Last season, Atlantic Hockey teams struggled out of the gate in non-conference matchups, going 1-9 on opening weekend, with Canisius getting the sole win.
Turn the calendar ahead and it was more of the same. AHA teams were 1-9-3 to open the 2010-2011 season with the Golden Griffins again getting the only victory, a 5-3 decision over Western Michigan. The league’s reigning player of the year, Cory Conacher, picked up where he left off, recording a hat trick, including the game winning goal.
Linemate Vincent Scarsella had three assists, becoming the seventh player in the school’s Division I era to reach the 100 point mark for his career. He added a goal on Saturday in a 3-2 overtime lost to the Broncos, giving him 102 points to date.
A winning feeling
While not outright wins, a couple of ties had some AHA teams feeling good. Mercyhurst opened its season early with a 4-4 tie at Michigan on October 2. The Lakers battled back from a 4-0 deficit and then won the ensuing shootout in five rounds.
“I loved it,” said Laker coach Rick Gotkin. “All these years (23) and I’ve never been involved in a shootout. It really does feel like you won something, and guys tell me that after if you lose a shootout you really feel like you’ve lost the game.”
So Gotkin says he’s not in favor of using tiebreakers in league play where where points are on the line.
“Some of the best games I’ve ever been involved with have been ties.” he said. “There’s something about each team deserving something after a great game where they happen to tie.”
On Saturday, Connecticut goaltender Garrett Bartus stopped 40 of 43 shots to help the Huskies to a 3-3 tie at Maine. The Black Bears outshot UConn 43-19 for the contest, including 15-4 in the third period and 4-1 in overtime.
It was probably not as good a feeling at Niagara, which had 3-1 lead on visiting Merrimack, but had to settle for a 4-4 tie as the Warriors exploded for three goals during a 3 minute span late in the second period.
Player of the week
This year, I’m going to name a player of the week in this space every Tuesday, as well as some honorable mentions to call attention to outstanding performances.
POTW:Cory Conacher, Canisius
Five points in two games will pretty much guarantee some recognition.
- Denny Urban – Robert Morris. The CHA all-star defenseman also had five points to help the Colonials get their first ever AHA wins in a sweep of AIC.
- Garrett Bartus – Connecticut. Forty saves in a tough barn against a tough team.
Getting my vote
I’ll also be posting my weekly vote in the USCHO.com Division I poll for you to mock. Here’s my latest ballot:
11. North Dakota
17. Notre Dame
20. St. Cloud
It’s a tough call when some teams haven’t seen action yet.