College Hockey America Tournament Final
Charges Back, Wins CHA Title
MOINES, Iowa — Alabama-Huntsville was trying to become
just the second team in College Hockey America history to
win three games at the league tournament to advance to the
NCAA Tournament. Robert Morris was trying to advance to
the NCAAs in its third year of existence, and become the
second team to win the CHA title in year three.
No matter which team won, a below-.500 team
would be going to the tourney for the first time since Colorado
College in 1978.
Berkstresser, A. Clarke
Bittle, R. Cruthers
Conley, J. Towsley
Clarke, R. Cruthers
Kalinchuk, J. Federoff
Salekin, S. Arvai
Murray, D. Nimmo
McConnachie, S. Arvai
Marc Narduzzi (12:25, 1 sv, 3 GA)
AH: Blake MacNicol (59:54, 38 svs, 1 GA)
Christian Boucher (72:13, 45 svs, 5 GA)
AH 13/26; NIA 7/14
Plays: AH 3-6; RM 3-13
Blake MacNicol, Alabama-Huntsville
D: Dave Cowan, Robert Morris
D: Mike Salekin, Alabama-Huntsville
F: Sean Bertstresser, Robert Morris
F: Chris Margott, Robert Morris
F: Kevin Morrison, Alabama Huntsville
F: David Nimmo, Alabama-Huntsville (MVP)
That honor — and challenge to prove
it belongs — goes to Alabama-Huntsville. Senior forward
David Nimmo, the tournament MVP, took advantage of a fallen
defenseman to break in on a two-on-one to score the game
winner 12:31 into OT as the Chargers rallied from a 4-0
first-period deficit to beat the Colonials, 5-4.
“I tried to jump up and Josh Murray
was going as hard as he could to try to pull their defenseman
back,” said Nimmo outside a festive Charger locker
room. “I kind of bobbled it a bit, but got it on my
backhand so I just threw as hard as I could and it just
got by [RMU goalie Christian] Boucher.”
Robert Morris scored on four of its first
seven shots. UAH starting goaltender Marc Narduzzi made
just one save on four shots, giving up goals to the Colonials'
Ryan Cruthers, Dave Cowan (who scored his first collegiate
goal on a power play and with goaltender Christian
Boucher pulled for an extra attacker as UAH had been whistled
for a late penalty), and Sean Berkstresser.
Chargers coach Doug Ross yanked Narduzzi after
the third goal, replacing him with freshman Blake MacNicol,
who promptly allowed the fourth tally on a tip-in.
“I told everybody that our guys come
back from behind and never quit,” said Ross. "It
was tough to take Narduzzi out of there, and then they bounced
another one past Blake (McNicol).”
“I’m not used to doing that,”
said MacNicol when asked about entering the game cold. “Narduzzi
bailed me out Friday (against Wayne State), so I had to
step up. It was tough to get amped up for the game thinking
I was just going to sit on the bench.”
Alabama-Huntsville started its comeback with
goals by Kevin Morrison and David Nimmo in the first three
minutes of the second period. Grant Selinger then converted
in the final minute of the second after great cycling with
linemates Josh Murray and Nimmo to narrow the RMU advantage
“We regrouped in the second period and
got the two early, and the one late in the period really
was key,” said Ross. “We just needed to stay
out of the box so we could get our four lines moving.”
Defenseman Scott Kalinchuk scored a power-play
goal from the point a little more than five minutes into
the third period for the Chargers to send the game into
The win gives Alabama-Huntsville its first
College Hockey America title in five trips to the championship
game, and the first CHA postseason crown for Ross, who will
retire at the end of the season after 25 years behind the
“I’ve been trying to retire and
this team won’t let me,” joked Ross. “To
see the joy in the players faces and the happiness of knowing
what they did, that gives me a lot of satisfaction.”
“We’ve been through a lot together,"
said Nimmo, discussing Ross and the team's 10 seniors. "Our
sophomore year, we lost in the finals to Bemidji State,
which was a heartbreaker. Last year, we lost to Bemidji
again in the semis even though we were up 3-1 in the third.
Coach has been around here for 25 years and deserves it
as much as anybody.”
SEEN AND HEARD AT 95KGGO ARENA
• Sunday's game was third CHA championship
game to go into overtime. The others were in 2002, when
Wayne State defeated Alabama-Huntsville, and 2004, when
Niagara defeated Bemidji State.
• Each of the tournament's four games
featured at least one team scoring four unanswered goals.
In the final, both did it.
• Not unexpectedly, neither team made
a single line or pairing change from the second round to
the championship game. The only change for UAH since the
opener was at goaltender with Marc Narduzzi getting the
start in the second round and final.
• Confidence: UAH coach Doug Ross had
his fourth line and third defense pairing on the ice together
in the first five minutes of the overtime.
• Twist of fate? Joe Federoff transferred
to Alabama-Huntsville from Robert Morris. He became eligible
after the transfer in January.
• A pre-game back injury necessitated
the replacement of one of the referees scheduled to work
Sunday's championship game. Two groups of three officials
were in town for the tournament. Barry Pochmara, who worked
games Friday and Saturday, was summoned at the last minute.
• Talk about neutral ice. It’s
only 110 miles further from Huntsville, Ala., to Des Moines
than from Pittsburgh to the tournament's host city —
1,668 vs. 1,558 miles. And yes, both teams bused.
• Someone was watching the Weather Channel:
two Robert Morris players were seen taking advantage of
the 50-degree weather in Des Moines, playing catch in the
arena parking lot two hours before game time. Who thought
to bring baseball gloves on a 1,550-mile round trip?
• Along with the McLeod Trophy, named
for former CHA and current WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod,
the Chargers also received CHA Championship caps and watches
to commemorate the win.
• CHA commissioner Bob Peters, the former
Bemidji State coach, reported that the tournament site for
next year will be determined at the conference's meetings
in Florida next month.