This Week in the CHA: Jan. 25, 2007

Jared Katz was named the Unsung Hero at the awards banquet last season for the Baystate Breakers in the Eastern Junior Hockey League.

This year, he’s aiming to kick the “unsung” part of it to a Detroit curb.

And so far, he’s doing a swell job.

The 21-year-old Wayne State freshman forward, a native of St. Clair Shores, Mich., came home to play for the Warriors after finishing up his junior eligibility last year with the Breakers.

But if you watch Katz on the ice with the Warriors, one might think you’re watching a peewee game due to his small (5-foot-6, 142 pounds) stature.

“He’s a quick little bugger, isn’t he?” said WSU head coach Bill Wilkinson. “He’s all about hard work and has been coming through for us lately. I always say it’s the size of the heart and not the size of the body that makes a difference.”

Jared Katz may be small in stature, but he plays big for Bill Wilkinson's Warriors (photo: Mark Hicks / WestSide Photography).

Jared Katz may be small in stature, but he plays big for Bill Wilkinson’s Warriors (photo: Mark Hicks / WestSide Photography).

Prior to last season, Katz played in the North American Hockey League for the Toledo IceDiggers and Mahoning Valley Phantoms. He’s now with his fifth team in five years.

Two weeks ago, Katz netted the overtime game-winner against Ferris State and last Friday scored and also made a nice backdoor play to set up Jon Grabarek for a power-play goal against Robert Morris.

But it’s more than points that have been getting Katz, who was actually born in San Jose, Calif., regular ice time for the Warriors.

“You always need energy guys and Jared is a kid that even if he scores or not, his energy is always something that’s critical for us,” noted Wilkinson.

“Yeah, I guess I’m the energy guy, but I also like to be the big goalscorer,” Katz said. “I haven’t done a whole lot of that, especially early this year, but lately I guess I’ve been lucky.”

Though Katz’ four-game goal-scoring streak and six-game point streak ended in Saturday’s sweep of RMU, he still leads all CHA rookies with seven goals.

Last year with the Breakers, Katz notched 18 goals and was third in team scoring with 43 points. This season, Katz is tied for fourth on the Warriors with 13 points and was the CHA’s Rookie of the Week on Oct. 23 and again Jan. 15.

“I’m just going to the net,” laughed Katz. “It’s true what they say.”

After no serious college offers came his way, Katz said Wayne State “kind of picked me up during the summer and here I am. Happy to be here.”

Still unsung? Maybe. Diminutive? Absolutely. A warrior? Jared Katz could not have picked a more fitting school.

Niagara Gains Sweep Over Quinnipiac

Niagara started last weekend ranked No. 20 in the country and hosted then-No. 16 Quinnipiac at home.

When the weekend series was done, the Purple Eagles had completed a sweep and replaced the Bobcats at No. 16 in the national rankings.

NU won 5-2 on Friday and held on for a 3-2 victory Saturday.

“(Friday) was a great bounceback game for us,” Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder said. “I liked our demeanor before the game and I thought that we had a great week of practice. The third period has really been the best period all year for us, and it was again tonight.”

In Saturday’s game, goalie Juliano Pagliero made 34 of his 40 saves in the final 40 minutes.

“(Pagliero) single-handedly stole the victory against a very good team,” Burkholder said. “They executed more than we did tonight and they had us on our heels, but he saved the day for us.”

Niagara hosts Wayne State this weekend at Dwyer Arena, where the Purps are unbeaten (9-0-1) this season.

Beavers Play Hard, Just Not Hard Enough

After a 3-2 loss Friday at home to North Dakota, Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore wasn’t reading his team the riot act.

“It was a gutty performance and I’m very proud of our boys,” said Serratore in the Bemidji Pioneer. “I was very proud of our effort. We had a lot of Grade A chances to score; we just stubbed our toe a little at the end. It was one of those games where it was unfortunate someone had to lose.

“Without a doubt, the fans got their money’s worth.”

The Beavers had a shot to win the next night at North Dakota, but settled for a 6-3 loss Saturday.

“We did what we wanted to do,” Serratore said to USCHO. “We’re in their building and we’re down a goal with five minutes to go. Then we get penalties and it just takes everything away from you. It’s a disappointing loss because we didn’t even give ourselves a chance to tie this thing up.

“I don’t feel good at all right now. I hate giving games away. I felt tonight that we didn’t give ourselves a chance to tie it up. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win. It’s a tough pill to swallow right now.”

Bemidji will have an extra week to digest that pill, as the Beavers are idle this weekend.

RMU Swept By Warriors: ‘Shame On Us’

Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley was not in a good mood following the Colonials’ 7-4 loss at Wayne State Friday night.

“We were outworked and they were more determined,” said Schooley. “They were a better hockey team than us; we got what we deserved. They wanted it more than we did. We were bad defensively and I have nothing good to say.”

Schooley added that if his team didn’t play better Saturday, then “shame on us.”

RMU did play better and goaltender Joe Tuset, starting for the fourth time in five games, allowed just two goals, but the Colonials could muster only one and lost, 2-1.

“We played hard,” Schooley said to WSU’s student newspaper, The South End. “But a loss is a loss is a loss. We’re still going back on the bus with two losses.”

Huntsville Recruit Honored, Goalie Added to Roster

Hamilton Red Wings’ goaltender Cameron Talbot was named Most Valuable Player for the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Western Conference.

Talbot will be donning the blue and white uniform of Alabama-Huntsville this fall.

Talbot becomes the first goalie to win the award since the division formed in 1992. Now in his third season with the Red Wings, the Caledonia, Ont., native was also named the starting goalie for the silver medal-winning Canada East team that competed at the inaugural World Jr. A Championships this past November.

The 19-old-year has been phenomenal in the Hamilton nets, suffering just one loss in regulation time. Talbot went three-quarters of the way through the season before losing. Named team MVP in 2005-06, the two-time OPJHL All-Star is 18-2-2 and boasts a 2.01 goals-against average, which is more than half a goal below the next starting goaltender in the division.

In other Charger netminder news, Blake MacNicol joined the team from the Baystate Breakers. He was cleared by the NCAA on Jan. 12 at 4:00 p.m. and dressed that weekend in UAH’s games with Robert Morris, but has yet to see game action behind Marc Narduzzi and Jordan Erickson.

Bothwell WSU’s No. 1 Goalie?

Talk about being politically correct.

After Wayne State freshman goalie Brett Bothwell earned both wins last weekend against Robert Morris, Wilkinson was asked if the rookie had cemented his status as the team’s No. 1 goalie.

“We have two goalies,” stated Wilkinson. “Just look at the stats.”

Bothwell is 6-6-0 with a .894 save percentage and a 3.69 goals-against average. Senior Will Hooper is 1-11-0 with a .858 save percentage and a 4.08 goals-against average.

Third-stringer Dan Vasquez, named the No. 3 goalie after senior Kevin Bonikowski left the team in September, has not seen the ice thus far.

WSU Gains Trio of Recruits, BSU Gets One

Wayne State continues to add to the class of 2011 with commitments from Cambridge Winter Hawks’ (Midwestern Ontario Junior Hockey League) defenseman Jordon Bonneville, Bridgewater Bandits (EJHL) goalie Mike Devoney and Springfield Jr. Blues (NAHL) forward Andrew Berecz, a teammate of fellow recruit Christian Hmura.

Bonneville was in town last weekend for WSU’s games against Robert Morris. He currently leads all MWJHL defensemen in scoring with 48 points in 39 games.

Devoney is a teammate of another Warriors’ recruit, Jeremy Tejchma, and has a 13-9-4 record this season with two shutouts, a .894 save percentage and a 3.54 goals-against average.

Berecz, Springfield’s captain, leads the Jr. Blues in goals with 17.

“(Berecz) has great hockey sense and the ability to make the right play at the right time,” Springfield coach-GM Nick Pollos said. “He goes hard to the net and scores goals from in tight. He will be an asset to the Wayne State program.”

Bemidji State also got a verbal from Winkler Flyers’ (Manitoba Junior Hockey League) center Aaron Lewadniuk, who will be a true freshman this fall. Lewadniuk will follow in the footsteps of former Flyers Jeff McGill and Brendan Cook, both of whom also played for the Beavers.

Lewadniuk has 34 goals and 67 points, good for tops among MJHL rookies and 11th overall in league scoring.