This Week in Atlantic Hockey: Jan. 14, 2010

Back on Track

The top three teams in Atlantic Hockey returned to winning ways last weekend, as the the league left most of its non-conference games behind and got down to crunch time. The sight from the rear-view mirror isn’t pretty — the league has gone 8-43-5 out of conference this season, with just five non-league games left.

Home cooking was a key factor in the top teams rebounding: Mercyhurst got back on track with a 7-2, 5-3 home sweep of American International; Air Force took three of four points from Connecticut in a pair of close contents in Colorado Springs; and in Rochester, RIT continued its domination of Holy Cross with a 5-2, 2-0 sweep. The Tigers are now 14-1-1 against the Crusaders since joining Atlantic Hockey.

RIT is riding a 12-game unbeaten streak in conference play and is tied with Air Force for second place. Both teams trail first-place Mercyhurst by a point, but the Tigers have the advantage with four games in hand on both the Lakers and Falcons.

“This was a nice bounce back weekend for us,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “But it’s a long 14 games to go. We talk about those four games in hand, but if you lose one, all of a sudden you’re down to three games in hand. It disappears quickly.”

Weekly Awards

Player of the Week for Jan. 11, 2010:
Brandon Coccimiglio — Mercyhurst

Coccimiglio had a five-point weekend to lead the Lakers to a sweep of American International. He had a natural hat trick an an assist in Friday’s 7-2 win, and tacked on an assist in Saturday’s 5-3 victory.

Goalie of the Week for Jan. 11, 2010:
Jared DeMichiel — RIT

The senior goaltender stopped 46 of 48 shots to help the Tigers to a sweep of Holy Cross. DeMichiel recorded his second career shutout on Saturday, stopping all 22 shots he faced. He’s currently 10-2-1, with a 1.69 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in AHA play.

Co-Rookie of the Week for Jan. 11, 2010:
Steven Legatto — Sacred Heart

Legatto wins the award for the second week in a row, although this time he has to share. The goaltender stopped 63 of 66 shots as the Pioneers took three points from Army. He stopped all 30 shots he faced on Saturday for his first career shutout.

Co-Rookie of the Week for Jan. 11, 2010:
Joe Campanelli — Bentley

The rookie from Pierrefond, Quebec, had a five-point weekend (three goals, two assists). Campanelli is second among all rookies in Atlantic Hockey with 16 points on the season.

Iron Man

Air Force goaltender Andrew Volkening played in his 111th career game on Friday, setting a school record.

“I think he’s the best player ever to play in the program,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said. “I mean, when you see what he’s done — he’s won four championship games, he’s been the all-tournament goalie in three NCAA tournaments, he’s been the all-regional goalie. We’ve had three All-Americans in the last three years, but the last two years he’s been our team MVP.”

Canisius’ Consistant Cory Conacher

Canisius junior forward Cory Conacher extended his scoring streak to 10 games last weekend, recording four points in a split with Bentley, including the game winning goal on Saturday with 2:40 remaining in the contest. Conacher is currently second in the nation with 1.55 points per game, and first in Division I with four game-winners.

The Power is On

Holy Cross’ power play is providing almost all of its offense lately. Eleven of the Crusaders’ last 13 goals have come with the man advantage. All five of the Holy Cross goals in four games with RIT this season were on the power play.

Getting the Call

When freshman goaltender Jeff Larson left school after the first semester, Connecticut didn’t skip a beat, welcoming Garret Bartus, who arrived after the holidays from the St. Louis Bandits of the NAHL. Bartus played well last weekend, holding Air Force to four goals.

“He made some great saves tonight that kept us in the game,” UConn coach Bruce Marshall said. “We’ve been having breakdowns the last couple weeks where it’s a shot here, a missed defensive play there, but when you start getting saves, it starts allowing you to do other things.”

Vote for Hobey (sort of)

The Vote for Hobey promotion is back for another season. You can choose from a list of 70 players, including eight from Atlantic Hockey:

• Andrew Volkening, Air Force senior goaltender
• Cameron Burt, RIT sophomore forward
• Carl Hudson, Canisius senior defenseman
• Cory Conacher, Canisius junior forward
• Dan Ringwald, RIT senior defenseman
• Everett Sheen, Holy Cross junior forward
• Jacques Lamoureux, Air Force junior forward
• Jared DeMichiel, RIT senior goaltender

This is the first of two rounds of fan voting, with the eventual top vote getter getting a whopping 1 percent of the real ballots, which are cast by coaches, scouts and the media. So it’s all in fun.

Speaking of Awards…

Air Force senior Matt Fairchild has been named a recipient of the 2009 NCAA Sportsmanship Award. The NCAA created the award in 1999 to “honor student-athletes who, through their actions in the competitive arena of intercollegiate athletics, have demonstrated one or more of the ideals of sportsmanship, including fairness, civility, honesty, unselfishness, respect and responsibility”.

Fairchild was named MVP of last year’s AHA tournament, but gave the award to teammate Andrew Volkening, who had posted consecutive shutouts in the semifinals and finals of the tournament.

Different Roads

Three ex-high school teammates returned to Rochester, N.Y., last weekend, all having taken different roads to pursue their hockey dreams.

Billy Sauer, Kevin Montgomery and Bradon Nunn were all on the McQuaid Jesuit High School hockey team in 2004, winning a league title. All three were born in 1988. Sauer and Montgomery left for juniors the next season, while Nunn stayed and led his team to a state title. Sauer went on to start in net for Michigan as a 17 year old, while Montgomery was selected for the U.S. Under 18 Team and landed at Ohio State before bolting for the OHL after half a season.

Sauer and Montgomery are in the AHL, reunited on the Lake Erie Monsters. Both were drafted by Colorado.

While Sauer and Montgomery have finished their college hockey careers, Nunn is just beginning his. After four years of prep school and junior hockey, he’s a 21 year old freshman at Holy Cross. The Crusaders were in Rochester to play RIT, while the Lake Erie Monsters were in town to play the Rochester Americans.

The varied paths these players have taken illustrate the options available. Nunn is just starting college while Sauer graduated last year, yet they are the same age. College wasn’t for Montgomery, who chose major juniors instead.

All are still playing hockey, chasing the dream.

Contributing: Mark Mahan


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