|University of Minnesota Duluth Holds No. 1 Spot in Week Two of USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll|
|USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine|
2019-20 Men’s College Hockey Poll – Week #2
(First-place votes in parentheses)RankSchoolLast Week’s Rank2019-20 RecordWeeks in Top 15
1.University of Minnesota Duluth, 495 (33)10-0-02 2.University of Denver, 44822-0-023.Minnesota State University, 35840-0-024.Cornell University, 32750-0-025.University of Massachusetts, 31830-0-026.Boston College, 28370-0-027.Providence College, 25361-0-028.St. Cloud State University, 21880-0-029.University of Notre Dame, 216100-0-0210.Penn State University, 20490-0-0211.Clarkson University, 180120-0-0212.Western Michigan University, 134150-0-0213.Quinnipiac University, 128110-0-0214.Ohio State University, 121130-0-0215.University of Wisconsin, 96NR0-0-01
Others receiving votes: Northeastern, 67; Bowling Green, 31; Harvard, 22; Minnesota, 18; North Dakota, 12; Boston University, 12; UMass Lowell, 10; Arizona State, 4; Brown, 4; American International, 2.
Notes: University of Minnesota Duluth maintains the top spot for the second consecutive week with 495 points and 33 first-place votes…The Big Ten and the NCHC each have four teams ranked, while the Hockey East Association and ECAC each have three ranked teams. The WCHA has one team ranked in this week’s poll.
About the Poll: The 25th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the AHCA and USA Hockey.
**This Week’s Storylines**
OPENING THE SEASON
The Amerks opened their 64th American Hockey League season on Friday with a 3-2 overtime win over the Syracuse Crunch at The Blue Cross Arena. Forward Tage Thompson scored twice, including the game-winner with 43 seconds remaining in overtime, while Rasmus Asplund and Zach Redmond each notched two assists as Rochester opened the season with a victory for the fifth time in the last six years. The win also improved the Amerks to 39-19-6 all-time in home openers and 33-24-7 in season-openers dating back to when the puck first dropped on Rochester’s inaugural season in 1956.
DINEEN ALREADY MAKING HISTORY WITH AMERKS
Never before in the 63-year history of the franchise have the Amerks began a new season under an interim head coach. That all changed on opening night as Gord Dineen, who was appointed the team’s interim head coach on Tuesday of this past week, not only led Rochester into its 64th season, but became the first in his position to open the season with a coaching win.
THOMPSON, REDMOND PICK UP WHERE THEY LEFT OFF
Coming off his two-goal performance on Friday, Thompson has totaled 13 points (10+3) over his last 12 games with the Amerks dating back to last season, including the two goals he scored in the first round of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs against the Toronto Marlies. More impressively, Thompson has scored eight goals in just nine career regular-season games with Rochester, matching the total he set over a 30-game stint with the San Antonio Rampage during his rookie season in 2017-18. The third-year pro enters the week tied for second in the AHL in goals. Redmond, meanwhile, is tied for second amongst all AHL defensemen in scoring after opening the season with a pair of assists. The reigning Eddie Shore Award winner has collected three assists in his last five games dating back to last season.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Rochester sets out on its first three-in-three of the season next weekend on a three-game trek through the Atlantic Division with stops in Springfield, Providence and Hartford. The Amerks concluded the 2018-19 campaign with an AHL-best 25-9-3-1 road record, finishing one point ahead of the Charlotte Checkers with a .711 points percentage. Rochester’s 25 road wins last season tied a franchise record originally set during the 1998-99 season and were the most in the AHL. The team also finished with the fewest regulation road losses with nine, having collected at least one point in 29 of their 38 contests away from The Blue Cross Arena.
|Team USA Ready to Regroup with U17 Home Opener|
|U18s continue NCAA Series; U17s play at USA Hockey Arena for first time|
|PLYMOUTH, Mich. – USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program shapes up for a five-game week after dropping a combined four contests this past weekend.The NTDP U18s continue their NCAA Series with matchups against the Ferris State Bulldogs (Oct. 8), Providence Friars (Oct. 12) and Holy Cross Crusaders (Oct. 13), all as the visiting team. The U18s played two of the schools last season, losing 3-1 to the Bulldogs in Big Rapids, Michigan before topping the Crusaders, 6-3, on New Year’s Day at USA Hockey Arena.|
The Under-17 Team will continue with their USHL schedule as they host the Muskegon Lumberjacks Friday night (Oct. 11) at USA Hockey Arena, then complete the home-and-home set at Muskegon Saturday (Oct. 12) evening.
All fans at Friday’s game will go home with the 2019-20 U17 team poster and can get them autographed on the concourse after the conclusion of the game.In last week’s action, the U18s dropped their first two games against collegiate competition, a 4-3 loss to Northern Michigan and a 4-2 final against Notre Dame.
Forward Thomas Bordeleau (Houston, Texas) picked up his team-high fifth goal of the season and Luke Tuch (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) added a goal to maintain the team’s total points lead with eight (4g-4a). Ty Smilanic (Denver, Colo.) was the lone U18 skater to record multiple points this weekend with a pair of assists in his first two games played this year.
The U17s traveled to Iowa for a pair of games against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders on Friday and Saturday evenings. Forward Justin Janicke (Maple Grove, Minn.) paced the team with two goals and an assist for a three-point weekend. Chaz Lucius (Grant, Minn.) continued his strong start to the season as he picked up his 11th goal in eight games. Defenseman Aidan Hreschuk (Long Beach, Calif.) aided the scoring efforts as he collected his first goal of the season from the blueline on Saturday night.
(USA Hockey Photo)
DiGirolamo, Wolf, and Stemple Earn CHA Awards
Another weekend in the books and another set of College Hockey America Weekly Awards, presented by TLF Graphics. This week we honor Jessica DiGirolamo, Sophie Wolf, and Emily Stemple!
Player of the Week
Jessica DiGirolamo – Syracuse
Sophomore, Forward – Mississauga, ONT/Oakville Jr. Hornets
Jessica DiGirolamo (1 goal, 2 assists) earns the Player of the Week honors for Syracuse after a multi-point game against #7 Boston College. DiGirolamo’s goal sparked a third period comeback for the Orange that just fell short against the Eagles.
Goalie of the Week
Sophie Wolf – Lindenwood
Sophomore, Goalie – Nepean, ONT/Nepean Wildcats
Lindenwood’s Sophie Wolf saved 30 shots in Friday’s matchup against Bemidji St. The majority of the saves came in the second period, as Wolf stood tall stopping 14 shots on goal. The 3-2 win over Bemidji St. was Wolf’s first win of the season.
Rookie of the Week
Emily Stemple – RIT
Freshman, Forward – Saginaw, MI/Detroit Honeybaked
First-year Emily Stemple was impactful during RIT’s series against Vermont. After scoring her first collegiate goal on Friday, Stemple scored twice in Saturday’s 4-4 tie against Vermont. With three goals this season, Stemple is now currently tied with Robert Morris’ Jaycee Gebhard for goals scored this season.
Atlantic Hockey is thrilled to join forces with FloHockey this season as the streaming provider for the league and its teams. With the regular season getting underway this weekend, the league would like to remind fans of a few details from the partnership, introduce brand new developments, and to outline how fans can watch their favorite teams.
With a subscription, fans will be able to watch all AHA home games this season, this includes regular season and postseason games. Fans will have access to on-demand coverage and other features on FloHockey.tv, giving them the ability to watch past games and read stories on Atlantic Hockey teams throughout their subscription.
A FloHockey subscription gives people access to the entire site, not just Atlantic Hockey content. With the FloHockey lineup including games from the Big Ten, NCHC, and WCHA, as well as the Hockey East Tournament, the college hockey coverage being paid for for is comprehensive. Additionally, if any member of the AHA is playing a team from one of these leagues, fans could be able to watch their team on the road as well without having to pay an additional fee.
To access live and on-demand coverage of Atlantic Hockey visit FloHockey.tv, sign up for an account and choose your subscription package. You can choose to pay monthly at $30.00 per month or lock in for a calendar year (12 months) at $150.00. Either subscription unlocks access to premium content and on demand content across the entire FloSports network.
In addition to being able to access the FloHockey.tv site on any device, computer, tablet, and phone, FloSports has been expanding their offerings since June. They have developed a FloSports app that is available now on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Fire TV (including the Fire Stick).
NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. – Niagara University Director of Athletics Simon Gray has announced that head men’s ice hockey coach Jason Lammers has received a contract extension through the 2023-24 season.
“In just two years, Jason’s integrity, passion, and skill has established him as a leader on our campus, in our conference, and throughout the Niagara community,” Gray said. “His dedication to recruiting and developing the highest-caliber student-athletes has raised our hockey program’s on-ice competitiveness and academic outcomes. From day one, Jason has inspired with his vision for what Purple Eagles hockey can provide Niagara University and I am elated at this mutual commitment to his leadership.”
Lammers guided the Purple Eagles to their first-ever Atlantic Hockey championship game in March 2019. Niagara eliminated archrival Canisius, defending champion Air Force, and RIT during the team’s thrilling postseason run. Niagara has improved its record in each of his two seasons at the helm and finished the 2018-19 campaign with 17 wins which are the most by the program since the 2012-13 season.
The Purple Eagles have landed three players – Derian Plouffe, Noah Delmas, and Ludwig Stenlund – on all-conference teams during Lammers’ tenure. Stenlund was also named 2018-19 Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Year and was runner-up for the prestigious Tim Taylor Award, given annually to the top rookie in the nation. Stenlund’s dominant freshman season saw him tie for the national lead in shorthanded goals (3) and power play goals (10). Stenlund’s 23 goals were tied for second in the country among all skaters. He scored six more goals than the next-closest rookies during the 2018-19 season. Stenlund also scored in eight consecutive games to break the previous program record of five, and broke the Niagara rookie records for points (42) and goals.
Stenlund was just one of the 11 rookies that made up the nation’s highest-scoring freshman class last season (50 G, 76 A). The Purple Eagles’ power play has vastly improved over the past two years, climbing from 57th at the end of 2016-17 to 19th at the end of 2018-19. The team as a whole has also become stronger and tougher to play against. Niagara debuted as the 58th-ranked Division I team in terms of RPI at the onset of the 2017-18 season. After their tremendous run to the championship this past spring, their RPI pegged them as the 43rd-ranked team at season’s end.
Over the past two seasons, the Purple Eagles have had two of their most successful years academically. 23 players were named to the 2019 Atlantic Hockey All-Academic Team, with a program-record 25 earning the distinction in 2018. Sean King was one of nine AHA Student Athletes of the Year in 2018 after posting a 4.0 GPA.
“As a staff, we are grateful for this contract extension and continued opportunity,” Lammers said. “Thank you to Niagara University leadership, specifically Father Maher and Simon Gray, the campus community, and the communities of Niagara Falls and Lewiston, for their support. We are committed to making Niagara University regionally dominant and national prominent. We are excited to ignite, educate, empower, and serve our student-athletes this year and for years to come.”
With Lammers assistance, three players have been invited to NHL development camps. Delmas has participated in camps with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes, Stenlund with the New York Islanders, and Eric Cooley with the Buffalo Sabres.
Four Purple Eagles – Johnny Curran, Nick Farmer, Keegan Harpur, and Plouffe – have signed professional deals during Lammers’ tenure. Curran and Farmer will make their debuts this winter, while Plouffe has won two league championships (Toronto Marlies – 2018, Newfoundland Growlers – 2019).
The Purple Eagles have also been very involved in the local community, volunteering and participating at events benefitting organizations including the Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles. Last month, the team signed 7-year-old Jack Marchetta through Team IMPACT.
AMERKS SIGN MURRAY TO ONE-YEAR AHL DEAL
Murray, 21, joins the Amerks out of training camp following a career-year with the Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) in 2018-19. In 62 contests in Youngstown, the Bolton, Ontario native led all USHL skaters with a personal-best 41 goals while finishing second in the league with 76 points. For his accolades last season, he was named to the USHL First All-Star Team.
Prior to his second stint with Youngstown, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound forward played two seasons at Penn State University (Big-10), where he produced seven points (1+6) in 33 career games. In his first season with the Nittany Lions, Murray helped the club claim the Big-10 Conference Championship and later went on to help the program make its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
TROY, N.Y. – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Associate Vice President & Director of Athletics Dr. Lee McElroy has announced the hiring of Mathias Lange ’09 as the Operations Coordinator. A native of Klagenfurt, Austria, he will work with the men’s hockey program.
Among Lange’s responsibilities are video coordination, including breaking down game tapes, preparation and pre-scouting for upcoming opponents, team travel coordination and various administrative duties.
Lange joins the Engineers after a 10-year professional playing career as a goaltender in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) and DEL2. In 172 career games in the top flight between DEG Metro Stars and Iserlohn Roosters, he posted a 77-78 record, with a 2.83 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. He played his final six seasons with the Roosters, helping them to a pair of playoff appearances. In 2013, he was named Playoff Finals MVP for Bietigheim-Bissingen SC in DEL2.
Helping his home country of Austria to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Lange earned the win in his only start of the tournament. He made 34 saves in a 3-1 victory over Norway on February 16, 2014, at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
During his career at RPI, Lange played in 108 games from 2005-09. He went 29-57-17, with a 2.95 goals against average and an .898 save percentage, with two shutouts in 6196:39 minutes. Earning ECAC Hockey All-Rookie Team honors in 2005-06, he posted a 13-15-6 record, with a 2.70 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. As a junior, he went 6-14-3, with a 2.47 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. The school’s all-time leader in losses and ties, he ranks third in games played, starts (102) and minutes, as well as fourth in saves (2,688).
A two-time Team MVP for the Engineers, he earned numerous awards for his work off the ice, including being named a finalist for the ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year, Lowe’s Senior CLASS All-America Second Team and the Livingston W. Houston Citizenship Award. The three-time ECAC Hockey All-Academic honoree also earned the team’s Community Service Award as a senior.
Since May of 2014, Lange has worked as a coach at Great Saves Goaltending in Orange, N.J., leading on-ice and synthetic ice lessons, clinics and camps. He also spent two years the USA Hockey Development Camps in Wayne, N.J. and Northford, Conn., as a goalie coach and evaluator. During his collegiate career, he was a goalie coach at the Behind the Mask Elite School of Goaltending in Lawrenceville, N.J.
Lange graduated from Rensselaer in May of 2009 with a Bacholor’s Degree in Management with a concentration in in finance and minor in sports psychology. A Dean’s List student, he was a member of the EDS Management Honor Society.
LEE STEMPNIAK ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT AFTER 13 NHL SEASONS
Stempniak played in 911 NHL games
TORONTO (Oct. 1, 2019) – Lee Stempniak has announced his retirement today from the National Hockey League (NHL) following 13 seasons.
Born in West Seneca, New York, Stempniak was drafted 148th overall in the fifth round of the 2003 NHL Draft by the St. Louis Blues. He went on to play in a total of 911 regular season games with 10 NHL teams after breaking into the league in 2005-06. A cum laude graduate in economics from Dartmouth College in 2005, Stempniak’s reputation on the ice developed into a sought after, dependable winger who played in 70 games or more in nine of his 13 seasons.
Stempniak began his NHL career by spending nearly four seasons with the Blues, where he set a career high in points (52) with the club in 2006-07 during his sophomore season. After he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2008-09 campaign, Stempniak would play there until an ensuing move to the Phoenix Coyotes (now Arizona) at the 2010 trade deadline. He would finish the season with a career high in goals (28), split between the two clubs.
After playing in all 82 games the next season in the desert, Stempniak joined his fourth NHL team when the Calgary Flames acquired him via trade late in the 2011 offseason. Following nearly three seasons in Calgary, the forward was moved to the Pittsburgh Penguins in another deadline-day trade. He played 21 regular season games for the Penguins before suiting up in 13 playoff games, during which he scored two goals.
Stempniak was then signed in the offseason by the New York Rangers as a free agent before he was traded to the playoff-bound Winnipeg Jets shortly prior to the trade deadline. The right-shot forward suited up in all four postseason games and scored the first Stanley Cup Playoffs goal in Winnipeg since 1996.
Representing his eighth NHL team, Stempniak played 63 games while scoring 41 points with the New Jersey Devils after signing as a free agent less than a week before the season began. He was traded at the 2016 trade deadline to the Boston Bruins, with whom he would play the final 19 games of the season while his combined point total (51) for the season surpassed the 50-point mark for the second time in his career.
Stempniak then signed a two-year contract as a free agent July 1, 2016 with the Carolina Hurricanes, where he played all 82 games to reach the 40-point mark for the fifth time in his career. His second season with the club was cut short to 37 games as the forward battled various injuries.
In 2017-18, Stempniak reached 900 regular-season NHL games played in the Hurricanes’ 4-3 victory, March 18, 2018 over the New York Islanders while also scoring an unassisted goal. The tally stood as the 203rd and final goal of his NHL career.
Though on the move often, the reliable winger was a very popular teammate and a mentor to many.
After earning one last contract Feb. 24, 2019, Stempniak played his final NHL game March 10 of the 2018-19 season while on the road in Pittsburgh as a member of the Bruins.
Stempniak continues to reside in Boston with his wife and three children. He would like to stay involved in the game by working with a team in the potentially near future.
“I am honoured and privileged to have played in the NHL for thirteen seasons and I am extremely grateful to have lived my dream every day throughout my career.
I would like to thank each and every organization, all of my coaches and the staff members for your help over the years. A special thank you to all of my teammates. I will miss our friendships, laughter and camaraderie.
Thank you to my parents, Larry and Carla, for sacrificing so much to make my dreams a reality. I have learned from your example, and that is the standard for the father I aspire to be. My brother, Jay, thank you for your support and friendship.
I am forever grateful to my wife, Lindsay and our three children, Reese, Lucy and Brooks. Without your love, extreme sacrifice and unwavering support throughout all the moves, I would not have enjoyed playing as long as I did. After living in ten cities, I am looking forward to spending time with my family, settling in Boston and being a father.”
“Congrats on an amazing career, Stemper. Thank you for everything you have taught me. You have been the ultimate professional and an unbelievable teammate and friend.”
“Lee has been a consummate pro and role model on every team he has been a part of. That’s why I traded for him in 2014 at the deadline and signed him as a free agent for New Jersey in 2015. While Lee contributed at a high level on the ice to make his team’s better, he and his wife Lindsay should also be commended for the long-lasting impact they will leave on the communities where they lived.”
2019-20 ROCHESTER AMERICANS SEASON PREVIEW
By Warren Kozireski–
Though Rochester has had several solid teams of late, including last season’s 46-23-5-2 99-point campaign, it has now been 14 consecutive years since the team has either not made the playoffs outright or not advanced past the first round of the AHL postseason.
Randy Cunneyworth was the head coach the last time the Amerks won a first-round playoff series—during his first stint.
Looking ahead to the 2019-20 season that launches Oct. 4, Rochester again appears to be loaded with talent and numbers on the blueline, but have question marks in goal even after 2017 second round NHL draft pick Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen returns from hip surgery sometime in November or December.
And question marks about where the offense will come from should Victor Olofsson earn a roster spot in Buffalo as expected.
Veteran Zach Redmond, who set a team record for defenseman with 21 goals and was just the third player in franchise history to win the Eddie Shore award as the AHL’s best defenseman, is back along with veteran Andrew MacWilliam, second year Will Borgen, Brandon Hickey plus rookies in fourth round draft pick Jacob Bryson and third rounder Casey Fitzgerald. Kurt Gosselin, Devante Stephens or veteran Nathan Paestch may also earn a depth spot on the deep blueline.
“I feel a lot more comfortable and confident,” Borgen said during Prospect camp. “There are a lot of really good players and it’s going to be good competition in camp trying to earn spots.
“We’re playing a little different this year—I think it’s a little more aggressive. I like it. Trying to pressure the puck at all points…and get it moving quick up ice. We’re trying to be on it right away and I like that style of play being aggressive and limiting time and space.
“We had an unbelievable year last year and when we went to the playoffs it was disappointing. I thought we still played well; the other team just capitalized on their chances and I think that’s all it came down too.”
C.J. Smith and Kevin Porter are two key veterans returning up front along with Sean Malone, Andrew Oglevie, Taylor Leier, Eric Cornel, Dalton Smith and potentially Remi Elie, Rasmus Asplund or Tage Thompson depending on who makes the Sabres roster out of camp.
Newcomers up front that could provide also offensive depth include Jean-Sebastien Dea and potentially Curtis Lazar. Dea netted 14 goals in 46 AHL games last season with Springfield and Wilkes-Barre Scranton while Lazar, a former first round pick by Calgary, scored 20 goals over 57 games with Stockton one year ago. Another wide card is Sabres draft pick Brett Murray, who was still unsigned as of this writing after uncommitting to play for Miami of Ohio this fall. He left Penn State two seasons ago and netted 40 goals back in the USHL with Youngstown in 2018-19.
The crease for the first few months at least will fall to six-year veteran Andrew Hammond, who had a solid season in Iowa with 19 wins in 33 appearances, Sabres third round pick Jonas Johansson, who has only 19 games of AHL experience over three seasons but faired well in late season action in spring is also in the mix along with Michael Houser. Houser has seven minor league seasons under his belt and led Cincinnati last season with 29 wins.
As happens every pre-season, the make-up of Rochester’s opening night roster will be dependent on injuries and who ultimately makes the Buffalo roster to begin the campaign.
It appears that offense will again be at a premium as they were last April when the team managed only four goals in three playoff games after finishing with the third most goals scored in the entire league during the regular season. But their deep blueline may keep their opponent from scoring much and not needing as many goals to win.
|Nancy LaBaff has excelled in endeavor she’s undertaken in her life. Fortunately for SUNY Potsdam, athletics was one of those many challenges. From 1979-82, the goaltender won more hockey games for the Bears than any other, man or woman, in school history.|
Family was critical in LaBaff’s development, and it began with her mother Gertrude.
“She was a cancer survivor,” said LaBaff. “She would always push through things. She always would see the good in people. She always made me believe in me. She always said ‘my girl can do anything.’ And I really believed that. If I ever got down, she was always there to pick me up.”
LaBaff’s brothers also helped her build her confidence.
“I was accepted,” LaBaff said. “I had four brothers. They let me play sports and I was always part of their team no matter what. I had great brothers and great male role models. I never felt that I didn’t get the opportunities.”
When it came to sports, her father Ernie was a bit more old school, but LaBaff quickly won him over.
“He was like ‘no girl of mine is going to play hockey,'” said LaBaff. “He came to one game and he was like ‘that’s it. She’s unbelievable’. From there on he was just amazing.”
For LaBaff, like so many other athletes, hockey started at home.
“One of my brothers played hockey,” LaBaff said. “He created this board and I would stand there and let him shoot at me. It’s funny. I didn’t have all the equipment and he’d hit me in certain areas. I’d cry and run into the house, but then I’d always come back out. Back then, I used to love to watch the guys play because they didn’t really have women’s ice hockey like they did for high school boys.”
During her high school years, LaBaff played for the Stonettes, a girls team mostly made up of Potsdam players. After a game against Brockville, she was recruited to play for the Brockville Senior Angels. After four seasons with the Angels, she was headed to college and wasn’t thinking about continuing her hockey career. Fortunately for the Bears, then head coach Butler Sullivan recruited her for Potsdam.
“There was something about him (Butler) that made me at ease,” said LaBaff. “I was only 17 when I started college. He made me feel comfortable and offered the opportunity to be able to play there. I really believed that he believed in my skills. Taking that chance was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because of the friendships and everything about the program.”
LaBaff arrived on campus in the fall of 1978 and joined the team with three other freshmen. Like many other future Potsdam Hall of Famers, she never doubted her ability as she acclimated to the college game.
“I was never nervous because I knew my skill level,” said LaBaff. “I think one of the proudest moments (playing at Potsdam) was stepping on the ice and hearing the national anthem. When they called my name and I was out at center ice and they played the national anthem, I was like wow! This is the big leagues.”
LaBaff backstopped the Bears to a 10-6-2 record as a freshman, posting a 2.03 goals-against-average and five shutouts. One of her proudest memories was a 40-save shutout and upset of undefeated Canadian powerhouse Concordia University.
“We ended up winning 1-0,” LaBaff said. “My friend (Tracey Haggett) scored and I was getting peppered. I remember my father told me that the Concordia players were saying I don’t mind losing, but I hate to lose to a goalie.”
LaBaff capped her first season by claiming Most Valuable Player honors at the Huntingdon (Quebec) Postseason Tournament. She enjoyed everything about her Potsdam hockey experience, especially the chance to compete in her hometown.
“I had the greatest teammates,” said LaBaff. “We had so much fun together, but if we ever had issues they were always there for you. They were good role models and I became a role model as time went on as an assistant captain.”
LaBaff was excited to be in Potsdam’s classrooms as a student as well.
“There were certain professors I really loved and I could go and talk to them,” LaBaff said. “It’s a whole different level, college from high school. The whole maturity level. I remember the first time I took the human sexuality course and the way they were talking I was like ‘oh jeez, this is adult stuff.’ I made some good friends in classes. Back then you went to a lot of parties and had a lot of fun. But for the classes, certain ones I enjoyed that maybe I didn’t enjoy so much in high school. Professors made that difference.”
LaBaff backed stopped her Bears into her sophomore season, facing a schedule that included traditional Division I powers Clarkson, St. Lawrence, RPI, Cornell and New Hampshire. Featuring a new weapon in fellow hall of famer Kathy Lawler, LaBaff and Potsdam posted a 23-3 record.
LaBaff and company continued to roll during the 1980-81 campaign, finishing with a 20-6 mark. Among her notable victories were a 6-0 shutout of Vermont, an 11-0 whitewashing of Oswego, a 7-1 win over Clarkson and a 3-1 victory over SLU.
The goaltender was just as sharp during her senior year, posting a 15-3 record with a 1.52 G.A.A. and a .920 save percentage as Potsdam went 18-3 overall. She picked up an 11-0 shutout of Clarkson and 4-0 victory over Cornell along the way. LaBaff and teammates Lawler and Diane Johnson closed the season with selections to the Women’s Intercollegiate Hockey Association All-Star Game in Providence. LaBaff helped the North team hold a 4-1 lead and came out midway through the second. With the Bear goalie out of the way, the South rallied to forge a 5-5 tie.
LaBaff closed her college career with a 68-18-2 record for a .784 winning percentage to go with 17 shutouts. Kathy Lawler drew much of the attention the team received because she recorded over 100 points in each of her four seasons, but the Bears wouldn’t have won as much or decisively without LaBaff between the pipes. As Potsdam coach Brian Doran said in February 1982, “We won before Kathy Lawler came to Potsdam, but not before Nancy got here.”
LaBaff’s time at Potsdam concluded in May 1982 and looked to the New York Power Authority for a career. After starting as a groundskeeper at the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project when her father helped get her foot in the door, she quickly moved up.
“I really loved it there,” said LaBaff. “When I took that chance, I met a woman that worked in the operations department. There had never been a female operator working down in the dam. She said ‘Nance, I think this would be good for you.’ And I was like ‘Ok, let’s try this.'”
In 1986, she became a junior operator at the dam and later the first female operator there. Her passion for her work continued to propel her up the ranks and blaze trails.
“There was so much learning,” LaBaff said. “I was into the books. I was sort of nerdy like that so I’d read about the equipment. The men I worked with were unbelievable. I remember one guy who was like shift work was not for women. But you had to break that barrier, take that chance and once I had proved myself they were all on board with me. From there you would bid up to the next level. Then they changed the program to where you would go into an apprenticeship. But when the senior operator job came up, there were people ahead of me and they didn’t want it. I remember when I went up and put a bid in, they looked at me like are you sure you want this because the responsibility is huge. I said I didn’t start to not reach the top.”
LaBaff became a journeyman control room operator in 1991 and in 1998 she was named the NYPA’s first female senior operator ever. Her dedication to her profession earned her multiple Employee of the Quarter honors and in 1999 she was the Employee of the Year. She worked for the NYPA for 33 and half years and retired in 2015. She’s still an active member of her union, the Local 2032 IBEW.
LaBaff also met many challenges successfully in her personal life. She came out in the 1980’s, knowing that it wouldn’t be easy. She was honored by the NYPA in 2018 during Pride Month for being a trailblazer.
“That was huge too back then, because when I came out AIDS was also out,” said LaBaff. “So it was very difficult. I knew I was going to lose people or people were going to pick on me. But if I couldn’t be me, then what is the sense of living? But then people change with that too. People were like, I’m just the same person. I just love somebody differently. Work was tough at times. I lost friends and even some relatives backed off on me. They just didn’t understand. Some people never change, but others do. One guy said to me ‘I just didn’t know anybody before. You changed me.’ They had this stereotype in their minds. But everybody came around, even at work. Everything was beautiful. I think I was so unhappy because I couldn’t be who I was, it was just a relief to come out.”
LaBaff has also fought cancer twice and won. In 2001, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, but had beaten it by 2003. She found she had uterine cancer in 2015, but has been cancer free for three years.
“At first the news is stunning,” LaBaff said. “My first dealing with cancer, it was tough. I hadn’t been feeling good and I thought because I worked shift work that was playing a role. I never dreamed of cancer, but when it was, it really put the fear in me. I lost weight during the thyroid cancer and I was a little weak, but once I got a clean bill of health I pushed my body built it back.”
She credits her career for helping her get through cancer the first time because focusing on her job helped keep her mind off the disease. She’s also grateful for her coworkers.
“The guys were good to me,” said LaBaff. “They did help me out. If I got tired, I could go for a walk and they’d take over. I was fortunate I worked with such good men.”
To build her body back up after recovering, LaBaff’s brother, who’s a retired forest ranger, suggested taking up mountain hiking. She was skeptical at first, but after hike up DeBar Mountain in the Adirondacks she was hooked. She’s since become an 46er, someone who’s climbed the 46 high peaks of the Adirondacks. LaBaff has now hiked all over the world.
“I love Europe,” said LaBaff. “I love France. One of the toughest tracks was called the GR 20 in Corsica. That was amazing. It’s the people you meet over there and it’s the meals. Some of the wildlife you see. I think doing the Camino de Santiago with my girlfriend after I retired was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve been to Scotland and France a few times and Spain, all hiking in the Pyrenees. I love the Pyrenees. Mt. Rainier in Washington State. Believe it or not, I’m afraid of heights and exposure. I work through my fears.”
LaBaff’s trip to Mt. Rainier was delayed by her second cancer diagnosis.
“The second cancer was two months after my retirement,” LaBaff said. “It was a lot stronger cancer. For both cancers I had surgery and treatment. The second cancer I was in a state of shock and I took it hard. But then there’s that one point where I said, ‘you gotta get your s**t together.’ So I think because of all my climbing in the mountains, it really helped me heal better. And I had so much support with my cancers. It just makes a difference.”
LaBaff wants to serve as an example to those going through their own fight and let them know that there can be positive outcomes.
“I always share my story because I believe I’m going to help and inspire others. You can say ‘hey, you can have cancer, but still live.’ I’m not saying it was easy because it was damn hard. It’s something that’s always in the back of your mind. And you’re afraid, but you can’t let fear control what you do in life. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s one of the best things that happened to me because it pushed me in directions I didn’t think I would go. When you’re sitting at Hope Lodge and looking at everybody else, you’ve got to push through. If people only realized, there’s so much to life and you need to go out and live. That’s why my nickname now is “High on Life”. You need to go out and enjoy your life because you don’t know. Your life can change in a split second.”
LaBaff certainly lives by that philosophy. She goes all out to enjoy her life. Part of the enjoyment is her lifelong love of athletics. She played softball and golfed for years, though has moved on from those games. While she hasn’t played hockey since 2009, she’s been a goaltender in a Canadian ball hockey league for 15 years.
“In 2004 out of the blue I got a call from a friend, who I had played ice hockey with in Cornwall,” said LaBaff. “She said ‘Nance we need a goalie, would you like to play, but we need to know now.’ I said ok, I’d try and I just fell in love with it. I just love Canada and all the amazing friends over there. I played goal, but now I’ve started playing out. And I have to admit, my last two times in goal, I got a shutout. At 58.”
Confidence, hard work and talent have led to many impressive achievements, but it’s something else she takes satisfaction from.
“People always ask me, what do I consider successful,” LaBaff said. “For me, I don’t think it’s everything I’ve accomplished in life. It’s how I’ve made people feel. When people tell you, you inspire them, to me that’s successful because it means you’ve done something to help them.”
LaBaff greatly appreciates her experience at Potsdam and would recommend it to anyone for athletics and academics.
“I can’t believe if you think about it, what Potsdam State did for women’s sports,” LaBaff said. “They had the ice hockey program. That’s one thing I couldn’t believe. Way back then this college did that. They did a lot for women as far as I’m concerned. I think the professors were wonderful. It’s a great small community and a place where you can be a family.”
LaBaff will be inducted into the Bears Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
|HockeyTV To Stream 2019 USA Hockey Warrior Classic,|
Presented by Terry Fator
|Event Begins Friday in Las Vegas With Record Field|
|COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey announced today that HockeyTV will stream all 36 games of the fourth annual USA Hockey Warrior Classic, presented by Terry Fator, which will take place Friday-Sunday (Oct. 4-6) in Las Vegas at City National Arena, the practice facility of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, and the Las Vegas Ice Center.The event annually brings together teams from across the country competing in one of USA Hockey’s newest disabled hockey disciplines, Warrior Hockey. The discipline is dedicated to injured and disabled U.S. military veterans who have served our country and play the sport of ice hockey. |
To be eligible to participate, all players must be or have been a veteran and member of the armed forces and meet a minimum disability rating.Tournament play will include 16 games on both Friday (Oct. 4) and Saturday (Oct. 5) and four championship games on Sunday (Oct. 6).
Fans can attend all games free of charge. For the complete game schedule, click here.
NOTES: The 16-team field this year is the largest in the history of the USA Hockey Warrior Classic. The previous high was eight teams last year … Comedian, singer and celebrity impressionist Terry Fator, a longtime supporter of various military charities, was named presenting sponsor of the USA Hockey Warrior Classic on July 16, 2018 … The USA Hockey Warrior Classic was first played in the 2016-17 season … A year ago, the Buffalo Sabres Warriors defeated the Dallas Warriors to earn the event championship in Las Vegas, Nevada … The Buffalo Warriors have advanced to the championship game every year since the inaugural tournament … For more about disabled hockey, click here.
Men’s Hockey Picked Second In AHA Preseason Poll
WINTHROP, Mass. – The Atlantic Hockey Association released its 2019-20 Preseason Poll on Tuesday. The Purple Eagles, Atlantic Hockey runners-up a season ago, were picked to finish second with 78 points.
|Coaches’ Poll (first-place votes)|
Niagara retains nearly 87 percent of its scoring from a season ago, including one of the highest scoring freshman classes (50 G, 76 A) from the 2018-19 season. The team’s leading scorer from last year, Ludwig Stenlund (23 G, 19 A), returns after being named the runner-up for the Tim Taylor Award, given annually to the top rookie in the country.
Noah Delmas enters his fourth season in the purple and white with the captain’s “C” on his jersey after serving as an alternate captain as a junior. Delmas finished fourth among all defensemen in the nation in terms of both goals (15) and points (40) while pacing the Purple Eagles with 25 assists. Delmas was also invited to development camp with the Carolina Hurricanes in June. Stenlund and Eric Cooley also spent time with the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders, respectively, over the summer.
Along with Delmas, Niagara’s senior class consists of Tyler Hayes, Ben Sokay, and Kris Spriggs, as well as Ryan Cook, a Lancaster, New York native who has transferred from Merrimack.
In addition to Cook, there will be eight more new faces to the team. Chad Veltri is the team’s addition to the goaltending corps. The defense has been bolstered by the arrivals of Scott Persson and Croix Evingson, with Evingson transferring from UMass Lowell. Incoming forwards include Ryan Naumovski, Jason Pineo, Brandon Stanley, and Walker Sommer. Sommer is the team’s third incoming transfer, having played his previous two seasons at Air Force. Jack Billings, who redshirted during the 2018-19 season after coming in from Salve Regina, will be eligible to play for the Purple Eagles this year.
Another new face to the program will be Jack Marchetta, who joined the team on September 14. Marchetta, a 7-year-old from Williamsville, New York, was brought into the team through Team IMPACT, an organization that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming lifelong bonds and life-changing outcomes. Marchetta was diagnosed with an immune dysfunction at birth and plays hockey and soccer to keep his health up.
The Purple Eagles host Ryerson in an exhibition match on October 5 at 4 p.m. The team will then open the regular season at Minnesota with games on October 18-19. Tickets for all home games are available on PurpleEagles.com.
The first round of the 2020 Atlantic Hockey playoffs begin on March 6, with the quarterfinal to open the following week on March 13. Four teams will then advance to the AHA semifinal and championship on March 20 and 21, which will once again be held at HarborCenter in Buffalo.
|U.S. Women to Face Canada in Opening Contest of 2019-20 Rivalry Series|
|COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – One of the greatest rivalries in sports will be showcased in Hartford, Connecticut, when the women’s national hockey teams from the U.S. and Canada faceoff at XL Center on Dec. 14. Game time is set for 7 p.m. ET. Fans can purchase tickets by visiting the XL Center box office or online at xlcenter.com.|
“Our rivalry with Canada is unmatched and fans in Hartford are in for a real treat,” said Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey. “We look forward to a big home ice advantage and encourage families to come out and support Team USA.”The game, which is part of the 2019 Team USA Champions Series, presented by Xfinity, will be the first between the two hockey powers that will be played in North America in the 2019-20 Rivalry Series. Other games will be announced in the coming weeks.“We’re excited to be coming to Hartford,” said Katie Million, director of women’s national team programs for USA Hockey. “It’s a city with a significant hockey history and we look forward to adding to that.
”Fans attending the game will have an opportunity for autographs from members of Team USA following the contest.Team USA is the reigning Olympic champion and has captured gold in eight of the last nine IIHF Women’s World Championships, including five straight.
NOTES: Groups of 10 or more attending the game are eligible for $5 off tickets in selected sections. Group tickets can be obtained by either emailing GroupSales@XLCenter.com or calling 860.548.2000 … The Rivalry Series was introduced by USA Hockey and Hockey Canada last season and comprised three games between the women’s national teams of the two countries. The U.S. captured the opening game in London, Ont., by a 1-0 count on Feb. 12, before Canada earned a 4-3 win in Toronto on Feb. 14 and a 2-0 victory on Feb. 17 in Detroit … It is anticipated that two games of the 2019-20 Rivalry Series will take place in December and three in February … The U.S. and Canada have battled in the gold-medal game of every IIHF Women’s World Championship and Olympic Winter Games staged, with just two exceptions (2018 world championship, 2006 Olympics).