Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!
As is the theme each year with this column, we’ll go over what each team has to be thankful for any why.
As is also a recurring theme, the number of teams in the CHA since this writer took over the league beat has been cut almost in half, so the column tends to get shorter as the league gets smaller.
That said, here goes the 2008 “What CHA Teams Have To Be Thankful For” list.
A strong athletic administration committed to winning and keeping hockey alive in the deep south, warm freaking weather year-round, the opportunity to look forward to hosting the 2012 Frozen Four in Tampa and always-strong attendance figures that most times go unnoticed by CHA cynics and so-called writers.
Your new rink in a few short years, being the only CHA team to boast an NHL draft pick (Chris Peluso), hosting the CHA tournament in March, the shortening time frame to join the WCHA, being situated in the hockey-crazed state of Minnesota and having the best green jerseys in the country.
Looking forward to hosting preliminary games in the World Junior Championship in 2011 at Dwyer Arena, a healthy Ted Cook (and one that stayed all four years), a packed arena every home game, the best school nickname in the country and a reputation the last couple years for producing NHL-caliber talent.
Knowing that having a team primarily made up of freshmen and sophomores isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the upside of said players, a high-end recruit coming next season in Zach Hervato and the ability to upset teams that may take the Colonials for granted and seeing hockey continue to grow in the Steel City.
The four head coaches — all classy, intense guys, a league where each team has a 25 percent chance to go to the NCAA tournament, a league where any of the four teams can go out and compete (and sometimes win convincingly) against teams from the other five conferences and the fact that the 2008-2009 season has the CHA can really be the most important reason to be thankful in the first place
Lastly, I’d like to take this moment to say I am thankful for my very beautiful, loving and supportive wife of four years, Stephanie, and our sons, Ethan, 3, and Wyatt, 1. You guys are my world and I love you (and honey, your Thanksgiving meatballs!) like you will never know! (And yes, I love you, too, Eddie!)
Niagara And Bemidji State Do The Splits
In a rematch of last year’s CHA title game, Niagara hosted Bemidji State for a pair last weekend and each team took a 3-1 win.
Ted Cook took over Niagara’s career-goal scoring record with his 72nd goal as the Purple Eagles defeated the Beavers on Friday night.
Cook’s goal broke a tie with 2005 graduate and former captain Barret Ehgoetz.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Cook said. “I have the puck in my stall and I hope to score more as the year goes on.”
NU head coach Dave Burkholder was happy with the effort his team put in, including Cook’s record-breaking goal.
“It’s another great win at Dwyer Arena,” Burkholder said. “Cook’s goal was a goal-scorer’s goal. Many wouldn’t shoot it from that angle, but he did. It’s a special accomplishment and Cook is a special kid.”
Egor Mironov and Paul Zanette scored the other Niagara goals and Juliano Pagliero made 35 saves, including two from point-blank range late, for the win.
Tyler Scofield tallied for BSU and Matt Dalton kicked out 16 shots in goal for the Beavers.
Bemidji State rebounded Saturday night on goals from Ben Kinne, Shea Walters and Matt Francis and 22 saves out of Dalton.
“It was a good game, good weekend and a gutty performance by our guys,” said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. “We really stood tall and weathered a few storms, especially in the second period, but won the period and won the game.”
Robert Martini scored his first NCAA goal for Niagara.
“It was a classic game where we missed several grade-A opportunities,” Burkholder said. “We didn’t cash in when we should have. Martini worked hard and was rewarded for his competitive play.”
Pagliero stopped 22 shots in defeat.
UAH Splits With Yale
Alabama-Huntsville ventured north to Ivy League country to play Yale and played as close to a perfect game as one will ever find Friday night before getting schooled Saturday night.
Behind a third-period shorthanded goal by Joe Federoff, the Chargers notched their first shutout in over three years in topping Yale, 1-0, in the first game of the series.
Cameron Talbot made 33 saves in picking up his first collegiate shutout and first win in net in 2008-2009. The game was also UAH’s first-ever 1-0 shutout in school history.
The last shutout for the Chargers came on Feb. 26, 2005, when UAH blanked Robert Morris, 3-0, on the road.
The Bulldogs came back with a 6-2 win Saturday night.
Captain Scott Kalinchuk had a goal and an assist and Matt Sweazey also scored for UAH. Blake MacNicol and Talbot split time in net with MacNicol making 16 saves and Talbot stopping 14.
Colonials Lose Friday, Win Saturday Against LSSU
Notice the common theme from last weekend? Every CHA team split their respective series.
On Friday evening, Robert Morris rallied late, but Lake Superior State held on for a 3-1 win.
Scott Kobialko scored RMU’s only goal and the Colonials got a 32-save performance from Wes Russell.
Saturday night, another late-game rally proved to be the difference as the Colonials escaped with a 4-3 victory for their first road win of the season.
Team scoring leader Chris Margott’s goal with 28 seconds to go in the third period won it for RMU.
Jason Towsley scored twice and Brandon Blandina (first collegiate goal) added the other snipe for Robert Morris.
Russell finished with 36 saves for his third win on the year.
Robert Morris as a team, however, went 0-for-10 on the power play in the series.