Familiar faces atop MAAC mountain
Junior Joe Lovell and Bentley have
14 wins this season, just one shy of the Falcons'
total from the last three years combined.
weekend tickets: Visit the Army
5 Bentley at No. 4 Sacred Heart
Bentley: 14-18-0 (13-13-0)
SHU: 14-14-6 (13-10-3)
Season series: Bentley leads, 2-1-0
Falcon fact: Head coach Ryan Soderquist
was the leading scorer on the last Bentley team to reach
the MAAC Tournament, in 2000.
Pioneer fact: Sacred Heart’s
win at Miami was the first victory for a MAAC team over
a CCHA opponent.
How Bentley wins: Get poised performances
from its 10 freshmen, who have accounted for nearly
half of the Falcons’ points this season.
How Sacred Heart wins: Score goals
and count on goaltender Eddy Ferhi to shine at the other
end. Bentley allowed 80 goals in the league regular
season, tied for the most among MAAC playoff teams.
6 Army at No. 3 Holy Cross
Army: 15-15-0 (13-13-0)
HC: 16-17-1 (14-11-1)
Season series: Army leads, 2-1-0
Black Knight fact: Army is 0-5 all-time
in Division I playoff games, including one-goal losses
each of the last two years.
Crusader fact: Holy Cross was 2-12-0
from Nov. 22 through Feb. 1. Before and after that stretch,
it was 14-5-1.
How Army wins: Goaltender Brad Roberts
needs to out-duel Tony Quesada in a battle of freshmen
How Holy Cross wins: Give Quesada some
offensive support to work with. He’s on a 6-0-0
streak in games where the Crusaders scored more than
one goal in front of him.
7 Canisius at No. 2 Quinnipiac
CC: 12-20-4 (11-13-2)
QU: 20-12-1 (18-7-1)
Season series: Quinnipiac leads, 3-0-0
Griff fact: Canisius is 8-5-1 when
scoring first, but 4-15-3 when its opponent scores first.
Bobcat fact: Quinnipiac is the only
team in the MAAC’s brief history to reach the
semifinals all four seasons.
How Canisius wins: Find a way to ignite
what was tied with American International for the conference’s
worst offense (2.54 goals per game).
How Quinnipiac wins: Get their high-powered
offense firing early – especially the potent power
8 Iona at No. 1 Mercyhurst
Iona: 11-21-2 (11-14-1)
Mercyhurst: 19-12-2 (19-5-2)
Season series: Tied, 1-1-0
Gael fact: Iona went 6-3-0 over its
last nine games to earn the eighth and final playoff
spot, including shutouts in back-to-back games last
Laker fact: Mercyhurst and Iona played
two of the MAAC’s toughest non-conference schedules,
and their records suffered because of it (a combined
0-14-1 outside of league play). But that experience
should pay off for one of them Saturday.
How Iona wins: Harness the emotion
of playing what could be the last game in school history
and make it a positive. But certainly forgive the Gaels
if they aren’t playing for the name on the front
of their jersey on this night.
How Mercyhurst wins: Weather that emotional
storm and play their game. Head coach Rick Gotkin will
have the Lakers ready.
season that saw two programs drop from the MAAC hockey landscape,
two very familiar programs held on to their spots atop the
Quinnipiac, for the fourth year in a row, finished in the
top two positions, with the Lakers capturing their third
straight title. This year Quinnipiac raced to the conference
lead in the first half of the season, only to be overtaken
late. Of crucial importance was Mercyhurst’s two-game
sweep at Quinnipiac Jan. 17-18; the Lakers ended up winning
the title by three points.
And while the
top two finished well ahead of the field – Quinnipiac
was eight points better than Holy Cross and Sacred Heart,
tied for third – there are challengers aplenty. For
proof, just look to their February records: the Lakers (8-3-0)
seemed far from invincible, and the Bobcats (5-5-0) stumbled.
Does that mean
the MAAC Tournament could see a new champion, and college
hockey fans nationwide could be introduced to a different
MAAC representative in the NCAA Tournament? Possible –
but not likely. Both Mercyhurst and Quinnipiac enjoyed their
regular season success, but they know the importance of
the single-elimination playoffs that begin this weekend.
got no stars, they’ve battled through injuries, and
they’ve got a freshman goalie. Yet this is clearly
Mercyhurst’s tournament to lose. Head coach Rick Gotkin
must be doing something right in Erie. Sometimes they win
with their offense by committee (10 players have between
seven and 14 goals). Other times they win with goaltending
(Andy Franck made 50 stops in the season finale against
Canisius). But the Lakers just keep winning.
could well be on their way to putting things back together
for a postseason surge. But one more potential surprise
to watch, believe it or not, is the team the Bobcats just
beat 7-0: Army. The Black Knights are 8-2-0 in their last
10, a record that only Mercyhurst matches entering the tournament.
What makes Army’s potential really intriguing is West
Point’s Tate Rink hosts the championship weekend.
The Knights are 12-5-0 there this year, including wins over
Mercyhurst and Quinnipiac.
Eddy Ferhi, Sacred Heart: The senior led the MAAC in goals-against
average (2.10) and save percentage (.922).
D – Wade Winkler, Quinnipiac: Can’t argue with
a guy who nets not one, but two hat tricks from the blue
line. He’s the key to Quinnipiac’s 30.3 percent
D – T.J. Kemp, Mercyhurst: The skilled sophomore gets
the nod as the lone Laker representative on our all-conference
F – Martin Paquet, Sacred Heart: The Pioneers’
all-time leading scorer, Paquet won the MAAC scoring race
by five points.
F – Matt Craig, Quinnipiac: The 2002 MAAC Tournament
MVP picked up where he left off, finishing second in conference
goals (15) behind teammate Matt Froehlich. He gets the nod
here over skilled set-up man Brian Herbert.
F – Brandon Doria, Holy Cross: The senior led Holy
Cross to a third-place finish for the second year in a row.
of the Year
wins its quarterfinal matchup at Sacred Heart Saturday night,
it will reach 15 victories for the season. Not a milestone
that would prompt celebration at many schools, perhaps –
but worth noting if it matches the number of wins in your
three-year Division I history before this season. Ryan Soderquist
took over the struggling Falcon program and, with the help
of his first recruiting class, produced immediate results.
Bentley was in contention for home ice until the very end
of the season.
of the Year
Ferhi may well be Sacred Heart’s MVP, but the Pioneers
salvaged what had been a terrible first half of the year
when they started scoring goals. Their 3.11 goals per game
during a 10-6-2 second half represented more than a half
a goal per game improvement over the start of the season.
For that, credit senior Martin Paquet (with assistance from
sophomore Garrett Larson and others, to be sure). Paquet
scored at opportune times, with two points and the game-winning
goal in the upset of Miami, and finished with a flourish
as well, posting 3-4—7 in the season’s final
of the Year
of Waltham, Mass. – where Paul Markarian and Ryan
Mayhew made plenty of noise – the MAAC freshmen who
made the biggest impact could be found in the crease. Andy
Franck (Mercyhurst), Tony Quesada (Holy Cross), Brad Roberts
(Army) and Ian Vigier (Iona) all emerged as their team’s
starting goaltenders and played well—in each case,
spectacularly at times. Picking from this crop isn’t
easy, but Roberts gets the nod for putting in longer hours
than Apu Nahasapeemapetilon; Army’s other goalies
didn’t appear in a league game until the final 23
minutes of the last game. Roberts led the conference in
minutes played (1,532) and saves (734) while posting strong
numbers in goals-against average (2.66) and save percentage
Joe Lovell enters the playoffs with 32 points, one more
than he totaled in his first two years at Bentley. Linemates
Markarian and Mayhew have been a big help, to be sure, but
credit Lovell as well for providing leadership on a team
loaded with youngsters.