This Week in the MAAC: November 3, 1999

A Record-Setting Week

Of course, in a conference that is only a year and two weeks old, you’re going to have records set and broken almost every week. And last week was no exception to the rule as two more league marks fell.

However, one might easily think that Quinnipiac and Iona are taking this a bit to an extreme. One week after the two clubs combined for the most goals ever in a game (14 goals in a 7-7 tie), they recorded eight goals in the first period of last Friday’s contest — the most ever in one period.

Quinnipiac’s Chris Cerrella, currently second in the MAAC in scoring with 10 points, was the only player to tally two goals in that wild 20 minutes. He scored the Braves’ first goal of the period at 1:05 to tie the score at one, and then scored their fourth goal at 19:04 to again knot the game.

In the MAAC opener for both Bentley and Mercyhurst, the clubs set two records, neither of the high-class variety. A line brawl in the first period on the contest resulted in 152 minutes in penalties that period and a game total of 162 minutes (81 for each club) — both MAAC records. All five skaters at the time for both clubs were given misconduct penalties, with Matt Kowal of Bentley and Marc Vanteressian of Mercyhurst receiving game disqualifications.

Lakers, Braves Sweep

Only two clubs were able to win both of their games in the first full weekend of MAAC play. Mercyhurst handled Bentley, 6-4, on Friday before beating Holy Cross, 5-2, on Saturday. Quinnipiac was victorious in two two-goal games, a 5-3 win over Sacred Heart and a 6-4 win over Iona.

Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin was extremely pleased with the way his team welcomed themselves into the MAAC. He talked most about the fact that for his club, last weekend was not their first two-game weekend. With four games already under their belt, Gotkin felt the Lakers were in good game shape.

"I think that [having played four games] was the difference," Gotkin said. "We talked about it before [Friday’s] game.

"We said we’d like to have a great start and win convincingly, but if it’s going to be a tight game — as it always is against Bentley — in the third period, the fact that we’ve played four games may be the ultimate thing that decides the contest, and it was."

Gotkin was also impressed with the play of forward Eric Ellis. A junior, Eric is one of the team’s assistant captains, and his leadership was a big factor in Friday’s come-from-behind win over Bentley.

"[Eric] is a big-game player," said Gotkin. "He’s only a junior and we expect him to have a great year this year and next year. He’s a leader."

"You need somebody going hard for you. I was thinking [Friday] was just one of those nights when 18 guys are brain-dead. He wasn’t. He kept going and kept doing the little things, and then I think we got offense and momentum and scored goals."

Ellis wasn’t simply a motivating factor for the team. He factored on the scoresheet that night as well, registering two goals and an assist.

MAAC Game of the Week

Quinnipiac College at Canisius College Amherst Pepsi Arena, Amherst, N.Y., 7:30 P.M. ET

The Canisius Ice Griffs roll out the red carpet this weekend as they welcome MAAC preseason favorite Quinnipiac College this Friday night at the Pepsi Arena in Amherst, N.Y.

The game is a rematch of last year’s MAAC semifinals, when the Ice Griffs stunned top-seeded Quinnipiac, 5-2, and dashed the Braves hopes of appearing in the NCAA tournament.

One might expect Quinnipiac’s sixth-year coach, Rand Pecknold, to be focused on the rematch and gearing up to play the Griffs, but instead, at this early point of the season, he has to worry about injuries.

After losing arguably the best player in the league, Chad Poliquin, for the season, Pecknold has also lost sophomore defenseman Dan Ennis, as well as sophomore Todd Bennett, who has been pushed to forward to take the place of Poliquin. "I don’t think we’re focused in on [playing Canisius again] as much as I originally thought we would," said Pecknold. "We’ve been hit hard by the injury bug. So our focus isn’t who we’re playing, it’s simply the injuries and getting kids healthy.

"Last season we were healthy all season; this year is kind of the opposite."

Remembering last year’s semifinal against Canisius, Pecknold feels that his team’s main objective has to be finishing plays.

"It’s simply a matter of who’s going to execute and who’s going to finish," said Pecknold. "I watched last year’s semifinal the other day and saw so many opportunities where we just didn’t finish. We had a couple of breakaways here, a puck that hit the knob of the goalie’s stick there.

"It all comes down to either finishing or goaltending, depending which side you’re on."

And goaltending for Quinnipiac is not as secure as it was last season. Last year’s standout, J.C. Wells, has been struggling lately, and was pulled in last Saturday’s game against Iona.

"We’re trying to focus on being a good defensive club," Pecknold noted. "Last year we were a good defensive team and our goaltending was phenomenal. This season, we haven’t quite gotten that goaltending yet. It’s making our forwards and defensemen play better."

Last Saturday, Jimmy White, a sophomore from Coventry, R.I., came off the bench in relief of both Wells and Dan DiLeo to gain his second career win. The move to use White, according to Pecknold, was an eye-opener for his club.

"Jimmy’s a good goaltender who hasn’t gotten much of a chance," Pecknold said. "Wells struggled a bit, giving up two goals on three shots, so I put in DiLeo.

"And then [DiLeo] played pretty well, but let up what I thought was a soft goal. So I figured if I was going to hold J.C. accountable, I had to hold Danny as well.

"So I told Jimmy he was going to play and he went in there and did a great job. It shocked him and shocked the team a little, but I think that helped and made the team play better defensively."

If Quinnipiac is going to be successful this weekend, they will not only have to be successful defensively, but also find a way to beat the Canisius goaltending tandem of Stephan Fabiilli and Sean Weaver — the two have combined for a 2.30 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Weaver’s only loss was a 2-0 decision to Holy Cross last Friday, while Fabiilli’s blemish was a 6-3 loss to defending national champion Maine two weeks ago.

Weekly Honors

The MAAC honored Jeff Gould (Sarnia, Ont.) of Mercyhurst University as the Player of the Week for this past week. Gould posted the first hat trick of the season in MAAC play as Mercyhurst defeated Holy Cross 5-2 on Saturday. He also tallied a goal in Friday’s win over Bentley as the Lakers swept their first two MAAC games ever.

Peter Aubry (Windsor, Ont.) of Mercyhurst was named the MAAC Goaltender of the Week. Aubry stopped 24 of 26 shots against defending MAAC champion Holy Cross as the Lakers defeated the Braves 5-2. This season, the sophomore netminder is 1-0-1 with a 2.40 goals-against average and a save percentage of .928.

UConn’s Scott Brown (Blaine, Minn.) was named the MAAC Rookie of the Week. Brown scored his first collegiate goal and the first of the game seven minutes into a 7-1 win over American International to set the scoring tone for UConn. He also earned a +4 on the evening.

Around the League

AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL — Senior goalie Tom Patty (East Alstead, N.H.) led the Yellow Jackets to their first win of the season, over Army 3-2 on Saturday. Patty stopped 40 shots including 17 in the third period to preserve the win.

BENTLEY — Ryan Soderquist (Stoneham, Mass.) scored the 66th goal of his career in the first period against Canisius on Saturday, making him the all-time leading goal-scorer in Bentley history. That topped the old record set by John Maguire.

CANISIUS — Steve Birch’s (Pickering, Ont.) third shorthanded goal of the season against Bentley on Saturday was the game winning goal. Three shorthanded tallies sets a Canisius record … It took Canisius just two games to earn its first league win this season. The Ice Griffs didn’t win their first league contest until the ninth game of the 1998-99 season.

CONNECTICUT — Sophomore defenseman Matt Herhal (Pottstown, Penn.) tallied back-to-back goals in the first period to lead UConn to its first league win of the season over American International.

FAIRFIELD — Fairfield’s 6-1 loss at Air Force last Friday was the first-ever meeting between the two schools … Freshman Kevin Nolan (Whitestone, N.Y.) netted his first collegiate goal in Saturday’s game versus the Falcons. The Stags are in the midst of a nine-game road stretch which continues this Friday at Mercyhurst.

HOLY CROSS — Freshman Brandon Doria (Bayonne, N.J.) notched the only two goals of the game in a 2-0 Crusader win over Canisius. He added another tally against Mercyhurst on Saturday.

IONA — 1999-2000 MAAC preseason Player of the Year Ryan Carter (Fort Nelson, B.C.) has tallied two goals and four assists in the team’s first three games of the season … Freshmen Mark Hallam (Medicine Hat, Alb.) and Ryan Manitowich (Calgary, Alb.) are tied for the team high in goals scored with three.

MERCYHURST — Mercyhurst had never led at Bentley before sophomore left wing Brad McDonald’s (Oakville, Ont.) goal early in the third period last Friday put the Lakers ahead 5-4. The Lakers lost back-to-back 6-5 overtime games at Bentley last year … R.C. Lyke’s (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) two goals at Bentley were his first career goals.

QUINNIPIAC — Jim White (Coventry, R.I.) came off the bench to record 18 saves and allow no goals in a 6-4 win over Iona on Saturday … Neil Breen (Spokane, Wash.) and Chris Cerrella (North Massapequa, N.Y.) each have four multiple-point outings this season. The two rank first and second in MAAC overall scoring.

SACRED HEART — Alexis Jutras-Binet (Quebec City, Que.) made 41 saves in the Pioneers’ season-opening 5-3 setback at Quinnipiac … The Pioneers host UConn in their home opener Friday at the Milford Ice Pavilion.