This Week in the CHA: Dec. 9, 2004

Ross, Ehgoetz Neck-And-Neck

The battle of the CHA scoring titans took place last week in Alabama, and after all the smoke cleared, Jared Ross and Barrett Ehgoetz found themselves neck and neck in the race to the top of the league record books.

After sitting out the second game of the Western Michigan series the previous weekend, Alabama-Huntsville’s Ross returned to active duty against Niagara. He picked up his 10th goal of the season — and sixth power-play tally of the year — in a 5-4 win during the opening contest, and added an assist in the Chargers’ 3-2 loss the following night.

But while the teams split on the ice, Ehgoetz got the better of the one-on-one battle — on the weekend, at least. The Purple Eagles senior notched three points in the opening game, then assisted on Niagara’s first two goals in the come-from-behind win on Saturday.

What’s remarkable is how evenly matched these two scoring dynamos have been over the course of their CHA careers. Ross currently leads Ehgoetz by one point (21 to 20) on the season, but each has identical marks of 61 goals, 79 assists and 140 points during their collegiate stays — with Ross appearing in four fewer games (116 to 120).

Their helpers in the 3-2 Niagara win last week also earned the duo a share of the top spot on the CHA’s all-time assist list, one better than Air Force’s Andy Berg.

The next stop for Ehgoetz and Ross is the league’s all-time points lead, as both trail Berg by just two markers. They also sit just three goals behind the former Falcon for the top spot in that category.

Time Off To Re-Charge

Ross might have some catching up to do in the scoring race soon, though. That’s because Alabama-Huntsville is already done for the calendar year. That’s right, the Chargers’ final game of 2004 came last weekend against Niagara, and they won’t be back on the ice until Jan. 7 when they host Wayne State. That’s a layoff of 31 days, and it’s not something that excites assistant coach Lance West.

“It’s frustrating for us,” West said. “I don’t want to get into it, but it’s just been a scheduling problem that we’ve had, something we’ve tried to overcome. But the last two years have been real difficult. We’ve had schools change schedules on us late in the year, and we’ve been unable to fix it.

“I don’t think it’s been a disadvantage, but it’s disappointing at times. For our guys, it’s a long break, they miss playing.”

But with the bad comes the good.

“It’s helped us the last couple of years, because of injuries, it gives us some time off. So we have to turn it into a positive. It’s kind of nice to have a break, get healthy again and make a run at the last half of the season.”

Wiebe Steps Up

Niagara coach Dave Burkholder put the call out to his upperclassmen last week, saying “it’s probably time for some of our older guys to pick up the slack here and get it done for us.”

Well, Kris Wiebe must have been listening. The senior right wing recorded his first multi-goal game of the year, picking up the game-winner on Saturday against the Chargers. The scores gave him five goals and 10 points on the season.

“He was one of the best players in the CHA last year,” Burkholder said earlier this season, noting the 18 goals and 28 points he put up with Findlay in 2003-04. “He’s a great character kid, one of the toughest kids to play against.”

The upswing in Wiebe’s play couldn’t have come at a better time for the Purple Eagles, as they travel to Minnesota to take on Bemidji State this weekend. The bad news is that Wiebe has just four points (3-1) in 13 career games against the Beavers, including an assist in a 5-3 loss on Nov. 19 of this season. His three goals against BSU all came during his freshman season with the Oilers in 2001-02.

Small Numbers Bad And Good For Colonials

Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley knew scoring goals was going to be a challenge coming into the season, and that certainly proven against Miami last weekend. The RedHawks held the Colonials to just one goal in posting 8-1 and 3-0 wins on home ice. The shutout on Saturday was the third of the season against Robert Morris, and was the seventh time the first-year team has been held to one goal or less through 15 games this season.

RMU has netted just 26 goals headed into this weekend’s set against Quinnipiac, an average of just 1.73 goals per game. Only American University (13 goals/nine game, 1.44gpg) and Army (20 goals/13 games, 1.54gpg) have averaged fewer than the Colonials thus far.

“Until our seniors start to pick up the slack, we’re going to have trouble scoring goals,” Schooley said.

Just in case the joke is lost on you, the Robert Morris active roster features 21 freshmen, two sophomores and a junior — not a senior among the bunch.

“It’s just the process. You don’t have a setup man, you don’t have a go-to guy, no one has determined that role yet,” Schooley said. “We’re so much younger than all the other teams, but that’s going to come with time.”

Despite the low goal totals so far, Schooley said the team’s progress through the first half of the season is apparent.

“We’ve beat both teams that are tied for first in Atlantic Hockey. We took Wayne State to overtime for a tie,” he said. “We lost in overtime to Air Force, which has beat some very good teams. You’d be blind if you couldn’t see the progress and the future of this hockey team.”

One thing the Colonials have done very well over the last month is cut down on penalties. Robert Morris averaged nearly 11 infractions per game from Oct. 22 through Nov. 6, but has since cut that number to just six per contest during the past eight games.

“We’ve just figured out how to play the game at this level,” Schooley said. “We’ve figured out that we had to make sure that we didn’t hook and hold and didn’t obstruct. We’ve done a very good job adjusting to how the referees are going to call the games.”

Holiday Help

Big props to Air Force for helping out the underprivileged in the Colorado Springs area with its annual “Toy Trick,” which collected 709 toys for local kids last weekend — the most in the event’s five year history. Great job.

Pas-Ing The Test

Wayne State freshman phenom Stavros Paskaris has been opening eyes around the CHA this year, with his 14 points (7-7) leading the way for the Warriors. And now it seems others around the hockey world are taking notice of his early season performance.

Paskaris received honorable mention as the College Sports TV national rookie of the month after posting seven points and a plus-5 rating during a successful November for Wayne State, during which the Warriors went 4-3-1.

“He’s got very good skills, quick feet,” head coach Bill Wilkinson said about Paskaris earlier this year. “That type of skill you really don’t teach.”