CHA Tournament Previews
CHN Staff Report
The CHA will hold its final tournament at Dwyer Arena in Niagara Falls, N.Y., this weekend, a bittersweet moment for most of the schools involved.
Following the close of this season, three of the four teams will part ways and join other conferences in the league. However, Alabama-Huntsville will continue its Division I hockey as an independent program, after being denied entrance into the CCHA.
Although many may be mourning the demise of a conference, the players and coaches will be focusing winning the CHA championship title and an automatic bid to the NCAAs, something Bemidji State actually doesn't need.
No. 1 Bemidji State vs. No. 4 Niagara University
The Beavers are going into the tournament with an overall record of 23-8-3. Leading scorer and assistant captain, Matt Read, will lead the Beavers into the weekend with 19 goals and 21 assists.
From the start of the 2009-2010 season, the Beavers were expected to continue their upswing and make a return to the NCAAs. While the Beavers have already earned an at-large bid, they have exceeded even those expectations, and could play themselves into a No. 1 seed. They will go into the weekend looking to win the CHA championship for the second consecutive year.
After making it to the NCAA tournament in 2008, the Purple Eagles have since failed to put together a consistent season. In his ninth year at Niagara, coach Dave Burkholder and team will go into the tournament with a losing record of 11-19-4. However, in their last five games, the Purple Eagles have come out with four wins, which were all intra-conference match-ups. Out of their six meetings with the Beavers, Niagara has only come out with a single win.
No. 2 Robert Morris vs. No. 3 Alabama-Huntsville
Robert Morris ended its regular season at 10-18-5, following two losses against Niagara last weekend. Coach Derek Schooley is hoping to end the Colonials' lack of an appearance in the NCAAs, starting with a win against the Chargers.
After a devastating loss to Bemidji State in the 2009 CHA championship game, the Colonials will seek redemption and more importantly an automatic bid.
“We have to understand that in a one-game knockout situation you have to be focused and ready to play,” said Schooley.
Following a 2-2 tie with Bemidji State last Saturday, the Chargers were successful in avoiding a first-round matchup against the Beavers. UAH starting goaltender Cameron Talbot, who made 30 stops in that game, also received CHA Second Team postseason honors with a .920 save percentage and 2.74 GAA.
Alabama-Huntsville hasn’t made an NCAA appearance since 2007, when former coach Doug Ross was behind the bench. In just his third year of coaching for UAH, Danton Cole will look to this weekend for a better ending to a not-so-great season. The Chargers go into the tournament with a record of 10-17-3.