Race for Home Ice Gets Breathing Room
Just as we told you right here last week in the MAAC Games of the Week, the two games played in Storrs, Conn., between UConn and Canisius had a MAJOR impact on the MAAC standings. No one, including myself, could have predicted that the Ice Griffs would sweep the Huskies, but they did, winning, 3-2, in overtime, and, 5-3.
So the playoff picture, at least the home ice portion, becomes a little bit clearer. UConn is now four points behind Sacred Heart for the final home ice spot, and with this weekend’s series between Mercyhurst looming, it’s not looking too bright for a chance to catch up for the Huskies. After that, the Huskies play a home-and-home with Fairfield and Iona, making their runs for home ice seem a little more difficult.
Much of the same holds true for Iona – the sixth place team currently on the outside looking in. This weekend the Gaels host Canisius, and barrng an upset, will not gain ground on fourth place Sacred Heart who should have little problem with Bentley.
So now, over the last two weeks, we’ve seemingly cleared up the race for the league champion (though I’m the last one to say that Quinnipiac is a shoe-in just yet), and now it looks like home ice is becoming clearer. Now, the only thing we’re left with is who teams #7 and #8 will be.
Unfortunately, that race has gotten tougher and tougher to figure out who’s moving where. Each of the bottom four split last weekend – against one another. Holy Cross split with Fairfield and AIC with Bentley. So the unchanged standings leave Bentley two points ahead of Holy Cross and AIC. They have a four-point lead on Fairfield, whose playoff hopes dwindle by the day.
"Vote for Hobey" Recognizes Three MAAC Stars
Vote for Hobey, USCHO’s feature that allows fans to vote for the finalists and the winner of the Hobey Baker Award, has included three MAAC players in the 25 national candidates for this year’s award. The players are Shawn Mansoff from Quinnipiac, Ryan Carter, last year’s MAAC Player of the Year from Iona, and Rae Metz of Fairfield.
Unique to "Vote for Hobey" this year is that the Hobey Baker committee will recognize the results of the online voting with a percentage of the vote for both the finalists and winner of the Hobey Baker Award. This allows the fans of college hockey to have some say in who gets the prestigious award.
The Hobey Baker Award has traditionally gone to a senior in the past, but all three candidates from the MAAC conference are underclassmen.
Mansoff, who transferred from the University of Maine to Quinnipiac, stepped right into a leadership role this season at Quinnipiac. Averaging 1.41 goals per game, Mansoff ranks ninth in the nation among Division I players. With 38 points, he is one of seven players on the Quinnipiac team who has more than 20 points this season.
Carter, who was the pre-season pick for MAAC Player of the Year, after winning the award one season ago, has come on strong in the second half of the season. He is second in scoring with 32 points (18 goals, 14 assists), one point behind rookie Mark Hallam. His five game-winning goals are best on the team and in the league.
Metz, only a freshman, has had a solid impact on his Fairfield University team. With 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists), he leads the Stags offense and his 32 points in league play are fourth best in the MAAC. A native of Kent, Ohio, Metz was fortunate to join his linemates from his Junior team in Danville, Ohio, Ryan Tormey and Dan Cotter. The three are currently playing together at Fairfield, and the freshmen line is generating quite the offensive punch.
Fans can vote online at Vote For Hobey
Injuries: Late Season Story for Leaders
Just when things appeared to be flowing smoothly for Quinnipiac, the road became a little bumpy. Two weeks ago, when Mercyhurst lost and tied Canisius, Quinnipiac looked to be in the driver’s seat for the MAAC regular season title. That was until the injury bug hit the Braves straight in the face.
The first injury came in a non-league game against Clarkson. Sophomore Ryan Olsen, who was fifth in scoring at the time with 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points, suffered a torn left MCL in the February 8 contest — one that was added to the schedule after Vermont canceled its season.
Then last weekend, Neil Breen, also a sophomore, sustained an identical injury to his right MCL against Sacred Heart. At the time, Breen was fourth on the club in scoring with 11 goals and 16 assists. Both players are expected to miss the remainder of the season.
And as if losing two of your top players isn’t enough, Rand Pecknold’s club may be without the services of standout goaltender J.C. Wells, who injured his groin in the loss to Clarkson. Wells did not play last weekend, though backup Dan DiLeo was able to pitch a shutout in his absence. The 2-0 win came one night after Quinnipiac had goaltending woes, letting up three "bad" goals, according to Pecknold, in a 5-5 tie with Sacred Heart.
Quinnipiac is also without the services of Mike Ruggiero who is sidelined with a back injury. Anthony DiPalma, and Shawn Mansoff are questionable due to illness, leaving Pecknold with less than the normal 18 skaters to dress.
"We’re kind of hobbling our way to the finish line," Pecknold said jokingly. "Unfortunately, we won’t be healthy come the playoffs, but I guess you have to do the best with what you’ve got."
Spotlight on Buffalo
Get your VCR’s ready to roll, as this week the MAAC makes its yearly television appearance as last year’s tournament runner-up, Canisius, hosts highly-touted Division I foe Niagara on Tuesday, February 22, at 7:30 P.M. The game will be televised on Empire Sports Network which is available via cable systems throughout upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania and throughout the country on DirecTV (Ch. 626), Primestar (Ch. 181), and EchoStar (Ch. 432) home satellite systems. A replay of the game will be shown Wednesday, February 23 at noon.
An Apology and a Promise
Due to time constraints this week, I have to apologize for not highlighting a Game of the Week, as is customary in my weekly column. To make up for it, I promise not one, but five games to be featured next week. That’s right, for the next two weeks, you can read coaches comments about every game in the MAAC. Heck it is playoff time, right? We need to keep our readers informed!! Check back next week for all the dirt I can dish!!!
MAAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Rae Metz, Fairfield Fr, F, 5-11/175, Kent, OH/Danville Wings
Metz made MAAC history on Friday scoring two goals and five assists to set a single-game MAAC scoring record as Fairfield defeated Holy Cross 9-6. Ryan Soderquist of Bentley held the old mark with 3-3-6 on 11/12/99 vs. AIC. Metz also tied a MAAC record for most assists in a game. Chris Fattey of Holy Cross (11/19/99 vs. Iona) and Mike Spengler of Bentley (2/11/00 vs. AIC) also hold that mark. On the season, Metz leads all MAAC freshmen with 16-19-35 — and is fourth among all MAAC players in conference scoring with 14-18-32.
MAAC GOALIE OF THE WEEK
Ashley Stevens, Mercyhurst Sr., 5-9, 160 Scarborough, Ont/Wexford Raiders
Stevens stopped 27 of 28 Iona shots including 14 in the first period in a 3-1 Laker win on Friday night. Part of the strong goaltending tandem for the second-place Lakers, Stevens improved his record to 8-3-1 with a 2.66 goals against average and a .894 save percentage. He is 8-1-0 in MAAC games with his only league loss being a 1-0 setback against Canisius.
MAAC ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
Andy Peters, Bentley Fr, F, 5-11, 170 Saxtons River, VT, Durham Huskies
Peters enjoyed a career night in Friday’s 8-5 victory over American International. He scored two goals and three assists as the Falcons held on to seventh place in the MAAC standings, two points ahead of AIC and Holy Cross. Prior to Friday’s game Peters had 3-1-4 on the season. He more than doubled his season scoring total in one game and is now 5-4-9.
The Yellow Jackets split a weekend series with in-state rival Bentley. Saturday, AIC scored an important 6-5 win in overtime to keep the Yellow Jackets tied for eighth place in the MAAC standings with Holy Cross. Friday, the Yellow Jackets lost 8-5 at Bentley. Andy Luhovy (Manchester, NH) netted the game-winning goal on Saturday, his second game-winning goal in as many weeks…Sophomore forward Olivier Gagnon (Kirkland, PQ) has a team-high 13 goals this season…The Yellow Jackets meet Holy Cross Friday at home and Saturday in Worcester, MA, in a crucial two game series. AIC and Holy Cross are tied for eighth place in the MAAC standings with 12 points each and are battling for the last MAAC playoff spot…AIC skated to a 3-3 tie with Holy Cross on November 12.
Bentley split a weekend series with AIC winning 8-5 on Friday at home before falling 6-5 in overtime on Saturday in Springfield, MA. Bentley maintained sole possession of seventh place in the MAAC standings two points ahead of Holy Cross and AIC…Bentley faces fourth place Sacred Heart Friday at the Milford Ice Pavilion and Saturday at home in the MAAC Game of the Week on broadcast.com…Bentley defeated Sacred Heart 3-0 on November 19. Joe Cullen (Wilmington, MA) blanked the Pioneers in Bentley’s only shutout of the season…Ryan Soderquist (Stoneham, MA) scored one goal on the weekend and now owns the overall scoring lead in the MAAC with 16-23-39…Mike Spengler (Billerica, MA) had five assists in Bentley’s 8-5 win over AIC on Friday, tying a MAAC Hockey League record for assists in one game. Fairfield’s Rae Metz and Holy Cross’s Chris Fattey also own the record…Andy Peters (Saxtons River, VT) earned MAAC Rookie of the Week honors with two goals and three assists on Friday.
Canisius moved into third place in the MAAC standings with a road sweep at UConn. The Ice Griffs won 3-2 in overtime on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday afternoon…Steve Birch (Pickering, Ont) led the offensive attack with two goals and three assists on the weekend…The Ice Griffs travel to Iona for two games at the Ice Hutch in Mt. Vernon, NY. Friday’s game is at 7:00 and Saturday’s rematch takes place at 5:00…The Ice Griffs defeated Iona 3-2 on November 13…Sean Weaver (Scarborough, Ont) stopped 25 shots to earn his 10th career win on Friday. He now leads the MAAC with a 2.36 goals against average and a .927 save percentage…Stephen Fabiillii (Sudbury, Ont) made 34 saves on Saturday using a brand new stick he bought out of the UConn Ice Arena skate shop…Corey Lucas (Scarborough, Ont) regained the team scoring lead with three goals on the weekend. He had two power play goals among his three tallies…Senior forward Rob Othman notched his 60th career assist Saturday. He is now tied for 16th place on the career scoring list at Canisius (43-60-103) with Scott Lamond (1986-1990). Current Ice Griff assistant coach Troy MacCormick is 15th with 110 points.
UConn dropped a pair of games at home to third place Canisius, 3-2 in overtime on Friday, and 5-3 on Saturday afternoon…UConn hosts Mercyhurst for a pair of games at the UConn Ice Arena. Friday’s game is at 7:30 and Saturday’s game is set for 3:30…UConn dropped a 5-3 decision at Mercyhurst on December 4 in the their only conference meeting this year…Ciro Longobardi (Wallingford, CT) now leads the MAAC with seven power play goals overall. He had a power play tally in each game this weekend. He leads the team with 13 goals overall…Michael Narotski (West Roxbury, MA) had a goal and two assists on the weekend. He now has 8-9-17 on the season…Michael Goldkind (Silver Spring, MD) leads the Huskies in scoring with 7-17-24.
The Stags split a weekend series with Holy Cross winning a historic 9-6 game on Friday and losing 6-2 on Saturday night…Rae Metz set a MAAC single game record with seven points on two goals and five assists on Friday night. He tied the MAAC record for assists in a game (also held by Mike Spengler, Bentley and Chris Fattey, Holy Cross). He added a goal on Saturday to post 3-5-8 on the weekend and garner MAAC Player of the Week honors. He leads all MAAC freshmen in scoring with 16-19-35…Fairfield hosts Quinnipiac for a pair of games this weekend at the Wonderland of Ice on Friday and Saturday night…Fairfield is 0-3 against Quinnipiac this year…Steve Calderara (Douglasville, GA) netted his first career hat trick on Friday night and finished with 3-2-5 on the weekend. He now leads all MAAC defensemen in goals with eight…Friday night’s 9-6 win was the Stags’ first victory at Holy Cross since a 7-6 triumph during the 1993-94 campaign.
Holy Cross defeated Fairfield 6-2 on Saturday night after losing 9-6 at home on Friday night to the Stags…The Crusaders meet American International in a crucial home-and-home series between the teams tied for eighth place and the last MAAC playoff spot…Holy Cross tied AIC 3-3 on November 12. Holy Cross leads the all-time series 15-12-3…Jim Whelan (Island Park, NY) enjoyed a big weekend against Fairfield scoring a goal and four assists in the two games. He is tied for second on the team in scoring with 6-14-20. His brother Joe is a freshman forward for the Stags…Senior forward Chris Fattey (Hamburg, NY) returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a broken wrist. He is still second for Holy Cross in scoring with 5-15-20. He set a MAAC regular season record with five assists in one game versus Iona on November 19, which was tied by Fairfield’s Rae Metz and Bentley’s Mike Spengler on Friday night.
Iona was swept by second place Mercyhurst by identical scores of 3-1 on Friday and Saturday…Freshman forward Mark Hallam (Medicine Hat, AB) leads the Gaels in scoring with 33 points on 5 goals and 28 assists. Hallam is averaging 1.00 assists per game…Iona hosts third place Canisius for a pair of games Friday and Saturday at the Ice Hutch in Mt. Vernon, NY. The Ice Griffs won a 3-2 decision over Iona on November 13 also at the Ice Hutch. Iona has played its last six games on the road going 2-4…Ryan Carter (Fort Nelson, BC) is first on the team in goals scored with 18 and second on the team in scoring with 32 points…Iona stopped all five Mercyhurst power play opportunities this past weekend…Iona failed to convert all seven of their power play attempts against the Lakers…Junior defenseman Chris Baboulis (Staten Island, NY) scored his first goal of the season in Iona’s 3-1 loss to Mercyhurst on Saturday night.
Mercyhurst defeated Iona twice by identical scores of 3-1 on both Friday and Saturday. The wins clinched home ice in the MAAC quarterfinals…Jody Robinson (Scarborough, Ont) provided a backbone the Lakers’ stifling defense posting a +6 on the weekend. Robinson leads a defense that has allowed two or less goals in 9 straight games, the longest such streak in team history…The Lakers travel to UConn for two games, Friday at 7:30 and Saturday at 3:30…Mercyhurst defeated UConn 5-3 on December 4 at the Mercyhurst Ice Center…Senior goalie Ashley Stevens (Scarborough, Ont) made 27 saves on Friday night and won the MAAC Goalie of Week award. He is now 8-1-0 in MAAC games…The wins over Iona and the two losses by UConn over the weekend clinch home ice for the opening round of the playoffs…Sophomore goalie Peter Aubry (Windsor, Ont) now owns a 2.40 goals-against-average. If he maintains that pace, he would set a school record for the lowest GAA. The prior mark was set by Avi Karunakar with a 2.51 mark in 1997-98.
Quinnipiac went 1-1-1 last weekend, winning 2-0 on Saturday at Sacred Heart, tying Sacred Heart 5-5 on Friday, and losing to Clarkson 4-0 on Tuesday…Chris Cerrella (N. Massapequa, NY) notched his fifth career hat trick in 80 games as Quinnipiac erased a 4-0 deficit to tie Sacred Heart on Friday…Quinnipiac takes on Fairfield in a pair of games at the Wonderland of Ice Friday and Saturday night…With a 2-0 victory over Sacred Heart on Saturday night, the Braves reached 20 wins for the second straight season. Since entering Division I in 1998-99, Quinnipiac is 46-11-5…Quinnipiac is 11-1-2 at home in the Northford Ice Pavilion in 1999-2000. The Braves are 36-2-2 in their last 40 home games…18 of Quinnipiac’s 26 games this season have been decided by two goals or less. The Braves are 12-3-3 so far this season in those games decided by two or less goals. In 1998-99, Quinnipiac was 10-4-2.
Sacred Heart tied Quinnipiac 5-5 on Friday and lost 2-0 to the Braves on Saturday night…Lloyd Marks (Inverary, Ont) extended his point-scoring streak to nine games on Friday with a goal in the first period. However, it finally came to an end the following night when Quinnipiac shut out the Pioneers…Saturday’s loss snapped an eight game unbeaten streak for the Pioneers in conference play. The Pioneers last lost a MAAC game January 15 against Canisius…Freshman winger Martin Paquet (St. Catherine, PQ) set a new freshman scoring record with a goal and an assist on Friday. He now has 28 points in his rookie year surpassing Aaron Foust’s 26 back in the first year of the program (1993-94)…Sacred Heart meets Bentley in a home-and-home series Friday at home and Saturday at Bentley in the MAAC Game of the Week on broadcast.com…The Pioneers lost 3-0 to Bentley on November 19…Both Paquet and Marks are chasing the single-season goal scoring record at Sacred Heart. Jon Yackmack and Foust each scored 15 goals in a single season. Paquet’s next tally will tie him, while Marks needs two more goals to reach the milestone.
Thanks to Ken Taylor in the MAAC office and the sports information directors of the MAAC schools for their contributions to this week’s column.