This Week in the CHA: Nov. 3, 2005

Looks like the Serratore brothers get to divide bragging rights at the family table this Thanksgiving.

Last weekend, Air Force, coached by Frank Serratore, upset then-No. 15-ranked Bemidji State and brother Tom, 4-3, on Friday night in Colorado Springs. The following evening, the Beavers rebounded for a 2-1 win. Even with the loss, the Beavers stayed in the poll at No. 18.

The Falcons ended 13-game losing and 16-game winless streaks versus Bemidji State Friday.

“We’ve always had good games,” Tom Serratore said in the Bemidji Pioneer prior to Friday night’s game. “Fortunately, we’ve been able to find ways to win. You start to wonder how long the law of averages is going to continue for us.

“This is a pretty good Air Force team that plays very well at home. It’s their fastest team ever; they have tough defenders and a top veteran goalie in (Peter) Foster. Our games against Air Force are always a war. I don’t expect things to be any different this time around.”

Oh, but it was different. Tom Serratore now owns a 16-1-1 record versus his older brother with Friday’s win being the first time the younger Serratore defeated his elder sibling.

The two brothers are part of an exclusive club as one of just three combinations in Division I (any sport) where family members coach against each other in the same conference in the same sport. The only other such combinations currently active are Bobby Bowden (Florida State) and his son Tommy (Clemson) in ACC football and brothers Joseph (Columbia) and James Joes (Yale) in Ivy League men’s basketball.

Both BSU and Air Force are off this weekend. The Falcons head to West Point to battle Army next weekend while the Beavers venture to Motown for two with Wayne State.

Bemidji Recruit Oozes Leadership

In the USHL, Green Bay’s Tyler Lehrke joins a long list of Gamblers captains to end up in the collegiate ranks. Next year, he’ll suit up for Bemidji State.

“There is no greater compliment than to be named captain of your team,” said Lehrke, a forward. “It is a role I will take very seriously as I want to be one of those guys who my teammates see as their leader both on the ice and in the dressing room. There have been some great captains who have come through this program and I look forward to carrying on that tradition.”

Gamblers head coach Mark Mazzoleni is also confident that Lehrke will be the epitome of a captain.

“For me it was a very easy decision to name Tyler the captain of our team,” said Mazzoleni. “Just watching Tyler conduct business on a daily basis last year, I saw an individual who was always well prepared. Furthermore, Tyler is a young man who cares more about winning and team accolades than he does about individual awards. Plus, he is also one of the finest citizens we have off the ice.”

Defenseman Chris Peluso from the Sioux Falls Stampede has also chosen the Beavers as his NCAA stop a year from now. A seventh-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2004 NHL draft, Peluso tallied eight points in 53 games last year with the Stampede.

As a footnote, former Sioux Falls assistant coach Ted Belisle is in his third season as an assistant at Bemidji.

Colonials Have Foursome Of Pennsylvanians

Like Wayne State with its 15 Michigan natives, Robert Morris is starting a class of homegrown products as four players on the current Colonials’ roster hail from Pennsylvania.

Sophomore defenseman Eric Trax (Finleyville), sophomore forwards Jace Buzek (Greenburg) and Sean Berkstresser (Apollo) and freshman goaltender Karac Davis (Pittsburgh) all had little travel to do in order to find the Island Sports Center.

Buzek and Berkstresser both played junior hockey with the now-defunct Pittsburgh Forge of the NAHL and won a national title in 2003. Davis also stayed home to prep for college as he suited up for Shady Side Academy, a western Pennsylvania independent private school in Pittsburgh.

On a different note, Robert Morris is still winless on home ice this season after its sweep last weekend at the hands of Quinnipiac. The Colonials mustered only two goals in the two games.

Ross The Dean Of CHA Coaches

UAH head coach Doug Ross is in his 24th season with the Chargers and has posted a lifetime win-loss record of 478-273-40 in 26 seasons. At UAH, he has 422 wins, placing him in the top 15 all-time among NCAA coaches for wins. Ross is also ranked seventh among active coaches for winning percentage.

“I never expected to coach this length of time at UAH,” said Ross. “It’s been very rewarding. I have been surrounded by a lot of very hard-working people at UAH for many years and I appreciate their support.”

Ross previously coached hockey at Kent State and Ohio, as well as coaching high school hockey in Michigan. He has also coached two teams to gold medals in the U.S. Olympic Sports Festivals (Syracuse, 1982 and Minneapolis, 1990).

Saturday, Ross will coach his 700th game behind the Huntsville bench as the Chargers take on RIT.

Purple Eagles Get No Love From Vermont

A year ago, Niagara waltzed into Vermont and swept the Catamounts. This season, turnabout was fair play as Vermont came to Dwyer Arena last weekend and took four points from the Purple Eagles.

“Unfortunately we lost the power-play game,” said NU head coach Dave Burkholder after Saturday’s 4-2 defeat. “There is not a part of (Vermont’s) game that I am not impressed with. We were not dangerous coming off of the goal line and I think that was the difference. But overall, I don’t think we tested them as much as we would have liked to.”

Friday night, NU suffered a 3-2 loss. But even so, it’s onward and upward in Burkholder’s eyes.

“I like where we are at,” said Burkholder. “We played a ranked opponent on our ice in two (close) games. I cannot seeing us facing a tougher test than what we did in the last two games, with Vermont’s transition game and special teams and they have great goaltending. I would say we are ready to get into the CHA.”

Niagara hosts Wayne State this weekend.

Warriors Slipping Against Purps

Wayne State split at Niagara last year and is 5-5 all-time at Dwyer Arena against the Purple Eagles.

WSU also claimed the 2002 CHA tournament title at Dwyer Arena with wins over Air Force and Alabama-Huntsville. The Warriors lead the all-time series 12-9-2 and have a 3-1-2 mark in the six overtime meetings.

Back in 2002 after WSU swept Niagara in western New York, then-NU captain Scott Crawford said he was “sick and tired of having to go through this every time we play Wayne State.” The Warriors then swept the Purple Eagles back home later that season to own a 9-0-0 career record over NU.

Since then, Niagara is 9-3-2 against WSU.