Looking at the overall standings in the ECAC NE, far at the top of the points pile is UMass Dartmouth, with 10 wins in their first 12 games, plus a loss and a tie. Coach John Rolli reflected on his team’s great start. “I’d have to say the break’s coming at a good time. Coming into the season, we were just trying to establish our identity. We go to the Babson Invitational and figure, let’s see where we are. We surprised ourselves beating Babson, 7-2; then we beat Geneseo, 6-2. The next week, in a non-conference game versus Fitchburg, we got past them.” They also had a huge win over Curry College, followed up by their tenth straight win of the season against Tufts University, before running out of gas with a tie against Wesleyan, and then their first loss, against Connecticut College.
Rolli feels the break came at the right time, but he’ll be ready for the games to begin again. “After the break, we’ve got Assumption on January 6th, and a total of thirteen games remaining. Eleven of them are league games, and two are non-conference games. We have three home games in a row, then eight out of the next ten are on the road, so if we’re going to do anything, it’s going to be coming off of the bus.”
The Corsairs will hopefully get good news soon from their doctors, as three players who have been banged up are hoping to return following the break. Freshman defenseman Paul Moran missed two out of the last three games; junior forward-defenseman was injured in the Babson tournament, and is hoping to return soon; and sophomore defenseman Chris Carpenter, who transferred from Connecticut College, is slated to see the doctor this week and hopefully get the green light to play.
Rolli is looking forward to these players getting on the ice soon. “They are three players who add depth, which is important in the second half. We’re happy with how our first half went; realizing that, the next two months are key, not only for us, but for every team in the league.”
One team that has had a rough start overall, but is at the top of the Northeast-10 standings with a 2-0 record, is Stonehill College. “Obviously the first half of the season has been a frustrating start,” coach Scott Harlow said, “We have five losses by one goal, and one by two goals.” Three of Stonehill’s losses also occurred in overtime, giving one the impression that they have stayed close in many of their games.
“We’ve made a lot of young mistakes. We have a lot of freshman and sophomores. We’ve haven’t learned how to win yet. Only one team really outplayed us, and that was Curry. We just haven’t done the right things at the right time,” Harlow said. That Curry loss came before a stretch in which Stonehill has gone 2-2-0, with both losses close affairs, even out-shooting one of their opponents.
In looking ahead to the remainder of the season, which will resume on January 19, 2007, at Worcester State, Harlow seemed optimistic. “Moving on, we won nine in a row last year. We’ll come back refreshed, and with a better mindset than we had. The win over Franklin Pierce will help us, we’ll come back with a good attitude.”
Despite heading into the break at 3-8 overall, and with a 2-6 ECAC Northeast record, Harlow is happy with his record with the Northeast 10. “We’re 2-0 in the conference, for us that’s big. We win one more, maybe get home ice. Win a couple more, maybe get a bye in the first-round.”
Harlow has eleven players who are in their first year of collegiate hockey, and besides senior goalies Matt Gorman and Josh Green, there is only one other senior, defenseman Evan Spencer. “I think it’s going to come with maturity. We’re going to have a lot better second half of the season. The goal is to get home ice,” said Harlow, now into his seventh year behind the Skyhawks bench.
Three players who have earned the praise of their coach are Brendan O’Brien, who as a freshman last year led the team in scoring, and is currently the leader with 3G-12A-15PTS. in seven games. “By far our best player,” Harlow said, “and he was hurt for a couple of games.” Sophomore defensemen James Florentino, and Billy Ninteau, who transferred from Clarkson, have also played steady hockey. “Ninteau’s just been playing great, and he’s getting thirty minutes a game, he and Florentino,” Harlow said.
Sad news came out of the UMass Dartmouth hockey offices, with the recent passing of Brian Glinner, a goalie for the Corsairs in the mid-90′s. “He was the ultimate teammate,” said his former coach, John Rolli. “He always had a story to tell, full of life, he was everyone’s best friend on the team.”
Rolli recalled one story that brought back a memory. “We had a stretch when we had to sit out some players in a game against Assumption. Brian ended up playing third line left wing for us!”
Glinner, who was a superb goalie for Everett High School, had been battling stomach cancer, and passed away December 7. “He was as tough a kid as you’ll find,” said Rolli. “A real city kid. He came upon one foe that’s tough to beat.”