For anyone familiar with Boston sports history, St. Botolph Street should be right up there with Yawkey Way and Causeway Street. It’s the home of Matthews Arena, which outdates the more famous current homes of the city’s pro teams. The world’s oldest indoor hockey rink underwent major renovations over the summer (USCHO.com photo gallery poll; shameless plug).
But while the building’s primary occupants, the Division I Northeastern Huskies, have endured an up and down season, Matthews’ other tenants from nearby D-III Wentworth have enjoyed a flawless start in ECAC Northeast play (5-0) and ridden a 12-1-1 overall mark to the No.13 spot in the latest USCHO.com Division III poll.
The Leopards swept non-conference opponent Hobart last weekend, marking the first time Wentworth had beaten the Statesmen in the program’s history. It also pushed the Leopards’ winning streak to five following their first loss of the season to non-conference opponent Williams on Jan. 2.
“I think Hobart is a really talented team,” Wentworth head coach R.J. Tolan said. “They were both close games. It was nice to go up there and be able to compete and played six really good periods.”
Wentworth topped Hobart 2-0 and 4-2 on the weekend, adding an empty-net goal each night. Senior goalie Justin Marriott and forward Skylur Jameson played a key role in the sweep for the Leopards, earning conference goalie and player of the week honors, respectively. Marriot stopped 44 shots in the opening game before giving way to freshman Michael Jarboe (48 saves) in the finale.
Marriott’s shutout was his seventh, which ties the program’s career record. Jameson assisted on freshman Dylan Barbieri’s first collegiate goal in the opening game before adding an empty netter to seal the win.
He added an assist on Jeff Olitch’s game-winning goal in Saturday’s game.
“I think Justin had played almost every games since I’ve been the coach,” said Tolan, the former Massachusetts-Lowell blueliner and Northeastern assistant who took over at Wentworth before the 2006-07 season. “I couldn’t ask anything more of a kid. He’s once of the nicest kids I’ve ever had an he’s a heck of a goalie. We go as far as Justin goes.”
Despite being only a sophomore, Tolan said Jameson had already left his mark on the Wentworth program.
“In his two years here I don’t know if one kid has had a bigger effect on myself or the program, said Tolan. He’s essentially a winner. He has almost straight A’s in the classroom. Ever since he got here, we seem to have started to win just a bit more. I think that’s directly attributed to Skylur and a few of the underclassman. They’ve really meshed well with some of the older guys.”
Wentworth will travel to Curry Thursday for its first conference game since Dec. 4, a 4-3 win over Suffolk. With seven points in conference play, the Colonels sit only three points behind the Leopards.
“It’s become a pretty rivalry because of how close [Curry is], ” Tolan said. “We have a lot of respect for how they do things over there.”
Wentworth will host Salve Regina at Matthews Monday, the Leopards’ first home game since the win over Suffolk.
“We’ve been unbelievably fortunate,” Tolan said of playing at the historic arena. “To come in and be five minutes from Fenway and play and practice every day at Matthews, you can’t ask for much more as a college hockey player. It’s made my life a little bit easier.”
Around the Rest of the ECAC Northeast
The aforementioned Colonels enjoyed a successful week, using a third period goal in each of their games to knock off non-conference opponents Utica and Geneseo. On Thursday, Curry allowed Utica to tie the game with two final frame tallies before Ryan Barlock netted the game winner at 15:26. Jerry Hotarek’s goal broke a third period tie between Curry and Geneseo, allowing the Colonels to escape with a 3-2 win. Curry forward Josh Kamrass posted two goals an assist on the week, earning the conference’s Rookie of the Week honors.
A host of other non-conference games were played over the weekend, including Salve Regina falling 6-1 to MASCAC opponent Fitchburg State. On Friday, Johnson & Wales lost to Buffalo State 6-4 and Western New England dropped a 4-2 decision to Fredonia. Becker posted a 3-2 win over Franklin Pierce.
On Saturday, Nichols downed Worcester State 5-4, while Western New England and Johnson and Wales capped off winless weekends with losses to Fredonia and Buffalo State, respectively … Suffolk was easily handled by Tufts, 7-1, on Tuesday. Wednesday saw a pair of ECAC Northeast conference games as Nichols beat Johnson & Wales 7-2 and Becker slipped by Salve Regina, 2-0.
Hanging in There
The bookends of 2009 and 2010 certainly won’t bring a lot of fond memories for Plymouth State.
After starting 6-1, the Panthers lost two in a row to close out 2009 and had to wait almost a month to get back into action, where they promptly lost their first three games of the new year, albeit all to non-conference opponents. But Plymouth State put an end to the skid last week grabbing an important four points in conference play with a 7-1 dismantling of Worcester State Thursday and a 4-2 win over Salem State Saturday.
The Panthers’ win over the second place Vikings further clustered the already tight race in the MASCAC. Westfield State (14 points) holds a narrow lead over Salem State (13) while Plymouth State and Fitchburg State aren’t far behind with 10 points apiece. The Panthers emerged with a win Saturday despite allowing a shorthanded goal to cut their lead to 3-2 in the third.
Bryan Kriner broke the tie earlier in the period with a power-play goal and buried the Vikings with an empty netter to cap the scoring. The sophomore added a goal and two assists in Plymouth State’s win over Worcester State Thursday and was the MASCAC Player of the Week. Senior Aaron Runner shared Goalie of the Week honors with Fitchburg State’s Bobby Leiser after stopping 29 shots Thursday and a career-high 38 Saturday.
Elsewhere in the MASCAC
After downing Salve Regina in non-conference action Thursday, Fitchburg State throttled Framingham State 9-1 Saturday. Leiser had 30 saves against Salve Regina after posting 52 last Tuesday in a 4-1 win over New England College. Overall, he was 3-0 with a 1.13 goals against average on the week. Forward Chris Costigan posted eight points (three goals and five assists) in Fitchburg’s three games.
Westfield State extended its unblemished mark in conference play with a 6-1 win over Framingham State Thursday. Prior to falling to the Panthers Saturday, Salem State shutout the University of Massachusetts-Darthmouth, 3-0. Nichols downed Worcester State, 5-4, on Saturday while UMass-Dartmouth lost to non-conference opponent (and in-state rival) UMass-Boston on Tuesday, 5-0.
It’s still a ways off, but I am excited for spring training to roll around. Especially since the Jets are one win away from the Super Bowl … Any mid-major hoops aficionados in the New England area should check out the Northeastern-VCU game at 2 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet New England … Best wishes to former Northeasten and current Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun.
Suggestions? Comments? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.