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Parting Schotts

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College Hockey Slap Schotts 2011-12: Week 3 -- Farewell to Alabama-Huntsville hockey

By Ken Schott
Monday, October 24, 2011

Today is a very sad day in college hockey. The sport has lost a team.

And it didn't have to happen.

This will be the final season for Alabama-Huntsville as a Division I program. The school announced Monday that it's moving the sport from varsity status to club status.

The demise of the program started when College Hockey America folded its men's league after the 2009-10 season. The league started in 1999-2000 with seven teams — UAH, Air Force, Army, Bemidji State, Findlay, Niagara and Wayne State.

But the conference was always having a tough time surviving. Army lasted just a year before moving to the MAAC (which later became Atlantic Hockey). Findlay dropped its program after the 2003-04 season and was replaced by Robert Morris.

Air Force bolted for Atlantic Hockey after the 2005-06 season. Two years later, Wayne State ended its men's hockey program (it still has women's hockey). That left just UAH, Bemidji State, Niagara and Robert Morris to keep the league going. But everyone knew that the CHA men's league was on life support.

In early 2009, Niagara and Robert Morris were announced it would join Atlantic Hockey in the 2010-11 season. Bemidji applied to the WCHA, and was accepted.

Another team, Nebraska-Omaha, which had been playing in the CCHA, moved to the WCHA. Everyone in college hockey thought that UAH would be a lock to be accepted by the CCHA to replace Nebraska-Omaha.

However, the CCHA rejected UAH's application. That meant UAH would have to try and survive as an independent, the only one of the 58 schools that play Division I men's college hockey.

But the events of the past year, starting with Penn State announcing that it would have a Division I hockey program starting 2012-13, conspired to kill the UAH program.

The formation of the Big Ten hockey conference, which will start in 2013-14, meant that Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State would leave the CCHA, while Minnesota and Wisconsin would depart the WCHA. Another new conference, the National College Hockey Conference, announced it would start play in 2013-14, as well. That league will have eight teams — Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska Omaha, North Dakota and St. Cloud State are coming from the WCHA, and Miami (Ohio) and Western Michigan are leaving the CCHA. Hockey East was able to lure Notre Dame away from the CCHA.

The CCHA and WCHA were in a fight for survival, and the WCHA came out on top. But no one seemed to have room for the southern-most program in Division I hockey.

Ironically, UAH's last stand as a Division I program will be as host of the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla. Maybe UAH's loyal fan base can make a statement to the NCAA in April by "Occupying Tampa" and asking for help to keep the program at Division I.

But we know that won't work. After all, judging by the impending shifting of teams to new conferences, it's everyone for themselves. Greed has infiltrated college hockey, and no one was brave enough to think of the little guys like UAH.

Minnesota Duluth gets Leaman again
No, I'm not going to have a weekly update about former Union coach Nate Leaman in my blog. But you can't ignore the irony that his new team, Providence, played the squad that ended Union's season last March, which turned out to be Leaman's last game with the Dutchmen.

Minnesota Duluth, the defending NCAA champion, came to Providence for a two-game series over the weekend. And, like in March, the Bulldogs didn't lose.

UMD pulled out a 5-2 win Friday. It killed off all six of Providence's power plays. In the NCAA East Regional semifinal in March, the Bulldogs killed off all nine Union power plays.

The Friars rallied for a 2-2 tie Saturday. Ironically, the game-tying goal came on the power play. Matt Bergland scored it with 2:21 left in the third period.

Emotional weekend
The Union women's hockey team experienced the thrill of a dramatic victory and the pain of a devastating defeat over the weekend at Syracuse.

The Dutchwomen pulled out a thrilling 4-3 overtime win Friday. They overcame a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead, only to see the Orange's Allie LaCombe score her second goal of the game with five seconds left in regulation. But Chelsey Heinhuis' goal with 10 seconds left in OT gave Union the exciting victory.

In Saturday's rematch, Union had a 3-0 lead entering the third period, with all three goals in a 1:54 span late in the second period. A weekend sweep was looking good.

But Syracuse stormed back with five third-period goals to win, 5-3. Four of the goals were scored over a four-minute span late in the period. Christina LaCombe's power-play goal with 2:39 left tied it, and Caitlin Roach's even-strength goal with 49 seconds to go.

While that loss is disappointing, there is a silver lining for the Dutchwomen. They are scoring goals, and maybe, just maybe, they can win a few games in ECAC Hockey play. League play starts Friday at 3 when Union hosts Princeton at Messa Rink.

Holy Cross stuns BU
If Holy Cross decides that it wants to become the 12th member of Hockey East in 2013-14, it showed on Saturday it can compete in the conference.

Adam Schmidt scored twice, helping the Crusaders to a stunning 5-4 win at No. 7 Boston University. Holy Cross had a 5-2 lead at one point before holding on.

Dutchmen move to No. 11 in USCHO poll
Unbeaten Union moved up one spot in the USCHO.com/NCAA hockey poll on Monday.

The Dutchmen (2-0-3) went from 12th to 11th. They tied Niagara, 3-3, Friday and beat RIT, 5-0, Saturday.

Union has been ranked in the USCHO poll for 41 straight weeks.

The Dutchmen, who play at New Hampshire on Friday and host American International on Saturday, remain 11th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.

USCHO.com/NCAA Poll
Team (First Place) Record Pts Last Week
1 Boston College (32) 5-1-0 974 2
2 Denver (11) 3-1-0 930 3
3 Colorado College (4) 2-0-0 845 4
4 Michigan 4-1-1 803 1
5 Notre Dame (1) 3-2-0 708 6
6 Ferris State (1) 6-0-0 660 14
7 Western Michigan 3-0-3 635 11
8 Minnesota 5-1-0 632 8
9 Merrimack 4-0-0 583 13
10 Yale (1) 0-0-0 555 9
11 Union 2-0-3 516 12
12 North Dakota 2-3-1 445 5
13 Boston University 2-2-0 442 7
14 Northern Michigan 4-1-1 399 17
15 Minnesota-Duluth 2-3-1 251 15
16 Colgate 3-1-1 192 16
16 Miami 2-4-0 192 10
18 Lake Superior 5-1-0 177 19
19 Cornell 0-0-0 89 20
20 Quinnipiac 6-2-0 84 NR
Others receiving votes: Wisconsin 74, Maine 72, Michigan Tech 33, Nebraska-Omaha 30, Dartmouth 29, Alaska-Anchorage 25, Bowling Green 22, Providence 21, Air Force 17, Alaska 16, Clarkson 16, Holy Cross 14, Bemidji State 7, Massachusetts-Lowell 5, St. Cloud State 3, Ohio State 2, Vermont 2.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
Rank School Last Week's Ranking 2011-12 Record Weeks in Top 15
1 Boston College, 492 (22) 1 5-1-0 4
2 Denver, 466 (6) 3 3-1-0 4
3 Colorado College, 415 (3) 4 2-0-0 4
4 Michigan, 395 (2) 2 4-1-1 4
5 Notre Dame, 336 5 3-2-0 4
6 Yale, 286 (1) 9 0-0-0 4
7 Ferris State, 279 NR 6-0-0 1
8 Minnesota, 272 10 5-1-0 4
9 Merrimack, 214 13 4-0-0 3
10 Western Michigan, 211 12 3-0-3 4
11 Union, 187 11 2-0-3 4
12 Boston U., 136 8 2-2-0 4
13 North Dakota, 133 6 2-3-1 4
14 Northern Michigan, 85 NR 4-1-1 1
15 Minnesota Duluth, 43 15 2-3-1 4
Others receiving votes: Miami (Ohio), 40; Colgate, 31; Lake Superior State, 15; Cornell, 12; Dartmouth, 12; Wisconsin, 9; Quinnipiac, 5; Maine, 4; Holy Cross, 1; Nebraska Omaha, 1.

Union moved up from seventh to fifth in the latest Inside College Hockey Power Rankings. To view INCH's Power Rankings, click here.

My vote
I have a vote in the USCHO.com poll. Here is how I voted this week.

1) Boston College
2) Denver
3) Colorado College
4) Michigan
5) Notre Dame
6) Ferris State
7) Yale
8) North Dakota
9) Minnesota
10) Western Michigan
11) Union
12) Merrimack
13) Boston U.
14) Minn. Duluth
15) Northern Michigan
16) Miami
17) Colgate
18) Lake Superior
19) Maine
20) Cornell

Daily Gazette ECACH Awards
Time for my first weekly awards of the season.

Player of the Week — Allan McPherson, Clarkson
The sophomore forward had the game-winning goal in each of the Golden Knights' two victories over American International over the weekend. He had two goals in Friday's 5-2 win, and added a goal and an assist in Saturday's 5-0 triumph.

Goalies of the Week — Paul Karpowich, Clarkson/Troy Grosenick, Union
Karpowich had 57 saves in the two wins over AIC, including a 31-save effort to earn the shutout Saturday.

Grosenick earned his first career shutout Saturday, making 23 saves in a 5-0 win.

Rookie of the Week — Sam Labrecque, Clarkson
The freshman defenseman had a goal and an assist forward had an assist in each of the Bobcats' three games during the week

Team of the Week — Clarkson
The two wins over AIC improved Clarkson record to 4-1-1.

If you have any comments, post them below, or e-mail them to me at schott@dailygazette.com. You can follow me on Twitter (@slapschotts) Also, please become a fan of the new The Daily Gazette On Ice on Facebook page, as well as my "Slap Schotts" college hockey segment page.

Good Monday! Good Hockey!

 

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