, Riley Riddell and Rob Sirianni
had a crazy good weekend against Air Force. The
trio amassed 12 points Friday, led by Huddy's hat trick and Riddell's
four assists, then the threesome put up four more points Saturday,
paced by a goal and an assist by Riddell.
Findlay senior Brian Sherry was helping the Beavers
clinch the CHA championship by blitzing Niagara
across the country. Sherry put up a hat trick Friday and added
another goal and two assists Saturday, giving him six points for
freshman goalie Allen Barton wasn't part of the Findlay
carnage, because he's been nursing a pulled hamstring for about
three weeks. He also landed in the hospital with flu symptoms
Monday, but he still might be able to play this weekend.
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.