The fact that Salem State has 10 days between its first and second games of the season is not by design.
The Vikings opened the season November 7 with a 4-3 win at Wentworth of the ECAC Northeast. Now, the Vikings are biding time – though not in a passive manner – in preparation for their second game of the season, a 7 p.m. MASCAC contest Thursday at home against Fitchburg State.
“That’s the way our schedule fell this year,” Vikings coach Bill O’Neill said. “That’s just what it is. It’s more of the same, with practice and preparation.
“It’s still early in the year, there’s still a lot of excitement to get going and a lot of anticipation.”
And O’Neill is looking at this weekend in a certain regard. The Vikings (1-0) face the Falcons (1-2) Thursday, then play at Massachusetts-Dartmouth at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, which constitutes the beginning of a routine for Salem State. Through December 10, Salem State will play two games a weekend, either Thursday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday, including the Cape Cod Lighthouse College Hockey Invitational tournament November 26-27 in Hyannis, Mass., a four-team tournament that also includes Amherst, Hobart and Babson.
“This is our first weekend of play,” O’Neill said of the Vikings’ games Thursday and Saturday.
While some teams would take advantage of the situation by thinking outside of the box when it comes to breaking the supposed monotony — team-building exercises, a practice session dedicated to playing basketball or indoor soccer, or an extra day off — the Vikings will stay on course by following a simple, defined schedule.
“We’re just working out and practicing,” O’Neill said.
What kind of challenge does a team face when it has nearly a week and a half away from a game routine?
“That’s a good question,” O’Neill said. “But I think the excitement level and the preparation leading up to the beginning of the season, I don’t think the players spend so much time thinking about that. They like to play. If we had our choice, we’d play more than a couple games by now. The players know what the schedule is.”
This isn’t something new for the Vikings. Salem State had a nine-day layoff between its second and third games of the 2010-2011 season, and the Vikings didn’t open the 2009-2010 season until November 17.
O’Neill remembers when his team’s program began its season the weekend before Thanksgiving, while other teams in other leagues would begin their respective seasons at the start of November.
“Now we’re working backwards,” O’Neill said. “A lot of the teams now are trying to get their schedules in place earlier. We’d like to get another game in between (our first and second games) in the future, but that’s the way it fell this year.”
Time to rewind in the MASCAC and ECAC Northeast
Last weekend had a full slate of games in both conferences, but here’s a sampling of some of the contest, each with a number of note:
Utica 7, Westfield State 3: Sebastien Poirier had a goal and an assist for Westfield State, which put only 15 shots on goal in Friday’s loss to Utica, ranked 7 in this week’s USCHO.com Division III poll.
Number of note: Westfield State goalie Eddie Davey made 38 saves in the loss — the second consecutive outing in which he’s made at least 35 saves.
Geneseo 6, Framingham State 1: Daniel Miressi scored Framingham’s only goal at 6:58 of the third period in Saturday’s loss.
Number of note: Geneseo outshot Framingham 44-16 overall and 20-4 in the second period.
Massachusetts-Boston 5, Massachusetts-Dartmouth 4: Mike Owens scored two goals for Mass.-Dartmouth on Saturday, including a third-period power-play goal that cut Mass.-Boston’s lead to 5-4.
Number of note: Mass.-Boston went three-for-four on the power play
Stonehill 2, Nichols 0: Nichols goalie Dylan Woodring made 25 saves in the loss Saturday at Levy Rink.
Number of note: Nichols took 21 penalties in the loss.
Western New England 4, Worcester State 1: Four different players scored for Western New England on Saturday in the championship game of the Pepperidge Farm Classic.
Number of note: Western New England outshot Worcester State by more than a two-to-one margin (42-20).
Curry 10, Salve Regina 2: Ryan Barlock scored two goals and two assists Saturday in Curry’s rout of Salve Regina, while Jacob Hutt scored both goals for Salve Regina in the conference opener for both teams.
Number of note: Curry scored five of its 10 goals on the power play.