March 19, 2005
Atlantic Hockey Championship
Ella Leads Lakers to Title, Tournament

By Doug Manners

Mercyhurst 3, Quinnipiac 2 OT
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
No Scoring

Second Period

1-Q Aaron Ludwig (6) EV
2:06 C. Falite, R. Hammel
1-M Dave Borrelli (17) EV
5:17 E. Johnson, B. Cottreau
2-Q Matt Craig (18) EV
12:27 D. Rossi, M. Froehlich
Third Period
2-M Erik Johnson (4) EV
14:03 R. Toomey, S. Reynolds
3-M Scott Champagne (12) EV
4:56 B. Cottreau
M: Mike Ella, 64:56, 36 saves, 2 GA
Q: Jamie Holden, 64:56, 34 saves, 3 GA
Penalties: M 6/12; Q 6/12
Power Plays: M 0-3; Q 0-3
Attendance: 1,000

NORTHFORD, Conn. – Only a month ago, Mercyhurst goalie Mike Ella had played in just three Atlantic Hockey games. In the past four weeks, he has played in eight consecutive conference games for the Lakers and won every single game.

But no game could compare to the magnitude of last night’s Atlantic Hockey final, when the sophomore turned aside 36 shots to lead the Lakers to a 3-2 overtime win against archrival Quinnipiac at the Northford Ice Pavilion. With the win, Mercyhurst will play in its third NCAA Tournament next weekend.

“You don’t beat teams like Quinnipiac without great goaltending, and Mike Ella applied that tonight,” Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin said. “Going into overtime, we said we’re going to let the boys play and they’ll find a way if it’s meant to be.”

While Atlantic Hockey might be at the bottom of the Division I totem pole, the rivalry between Mercyhurst and Quinnipiac has been as competitive and intense as any Hockey East or WCHA rivalry. Excluding empty net goals, all four championship games between the two teams have been decided by one goal.

“Mercyhurst and Quinnipiac have played lots of great games over the year,” Gotkin said. “This is a tough place to play in, but coming in here, we liked where we were at.”

Ella was busiest in the second period, when the Bobcats fired 20 shots and scored both of their goals. But one of his final saves, a right pad save on Ben Nelson as he broke loose down the slot alone with 3:50 left in the third period, was one of the biggest of the night.

In overtime, Ella didn’t have to make any saves as the Lakers outshot Quinnipiac, 5-0. Then, at 4:56, Ben Cottreau skated behind the net and flung a backhand shot on net. Scott Champagne picked up the rebound near the left post and put the puck past Bobcats’ goalie Jamie Holden, who never reacted until the puck was already in the net.

“It was overtime and I knew I had to get the puck on net,” Champagne said. “You never know what can happen when you put the puck on net.”

Quinnipiac had a 2-1 lead heading into the final six minutes of regulation. But, with 5:57 remaining, junior Erik Johnson was alone at the near post and shoveled the puck into the half-empty net to tie the score at 2-2 and force overtime.

“We got a really bad break on that goal,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “The blade came right out of (Michael Bordieri’s) skate and he basically couldn’t function. But that’s part of the game.”

For Quinnipiac, the loss was painful in more ways than one. Not only did the seniors miss their final chance to make the NCAA tournament, but the entire team might have missed its best opportunity to clinch the program’s second appearance in the tournament. With Quinnipiac joining the more competitive ECAC next season, it’s unlikely that the Bobcats will challenge for a spot in the NCAA tournament over the next few seasons.

“It’s a sad time in the locker room. This is a good group of guys and they really bonded,” Pecknold said. “It would have been nice to get this one, but we had a good run.”


• The power at the Northford Ice Pavilion went out for about 10 minutes prior to the start of the warm-ups. As a result, the start of the game was pushed from 7:00 to 7:10.

• Quinnipiac has played Mercyhurst in the MAAC/Atlantic Hockey championship game under three different nicknames. In 2001, when Quinnipiac lost 6-5, the team was known as the Braves. During the 2001-02 season, Quinnipiac dropped the nickname Braves from its athletic teams, so Quinnipiac had no nickname when it defeated the Lakers 6-4 in 2002. When the teams tangled in the finals again in 2003, Quinnipiac had already adopted its current nickname, the Bobcats.

• The Bobcats expect to play some home games in Northford next season as a member of the ECAC. Ground has broken on a new 3,500-seat athletic center on Quinnipiac’s new Sherman Avenue campus, but it isn’t expected to open until January 2007.

• Jamie Holden will have to settle for being tied with J.C. Wells as the all-time wins leader for Quinnipiac goaltenders. Holden finishes his four-year career with 59 wins.


3. Scott Champagne, Mercyhurst
The Atlantic Hockey tournament MVP scored the game-winning goal to send Mercyhurst to the NCAA tournament.

2. Jamie Holden, Quinnipiac
The senior goalie allowed only four goals in the three tournament games for Quinnipiac. He was named as the goalie on the All-Tournament team.

1. Mike Ella, Mercyhurst
Holden’s numbers in the tournament were better, but Ella came up with the key saves for the Lakers when they needed him most.

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