Perseverance and persistence: How the Generals earned a 4-3 OT win

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

If you have seen the Northeast Generals in their past three games, the result and how things played out rang remarkably similar. The team gets a two goal lead into the third period, concedes two to tie things up, and heads to overtime. In the extra frame in their past three, they are 2-1 as Ricky Boysen punctuated the evening with a scintilliating high slot back hand shot of of a spin-a-rama manuever worthy of the highlight reel.

As Head Coach Bryan Erikson said of the goal: “Nobody shoots the backhander anymore. Such a hard shot for a goalie to track. Just a great goal. But Ricky is such a big game player. He was out there because of that. It’s crazy he has 10 goals this year and 7 of them are game winning goals. Big time player making a big time play.”

Of where his team is, and what to build on down the stretch run, Erikson said ” I loved the effort. We have been battling. We are playing our best hockey now. A little late but we are focused on development. In our last 10 games we are 6-2-2. We want to build on that. We have played 11 home games and we are 7-2-2. It’s great. But need to build on it tomorrow.” While adding the good from tonight with that statement, Erikson was also honest about the needed improvement his team needs to make against the Maine Nordiques tomorrow night, saying that this was the “3rd game in a row we have given up a 2 goal lead. That can’t happen. We got away from playing simple hockey. Need to focus on the little stuff. Need to keep playing our game.”

As for some of the other goal scorers, Erikson was effusive in praise for what he saw again from University of Massachusetts commit Jake Dunlap saying “Jake Dunlap has gotten better every game. He is using his speed more effectively. Just explosive but also changing speeds to make his top speed more impactful. And he is playing a 200 foot game. Great on the PK, PP and in open ice. And he doesn’t take shifts off.” Dunlap’s ability to find the quiet area in a defense has been one of his biggest areas of development as the year has gone on, and his consistency on a team that has made a lot of roster moves this year has been a source of strength for the team.

Regarding Captain Dylan Schuett, the Long Island commit did not have to play. The Generals are out of the playoff race and he has a commitment to play for Brett Riley’s group next season. With that said, coming off an injury, he wanted to be in. His leadership was apparent, as Erikson said ” Dylan is the best. He has no reason to be playing. He has his commitment. He has proven he is a very good D1 player. But he is the Captain and you see why. He just adds energy to the team and the bench. Love him. Just a great kid, player and teammate. Leaders lead and that is what he does.”

Finally, he took the time to praise netminder Hugo Haas (AIC commit) and Kyle Schroder for their efforts. Erikson added “Hugo Haas was awesome. Made big saves and big plays with his stick as well leading the breakout. And Kyle Schroeder was an unsung player today. Worked really hard as usual, hits, forechecks, back checks. Never cheats the game.”

No matter where they are in the standings, Erikson does not change his philosophies as a coach. He does not coach to the scoreboard, and cares about developing his group both on and off the ice. Tomorrow night against Maine, his group full of returning players next year, and multiple uncomitted players looking to leave their best on the film to earn a college scholarship both have another chance to add to the growing tradition of Generals’ Hockey.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

The Generals Overcome Adversity and Jake Dunlap makes team history: What comes next?

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

Last night, the Northeast Generals earned two hard fought points in an overtime win over the Maryland Black Bears, a win of necessity in the Generals’ efforts to make the playoffs. The game was punctuated by the play of Massachusetts commit Jake Dunlap who did everything possible on the first line for the Generals, including scoring two shorthanded goals. That is the first time that any NAHL General has achieved that distinction, and both of those goals were needed. Dunlap also put home an assist on the game winner in overtime, feeding Rickey Boysen on the goal that sent the Generals home with a 6-5 overtime win. In a month where his college made history winning their first national championship, Dunlap etched his name into the history books of the Generals, and hopes to add more to that history before he heads to Amherst.

Head Coach Bryan Erikson had this to say of Dunlap’s night:

“I loved his game. He is so fast but tonight and this weekend he just worked so hard away from the puck. Created scoring chances. Had a 6 point weekend which is what we needed. Was a factor on the PK, PP and 5 on 5.”

On the weekend, another positive for the Generals was the power play. They put home seven power play markers seven goals on 18 chances) on the weekend, thanks in part to a change Erikson and his staff made. As he said

” We just worked on creating chances down low. Our PP tended to be too much up high and the guys weren’t rotating correctly so we worked on just pushing pucks low and battling in front. The guys did a great job.”

As for the officiating on the evening, Erikson went out of his way to discuss the effort by official AJ Potvin.

As Erikson said of the officiating, it was ” A legit nightmare. I just can’t handle when an adult is chirping kids while reffing a game. Just make the calls. You don’t need to swear at my guys and refuse to talk to the coaches. It’s too bad because I thought both teams played well and hard. Frustrating.” He did add more about the officiating in general, noting that ” It’s just tough. We have GREAT reffing in this league. But I was just very unhappy with the lack of communication and the way in which my players were spoken to. I don’t care if you make a bad call just talk to us so we understand what we can do different next time.”

While Erikson will not take credit for it, his staff’s focus on efficiency of puck movement with the extra skater was a crucial part to the success the team had on the power play this weekend. Throughout the year, players and coaches are adjusting as needed. This was no different, and regardless of how the rest of this season goes, this weekend will give Erikson and his staff more positive clips to show the 2021-2022 team, of which many in this group will be a part of.

As for the game itself, the Generals squandered a two goal lead in the third that gave the Black Bears a point for forcing overtime. Erikson was impressed with how his group fought back, and celebrated their resilience.

“I hate that we let up a two goal lead again but I thought the first shift after the tying goal by Schroeder, Yeager and Gordon was awesome. Our guys know how to respond. They don’t always do it but it’s a smart group and a hard working group.” The Generals did not let Maryland get any constant momentum for the rest of the game, despite Maryland putting up good looks, Erikson’s group asserted themselves as the game wore on.

Heading into their next series with a strong Maine team, Erikson noted the message to the group as ” Just keep the forecheck going. We are a great team when we play downhill and we need to do more of that. Just need them to stay even, if we score line up, if they score line up.” To counter Maine, the Generals also need to improve in their transition play and limit odd-man looks for the Nordiques.

While the weekend produced only 50 percent of the total points possible, Erikson and his group are on to the next game. This team has always been about developing players as people and students, and has done so during a global pandemic where the Generals spent most of their season on the road. For them to be anywhere near a playoff conversation is a testament to the persistence of this group, and to the roster assembled by General Manager Matt Dibble, who assembled most of it later into the season. We are just seeing the Generals gel towards the end of this season consistently, and while some players will finish junior hockey after this season, many more, like starting goaltender Hugo Haas are slated to return. The legacy of how this team finishes the regular season, playoffs or not will stretch far beyond the box score, for everyone in this group, regardless of where they go next season.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Cam Talbot on UAH Hockey: Past, present and future

Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-Minnesota Wild

Cam Talbot became a goaltender for a very practical reason. He started playing the position, and the game of hockey at the age of seven, and gravitated to the net in part because of the fast skaters around him. Talbot had a three year gap to make up for compared to some of his Caledonia, Ontario friends growing up with skating, and mentioned that it was tough for him to keep up with the skaters around them. What has not changed since he found the game a bit later than some of his friends is his passion for the game. He played his junior hockey for the same organization that has produced Zach Hyman, Marty McSorley, and many more great players. The Hamilton Red Wings, which later became the Markham Royals have a proud junior hockey history in Canada, of which Talbot is a big part.

Cam Talbot is probably one of the most famous alumni of Alabama Huntsville Chargers program. He has played at multiple levels of professional hockey, starting his NHL career as a backup to Henrik Lundquist with the New York Ranger, before making trips to the Edmonton Oilers, then the Calgary Flames, and now the Minnesota Wild. The story of Talbot’s ascent to the NHL is one of hard work and determination, and a textbook example Head Coach Lance West and his staff have to hold up to his current players as an alumnae who put in the hard work when given a chance, and earned every minute of ice he took.

Talbot’s story of getting to Alabama Huntsville came a bit by luck, as he said ” It was a spur of the moment kind of thing. They had goalie decommit in June of 2006 and they had a full scholarship available, I had to redo some credits had to wait another year. I didn’t know UAH had a hockey team when I started looking. Everyone that has gone there has a special place in their heart for UAH.” That spur of the moment choice, combined with the work of Talbot has set him on a journey to being one of the most consistent goaltenders in the NHL in the past few seasons.

Of his time at Alabama Huntsville, Talbot has a lot of good memories in the three seasons he spent there. Top among all of them is winning the CHA Conference Tournament over Niagara, 3-2 in overtime to send his team to their first NCAA tournament appearance.

Talbot is on the Advisory Board, and after the season just completed was assured to be played, he focused on preparing for his season, where he is leading a resurgent Minnesota Wild group back to the Stanley Cup playoffs with his consistent play in net. He hopes to be active in helping the board provide recommendations to chart the future trail of UAH Hockey upon his season with the Wild ending this spring. As for what Talbot wants to see get added on to the program in future years, he states his thoughts in a practical manner, saying he wants to be a part of the group that helps get a ” state of the art dressing and weight room. WOW them with a dressing room and weight room on fly ins and visits. Have all the tools needed. This is what I would want as a player.”

Talbot also took the time to discuss the improvement in Lance West’s group, showing its readily apparent progress. He said, “you can tell that the team turned a corner, games where closer, won some big games. I am impressed with West, that team he assembled was very competitive, the schools commitment to them was outstanding to see. ”

As for having the Chargers in the game of Division one College Hockey, Talbot provided a litany of reasons, saying ” I think it just helps to grow the game in the south. You have people on the board, you have tons of youth hockey because of Huntsville and to grow the game of hockey. It allows for 25-27 kids to have the chance to play. If nothing else they get to work towards a degree while playing the game they love.”

He went on to discuss more about the great city of Huntsville in relation to hockey. ” I wish people knew how passionate the fans are, the alumni, and community all are for UAH Hockey. You wouldn’t think that it would be there. Having an on campus arena, to pack it full of students and have a lot more bigger schools travel here to allow people to see how passionate people here are are would also mean the world to the program going forward.”

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

The Northeast Generals Lose 4-3 in OT: What Comes Next?

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy- Patrick Garriepy Photography

Tonight, the Northeast Generals had a chance to take two points from the team ahead of them in the standings, the Maryland Black Bears, and stymie their six game win streak. The Generals put together three solid power play goals on a reworked power play unit, with a new strategy that looked to be the difference. Late, leading 3-2, the Generals gave up a breakaway that proved to be a fatal blow to taking two points from the Black Bears in regulation. In overtime, Maryland put home the game winner to take the extra point.

Head Coach Bryan Erikson had some good and bad to say on the evening.

On the revamped power play, which was a point of emphasis for the team heading into the weekend he said

” We worked on the PP a ton this week, new scheme new guys and I like the way they ran the plays. Good job by the boys and I hope we build on it.”

On the night itself, he went on to describe the good on a night where the Generals controlled large swaths of the game but could not find an insurance marker to reinforce their tenuous lead in the third period (the Black Bears scored three goals between the third and overtime to win the game).

” I think 5 on 5 our forecheck was excellent. They made some adjustments and we did too. I just think we need to continue to build on the good and have short memories about the bad.”

To beat the Black Bears tomorrow, Erikson noted how well they have played over their seven game winning streak, and some things to watch for tomorrow afternoon. On what Maryland has been doing well, he said the following

They were, “playing hard, getting puck luck, creating chances for themselves and finishing. That tying goal was a clinic in how to execute an odd man rush.”

On the night, to the good, Erikson complimented a couple of his skaters, saying

” I thought Ryan Gordon was our best forward. Played real hard, finished hits, won puck battles. And Jackson McCarthy was very good at the back end and really affected the play.”

Going forward, Erikson was blunt about the final result from tonight, referencing the turnovers that sprung the Black Bears on the two goals that tied things up in the third, compared to the rest of the evening where the Generals outplayed Maryland.

” Unacceptable mistakes can’t happen at this point of the year. We controlled the game and had no business losing.”

What Comes Next

Erikson is a big proponent of accountability and owning his own mistakes, while encouraging his team to own theirs. Tonight, the simple mistakes made in the third period cost the Generals a regulation win against a team they need to win as many points possible against (Maryland is ahead of the Generals in the East Division standings). The team seemed to get better looks tonight than they did either game last weekend against this same team. Like many college hockey players have told us, you cannot take a shift off, or write off mistakes at the NCAA level. The same holds true against Maryland. Two Generals’ mistakes ended up in their net behind Hugo Haas who had another quietly solid evening for Erikson’s group in the saves he made, and in how comfortable he was making them. Tomorrow afternoon Erikson’s group gets another opportunity to show what they’ve learned in this tumultuous season, at home, as they try to get three of four points from the Black Bears this weekend. Tomorrow’s a new day, and the group lead by Erikson and General Manager Matt Dibble has a sparkling opportunity in front of them to get 75 percent of the points on the table this weekend. If this team can carry forward the effort shown tonight, with some of their power play success, tomorrow night they can own a late-season win, and head to their next round of games in a slightly better position in the playoff race.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Cedric Savoie: Read more on what the defender brings to the NA3HL Northeast Generals

When you look at the NA3HL Northeast Generals, they made it to the Fraser Cup through having a well rounded team. When they were at their best this season, their defense exerted their will, and threw the body checks to make big plays and get the puck going the other direction.

Head Coach Darryl Locke just got a player that will start his season with the NA3HL group who brings that energy to the team.

Cedric Savoie is a Laval, Quebec native who brings his 6 fooy,2 inches tall frame to the group. He is a defensive defenseman that will make a lot of plays not readily apperant when looking at the box score, unless it has a spot for blocked shots, and key stick checks to stop offense from the other team.

As NAHL Head Coach, Bryan Erikson said of Cedric, and his background:

“Cedric brings a strong defensive game for the NA3HL team looking to get back to the Fraser Cup. He is a big strong kid that will be a physical presence for Darryl next season. Really looking forward to developing our relationship with Ulysse Académie which is a high end prep school that develops great young men and hockey player.”

Going forward, Erikson added

“He could potentially get a look at the NAHL. But having not played games this year because of the Pandemic he needs game reps to get back in the swing. But I am very excited about him joining the team.”

For the Generals to invest time in helping Cedric develop after not seeing him play at all this season shows what they value on their team, at the NA3HL and NAHL level, consistent players looking to get better and work for their ice. Cedric will have plenty of opportunities in Attleboro to do all of that next season, and showcase his skills to college scouts.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Chris Van Os-Shaw: Looking for a fresh start at AIC

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Chris Van Os-Shaw plays a physical game that he models after Jonathan Toews. That game that he plays meshes well with what Eric Lang’s group can do when it is humming, as it has done a lot during the past three seasons, earning three Atlantic Hockey Championships, two Jack Riley Trophies, and two NCAA Tournament bids. All of those teams have had players on them with the ability to score, and contribute defensively. Van Os-Shaw does all of those things. Despite knowing that AIC is nicknamed the Yellowjackets and that they are on the east coast, Chris did not know a lot about the school despite being recruited a little bit by them coming from the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. He comes to AIC with two seasons of eligibility left, and brings a lot to the group. On departing from Minnesota State, he said simply, “at the end of the day I needed a fresh start.” Chris was nothing but complimentary of the staff of Minnesota State in helping him out once he went into the transfer portal. Of joining AIC, he said that it ” is the right fit for me.” Furthermore, he added that, “right off the hop it seemed like they cared the most.” He praised the effort of Assistant Coach Cory Schneider in leading his recruitment this spring. He complimented the recruiting process, and now gets to play with former and future teammate Zach Galambos, and one of his friends, Justin Young.

Head Coach Eric Lang offered his thoughts, adding ” We recruited Chris out of junior. He has every tool to be a great player. His elevated role in our program is exactly what he was looking for in our team. He could score 15 to 20 goals for us. We are lucky to have him. Outside of his terrific hockey skills we are getting an elite human.”

Academically, Van Os-Shaw will continue to pursue his degree in business. He wants to become a salesperson when his hockey career is complete. He enjoys something common among many in this game, building relationships with others. During the pandemic-marred season, he played videogames like Fortnite to keep in touch with his friends.

On playing the game in general, the Canadian forward said, “there’s nothing like it.. especially coming from Canada, seeing how passionate people are about their team is kind of cool.” Now, he gets to be a part of a program on the rise in its national profile, while taking on a bigger role than he would have at Minnesota State. The ever-improving player looks to slot in to the top six spot vacated by Tobias Fladeby. Both have strong scoring sense, and both know how to bring some physical aspects to their game.

This offseason, Van Os-Shaw will finish his Covid 19 vaccination course, continue working on his game on his own, and get ready to head to Springfield in August. In him, AIC is getting a good human, and a strong player in all three zones with a top flight shot. With AIC, Van Os-Shaw is getting all he wants at the end of the day, a “fresh start.”

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

AIC Hockey Head Coach Eric Lang on the one-time transfer rule: “Adapt or get run over”

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Eric Lang, Head Coach of American International College (AIC) Hockey, took some time to discuss the implications of the soon to be passed transfer rule authorizing a one time transfer in all sports without sitting out for a year as one was previously required to do in men’s hockey. Lang is not for or against the rule as written, and was quite honest about what it means for his staff.

As he said rather succinctly:

“Adapt or get run over in this business. Although I am not a proponent of players leaving for greener pasture. I believe just like anything in life their are great instances for how this should and could work. A player who is not playing, a coaching change, a drastic change to an institutional financial  commitment are all common sense measures for why a player should leave. Our concern at AIC is the family advisor back channeling to get a better situation for a player is very dangerous for us. I believe was not the intent or spirit of the rule.”

One thing not addressed in the proposed rule that Lang is concerned about is third-party back channeling via a player advisor.

He explains clearly:

“Our concern at AIC is the family advisor back channeling to get a better situation for a player is very dangerous for us. I believe was not the intent or spirit of the rule.” That is a situation that merits further examiniation by relevant authorities in the NCAA to promote open transperancy if causal links could be found. For instance, if an advisor is steering a lot of their players to a top NCHC school from any Atlantic Hockey school, those conference members would probably want to work with the NCAA to search for a causal link, and improper relationships.

Throughout our many conversations with Lang, it is clear that he is a strong proponent of player development, as of today, AIC has one player in the portal, while it has gotten commits from two fourth or fifth year transfers. Brian Rigali of the University of Conneticut played four years for the Huskies, and Chris Van Os Shaw played three for Minnesota State, in a more limited role than Rugali. For fifth year players, more considerations than on ice time come into play. Not every school wil provide funding for fifth year scholarships to players at an equal measure, and perhaps Rigali’s program was not available for a fifth year either.

As for development, Lang pointed out a pertinent example on his own team of the value of working to grow in this game he has given his life to bettering.

“We have really taken the process and development of a player away. Sometimes in life it is a beautiful thing when you have the sticktuitivness to see something through and come out on the other side. Chris Dodero couldn’t play for us as a freshman as a senior he’s one of the best players in our conference and we play him in every situation.  He didn’t pack his bags and leave. He reinvented and developed himself and is a better player and person because of it.”

That is the balance all staffs will have to strike, while emphasizing the need for further development. While working to keep third parties from influencing decisions, the value of the rule is in helping the player. For example, Matthew Jennings is getting to play two hours away from his home at Alabama Huntsville in a more prominent role than he would have seen at Ohio State. Van Os Shaw comes to AIC with a chance to show the skill that made him highly recruited out of the AJHL. You do not put up 97 points in that league without a lot of skill that he has. Development takes everyone a little different amount of time at this level, and through battling injuries at Minnesota State, he has not had arguably the chance to show what he can do consistently at Minnesota State.

Although Lang guarantees no playing time for anyone on his team, Van Os Shaw will get a closer look at AIC, and every outlet that covers this league will have some reason to list him as a potential breakout player for AIC. For that to happen, he has to earn his shot at AIC through his day to day development, enough to earn a spot in the lineup, then replicate that each game, practice, and day. He is up to the challenge, and Lang is ready for the future of college hockey with the one time rule.

As Lang said in closing ” I come back to we will adapt to this modern day recruiting. I feel it could be dangerous to build an entire team this way.  At AIC we have made a living on being where nobody else is. So it could be an opportunity while everybody has their eyes on the portal we could be somewhere else.”

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

The Northeast Generals earn a point against Maryland: How it happened, and what comes next

(Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography)

Last weekend, on Saturday night especially, the Northeast Generals scored the first two goals, and looked to be on the right path for points, before the Danbury Junior Hat Tricks answered back with eight goals to roundly hand the Generals a loss.. On Saturday, the Maryland Black Bears scored first, but that did not deter the Generals as they fought to earn a tie, and get one point on the weekend

Head Coach Bryan Erikson summed up the 3-2 shootout loss and the weekend pretty well in saying the following.

“I have absolutely loved the way we played the last 2 nights. We didn’t score last night but I though we still played an outstanding last 50 minutes. And we brought that into tonight. We played very hard and very well. But ran into a hot goalie. Points are big but wins are more important. But I’ll take playing well any day. Just need to continue to build on the positives and clean up the mistakes and we will be fine. ”

The two Generals goals from the finale came on effort plays in the second period. First, Tyler Cooper made a fantastic inside move on a two-on one and put home the first goal of the evening. Later in the frame, Matt Boczar rifled home the second tally on the evening capitalizing on a turnover caused by Ricky Boysen of Black Bears’ netminder Michael Morelli behind the net. As Erikson said of the two goals.

“Both goals were nice. Cooper had a great goal. He is so good when he keeps his feet moving and that goal was a direct result of just that. He can affect the game in so many ways and that goal was a nice reward for a lot of hard work. And Boczar did what he does. Outworked people after a great play by Ricky Boysen. Great goals.”

In net, Hugo Haas had another good night in net for the Generals, making 29 saves in the finale.

As Erikson said of Haas’s work last night

” Hugo made some huge saves. Didn’t love the first goal and I know he would love that one back. The 2nd goal can’t happen but isn’t on him. We can’t give up 2 on 1’s with 3 seconds left in a period. It’s just a mentally soft play by the guys on the ice and by me of not being aware and having the right guys out there to close out a period strong. And then in the shootout they made some great moves and scored. Hugo is the best.” Haas kept the team within striking distance all weekend, and has continued to help the group battle for a playoff position.

While every General wanted four points on the weekend and came away with only one, Erikson remains upbeat for his group heading into next weekend as they will face the same Black Bears for two games at home.

As he said on what to work on this week, as they get ready to face Maryland at home, “work on traffic to the net. Work on taking the goalies eyes away. And just having fun. The game is supposed to be fun. And I think everyone plays better after a fun week, looking forward to coming to the rink. Happy to see the boys and play hard for the guy next to you.”

As for the players finishing their junior hockey career this season, Erikson is upbeat about their continued work and effort. He added, “our 2000’s have really stepped up their play. They have all played for me for multiple years and I just love them as people. I am so proud of who they are and how hard they are working. Just want them to leave it all on the ice the last 10 games and have no regrets no matter what happens with school and I think you saw that this weekend.”

With that, the Generals have ten more games in their regular season to put together a possible run to the playoffs. More importantly, they have 10 more games in the regular season to showcase how far they have come as a group this season, as one of the most active clubs with player transactions in junior hockey this year, this team is starting to come together. The final 10 games being meaningful regarding the playoffs, and Erikson seeing how far this group has come this season, are all bonuses for the needed moves made to get the Generals to this point. What happens next will be well worth watching.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Frank Serratore on Air Force Hockey, Atlantic Hockey Expansion, and more

Photo Credit: Air Force Academy Athletics

“Any time you have do deal with adversity.. what doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger.” That mantra sums up the experience of the 2019-2020 Air Force Academy Falcons Hockey Team. A team that finished the year with only two juniors had its best weekend of the season in its final one, a series sweep of the Golden Griffins of Canisius at home where Frank’s group took it to one of the better teams in Atlantic Hockey this season, in their only regular season home series played at their rink in 2021. Of those two juniors, Serratore expects to see one playing regular minutes as a senior next season, starting goaltender Alex Schilling. For many nights, he was the best Falcon on the ice for Serratore’s group this season. In the season ahead, he will be their leader Frank often says ” you can buy everything at Walmart but experience.” The group this season earned theirs, and while the team still will have a lot of young players in key roles, the returners have earned a lot of experience playing in a tough season unlike any other. The Falcons only had a few true home games this season because of teams being in and out of Covid-19 protocols.

Hopefully, for Air Force Academy, their own need to deal with Covid-19 protocols because of tier one personnel testing positive is coming to an end. Cadet-athletes who are able to get their vaccines have been doing so. As a result, the team had to deal with long pauses this year which altered their preparation somewhat. Some days there would not be on ice practices, and others were made different by Serratore’s assistants. As he said ” we took some time off” he went on to praise the work of Associate Head Coach Joe Doyle and Assistant Coach Andy Berg Andy Berg as Frank said of the pauses ” you can almost practice too much .. coaches did a great job with keeping players involved.”

Going forward, the coaching staff has been vaccinated, and those unable to get their vaccines yet due to recently having Covid-19 itself should be able to do so over the summer months. Next season, the Falcons will venture out of the state of Colorado for one non-conference series, against Michigan State on the road. Serratore also scheduled games against local rivals Denver and Colorado College in part to minimize the amount of flights they need to take elsewhere during the season.

As for the conference Frank coaches in, he gave us his opinion on its potential future. While noting that this is Frank’s own opinion and being clear that decisions will be made by administrators of the conference, he went on to provide a road map for the future of Atlantic Hockey. Frank was honest about where the conference is, given that it has had only one representative in every national tournament since 2004 (the first year of Atlantic Hockey) all but one time, when Niagara and Canisius earned a trip to the postseason. That 2012-2013 Purple Eagles team is the only group in the history of Atlantic Hockey to earn an at large bid. Serratore noted his opinion, saying “I’m not so sure its great to be a part of a large one bid conference”. He suggested splitting in into two seperate leagues to guarantee all of its members two automatic qualifier spots as opposed to one.

Frank further suggested admitting teams like Alabama Huntsville and Long Island to make the split work, along with the potential third team that could be on the discussion agenda for this summer. In a general sense, of all independent programs currently in the game Frank said “to me it would make sense to take those schools, as many as possible and make two conferences out of them.” Later he noted that the ideal size for a league in this game is seven or eight schools. At either measure, it provides opportunities for a balanced in conference schedule, while allowing for more non conference opportunities for Atlantic Hockey teams, which currently can only play six non exempt games outside of their own league.

Frank was honest about where his league currently is, and gave his own opinion. On the logistics he said, “I think that would be a very wise business decision” in creating two conferences. He went on to discuss the two leagues creating a scheduling alliance going forward to provide non conference opportunities for each team each year. While we did not discuss what that would look like, he noted the value of having, as he said “two Cinderellas” and said that “Im sure the big schools wouldn’t be too happy about that.”

For the smaller programs in this game, Frank said, “For the have nots in college hockey I think it would be real beneficial.” Of Huntsville’s path, he said, “the people in Huntsville want to continue hockey… we sure cant afford to lose members.” In general of programs in this game he said the following ” we cant afford to have these programs dying on the vine.” He went on to echo the sentiments of other coaches we have talked to in this conference, saying ” Its important to keep all these programs alive.” From a development standpoint he said “there’s more good players than there are lockers out there.” Finally, he added, “we don’t want to have less opportunities, and there’s more kids that can play” at the Division One level than there are spots available for them to do so right now. Of the work that needs to be done, Frank ended this part of the interview on the saying simply, “we need to find a way.”

The Transfer Portal has enough student athletes in it to start 10-13 talented programs right now. The long term effect of this extra year of eligibility, while not experienced by Serratore’s Falcons, or Brian Riley’s Black Knights at Army West Point, effects every other team, as any player who was on a roster this year is allowed an extra year of eligibility. The program at service academies creates second lieutenants and builds leaders within 47 months. That does not change. Thus Riley and his staff are dealing with replacing eight skaters with freshmen, no transfers for his group or Frank’s.

While Serratore is excited about the depth and potential of his recruiting class coming in, he was honest about the process at Colorado Springs. When asked about seeing how good this group of commits coming from all around the country will be, while emphasizing developing them this summer, and over their first two years, he said ” ask me in two years.” Schilling and Willie Riem will be the on-ice leaders for the group next year, and both will play key roles in getting the Falcons back to their perch atop Atlantic Hockey that they lived at for the two seasons prior to AIC knocking them off it. The goal for Serratore every year is consistent, to have his team at their best going into the postseason. As he put it, “we will be the team come playoff time that no body wants to draw.” As for only having one senior Frank said “the bad news for us is we’ve only got one senior on our team .. the good news is that its Alex Schilling.”

On Serratore’s extensive coaching tree, like Brian Riley, he gets to coach against his former assistants. In this case, both of them happen to be behind the bench of Robert Morris. As he said of Derek Schooley and Mike Corbett, now behind the bench at Robert Morris, before proceeding to list the countless other former players of his that have become coaches,and other assistants that have gone on to lead programs, “I’m so very proud of both of them.”

As Corbett told us, Serratore cares about the game and is a passionate advocate for it. When Corbett came to Frank’s Denver team in 1992, Serratore looked beyond what presented itself, and saw Corbett as the whole person that he is. Coming to Denver in 1992, Corbett was a young father and husband and felt that Frank took a chance on giving him a scholarship and supporting Corbett’s young family. Frank disagreed, noting that, “to me, it was an easy decision.. when we were able to bring Mike and his wife up to the university of Denver … he just had a very mature air and a very mature perspective.. that was an immediate benefit even before he established himself as a player in our line up.” This story from Corbett and Serratore’s perspective on it shows that Serratore takes Jack Riley’s advice on coaching as serious as Brian does. As Jack said ” make sure show your players that you care for them more as people than as hockey players.”

It is clear from his decades of experience in this game, the stories of former players and assistants like Corbett’s, his love for growing the game of college hockey, and his ability to have perspective on his team’s work through a pandemic-marred season, combined with his hopes for next year, that Frank is living up to Jack’s advice, and inspiring future leaders in the Air Force to do the same with the airmen that they will lead upon graduation. In addition, he and Riley have inspired countless leaders to get involved in the game with coaching with that same mindset, and this sport is better off for having them in it.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Matthew Jennings: Read what he brings to the Herd at UAH

Graphic Credit: Total Package Hockey

Photo Credit: Ohio State University Athletics

Matthew Jennings is a Buford Georgia native who spent the first three years of his college hockey career at Ohio State. Through overcoming injuries, the Georgian has gotten a chance to play the game he loves as part of a hockey family. His Dad Steve taught him about hockey, and he has always been encouraged by him. Steve taught him the value of hard work on and off the ice, and has been one of his coaches through the Total Package Hockey program. Jennings praised the honesty of his dad, and his ability to keep things on the level with him. That same honesty and ability to build relationships is something Jennings has taken into his hockey career.

Jennings is a consistent two way center who has a battle level that made his game ideal for what the Chargers Coaching staff is looking for. While he has battled injuries in his time at Ohio State, his resume with the Buckeyes and the Green Bay Gamblers speak to the type of player he is. He is a hard nosed, two way forward that prides himself on outworking the opponent at all times. In a way, parts of his game are similar to one of his friends, and the other Buford native to play hockey for the Chargers, Connor Wood who is good friends with Jennings. Of the school and the hockey program, according to Jennings, Wood told him ” nothing but positives.”

On what the coaching staff told him, he said that the staff said that there was ” nothing guaranteed”, and that he will have to earn every second of ice time. That does not at all phase Jennings, and he praised the staff at large personally, saying ” I like them both as people.” For the type of culture all three coaches have talked about building, adding a player with the mentality of Jennings, and one with solid two way potential, is an ideal add for a team looking for more depth at its center position.

With Jennings’ family now living two hours away from Huntsville, they will get to see him play in a lot of games. While his entire family is happy that Jennings is a lot closer to home, Jennings singled out the excitement of one of his family members. As he said ” my mom is pumped.”

When his hockey career comes to an end, Jennings wants to be a financial planner. He belives it combines the best of what he likes most, relationship building and numbers. As he said, “I Really like Math…. also you get to have personal connections with people.. its not all crunching numbers.”

As for his time asa Buckeye, Jennings is nothing but thankful for the relationships he has built with his former teammates. Multiple times when talking about the game and what he cherishes most about it, the ability to form lasting bonds with his team, no matter at what level of the game he has played it at, means the most to him. As a Charger, he now has the ability to forge new relationships, and provide another example to a young group working to improve on its past season, and learn from how they arrived at its conclusion.

Growing up, playing for the TPH program Jennings would get to come to the Von Braun Center at least once a season. He saw what Charger Hockey meant, and was part of the superb atmosphere that its fans bring to games every night. Now, he will be one of the players that those same youth hockey players in attendance get to look up to, playing closer to his family. While nothing is guaranteed for where the forward will play this season or how much, his path to rehab after his injury at Ohio State, combined with his tenacious effort on and off the ice to improve, it is clear that Jennings is ready to help lead the Herd to greater heights this season. On getting to come back and play as a Charger, after growing up getting his love for the game of college hockey at UAH games, Jennings aptly said ” Its kind of funny how the universe works.”

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.