Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Big 4 #ChillinForCharity

Niagara takes on the Cold Water Challenge. (courtesy Niagara sports information.)


by Amy Moritz

It started on Facebook as the cold water challenge -- friends challenging other friends to dunk themselves in icy cold water tied into contributions to various charities.

The Women's Basketball Coaches Association took the idea and created a bunch of summer fun on social media.

Coaches and players from around the country are challenging each other in the #ChillinForCharity to raise money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

Here's how it works: Coaches are challenged and they either have to be doused in cold water or donate $250 to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. If they take the challenge, the person who challenged them has to donate $50. After taking the challenge coaches then challenge someone else. Many of the videos have been posted on the WBCA website along with photos all over Twitter.

"The women's basketball community really comes together behind causes," Niagara coach Kendra Faustin said. "We very competitive on the court, but step away from the court and we're really very good at remembering we're a big community. And this was a lot of fun."

All the Big 4 women's basketball programs took part.


St. Bonaventure taking on the Cold Water Challenge. (@CoachAndiD)

Contingency plans in place for Canisius as HarborCenter works toward late October opening




609615 HarborCenter GEE8
HarborCenter President John Koelmel takes in the main hockey rink, which is taking shape, on June 25. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)


By Amy Moritz

Today was a big day for HarborCenter. Five months after construction began the final beam of structural steel was swung into place to top off the parking ramp and rinks. Officials said HarborCenter would be ready to go at the end of October.

There's only one problem. College hockey season begins in early October, including home games for the Canisius College Golden Griffins. The program is scheduled to move into HarborCenter this season.

Ah, but no worries. Canisius athletic director Bill Maher said the school and the Buffalo Sabres had already planned for the possiblity of construction delays. Canisius has worked in partnernship with the Sabres for a smooth transition and early season games will be played in First Niagara Center should the rinks at HarborCenter not be ready when the Griffs drop the puck on the 2014-15 season.

Canisius will be releasing its season schedule as early as next week.

The last time regular season college hockey was played at First Niagara Center was Oct. 24-25, 2003, when Canisius, Niagara, New Hampshire and UMass-Lowell played in the Punch Imlach College Hockey Showcase.

Berard takes over Holy Cross men's hockey program

by Amy Moritz

A new face will be behind the bench in Atlantic Hockey as David Berard was named the new head coach at Holy Cross today. He takes over the program after Paul Pearl resigned after 19 seasons to take the associate head coaching job at Harvard.

David Berard was named Holy Cross head coach. (

Berard was a longtime assistant at Providence, his alma mater, and served as the interim head coach at the Connecticut for the majority of the 2012-2013 season. During that season the Huskies finished the year 10-3-2, sweeping Robert Morris in the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal series before losing in the conference semifinals.

A 1992 graduate of Providence, he was a goaltender for the Friars with one of the most successful classes in that program's history. In his four-year career, the Friars won 87 games and twice qualified for the NCAA tournament.

The Crusaders went 11-13-3 in conference play this past season, 14-22-3 overall. The team won two Atlantic Hockey titles and advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2004 and 2006.

A look inside RIT's new hockey arena

The Polisseni Center construction is nearly completed. (Democrat & Chronicle)


by Amy Moritz

While the Canisius hockey team is anxious to move into its new digs at HarborCenter this fall, RIT is getting ready to move into its brand spanking new hockey home as well.

The Polisseni Center on the school's Rochester campus is set to open in September to host both the Tigers' men's and women's hockey programs.

Democrat & Chronicle reporter Jim Mandelaro has an update on the construction, complete with a gallery of photos and video, of the new arena.

Polisseni Center will seat about 4,000, including 290 club seats and six luxery suites. Fans will have more choices from two concession stands along with 13 restrooms, 275 parking spaces outside the arena and a Barnes and Noble for all your RIT hockey merchandising needs.

The rink itself is also bigger -- 200 feet by 85 feet. That's considered regulation size but 15 feet longer than the 46-year old Ritter Arena.

The Atlantic Hockey schedule has not been released yet, so no word when Niagara and Canisius will have the opportunity to play in the new building.

Rule changes and recruiting agreements in college hockey

by Amy Moritz

When Bentley scored the game-winning overtime goal against Canisius to take the first game of the Atlantic Hockey  playoff series, the Falcons were very much offsides. The officials missed the call, the play continued and the goal was scored.

The Golden Griffins came back to win the next two games eventually advancing to the Atlantic Hockey Championship game. But that missed offsides call, and a few others in key games over the last few years, is one of the reasons the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee recommended changes to video replay which allowed for a play to be reviewed if an offsides or too many men penalty was missed and a goal was scored.

"It's an evolution to the rule and we've been a piece of that," Canisius coach Dave Smith.

The rest of the rule recommendations are sublte (see this post on SBNation for a good summary of the changes) and among them involve faceoff locations which favor the attacking team, both when the puck goes out of play and in calling a hand pass or high stick.

"The bottom line is that any time you can help try to create offense, it's a good thing," Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. "We want to increase scoring."

Note that this year all Atlantic Hockey teams will be required to have video replay capabilities as per NCAA rules, although the availability of camera angles may differ from rink to rink.

The subtly of college hockey was in the news around the web this summer after coaches at their annual convention took up the topic of verbal commitments. The coaches have had an informal "gentleman's agreement" in which once a player makes a verbal commitment to a school, other coaches will stop recruiting him.

Some coaches, particularly at the bigger schools, would like that to change.

Here's what happens: A verbal commitment is made before a player can sign an NCAA National Letter of Intent. The verbal is non-binding and happens in every single NCAA sport.

College hockey, however, isn't just recruiting against other schools. It's recruiting against major junior hockey (see: Ontario Hockey League) which means the process extends to athletes at a younger age because once a player signs with a major junior team, he loses his amateur status in the eyes of the NCAA.

Two things tend to happen. The bigger schools stockpile verbal recruits, meaning they make non-binding verbal agreements with more players than they have available scholarships/roster spots. Since many hockey players will enroll at an older age (it's not uncommon to have a 21-year-old freshman on your college hockey roster), schools can push verbal commitments back, keeping a player tied to a school for a number of years before he even signs his letter of intent.

The second thing is that smaller or mid-major programs will hit the youth rinks to find talented players at a young age, recruit them hard and get them to verbally commit before the bigger schools find out about them. The big schools would love a chance to recruit those kids, only after the smaller schools have done the leg work to find them.

Both local coaches support halting the recruiting process once a player has made a verbal commitment.

"I support the verbal commitments and honoring those," Smith said. "I think it's important to have to maintain the integrity of college hockey. We're all in this together. If that young man made a commitment, I don't think he should deal with pressure to go some place else. It's all about what helps college hockey and all boats rise when the best kids decide to play college hockey."

"I'm a proponent of the verbal commitments," Burkholder said. "You're out there working hard and if you get a kid who you feel is right for your program and is a good fit and makes a verbal commitment, no one else should be able to recruit him. ... It's something that as a body we should be monitoring and then if it becomes an issue with some programs, hold them accountable."


Mason Making Leap to Auburn

By Bob DiCesare

Antoine Mason's announcement that he'll play his final season at Auburn is being portrayed nationally as a quality catch for new Tigers coach Bruce Pearl. Whether that proves true depends on if Mason, a 6-foot-3 guard with one season of eligibility remaining, makes a seamless transition from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, ranked No. 16 in the RPIs last season, to the SEC, ranked No. 7.

Mason averaged 25.6 points for Niagara last season, and that makes him the top returning scorer in the country. He pretty much had free reign as the Purple Eagles went young after coach Joe Miahlich left for Hofstra and three significant players transferred out. New coach Chris Casey gave him mega-minutes and rode the horse -- for better or worse. There weren't many other options at the offensive end.

Will Auburn grant Mason the same kind of freedom? And will his physical approach to offense remain effective against taller, stronger guards in the SEC?

Mason has always craved a challenge, whether it was coming back from the injury that ended his true freshman season or trying to carry his young teammates in the post-Mihalich upheaval. But despite his warrior-like attitude and his undeniable grittiness it's interesting that coaches left him off the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conferene first team after last season, going with five players instead of six even though Mason had been part of a six-man first team the season before.

Was that a commentary on his style? Does the demotion mean the coaches perceived his approach at exceedingly me-first? Maybe so. But there's no denying his offensive gifts.

That aside, Mason's departure was the best thing for Niagara moving forward. Casey can now build a program without deferring to one player. He can develop balance within the offense, something that wasn't going to happen so long as Mason was in uniform. This is a transfer situation that should prove best for all involved.

Oakland selects Niagara pitcher

The Oakland Athletics selected Niagara University pitcher Jordan Schwartz in the fourth round of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Friday.

Schwartz is a 6-foot-2 righty from Hornell, who was taken with the 132nd pick of the draft. He is the second highest drafted Purple Eagle in program history. Doug Farrell was picked in the second and third rounds of the 1971 and 72 drafts by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Schwartz is the sixth Niagara player drafted by an MLB squad since 2005. The others include  James Avery, Dan Griffin and Reed Eastley (2005), Jeff Vincent (2006), and Wynton Bernard (2012).

Schwartz was sort of like Niagara's version of Babe Ruth, playing the outfield when he wasn't pitching. On the mound, he led the Purple Eagles' staff with a 3.12 earned-run average in 14 starts and tossed five complete games. He led the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in strikeouts (109), while holding opponents to .217 batting average. He also made 38 starts in the outfield, batting .258 with three doubles, 20 RBIs and 132 runs scored.

"I am extremely proud of Jordan and few deserve it more than him,” Niagara head coach Rob McCoy said. “He worked extremely hard and made himself what he is today. He's a perfect example of what can be achieved when using trials and struggles to get stronger and tougher, instead of getting consumed by them. I look forward to him growing even more as a pro."


About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |