It doesn’t matter at any level, whether it’s Division I, Division III or even at the NHL level, when freshmen or rookies have outstanding first years there’s questions if they can repeat or fall for the dreaded “sophomore slump.”
Coming into the year for Nichols, the questions were if other coaches in ECAC Northeast would have a better game plan going up against Kevin Swallow, who’s in his second year on the job at Nichols.
Another question would be if Alex Larson could have another stellar season in goal and if Tyler Beasley could improve on his 28-point freshman campaign.
Well, both were a part of the 2013-14 squad that won the ECAC Northeast championship.
The Bison’s season came to an end last Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament with a 3-2 loss to Geneseo. As always, Larson gave his team a chance to win as he made 45 saves in the loss.
Nichols started the season going 7-1-2 before the kids went home for the Christmas break and one of those victories was on Nov. 23 against last year’s ECAC Northeast champion Johnson and Wales. In the second half of the season, the Bison hit a small bump in the road out of conference, losing against Skidmore, Hobart and Manhattanville in the first two weeks of January.
When the calendar turned to February, the Bison just lost two more games the rest of the regular season.
Overall, Nichols finished the season 18-7-3.
Nichols will only be losing five seniors this season – Greg Strootman had eight goals and nine assists in 27 games played this season. He finished with 23 goals and 29 assists in 90 games in his career. Defenseman Josh DeLoach had two goals and 10 assists this year. Rick Batenburg only appeared in eight games, scoring two goals and three assists this year. Ray Furr had two assists in 16 games this year. Dylan Woodring won two games in goal this year.
The best of the rest…
Wentworth — The Leopards had a rough start to the first half of the season, but turned it around in the second half of the season. Andrew Yarber, a senior, led the Leopards with 10 goals and eight assists this season. He finished his career with 28 goals and 35 assists.
Salve Regina — The Seahawks got off to a blazing start to the season, but had a bumpy out-of-conference schedule. They bounced back in the second half of the ECAC Northeast schedule. They have a strong core coming back.
Johnson and Wales — Just like Nichols, the Wildcats are a young and talented team. They were led by freshman goaltender Joey Ballmer. They also had the player of the year in the conference in Josh Obregon, who had 17 goals and 15 assists.
Suffolk — The Rams had a solid season before bowing out in the ECAC Northeast quarterfinal round. Senior Charlie McGinnis led the team with 10 goals and nine assists in 25 games. He had 37 goals and 37 assists in his career.
Curry — The Colonels had a rough start to the season, but bounced back nicely in reaching the ECAC Northeast semifinals. Derek Mohney was the ECAC Northeast goaltender of the year and he’s only a junior.
Western New England — The Golden Bears had a lot of hope coming into the season as they had their 12 top returning point producers from last year’s squad. Brian Prost had 12 goals and 11 assists in his senior campaign.
Becker — On the surface, Becker had tough season going 3-18-3, but by the end of the season, the Hawks were playing better hockey and playing their opponents tough. They only had one senior on the roster this year in goaltender Shaun Millerick. In his four-year career, he had an 8-12-2 record.