Despite the fact that the top of the standings are still crowded in the ECAC NE — with Curry and UMass Dartmouth both with 20 points — there are some teams looking up from the bottom, and that’s our focus this week.
In the Northeast-10, Framingham State College is still looking for its first league win. They’ll try for that elusive win with contests against Western New England College and UMass Dartmouth on the next two Saturdays, respectively. More than half of the Rams 16 overall losses have come by two goals or less.
Franklin Pierce College is still looking for their second Northeast-10 win, against three losses; but longtime coach Jay McCormack sees a team that is resilient. “We’re struggling to find wins. We’re not playing terrible hockey, we just need to learn to finish teams off. The good news is the guys still have a good attitude. They’re not broken, and they’re not giving up.”
McCormack, who has been involved with the school since he entered as a freshman in 1982, pointed out some other positives. “In the last few games, Brian DelSavio has really picked up his play [three goals in last two games] and Joe Fields has put points on the board for us. We’re getting three lines to play consistently for us, and the fourth line has been doing well for us, and these are three guys, Trevor Cark, Ryan Shayer, and Shane Murphy, who don’t get a lot of recognition.”
Fields, a sophomore from Lansdale, PA, is leading the Ravens in scoring with 6G-15A-21PTS in 16 games played. He has already surpassed his totals from last year, 12G-&A-19PTS-20GP. DelSavio, a senior from Orangeburg, N.Y., is currently second on the team in scoring with 10G-7A-17PTS-16GP. He leads the team with six power play goals.
McCormack knows the remaining games are crucial. “We finish with Southern New Hampshire, and that game could determine a home playoff spot. These guys are focused, they’ve got a ‘we want wins, we want to win more games’ mentality. We just need to make better decisions. We’ve shown we can skate with anybody. We’ll use the final seven to eight games to get ready for a playoff run. We excited about it, and my guys are hungry for it. The day after a tough loss, they still come to the rink ready to work, they know there are no days off.”
One good test will come this weekend, when Franklin Pierce travels to UMass Dartmouth, currently atop the ECAC NE. McCormack is glad to be a part of a conference that continues to grow. “In both leagues [ECAC Northeast and Northeast-10] every year everyone’s getting better, and made improvement. There’s a lot of parity, and on any given night, anyone can beat anyone else.”
In western Massachusetts, Chris Bernard is halfway through his rookie season behind the bench at Western New England College. Despite only one conference win in eleven tries, Bernard sees a lot off things to be optimistic about. “I think, for us, we had a real strong start, and we finished the semester at six and five, which is the first time since 1993 we had a winning record at the break. Then after the break, we started playing, and we didn’t have a lot of practices, and we’d be playing demoralized, for we didn’t close out games.”
The Golden Bears are currently mired in a five game losing streak. This skid started on January 20th with a 9-4 loss to Fitchburg State. They’ll look to snap that against the only team beneath them in standings when they host Framingham State on Saturday, February 3rd. In speaking of the streak, Bernard offered these thoughts, “This was a culmination of out inability to pay close attention to the small details that all add up to wins and losses.”
Bernard still has his players thinking big, though, when it comes to the post-season. “We could still sneak in. A double-digit winning season was our goal. We’ve had nine wins the last two years. Our focus is on the real small details, winning the one on one battles.
Our attitude is positive. Our work ethic, our desire to get better, our pride to get better, we’re still executing.”
With five wins two years ago, and just four wins last year, Bernard needs to lead his troops to three wins over the next five games to hit the magical double digit figure he and his team are striving for. He’s very pleased with the play of freshman forward Matt Haddock, as well as Phil Lamy, who “has proven he can compete with the top twenty scorers in our league.” Lamy, a sophomore left winger out of Kent Hills Prep, has already tripled his goal output of last year, and has totals of 9G-12A-21PTS-21GP. Haddock, who played for the CD Selects, has 7G-6A-13PTS-18GP. In his last four games, though, he has been held scoreless.
Bernard was asked his thoughts on the how the league as a whole is performing. “I think you find some of the teams who haven’t been at the top realize you can throw a knock-out punch early in the game. You can sneak up on a team and steal two points. If you’re playing a top team, a real positive start oftentimes limits their ability to use their depth. We were tied at one with Curry in the first [a game in which Curry would win, 7-2, on January 23rd] and we did not take advantage of our scoring opportunities.”
As Bernard gets sets to finish up his first season as the WNEC head coach, he was asked what it meant to him. “It’s been an absolute pleasure as a result of the support from the Athletic Department. The environment has been a real blessing. I told the team we’d have to create an identity, and that it would be challenged, in an effort to get better. This has been a learning process for me. Again, it’s been a pleasure because of the institution.” Bernard also hopes that this year is the first of many, but also knows that changes can occur as time passes.
Suffolk Players Getting Assists Off The Ice
One thing that Suffolk University coach Chris Glionna stresses from his players is to be involved with community service, and with the efforts of Assistant Coach Greg Fowke, they think they’ve come up with a great program.
Fowke, who is a Physical Education teacher at the Farragut Elementary School in Roxbury, MA, knew that there was a need for some of his students to have some positive male role models in their lives. “Chris and I are always looking to get the players involved with the ‘bigger picture’ in hockey or in life. Some of the kids in the school, when it comes to having a role model, they really don’t have it in their life. Our players are just as excited about this as the kids.”
As Glionna explained, “A couple of days a week, two of the guys go over and help him [Fowke] with different sports. It started out with hockey and now it’s branched into different sports. Each player is assigned to a specific grade, so the kids get to know our players.”
This pogram is still in its’ infancy, as it just began after the second semester at Suffolk started. Fowke worked with the principal at the Farragut School, Rosemary Harmon, to get the program started. “What we have here is an urban school, so you have a mixed bag, with different cultures, backgrounds, and economics. Our players see a different side of things. Some want to teach, some want to get into coaching, some want to go on to law school. It’s been fun for the players, and for the kids.”