College Hockey America Tournament Semifinals
MOINES, Iowa — In INCH's College Hockey America playoff
preview, we referred to the league's tournament as a crapshoot.
Well, third-seeded Robert Morris will play fifth-seeded
Alabama-Huntsville Sunday afternoon for the CHA championship
and an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Crapshoot
the Chargers (12-19-3) nor the Colonials (14-18-2) have
a winning record, guaranteeing this year's national tournament
its first sub.-500 entrant since Colorado College earned
a bid in 1978 with an 18-21-1 mark.
Gotto, R. Annesley
Arvai, S. Canter
Caruana, V. Rocco
Caruana, V. Rocco
Canter, A.J. Larivee
Selinger, D. Nimmo
Hilbert, T. Train
Marc Narduzzi (59:56, 35 svs, 3 GA)
Juliao Pagliero (59:28, 30 svs, 5 GA)
AH 5/10; NIA 9/29
Plays: AH 1-8; NIA 1-5
5, NIAGARA 3
scored four unanswered goals over the final two periods
and ousted top-seeded Niagara with a 5-3 College Hockey
America semifinal victory Saturday.
After Niagara took a 3-1 lead midway through
the second period on a Chris Moran goal, the Chargers rebounded
on the next shift on a goal by Kevin Morrison.
Less than three minutes later, Niagara goaltender
Juliano Pagliero got caught trying to play the puck behind
his own net. A quick pass to the slot found Josh Murray
for the open net to tie the game at 3-3.
Mike Salekin scored from his knees in the
final seconds of the second to give the Chargers their first
lead of the game and Cale Tanaka scored his first collegiate
goal for the only offense by either team in the third.
“(The fourth goal) all started in the
defensive end with a great shot block by Josh Murray,”
said Salekin. “I jumped up in the middle and passed
over to Murray and went to the net knowing there were only
10 seconds left. Murray put it on net and I was on my knees.
The rebound came toward me so I tipped it through the five
“We’ve come together as a group
the last few weeks. We’ve always been close but there
has always been one thing to knock us back down every time
we got up. The last couple of weeks we’ve been getting
the bounces and the goaltending.”
Niagara was whistled for a minor penalty and
a five-minute major over the final three minutes of regulation
to virtually eliminate any chance for a late comeback. Niagara
was eliminated in the semi-finals for the third time in
five years and the second time during that period at the
hands of Huntsville.
“We had one bad shift and one bad bounce
behind the net and it’s 3-3, but we just didn’t
get a response from a lot of guys after that,” said
Niagara coach Dave Burkholder. “There are a lot of
guys in that locker room who played their hearts out, but
you can’t win with half a tank.”
“We’ve lost a lot of games by
one goal this year and this is just a late blooming team,”
said head coach Doug Ross. “It took us to the second
half of the season to play well, but we went up to Bemidji
and played well and home against Niagara last week. I didn’t
know when we would make the move, but we’re making
our move right now.”
The Chargers have advanced to the CHA championship
game on four previous occasions, the most recent coming
in 2005, but have never won the league's playoff title.
Naturally, achieving that goal is important to Ross, who'll
step down as the team's coach after the season.
“We’ve played close in those championship
games, and I’d like to go out with a championship,"
said Ross, "but more importantly, I’d like to
see our seniors win it.”
Bemidji State 5
Miller, B. Jarvis
Bittle, J. Towsley
Gilbert, C. Margott
Clarke, S. Berkstresser
Sirianni, C. Bostock
Jarvis, B. Marino
Hopfe, J. Sparks
Sirianni, G. McManamin
Christian Boucher (60:00, 27 svs, 5 GA)
Matt Climie (58:43, 19 svs, 7 GA)
RM 9/18; BS 11/30
Plays: RM 4-8; BS 2-7
ROBERT MORRIS 7, BEMIDJI STATE 5
Robert Morris beat Bemidji State for the fourth
time in five meetings this season in a 7-5 shootout in Saturday's
second semifinal. The Colonials, now in their third season
of varsity hockey, are one win away from an NCAA Tournament
“We got the job done and competed the
whole game,” said forward Ryan Cruthers, who scored
two goals. “Having a bunch of juniors and five seniors,
we had the confidence just as much as they did. They might
have been here more than us, but we’ve been around
for three years and have veteran guys.”
BSU jumped out to a 1-0 lead when captain
Luke Erickson banged home a second rebound at 3:44 of the
first period. The Colonials tied it up six minutes later
when Sean Berkstresser converted a 5-on-3 power play off
passes from Logan Bittle and Jason Towsley.
RMU opened a wild second period with goals
ten seconds apart — Brett Hopfe on the power play
and Jason Towsley on a one-timer — to take a 3-1 lead.
That advantage grew to 4-1 when Cruthers one-timed a pass
from Aaron Clarke past BSU goalie Matt Climie at 14:40.
The Beavers pulled to within two a little
more than a minute later when Ryan Miller scored his fifth
of the season at 15:44, but the Colonials regained their
three-goal edge 28 seconds later when Cruthers scored for
the second time in the period. Still, BSU battled back to
cut the lead to 5-3 on Travis Winter’s power play
marker with 14 seconds remaining in the second period.
The two teams combined to score four goals
over the final 5:20 of the second period.
Erickson scored his second of the game at
8:43 of the third to narrow the RMU lead to 5-4, but the
Colonials responded with a power-play goal from Chris Margott
and a shorthanded effort from Joel Gasper two minutes apart
to regain their three-goal lead with just over six minutes
left in regulation.
Winter tallied a meaningless goal for BSU
with five seconds remaining.
“We responded every time they scored
and every time the game got hairy,” said Robert Morris
coach Derek Schooley. “It could have been deflating
when they scored with 14 seconds left in the second period,
but we came back and responded again. You saw an effort
from every player — we didn’t want to be denied
“Now it’s the
three-seed against the five seed to go to the NCAA Tournament.
Both teams have losing records. I don’t know if it’s
happened in the modern era with a team going with a losing
SEEN AND HEARD AT 95KGGO ARENA
• After taking a shot off the collarbone
from teammate Steve Canter in warm-ups Friday, Alabama-Huntsville
goaltender Marc Narduzzi gave the senior forward quite the
look when he again shot high in Saturday’s warm-up.
• Niagara’s forward lines featured
defensemen Armando Scarlato and Jim Burichin at wings on
the third and fourth lines, respectively — something
the coaching staff has toyed with over the past few weeks.
• Alabama-Huntsville coach Doug Ross
was spotted mingling among the Chargers pep band during
the second intermission.
• Speaking of Ross, UAH has assembled
a search committee to find his replacement behind the Charger
bench. The group has met once and word has it that a new
coach could be announced as soon as next month.
• Why don’t UAH’s goaltender
Blake MacNicol or defenseman Davide Nicoletti have names
on their jerseys? MacNicol joined the team in January while
Nicoletti has played in 22 games.
• Bemidji State senior Garrett Roth
played in his first game since February 17, while senior
Shane Holman saw his first action since suffering a separated
shoulder February 9 at Robert Morris.
• Robert Morris dressed junior Jake
Sparks at defense for just the third time this season. The
Colonials have been juggling personnel on the blueline since
Chris Kaufman suffered a season-ending injury February 3.
• Robert Morris tied a school record
with four power play goals against the Beavers. They first
did it against Bentley in 2005.
• There were 84 faceoffs in the RMU-BSU
game. All teams are having difficulty adjusting to the lower
height of the glass along the side boards. It only extends
four feet above the boards, resulting in numerous pucks
flying out of play in the first three games of the tournament.
• As the highest remaining seed, Robert
Morris had the option of moving into the large locker room
occupied by the United States Hockey League's Des Moines
Buccaneers, which Niagara vacated following its loss. Coach
Derek Schooley decided not to mess with a good thing, and
his Colonials stayed in the same room.
• Things are different here ... the
public address announcer continues to announce penalty and
goal times as the time remaining on the clock instead of
subtracting from 20 minutes.
• They're welcome to attend any tournament,
any time — a group of Bemidji State fans constructed
a beer-cup pyramid built from about 40 empty glasses in
front of section 12.