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College Hockey:
This Week in Division III: Feb. 12, 2004

A Letter from Bill Bowes

This past weekend, I got a call from Bill Bowes, the former Wentworth head coach who was dismissed on January 30.

He requested that USCHO.com publish a statement from him to the college hockey community concerning his situation. Here it is, unedited and in its entirety:

Dear Chris,

As you know, I am no longer coaching at Wentworth. Because of your support over the years, I wanted to issue a statement to you regarding the situation.

Despite being very disappointed by the reasoning, process, and timing of this decision by Wentworth, I remain a huge fan of the program and the 27 student athletes currently on the team. They have given exactly what I have asked of them including, their best efforts on the ice, in class, and in the community. The focus should remain with the student athletes.

I deeply appreciate Worcester Academy, Assumption College, and Wentworth Institute of Technology for affording me the privilege of coaching hockey during the past 25 years. Thanks to these institutions, I have been able to meet and work with hundreds of the finest young men in hockey, and on the planet.

I sincerely thank all who have called in support of my family and me. The steady stream of letters, e-mails and phone calls from former players, former assistants, current coaching colleagues, referees, and friends has been overwhelming and encouraging.

I look forward to new and different things in my coaching career and plan to actively pursue a position in college hockey. My character, work ethic and dedication to the game have never been questioned. Although Wentworth has chosen to go in a different direction with the hockey program, I look forward to the challenges ahead.

Thank you for your support to me, the Leopard players, and to all of college hockey through the years.

Sincerely,
Bill Bowes

While the letter contains no details behind the reasoning for Wentworth’s decision, there were a few things that Bowes wanted to make clear.

“I want to make sure people know I didn’t hit a kid or anything remotely like that,” he said. “The timing of these things can lead people to expect the worst.”

Bowes said that what led to his dismissal was “a disagreement with the administration that had been going on for some time.”

The timing was indeed an issue. Coaches are rarely removed in the middle of a season, especially at the Division III level.

Bowes took over the reins at Wentworth in 1995 after the team had gone 5-59 the past three seasons. After a 6-39 record his first two years, Bowes turned the program around, going 112-58-9 since then, including three ECAC Northeast titles and three trips to the NCAA tournament.

“He’s done an outstanding job at Wentworth,” said St. Norbert head coach Tim Coghlin. “He brought them to respectability and then to prominence. He’s a great person; a great person for college hockey. I respect him a lot.”

RIT coach Wayne Wilson echoed those comments.

“Wentworth wouldn’t be on the map (for hockey) if it wasn’t for what he’s done there,” he said. “I’m sure Bill will land on his feet. He’s such a good coach.”

“You can quote me on this: It’s Wentworth’s loss, and will be somebody else’s gain,” said Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery. “Billy is a great guy and a great coach.”

Bowes said he definitely wants to coach again.

“I’m going to take a little time and assess things,” he said. “But, yeah, I want to continue coaching.”

The “Other” Poll

After a seven-year stoppage, the NCAA is again releasing a Division III men’s hockey ranking. Unlike the previous version, which was a coaches’ poll similar to the USCHO.com poll, this one is a “ranking.” The Division III committee lists the teams in order based on the criteria that will be used to select at-large teams for the NCAA tournament, as well as seed all the teams.

The criteria are:

  • Win-loss percentage versus regional opponents
  • Strength-of-schedule index
  • In-region head-to-head competition
  • Record versus in-region common opponents
  • In-region results vs. regionally ranked teams. This one won’t be used until the next rating.

    The initial list is one-third of all teams from each region; 15 in the East and seven in the West. Once a team is ranked, it cannot fall out of the ranking, so the number of teams should increase over the next few weeks.

    “It gives teams an idea of where they stand,” said Chris Schneider, NCAA staff liaison for the Division III men’s hockey championships. “Hopefully, it will eliminate the mystery associated with the process.”

    These rankings will come out each Tuesday from now until the end of the season, when the last version will be the actual NCAA field. That one will be a bit different, as the committee will have to compare Eastern and Western teams.

    Subjectivity vs. Objectivity

    Let’s compare the USCHO.com poll and the NCAA Regional Rankings:

    East Region

    TeamNCAA RankUSCHO.com PollPoll by Region

    Middlebury111 East

    Norwich222 East

    Curry3139 East

    Bowdoin4128 East

    Plattsburgh563 East

    New England685 East

    Manhattanville774 East

    Oswego8117 East

    RIT9106 East

    Williams10NRNR

    Colby11NRNR

    Hamilton12NRNR

    Geneseo131510 East

    Babson14NRNR

    Utica15NRNR

    West Region

    TeamNCAA RankUSCHO.com PollPoll by Region

    St. Norbert131 West

    Wisconsin-River Falls242 West

    Lake Forest384 West

    St. John’s453 West

    St. Thomas5NRNR

    Wisconsin-Superior6145 West

    St. Mary’s7NRNR

    It looks like Bowdoin and Curry aren’t getting enough respect from the coaches and media. They’re ranked 12th and 13th in the poll and the 8th and 9th ranked teams in the East, respectively. But the two teams are much higher in the NCAA rankings: 4th and 3rd in the Eastern region.

    “We’re feeling very positive about the rankings,” said Curry coach Rob Davies. “They followed the guidelines that they had, and we wound up where we did because we’ve done a good job based on the criteria.”

    Davies’ team dropped a spot in the USCHO poll last week, despite defeating Nichols and Stonehill by a combined score of 27-0.

    “I don’t know. Maybe there was some backlash because it looked like we ran up the score,” said Davies. “But we didn’t do that.”

    While he’s happy about Curry’s ranking, Davies is pragmatic about what it means. “Expect lots of movement (in the rankings),” he said. “The really important ranking will be the one that comes out in about four weeks. There’s a lot of hockey to be played before then.”

    One More List

    Sick of polls and rankings? Nah. Here’s my USCHO Power Rankings:

    1. Middlebury — Yeah, the NCAA ranking influenced me a bit.
    2. Norwich — Stumbled against Bowdoin; four tough games left.
    3. St. Norbert — Got only a point last weekend, but still in first place in the NCHA.
    4. Wisconsin-River Falls — Can still win the NCHA regular season, but needs some help.
    5. Bowdoin — Big wins over Norwich and archrival Colby last week.
    6. Curry — Numbers don’t lie. Neither do wins over Bowdoin and Manhattanville.
    7. New England — Showdown with Norwich on Saturday.
    8. Lake Forest — Holding on to home ice in the quarterfinals.
    9. St. John’s — Nine-game winning streak.
    10. Plattsburgh — Needs a win to clinch the SUNYAC regular-season title.
    11. Manhattanville — Showdown at RIT on Saturday.
    12. RIT — See Manhattanville.
    13. St. Thomas — Still in first in the MIAC.
    14. Oswego — Still has a shot at first; has to beat Plattsburgh on Friday.
    15. Wisconsin-Superior — Back on track with three straight wins.


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