This Week in Atlantic Hockey: Nov. 12, 2009

Sweet Sweep

Canisius swept Mercyhurst last weekend, 6-4 in Erie on Friday and 4-3 in Buffalo on Saturday. It was the first time ever in the 21-year history of the rivals that the Golden Grffins had defeated the Lakers on consecutive nights. The games were the 59th and 60th played between the two schools.

“Our team worked extremely hard,” Canisius coach Dave Smith said. “It was a very gritty and determined effort. We are finding ways to win right now and I am very proud of our guys.”

The Griffins had suffered from a first-period power outage so far this season, scoring just three times in eight games. But last weekend, Canisius opened 3-0 and 2-0 leads on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

“Getting the lead after the first period makes a huge difference,” Canisius senior forward Josh Heidinger said after the game on Saturday. “We struggled early in the season to start games but it is a huge momentum boost for us now.”

The highlight of the weekend for Canisius was a game-winning penalty shot by Cory Conacher with 4:36 to go in regulation on Saturday. After Mercyhurst defenseman Kevin Noble covered the puck in the crease, Canisius was awarded the penalty shot, and Conacher potted it for his team-leading fifth goal of the season.

Weekly Awards

Player of the Week for Nov. 9, 2009
Jordan Cyr — Holy Cross

Cyr had four points (three goals and an assist) last weekend to help the Crusaders split with Scared Heart. Cry leads the team in scoring with 11 points.

Goalie of the Week for Nov. 9, 2009
Jared DeMichiel — RIT

The senior stopped 47 of 49 shots to lead the Tigers to 6-1 and 2-1 wins over Army. On Saturday, he made several key saves in the latter stages of the game to help RIT to the 2-1 comeback.

Rookie of the Week for Nov. 9, 2009:
Jeff Larson — Connecticut

Larson made 48 saves on 50 shots to help Connecticut to a sweep of AIC (see more below).

Deserving a Better Fate

I do radio for RIT, and in that role I have to be a bit of a “homer” since the majority of our listeners and viewers on B2 are Tigers fans. But I’ve got to admit: Last Saturday night, I was rooting for Army goaltender Joe Spracklen.

Spracklen, a senior, was making his ninth career appearance in net for the Black Knights. He was 0-2-2 all-time coming into the game, and played very, very well. Looking for his first career win, Spracklen shut down for two periods an RIT offense that had scored 19 goals in its previous three games.

But it wasn’t to be. Bad bounces and questionable calls cost Spracklen and his team the game, as RIT scored twice in the final nine minutes to escape with a 2-1 win.

“[Saturday] was what we expected both nights,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson, whose team won 6-1 over the Black Knights on Friday. “This was a real goaltender’s duel.”

Army had scored early in the second period on a beautiful 3-on-5 shorthanded goal thanks to a two-on-one rush by Eric Sefchik and Cody Omilusik. Sefchick stripped a defender of the puck for the breakout and then dished to Omilusik to make it 1-0 Army.

That lead would stand until RIT’s Dan Ringwald poked home a loose puck at 11:42 of the third period.

With just under four minutes to play, Tiger Chris Haltigan got his stick around Army’s Kyle Maggard. What would have been a late power play for the Black Knights was negated when Maggard was called for embellishment on the hook.

The Tigers would get the game winner just over a minute later, when Andrew Favot took a shot from a tight angle that Spracklen got a piece of as Tiger Sean Murphy crashed the net. Murphy, Army defenseman Cheyne Rocha and the puck all seemed to cross the goal line at the same time, with the net coming off as well.

I’ve seen the replay several times and can’t for myself determine if it was a goal. Both coaches after the game commented that they weren’t sure, either. After a brief pow-wow between the officials, Favot was credited with the goal.

“It wasn’t the goal that I had a problem with,” Army coach Brian Riley said. “I had a problem with the embellishment call. I watched the tape. I don’t know how the ref could call that an embellishment. I couldn’t really see if it crossed the line before the net came off.”

More bad luck for Spracklen, who played well enough to win, but came up short.

Centennial Shutout

Air Force’s Andrew Volkening celebrated his 100th career game in style, posing his 12th career shutout on Saturday. The senior stopped all 27 shots he faced in a 3-0 win over Bentley.


After giving up 13 goals to RIT in a pair of losses two weeks ago, Connecticut’s Jeff Larson came back with a vengeance last weekend. The rookie goaltender stopped 48 of 50 shots to lead the Huskies to their first two wins of the season in a 3-1, 4-1 sweep of AIC.

For his efforts, Larson was named AHA Rookie of the Week.

“He’s played well,” UConn coach Bruce Marshall told “Last weekend was a total blowup for us a team and for a young kid to go from giving 13 goals on the weekend and to come back … will help him down the road.”

Saturday Night’s All Right

Sacred Heart defeated Holy Cross 4-3 on Saturday to keep an unusual streak going. The Pioneers so far this season have not won on a Friday night (0-3) but are undefeated on Saturday (2-0-1).

Five More Years

The Air Force Academy and hockey coach Frank Serratore have agreed on a new five-year contract that runs through the 2013-14 season.

“Frank has committed to building a successful program on and off the ice,” associate athletic director Dermott Coll said. “The success the team has had the last few years is a direct reflection of the hard work and effort he and his staff have put into this program. The Academy is proud of the team and coaches and all that they have accomplished on the ice, in the classroom and in the community.”

Brutally Honest

The Quote of the Week comes from Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin after his team was swept by Canisius last weekend. In both cases the Lakers fell behind early and attempted comebacks that fell short.

“We’re not very good,” Gotkin said. “Good teams don’t go down 3-0, 2-0. Comeback hockey, come-from-behind hockey, is losing hockey. The good news is we have some time to think it out, sort it out, but right now, we’re a very average to below-average hockey team.”

Thanks to the USCHO arena reporters who contributed to this column: Russell Jaslow, Ben Kirst and Nate Owen.


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