A Happy New Year to all!
The second half of the season has begun and there are New Years resolutions abounding amongst the coaches and players as we start 2010. Some teams have already started with a holiday tournament while others are tasting their first competitive action in over two weeks this weekend. What are teams looking for in the second half? Heres a breakdown by conference of resolutions that, if kept, should provide consistency for better hockey ahead.
Who needs resolutions when you are unbeaten in regulation this season and just beat second ranked Plattsburgh on home ice this past Tuesday? The offense is clicking at over five goals per game while the defense and goaltending are holding teams to just over one goal a game. Special teams are excelling on both the power play and shorthanded situations and the freshmen are contributing in a big way already.
If anything, if its not broken leave it alone and the Cadets are already in midseason form and playing very good hockey. Six players are in double digit points with freshman Kyle Thomas leading the way in goals with 10. With Ryan Kligensmith playing lights out behind a solid group of defensemen, the Cadets should have visions of playing late into March.
Having started the new year at the Middlebury Classic last weekend, the Beavers lost to the hosts 4-0 and came back to win the consolation game against Salve Regina by a 5-1 score. In the first 10 games the team is averaging just over three goals per game so the resolution here seems to be finding some other scorers to help senior Chris Wood (seven goals, three assists, 10 points) and junior Terry Woods (3-5-8) who lead the team in points.
If senior Jason Schneider can return to form after missing six games to date, the Beavers get back a legitimate scoring threat to support both the even strength offense as well as the power play.
The Thoroughbreds are 3-2-0 in the conference but just 4-6-0 overall following two lopsided losses at the Cardinal Classic in Plattsburgh over New Years. While the scoring has been balanced with 10 players having two goals or more, the three goal per game output isnt enough for the high-paced style employed by coach Neil Sinclair.
The resolution here is for more scoring especially from juniors Alex Mykolenko (2-9-11) and senior Matt Czerkowicz (2-4-6). That covers the front end but a second resolution would see sophomore Colin Bessey improve on his overall numbers in the second half and help this team advance in the standings and playoffs.
University of Massachusetts-Boston
While the Beacons are off to one of their best starts in years at 5-3-1 through the end of 2009, they need to be resolute about playing more consistent hockey in 2010 if they want to stay near the top of the conference standings. Forwards Kris Kransky and Eric Tufman need to be bigger offensive threats and the penalty killing unit backstopped by four year starter Ryan Donovan in goal will need to cut down on the 19% success rate the opposition has posted through the first nine games.
Defenseman Wayne Sands who has had some injury problems in the first half will be a key for the Beacons in 2010 both on the blueline and quarterbacking the power play.
The Huskies had a three game winning streak straddling 2009 into 2010 but lost in the final of the Middlebury classic to the Panthers by a 5-2 score. The Battle of the Beaneys has gone the Vermont way recently but Southern Maine has a lot to play for in the second half where they usually turn up the intensity and level of consistent play.
Senior Chris Travis (4-10-14) and junior Zach Joy (11-1-12) have been as advertised offensively for the Huskies who could really use some other players to resolve to produce more scoring in the second half of the season. Look for defenseman Paul Conter to be a contributor offensively and better goaltending from the sophomore combination of Koray Celik and Mason St. Hillaire.
Ed Seneys Hawks spent most of the first half integrating a lot of younger players into the college game and have five freshman among the top 10 in team points through their first eight games of the season. Goaltending from Alex Wyse and Kevin Fairweather has been consistent so far and the Hawks have scored at an average of over four goals per game.
St As resolution has to be focused on being as successful on the penalty kill as they have been on the power play. Cutting the opponents 19% success rate with the man advantage will certainly help the Hawks stay in the thick of the conference race and prep them well for the NCAA tournament at the end of the season.
New England College
The Pilgrims find themselves looking up in the standings at the break but with a nice two game win streak in the new year against two solid teams in Curry and Salem State. All the pieces are there for the Pilgrims with experience, depth, and skilled players on both ends of the ice. Getting some key points this weekend against UNE and USM will help to jump start the Pilgrims in the second half of league play.
As expected several key seniors are leading NEC offensively and will need to carry that burden in the second half. Look for Mark Ehl (6-5-11) and Alex Muse (6-8-14) along with Trevor Turner (1-5-6) to provide both the production and leadership for this team to play its best moving into the most important part of the season.
Head coach Chris Davidson knew he had a lot of moving pieces entering the season with the need to replace significant offensive players that graduated as well as a goaltender who played virtually every game. At 2-7-0 at the break, the Purple Knights need to reverse their current stats of scoring just three goals per game and giving up four goals per game.
One key area to resolve the problem could be found on special teams where the power play is very good at 23% but the penalty kill gives it up at almost the same rate. Look for senior Dave Vorosilchak (0-9-9) to keep his team focused on playing well in the league having this team ready for the D-II tournament come March.
Head coach Alex Todd has his work cut out for him with this team entering the new year and there is room for improvement in virtually every category. At 2-6-2, the Spartans have had trouble scoring goals while giving them up in bunches. They start a three game home stand this weekend so hopefully the dawn of a new year will bring a fresh focus to their game and a much more consistent effort.
Two areas that the Spartans need to stick to a resolution on will be better goaltending and vastly improved penalty kill efficiency. The PK unit has surrendered 20 goals of the 43 scored against the team so far this season. Goaltenders Seth McNary and Arthur Hollinger will need to step up as their teams best penalty killers in the second half.
University of New England
Head coach Brad Holts Noreasters are already ringing in the new year having won their first game of the season with a 2-1 win over Plymouth State last Saturday night. The first year varsity team has been competitive to date and comes to play every night but needs to find some offense and play better hockey in the third period where they have been outshot and outscored significantly by opponents to date.
Freshman goalie Dallas Ungurian (3.69 goals against average, .918 save percentage) has been a bright spot along with the teams leading scorer Jack Nolin (2-3-5) but they will need the supporting cast to build off the experience of the first nine games and battle with the best that interlock play has to offer.
Undefeated in the conference and 6-0-1 overall, the Ephs are playing well and should be resolving to keep leading scorer Alex Smigelski (7-4-11) healthy for the remainder of the season. Head coach Bill Kangas