January 8, 2007
THE BIG STORY
|Jake Sparks and
his Robert Morris teammates snapped Notre Dame's
seven-game winning streak Sunday.
Rather than focusing on the extended unbeaten
streaks of Minnesota and St. Cloud State or New Hampshire's
impressive sweep at Vermont, it’s time to salute
the little guy.
Three teams representing the nation’s
two youngest leagues recorded upsets over opponents
from the four established conferences this past weekend
– each on the road, and each with varying degrees
The most stunning turn of events took
place at Notre Dame Sunday, where College Hockey America
upstart Robert Morris stunned the second-ranked Fighting
Irish, 4-2. Little-used backup goalie Joe Tuset –
the senior was making the seventh start of his career
– made 34 saves for the Colonials, who scored
four unanswered goals after spotting Notre Dame a 2-0
“To be able to go into the number-two
team in the nation’s building – where they
are undefeated – and knock them off is very exciting,”
said Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley.
In Ithaca Saturday, goaltender Jason Smith
stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced, including all 13
he saw in the third period, as Sacred Heart edged Cornell,
2-1. Alexandre Parent’s goal 5:31 into the final
period was the game-winner for the Pioneers, who are
10-1-3 since Nov. 1.
Sacred Heart’s Atlantic Hockey counterpart,
RIT, rang in the new year by upsetting Quinnipiac Thursday
in the first game of 2007. Jocelyn Guimond made 33 saves
in the Tigers’ 3-2 win. Matt Smith’s goal
with 9:49 left in regulation provided the final margin
Once Ohio State sports fans turn their
collective attention away from the school’s top-ranked
football team following Monday’s BCS championship
game against Florida, most will focus on the Buckeyes’
up-and-coming hoops squad. Hopefully, a fair amount
will take notice of an OSU hockey team that has scratched
and clawed its way back to .500 after getting off to
an abysmal start.
The scarlet and grey icers reached their
nadir Nov. 9 – that’s nine days prior to
the Michigan-Ohio State football game for you Buckeye
fans requiring a point of reference. In front of a weekday
crowd of 2,000 at cavernous Value City Arena, OSU’s
record fell to 2-6-1 after losing an 8-5 decision to
Western Michigan. Not an encouraging start for a team
that lost just four seniors from last season.
In their 13 games since the loss to WMU,
however, the Buckeyes are 7-3-3. And after sweeping
Alaska in Columbus this past weekend, OSU enters a bye
week with a four-game winning streak and a five-game
What’s been the difference? For
starters, freshman goaltender Joe Palmer is settling
into his role as the team’s top netminder. He’s
only allowed more than three goals twice in his last
eight starts, something he did in four of his first
10 starts. The Buckeyes also welcomed junior forward
Tom Fritsche, the team’s leading scorer as a freshman
and sophomore, back to the fold recently. The Parma,
Ohio, native, who missed OSU’s first 18 games
with an intestinal ailment, has three points in four
games since returning to the lineup.
From the Day That Will Live in
Infamy Dept.: According to the Robert Morris
athletics web site, the Colonials’ win at Notre
Dame is the biggest upset in the school’s history.
The only other win that an RMU team has posted over
a ranked opponent in recent history came this past fall
when the football team beat Central Connecticut State,
the 19th-ranked team in Division I-AA, 23-17 in overtime.
From the All Hands on Deck Dept.:
Because of the World Junior Championship and, ahem,
other personnel matters, top-ranked Minnesota dressed
just nine forwards for Friday’s game at Minnesota
State. That number dropped by one a few minutes into
the first period when junior winger Tom Pohl left the
game with an injury, forcing coach Don Lucia to move
freshman defenseman Brian Schack up front. The Gophers
won, 5-1, behind 33 saves from goaltender Kellen Briggs.
IT HAPPENED IN ...
… Bemidji, Minn. (Saturday):
Sophomore forward Travis Winter scored two
goals and added three assists as Bemidji State finished
off a series sweep with a 7-5 win against Wayne State.
... Boston, Mass (Friday):
Northeastern’s Denis Chisholm scored midway through
the overtime period as the Huskies erased an early two-goal
deficit to earn a 3-2 win over visiting Boston College.
… Burlington, Vt.:
New Hampshire improved to 12-1-1 in Hockey East play
and 16-3-1 overall by sweeping Vermont. Forward Trevor
Smith paced the Wildcats in Friday’s 7-1 rout
with two goals and an assist, while goalie Kevin Regan
led UNH to a 2-1 win in the series finale by making
… Duluth, Minn.:
Minnesota Duluth earned its first series sweep against
a WCHA opponent since Oct. 22-23, 2004, by beating Michigan
Tech by 2-1 and 5-3 scores at the DECC.
… Erie, Pa.: Air
Force swept Mercyhurst in an Atlantic Hockey series,
beating the Lakers by 5-3 and 3-1 scores. The Falcons’
Eric Ehn scored three goals and an assist in the two
games – the nation’s leading scorer now
has 19-21—40 in 22 games.
… Oxford, Ohio (Saturday):
Michigan State scored four third-period goals –
including three in the first six minutes of the frame
– en route to a 4-1 win over Miami and a split
in a key CCHA series.
… Pittsburgh, Pa. (Friday):
Notre Dame’s Erik Condra scored five points (one
goal, four assists) and Kevin Deeth registered a hat
trick as the Fighting Irish downed Robert Morris, 6-2,
in the inaugural Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase
at Mellon Arena.
… Schenectady, N.Y. (Friday):
Justin Mrazek made 37 saves to lead Union to a 4-1 win
against visiting Dartmouth.
… Waltham, Mass. (Friday):
Forward James Sixsmith scored two goals and two assists
and defenseman Jon Landry added a goal and four assists
as Holy Cross beat Bentley, 7-4.