The D-III landscape has felt nary an upset-induced shudder through the early weeks of the 2012-13 season.
That is, until this past week.
Stubbed toes — ties, losses, or both — were sustained by nine entries in USCHO’s Top 15, all of them to lesser or even unranked teams.
Tops among the upended elite were No. 3 St. Norbert, which was held to a loss and a tie in two tilts with No. 8 Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and No. 4 Plattsburgh, whose previously unspotted record was besmirched by Friday’s 3-2 loss at unranked Geneseo. Needless to say, there should be shaking in the rankings when USCHO’s new list is released.
To be sure, the nation’s top two teams, Oswego and Norwich, both added two wins to their so far perfect records. However, even the No. 1 Lakers were given a taste of adversity; Oswego trailed Buffalo State, 3-1, late in the second period before squeaking to a 5-4 win.
So what the heck happened … in Green Bay?
St. Norbert roared to a 2-0 first period lead in Friday’s tilt after scoring twice on a five-minute major assessed to Wis.-Eau Claire’s Jared Williams and appeared to be in for an easy night.
Such was not the case, as the heretofore perfect Green Knights penalty kill was picked apart by the Blugolds power play to the tune of three tallies, two of them during a three-goal Wis.-Eau Claire run.
The contest was eventually settled with 5:26 to play on the second goal of the night by Blugolds junior Mark Pustin. Saturday’s rematch ended in a 3-3 draw after St. Norbert’s Brandon Hoogenboom scored with 11:49 gone in the third.
What the heck happened … in Geneseo
That’s what Plattsburgh had to be asking itself Friday after being sent by the Ice Knights to their first loss of the season. Genny served notice early that it was ready for a fight when it grabbed a 2-0 lead. The Cardinals rebounded with two goals in the second to knot the score.
The deadlock held into the final minute of regulation, when Knights’ freshman Devon Rice scored the game-winner with 57 seconds remaining.
Geneseo rode the surge to a 6-2 romp over Potsdam the following night, while the Cardinals rebounded with a 3-0 whitewash win at Brockport.
What the heck happened … in Utica?
Nothing too unusual on Friday, although the No. 9 Pioneers — who had averaged five goals per game — did outdo themselves by hitting double digits in an 11-2 pounding of unranked Elmira. Utica sophomore center Louis Educate schooled the Soaring Eagles to the tune of four goals and two assists.
The next night’s rematch produced a total 180 degree turnabout.
Elmira exploded to a 5-0 lead, and although Utica did manage to cut the margin to 5-3, the Eagles were able to hang on for a 7-4 win.
What the heck happened … in Stevens Point?
Wis.-River Falls, ranked No. 11, never got untracked during their 6-1 walloping by Wis.-Stevens Point. The Pointers led from the 1:28 mark, when senior captain Jerry Freismuth netted his first goal of the year. Wis.-Stevens Point went on to lead, 4-0, before cruising to its first NCHA win of the season. Wis.-River Falls mustered just 14 shots on goal (the Pointers had 25).
The Falcons fired just 13 shots the following night, but were able to rebound from a 2-0 deficit and salvage a point with a 2-2 draw.
What the heck has happened … to Gustavus Adolphus?
That would be the million dollar question, wouldn’t it? Flying high with a 3-1 record (replete with a 2-1 win over St. Norbert and a No. 5 USCHO poll ranking, the past 10 days have been anything but golden for the Gusties.
In that stretch, Gustavus has suffered four straight losses (for the first time since 2007), including a weekend home-and-home sweep by St. Thomas, with a resultant seven-spot poll drop (and counting).
The worst of it came at home on Friday, when the Gusties were trounced, 6-0.