This Week in the CHA: Dec. 7, 2006

David Nimmo has increased his scoring output each year he’s been with Alabama-Huntsville. This year, almost at the midway point, Nimmo is on pace to shatter his 21 points of 2005-06.

But ask Nimmo about himself and he’d much rather talk about finishing his senior season on a high note with the Chargers.

“We’ve been in every game this season and never given up or stopped competing,” said Nimmo, a 24-year-old center from St. Albert, Alberta. “It just seems that no matter what we do that we end up on the wrong side of things. But we’re improving.”

In 2003-04, Nimmo recorded just an assist in 26 games. The following year was a five-fold increase as he put up two goals and three assists. In each of the past three seasons as well, UAH has come up short in the postseason tournament. This year, it looks to be an uphill battle, but Nimmo is on board and has stayed positive.

“There are a lot of leaders on this team and we need to portray to the younger guys what it takes to win,” Nimmo explained. “Our goal is to finish in the top two and get a buy to the second day of the tournament. We have a lot of experience on this team and we’ll see where that takes us.”

Once Nimmo graduates next spring with his degree in finance, he’ll probably have many hockey options to boot. And one who knows him best has an idea of what those options are.

“I think he can definitely play in the East Coast [Hockey] League,” UAH head coach Doug Ross said. “I don’t know that he can go much higher than that, but we’ll see. You never know and you never can tell.”

Ross added that although he was used sparingly his freshman season, Nimmo didn’t once complain.

“He never gave up and look at him now,” Ross said. “He’s on our No. 1 line centering Brett McConnachie and Grant Selinger. I call them the Production Line. Nimmo is great on faceoffs and he’s the guy I have out there in the defensive zone. He can also take the draw on his forehand or backhand.

“In his four years here, Dave has gotten much stronger. He takes up a lot of space out there and uses his body (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) to his advantage. He’s also good on the power play and penalty kill and is such a smart player. He thinks and he reacts quickly.”

“Under Coach Ross, he’s taught me to be more of a goal scorer,” Nimmo said. “Our practices are like games and he stresses shooting the puck. I’ve been doing that more the past two seasons and it’s paying off.”

Nimmo added that coming to Huntsville from Canada was a choice made on his own. It was also one that made him realize not everyone is Wayne Gretzky.

“A couple GMs I knew in Junior A said that U.S. college was the route to go if you weren’t going to be an elite player in major junior,” said Nimmo. “When I played in the SJHL (Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League), every year, we had an advisor come speak to our team (Melfort Mustangs) about the ins and out of college in the States. The more I knew about it, the more I knew that was the way I wanted to go. It’s worked out nicely, too.

“The weather was a bit of change. Here in August it’s 100 degrees and stays warm until November. Too, our team is also almost all Canadians and that made it easy to come here.”

Through 14 games, Nimmo is averaging a point per game with five goals and nine assists. He said that if he keeps producing, maybe someone other than an ECHL general manager will take notice.

“The more points you get, the better the team plays,” said Nimmo. “We just want to finish out the first half strong and hopefully get on a roll when we get back in January.”

Wayne State ‘Excited’ For CHA Play

Of its first 15 games, Wayne State only played four against CHA teams. Two of those were last weekend at home against Bemidji State. This weekend, the Warriors head to Niagara.

“We’re definitely excited to get some league games in,” WSU freshman goalie Brett Bothwell said. “Our record might not show it, but we’re a pretty confident team.”

With an overall 3-12-0 mark, the Warriors are 1-3-0 in CHA play. Their lone win came back on Oct. 21 at Alabama-Huntsville.

Scoring has been an issue as already this season, WSU has been shut out five times. One of the wins, a 5-4 victory Nov. 25 at Cornell, was an early-season highlight.

“When a team scores five goals, you better win,” quipped Bothwell. “That hasn’t happened a whole lot.”

Wayne State is also winless in four games on home ice this season.

Beavers Sweep Aside Warriors in the ‘D’

It was a low-scoring weekend in Motown as the host Warriors dropped a pair to Bemidji State. The Beavers won 1-0 on Friday night and 4-2 on Saturday inside an immensely chilly Michigan State Fairgrounds Coliseum.

The attendance may also have been inflated, as those who were actually there have said no more than 100 people attended each game. Released attendance figures show 311 for Friday and 301 for Saturday.

On the ice, Bemidji made Matt Pope’s third-period goal stand up in the win Friday.

“It was a very tight game and obviously we would like to find some offense, but as long as we’re winning games, I’m not going to worry about that,” said BSU head coach Tom Serratore to USCHO after Friday’s win.

Senior Luke Erickson scored twice to lead the Beavers Saturday.

“We got those first four goals and that didn’t take the life of them,” Erickson said to USCHO. “They played hard and I think we got more breaks than they did.”

Matt Climie earned the win in goal both games for BSU.

RMU Getting Its Due Respect

Two years ago — heck, even last year — Robert Morris lacked the respect factor. The Colonials were taken lightly, but on occasion surprised some teams that maybe underestimated them.

That’s not the case any longer.

“On the right night, Robert Morris can beat anyone,” said Ross, whose Chargers host RMU this weekend. “(Head coach) Derek (Schooley) has done a great job and he’s got that program improving and going places.”

And coming to UAH this weekend.

Two Niagara Forwards Earn National Recognition

For the second straight month, Niagara had a pair of forwards named to monthly honorable mention teams by the Hockey Commissioners’ Association.

Senior Sean Bentivoglio and freshman Chris Moran were honored for their efforts in the month of November.

Bentivoglio ranks eighth with 15 assists and ninth with 24 points, nationally. In the CHA, the forward ranks third in points and assists and fourth in goals. His pair of shorthanders were the first of his career, and the first scored by Niagara this season.

The senior captain totaled four multiple-point games in November. He tallied two game winners, against RPI (Nov. 24) and Alabama-Huntsville (Nov. 11). Bentivoglio had two multiple-goal, six multiple-assist and eight multiple-point games last month.

Moran leads all freshmen in the nation with 20 points and 16 assists. In November, the Buffalo native had a seven-game point streak, during which the Purple Eagles were unbeaten (5-0-2). Moran is tied for sixth in the nation with 16 assists and tied for 19th with 20 points. In the CHA, the forward ranks second in assists and fourth in points. Overall, Moran has five multiple-point games and three multiple-assist games this season.

Impressive stats from two players on a team looking to avenge its loss in last spring’s CHA tournament final to Bemidji State.

Happy Holidays!

Being that this is the last of the 2006 columns, I’ll keep up with the holiday traditions and work that into the world of the CHA.

First off, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Festivus, etc. However you celebrate the holidays, do it up good and get ‘er goin’.

Secondly, here is a digest version of what this writer feels each team needs to ask Santa for to have a shot at the 2007 CHA title:

• Alabama-Huntsville — Another year of eligibility for Jared Ross, Scott Munroe and Jeremy Schreiber. At the very least, perhaps one of Jordan Erickson or Marc Narduzzi to step up and assume the No. 1 goalie position.

• Bemidji State — Improved health for goaltender Layne Sedevie.

• Niagara — The ride to continue for Sean Bentivoglio, Ted Cook and Les Reaney. And also some ink on the rest of the team for a change.

• Robert Morris — Continued respect. See above.

• Wayne State — Some wins. Some goals. Healthy defensemen. A No. 1 goalie. Gotta start somewhere, eh?

On a personal whim, I’d like to wish all the best to the five or six people that read this column every week and to those that point out my errors, like last week’s prediction of Niagara coming back and winning the second game at Massachusetts. It was just a one-game series. Doh!

To my wife, Stephanie, and son, Ethan, Merry Christmas, you guys! Thank you for putting up with another year of me on the computer pumping out stories or on the phone with various hockey people. I love and appreciate you two more than anything.