Alabama Huntsville is a good fit for Atlantic Hockey this season: Here’s Why

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Well, Atlantic Hockey has found itself down to ten member schools for the upcoming season. While we of course want Robert Morris reinstated, the league finds itself at a crossroads. What is a league always looking to get more into the national conversation to do when one of its legacy members, due to a callous, myopic, short sighted, and ill-explained decision faces an uncertain future ? (in a perfect scenario, we want Huntsville admitted this month, along with Long Island, Robert Morris brought back, and a divisional play system established, identical in terms of idea to the pod setup a year ago, but with some cross pod play allowed, team alignments to be determined).

Well, the reality of the upcoming college hockey season could actually set what the members could do for them.

For the conference, if it wants to get bigger, which it has the opportunity to do, as it will be entertaining pitches from Alabama Huntsville. Long Island, and one other school in meetings this June, the Chargers’ pitch for this season has to have a renewed interest. In addition, given all of the reschedules due to the pandemic-marred season we just completed, most non conference schedules are set. For most teams to add another non conference weekend, they would need to travel, and risk not going on a revenue guarantee. If teams added another conference weekend, then some will still add travel costs, with no money coming back to them in return.

Despite suspending their season and, as of now, not participating in the 2021-2022 campaign, sources around the program do not see the suspension as a bar to participate. Should Atlantic Hockey change their course for this season (based on sources around the conference, it seemed clear that expansion, prior to the Robert Morris news for the 2021-2022 campaign seemed unrealistic). Given the history of Huntsville Hockey, finding a conference is the only way to go, and given the changing landscape of Atlantic Hockey, the Chargers’ pitch for this season allows the league’s members to travel to some of their games and get paid for them, adds a market with a strong fan base (despite winning only two games at home, the Chargers had the third highest average attendance in this weird just finished season, and in the 19-20 campaign, before many of their roster came to town, the team outdrew eight Atlantic Hockey teams from that year).

Given the large number of players in the transfer portal, the lack of players lost in it by the Chargers (David Fessenden and Tyrone Bronte), and the amount of junior hockey age-outs looking for a Division One home, the time for the Chargers very well could be this summer, if Atlantic Hockey wants to even maintain the number of teams that it competed with in the 20-21 campaign. The mere fact that this program got two transfers to come to it during the month before its suspension should show how Huntsville Hockey is viewed by other teams. Players do not get advice to come anywhere from other colleges if the coaches do not have a trust of what the other staff is doing. We remember how happy Dominick Procopio and Matthew Jennings were to be coming to Huntsville, for both, this team and this city represent a fresh start, and for Jennings, it allows his parents to see him play, every night.

From a conference view, the Chargers have the academic bona fides to join the conference, the financial backing of a network of donors led by Sheldon Wolitski and Taso Sofikitis, and a long term plan to build an on campus arena. Oh, and they also have a network that includes relationships with the Nashville Predators, a growing NHL profile through the exploits of their most famous alum, Cam Talbot, and the Nashville Market within their grasp. Oh, and the Chargers pitch remains on the table. Ten schools all have a chance to make money (25000 dollars per series) every time they play a series in Huntsville. Sean Henry, President of the Predators, has noted early discussions about marquee games at Bridgestone Arena with the Chargers. Perhaps starting a southern hockey challenge tournament with the Chargers, another Atlantic Hockey team, and two programs from other leagues each year, combined with a massive club tournament, could serve as a kickoff to the season for everyone, promote the game, and more.

In the long run for Atlantic Hockey, the Chargers have a solid reason to be in the program. Academically, they belong, as Huntsville’s engineering programs, and relationship with NASA make it a unique member of any conference it would be in. The town is called Rocket City for a reason. On the ice, the Chargers play a gritty game that relies on team tenacity to do well, which helps individuals thrive in the group, a style that teams at the top end of the conference play, as good as anyone in the country.

Fiscally, this makes sense for the league, to grow the brand of the conference, this makes sense, academically, the Chargers make sense, and logistically, right now, Huntsville makes sense.

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

Generals add size: More on Bryce Cooper

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

One consistent that the 2020-2021 Northeast Generals had on their backend was skilled size. Players like Alex Tertyshny showed the ability to play a cerebral game, defend well, and allow the speedy forwards the group had to operate. With Tertyshny heading to AIC, Head Coach Bryan Erikson and General Manager Matt Dibble have been working to update the rear guard of the Generals with more talent.

Enter, among their other defensive tenders, Bryce Cooper. His game plays similar in terms of efficient use of size to Terythsny. Cooper comes from the Colorado Rampage, a Tier One U18 team, where he utilized his six feet six inch tall frame to lead his team from the back end. As Erikson said of Cooper

” He moves very well laterally and plays with a great edge to his game.  He makes a great first pass and is quick to jump up in the play and is great with the puck on his stick.  He has a heavy shot and a great release.  Loved his compete level and the fact that he has finished all of his checks.  He is a real force out on the ice in all 3 zones and we feel he will be a huge addition to our rebuilt blueline.”

In addition, Erikson added

” Bryce is a monster at 6’6 but is a very good skater. Very physical. Hard to play against and has a lot of offensive ability to add. We think he will slide into our top 4 next year and be able to play in all phases of our game. He has a lot of D1 potential and we expect him to get a lot of attention by Hockey East and other programs in our area almost immediately.”

In terms of finding an impact ready player who will eat a lot of minutes, through the tender system, it seems like Erikson got one of the many players he is looking for. If Cooper can increase the offensive celling to his game, then more than just Hockey East Schools will be interested in him. It is his job to get better with the tools Erikson and his staff will give him. In the long run, if he can play anything like Tertyshny, more people at the next level will know his name very quickly.

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

Opinion: College Hockey is a positive image driver-We wish RMU’s leaders understood that

Photo Credit: Justin Berl-RMU Athletics

What do we want this sport to be?

While we are not privy to the internal discussions the upper echelon of Robert Morris University management had about indiscriminately putting the future of everyone involved with two successful hockey programs up in a state of purgatory through immediate cessation of them, we hope to learn more in the coming days about those discussions. When multiple players speak of the university doing no more than a 10 minute Zoom chat with no opportunity for transparency or questions of any sort, with a bout an hour of notice of this wretched announcement to be made ahead of time, we are left wanting more answers.

One thing that many other national writers have touched on is the cruel way this horrid, wretched, no good to do at any time announcement was done.

First off, if the administration of Chris Howard believed that Hockey was not in the long term plans for Robert Morris, they owed everyone involved with both programs more notice than the mere minutes some players were given before this went public. A legacy program of Atlantic Hockey, and a CHA program fresh off pushing the number one team in the country to the brink in the NCAA Tournament were thrown aside for goals of the university, that no one seems to get.

It seems rather callous to anyone with this program to read a banner ad on the side of this reductive, overly simplified press release to have an banner ad on the side showing the philosophy of the school. ” Big enough to matter, small enough to care.” Tell that phrase to anyone associated with this program, and they will rightly be disgusted with you for bringing up a slogan that after this week, rings painfully hollow.

If hockey was not in the long term strategic interests of the school, that should have been announced far sooner, perhaps before the start of the season, or contingent upon private donations being secured to build an on campus arena, if the program was to fold due to a sport that has brought it international acclaim, it should have been announced as soon as possible to allow people to find employment and places to play for next year.

An already crowded transfer portal and late struggle to recruit players with 2000 birth years just got more crowded.

Functionally, for a school that, again, for some reason, touted its fundraising sucess in the same callous release where it ended so many hopes, dreams, jobs, and aspirations of all of those involved in it, the world of college hockey wonders.

Why not one more season?

What harm would there have been in allowing transfers, and playing the season out?

The broader scope of things

While the tragic choice to end Robert Morris Hockey was made by an administration without much reasoning beyond not wanting the sport on its campus, the release included this quote from President Howard that was, well interesting to us.

“We are saddened for the student-athletes who will be unable to continue in their sport at Robert Morris University and are committed to assisting them during this difficult time,” said RMU President Chris Howard. “However, this is the best course of action to leverage our strategic assets and position us for future growth.”

If this was the course of action, why it took until a leadership retreat last weekend is hard to justify.

In the grander scheme of this sport, while college hockey is expensive to run, the image and opportunity for brand building is unlike many other things at the Division One level. Instead of being a part of two growing sports in the men and women’s game ( 61 teams, and 41 teams respectively), the school has chosen to focus on football and basketball only with its new arena plans.

The rational person wonders?

Why cant this school where the money and desire to play the game is there not support it in its mission. Unlike Alabama Huntsville, no clear mandate for the program exists, no conference issues for either the men or women were ever present, and the money was there.

College Hockey gives the opportunity to a diverse (and hopefully soon to be growing again) group of schools around the country the opportunity to compete for a national championship, send players around the world, and on to the NHL. This sport has so much talent that has not been given the chance to play at its highest level that many aspire to, and for a sport that produces 33 percent of NHL rosters, it was thrown away at Robert Morris, not even worthy of its own press release, earlier announcement, opportunity for the players and program to say goodbye, or fundraise to save it (we hope the programs are given an opportunity by Howard to earn reinstatement).

To other interested schools

If you read this wondering about what schools like Tennessee State (conducting a feasibility study), Liberty, Lindenwood, Navy, and hopefully more, should do, we would encourage them to look at the amount of support not that the administration has, but at how the hockey community has rallied around Alabama Huntsville (reinstated last year after a massive fundraising campaign, and waiting for a new conference home), Alaska Anchorage (getting closer to playing as an independent once they hit the three million dollars raised), and now Robert Morris with over 15000 people interested in demanding answers from Howard on why the program was cut, and a chance to show long term strategic value to the school itself.

Brian Rigali: Hungry to win and grow with AIC

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

To play for Eric Lang and his AIC Yellow Jackets, you have to have some common traits. First and foremost, you have to be a good human. Brian Rigali is an elite human according to Lang and his staff. Even when Rigali chose to head to the University of Connecticut, that did not deter Lang and his staff from recruiting him for his transfer year. As Lang said ” When he told me he was going to go to UCONN.. I remember the exchanges were very professional, we left it off in great terms.. because we left it off so well we were able to reunite.” That alone stuck with Lang for four years, knowing the value of maintaining relationships with those in the ever growing world of college hockey. Impressions and honesty matter to him, and that honesty and openness made the second recruiting process for Rigali’s extra year a short one. When Lang and his staff offered him a spot, there was not much further need for discussion from Rigali. The choice for him was clear to become a Yellow Jacket, after being a Husky for four years.

To play for Lang, you also have to be a high energy player with a lot of skill and even more effort obvious with every second you put on tape. Rigali has all of those qualities. As Lang said “he’s the perfect AIC hockey player in terms of what we value.” In terms of the high motor he brings, Lang called him a right handed Chris Dodero, which seems apt, given that the two are from the same area in the greater Chicago area and train together. Rigali and Lang both expect Brian’s offensive game to take the next step in his final year of college hockey. As Lang said ” he’s got a lot more production in him.” Rigali is learning more from Dodero as Chris runs a hockey skills training company called Prodero Hockey. Both are high motor players that could easily end up on a line together this season, and both can make each other better.

As to why he picked AIC, Rigali spoke highly of how Lang and his staff handled his choice to play at Uconn. As he said, “I’m really familiar with the program and the success they had.” Rigali has played Sacred Heart, Army West Point, and other Atlantic Hockey schools, and knows the style of play that Atlantic Hockey has, high energy and physical play to combine with top end skill, is perfect for the game he plays.

As Lang summarized “he’s the perfect AIC hockey player in terms of what we value. ” In addition, he said ” we are going to absolutely love him. Rigali is already communicating with the team, as several Yellow Jackets reached out to him upon his choice to head to Springfield next season. Brian is already inspiring Lang through sending him motivational quotes and videos, while Lang is always excited to lead his team, Rigali’s motivation has taken that up even higher. As Lang said, ” he has been getting me excited about our season.” Like Lang, Rigali knows how good this group will be this season ahead, saying that “we are going to have a lot of depth this year. ”

Watching his game, Lang knows another thing Rigali adds, is a high energy aspect to the team that makes everyone better. Brian models the effort he plays with after high energy wunderkinds that made a name for themselves in the NHL like Andrew Shaw, among many more. Lang loves the second and third effort on all shifts that Rigali brings, and knows that will mesh well with the group of good humans he has assembled in Springfield. As for the rest of the offseason, Lang and his staff are being very deliberate with their options in the transfer portal, as they have one more spot they aim to fill this offseason.

They are looking for one more player that checks as many of the boxes of potential Yellow Jacket that Rigali has checked, which is always a tough task to find, but even more so compounded as hundreds of players still remain in the portal, thus making marginal comparisons take longer, comparing the package that hundreds could bring to your group. Lang and his staff are in a best player available mentality to find one more future Yellow Jacket in the portal, position is not the deciding factor, what that person brings to the group is. Rigali will be working on his MBA at AIC, looking to give himself as many options as possible for when his on ice career is done.

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

Growing College Hockey: Why all fans should care

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

First, this article is not in any way critical of any conference for choosing to accept or not accept any member looking for a home. While Alabama Huntsville may still get into Atlantic Hockey for a future season, the reality is that it was too late in the game for them to get into the conference for the upcoming season. This article kind of includes the story of one of Huntsville’s natives, Nic Dowd. The former Husky watched the Chargers play on many weekends growing up and has had them to look towards as a kid. Perhaps without the Chargers, and the youth hockey structure of college hockey towns that relies on partnerships with college teams, Dowd might not have even seen what college hockey is, and the first Alabama native to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs might not have done so.

In the short run, to get Huntsville a membership this season, you would be asking schools to completely re-do schedules that have been in the works for a while, and in college athletics, schedules are assembled often one or more seasons ahead of . They have a strong pitch to be considered, and one that could see the Chargers come back in a couple of seasons, if Atlantic Hockey gets seven Athletic Directors to approve their application. The reality of that pitch is a small net positive cash flow to make a trip to Huntsville for many schools in the conference.

This conversation is about more than the Chargers, it is about what we want Division One College Hockey to look like in the next decade, for both men and women. We go back to our chat with Frank Serratore, long time leader of Air Force Hockey.. While he is not an athletic director, or one with the power to wave a magic wand, he has been on the right side of things in this sport in terms of advocating for the good of the game. He noted the value of a universal three-on-three system the year before the NCAA implemented it, and standardized it for the pairwise, has developed many a leader both in this game and in the Air Force, and more.

From our previous chat with him, we wrote around what he said

“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. ”

As is often the case in this game, Serratore is right.

Look at the transfer portal right now.

You could easily put together 9-10 teams of competitive division one talent that would make the haves in this sport sweat. While not as many transfers are in the women’s transfer portal, that truth still abides. American college hockey is the growing supplier of top NHL talent, the development engine for a growing majority of professional players around the world, and home to some of the best atmospheres anywhere in college sports.

Who does not want more of that, combined with players getting degrees and going on to lead in whatever field they choose post hockey?

To grow the game requires time, effort, energy, and a lot of money. College Hockey Inc. is full of people who bring the first three, and helps connect those with money who want to see the game grow in other places.

Who else can help?

Fans

Yes, fans can push for advocacy and the ability to improve this great sport. Even if you do not have millions of dollars somewhere in an account, you have a reason to support this game growing, especially if you are fan of a small school.

On a competitive level, the way this sport is, it is one where smaller schools can make the biggest impact. It is one where public schools, like Huntsville, can have a Division Two program in everything else, but have one sport that catapults their department to the national conversation? Why does this matter?

Well, look at schools like Lake Superior State, and Bemidji State, these two schools are underdogs compared to those around them in terms of notoriety, but when they win games to get into the NCAA Tournament, their school, their team, and their town gets time in the national spotlight.

That spotlight, as has been shown in studies of post Men’s Basketball Tournament trends, leads to more applications, and that keeps universities thriving.

Look at AIC

In just five short years, Eric Lang took a school a lot of people did not take the time to care about, or acknowledge the existence of, and turned them into a national powerhouse. They are three time Atlantic Hockey Regular Season Champions, and have two NCAA Tournament trips in that time, beating the number one overall seed the first time. The passion that fans have for that program is undeniable. He got the support and buy in from his administration to remake the program, and do the things needed to grow the game at AIC. Grow the game is more than a buzz word, it is real work done by people like Lang across the country to build their programs, start new ones, and save current ones.

Are there groups elsewhere that have that passion?

Yes, of course there are.

Look at the Seawolves of Alaska Anchorage. This is a program working to build a sustainable funding model to play as an independent in two seasons, and they are getting closer every single day. Division One Hockey means a lot to Anchorage, to the point that they even have the Seattle Kraken helping them raise funds and visibility for them.

If you are a fan of this game, we implore you not to pony up the six figure amount one needs to fund a team, but rather to simply amplify the efforts of those working to add teams, and those like Sheldon Wolitski, Taso Sofikitis, and the wonderful folks working to Save Seawolves Hockey. All of these programs are needed, more programs are needed, and more teams are needed to meet the growing talent coming from all leagues that feed the college hockey system.

Fundamentally, there is nothing quite like Division One College Hockey, and for those that want to see this game grow, while we are not asking all of you to fund a team, or give a school a new conference home, we are asking for the frame of discussion to be moved. Figuring out how to preserve programs, empower local funding, and grow this game should be on the minds of everyone involved in the sport. This game means so much to so many, and the ability to frame discussions on funding and saving, and also building new programs, is the way for this sport to grow. At a conference level, more conferences than just Atlantic Hockey have to shoulder some of the load as well, and hopefully more conferences are formed as more teams join. As more schools look to join, public support for those efforts is key to reinforcing the ideas of administrators at those schools, public support draws notoriety which draws donors, and funding for a better future for this game.

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

Season Finale for Northeast Generals showcases themes of this season, and hope for the future: Read more

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy Photography

On Friday night, the 2020-2021 Northeast Generals skated as a team for their final time in their regular season finale. While the result was not what Head Coach Bryan Erikson wanted, the night served as both a culmination of a year of turmoil and triumph, and a look ahead to the future of the Generals. The score of the finale was a 3-2 shootout win for the Maryland Black Bears. For Erikson, there was a lot to like about how the group battled adversity on the season

As he said recounting the tribulations of the season, first noting the numbers of the wide discrepancy in road vs home games. :

” 16 games at Home 44 games on road 31 road games in a row 4 of first 42 games at Home 8-4-4 at home Home game: November 12th – March 12 (4 months)

Those are crazy numbers. And we never had any discipline issues, kids never quit, they played hard almost every night. Just a special group that dealt with extraordinary circumstances much better than I would have when I was their age.”

One of the leaders of that special group, Alexander Tertyshny left his mark on the game, and has left his mark on the Generals that will resonate for years. He helped get the game to a shootout with a couple of key tie-ups of Black Bears players, and because Erikson let all of his 2000 birth year players (playing their final game in junior hockey) take a shot in the shootout, Tertyshny got the Generals back into it with a beautiful goal. As for the future of the Generals, Tertyshny partner, Matthew Sutter (Lake Superior State commit) is a 2004 birth year player, and has a few more years left with the team. Erikson praised Tertyshny for the night, and for his leadership in helping Sutter get better.

As Erikson said on Alex helping Sutter

“Sutter was our most improved player on the season. We let him fail and then succeed. Going through growing pains and then start to see the payoff. The kid is such a hard worker and it was great to see Alex take him under his wing and they both learned a lot from each other.”

On Tertyshny shootout marker, Bryan had a lot to say, noting

” He knew I was going to go with my 2000’s in the shootout. He knows my loyalty always will be to him and the guys that have battled for the Generals for multiple years… It was emotional for me and it was for him too. Just so happy for him that he got to go out as close to as his own terms as possible.”

Alex has improved in leaps and bounds since he came to Attleboro off the ice just as much as he has on it.

As Erikson noted ” He started to enjoy the game again. He came to us a little down on himself and his enjoyment of the game was not there. He realized you can have fun and get better at the same time.”

Going forward for Alexander, he has to only travel about 90 minutes to head to his college home, AIC, where he will have a chance to earn a lot of ice time on a pretty well-rounded group of defenders lead by Head Coach Eric Lang. Erikson is optimistic that Tertyshny can step in right away.

He added on Alex’s ability to play top six time, “I think he is [ready]. Needs to work on being more consistent shift to shift. He can be the best player on the ice and then disappear. I love him as a player and think with the discipline that Coach Lang instills Alex will be great for him.”

As for what comes next for the Generals, speaking Friday night after the game ended, the task for Erikson’s group this summer is in plain sight.

He said ” Improving our D and filling a few holes up front. We get to work starting tomorrow. Only advantage of not making the playoffs is we have more time to prepare for what we think and hope will be a dominant 21-22 season.”

In September, we will begin to see the work of the 2021-2022 Generals, a group that will be heavily influenced by the trials, tribulations, and triumphs that the 2020-2021 group just finished going through.

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

Valiantly, the Generals come up just short against Maryland 4-2: More on the effort

Photo Credit : Patrick Garriepy Photography

The Northeast Generals, despite being out of the playoff race, still had a lot to play for tonight against the Maryland Black Bears. Despite the 4-2 final stat line in the regulation loss, the team showed cohesion, and were an interesting call away from having a 3-3 tie heading into overtime against Maryland. There was a lot of good for this group that came in this game, as they dealt with adversity on two interesting calls, and still found a way to fight until the very end, losing 4-2 because of a late empty net power play goal they conceded.

That interesting call came late in the third period. The Generals appeared to have the equalizer, but the crew lead by referee Jake Muzik blew the play dead for potentially incidental contact. The ensuing faceoff was held in the offensive zone, not in the neutral zone where it should have been if incidental contact was the issue. After the officials went to discuss things, they upheld waving the goal off. Hannes Kollen, Maryland’s netminder was contacted, but Head Coach Bryan Erikson contends that happened after the puck cross the line, and is pretty upset at the crew of Muzik for this, and an incident where at the end of the first period, Hugo Haas, Northeast’s netminder was interfered with, no penalty was assessed to the Black Bear who did it, but in retaliation, Alex Tertyshny got a roughing minor.

On the no goal Erikson said ” Ref wouldn’t talk to me to tell me why it wasn’t a goal. Puck clearly went in and clearly went in before any type of contact was made with him by our player that was high sticked in the face. Just a terrible call and a gutless move by the ref to not talk to me about it. I didn’t yell once the entire game at least show me and your profession a little respect.”

On the Haas incident that ended the first period, Erikson said ” Once again ref wouldn’t talk to me. So I’m assuming we are just allowed to run goalies unless we score then it’s no goal.”

Besides that, on the whole, the Generals played a sound game and pushed the pace of play. They were spurred on by captain Dylan Schuett’s goal in the first. He took a superb feed from Jake Dunlap and put the puck home to bring the Generals within one goal. As Erikson said of Dylan’s improvement since comfiting to Long Island University back in December ” He has relaxed a little bit and it’s freed up his offensive game. The kid is battling so many injuries it’s crazy what he has to do just to even suit up. But then to go out there and play well and score a great goal on a ridiculous play by Dunlap is great.” Of the goal’s impact Erikson added ” Dylan’s goal seemed to give us a little extra jump same as David’s did. We have struggled scoring lately so it was great to get on the board and to remember how to just laugh and have fun.”

Going into the season finale tomorrow night, two things stood out. First, when we asked Erikson for any good off ice memory from his class of 2000 birth year players playing their final game of junior hockey tomorrow night, he couldn’t saying instead ” I can’t single any one kid out. I put some much time into the 2000’s and in return I get the best gift. I get to be apart of their journeys. I get to share inside jokes, laugh at them, with them, laugh at myself. We have so much fun and I am just so proud and honored to say that I coach this special group of kids.”

He went on in his message to the Generals ahead of the finale ” Just enjoy this. Enjoy the meals, the jokes, the boys. Have fun. You will remember this group forever so let’s just regroup and leave it on the ice tomorrow so we don’t have any regrets.”

Finally, he noted something that has become emblematic of this group, and what he looks for from them, and every team he coaches on tomorrow night. He said, “we just came out with more focus on playing as a team rather than as individuals. And that is always our key to success. No one player is better than the team. And I expect the same tomorrow.”

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

Northeast Generals lose 5-1 to Danbury: What comes next?

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

In a season marred by a pandemic, and a months long road trip resulting from said pandemic, Northeast Generals Head Coach Bryan Erikson is honest about the last two games of the season, after his group lost a 5-1 result to close out their all to brief home season. He said ” Our boys won’t quit. They will play hard. Not always as hard or as smart as I want but they are great kids and I am very proud to be able to tell people that I get to Coach them.” Eriskon is ready to finish the season on the road against Maryland strong, and his group is already preparing for a season that will look a lot different for his team.

As he said in crediting Media Relations Director Alice Boushell and Marketing Director Matt Atherton ” Matt and Alice are truly the backbone of our organization. They do such an amazing job from meals, to hotels, to getting play by play guys etc. They are the best in the business and incredibly hard workers. We knew we weren’t going to play a lot of home games so we didn’t hire a full time broadcaster this year but that will be one task that they are excited to tackle. We just spent a ton of money to upgrade our broadcast for next year where we will have a 4 camera set-up with instant replay and graphic overlays that they are really excited about. I am too, game presentation matters, it gets fans watching but also scouts get a better view of our players.”

As for tonight, the shutout was averted as Jake Dunlap scored a power play goal in the third period to make it a 5-1 game. What did the Generals in was conceding, on two successive non even strength chances, a power play goal, and a shorthanded goal to the Hat Tricks in the first period before they could get going. In net, Jake Essensa did a lot to keep the Generals in the game, but the Jr. Hat Tricks did a lot of things right to get their five scores. For his debut game at the NAHL level, Essensa looked like he belongs, and also may get another look before the season ends. For the Maryland series to close the season out, it is not likely that any more players outside of the active roster will be seen. As Erikson said ” We toyed with the idea of playing Nick and Tyler Ramm who are 2 of our tenders from our U18 team but we also have to weigh being loyal to the guys that have been here all year. We rode with guys for a long time and I think we are going to do the same in Maryland.”

Josh Seeley made 49 saves for the Jr. Hat Tricks tonight .As Erikson said of his effort ” I thought Danbury’s goalie was outstanding. We had 4 wide open nets where we shot the puck and he came out of nowhere.” With that said, Erikson wanted to see more screens, and more taking away of the goaltender’s sight which did not happen enough to win a hockey game for the Generals tonight.

Beyond the season, the Top Prospects showcase awaits some Generals players. As Erikson said , he wants as many players on teams as possible. He added ” t all depends on how many we get in. Might only be 2. It’s going to be tough. Jonathan Young, Liam McCanney, Ricky Boysen and Tyler Cooper are all very good choices. They have all been great for our program and done what has been asked of them and more. I would love for all of them to get there but just not how it works. And if their is an NHL Top Prospects Team like there has been in the past I would love to see Paul Minnehan and Hugo get a shot in front on NHL scouts with other players in the same situation.”

Of Haas and helping Essensa tonight, Erikson added “Hugo is a great person. Always talks to Jake, gives him advice and asks questions. He was his biggest cheerleader today. It’s great to see. Just 2 young men that are great kids and great goalies who bounce things off of each other.”

Erikson coaches a team full of great humans, and this group has 120 more minutes on the ice in regulation to earn wins and visibility. For those looking for college commitments, this is their last chance to impress some folks with the group they have battled with for most of the season. For all of those leaving following the year, it is two more chances to close their book of junior hockey on a high note with a win. For those returning, two wins to end the season would mentally shorten the offseason for them, and add some positivity heading into camp next year. For all of them, this group that has fought together through a pandemic, it is a chance to show the league how far they have come, two more final tests to showcase what the Northeast Generals are to the world before the offseason begins, starting Thursday, May 13.

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1-0: More on Northeast’s overtime loss, and what’s next

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

Tonight, despite an improved effort from the Northeast Generals, they came up on the short end of a 1-0 overtime loss to the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. Haas had a shutout until overtime, and came up on the short end of a goaltending duel despite playing with the consistency and effort that has helped steady the Northeast Generals in net throughtout this tumultuous season marred by a global pandemic.

On the evening , the Generals played well, despite not finding the back of the net. For most of the game, Head Coach Bryan Erikson said” I liked our effort in the first 50 minutes. I thought we did a good job controlling the game, controlling the forecheck and getting pucks in deep. We didn’t do a great job of getting traffic but credit to their goalie who played very well and earned the shut out.”

On Hugo’s effort he added “Hugo was amazing as usual. Didn’t get tested a lot but made big saves when he needed to. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t bury our chances to get him a shut out but those are the breaks.”

Tonight the Generals had a different lineup which featured Aidan Flynn. The forward has not gotten as many looks as some of his colleagues but did not disapoint tonight. Erikson said ” Flynn is the best. Just shows up everyday to work very hard. Does all the extra stuff. Very simple player that makes simple, smart plays. Loved the effort and compete level. Great kid who is a good piece for us next year.”

On the lineup changes, Erikson added ” Lineup changes are only dictated by the fact that we have 6 games in 8 days now 3 in 4 days. Need to get everybody in and try to keep guys fresh. Don’t want unnecessary injuries. Will be the same tomorrow. Will have a few guys out and the guys that were out back in.”

Going into tomorro night, Generals fans, and Bruins fans will get a glimpse of the future. Jake Essensa will get the start in net. He will be making his NAHL debut in net, and has experience around the goaltending position. His father, Bob, played over a decade in the NHL as a goaltender, and now is the goaltending coach for the Boston Bruins.

Erikson gave a good scouting report on Jake saying ” Jake will have to adjust to the speed of the game. He had an outstanding year for Eric Progen with our U18 team (Progen leads the Under 18 team, and is part of Erikson’s coaching staff) and practiced with the NA team all year. He knows the guys, the guys know him and respect him as a goalie. He just needs to get that first save and get the jitters out. He works so hard and is a very good goalie.” Look for the Generals to come out fast tomorrow. They generated some good looks tonight but could not get anything into the net. They have one more home game in a season full of tumult, and one destined to leave a mark not only for the veterans playing in their final junior hockey games, but for the returners like Flynn and Essensa, looking to build on the legacy of determination and persistence that has become a hallmark of of the class of Generals playing their final three games before moving onto college 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

5-3: What happened in the Northeast Generals loss to New Jersey

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

Tonight, the New Jersey Titans reminded the Northeast Generals why they are heading to the NAHL playoffs, putting up a 5-3 win with two third period goals to provide the final margin. The Titans made Hugo Haas make 43 saves in net for the Generals just to keep them in the game.

As Head Coach Bryan Erikson said of the Generals’ play tonight

” We didn’t get pucks deep, we didn’t finish hits, we didn’t block shots. It is very frustrating to lose playing like that” Erikson understands that losing games is a part of things, but wanted to see more effort from his group that despite being out of the playoff race, still has a lot to play for in their remaining games.

With that said, the line of Jake Dunlap and Dylan Schuett have done well for Erikson recently. Tonight both Schuett, and Dunlap potted goals in the final result. As Erikson said of Dunlap’s goa that it happened, “In tight he made a great play to put the puck up over the goalies shoulder but it started on a great cycle by Dylan down to Danny Paul who found Dunlap who did what he has been doing well lately and that is finding the back of the net.”

On the night and the season, Erikson took the time to thank Associate Head Coach Eric Progen saying, ” Eric has done a tremendous job. He works so hard. Does a ton of one on one video with the guys. He does extra skills and listens to them. Eric Progen is a tremendous Coach and we are very lucky to have him. I am very fortunate to have him not only as a co-worker but as a friend. Great guy that does a great job.”

Erikson did take time to note how good Jacob Kaminski played on defense for his team tonight. He said ” Jacob Kaminski from our NA3 team had his first game at the NAHL level. I though JK (nickname) did a great job today. Took the body, made some nice passes, showed some good D zone awareness that he will hopefully build on the next few games into the offseason.”

The team faces Danbury on Monday, and has a challenge ahead. As Erikson says ” They are physical. They play hard, finish hits. We can’t play lazy against them or we will get blown out of the building. But it’s our last 2 home games together as a team so it would be nice for the boys to show up for each other and battle to the final buzzer.”

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