Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
The first full weekend of games in 2013 was a mix of a little bit of everything. There were still some tournaments played in both the East and West that saw some great action and surprising upsets. There were a few conference battles that have the second half off to a dynamic start, and nonconference match-ups were everywhere, as teams are focused on getting back in top level game shape after the holiday break. That said, it’s not every weekend where the top three teams in the national poll get beaten on the same night, but that is exactly what happened on Saturday when No. 1 Norwich, No. 2 Oswego, and No. 3 Wisconsin Eau-Claire lost games.
Top-ranked Norwich hosted the Northfield Bank Tournament over the weekend, which included teams from three other conferences in Massachusetts-Dartmouth (MASCAC), Neumann (ECAC West), and Connecticut College (NESCAC). After a relatively easy win over Connecticut College by a score of 6-0, the match-up with Neumann was anything but easy. After taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, the Cadets were outscored by a 5-1 margin over the final two periods on just 10 shots against, and lost the tournament title by a score of 5-3. Former Southern Maine standout Braely Torris stood tall in the Neumann net, stopping all 25 shots he faced in the final two periods, including 20 saves in the third period alone to capture the win.
For No. 2 Oswego, the trip to play Utica was not a lot of fun, as the Pioneers used two goals from Louie Educate to take a commanding 6-0 win over the Lakers. Three goals in each of the first two periods, including four power-play goals, was more than enough offense for Utica, which outshot Oswego by a 33-25 margin. The win moved Utica to 11-2-0 on the season, and this one should get the attention of poll voters and move the Pioneers up in the national rankings.
Out West, Wis.-Eau Claire split two games over the weekend, beating St. John’s by a 5-1 score before losing to Concordia in overtime by a 2-1 margin. The Blugolds outshot Concordia by a 46-27 margin, but could not solve goalie Chris Neomonitis, who stopped all but one of the opposing shots before Tucker Coborn scored his first goal of the season for the dramatic win.
In the Yellowjacket Tournament hosted by Wisconsin-Superior, there was a true East vs. West set-up with Curry and Nichols traveling west to take on the hosts and Finlandia. In yet another upset of sorts, Wisconsin-Superior fell to Curry in the championship game of its own tournament by a score of 5-3. The see-saw battle was tied midway through the third period when Ian DeLong put the Colonels up by one with just over seven minutes remaining. Brandon Gilmore’s empty-net goal sealed the deal for Curry, which saw goalie Joe Dawson stop 42 of 45 shots for the win and tournament title.
One of the oldest college hockey tournaments, the Codfish Bowl, was hosted by Massachusetts-Boston. The 48th edition of the tournament included a very competitive field with Wentworth, Fitchburg State, and Johnson and Wales. Sunday’s championship game saw the hosts taking on Johnson and Wales for the title, as the Beacons were looking for their fourth title in the tournament’s 48-year history. The Beacons took the crown with a 6-3 win on Sunday afternoon. Taking advantage of a four-goal second period and three points from Mike DeGrazia, the Beacons got 33 saves from Zach Andrews and held the Wildcats to 1-of-10 on the power play in posting the win.
St. Norbert went 2-0-0 over the weekend, posting wins over St. Mary’s and St. Olaf. Friday’s 12-2 romp saw the Knights score seven times in the second period on just 12 shots. Five of the goals came on special teams, with three power-play goals and two short-handed tallies that blew the game wide open. Forward Cullen Bradshaw had a six-point night, including four goals to lead St. Norbert.
Most of the NESCAC conference was back against each other, and the marquee match-up between Bowdoin and Amherst topped the slate of great games over the weekend. The Polar Bears took a close game at Amherst by a 3-2 score on Friday, and squashed Hamilton on Saturday by a 6-2 score to remain the one and only unbeaten squad in the country. Williams also went on the road in Connecticut and took three of four points with a win over Wesleyan and a tie with Trinity in two very low-scoring affairs that are becoming the hallmark of the Ephs season. Williams has played five games in a row where the goal differential is just one goal or less, and has won four of the five, including three games by a score of 2-1. Now that is some tight hockey without a lot of margin for error.