Holy Cross’s 4-3 overtime win against top-seeded Minnesota in the 2006 NCAA tournament was a defining moment for the school and all of Atlantic Hockey. A classic David-slays-Goliath game.
While not as earth-shattering, last Saturday’s 5-4 victory over seventh-ranked Boston University was right up there, according to Crusaders coach Paul Pearl.
“It’s fantastic for this group of guys because none of these guys were here for Minnesota,” Pearl said to the media after the game. “So this was as big as that or as big as any win we’ve had. This is a testament to these guys working hard.”
Freshman Matt Ginn made 27 saves on 31 shots, one better than BU’s Kieran Millan, who also faced 31 shots. Sophomore Adam Schmidt scored twice as the Crusaders built a 5-2 lead midway through the third period and then held on for the win.
Players of the week
Atlantic Hockey player of the week for Oct. 24:
Kyle De Laurell, Air Force
The junior forward had four points (two goals, two assists) last weekend as the Falcons defeated and tied Alabama-Huntsville. De Laurell leads Air Force in goals (5) and points (9).
Atlantic Hockey goalie of the week for Oct. 24:
Dan Morrison, Canisius
Morrison stopped 33 of 34 shots to help Canisius to its first victory over Rochester Institute of Technology since 2008.
Atlantic Hockey rookie of the week for Oct. 24:
Cole Gunner, Air Force
Gunner wins the award for the second straight week. This time, he posted two goals and two assists in a pair of games at Alabama-Huntsville. He’s the top-scoring freshman in the nation with nine points in six games.
While not earning POTW honors, a pair of Niagara players deserve honorable mentions. The Purple Eagles played only one game last week, a 3-3 tie against No. 12 Union. Sophomore Scott Arnold scored twice and had an assist on the other Niagara goal, while goaltender Cody Campbell made 45 saves to preserve the tie. He has a .946 save percentage this season, fourth nationally.
Finding the power
Air Force was 0-for-15 on the power play entering last weekend’s games at Alabama-Huntsville, but the Falcons found the power on Saturday. Air Force was 1-for-6 with the man advantage in a 1-1 tie on Friday, but scored four power-play goals in five attempts on Saturday in a 7-2 win.
“It was great to see the power play getting going,” coach Frank Serratore said after the game. “I don’t remember scoring that many pretty goals in a game. We did so because we went to the net. Yesterday, we had a lot of perimeter shots, but tonight we went to the net and scored some nice goals.”
An end to a bad streak and the start of a new one
Canisius’ 3-1 win over RIT last Thursday was the first time in nine attempts that the Golden Griffins had defeated their I-90 rivals. It was the longest continued losing streak to a program in school history for Canisius.
The Tigers were then defeated by No. 12 Union 5-0 at Ritter Arena on Saturday. It was the worst margin of defeat at home for RIT in 17 years. Combined with the scoreless tie that Niagara and RIT played in the Tigers’ previous game at Ritter, it was the first time RIT had been shut out at home in consecutive games in the program’s 42-year history.
Connecticut’s 3-2 overtime victory over Massachusetts-Lowell on Oct. 18 was the 599th win in the history of the program, which dates to 1960. Current coach Bruce Marshall has 318 of those wins. UConn is stuck at 599 after a 5-0 loss at Merrimack on Saturday. The Huskies host Holy Cross on Thursday.
RIT has been without goaltender Shane Madolora for two games and will miss him for a third as he serves a suspension from the NCAA for failing to complete some necessary paperwork.
Madolora, who led the nation in save percentage (.935) last season, had problems with the NCAA clearinghouse regarding his high school transcripts that required him to sit out the 2008-09 season. RIT thought all was in order, but apparently all the “I’s” were not dotted and “T’s” not crossed.
“Since it was viewed by the NCAA as a secondary violation, Shane is being required to sit out for three contests,” RIT athletic director Lou Spiotti said in a statement.
Madolora will miss Friday’s game at Mercyhurst but will be eligible for Army on Nov. 4. The Tigers have lost the first two games of Madolora’s suspension, a span in which they have been outscored 8-1.
Plenty of blame to go around
It’s been a sad week for college hockey with the announcement of the demise of the Alabama-Huntsville program. I have an affinity for the Chargers, having covered them when they were playing in Division II and seeing a handful games in person at the Von Braun Center.
Watching the crowd get pumped up as the team took the ice to “Sweet Home Alabama” is a fond memory. Friendly fans, the ability to wear shirtsleeves in December and a NASA Flight Center a few blocks away always made those trips to Huntsville fun.
Unfortunately, as UAH winds down its final season, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Let’s start at the top:
UAH interim president Malcolm Portera: His announcement had all the charm and feel of a drive-by shooting. Sources close to the program have said that the elimination of varsity hockey was a personal project for Portera, something he didn’t want to leave in the hands of his successor. His claims about money troubles ring hollow with supporters who have already pledged over a half a million dollars to maintain the program and were gaining momentum. Portera’s assertion that reducing the program to club status will help preserve hockey in Alabama is reminiscent of the unnamed military commander in the Vietnam War who asserted to an Associated Press reporter that, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”
The CCHA: The league passed on several opportunities to admit UAH. Until the recent restructuring that spelled doom for this league, it was for a time the only real option for the Chargers, and the CCHA wouldn’t budge. A conference to play in would have meant a better schedule, more fans and a good chance for a new on-campus rink. It would have made the program much harder to kill.
The game of musical chairs that’s been going on with the foundation of the Big Ten and National Collegiate Hockey Conference plus the restructuring of the WCHA still could not find a spot for the Chargers. I heard dozens of scenarios over the summer, but scant few mentioned UAH.
Teams that didn’t schedule the Chargers: Alabama-Huntsville has just 12 home games against NCAA competition this season. Its final two games at the Von Braun Center are exhibition contests. The last NCAA games at UAH are Dec. 30 and 31 when Mercyhurst plays there.
Chargers fans: This year, UAH is averaging 1,546 fans per game, which is up from last season’s 1,278. Huntsville’s best year recently was 2008-09 when it averaged 2,686. In a 7,000-seat arena, that’s still underwhelming.
Fate: College Hockey America lost its battle with attrition. Army and then Air Force left the league, and Wayne State and Findlay dropped their programs. That left just four teams and it was a matter of time on a sinking ship. No life preserver appeared for the Chargers, and college hockey has been weakened as a result.