Hockey withdrawal

The Mercyhurst Ice Center will see no more action from our beloved DI hockey teams this season. I, like many of you, I’m sure, am experiencing some withdrawal with the prospect of not seeing the teams I’ve watched for the past four years. However, I have the solution for your hockey needs, and, while it might not compensate completely for your lack of Hurst hockey, it’s at least something.

Before I get to the solution, let’s recap and update.

The men’s hockey team just lost a heartbreaker series to Canisius that included the longest game I’ve seen at Mercyhurst, a double-OT beauty that only had a Mercyhurst goal missing from making it perfection. Friday night’s game will no doubt be known as the Murphy Law’s Game of 2010. From the first goal to the final buzzer, nothing went Mercyhurst’s way. Speaking of the first goal, it was reminiscent of the Vesa Toskala blunder from a year ago (as my cohort John Baranowski pointed out at the time). A Canisius player cleared the puck from the red line and it took the oddest of bounces past Zapolski. The Lakers could get nothing whatsoever going after that and the game was over.

The women’s team had better luck in their weekend game by beating Boston University, 4-1, setting up a Frozen Four pitting them against Cornell for a shot at the National Championship. The Hurst played Cornell twice earlier this season in October, and the Lakers swept the series with matching 4-1 scores. Unsurprisingly, Bailey Bram, Vicki Bendus and Jesse Scanzano played big parts in the wins.

Surprisingly, the second game featured some nasty penalties late in the game: Cassea Schols took an unsportsmanlike conduct, which Cornell matched by taking two charging penalties. Charging in women’s hockey, weird indeed.

The other teams the Hurst could possibly play are Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth. Before last year, the Lakers were 0-5-1 all-time against Minnesota. However, that changed in the Frozen Four last year, when Mercyhurst finally threw the Minnesota monkey off its back, defeating the Gophers 5-4 en route to its first National Championship game.

Duluth is a different story, as the Lakers have seen much more of the Bulldogs than the Gophers, including twice this regular season.

The Lakers split the home weekend series, with one of only two regular season losses coming to Duluth. Should Mercyhurst defeat Cornell to make its second National Championship game, they will have a dogfight in front of them, regardless of the opponent.

Unfortunately, those games will be played in Minneapolis, so first-person hockey viewing is limited to the Erie Otters now. That’s not a bad thing though because the Otters host their first playoff game of the season this Sunday, March 21, at 4:30. The eighth-seed Otters will play the first-seed Windsor Spitfires in the first round of the OHL playoffs. The Spitfires have three first-round NHL draft picks to go along with Taylor Hall, who could easily be the first pick in this year’s draft. Oddly enough, the Otters played the London Knights last year, the team on which 2009 No.1 pick John Tavares played.

As a final thought, I’d like to throw my hat into the recent headshot debate. I think headshots are an engrained part of hockey culture, and it will be very hard to eliminate them. In their free time or during road trips, many players in the NHL compete with teammates on video games such as SOCOM, Call of Duty, or Halo. In all of these games, headshots are not only effective, but also desired and rewarded more often than not. With these influences in hockey culture, I can’t see how the headshot will ever be taken out of the game.