American International experienced the highs and lows of college hockey, all within a 24-hour span last weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Last Friday, the Yellow Jackets overcame a 2-0 deficit and defeated Air Force 5-3. It was AIC’s first win in school history over the Falcons. It took the Yellow Jackets 21 games to accomplish the feat, which, according to coach Gary Wright, was just one of the things he was proud about.
“Obviously, Friday was a big win,” he said. “It was their home opener, against a very prominent team in college hockey. To come from being down in that situation, where they scored on literally their first shift of the second period [to open a 2-0 lead] and to come back from that was pretty special.”
Air Force came back with a vengeance on Saturday and coasted to a 12-0 win. Was it a case of the Falcons being extra motivated or the Yellow Jackets feeling a little too good about themselves?
“It was a combination,” Wright said when I posed the question to him. “[Air Force] certainly came out and played ferociously as we knew they would. We expected that, but we got down quickly and got away from our system, and it snowballed from there. Guys were trying to do too much and it made a situation that wasn’t going well for us worse.”
Wright said he’s not going to show the tape of Saturday’s game to his team and that they’ve moved on. With just one game on the schedule over the next three weeks, AIC will go back to basics.
“We’ve played a few more league games early in the season that we wanted to, so we’re looking at [the break] as a little more of a training camp that we didn’t get earlier,” Wright said.
One back, one gone
Mercyhurst is up one goalie and down a forward. Senior Ryan Zapolski made his first appearance of the season an exhibition against the U.S. Under-18 Team.
Zapolski, who missed the first three games of the season due to a suspension, looked sharp, stopping 31 of 32 shots he faced in a 3-1 win.
On the minus side, the Lakers announced that freshman forward Rudy Sulmonte has left school to sign with the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL. Sulmonte, an 18-year-old freshman, had not played for Mercyhurst so far this season due to academic ineligibility.
“He gave it a try, but college just wasn’t for him”, Mercyhurst assistant coach Bobby Ferraris said. “It was a little overwhelming with courses and hockey. He decided to pursue hockey only. He’s going to be a very good hockey player. He’s a great kid and we wish him the best.”
Game(s) of the Week
Undefeated Robert Morris ventures out on the road this weekend to face a familiar foe, as well as into uncharted territory. The Colonials will travel to Rochester Institute of Technology on Friday and then to former CHA rival Niagara on Saturday.
“It will be [RIT’s] first game in their building since last season and we expect there to be a lot of emotion and excitement,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “We hear it’s a tough building to play in and are excited about the challenge.”
Schooley’s Colonials are no strangers to Niagara’s Dwyer Arena, where they have played many times thanks to the “We have to play each other six times a season” CHA schedule.
“We’re probably well below .500 in that building,” Schooley said. “Both teams we’re facing are very good teams … hungry for their first win. We’ll know what we’re made of after this weekend.”
Quote of the week
“If we take another week off, maybe we can crack the Top 20.” — Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley on his team receiving more votes in the USCHO.com poll despite being idle last week.
Bridgeport, here we come
This week, Sacred Heart announced an agreement with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) that will see the Pioneers move five of their home games from Milford Ice Pavilion to the Arena at Harbor Yard as part of a series of doubleheaders with the Tigers a New York Islanders affiliate.
“This is a great opportunity for Sacred Heart and Atlantic Hockey to play in such a great facility,” AHA commissioner Robert DeGregorio said in a press release. “The arena has served in the past, and will again in the future, as an NCAA regional site and could help our teams later on down the road.”
The games moved to Bridgeport are:
Saturday, Nov. 6 vs. AIC (3:30 p.m.)
Saturday, Jan. 8 vs. Air Force (4:30 p.m.)
Saturday, Feb. 5 vs. Bentley (3:30 p.m.)
Sunday, Feb. 20 vs. Holy Cross (12:00 p.m.)
Saturday, Feb. 26 vs. Army (3:30 p.m.)