This Week in the CHA: Jan. 7, 2010

Happy New Year!

A fresh start, snow on the ground, and a slew of games this weekend — what could be better?

At the top of the list this weekend is the annual Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase, where Robert Morris will play No. 1 Miami on Friday night at Mellon Arena.

The RedHawks will be the first top-ranked team to play RMU in the Colonials’ short six-year history.

“The Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase is a great hockey night for our team, our program and our university,” said Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley. “We are excited to play the top-ranked team in the nation in the final year of Mellon Arena. This event has a history of having high-level opponents, great attendance and excellent hockey games.”

In previous showcase games, Ohio State beat RMU, 4-0, last year and in the first year of the event in 2007-08, Robert Morris and Ohio State tied, 5-5.

This year’s showcase has the Robert Morris women’s team playing Connecticut, followed by RMU and Penn State clashing in an ACHA contest, and then the D-I Colonials and Miami locking up.

“Any time you play the No. 1 team in the nation, it’s a challenge that any team would get up for,” Schooley said on rmucolonials.com. “Throw in that it’s at Mellon Arena as a part of the Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase and it adds even more excitement to the event. Very rarely do you get a chance to play a No. 1-ranked team in your home city. I appreciate Miami agreeing to come, that’s for sure.”

RMU finishes off the weekend playing at Miami on Sunday afternoon.

NU Tops Coach’s Alma Mater

Niagara continued its recent success against RIT by downing the Tigers, 3-2, at a sold-out Ritter Arena on Dec. 12.

Niagara is 6-0-2 against the Tigers since the 1996-97 season, including a recent 4-0-1 stretch with Niagara coach Dave Burkholder, an All-American goalie at RIT during the 1980s, behind the bench.

The Purple Eagles are 20-3-2 all-time against Atlantic Hockey teams.

Paul Zanette scored twice, while Egor Mironov’s goal 19 seconds after RIT tied it in the third period stood as the game-winner.

“For us to answer the call in the third period was great,” Burkholder said. “We had to do whatever it took to win and the team did just that.”

Chris Noonan, who seemingly has supplanted Adam Avramenko as NU’s No. 1 goalie, earned his first career win with a 30-save outing.

Purps Take Third in Chicago

Behind a two-goal effort by Mironov, Niagara defeated Colgate, 5-1, in the consolation game of the Shillelagh Tournament on Sunday afternoon.

Mironov notched his seventh multi-goal game of his career by striking for two goals in the second period. Mironov’s play not only helped Niagara improve to 3-1-1 in its last five games against Colgate, but also propelled him into ninth place on Niagara’s career goal-scoring list, passing former teammate Vince Rocco with his 46th and his 47th career goals.

“Today was one of the most complete efforts of the season,” Burkholder said. “We put a point of emphasis on putting pucks on net.  We did an unbelievable job of keeping it simple and looking for rebound goals.” 

David Ross, Ryan Olidis and Marc Zanette added the other goals, while Dan Weiss assisted on two for his first NCAA points.

Noonan made 36 saves in the victory.

In the first game of the tournament, No. 6 North Dakota beat NU, 3-1.

Olidis scored and Noonan made a career-best 40 saves in the loss.
 
“We gave up way too many opportunities to score an ugly goal today,” said Burkholder. “To be in the game late with a possibility of overtime is uplifting, but we caught a bad break in the third North Dakota goal which we couldn’t overcome.”

Beavers Suffer First Home Losses in MSU Sweep

Bemidji State faltered a bit before the break as it suffered its first home losses this season in a Minnesota State sweep.

On Dec. 11, the Beavers lost, 5-1. Ian Lowe tallied the lone goal and Dan Bakala made 26 saves and also assisted on Lowe’s goal.

The next night, Matt Read scored the game’s first goal and Jordan George the last goal, but Minnesota State scored three in the middle to eke out a 3-2 win.

Mathieu Dugas made 11 saves in net in taking the loss.

“I was very proud of our effort and the way we played,” Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said to the Bemidji Pioneer after the second game. “We played well for 60 minutes and I thought we were difficult to play against — all four lines played well.

“We just didn’t get it done on the power play. It’s a game of breaks and bounces and we didn’t get any. Yes, maybe we lost a race to the puck on their third goal, but overall, I thought we played with a lot of intensity. We just couldn’t get it going on the power play.”

The loss marks the sixth straight to MSU, matching a losing skid that stretched from Dec. 20, 1996, to Dec. 17, 2000, and stands as the longest streak without a win over the Mavericks since the series began in 1974. MSU still trails BSU 44-35-13 in the all-time series, however.

BSU Rebounds Against Western Michigan

Needing to get some momentum back, BSU held Western Michigan scoreless over the course of both games last weekend in Kalamazoo.

WMU also held the Beavers scoreless Saturday night as, for the first time in 54 years of BSU hockey, the Beavers skated to a 0-0 tie. 

Bakala posted his second career shutout versus Western Michigan with a 31-save performance, equaling a career-high set in a 2-1 victory over Alabama-Huntsville last November.

BSU’s team defense came up with 11 blocked shots, with Brady Wacker accounting for three himself.

Western Michigan won the shootout, 2-1, though, but the game goes into the books as a tie.

Sunday, Bakala made 26 saves for his second straight shutout as BSU took a 3-0 victory.

Ben Kinne scored two goals and Matt Read and Brad Hunt each had three assists.

Lowe opened the scoring for the Beavers, who have a 3-2-1 edge in the all-time series with the Broncos.

RMU Rallies to Tie Canisius

On Dec. 15, RMU rallied for a 5-5 tie at Canisius.

Furman South (15:13) and Nathan Longpre (16:03) scored late in the third period to earn the point.

Trevor Lewis had three helpers for the Colonials, while Longpre added a pair to go with goals from Chris Kushneriuk, Nick Chiavetta and Scott Kobialko.

Brooks Ostergard started and gave up three goals on nine shots by the 9:40 mark of the first period. Eric Levine relieved and made 31 saves the rest of the way.

Colonials Swept by Lake Superior

Robert Morris came back after an 18-day break and was swept at home by Lake Superior State last weekend.

LSSU won 7-6 on Saturday night and 2-0 on Sunday.

Denny Urban and Kushneriuk scored twice and Kobialko and Stefan Salituro (first NCAA goal) added singles for RMU.

“We played hard, we competed and we did some good things, but they went 3-for-4 on the power play,” Schooley told USCHO. “We need to do some things better on the penalty kill … because being close all the time is getting old.

“We have to make some saves. I’m disappointed in our penalty killing and our lack of shot blocking. We’re sick of losing and finding ways to lose. We played hard and we didn’t quit, but we just have to find a way to stop teams when they’re on the power play.”

All three RMU goalies played in the game. At the beginning of the second period, Levine was replaced in net by Ostergard. After Lake State’s fifth goal, Ostergard was pulled and replaced by Joe Ziemianski for only 2:01 before Levine returned between the pipes. Once LSSU tallied their sixth score, Levine again went to the bench and Ostergard resumed his position in net, where he would stay for the remainder of the contest.

Levine made 10 saves and Ostergard, who suffered the loss, finished with 20. Ziemianski didn’t face any rubber.

On Sunday afternoon, Lewis was awarded a penalty shot after he was tripped up on his way to the Lakers net, but Pat Inglis stoned him on the ensuing freebie.

Ostergard stopped 22 shots.

Huntsville Splits at Catamount Cup

Scoring four unanswered goals, Alabama-Huntsville downed Mercyhurst, 4-1, on Sunday afternoon in the consolation game of the Catamount Cup in Burlington, Vt.

Taking on the Lakers for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, junior Vince Bruni (first collegiate tally), Kevin Morrison, Brandon Roshko and Cale Tanaka provided the scoring to back Cameron Talbot’s 32 saves in goal.

The UAH penalty-killing unit blanked the Lakers’ six power-play attempts, including a 5-on-3 advantage in the second period. 

Matti Järvinen scored twice in the opening game against Vermont, but the home team scored two in the final period to escape with a 4-3 win in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs.

In the first-ever meeting between the Chargers and Catamounts, Tom Train also scored and Talbot kicked out 35 shots.

UAH continues its extended road swing next weekend at Clarkson in the first-ever meeting between those two squads in Potsdam, N.Y., on Friday and Saturday night.

UAH’s Talbot Thinking About His Future

Speaking of Talbot, he and UAH coach Danton Cole spoke to the Huntsville Times recently on the possibility of moving up the hockey ladder once he graduates this year.

“I know one of his goals is to play in the NHL, and when you put up numbers with his size and physical attributes, there’s going to be some interest,” Cole said. “Some teams have come and watched him. Now, a lot of it is in his hands how reacts to that as part of the process.”

“Right now, I’m just focused on winning hockey games here,” Talbot added. “Obviously, I want to move to the next level more than anything, but you can’t think about that right now. I want to help this team win now, first and foremost.”

Brodie Commits to Bemidji State

The Wenatchee Wild of the North American Hockey League announced recently that defenseman Kyle Brodie has committed to Bemidji State for next season.

“Bemidji is a program that’s really headed in the right direction,” said Brodie.  “It has a new rink, it’s entering a new league and it’s located in a great college town that rallies behind the team.”

Brodie, a 19-year-old from Northglenn, Colo., leads all NAHL defensemen in scoring through 32 games with 27 points on eight goals and 19 helpers. He is also a plus-18 to lead the Wild.

“We’re excited to see Kyle fulfill one of his dreams of playing Division I hockey,” said Wild associate head coach Ryan McKelvie, brother of current BSU captain Chris McKelvie.  “Kyle had a great summer and came to the team looking like a new player. He’s proof of what a person can accomplish with hard work and a good attitude.

“Bemidji is an excellent hockey program and I think it’s a very good fit for Kyle.”

Brodie is the seventh player from this year’s Wild team to commit to a Division I program — the most of any team in the NAHL.

“Bemidji has established itself as a top contender in all of college hockey,” Brodie added.  “I’m really excited to be a part of all their history and traditions.”

He Said It

“I would make fighting/throwing a punch an automatic ejection and a five-game suspension. Though fans claim that fighting is part of hockey, I have never read it in a rule book, and fighting is not acceptable for any other NCAA sport. Heavier punishment would change the culture quickly.” — CHA commissioner Ed McLaughlin, to NHL.com, on what one rule he would change or amend in college hockey

Another reason why more and more kids are going the major junior route. Not all, but numbers don’t lie. I agree, though, that it’s true fighting isn’t allowed in any other NCAA sport, but what’s next? Eliminating all contact? Like one scout once told me, “This ain’t your little sister going to play the game — these are men.”

Chargers ‘Register’ Two More Recruits

A future of uncertainty hasn’t deterred two more players from committing to Alabama-Huntsville for next season as defenseman Matthew Register and forward Mac Roy will head south from Canada.

Register, a 20-year-old Calgary native, plays for the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League and Roy captains the Langley Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League.

Register was recently named to the North Division entry for the AJHL All-Star Game and currently leads the Pontiacs and all AJHL defensemen in assists (37), points (50) and power-play goals (9).

Register will join former Bonnyville skater Jamie Easton with the Chargers.

Roy, a 20-year-old from Chilliwack, British Columbia, has been a consistent scorer for the Chiefs the past three years and has elevated his play this season to earn top-line minutes and is playing in every situation.

“We knew it was just a matter of time for Mac,” Langley coach and general manager Harvey Smyl said. “He has shown for the last four years that he can play at this level and will succeed at the next level as well.”

Roy has 19 goals and 40 points this year.

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