East meets West in Adrian College’s Hackett Builders Thanksgiving Showcase Friday and Saturday.
The second-annual hockey revue at Arrington Ice Arena features three Top-10 ranked teams with No. 5 Hamline, No. 7 Adrian and No. 9 SUNY Geneseo, as well as Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Geneseo takes on Hamline at 3 p.m. Friday, followed by UW-Eau Claire and host Adrian at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Geneseo plays UW-Eau Claire at 3 p.m., while the Bulldogs meet the Pipers in the nightcap at 7 p.m.
The matchups are also one of the few times where East and West regional teams clash during the regular season. Travel costs make regular encounters prohibative, Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said..
“Budgets these days are limited so traveling west is no longer an option unless the circumstances allow it,” said Schultz, whose Knights are unbeaten in four games.
Favorable circumstances in this case are Adrian College and the showcase sponsor, which are covering a majority of the visiting teams’ tabs.
Teams are treated to a Thanksgiving banquet dinner on Thursday. A pregame skate takes place on Friday, and awards are given to each team’s top offensive and defensive players.
Last year, Buffalo State joined Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s St. John’s and Concordia Moorhead at the inaugural Adrian showcase.
“Two teams went out there from our league last year and said it’s just first class,” Hamline coach Scott Bell said. “They treat you really well there.”
Adrian started the event to play West Region teams outside its Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association circle, Bulldogs coach Ron Fogarty said. The Adrian showcase coincides with the MCHA/NCHA Thanksgiving Showdown, featuring MCHA members Lawrence and Marian, as well as the NCHA’s St. Norbert (ranked No. 3) and St. Scholastica.
Another reason for the lack of games with Eastern teams is they don’t carry the same weight at NCAA Tournament selection time, Adrian coach Ron Fogarty said.
“It’s easier for us to play Fredonia or Geneseo or Buff(alo) State, but they don’t count in the preliminary selection criteria,” said Fogarty, whose team has played East Region squads SUNY Potsdam, Oswego State, Neumann College and Geneseo during the past four years.
The Bulldogs also play in the Northfield Bank Tournament Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 with Manhattanville, Nichols and defending NCAA D-III champion Norwich.
In terms of stoking an East versus West rivalry, Hamline’s coach prefers to stay within the spirit of the holiday.
“We just try to take care of our business and not get too involved in those types of things,” Bell said. “I think it is just nice for ourselves, Adrian and Eau Claire to see some of these other teams and for them to see us. It’s nice for them to come out here.”
Friday, Nov. 26
Adrian College’s Hackett Builders Thanksgiving Showcase
SUNY Geneseo Knights (6-1-2) vs. Hamline Pipers (5-1): These teams are led by two high-scoring defensemen in the Knights’ Danny Scagnelli (4 goals, 9 assists, 13 points) and the Pipers’ Chris Berenguer (5-3-8). Geneseo’s David Arduin has a knack for settling things, as he’s tied for first in the nation with three game-winning goals.
UW-Eau Claire Blugolds (3-4) vs. Adrian Bulldogs (5-1): The Bulldogs boast the nation’s fourth-best power play (11-of-36, 30.6 percent and are sixth nationally in scoring offense (4.83 goals-per game). Brad Houston (4-6-10) and Eric Miller (3-7-10) lead a balanced Adrian attack. After starting 2-0, the Blugolds have dropped four of the last five. Senior Ross Janecyk (6-3-9) leads the UW-Eau Claire in scoring.
MCHA/NCHA Thanksgiving Showdown
St. Norbert Green Knights (8-1) vs. Marian Sabres (5-3): No. 3 Green Knights, representing the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association, are riding a six-game winning streak while only outscoring opponents 15-7. Senior netminder B.J. O’Brien (6-1, 1.73 GAA , .918 save-pct.) is a key part of the austerity strategy. NCHA-leading scorer Johan Ryd (4-7-11) leads the NCHA with three game-winning goals. Despite a promising 3-0 start, the Sabres are looking to rebound from a two-game sweep by Milwaukee School of Engineering, which knocked the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association contenders out of the Top 15. Senior Brendan Hull’s team-leading five goals and five assists have all come in even-strength situations.
St. Scholastica Saints (3-4) vs. Lawrence Vikings (5-1): The Vikings are vying for MCHA supremacy with a four-game winning streak, which included two-game sweeps of Concordia and Lake Forest. Freshman defenseman William Thoren (2-7-9) paces Lawrence’s balanced attack, as 20 players have registered at least a point in six games. The Saints’ uneven start has seen the team yield an NCHA-leading 11 goals in the first period. Two of Riley Riddell’s team-leading three goals have come on the power play.