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College Hockey:
Monday D-III Roundup: Nov. 15, 2004

Things are topsy-turvy in the SUNYAC. Or are they?

Everyone’s so used to Plattsburgh being at the top of the league, that we might forget that Fredonia, off to a 4-0 start in conference play this season, did the same thing only two seasons ago.

In fact, in 2002-03 the Blue Devils reeled off seven straight conference wins before Christmas, and went on to a 10-1 SUNYAC record, before a pair of 2-1 losses at Potsdam and Plattsburgh. On the last Tuesday of the league season, Fredonia still had a chance to win the regular season, but lost in a 3-2 upset at home to a Buffalo State team that won only two other games in the league, and finished second to Oswego. The Lakers squeaked out the regular-season title that they could have won outright, except for a loss on Valentine’s day to Brockport, one of only two league wins for the Golden Eagles that year.

That year, Fredonia had the unenviable task of hosting Plattsburgh at home in the SUNYAC’s first round, and lost both. Oswego went on to win the league and finished second in the national championship game after a come-from-behind 2-1 nail-biter win by Norwich.

Our SUNYAC columnist, Russell Jaslow, readily admitted in his column last week that he has egg on his face after picking Fredonia seventh in the league; even the coaches may have missed the mark, picking the Blue Devils fifth. Last year, ten points was enough to make the playoffs, and Fredonia already has eight.

Coach Jeff Meredith has used a defensive approach over the past few seasons, and Blue Devils league opponents have averaged only two goals a game against goalie Rick Cazares. But Fredonia has also been hot on offense, averaging an even five goals a game.

Look for the Blue Devils to make their USCHO.com poll debut today.

Plattsburgh dropped its second straight game at home last Friday in the Fredonia loss. According to the broadcast on WIRY, the Cardinals had not lost two in a row at the Stafford Arena since losses to RIT and Elmira on successive weekends in 1990.

With two losses in the league, Plattsburgh has dug itself a bit of a hole, but it was helped out by Geneseo’s 7-6 win over Oswego, which included a hat trick, which came on the game-winning goal with 20 seconds left, by sophomore Mike McDonald. The Knights had slipped to 0-2 after dropping both western New York contests last weekend, but with a big win at Cortland on Friday, and the return of senior goalie Brett Walker from an injury, Geneseo is right back in the hunt.

In a big swing from one night to the next, Finlandia and Milwaukee School of Engineering had a split over the weekend. The Lions, in their first year in the MCHA, downed MSOE 7-5 on Friday night at home, but got blanked 6-0 on Saturday. Sophomore goalie Matt Burzon picked up his first career shutout in the Raiders’ win.

A couple of weeks back, I pointed out that Curry could end up getting hosed because its game with Norwich on Saturday night had to be an exhibition, because the ECAC East and NESCAC don’t allow play until Nov. 19. They are getting hosed.

The Colonels won the game, 3-2, and since that won’t get counted for NCAA selection criteria, Curry will lose about 0.2 points in its NCAA Strength of Schedule Index if Norwich has a record of .667 or better. That may not sound like much, but last year, Curry’s SOS Index was 10.08 at the end of the regular season. Those two-tenths could mean the difference between home and road in the quarterfinal round, or, if Curry is vying for a Pool C at-large bid, it could be enough to keep them out.

This year’s NCHA-MIAC schedule is much more competitive than last year’s and continues to generate some surprises. After jumping to No. 3 last week in the USCHO.com poll, St. Thomas came away with just one point on the weekend. The Friday 3-3 tie with River Falls was no surprise, but Wisconsin-Stout, a strong contender in NCHA last year, pulled off a bit of an upset over the Tommies, 5-4, on Saturday.

And although the Saints had a split on the weekend, St. Scholastica’s win over Concordia gives it three wins on the season, half of last year’s total. Here’s hoping alum Mark Wick can continue the turnaround of that program started by his predecessor Cory Borys.

Bethel upended its second NCHA team by downing Lake Forest, 6-4. The Foresters will probably drop from this week’s USCHO.com poll on the loss.

Manhattanville got a leg up in the ECAC West with its 5-4 win against visiting RIT on Saturday. The Valiants streamed video of the game over the web. I listened to the game on the radio, and since there was a 20-30 second delay in the baseball-card sized video feed, it made for nice instant replay.

The game went way too long, though, mainly because of problems with the off-ice game administration, especially with the penalty clock. There really isn’t an excuse for that at this level. I hope that Manhattanville can get people up to speed quickly — they have a terrific program on the ice, and promote it very well, and that needs to be reflected in all aspects of the game.

Speaking of getting up to speed, it’s very frustrating that some schools can’t get box scores reported in a timely manner. Many sports information directors are using software that allows them to directly upload game results to the official collegehockeystats.com site within minutes of the conclusion of the game, but a few still don’t have results from Friday reported on Monday.

Then, while we’re talking boxes, there’s the the subject of attendance. A few institutions appear to practice crowd augmentation (and no, there’s no pill for that.) I’ve been dumbfounded to see reports of many times the number of people at a game than I saw; a reliable eyewitness at one game this past weekend had estimated the crowd at 400, but the box showed an attendance of almost 2,000, which I suppose is possible if they stack them three deep.


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