Ben Holden: Always Making College Hockey Better

Photo provided by Dave Starman

If you asked any fan of Men’s College Hockey at the Division One Level to name their favorite national announcer of this sport, you would get some names of people all doing great things. One common name in that group would most likely include Ben Holden. The proud Michigander has been in this game for well over a decade, and has lent his voice to some of its premiere moments in primetime games. One of his most memorable goal calls came on the Austin Poganski penalty shot overtime goal against Minnesota Duluth on February 19, 2016. The tone of the call, as Holden often does in the many sports he calls throughout the year, matched the moment. The call, and the goal were so good together, the next fall at NCHC Media Day, Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey Head Coach Brad Berry told Holden that the clip was the first one on the recruiting video. Holden said of that moment that it was ” the best goal call of my college hockey career.”

A lot of things went into that moment, as do go into every broadcast for Holden. His former partner on CBS Sports, Dave Starman was effusive with his praise. For what makes Holden a consumate pro, Starman said that “his preparation, and communication with his team is what does it.” Throughout all of his calls, Holden knows how to match his tone and energy to the game being played while never dropping the energy level. Even in lopsided games, he knows how to bring fans along and get them as invested in the moment as he is. For this year, Holden will be doing games on the Big 10 Network, and be pursuing other opportunities in this sport as they arise. Over the summer he is broadcasting select games for Major League Rugby.

Regardless of the sport, Starman sees the value in Holden and was clear of his potential, saying that in comparing Holden to NHL announcers, “he would be in the top 10 in radio or on TV HANDS DOWN no questions asked.” He further went on to compare Holden’s style to another legend in the sport, calling him ” Gary Thorne lite.”

Wherever he goes to call the game, Holden, according to Starman, is always in search of two things, a Tim Hortons, and many storylines to broach throughout his time on air. He knows how to involve his entire team, and set up his color commentator well. As Starman explained, “because of his personality I never felt he would leave me without something to say.” Finally, he added another consistent trait of Holden’s saying “the one thing that he would always bring to the table is how do we make the show better.”

Holden is thankful for all that the sport has given him, saying ” the game has given me so much.” Since 2004 he has been calling games in this sport, and has been a part of some of its biggest moments. The Poganski overtime penalty shot marker, the advent of video review, the rise of NHL talent coming through this great sport, the last games of the previous iteration of the CCHA, the first seven years of the NCHC culminating with broadcasting the Omaha Pod, and so many more moments have Holden’s clear, unique, and smooth voice guiding us along. Holden’s unique story, and inspiration of his grandfather, his Navy background, and consistent persistence in this sport are all inspiring markers for those looking to get into this game in the professional sense, and not being sure of the path.

Ben Holden who is a, consummate professional is proof that this game welcomes and rewards those who put in the hard work, and a model not just for broadcasters at this level, but for those looking to get involved covering a sport they love professionally, and an inspiration to keep grinding and pushing ahead.

As Holden said of the upcoming season ” let’s keep making memories.” This game and broadcasting in general, and is better because Ben Holden and his unique and consistent dedication to his craft is a part of it. In terms of what he wants to see in college hockey, it centers around one principle, ” let’s showcase these guys more,” Holden would support uniformity in ice surfaces, and for those that want to wear them, half shields like those in the NHL wear.

To sum up what many in this game think of Ben, his preparation, personality, and persistence, we close with Starman, who simply said of Holden, “he is just money.”

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.

Atlantic Hockey: What could come next

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

The Atlantic Hockey Association is in an interesting situation. Because of the terribly short sighted descision of Robert Morris’s two leaders, their president and head of the board, one of the legacy members of the conference, as of today, will not play ice hockey at the division one level. As such, the conference’s remaining teams have a lot to discuss at their ongoing director’s meetings taking place over the month .

From this past March, Comissioner Bob Degregorio said of expanding from 11 teams, “We’ll see what progress will be made. The directors have to look at a lot of things. We know that we want to get back to 12 teams, but what’s the right number? Is it 12? Is it 13? Or is it 14? How big do we want to be? Do we want to stay at 12? They have a lot to talk about in regards to expansion. Nothing has been pre-determined. ”

Right now, if all three pitches of Alabama Huntsville, Long Island, and the other team the Comissioner discussed came to pass, the conference would then have 13 teams, in the realm of possibility.

Since the University of Conneticut Huskies left to Hockey East, there are more than a few quotes from the comissioner on getting the conference back to 12 teams at least. At one point, the Chargers pitched Atlantic Hockey before aceptnce into the WCHA in their last round of potential expansion.

With all of the shifting dynamics of this conference, let’s go through options facing the 10 teams left.

Stay at 10

Every publicly available comment from the comissioner shows that the members of Atlantic Hockey value being at least a 12 team league. In addition, because of how late Dr. Chris Howard decided to go ahead with his descision to elminate one of the most sucessful teams in the history of the confernence, the remaining ten members could find themselves in a bind. In a league where money is always part of the discussion, to give some teams extra conference games without travel compensation would not seem fair. For example, if Air Force was traveling to Robert Morris for two games, where do you then send them? Take another school like AIC, should they have to travel to another school in Pennsylvania, Mercyhurst, for a weekend and have two less home games (if the Colonials were coming to Springfield). Cash flow is a vital part of keepng all of these programs healthy, and staying at 10 members, with a schedule bound to harm the bottom line of every school losing a home series against the Colonials, does not seem ideal in the short run.

In addition, you cannot have teams add non conference games uniformly, as many members already have their non conference schedules decided, and many members of the other five conferences don’t have games available to be played. So, you are left with a choice of stasis which does not help anyone in the conference. Had the Colonials made their fateful announcement a few months ago, perhaps teams outside of Atlantic Hockey could have more easily filled the void for this year on the non conference side, and the league could have seen how ten looked for a year. Now, it is not clear if that result produces the best outcome.

Option Two: Replace, and add

Alabama Huntsville can play this year, based on info from sources in or around the hockey program, if granted admission into a conference, the puck is on the stick of Atlantic Hockey Athletic Directors in that regard. The Chargers could be handed the schedule to be given to the Colonials, and play it. The league could even make the Chargers travel for more games in the first year, or perhaps propose a higher subsidy than what Huntsville is offering (25000 dollars per series to all visiting AHA teams in the regular season, and in the postseason as well). Any counter offer could be for one year to help offset the financial loss of the Colonials to the other 10 members in the conference. In subsequent years, the initial parameters of the pitch could hold form, or the directors could propose something else.

As for adding, in two years, if the league wanted to get to 12 teams (we say two years because every indication given, and the reason the Chargers suspended their efforts for the 2021-22 campaign was due to AHA not looking to expand from 11 at all). The Sharks are a program on the rise, with strong financial backing, a demonstrated season of tough competition as an independent, and lead by Brett Riley. He knows how to compete, build programs, and has a strong pipeline of players coming to Long Island. As the Sharks have most of their games figured out for this season, canceling a bunch of games for conference admission this year does not seem prudent. In future years, they could join the conference, and expand the reach of the conference with a like minded institution looking to grow its presence.

Option Three: Replace and add two more

If three teams are on the expansion docket for Atlantic Hockey this summer, well the league could play an unbalanced schedule at 13 in 2-3 years with a school like Navy as the third team. That grows the game of college hockey, and if done right could grow the financial budget of each participating school. Having Navy be the southernmost school would give Mercyhurst, Huntsville, and everyone else in the conference another good place to play, an instant service academy rivalry in another field, and national eyes on the sport.

Regardless of the choice, it is clear that the Athletic Directors in this great league have a lot to consider. Consider one final quote from the Commissioner (while keeping in mind that he is not the decision maker on allowing any of these teams in to the league) on Huntsville’s last pitch to the league before they got into the WCHA (work credit to Chris Lerch of USCHO) (he thought that the WCHA was a good fit for them at the time) ” It’s important to college hockey that this program continue.” Well, now we get to see that quote put to its test this month, and see what expansion chances bring the other schools in need of a conference home, from programs formed, and yet to be formed.

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

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

Playing for each other: The Generals earn 4-3 win

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

Tonight, the Northeast Generals played a game that looked similar to some of their recent ones. They had a third period lead and conceded an equalizing goal to their opponent, the New Jersey Titans.

What happened next was different. Future University of Massachusetts Minuteman Jake Dunlap made an inside move to get space and put home the game winner. The Generals then had to kill 120 seconds of power play time within the final 121 seconds of regulation to secure the win. Thanks to some shot blocks and the culmination of a superb evening in net from AIC commit, Hugo Haas, the Generals held and earned the win. They have only a few games remaining, and a team looking to send out their 2000 born players on a win streak, add to their resumes for college scholarship, and establish the roots to the culture next year’s group will begin to take hold in as well.

As Generals Head Coach Bryan Erikson said of the night:

“It’s emotional. We are trying to win out. A little sloppy play by both teams but I thought our guys did a really good job staying in each moment. We talked about it all year and it was nice to see it in action. Hopefully it is something we can build on the rest of this year into next year. Just focusing on what we can control. The next shift, the next play.”

That mentality was a big part of Dunlap’s goal. As Erikson said of it:

“He used his legs to get to the middle of the ice and made a really nice play and scored a great goal. Great to see him use his speed to generate offense.”

On Haas’s play:

” I am running out of compliments for the kid. He is so good. Just so calm and does a great job every night. What else can you say about a kid that is the best goalie night in and night out?”

While the Generals had Dunlap get the game winner, the third goal was put home by Jonathan Young, a player in search of a home next year. He wired home a power play tally on a one-time shot from the right faceoff circle. Erikson said of his goal ” Young is a big time player that does big time things. Just a perfect example of what a D1 school will get when they take him. We have a few schools close and hopefully a game like this will push it over the top.”

Young has had interest from multiple schools in Atlantic Hockey.

As for tomorrow’s series finale against the Titans, Erikson is up front about needed things to build on, saying ” Improve tomorrow on our transition and just simplifying the game. We made the game way too complicated.”

Another chance for this group to burnish their legacy, and help their veterans like Young find college homes comes tomorrow night at 7:30 PM eastern.

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

Dominick Procopio: One must imagine him happy

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Dominick Procopio has one of the most refined views on life and hockey that we have seen. The defenseman who just transferred to Alabama Huntsville is coming to study English, and pursue a Masters Degree at Huntsville in Literature. The reasoning behind that goes to his love for existentialist philosopher Albert Camus. Camus said in the myth of the Greek Legend Sisyphus, forever cursed to push a boulder up a hill for it to roll back down and start over the the next day ” one must imagine Sisyphus happy.” Kamus comes to this conclusion, arguably because to perform a task, repetitively, he concludes that Sisyphus must enjoy what he is doing. That quote is Dominick’s favorite, and one we kept jumping back to discussing as we talked about his choice to come to Huntsville. He does so with nothing but thanks and gratitude to everyone in Lowell, and the staff there was helpful in coordinating whatever he needed in his journey to Huntsville.

He comes to Alabama Huntsville from Umass-Lowell. His relationship with the Huntsville staff centers around his time being coached by current Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis. He coached him when Procopio pushed his Shreveport team to a Robertson Cup. That moment so far has been the highlight of his hockey career. Since coming to Lowell, in his three seasons there, the stay at home defender has played more than 10 games in a season once. His box score numbers do not account for the kind of player he is. As he said,” I’m not flashy but I am effective.” He is bringing a game that should fit well with the current group of defenders. Karlis taught him to focus on being himself, noting that there are a lot of ways to be effective on the back end. As Dominick said that he has learned from Karlis ” you don’t have to be Erik Karlsson to be effective.”

Dominick wants to model his game after Mark Giordano. That is, he wants to be the responsible player who knows how to add offense in bursts when able. As he put it of what fans of the Chargers should expect from him both on and off the ice,” I am going to be unapologetically myself.” On and off the ice, Dominick wants to be involved with teaching. He values all of his professors, and teachers, past, present and future. Getting a Master’s Degree in Literature from Alabama Huntsville would allow him to have options. When we asked about what he wanted to do when he was done playing hockey, he mentioned every option from coaching to being a tenure-track professor. In his time in hockey he has helped shape people’s minds and served as a servant-leader for the teams he has been a part of, Procopio looks to bring same mindset towards leading a college classroom one day.

He picked Huntsville because it looked like the program that provides the best fit for him to play. He did tell Karlis when he comitted, ” you have to let me fail.” By that he means letting him get consistent looks and chances to develop chemistry with a defense partner and play. Procopio is thankful for his time at Lowell, and actually received sound reviews of Lance West’s coaching style, and West himself from former Charger Josh Latta when making the tough decision to transfer. For the positives he is bringing to Huntsville from Lowell, he noted the superb culture of the team that he was a part of, that same culture allowed the River Hawks to go on a postseason run and finish one game short of the NCAA Tournament. As he said of Lowell’s culture, “if your car breaks down you can call anybody… and you can play two games and be respected like you have 40 goals.”

As he continues to push the boulder up the mountain, and works to improve his game and his grasp of existentialism on a daily basis. One thing is clear, in making the choice to come to Huntsville, Dominick has found a place where he can continue his academic career, while getting more chances to help his team push the boulder up the hill each day and improve, not just in practice, but in games. A lot of the growth in Alabama Huntsville this past season came from a new start during each week, from having the ability to delete the past and work harder to strive to a better future. Dominick plays his game around that same ideal, and will be a leader for Zirnis once again, and a leader for Alabama Huntsville, on the ice, in the practice room, in the classroom, in the community, and in so many other places. He is himself, and one does not have to look very far to imagine Dominick to be happy with his choice to transfer to Huntsville.

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

Niagara University Men’s Hockey Head Coach Jason Lammers on his team’s Uncommon season, future, and more

Photo Credit: Niagara University Athletics

To operate a Division One program, you have to have some uncommon traits. One of those traits is realizing what your goal is, your primary goal in leading it. For Niagara Purple Eagles Head Coach Jason Lammers, the idea of being uncommon drives his program, and is how he operates. Lammers views leading a group in this way ” I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to teach the next generation about what it means to be a man.. we get a chance to influence more people in a year than most people do in a life time.. I’ve been blessed that I’ve never had a real job. To him, uncommon is the concept of being above average, and doing things that others are not. It is this mentality, combined with the small school atmosphere he enjoys being a part of building the success of his Purple Eagles. He leads a team that prides itself on effort, accountability, and its approachability. As Lammers said of the perception of the game on his campus, some people say to him that “I’d much rather come watch a college hockey game vs. a Sabres game because you guys play hard all the time. ”

That same effort helped a team beset by multiple Covid-19 pauses come together in the postseason to defeat Mercyhurst on the road in the opening round, then proceed to knock off Western Pod Champion of Atlantic Hockey, Robert Morris, in three games. Two of those games went to overtime. All of them were one goal affairs. Lammers is incredibly proud of how his group finished the year. He remembers of his group “just the unity and the love our team felt” where two driving forces in helping his group get to the final four of Atlantic Hockey where they forced AIC to earn a tough-fought comeback win. On the ice, he praised his netminder saying ” to have Chad Veltri back and ready to rock and roll.. I felt he was a huge difference in that series.”

At the end of the day, Lammers is honest about the goal of his program “Our mission is to grow men.. it certainly makes it easier if they’re good humans,”

To build his program, Lammers looks for those uncommon traits in his recruits. He values bringing in players from all over the world with the willingness to help others, be key players in the classroom, and able to be a part of the culture he has built. His team is one of the most academically astute in the league, and one that excels in helping others through their community service work.

The mantra for Lammers’ program on the ice is simple. He said that they want to be “regionally dominant and nationally prominent.” That comes from playing well in their conference, where in the past two seasons that we have had Conference Tournament Championships given out, his team has been in the final four. It also comes from playing the top teams around the country. That is part of the reason why his Purple Eagles will be flying to take on the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota in Grand Forks to open up their 2021-2022 campaign. Lammers credits the staff of the Fighting Hawks for working with him to schedule this series. Dialogue around it started shortly after Lammers was hired in the spring of 2017, that was initiated by North Dakota after Lammers came on as Head Coach.

This series is four years in the making, and one that will give another Atlantic Hockey team a chance to showcase themselves to the Men’s College Hockey landscape this fall. The Purple Eagles will get a financial guarantee for the series, and Lammers also noted that his administration is broadly more supportive of his group playing in more non conference games where possible in future seasons. Lammers, speaking only for himself is supportive of expanding Atlantic Hockey, and understands that the league needs to play better against other conferences. With that said, of the conference itself he added “I believe our conference gets the short end of the stick… I just think this league is really good.. I think there’s a partnership among the schools and a camaraderie among the coaches.”

Lammers also wants the game he coaches in to grow, noting the large amount of Division One talent out there. He said, broadly speaking of expansion that, ” I think there should be 100 teams.”

Lammers is incredibly proud of his group’s effort to finish given the fact that they only really had a few weeks of normal operations this season as the Purple Eagles had multiple Covid-19 induced pauses. As he said “The way that we finished with only having couple of weeks to practice and prepare … is pretty awesome.” While he is waiting to see the final composition of his roster, he is already working towards building to the fall.

He also took time to talk a little bit about the Battle of the Bridge between his school and Canisius, or as he said of the rivalry, “There’s a lot of people in town who don’t care about your record.. just that you beat the team south of the bridge.” While Lammers knows this rivalry is not Ohio State-Michigan, he sees its growth between the two area schools.

Going forward, Lammers accepts the new reality of the one time allowance of players to play right away under the new transfer rule leading to the ubiquity of it. As he said “we think its going to really help solidify our roster.” In addition, he expects the uncommon culture he is building to help him retain players as well. As he said “being uncommon is going to help us retain our student athletes.. we out love other programs.” Further understanding the positive impact of the portal, he said “its the world we are living in, student athletes have a lot more rights than they used to… its not going away, and we need to find out how we can use it to our benefit.”

The same positive outlook and uncommon desire to build a unique culture at Niagara is what will drive the Purple Eagles to the top of Atlantic Hockey. Lammers’ group has a big test to open up the 2021-2022 campaign against UND. The uncommon nature of everything Lammers teaches, and his staff does from recruiting to mentorship to preparation, and so much more will ensure his group is ready to produce an uncommon result against the Fighting Hawks.

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NA3HL Northeast Generals rebuild the defense in 2021 NA3HL Draft: Read more about their picks and what’s next

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

This past week, the Northeast Generals turned the page from a very sucessful chapter in their history. The NA3HL team won their divisional playoff bracket to earn a spot in the final four of the league in the Fraser Cup. While the final result does not dim their accomplishment, it serves as a starting point to composing the 2021-2022 group looking to make it back to the Fraser Cup and to win it this time.

General Manager Cory Hunt took some time to talk about his role, the reason behind the two picks he had, and more. He first thanked Bryan Erikson and the Generals for working with him to help him rise up the ranks to be the General Manager of the NA3HL Generals. As he said of Bryan and his belief in him “Bryan has been a great mentor. Coming over from another NAHL & NA3HL team when the Generals announced their NAHL expansion team. Starting 5+ years ago with the NAHL team and eventually moving into the GM role with the NA3 team. I am  one of the biggest champions of the NA3 and what it stands for. He has seen that first hand with the NAHL team with me pushing Sato, Boudon, Gierman, etc., over the years. He has given me the opportunity to grow into this GM role and has put a lot of trust in me. I’m forever grateful of the opportunity. There is something really special here and I’m excited to see how it grows in the coming years.”

As for their two picks this year, defense was the theme. While the NA3HL group is set to lose veterans across its roster to other junior teams or to college, defense was the areas Hunt focused on with their two picks .Gunnar Arason and Lucas Bellig were the two selections. Arason is an Icelandic defender who played in Swedish junior hockey this year. As Hunt said, ” Arason is a player we seen last year playing for the A21 Academy. If not for the pandemic he could’ve been here this season. He is a big body and does everything well. We expect him to come in and make a big impact.” Hunt expects Gunnar to at least be a strong Division three player in two seasons, as he will be playing his last year of junior hockey in the 21-22 campaign.

As for Lucas Bellig, Hunt said ” Bellig I first noticed early in the season playing for North Iowa and continued to monitor when he went back to 18U. He is a smaller player, but so skilled and shifty. Skates well and makes very good decisions with the puck. I think he has a high ceiling and could be a candidate to get games with our NAHL club. Current General Gijs De Schepper played with him and had nothing but great things to say about him as well.”

The NA3HL group this season had a consistent defense corps that drove production and pushed play forward. These picks show the priority of that philosophy once again. As for the roster yet to be built, Hunt was honest and up front. ” For the NA3 team we will bring in 25 or so players. Our philosophy is to bring in the exact amount of players we need. We don’t have any interest bringing in 10-20 extra players only to cut them or trade them. That’s not how we operate.”

With that said, there are still openings in all three groups to join the NA3HL team in an organization dedicated to providing an environment for upward growth on and off the ice. As Hunt said ”

For the summer we will continue to look to finalize our roster with some high end players. We still have a few spots at all 3 positions we would like to shore up. We are looking for players that are committed to getting better and striving to play for our NA team and/or college hockey. Our goal is to win another division title and to finally raise the Fraser Cup. We have some summer opportunities for players to get a look. If players are interested they can contact me directly at cory@northeastgenerals.com

While the summer is just starting, Hunt and his staff are always scouting looking to find the next Generals. The team came together as one and stayed consistent in a turbulent season. The next step for this group is winning a championship, and the draft, combined with the recruiting of the summer will all be in that service.

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

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