Perhaps it was because they had a month to stew about the way they skidded into the Christmas break.
Or maybe it was a case of talent rising to its proper level.
Hobart gave evidence that the woes of the first half of the season are truly a thing of the past, after vanquishing a pair of top-10 teams – including top-ranked host Plattsburgh – to win the Buck Supply Winter Classic.
Sophomore goalie Lino Chimienti played the hero for the Statesmen by backstopping both wins, including Friday’s 3-2 overtime win over Williams, then ranked No. 7.
The next night, the young Montrealer pulled off a career-high 39 saves to help Hobart upset the previously-unbeaten Cardinals, in their own rink no less.
The effort earned Chimienti MVP honors of the tournament, as well as laurels as the ECAC West goaltender of the week.
The wins snapped a rough, six-game winless streak for the Statesmen that extended back to Nov. 6.
Hobart had been ranked No. 8 by USCHO.com at that point, but had fallen off the national radar until this weekend.
Utica finding its way
League leaders Utica, now ranked No. 8, picked up where it left off before the holidays with a strong showing at Oswego’s Pathfinder Bank tournament.
The Pioneers slipped by Wisconsin-Stout 4-2 in its opener, then fought the No. 12 Lakers to a 2-2 draw.
Utica’s effort was led by senior forward Jon Gaffney and freshman forward Luc Boby.
Gaffney scored three times during the weekend, including twice against Stout. He scored again against Oswego, a third-period tally that was poised to hold as the game winner until the Lakers’ Kenny Neil scored his second of the game to deadlock the affair.
Gaffney earned the ECAC West player of the Week award, while Boby, who figured in on five of the six goals scored by Utica in the tournament, was named the loop’s rookie of the week.
Local talent Bartell staying close to home
The midseason break now having passed, it’s worth noting that the ECAC West’s coaches were anything but idle while their charges were away.
Indeed, they put away their whistles and take out their notebooks as they hit the road on recruiting trips that take them to all corners of the hockey map.
One prospect who will be staying close to home is forward Max Bartell, a Rome, N.Y., native who will head to nearby Utica next year.
Bartell has spent the past two seasons with the Walpole Express in the Eastern Hockey League.
Elmira at Fredonia rescheduled
Winter in the Northeast being what it is, it’s a wonder that Mother Nature doesn’t take more delight in undoing the work of the college hockey schedule makers.
Still, a casualty of this week’s “Blizzard of ’14,” which slammed into Western New York, was Tuesday’s interconference tilt pitting Elmira at Fredonia.
It has been rescheduled to Jan. 21 at Steele Hall.