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College Hockey Slap Schotts: Dutchmen hit by injuries

By Ken Schott
Monday, October 14, 2013

The injury bug is hitting Union early this season.

Heading into this weekend’s two-game series with Lake Superior State, five Dutchmen have significant, if not publicly known, injuries. Four of the players have been listed as doubtful. They are goalie Colin Stevens, and forwards Eli Lichtenwald, Max Novak and David Roy. Forward Matt Wilkins is listed as day-to-day.

“We’re just going to have to structure practice a bit different, probably have a skills day [Monday] while guys are having their maintenance days,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “Maybe we’ll have to shorten practice up a bit.”

Three of the players were injured in Friday’s 3-3 tie against Bowling Green. The one that everyone saw was Stevens getting run over heavily by Falcons forward Bryce Williamson as he drove to the net on a scoring opportunity. Stevens was down on the ice for a few minutes before getting up and heading to the locker room. Freshman Alex Sakellaropoulos replaced Stevens, who didn’t dress for Saturday’s rematch with the Falcons.

Stevens’ injury is still being classified as upper-body. The other two Dutchmen who were hurt Friday — Lichtenwald and Wilkins — were less noticeable.

Lichtenwald, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound center, scored his first collegiate goal in the game, but later suffered a lower-body injury.

“Eli got tangled somehow with a player. It looked like that on tape,” Bennett said. “I really couldn’t see what the heck the injury was.”

Wilkins, a sophomore left-winger, suffered an upper-body injury.

“I’m not sure if it was from a hit or not,” Bennett said. “Because he hit [a Bowling Green player] so hard, I don’t know if he hurt himself more than he hurt the other kid.”

Both players sat out Union’s 5-2 win over Bowling Green.
Novak and Roy are out with lower-body injuries. Bennett said Novak was hurt coming into the season, while Roy was injured in practice.

Bennett isn’t panicking, and he will give the players the necessary time to get healthy.

“Championships aren’t going to be won here in October,” Bennett said. “The most important thing is for these guys to get the necessary treatment. The guys that are out have to approach it like they’re playing in a game. They have to approach their injuries and are they doing everything possible to get healthy. If it means two, three treatments a day, then that’s what they need to do. That’s what the focus has to be.”

Big upset
UMass-Lowell was on top of the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls. A big reason is that the River Hawks made it to the Frozen Four for the first time last season.

Apparently, the only one who wasn’t impressed by that was Sacred Heart.

The Pioneers, who were just 2-30-4 last year, stunned the top-ranked River Hawks, 2-1, on Friday at Tsongas Arena. Drew George scored both goals, and goalie Alex Vazzano made 35 saves.

If Vazzano’s name looks a bit familiar, it should be to Union fans. Vazzano had originally committed to the Dutchmen for the 2010-11 season. But then he decommitted and went to Vermont, where his brother, John, was a backup goalie. After playing just 11 games in two seasons, Alex Vazzano left Vermont and landed at Sacred Heart.

Historical wins
Former RPI assistant coach Jim Montgomery opened his college head coaching career in style over the weekend.

Montgomery, who took over as Denver’s head coach during the summer, watched his Pioneers shut out Merrimack twice by scores of 1-0 and 4-0. It was the first time in the 65-year history of the program that Denver opened the season with back-to-back shutouts.

The last time the Pioneers strung together consecutive shutouts at any point in a season was during the 2009-10 campaign, when they posted four straight from October 15 to 24 in series sweeps over Ohio State and Minnesota.

Union steady, RPI drops

Union remained steady in the USCHO.com/NCAA hockey and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls Monday.

The Dutchmen, who went 1-0-1 against Bowling Green over the weekend, remain 16th in the USCHO top-20 poll with 283 points, and stayed 15th in the USA Today top-15 poll with 58 points.

Meanwhile, RPI dropped from 15th to 17th in the USCHO poll after beating Sacred Heart, 6-0, Saturday, and dropping a 7-2 decision to Boston College on Sunday. The Engineers got 203 points. They had 23 points in the USA today poll, second most among other teams receiving votes.

Miami (Ohio) is the new No. 1 in both polls after sweeping Ohio State. UMass-Lowell was knocked from the top spot after losing to Sacred Heart, 2-1, on Friday.

USCHO.com/NCAA poll
Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll

1 Miami (40) 2- 0-0 985 2
2 Wisconsin (5) 2- 0-0 929 3
3 Minnesota (2) 2- 0-0 880 5
4 Notre Dame 2- 0-0 796 8
5 Michigan 2- 0-0 701 11
6 North Dakota 1- 0-1 678 7
7 Boston College 1- 1-0 671 4
7 Yale (3) 0- 0-0 671 6
9 Massachusetts-Lowell 1- 1-0 625 1
10 Providence 2- 0-0 560 14
11 St. Cloud State 1- 0-1 516 9
12 Denver 2- 0-0 431 17
13 New Hampshire 1- 1-0 402 13
14 Quinnipiac 1- 1-0 316 10
15 Boston U. 2- 0-0 308 19
16 Union 1- 0-1 283 16
17 RPI 1- 1-0 203 15
18 Minnesota State 0- 2-0 150 11
19 Cornell 0- 0-0 68 NR
20 Minnesota-Duluth 1- 0-1 64 NR
Others receiving votes: St. Lawrence 47, Alaska-Anchorage 46, Ferris State 21, Clarkson 20, Western Michigan 17, Colorado College 15, Harvard 15, Northeastern 15, Lake Superior 12, Niagara 12, Colgate 8, Brown 7, Nebraska-Omaha 6, Sacred Heart 5, Michigan Tech 4, Bowling Green 3, Dartmouth 3, Ohio State 3, Air Force 1, Bentley 1, Canisius 1, Michigan State 1.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
Rank School Last Week’s Ranking

1. Miami, 503 (28) 2
2. Wisconsin, 459 (3) 3
3. Minnesota, 424 5
4. Notre Dame, 366 8
5. Michigan, 313 10
6. Boston College, 302 4
6. Yale, 302 (3) 6
8. North Dakota, 284 7
9. UMass Lowell, 250 1
10. Providence, 217 14
11. St. Cloud State, 165 9
12. Denver, 127 NR
13. New Hampshire, 117 12
14. Quinnipiac, 85 13
15. Union, 58 15
Others receiving votes:
Boston U., 48; RPI, 23; Minnesota State, 10; Cornell, 9; Minnesota Duluth, 8; Colorado College, 5; Brown, 3; St. Lawrence, 3.

My vote

I have a vote in the USCHO.com poll. Here is how I voted:
1) Miami
2) Wisconsin
3) Minnesota
4) UMass-Lowell
5) BC
6) Yale
7) Notre Dame
8) North Dakota
9) Michigan
10) St. Cloud State
11) Providence
12) Union
13) Quinnipiac
14) New Hampshire
15) Denver
16) Boston U.
17) Minn. State
18) RPI
19) Clarkson
20) St. Lawrence

Daily Gazette/ECACH Four Stars
Time for the four stars of the week. This week’s awards will take into account the games played by Clarkson and Colgate last weekend.

Player of the Week — Greg Carey, St. Lawrence

The senior forward had five points to lead the Saints to a two-game sweep of Maine. Carey had two goals and two assists in Saturday’s 5-2 win

Goalie of the Week — Steve Perry, Clarkson

The freshman netminder (and not the former lead singer of Journey) made 30 saves in his collegiate debut Oct. 6 in shutting out Niagara, 2-0. He followed that up with a 23-save effort in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Mercyhurst in the Ice Breaker third-place game.

Rookie of the Week — Michael Pontarelli, Union

The freshman forward had two goals and two assists in the weekend series against Bowling Green. His two assists came in Friday’s game, and he had two power-play third-period goals that clinched the Dutchmen’s win on Saturday.

Team of the Week — Clarkson
The Golden Knights are off to a 3-1 start. They didn’t win their third game last season until Dec. 5.

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 two Facebook pages — The Daily Gazette On Ice, and my "Slap Schotts" college hockey segment page.

Good Monday! Good Hockey!

Follow @dgazettesports on Twitter.

 
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