This Week in the CHA: Jan. 4, 2007

Robert Morris junior winger David Boguslawski has scored four goals in his past four games, but less than two years ago, it looked like it could have been zero goals in zero games.

During the summer of 2005, Boguslawski was initially diagnosed with cancer and with that came the obvious scares that included no more hockey.

Turns out a scare was the worst of it.

Robert Morris junior winger David Boguslawski has returned to shine after a health scare in the summer of 2005 (photo: Robert Morris University).

Robert Morris junior winger David Boguslawski has returned to shine after a health scare in the summer of 2005 (photo: Robert Morris University).

“At first, they told me it was cancer and that my hockey career was over and that I couldn’t go back to school,” said the 23-year-old native of Cottage Grove, Minn. “But my gall bladder was infected and that got into my liver and caused abscesses. I was in and out of surgery July and August and was on IV antibiotics through a PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line in my arm that I administered myself four times a day at 6 a.m., noon, 6 p.m. and midnight.

“I also dropped down to 155 pounds, but through everything, I worked my way back.”

“He was a shadow of his former self,” added Colonials’ head coach Derek Schooley.

Boguslawski had three goals and 15 points during his freshman season, but last year had just eight points playing one game a weekend the first half.

“I couldn’t lift weights, so I basically skated by myself now and then and rode the bike (the first half),” said Boguslawski. “When I did play more the second half, I was just in a rut.”

This year, Boguslawski has already scored six goals skating on a line with senior Doug Conley (a former junior teammate with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm) and sophomore Jason Towsley, and has Schooley raving. He had been a natural center, but this year Boguslawski has moved to the wing and his production has increased.

“The past month, he’s really picked his game up,” said Schooley. “He’s got the hot stick right now and is really evolving into an all-around player. He plays the power play and penalty kill and does all the little things.”

But a year ago, things were a bit more foggy. Boguslawski said the thought of having hockey taken from him was what hurt the most.

“I always dreamed growing up in Minnesota that I’d get to play college hockey,” said the 5-foot-9, now-180-pound Boguslawski. “And to know that dream may have been taken away from me really puts things back into perspective. I know hockey may not always be there, but while it is, you have to take advantage.”

His illness also helped Boguslawski in other areas of his life.

“Spiritually, I became a lot closer with my family when I was sick and even after, knowing all that we had to go through and the cards we were dealt,” said Boguslawski. “But I never lost focus and it’s one of those things where I’ll have these life stories to share with people. Over the Christmas break this year, I went home and skated with my old high school team and re-evaluated my life. I just realized that what I’m doing, playing Division I hockey, is what I’ve always strived to do.”

This season has been a coming-out party for Boguslawski, originally recruited to play at now-defunct Findlay, as his half-dozen goals are tied for the team lead with senior Aaron Clarke.

“I had a great offseason, stayed healthy and just worked hard and stayed focused,” Boguslawski noted. “Last year was hard sitting out and only playing here and there, but I never lost focus.”

Still hasn’t lost focus this season, either, it appears.

NU-Canisius Rivalry Getting More Intense

Every year, Niagara and crosstown Canisius play each other and every year, it seems Canisius “puts on the foil” and mimics the movie Slap Shot.

Last Saturday, Niagara had to deal with Canisius players constantly crashing into NU goalie Juliano Pagliero. At one point, Spencer Churchill leveled Niagara senior captain Sean Bentivoglio with a crosscheck to the head.

Scott Langdon and Churchill later got involved, but Langdon only got a roughing minor and Churchill a roughing minor, fighting major and game disqualification.

Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder was steaming after the game, played in front of a packed Dwyer Arena. He said he wishes Niagara didn’t have to play Canisius any more.

“They’re not in our league,” Burkholder told Greater Niagara newspapers.

The nonconference rivalry (Canisius is in Atlantic Hockey) has been heated in recent years, but last weekend’s contest may have been the final straw, at least, if Burkholder had his way it would be.

In the same article, Burkholder said that playing Canisius does nothing to help the Purple Eagles’ strength of schedule and RPI rating as NU is competing for an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament should they not win the CHA tournament. Burkholder said he’d rather play a top-20 school instead.

Niagara did gain a measure of respect, however, when the school entered the USCHO.com/CSTV Poll at No. 19 this week.

UAH Still Chugging Away

Traveling to Minneapolis last weekend for the Dodge Holiday Classic, Alabama-Huntsville head coach Doug Ross did an interview with the Brainerd Dispatch and made some comments well worth the read, if they’re not already known.

On being a southern school: “It’s difficult to maintain a hockey program down here in the South when you’re not part of the hockey network. There are no other teams around so we have to do a lot of traveling. I was hoping some of the big schools would come down and grow hockey through exposure. None of the big schools have been receptive to that, but we’re always willing to go up and help out there.”

On Huntsville’s location as it relates to recruiting: “We don’t have many Division I-caliber hockey players (in our area). There might be a few here and there, like maybe one in Georgia. We don’t have a recruiting base compared to what Minnesota or New England has. I can’t get in my car, drive and watch hockey. We have to go quite a ways to watch a hockey game. It’s expensive to recruit for us. We don’t have that type of budget the big schools have. It’s difficult.”

On how UAH ended up going to Minnesota: “Don (Lucia) called me and said he needed a team for the tournament. I agreed to come up there and play. I know they have a good hockey team with a lot of depth.”

Bemidji Splits with then-No. 8 CC

Going into Colorado College last weekend, Bemidji State had no inkling of getting swept by a perennial Top 20 team.

Instead, the Beavers took a surprise 3-2 win on Friday night before falling 5-3 Saturday.

Shane Holman scored twice in the 3-2 win for the Beavers last Friday and goalie Matt Climie was phenomenal in turning aside 40 shots. Bemidji put just 14 shots on CC goalie Chris Kawano, but scored on three.

Kawano admitted to the Colorado Springs Gazette that it was difficult to establish a game plan in a game with only 14 shots.

“It was pretty tough, but I can’t complain,” Kawano said. “If the defense plays that well then I need to come up big for them. It is tough at times to get in a rhythm, but our ‘D’ played well.”

In Saturday’s loss, Rob Sirianni tallied twice for the Beavers, but that wasn’t enough as Orlando Alamano’s 35 saves didn’t hold up either.

The losses dropped CC from the No. 8 national ranking to No. 12, but allowed BSU to enter the Top 20 at No. 18.

The Friday win, making it 5-1-0 against WCHA teams this season, was also Bemidji’s first against a top-10 team in its Division I era.

WSU Recruit Hmura Anxious For College

Wayne State has but one recruit signed for next fall in Springfield Jr. Blues’ forward Christian Hmura.

Hmura actually committed to the Warriors last season while playing major midget hockey for Team Illinois in Chicago. He made the jump to the North American Hockey League this season, but also played Junior B with the Peoria (Ill.) Mustangs of the Central States Hockey League in 2004-05.

“Sometimes I overlook this season knowing I have four years of college hockey ahead,” said the 19-year-old Hmura. “But then there comes a point where I come back to reality and take care of business here.”

Hmura, a 6-foot, 175-pounder from New Lenox, Ill., wants to pursue a law degree at Wayne State; the university has its law school on the main campus. Being in a big city is also something that lured Hmura to pick WSU.

“I’ve always loved Chicago and being downtown,” Hmura said. “Wayne State’s campus is right near downtown and I felt the school was perfectly fitted for me.”

Though nothing has been released by Wayne State, Hmura has signed his National Letter of Intent and will be good to go come September.

“Wayne State was one of the first schools to really get into Christian and he’ll be a big positive for them,” Springfield coach-GM Nick Pollos added. “He’s a legit D-I kid.”

Niagara May Not Get Zanette; Haczyk Coming

Forward Paul Zanette may or may not end up at Niagara this fall, something which should be decided by this time next week.

Zanette’s major junior rights were held by the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League until last week, when they were dealt to the Sarnia Sting. The OHL’s trade deadline and roster freeze is next Wednesday and as of today, Zanette hasn’t reported to Sarnia.

Currently, Zanette is playing for the Aurora Tigers of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League and has averaged better than a point per game with 10 goals and 29 points in 19 games.

One recruit who will be showing up on Monteagle Ridge this coming fall is Green Bay Gamblers’ forward Bryan Haczyk, who committed in late December.

Haczyk, 19, came to the Gamblers and the United States Hockey League last season after the Christmas break via the Jersey Hitmen of the Eastern Junior Hockey League. In 28 games last year, the Nutley, N.J., native tallied nine points on four goals and five assists. Haczyk has already matched his goal output from last year and has personal USHL bests in assists (10) and points (14).

Haczyk joins goaltender Adam Avramenko as the second player from the Gamblers’ 2006-07 roster to commit to Niagara.

Mellon Arena Game Has Pittsburgh Buzzing

Friday night, RMU will play No. 2 Notre Dame at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh as part of the Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase.

RMU’s club team plays Washington & Jefferson in the first game of the showcase.

The game has created a stir in the Pittsburgh area, and in a positive way, as the reported move of the NHL’s Penguins to Kansas City certainly doesn’t garner things in a plus fashion.

“There is so much buzz around town,” Schooley said. “I’ve done three radio shows so far and the media response has been incredible. There hasn’t been this much excitement for our program since our opening weekend back in 2004.”

“We just want to go out there with no regrets,” said Boguslawski.

The two teams will rematch Sunday in South Bend.

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