Cole: What to watch for at ACHA nationals


Photo: William Deaton/Iowa State Daily

Ohio defense’s Mike Kretz tries to guide to puck around the ISU defensive players during the game Jan. 12, 2013, at Ames/ISU Ice Arena. The Cyclones  couldn’t hold off the Bobcats, as they did in Friday’s overtime thriller, and ended with a final score of 8-5.

Clint Cole

The ACHA National Tournament is coming up this weekend in Bensenville, Ill., and the Central States Collegiate Hockey League is sending more teams to the tournament than any other league.

Five of the six CSCHL teams will be heading to Bensenville, with Indiana as the only one who didn’t qualify.

All five qualifying CSCHL teams are ranked in the top 15 with Iowa State being the lowest-ranked at No. 12 and Ohio being ranked the highest at No. 4.

Here are some things to watch for from CSCHL teams at the ACHA National Tournament this weekend.

No. 12 Iowa State — After only playing in three games and starting only two of those up until Feb. 2, ISU goalie Matt Cooper got his chance in Oklahoma City against Oklahoma. The Cyclones won that game 4-1 and he has helped the Cyclones win seven of their last eight games, including two shutouts in the CSCHL tournament against Robert Morris (Ill.) and Illinois.

ISU coach Al Murdoch hasn’t said officially whether or not Cooper will be the starting goalie at the National Tournament, but he did say he certainly has the edge. Expect Matt Cooper, who is 8-1 this season and has a .958 save percentage, to start for the Cyclones against Robert Morris on Saturday.

ISU forward Jon Feavel’s 2012-13 season is looking a lot like his 2011-12 season. He has 39 points this season compared to 40 last season and he is the Cyclones second leading scorer behind J.P. Kascsak, who has 41.

Feavel is fourth in the CSCHL in goals with seven in CSCHL play this season. Feavel was held without a point in all three games at the CSCHL tournament, but he had three points (two goals, one assist) last weekend against the ISU Division III hockey team. Feavel has only missed one game this season.

No. 9 Lindenwood (Mo.) — This has been a weak season for the Lions in comparison to recent years as they are 13-12-4. They are going into the tournament as the No. 9 seed and will play No. 8 Davenport (Mich.) in the second round on Saturday.

Grant Gorczyca led the Lions in scoring this season with 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists). He has two game-winning goals in his senior season and scored two goals in his last game against Ohio at the CSCHL tournament.

Gorczyca had five points (two goals, three assists) in last year’s national tournament. Last season, the Lions made it to the semifinals before losing to the eventual national champion Delaware.

No. 7 Illinois — University of Illinois forward and John Olen has had a strong freshman year so far. In 37 games this season, he has 47 points (25 goals, 22 assists). He has 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in his last nine games this season and he ranks fourth in the CSCHL in points with 16 in CSCHL play.

Olen has four points (three goals, one assist) in five games against the Cyclones this season. The last two times he has been held without points in a game, however, were against Iowa State on Jan. 18 in Champaign, Ill., and on Feb. 16 in Athens, Ohio.

No. 5 Robert Morris (Ill.) — The Eagles started the season ranked No. 11 but have climbed all the way to the No. 5 spot with a 28-7-1 record.

Christopher Cimoch and Gehrett Sargis are the two most talked about players for Robert Morris as the teams No. 1 and No. 2 scorers, but sophomore forward Rock Einersen leads the CSCHL in goals with 11 and in points with 17 in CSCHL play. In last weekend’s sweep of No. 1 Adrian (Mich.) he had one assist in each game.

In goal for the Eagles, Andy DiCristofaro has a .923 save percentage this season along with four shutouts. One of his shutouts was against Iowa State on Jan. 5. DiCristofaro was an All-Star a year ago.

No. 4 Ohio — The CSCHL tournament champions haven’t moved much in the rankings this season. They were ranked No. 3 in the preseason rankings and are going into the tournament as the No. 4 seed where they will play either No. 13 Liberty (Va.) or No. 20 John Carroll (Ohio) in the first second round.

Tyler Pilmore is the man to watch for Ohio at the ACHA National Tournament. Pilmore just broke the Bobcat’s scoring record previously held by his head coach Dan Morris and now has 224 career points.

Of Pilmore’s 55 points this season, only 12 of them are goals. He is fourth in the ACHA with 43 assists and only two behind the leader.

Clint Cole is a senior in journalism from Waterloo, Iowa.