Controversy in Buffalo
Snow isn’t the only thing that has found its way to Buffalo this December. Just ask the Canisius College athletic department.
Right in the middle of a season that hasn’t lived up to most expectations, the Canisius College Ice Griffs are now faced with extreme controversy — the accusation that head coach Brian Cavanaugh assaulted rookie defenseman Matt Coulter.
Cavanaugh claimed that he was only trying to get the freshman’s attention and tapped him on the head with a stick. Coulter’s father though has gone to the media stating that his son suffered a mild concussion from the blow.
Greg Coulter, father of the injured player, told the Associated Press that his son suffered a Grade 2 concussion, according to two members of the Canisius medical staff as well as a separate doctor that Coulter visited in Toronto. None of these statements could be confirmed, however.
Cavanaugh was originally suspended indefinitely by the University, but was reinstated on Tuesday by athletic director Tim Dillon after an investigation of the incident.
In a statement issued to the media, Dillon said, “Coach Cavanaugh has apologized to the student, as well as to the team, and I believe that he understands that he has made a mistake. However, from the college’s standpoint, an action such as this is unacceptable. In addition to the five-day suspension, he has received a severe reprimand and a warning that any further actions of this type will subject him to immediate dismissal.”
Neither Cavanaugh nor Dillon were available for further comment.
To those in the hockey world that know Cavanaugh, the entire situation comes as a big shock.
Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin, who is probably the closest coach to Cavanaugh in the MAAC, having coached against him in while both teams were in the ECAC West, said the he’s “happy to see [Cavanaugh] back where he belongs.”
Gotkin said, “I can’t believe, knowing [Cavanaugh] the way I do, that he is capable of doing what was reported.”
Gotkin admitted to not having spoken with Cavanaugh since the incident occurred.
“The school clearly investigated [the incident],” said Gotkin. “By reinstating him they have vindicated him of wrongdoing.
“You’ve got 20-something players out there with the coach who watched this happen. Obviously, they’re going to tell [the athletic director] what they saw.”
Coulter did not dress for last weekend’s games against Army and Iona. The school would not say if that was a coach’s decision or if he was scratched due to injury. They did state, though, that Coulter was scratched on a coach’s decision for the two-game series against AIC on November 17 and 18.
So the question lies here: who is telling the truth? Is it the coach who claims to have tapped a player on the head, or the father who claims a more severe injury? The truth may even lie somewhere in the middle.
Rest assured that, though Canisius would like to see all of this simply go away, it more than likely will not.
ITECH MAAC Hockey League Player of the Week:
BRIAN HERBERT, QUINNIPIAC
So., F, Langley, BC
Herbert wins the award for his great play against nonconference opponents Rensselaer and No. 11 Union. He scored the game-winning goal in the 3-2 upset victory over Union and added an assist. He also scored a goal and tallied an assist in the 6-3 loss to RPI. He is currently fourth on the Braves with 13 points.
Also Nominated: Corey Lucas, Mike Boylan, Rae Metz, John Gilbert, Jeff Gould, Martin Paquet.
ITECH MAAC Hockey League Goalie of the Week:
JASON CAREY, CONNECTICUT
Fr., G, Oakdale, MN
Carey earned his second collegiate win in goal in the 4-1 victory over American International on Saturday night while making a career high 25 saves. After only his third appearance, he holds a 1.38 goals against average allowing three goals in 130:20 played.
Also Nominated: Ben Brady, Peter Aubry, Justin Eddy, Eddy Ferhi.
ITECH MAAC Hockey League Rookie of the Week:
CRAIG SCHNAPPINGER, FAIRFIELD
Fr., G, Springfield, VA
Schnappinger went 2-0-1 this week for the Stags. He stopped 27 of 31 shots in the 5-4 victory over Iona, recorded 12 saves on 14 shots in the 5-2 win over Bentley, and made 10 saves on 12 shots in the 2-2 tie with Sacred Heart. He is now tied for third place in the conference statistics with a 1.97 GAA and a .700 winning percentage. He is 3-3-1 overall and 3-1-1 in the MAAC.
Also Nominated: Guillaume Caron, Kelly Bararuk, Adam Tackaberry, Marc-Andre Fournier.
Braves Stun Dutchmen
Just one week after nationally-ranked Union skated to a 2-2 tie with Mercyhurst, the unthinkable happened. Union, enjoying its best season in the program’s Division I history fell — and fell hard.
Thanks to an outstanding performance from Quinnipiac goaltender Justin Eddy, one that included 21 saves while preserving a one-goal lead in the third period, the Braves became the first MAAC team to beat a nationally-ranked member of the ECAC, defeating Union, 3-2.
Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold was more than happy with his team’s win: he was out-and-out excited by their overall performance.
“We’re happy,” Pecknold said. “We came out [last] weekend and we played two competitive games. [Friday], I thought we didn’t get the bounces and [on Saturday] we got fortunate to have the puck bounce our way a couple of times; we played hard the whole game. We played hard the whole weekend. Everyone says we have something to prove, and we came out and we proved something.”
That the Braves did. And the effort didn’t go unnoticed. The Braves garnered 19 votes in this week’s U.S. College Hockey Online poll, the most ever by a MAAC club. With a 10-3-2 record, the Braves rank among the nation’s leaders in wins and winning percentage.
After the win, though, Pecknold said that his club never really felt pressure to prove itself against a “Big Four” club.
“I never felt like we had a monkey on our back to be honest with you,” Pecknold said about getting that first win over the Big Four conferences. “I felt that we were just as good as a lot of these teams in the ECAC, and if we were given the opportunity, we weren’t going to win all of them, but we’re going to win some of them. We proved that when we tied St. Lawrence and played good against Clarkson, and this weekend.”
Now the Braves’ test will be to carry the success back into MAAC play. But before that, Quinnipiac will continue its nonleague test, facing No. 10 Minnesota on the road this week for its final game before break. Upon return, the Braves will face preseason ECAC favorite Cornell, which dropped a decision already this season to Sacred Heart, for their final nonleague tilt of the regular season.
Stags Continue to Roll
It may seem shocking, but the team that stands in fifth place right now in the MAAC is not accustomed to such high altitude in the standings.
That’s because this club, Fairfield University, equaled in seven days what it took an entire season to accomplish last year — three wins. The Stags, who posted a 3-22-2 record last season, won three MAAC league games in a seven-day span, knocking off Iona and Bentley on the road before tying Sacred Heart and beating defending champion UConn at home.
Fairfield, who started the season a dismal 1-7, is 4-1-1 in its last six and stands in a three-way tie with AIC and Sacred Heart for fifth place in the MAAC, with a 4-4-1 league record.
A change this drastic almost cries for a catalyst. You need look no further than goaltending to answer that question.
After last season, where the best save percentage among Fairfield netminders was .843 and the best goals against average was 4.87, everyone knew that the Stags had a gaping hole at their last line of defense.
Enter Craig Schnappinger, a freshman from Springfield, Va., who has been the one common factor in the Stags’ recent success. Though his overall performance doesn’t look like an improvement , Schnappinger’s save percentage in MAAC games is significantly better.
The biggest sign of success is realized in goals against average. Over the six-game streak, Schnappinger posted a 2.30 GAA.
It also doesn’t hurt that the Fairfield team defense has shown significant improvement. Last year, the Stags allowed a whopping 33.2 shots per game. This year, that is down nearly ten shots to 23.5 — a major improvement, to say the least.
Around the League
The Yellow Jackets split a home-and-home series with Connecticut. They defeated the Huskies 3-1 Friday night in Storrs and lost at home 4-1 on Saturday night … American International travels to Michigan to faceoff against CHA member Wayne State at 7:05 Friday and Saturday night … Freshman Guillaume Caron scored the game-winning goal Friday night on a Yellow Jackets power play 9:22 into the second period. Caron would also add an assist in the third period. Caron provided the only offense for the Yellow Jackets with a goal in the first period in the 4-1 loss. The goal was the third point of the weekend for Caron who now has five goals and seven assists … Senior Chance Thede again played solid in net for AIC, stopping 28 of 29 shots and assisting on the first goal of the evening. Thede kept the Huskies scoreless until the final period of play … AIC has not tallied a shorthanded goal in 44 consecutive games.
The Black Knights lost to Canisius 5-2 on Saturday night in their only game of the week. It was the first game between the two schools in four years … Army will host Mercyhurst on Friday and Saturday night. Both games will begin at 7:00 … The games against Mercyhurst will be the first ever meetings between the two schools … The game on Saturday is the MAAC Game of the Week … Junior forwards Tim Fisher and Tim Murphy scored both goals for Army in the 5-2 loss to Canisius … Freshman Casey McKenna assisted on the Murphy goal for his first career point … Junior goalie Scott Hamilton made 35 saves, his second highest total of the season and fifth 30+ save effort of the season … Army has alternated wins and losses over its last nine games.
The Falcons lost home games to Fairfield, 5-2, on Friday and to Sacred Heart, 5-3, on Sunday … Bentley has this week off before returning to the ice on December 16 to play Holy Cross at Boston College’s Conte Forum … In a wild game on Friday, Bentley and Fairfield combined for more than 100 minutes in penalties. The Stags scored three power-play goals on the way to victory and had 12 power play opportunities in all … Junior John DiGennaro has stepped up as one of the Falcon leaders on offense. DiGennaro scored a goal in each game last weekend including a tally with just 1:16 left against Sacred Heart that cut the Pioneer lead to 4-3. He shares the team lead in points with eight … Freshman goalie Bill Bridge had a busy weekend. He made 11 saves in a scoreless third period against Fairfield, then had 29 stops in his first collegiate start against Sacred Heart … Freshman Michael Ciarletta scored his first collegiate goal in the loss to Fairfield.
The Ice Griffs went 1-1 at home over the weekend. They defeated Army 5-2 on Saturday and lost to Iona 7-2 on Sunday … Canisius is off until December 29-30 when they play in the Alabama-Huntsville Tournament. They faceoff against the host Chargers on December 29 at 7:00 … Junior forward Corey Lucas scored three goals on the weekend for the Ice Griffs. He scored one goal in the victory over Army on Saturday and both of Canisius’ goals on Sunday in the loss to Iona … Junior Scott Teeter scored two goals in the win over Army and sophomore Mike Ferry added two assists … Junior goaltender Sean Weaver stopped 16 shots in the win over Army. Weaver made 25 saves in the loss to Iona.
The Huskies split a home-and-home series with American International. They lost at home 3-1 on Friday night but won 4-1 on the road Saturday night. Connecticut also dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to Fairfield on Tuesday night … The huskies have a home-and-home series against Iona on Friday and Saturday night. Both games begin at 7:30 … The Huskies defeated the Gaels 6-1 in the championship game of the 2000 Easton/MAAC Hockey League Championship. These are the only games pitting the 2000 finalists against each other this year … Freshman goalie Jason Carey, the ITECH MAAC Goalie of the Week, earned his second collegiate win in goal against AIC on Saturday night while making a career high 25 saves. After only his third appearance in net, Carey holds a 1.38 goals against average allowing three goals in 130:20 played … Junior defenseman Mike Boylan recorded two goals over the weekend. He scored the game-winner Saturday night and the Huskies only tally in Friday night’s loss. Boylan has eight points this season for the Huskies.
The Stags enjoyed their best week since joining the MAAC by going 3-0-1. They defeated Iona, 5-4, on Wednesday, Bentley, 5-2, on Friday, tied Sacred Heart 2-2 on Saturday, and defeated UConn, 5-4 in overtime, on Tuesday … The Stags will look to continue winning ways when the play a nonconference game against Sacred Heart at 8:00 Friday night … With the three wins, the Stags matched last season’s total win output of three … Sophomore Rae Metz had five points on the weekend. In the win over Iona, Metz tallied an assist, while on Friday he notched two goals and an assist including the game-winner over Bentley, and Saturday he scored a goal in the tie with Sacred Heart. Metz now sits in a tie for fourth place in overall MAAC scoring with seven goals and seven assists for 14 points. He is also tied for the lead in overall power play points with eight … Freshman goaltender Craig Schnappinger , the ITECH MAAC Rookie of the Week, made 27 saves against Iona, 12 against Bentley, and 10 against Sacred Heart. He now ranks third in conference statistics for both goals against average, and winning percentage. Schnappinger is now 3-3-1 overall and 3-1-1 in the MAAC.
The Crusaders lost last week to ECAC member Vermont, 10-2, before defeating Sacred Heart, 4-3, on Tuesday … Holy Cross managed a season low 14 shots on goal versus Vermont … Both of the Crusaders goals against Vermont were scored by the same combination: goal by Pat Rissmiller , assists Greg Kealey and Jeff Dams … Holy Cross continues to lead the MAAC in power-play percentage in both conference games 26.9% and overall games 22.4% … Sophomore Brandon Doria is tied for fifth overall in assist points with nine … Four of the Crusaders top seven point scorers this year are freshman; Jeff Dams, Greg Kealey, R.J. Irving, and Tim Coskren … The Crusaders game against Vermont was the two teams first meeting since January 12, 1978. That game was the only previous meeting between the two teams. It was the second of three meetings between Holy Cross and ECAC schools. The Crusaders have already played St. Lawrence and Vermont, and play Yale on January 20th in New Haven.
The Gaels split their two games over the weekend. They lost to Mercyhurst, 6-1, on Friday and defeated Canisius, 7-2, on Saturday … Iona has a home-and-home series with defending MAAC Champion Connecticut on Friday and Saturday. Both games begin at 7:30 … Iona went 1-2 against UConn last season including a 6-1 loss in the championship game of the 2000 Easton/MAAC Hockey League Championship … The Huskies lead the all time series 5-2-2 … Sophomore forward Ryan Manitowich had a goal and an assist in the Gaels 7-2 victory over Canisius, increasing his league totals to ten goals and five assists for 15 points in only nine MAAC contests … Junior defenseman Nathan Lutz added three assists in the Gaels victory, extending his MAAC league-leading total to 14. Overall, Lutz has 16 assists on the season … Sophomore forward John Gilbert scored two goals and added an assist in the victory over Canisius … Senior goalie Ben Brady made 28 saves in the victory to improve his MAAC record to 3-1 with a 3.27 GAA and a .902 save percentage.
The Lakers lost to CHA member Wayne State 4-1 on Friday and defeated MAAC foe Iona 6-1 on Saturday. Mercyhurst travels to West Point for two games with Army on Friday and Saturday. Both games begin at 7:00. The game on Saturday is the MAAC Game of the Week … The games against the Black Knights will be the first ever meetings between the two schools … Mercyhurst is now 5-0 lifetime against Iona … Freshman Adam Tackaberry had a seven-game scoring streak snapped at RPI, then was blanked against Wayne State. He scored two goals and added an assist in the win over Iona … Senior Jeff Gould tallied three assists in the victory over Iona. He leads the team with nine assists and is tied for second in points … Mercyhurst has outscored the conference opposition 37-6 … Junior Louis Goulet leads Mercyhurst in power-play goals, shorthanded goals, and game-winning goals … The 6-1 win over Iona marked the ninth time this season Mercyhurst has allowed its opponent two goals or less.
The Braves stunned then-No. 11 Union, a member of the ECAC, 3-2 on Sunday but lost to ECAC opponent Rensselaer 6-3 on Saturday … Quinnipiac goes on the road to battle No. 10 Minnesota, a member of the WCHA, at 8:05 Saturday night … The victory over Union was the Braves first win over a nationally ranked opponent since entering Division I in 1998 and it was Quinnipiac’s first ever win over an ECAC opponent … Sophomore forward Brian Herbert, the ITECH MAAC Player of the Week, notched four points on the weekend, including the game-winning goal in the upset victory over Union. He had one goal and one assist in each game. For the season, Herbert is fourth on the team in scoring with 13 points … Quinnipiac is 8-1-1 on the season when they score first in a game and 7-0-1 when they score at least four goals … Freshman goalie Justin Eddy improved his record to 6-2-1 on the season with a 3-2 victory over Union. Eddy made 45 saves including 21 in the third period in the victory over the Dutchmen. It was the fourth time this season he has stopped at least 30 shots.
The Pioneers tied Fairfield 2-2 on Saturday and beat Bentley 5-3 on Sunday. The Pioneers dropped a 4-3 decision to Holy Cross on Tuesday night … The will host Fairfield at 7:00 Friday night in a nonconference game … Sophomore Martin Paquet scored a hat trick in the 5-3 win over Bentley. Paquet is third on the team in scoring with four goals and six assists for 10 points. He has six points in MAAC games this season … Freshman Marc-Andre Fournier had a goal and an assist in two games for the Pioneers this week. He has four goals and two assists in 12 games this season … Sophomore goalie Eddy Ferhi had 38 saves in a 5-3 win over Bentley including 15 in the second period. For the year he is 2-2-2, with a 3.08 GAA, and 227 saves … After dropping three straight games in early November, the Pioneers are unbeaten in their last four games, with a 2-0-2 mark … Juniors Lloyd Marks and Chris Mokos lead the Pioneers with 11 points. Marks has five goals and six assists and Mokos has three goals and eight assists.
Special thanks to Jayson Moy and Adam Wodon for assistance with this week’s column.