Two weeks ago, Manhattanville won its 200th game as a program against Curry. The Valiants accomplished that feat in only 305 total games. Winning two-thirds of their games after starting from nothing 12 years ago is quite an accomplishment.
“We have had a lot of really good people around here,” said Manhattanville’s only head coach, Keith Levinthal. “Not just players, but people who volunteer to do all kinds of stuff on the side to make things happen. It really is a tribute to all of the people who in their own way have contributed to the hockey program. I feel really lucky to have a lot of good, special people around.”
Last weekend, Manhattanville split its pair of games at Neumann. On Friday night, the Valiants held a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period, but that score was deceiving. Neumann was winning all of the little battles, controlling play, and outshooting the Valiants. The final shots on goal tally was 41-18 in Neumann’s favor, and the Knights won the game 5-2.
“Looking back on Friday’s game, as a staff we worked really hard to prepare our guys,” said Levinthal. “We really did our homework. But at the end of the day, the game plan that we put together just wasn’t the right one. Even though we were up 2-1 in the first period, we were in trouble. Give Neumann a lot of credit, because they kicked our butts. Sometimes you can put a lot of time and effort into something, but if you don’t give people the right instructions, you set them up to fail. What we did on Friday has worked against a lot of teams, but it just wasn’t right for Neumann.”
Saturday’s rematch was a different story. Manhattanville played with a sense of desperation, took the game to the Knights, and kept the shots to a much more even 27-26 advantage. Once again, Manhattanville established a 2-1 lead, but this time they held on and won the game 3-1.
“Saturday we were a lot more aggressive and a lot more physical,” said Levinthal. “As a result, we started winning more of the battles, the faceoffs, and became a more effective team on the ice.”
Leading the Valiants in goals this year is senior Mickey Lang with 15. Eight of those tallies have come on the power play and Lang is credited with one game-winning goal. Lang leads the ECAC West in goals and is third in overall scoring.
“A big reason he has become so successful is because he is such a hard worker and doesn’t give up,” said Levinthal. “Teams key on him, but he keeps going and eventually he gets you.”
Another key ingredient this year is senior defenseman Sasha Romanenko. After battling injuries for the past two seasons, Romanenko has played in every game this year for the Valiants and is making a big contribution. He has been credited with 10 assists this year, which places him third in the league in assists by defensemen.
“You can make a good argument that he has been our best defenseman all year,” said Levinthal. “He has been battling injuries for much of his career. He is a super tough kid. Now that he is healthy, he has become a force and is a horrific guy to play against because he is big and strong. I’ve been really happy to see him have the year he has, because he has worked really hard and faced adversity.”
Next up for Manhattanville is a critical pair of game against Elmira this weekend. Despite going undefeated in nonconference play, the Valiants are only 2-4 in league play so far. Manhattanville can’t let Elmira, with a league record of 4-2, get any farther ahead with only a month left in the season.
“The interesting thing with our series with Elmira is, we’ve beat them on the road a bunch of times but have struggled at home. It shapes up to be a really important weekend to us, given where we are in the standings. We need to turn that around a bit. Part of what makes Elmira great is that even if you hold them to a few scoring chances, they make you pay anyways.”
Despite several successful forays against the Soaring Eagles at the Thunderdomes, the Valiants have struggled against Elmira at home in Playland. The last time Manhattanville beat Elmira at home was February 24, 2007, when the Valiants won 5-3 in the ECAC West semifinals. The last regular season home victory for Mahattanville was November 4, 2005 by a 7-4 score.
ECAC West Weekly Awards
Player of the Week: Matt Valois (Jr.) — Neumann. Valois notched a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win by Neumann over No. 5 Manhattanville Friday evening. The junior assisted on the first and fourth goals of the game. Valois netted his goal in the third period to seal the 5-2 win.
Goaltender of the Week: Nick Broadwater (So.) — Hobart. Broadwater registered 43 saves in the Statesmen’s 3-2 win over Morrisville on Saturday. He improved his record to 11-4-1 and is sporting a .935 save percentage and 2.12 goals against average this season.
Rookie of the Week: Tom Rush — Hobart. Rush scored his first collegiate goal and recorded an assist to help Hobart to a 3-2 win over visiting Morrisville on Saturday.