December 11, 2009

Mercyhurst knows the drill

by Allen Lessels

Different year. Same pattern.

Mercyhurst was a bit streaky last year on the way to third place in the Atlantic Hockey regular season and an eventual runner-up finish in the league tournament to Air Force.

So far this season, not much has changed.

The Lakers struggled at the start of the season and were 2-9-1 through the first dirty dozen. Since then, they’ve cranked it up and have won six straight to move into third place with 17 league points, a couple of points behind Air Force and RIT, who are tied for first.

The school record for consecutive wins in Division 1 play is eight and the Lakers take a shot at that mark this weekend. It won’t be easy: They’re at Air Force for a pair on Friday and Saturday.

The Lakers have doing it on both ends of the ice and have outscored teams 27-5 in their six-game run. Junior goalie Ryan Zapolski has been outstanding.

“’Zapper’ has been our rock,” coach Rick Gotkin told the Erie Times-News after his goalie blanked Connecticut, 5-0, with 21 saves on Friday night for his second straight shutout.

Zapolski had 26 saves in a 5-1 win on Saturday night.

Now, the Lakers will try to break from last year’s pattern for the next half dozen games.

After starting 1-8-1 a year ago, they also won six straight. They then went 0-5-1 before heating up again for a nice, long stretch run.

Player of the Week

Cory Conacher, jr., Canisius

Conacher passed his career high for goals with the game-winner in a 9-3 decision over Bentley on Saturday night. He added four assists, matching a school record for assists and points in Division 1, the same night. He also had an assist on Friday night.

Conacher is at 13-12-25 for the season with three game-winners and four power-play scores.

Looking Ahead

Mercyhurst at Air Force, Friday and Saturday

It’s a rematch of last season’s Atlantic Hockey title game. Air Force won that one, 2-0, for its third straight title and moved on to the NCAA tournament.

Mercyhurst tied the Falcons, 4-4, in one regular season game at home last season and won the other, 3-2 in overtime. The teams split a pair of games the last time they met in Colorado Springs in early February of 2008.

Around Atlantic Hockey


The Yellow Jackets scored more than two goals in a game for the first time in a month, but it wasn’t enough and they lost 5-3 to Air Force on Friday night. They fell 6-2 the next night. . . . Junior Steve McLeod had a goal in each game. Freshman Adam Pleskach contributed a goal on Saturday night and now leads AIC at 8-4-12.

Air Force

The Falcons are at it again. They upped their unbeaten streak to nine games -- 6-0-3 -- with a pair of wins at AIC and are tied atop the league standings with RIT. … Junior forward Jacques Lamoureux is at it again, too. He put up 3-3-6 numbers in the sweep. He’s at 10-11-21 in 16 games and has six power play goals. Last year, he led the nation with 15 power-play tallies.


Sophomore forward Danny Colvin doubled his point total for the season to help the Black Knights run their winning streak to four games with a sweep of Sacred Heart. Colvin had a goal and an assist each night in 2-1 and 4-2 wins. He’s at 3-5-8 for the season. … Junior goalie Jay Clark did his share, stopping 76 of the 79 shots he faced.


Senior defenseman Justin Kemmerer went into last weekend with one goal through Bentley’s first 12 games. He had a goal and an assist in Friday night’s 5-4 win for the first multi-point game of his career. He added another goal on Saturday night. … Senior Marc Menzione leads the Falcons at 8-9-17.


Senior defenseman Carl Hudson scored on the power play on Friday night and even strength on Saturday in a split against Bentley. Hudson leads league defensemen at 4-11-15 with a couple of power-play goals. He has scored 22 of his 34 career goals on the power play. … Canisius is off this weekend and plays host to Robert Morris, which is joining Atlantic Hockey neat season, on Dec. 15.


The Huskies have lost their last five games and are 0-6-2 in their last eight. Scoring continues to be an issue. UConn has not scored more than one goal in any of its last five games and has two goals total in its last four. … The Huskies are off until their first game in the UConn Hockey Classic against Bentley on Dec. 29.

Holy Cross

The Crusaders, who picked up a point with a 1-1 tie against RIT on Friday and then lost 3-2 in overtime on Saturday, have another tough one up next. Quinnipiac plays at Holy Cross on Thursday night. … Quinnipiac is 12-3-0 and had been ranked No. 4 in the country, but slipped to No. 7 this week after losses at Yale, 7-4, and Brown, 2-1.


Freshman forward Grant Blakey scored two goals in a span of three minutes and 26 seconds to lift the Lakers to their 5-0 win over UConn on Friday night. He leads the league’s freshmen at 5-6-11. … Junior Brandon Coccimigilo has five goals and four assists in Mercyhurst’s six-game winning streak.


Senior goaltender Jared DeMichiel continues to pace the Tigers, who have now extended their nation’s best unbeaten streak to 9-0-1. DeMichiel stopped 56 of the 59 shots he faced last weekend in a 1-1 tie and 2-1 overtime win over Holy Cross. For the season he has a 2.14 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. … RIT has Niagara at home on Saturday night.

Sacred Heart

Freshman forward Eric Delong had a hand in each Sacred Heart goal for the weekend as the Pioneers dropped a pair, 2-1 and 4-2, at home to Army. He had an assist the first night and the next night scored twice in the second period to tie the game. … Delong is at 4-4-8 for the season. … Sacred Heart is at Dartmouth on Sunday for a game at 4.

Allen Lessels can be reached at