Saturday reading: AFA, upsets, WCHA recaps, CCHA, M. Schwartz

SCSU_KossilaThe Falcons’ special teams came up big as Air Force moved from fourth to a tie for second place in the AHA with a 2-0 home win Friday over Robert Morris. Goalie Jason Torf (30 saves) is why Falcons fans can again hope for an NCAA Tournament bid.

Around college hockey, it was a tough night to be a top 5 team. Only idle No. 2 Quinnipiac did not lose. Here are recaps from the WCHA and about those upsets.

No. 15/16 St. Cloud State 3, No. 5 North Dakota 1

GRAND FORKS —  No. 15/16 St. Cloud State University men’s hockey team (15-10-0, 12-5-0 WCHA) took advantage of a dominant defensive performance to score a 3-1 victory at No. 5 North Dakota (13-8-4, 8-5-4 WHCA) on Jan. 25 in Grand Forks, N.D.

The victory helped the Huskies move into sole possession of first place in the WCHA with 24 league points thanks to a 2-1 victory by No. 14 Minnesota State at No. 1 Minnesota on Jan. 25.  The Gophers fell into second place tie along with Nebraska Omaha at 22 points.

SCSU outshot UND 33-16 in the contest and also held it scoreless until a third period power play goal broke the shutout for the Huskies.  In the first period, SCSU set the tempo by giving up only three shots on goal and followed with five shots allowed in the second period.

SCSU freshman Jonny Brodzinski opened the offense with a goal at 4:15 of the first period while senior captain Ben Hanowski added the game winner with his ninth goal of the season at 16:36 of the first period. Freshman Kalle Kossilla assisted for his 11th of the season.

No. 14 Minnesota State 2, No. 1 Minnesota 1

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota’s 10-game unbeaten streak came to an abrupt end on Friday night after No. 14 Minnesota State’s Brett Knowles tallied the 2-1 game winner with 44 seconds left in regulation.

For the first time in Minnesota’s last 10 games, the Gophers failed to reach the four-goal plateau although freshman goalie Adam Wilcox did his best to try and pick up the win regardless of the offensive production. The rookie netminder (16-3-4) made 31 saves – one off his career high – for his first loss of 2013. MSU goalie Stephon Williams recorded 37 saves to move to 13-6-2 this season.

Despite Minnesota State’s third period goal, the Gophers held a 38-33 shot advantage and rallied from what would have been only the third time this season an opponent outshot the squad with 20 shots in the third period (the Mavericks had nine in the final stanza).

Minnesota returns to action on Saturday in Mankato for the series finale against Minnesota State. Game time is set for 7 p.m. CT on FOX Sports North PLUS.

No. 13/14 Nebraska Omaha 5, Bemidji State 3

BEMIDJI —  Nebraska-Omaha got two goals and an assist from Matt White while Johnnie Searfoss and Jaycob Megna each pitched in a goal and helped on another to help the Mavericks hold off a late charge by Bemidji State and earn a 5-3 WCHA victory at Sanford Center Friday.

No. 20 Wisconsin 5, Alaska-Anchorage 2

MADISON — Junior forward Michael Mersch posts two goals and an assist while Mark Zengerle and Nic Kerdiles scored a goal and an assist each to lead Wisconsin to a 5-2 victory against Alaska Anchorage on Friday night at Kohl Center.

Maine 4, No. 3 Boston College 1

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — On paper, it was a mismatch – Hockey East’s top team against the league’s cellar-dweller.

Maine flipped that mismatch on its head, however, in defeating third-ranked Boston College 4-1.

In pulling off the upset, Maine spoiled the return of BC coach Jerry York to the bench after missing four games while recuperating from surgery for a detached retina.

Martin Ouellette stopped 34 of 35 shots including all 20 in the second period when BC threatened on three power plays. He also benefited from a goaltender’s best friend, the pipes behind him, as the Eagles twice clanged iron.

The Black Bears, who hadn’t scored more than two goals in 20 of 23 games this year, took a 2-0 first-period lead, expanded it to 3-0 in the second, and after BC closed the gap to 3-1 in the third, added an empty-netter for the final margin.

“Frankly, we got some puck luck, which we perhaps haven’t had a lot of,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “It could have been very different if we hadn’t had some of those bounces.

“Marty [Ouellette] was fabulous. A lot of guys made some key blocks. Any time we didn’t make the block, Marty was able to bail us out.”

Here is the rest of the article.

Merrimack 3, No. 4 New Hampshire 2

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — After taking a brief 2-1 lead in the second, UNH allowed two unanswered Merrimack goals. The game-winner came from freshman Brian Christie, who started the third period by winning the opening faceoff, driving the middle and netting a marker through a defender’s legs just seven seconds into the final frame from captain Jordan Heywood and junior Mike Collins.

Collins and Christie both finished with three points on the night and Merrimack held the Wildcats scoreless for the remaining 19:53, winning 3-2.

“I didn’t even see it go in,” Christie said. “Fortunately, it did.”

Here is the rest of that article.

Of note from the CCHA: No. 9 Western Michigan defeated Michigan to take sole possession of first place and Miami beat Bowling Green to give RedHawks’ head coach Enrico Blasi his 300th career win. The RedHawks are now in second place while Notre Dame, losers in its last five, fell to third.

Also, this columnist tells us why Mandi Schwartz still matters to her teammates, loved ones and Yale.

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Air Force picked to win AHA championship

2012-13 Atlantic Hockey Preseason Coaches Poll

Air Force (8) – 112
Niagara (3) – 101
Mercyhurst – 89
Bentley – 87
RIT – 87
Holy Cross – 74
Connecticut – 65
Robert Morris (1) – 61
Canisius – 38

“I wish winning the league was as easy as winning the coaches’ poll,” AFA coach Frank Serratore said. “The bottom teams have gotten so much better. There are no ‘gimmes.’”

CBS Sports Network will broadcast two AHA games including Sat., Jan. 12, Army at Air Force.

Air Force and Army are no stranger to the national scene as they have faced each other for the past six seasons on CBS Sports Network. The game will mark the 14th time in the last seven years that Air Force hockey has appeared on national television.

“Our players are thrilled about being able to play on national television,” said Serratore.  “I am excited for the opportunity to showcase one of the greatest rivalries in college hockey, those fans who have never seen an Air Force-Army hockey game are in for a special treat”

“Once again we are looking forward to playing Air Force on national TV,” states Army coach Brian Riley. “It’s a game that is played with a passion and intensity that is hard to match in college hockey. This rivalry is one of the best in all of college sports. I expect that it will be a great game not only for the people who will be in the stands to watch but it will also be great for people around the country to view on national TV.”

Here are more details including this quote from AFA coach Frank Serratore:

Air Force announces 2012-13 schedule

From AFA sports information …

USAFA, Colo. – The Air Force hockey team opens the 2012-13 season with an exhibition game against the University of British Columbia on Monday, Oct. 8, at 6:05 p.m. at the Cadet Ice Arena. The Falcons then travel to Anchorage, Alaska for the Kendall Hockey Classic, Oct. 12-13, when the Falcons face Alaska and Alaska-Anchorage. Air Force opens the regular-season home schedule against cross-town rival Colorado College, Friday, Oct. 19, at 7:05 p.m. AFA then travels to the University of Denver, Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7:05 p.m. AFA opens Atlantic Hockey Association play on Thursday, Oct. 25, at 7:05 p.m. at Canisius.

Air Force is coming off of its fifth AHA championship in the last six years. The Falcons won the 2012 AHA Tournament with a 4-0 win over RIT in the championship game. The Falcons’ season ended with a 2-0 loss to top-seeded, and eventual national champion, Boston College in the NCAA Northeast Regional.

The top two scorers from last season (seniors Kyle DeLaurell and John Kruse) both return. DeLaurell led the team with 23 assists and 38 points. Kruse led the team with 16 goals and had 30 points.

Four of the top five scorers return as sophomores Cole Gunner and Chad Demers are back after stellar freshman seasons. Gunner finished the season with 28 points while Demers had 24. Junior defenseman Adam McKenzie is the top returning blueliner with 18 points (2-6-18).

Junior goaltender Jason Torf returns after earning AHA Tournament MVP honors last season. After returning from an injury, Torf started the final 15 games and finished among the top 10 in the nation in goal-against average and saves percentage. Torf was fourth in the nation in GAA with a 1.73 goals-against average and was ninth in saves percentage with a .929.

Air Force Hockey – 2012-13 Schedule

All times at site
Day Date    Time   Opponent                                                       Site
Mon. Oct. 8 6:05 UNIV. OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (EXH) USAFA, CO
Fri. Oct. 12 5:07 vs. Alaska-Fairbanks# Anchorage, AK
Sat. Oct. 13 7:07 at Alaska-Anchorage# Anchorage, AK
Fri. Oct. 19 7:05 COLORADO COLLEGE USAFA, CO
Sat. Oct. 20 7:05 at Denver Denver, CO
Thur. Oct. 25 7:05 at Canisius* Buffalo, NY
Sat. Oct. 27 7:05 at Robert Morris* Pittsburgh, PA
Fri. Nov. 2 7:05 HOLY CROSS* USAFA, CO
Sat. Nov. 3 7:05 HOLY CROSS* USAFA, CO
Fri. Nov. 9 7:30 at Penn State University Park, PA
Sat. Nov. 10 7:30 at Penn State University Park, PA
Fri. Nov. 23 7:05 at UConn* Storrs, CT
Sat. Nov. 24 7:05 at UConn* Storrs, CT
Fri. Nov. 30 7:05 MERCYHURST* USAFA, CO
Sun. Dec. 2 6:05 RIT* USAFA, CO
Fri. Dec. 7 7:05 at Bentley* Waltham, MA
Sat. Dec. 8 7:05 at Bentley* Waltham, MA
Sat.-Sun Dec. 29-30 TBA at Mariucci Classic Minneapolis, MN
(Minnesota, Alabama-Huntsville, Boston College and Air Force)
Sat. Jan. 5 7:05 at Niagara* Niagara Falls, NY
Fri. Jan. 11 7:05 ARMY* USAFA, CO
Sat. Jan. 12 7:05 ARMY* USAFA, CO
Sat. Jan. 19 4:05 at Sacred Heart* Bridgeport, CT
Sun. Jan. 20 12:05 at Sacred Heart* Bridgeport, CT
Fri. Jan. 25 7:05 ROBERT MORRIS* USAFA, CO
Sat. Jan. 26 7:05 ROBERT MORRIS* USAFA, CO
Fri. Feb. 1 7:05 AIC* USAFA, CO
Sat. Feb. 2 7:05 AIC* USAFA, CO
Fri. Feb. 8 7:05 at Mercyhurst* Erie, PA
Sat. Feb. 9 7:05 at Mercyhurst* Erie, PA
Fri. Feb. 15 7:05 CANISIUS* USAFA, CO
Sat. Feb. 16 7:05 CANISIUS* USAFA, CO
Fri. Feb. 22 7:05 at RIT* Rochester, NY
Sat. Feb. 23 7:05 at RIT* Rochester, NY
Fri. Mar. 1 7:05 NIAGARA* USAFA, CO
Sat. Mar. 2 7:05 NIAGARA* USAFA, CO
Fri.-Sun. Mar. 8-10 TBA AHA First Round (Best of Three) TBA
Fri.-Sun. Mar. 15-17 TBA AHA Quarterfinals (Best of Three) TBA
Fri.-Sat. Mar. 22-23 TBA AHA Final Four Rochester, NY
Fri.-Sun. Mar. 29-31 TBA NCAA Regionals TBA
(Grand Rapids, MI; Manchester, NH; Providence, RI; Toledo, OH)