The College Hockey America Tournament opens Friday afternoon in Grand Rapids, Minn., at the IRA Civic Center. All six CHA teams – Bemidji State, Alabama-Huntsville, Niagara, Wayne State, Air Force and Robert Morris – will participate with BSU and UAH getting byes into the semifinals based on their 1-2 finish in the regular season.
In the first quarterfinal Friday at 4:35 p.m., Niagara, the third seed, plays last-place Robert Morris. The Purple Eagles (14-18-2, 9-9-2 CHA) won the tournament last year while the Colonials (8-20-4, 4-14-2 CHA) are a first-year program. During the regular season, NU went 1-2-1 versus Robert Morris with their lone win coming last Saturday at home.
Niagara Key Players: Forwards Barret Ehgoetz, Kris Wiebe and Ryan Gale, defensemen Andrew Lackner and Pat Oliveto and goalie Jeff Van Nynatten
Robert Morris Key Players: Goalie Christian Boucher, forwards Kurt Wright, Doug Conley, a former Purple Eagle, and Joe Federoff and defenseman Jeff Gilbert
Jan. 28 at RMU – NU 4, RMU 4
Jan. 29 at RMU – RMU 6, NU 0
March 4 at NU – RMU 3, NU 2
March 5 at NU – NU 3, RMU 1
The second quarterfinal pits fourth-seeded Wayne State (14-16-4, 7-9-4 CHA) against Air Force (13-18-3, 5-14-1 CHA) at 8:35 p.m. The Warriors won the CHA tournament in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and made it to the semifinals last year before falling to eventual champion Niagara. WSU and Air Force last met Feb. 26-27 in Plymouth with the Warriors getting a win and a tie. Air Force won the first game this year between the two teams back on Dec. 3, but finished 1-2-1 against the Detroiters.
Wayne State Key Players: Forwards Jason Bloomingburg, Adam Krug and Tylor Michel, defensemen Greg Poupard and Steve Kovalchik and goalie Matt Kelly
Air Force Key Players: Goalie Pete Foster, forwards Brandon Merkosky, Andrew Ramsey and Eric Ehn and defensemen Brian Gineo and Brooks Turnquist
Dec. 3 at AFA – AFA 2, WSU 1
Dec. 4 at AFA – WSU 3, AFA 2
Feb. 26 at WSU – WSU 5, AFA 1
Feb. 27 at WSU – AFA 3, WSU 3
The Niagara-Robert Morris winner plays Alabama-Huntsville (17-9-4, 14-5-1 CHA) at 4:35 p.m. on Saturday while Bemidji State (21-12-1, 16-4-0 CHA), without captain and leading scorer Andrew Murray, out with a fractured collarbone, plays the Wayne State-Air Force winner at 8:35 p.m.
The championship game will be played on Sunday at 8:05 p.m.
Alabama-Huntsville Key Players: Forwards Jared Ross, Bruce Mulherin and Craig Bushey, defensemen Jeremy Schreiber and Jeff Winchester and goalie Scott Munroe
Bemidji State Key Players: Forwards Brendan Cook, Luke Erickson, Rob Sirianni and Jean-Guy Gervais, defensemen John Haider and Peter Jonsson and goalies Layne Sedevie and Matt Climie
A total of 19 Michigan natives are on CHA rosters:
Eric Ehn, F, Dexter
Pete Foster, G, Canton
Josh Schaffer, F, South Lyon
Todd Bentley, LW, Livonia
Keith Rowe, LW, Livonia
Trevor Mallon, D, Grosse Pointe Woods
Marc Norrington, F, Flint
Jason Bloomingburg, F, Canton
Kevin Bonikowski, G, Macomb
A.J. Bozoian, D, Brownstown
Mark Cannon, F, River Rouge
Adam Drescher, D, Belleville
Steve Kovalchik, D, Riverview
Adam Krug, F, Livonia
John May, F, Livonia
Mark Nebus, F, South Lyon
Stavros Paskaris, F, Dearborn
Greg Poupard, D, Jackson
Ryan Wright, F, Brownstown