Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The Observer-Dispatch, the city of Utica's newspaper, in today's paper features the following story about last night's game. Refer to the link at the bottom of this post to see 14 pictures from the game...

Tim Coffman is fun to watch.

He was again last night, scoring a goal and adding an assist to help the Utica College hockey Pioneers even their record with a 5-1 victory over Brockport State in a nonleague game at the Utica Memorial Auditorium Tuesday.

Matt Fitzgibbons had a pair of goals and an assist for UC (6-6-3). Sean McKevitt and Sean Dunn scored a goal apiece, Scott Wentworth had three assists, and Justin Bolla made 28 saves and just missed a shutout he should have had. James Cody scored the lone goal for the Golden Eagles (6-8), who took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play and then pulled their goalie to go three men up to get the score at 13:21 of the third period. Golden Eagle goalies Todd Sheridan and Oliver Wren combined for 22 saves, many of them eye-poppers.

It was a good win for the Pioneers even though coach Gary Heenan was not pleased with his team’s work overall. He couldn’t complain about Coffman, however, and he rarely if ever has reason to.

Coffman is a pleasure to watch, really, because he has a lot of skills – he can skate, he can shoot, and handle the puck – and because he is extremely heady and creative, consistently building opportunities and giving the opposition fits all game long.

“He good is he?” asked Heenan after the game, not needing an answer. “He’s dynamite. He competes. He has deceptive speed, great speed. Great instincts. He’s a player. There is a ‘Wow’ factor there. Anyone who comes to our rink and sees him play has to say, ‘Wow.’”

A sophomore from Elverson, Pa., an outer suburb of Philadelphia, the 5-foot-11, 176-pound Coffman scored 17 goals and added 10 assists last season. He’s headed for similar numbers this season – 11 goals, 10 assists so far – although he feels he is playing better than he was a year ago, a fair assessment.

“During the preseason I dedicated myself to lifting weights, running, and staying in shape,” he said. “That’s starting to pay off for me. I’m on roll.”

Coffman played for the Philadelphia Little Flyers, and then Laconia, N.H., in junior hockey, but he attributes much of his savvy to playing soccer in high school. He was a midfielder, so he can set up teammates and make plays.

“In hockey, the passes are tape to tape, but in soccer there are a lot of lead balls where you let your teammates run to it,” he said. “I try to see little areas I can float the puck to.”

He also appears to thinking a play or two ahead most of the time as well.

“I try to slow the game down in my head,” he said.

That all came together after McKevitt gave UC the early lead with a score just 3:23 into the game, which came after Bolla prevented Brockport from getting on the board first by getting a big stop on Tom Galiani in the opening minute. Not long after, Coffman got the puck at center ice, passed to Wentworth, and received a return pass in stride at the blue line. Then he blew past a defender, flew in on Sheridan, crossed the crease right to left and sneaked the puck into the net. Five minutes later, Bolla made another big save, and the Pioneers were on their way.

They’ll have to play better Thursday, however, when 12th-ranked Curry visits, and on Jan. 22, when Manhattanville comes in as UC begins a nine-game run that will determine its spot in the ECAC West playoffs. Heenan didn’t like it that Bolla didn’t get the shutout – “It’s awful,” he said. “His teammates let him down by going two down too many times.” – and he didn’t like his team’s overall effort.

“They outworked us; they outhit us,” he said. “If our competitiveness is like next Friday, or Thursday, we’re going to be embarrassed.”