This Week in the MAAC: November 17, 1999

Soderquist Dominates Yellow Jackets

Leave it to Bentley College senior forward Ryan Soderquist to take control of a situation. Not even a quarter of the way through his senior season, Soderquist has already become the Falcons’ all-time leading scorer, and last Saturday night he added his name to the record books once again.

Just one night after the Falcons were demolished by the UConn Huskies, 8-1, Soderquist knew that the Falcons needed to make a definable turning point in their season. And he did exactly that, with a little help from fellow senior Brian Gangemi. Soderquist broke the MAAC record for points in a game, registering three goals and three assists helping his club to a very important 9-2 victory over the Yellow Jackets of American International.

"We came in [on Friday] night and played an awful game," said Soderquist, who now leads the club with 13 points (six goals, seven assists). "We thought we had to come home after [that] and turn around our season [right away]."

Soderquist wasn’t the only Falcon to record a hat trick in the contest, as Gangemi scored three goals himself, and added two assists, doubling his point total to 10. The hat trick marked the first three goals of the season for Gangemi.

Soderquist currently ranks third in the league in scoring, while Gangemi is tied for 10th.

Lakers Still Perfect

The Mercyhurst College Lakers woke up Sunday morning still at the top of the MAAC standings with a perfect 6-0 record in league play. But the record is thanks in no small part to the patron saint of comebacks as the Lakers, for the fourth time in their six wins, rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit against Sacred Heart on Saturday night on their way to a 3-2 overtime victory.

Head coach Rick Gotkin was extremely happy with his team’s road comeback and realizes that this club has more than luck on its side.

"Momentum and confidence is a big part of any sport," Gotkin said. "Were confident about the way we’re playing, but still need to get better every day. It’s still early.

"Sacred Heart played very, very well. We were very fortunate to find a way to win," he added. "The good news for us was that we found a way to win. We got the first [goal] and got a little confidence, got the second and them we had momentum. Then we got a power play in overtime and we scored."

The hero in this week’s contest was Aaron Morrison, a senior out of Uxbridge, Ont. It was the fifth goal of the season for Morrison, and his second game-winning tally in as many nights. Morrison scored early in the second period against Iona last Friday night to give the Lakers a 3-1 lead en route to a 4-2 victory.

The 6-0 start for the Lakers is the best in the short history of the MAAC. Quinnipiac began last season 4-0 before dropping a 2-1 contest to UConn last November. After that loss, the Braves reeled off an eight-game MAAC winning streak which still stands as the longest in league play.

This weekend, the Lakers will be off for the exam break (the school is in trimesters). They will return to action on Tuesday night when they battle natural league rival and travel partner, Canisius.

MAAC Game of the Week

Bentley College at Sacred Heart University Milford Ice Pavilion, Milford, Conn. Friday, November 19, 1999, 7:30 P.M.

This weekend’s MAAC Game of the Week features two teams currently walking different paths. The Pioneers of Sacred Heart are bordering on making a break into the top of the MAAC standings, while the Bentley Falcons are doing everything they can to keep their heads above water in the first year of Division I play.

Bentley had one of the most unusual splits ever last weekend. After losing 8-1 on Friday night to Connecticut, the Falcons not only split the series, but ended up scoring the same number of goals as their opponents for the weekend.

AIC was the Falcons’ victim on Saturday night, and thanks to hat tricks by Soderquist and Gangemi (see above), The Falcons cruised to a 9-2 win. Bentley currently stands at 2-3 in the MAAC (2-4 overall), and is tied with the same UConn team that pummeled them, in sixth place.

Sacred Heart has come full circle — for the positive — from last season. Just one season ago, the Pioneers opened the season 0-11, not posting their first MAAC win until the first week of January. This season, the Pioneers are surging toward the top of the MAAC with a 2-2-1 record.

And the Pioneers two league losses can be put in the "hard to swallow" class. The first came to defending regular-season champ and preseason favorite Quinnipiac, a hard-fought 5-3 loss. And the second came last Saturday night, when Sacred Heart dropped a 2-0 third period lead to current front-runner Mercyhurst, losing 3-2 in overtime.

But those tough losses, coupled with encouraging wins over Canisius, UConn and Army, are what give the Pioneers hope.

"We proved to ourselves that we can compete with the top teams in the league this year," head coach Shaun Hannah said. "We let [the games] slip away, but to take a positive out of it, we know we can compete."

No surprise to MAAC followers is the fact that the scoring leaders for the Pioneers are members of this year’s highly-talented freshman recruiting class. Forward Martin Paquet (5-2-7), and defenseman Les Hrapchak (3-4-7) lead the way.

In net for Sacred Heart is a goaltender who needs no introduction to MAAC opponents, Alexi Jutras-Binet. Now in his third season with the Pioneers, Jutras-Binet continues to post impressive numbers that he has in past seasons. The only difference this year is that his low goals-against average (2.29 through six games) is coupled with a strong team defense.

"Our goals-against is down, and we attribute some of that to Alexi," said Hannah. "But our team defense has improved. Army only got off 15 shots the other night and only three in the third period."

This is the first meeting of these two clubs since the 1997-98 season when Bentley trounced the Pioneers, 10-3. At that time both teams were members of Division II — Bentley and ECAC Central member and Sacred Heart a D-II independent.

Weekly Honors

The MAAC Player of the Week — no shock here — is Bentley’s Soderquist, for his record six-point game on Saturday versus AIC. The senior, Bentley’s all-time leading scorer, notched three goals and added three assists in the Falcons’ 9-2 win.

Sophomore Sean Wear of Canisius College was named the MAAC Goalie of the Week for the second time after making a career-high 42 saves against Iona in the Ice Griffs’ 3-2 victory on Saturday night. On the season, he has a goals-against of 2.31 and a .920 save percentage overall.

Matt Erhart of Quinnipiac College was named the MAAC Rookie of the Week. Erhart scored the first two goals of his collegiate career on Friday night as the Braves knocked off Fairfield 11-2. Saturday, the defenseman added three assists as Quinnipiac won a non-conference game with Fairfield 8-2.

Around the League

AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL–Junior defenseman Aaron Arnett (Laval, Que.) had a goal and two assists on the weekend. He leads the Yellow Jackets in scoring with a goal and three assists on the season.

BENTLEY–Sophomore defenseman Steve Tobio (Belmont, Mass.) is tied for first in MAAC defenseman scoring with 3-6-9.

CANISIUS–Cory Lucas (Scarborough, Ont.) netted his second game-winning goal of the season against Iona…. Senior defenseman Tim Warrilow (Owen Sound, Ont.) scored his first goal of the season Saturday against Iona… Sophomore Scott Teeter (Shelbourne, Ont.), who began the season as a forward, played in the defensive rotation against Iona.

CONNECTICUT–Senior goalie Marc Senerchia (Greenville, R.I.) played 50:39 against Bentley without giving up a goal…Anders Johnson (North Kingston, R.I.) and Ron D’Angelo (Massapequa, N.Y.) each scored two goals in UConn’s 8-1 win over Bentley on Friday.

FAIRFIELD–All four Stag goals last weekend were scored on the power play. Freshmen tallied both goals and all seven assists…. Eleven of the Stags’ 18 goals this season have come on special teams. Fairfield has nine power-play goals and two short-handed scores.

HOLY CROSS–Freshman Brandon Doria (Bayonne, N.J.) scored a goal and an assist in the Crusaders’ 3-3 tie with AIC. Doria has a goal in three of four conference games played by Holy Cross.

IONA–Ryan Carter (Fort Nelson, B.C.) leads the Gaels in scoring with 10 points (three goals, seven assists)…Ryan Manitowich (Calgary, Alb.) is tied for first in the MAAC in goals scored with 6 goals in 7 games…. Iona captain Rob Kellogg (Ballwin, Mo.) returned to the lineup this weekend after sitting out three games with an injury. Kellogg tallied an assist in both Friday and Saturday’s games.

MERCYHURST–Aaron Morrison (Uxbridge, Ont.) scored both game-winning goals in the Lakers’ two wins last weekend… Freshman right wing Chris Brotka (Erie, Penn.) scored his first career collegiate goal Friday at Iona… Freshman defenseman Mike Muldoon (Oakville, Ont.) picked up his first two career points (0-2-2) Saturday.

QUINNIPIAC–In two games this weekend there were 16 multiple-point outings by Quinnipiac players… Freshman Brian Herbert (Langley, B.C.) had a season-high four points on Saturday (2-2-4)…. Seventeen different Quinnipiac players have tallied at least one goal this season.

SACRED HEART–Freshman Martin Paquet (St. Catherine, Que.) scored two goals and added two assists to lead the Pioneers to a 5-2 win over Canisius… Freshman Les Hrapchak (Wakaw, Sask.) added a goal and two assists in the win…. Paquet and Hrapchak accounted for both Pioneer goals in Saturday’s loss to Mercyhurst.

Getting Better with Age

After all the whining and complaining I did here last week about how bad my picks record has been on the season, fortune shined on me as I went 7-4 last weekend, improving my season record (that’s not hard) to a whopping 16-16, or a very even .500.

Looking back at last week, it was Shaun Hannah’s Sacred Heart club that pulled off the biggest shocker, upsetting touted Canisius, 5-2 on Friday night. That combined with Holy Cross’ 3-3 tie with AIC (I picked Holy Cross, 3-2), were my two blemishes on Friday night.

I will give myself a little pat on the back (been working out the arm muscles so they can reach better) for picking Sacred Heart over Army. In years past, Sacred Heart has always played Army tough. This time, the Pioneers came away with the win, 2-1, thanks to Lloyd Marks’ late goal.

As always, you can read my picks for this week’s games on the right-hand side of this page.