Going into a season, at any level, and in almost any league, there always seems to be that one consistent team that will contend for a championship, that no matter what is always a force in the league and sits atop the standings each year.
In the MASCAC, that team is the Massachusetts-Dartmouth Corsairs.
Since the 1984-85 season, when current head coach Jon Roli took over, the Corsairs have won nine league titles, 12 regular season titles, and made three consecutive trips to the D-III national tournament. Roli, who now enters his 29th season at the helm for the Corsairs, credits the success to a very simple formula.
“We look for players who are serious about their studies and willing to work on and off ice to improve as players,” explained Roli. “Just like everyone else.”
Those teams that are always in the playoffs or win the regular season title may not necessarily win the league championship or even make it to the NCAAs. For a team like Mass.-Dartmouth, it is a good feeling to know that you have a legit shot each year.
Mass.-Dartmouth, a perennial powerhouse in the ECAC Northeast before jumping to the MASCAC at the start of the 2009 season, won five straight ECAC Northeast regular season titles from 1994-1999. During that span, the Corsairs won three league titles as well, but did not make the national tournament. Additionally, from 2000-2005, Mass.-Dartmouth went 103-44-9, yet did not win any hardware.
The 2012-13 season for the Corsairs should have the same outlook as the previous years; contend for a title. This year started a bit slow, but like its proven track record, Mass.-Dartmouth turned it around by picking up nine out of 10 points in its last five games after starting the season 0-1-1.
“We have played well all season and early on were just lacking in wins,” said Roli, who led the Corsairs to the MASCAC title in 2011. “The turning point was the 5-4 OT win at Wesleyan.”
The chance to be able to contend for a title has a lot to do with the players on the ice, of course. For coach Roli, all three positions are just as important as the rest of them, and he makes sure he gets the best from his players.
Defensively, the Corsairs have a mix of young and old, as senior Zach Helper and sophomore Stephen Ginand led the defense.
“Hepler and Ginand were second team MASCAC All-stars last season, and have been exceptional this season,” said Roli. “The key to the play of our defensemen, however, has been the improved play of veterans like Matt Correia and Nate Dupere. Having [goalie] Ryan Williams backing up the defense never hurts, especially since the other two defense positions have been filled by four freshmen.”
Speaking of Williams, the netminder looks to close out his stellar career with another successful run.
“Williams brings the same game each and every night,” Roli said. “He was exceptional last week, turning aside 39 shots against Westfield and all 26 attempts in shutting out Fitchburg to earn the MASCAC Goalie of the Week recognition.”
Up front, Roli is seeing a bit of the same situation play out like his defensemen, but this time it’s his forwards.
“Senior Dave McDonald has had a great start and sophomore Shaun Walters has been our most improved player thus far, but we have a number of veteran forwards who have notched important goals for us,” proclaimed Roli. “We expect offensive balance from our top three lines. Newcomers Dmitry Antipin and Swann Boisvert are special players that can contribute as well.”
Mass.-Dartmouth heads into each season with goals and expectations to make sure that they are able to contend every year for a league title. By attracting some of the nation’s top players, not only can they contend, that chance to win gets better.
Players of the Week
Offensive Player of the Week
Alex Cotte, Plymouth State, Senior. Collected five points on a pair of goals and three assists for Panthers in perfect week for Plymouth State.
Defenseman/Rookie of the Week
Stephen MacManus, Salem State Vikings, Freshman. Picked up a pair of helpers in the Vikings 5-2 win over Westfield Sate. The Westwood, Mass. native leads all Viking blue-liners with five points.
Goaltender of the Week
Ryan Williams, Mass.-Dartmouth Corsairs, Senior. Went 2-0 last week and stopped 65 of 66 shots for a .50 GAA and .985 saves percentage. One of his wins was a 26-save shutout over Fitchburg State.