This Week in the MAAC: Jan. 30, 2003

‘Cross Dealt Yet Another Blow

Less than a month ago, these pages reported the tragic death of Holy Cross’ Glenn Crane. His heroic two-year battle with cancer was a difficult blow to the Holy Cross team, but, as many from the team said, his attitude certainly made them stronger.

Well, that strength is about to be tested yet again. Senior left wing John Bombard, out much of this season with what was thought to be a problem with his nervous system, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor of his spine recently, delivering yet another tragic message to already-emotional Holy Cross.

“You know, it’s just disbelief,” said head coach Paul Pearl, whose team has dealt with two player deaths in as many years and now will help yet another teammate battle cancer. “We’ve kind of been leaking around the news. We haven’t sat down and hashed it out.”

Bombard’s malignant tumor was found wrapped around the his spine which, according to Pearl, will make treatment a challenge.

“There are two different types [of spinal cancer],” said Pearl. “One [type] is on the spine and the other wraps around the spine.

“When the tumor is on the spine you can radiate as many times as needed but when it wraps around the spine, they can only do radiation on this type once.”

According to Pearl, Bombard is about to undergo the radiation treatment that hopes to eliminate the tumor. Bombard returned to his hometown of Port Jefferson, N.Y., which is on the northwest side of Long Island, for the holiday break. At that time he underwent tests that revealed the tumor. He has not since returned to campus.

Bombard has not played since the first month of the season. According to Pearl, he had difficulty with his nervous system, at times losing his balance unprovoked. Those red flags forced doctors to begin examining Bombard and at first it was thought that he may have had nerve damage.

Bombard played in only one game this season as a senior. Prior to this year, he had played in 88 games for the Crusaders, notching four goals and eight assists. He scored a goal last February in a 3-3 tie against Quinnipiac and also recorded the third-period tying goal in a come-from-behind, 7-6 victory at Air Force last October.

When asked how his team could handle yet another difficult cancer battle, Pearl quoted Crane, who after his death was eulogized as an inspiration to everyone he touched.

“Glenn always said that ‘God only gives you what you can handle.’ So we’re going to go with Glenn’s theory.”

Weekly Awards

ITECH MAAC Hockey League Player of the Week:
Andy Franck, Mercyhurst
Freshman, G, Lakewood, OH

Franck won his fifth and sixth successive starts as the Lakers stretched their winning streak to six with a sweep at AIC. Franck stopped 36 of 39 (.923) and contributed his first career assist in Saturday’s 4-2 win. In winning six straight, Franck has allowed only eight opponent goals. He’s now 8-4-0 overall but 8-1-0 in MAAC play with a 2.00 goals against average and a conference save percentage of .927.

ITECH MAAC Hockey League Goalie of the Week:
Eddy Ferhi, Sacred Heart
Senior, G, Charenton, France

Ferhi made a combined 65 saves in a weekend series with Iona, holding the Gaels to just three goals. He shutout the Gaels, 4-0, on Friday night, stopping 34 shots, including a penalty shot when Iona’s Ryan Manitowich was pulled down on a breakaway. Ferhi made 31 saves in a 3-3 tie with Iona, keeping the Pioneers in the game, despite being shorthanded at the end of overtime. He holds a 1.79 conference goals against average and a .929 save percentage.

ITECH MAAC Hockey League Rookie of the Week:
Tyler McGregor, Holy Cross
Freshman, F, Ajax. Ontario

This week McGregor dished out a total of three assists Friday against Merrimack. McGregor first took advantage of a turnover in Merrimack’s zone and fed Jonas Tomiuck for the goal, then set the table for classmate Blair Bartlett on a pass from the left corner to give HC a 2-1 lead. McGregor then teamed up with Tomiuck for the second time that night, scoring at the 1:34 mark in the third to give HC a 3-1 advantage. The Crusaders couldn’t hold the lead, though, falling, 6-3, to a third-period Warrior rally.

Major Weekend Ahead For Army

If there’s one team out there with major motivation to make the playoffs, it’s Army. As a school that boast the highest attendance in the league, Army will host the 2003 MAAC championships. The thought of having home ice for the final two playoff games, particularly in front of a strong home following is a chop-licking prospect for head coach Rob Riley.

Now, though, it’s time for Army to put itself in position.

With just 10 league games remaining, Army sits in the eighth and final playoff spot. It holds a slim three-point margin over ninth-place AIC and Iona, but is just five points behind fourth-place Sacred Heart.

This weekend’s series, a two-game home-and-home against Holy Cross, is critical to Army’s positioning, particularly because the Black Knights will have an NCAA bye week next weekend, playing only a nonleague contest against Royal Military College of Canada.

For Army to be effective this weekend and throughout the remainder of the season, Riley feels that his offense will need a bit of a boost.

“Everyone [in the MAAC] has a pretty good go-to [offensive] line from top to bottom,” said Riley. “For us, thought, that’s still a process.

Riley does posses a young and semi-potent line comprised of sophomores Chris Garceau, Chad Mayfield and Chris Casey.

“They were freshmen last year and surprised a lot of people,” said Riley, of a line that this year has combined for a little more than 30 percent of the team’s offense. “Next year and the year after, we’re hoping they can be a dominant line in the league.”

Holy Cross’ Pearl, though, believes that Riley next year may already have arrived and is extremely cautious entering the weekend.

“We played them the first half and they had a lot of chances,” said Pearl of the sophomore line. “I thought they were pretty good up front.”

Pearl also was impressed by rookie netminder Brad Roberts, who, as he said “doesn’t really play as a freshman. He seems like a mature kid who is consistent.”

Roberts has put up some big numbers this season, including a 53-save performance at home against Quinnipiac in a 3-1 victory.

The series is equally important to Holy Cross, looking to make up lost ground.

“We’ve been out of the league for two weekends and have lost ground in the standings,” said Pearl. “So it’s important that we play well and get some points here.”

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