With the holiday season in full swing, let’s see what’s on the wish list for MASCAC teams for the second half of the season.
I spent last week in this space writing about the Rams and Eric Ward and the upperclassman finally putting a solid season in after a couple rough seasons. Despite the tremendous 4-1-1 record in MASCAC play, coach T.J. Brown has one big wish from Jolly Old Man and that’s improved special teams. The power play is ranked 50th of 60 teams in Division III at 15.7 percent. The penalty kill is at 71.4 percent. Those numbers will have to improve if they want to be in the mix at the end of the season.
The Vikings of Salem State are sitting in second place in the conference and what is interesting about their 6-3-0 overall record is they have four overtime victories this season. Walking the tight rope I am sure has raised coach Bill O’Neil’s blood pressure. Winning games in regulations is on the wish list and a win against Massachusetts-Boston at the Frozen Fenway event on Jan. 7 would help. O’Neil will also hope to see freshmen Alex Minter, John Needham and Tanner Fahlstedt continue to produce in the second half.
One of the Westfield wishes is to swap the the Becker and Southern New Hampshire nonconference games in January with two more MASCAC games. The Owls are 0-5-0 outside the MASCAC and 4-2 inside the conference. To be fair, four of those nonconference games were one-goal games. Another wish on the Owls’ list is to find a way to win those games as they sit 1-5 in one-goal games.
“There’s no place like home for the holidays” is a perfect motto for the Falcons. They are 4-3-0 at home this season and 1-3-0 away from the friendly confines of the Wallace Civic Center. The Falcons have 14 games remaining, seven at home and seven away. Good teams win at home, but the great teams find a way to win on the road. If they can go 5-2 in the second half on the road, that could possibly move them up a position or two in the standings. Another wish for the Falcons is to get freshman sensation Jake Martin back. He has put up a 4-8-12 line in eight games this season, but has missed the last four games.
Last season’s regular-season champions have been hovering around .500 this season. Just like Westfield State, they will want to learn to come from behind. When their opponents score first, Plymouth State is 0-3-0 and in one-goal games, just 1-3-0. A part of that is working a large freshmen class into the program. Now through sources, I was able to obtain the wish list from the rink staff at Hanaway Rink. They want stronger netting for the goal cages for Zach Sarig’s slap shot.
Last year’s postseason champions are also in a rebuilding mode. At the same time, forwards Mike Restuccia (4-11-15) and Shaun Walters (8-4-12) are looking for one of their young teammates to contribute regularly. Besides those two, the Corsairs have no one with more than five points on the roster. UMass-Dartmouth has played strong in the first period, but hasn’t been able to transition that to the second and third periods.
I am sure the biggest wish on coach John Guiney’s list is that I never do a column on the Lancers for the rest of the season. My first column of the season was on the Lancers jumping out to a 3-0-0 start to the season and halfway to matching last season’s win total. Since that column appeared, the have gone 1-6-1. On the ice, Worcester State has been undisciplined, but more so in conference play where the Lancers average nearly 29 minutes in the sin bin. They have allowed 14 goals on the penalty kill in the first half, too.