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College Hockey:
Still time for movement, but league leaders gaining steam

Eddie Z sized Still time for movement, but league leaders gaining steam

Goaltender Ed Zdolshek helped Nazareth gain its first conference win over the weekend by beating Utica in overtime (photo: Dan Hickling).

The weeks are dwindling towards the end of the regular season and the battles for playoff position are intensifying everywhere.

Some teams are getting hot at the right time of the year, but can they knock off the teams that have been playing well all year long?

Here are some of the highlights from some great matchups in conference play this past week:

ECAC East

League-leading Norwich swept a pair of games at home over the University of New England and Southern Maine by scores of 5-1 and 3-0, respectively. Goalie Chris Czarnota recorded both wins, stopping 20 of 21 shots for the Cadets, who need all four points to maintain their slim one-point margin in the standings over Babson.

The Beavers played a home-and-home series with nationally-ranked Massachusetts-Boston and created some room at the top of the standings by beating the Beacons both nights by scores of 2-0 and 3-2 where sophomore goaltender Jamie Murray stopped 66 of 68 shots to pick up both wins.

With the Beacons dropping both games, New England College leveraged a split in its games with Castleton and Skidmore to move into third place in the conference.

ECAC Northeast

In a battle for the top spot, Nichols upended Salve Regina by a score of 8-4 to take a one-point lead in the standings over the Seahawks and Johnson and Wales. The Bison used seven different goal-scorers and saw Frank Butler score twice, including the game-winner, in the convincing home win.

Johnson and Wales kept pace with a 6-1 win over Western New England with Joey Ballmer earning his 14th win of the season in goal for the Wildcats.

ECAC West

Look out for the Hobart Statesmen, who certainly liked seeing the calendar turn to 2014.

After a slow start, Hobart is unbeaten in 2014, posting eight straight wins, including two over nationally-ranked opponents at the Buck Supply Winter Classic at Plattsburgh.

This past weekend, Hobart swept a pair of games over conference rival Manhattanville by scores of 4-3 and 5-1. The wins on the road were led by Mac Olson, who scored a goal in each game, including the shorthanded game-winner in Saturday’s game. The two wins moved Hobart into a second-place tie in the standings with Utica and both teams trail Elmira by just a point with just three weeks remaining in the regular season.

Nazareth played spoiler and earned its first win in the conference with a 2-1 overtime upset of Utica. Goalie Ed Zdolshek stopped 34 of 35 shots and Scott Dawson scored the game-winner in the extra session for the Golden Flyers.

MASCAC

Five teams are now separated by just three points in the standings after last week’s action.

Salem State leads the conference by just a point over Westfield State and Framingham State with Fitchburg State and Plymouth State just a couple of points in arrears.

Salem State posted a 5-2 win over Massachusetts-Dartmouth on Thursday night, while Framingham suffered an 8-2 loss To Fitchburg on Saturday. Jake Martin posted a hat trick and Timmy Genova scored two goals for the Falcons in a game that saw four goaltenders facing a total of 90 shots on goal.

MIAC

Gustavus Adolphus still leads the standings by four points over St. Thomas, but the Tommies have two games in hand. The Gusties posted a 4-1 win Friday night over St. Mary’s and added one more in a 5-1 road win over the Cardinals. Gavin Tufte and Gustav Bengtson scored two goals apiece in the road win, while four different players shared the offensive load in the 4-1 home win on Friday.

St. Thomas outscored Hamline by a combined 10-0 in two games to post back-to-back shutout wins. Drew Fielding stopped all 35 shots he faced in both games and the Tommies needed an empty-net goal for some breathing room in Saturday’s 2-0 win.

NCHA

Adrian, the nation’s No. 1 team, swept a pair of games from Finlandia by scores of 6-3 and 5-3. Jeremy Olinyk scored twice in Saturday’s win to lead the Bulldogs.

Tied with Adrian at the top of the conference standings is St. Norbert. Goaltender David Jacobson maintained his unbeaten record at 13-0-1 while posting back-to-back shutouts for St Norbert in the 3-0 and 2-0 wins over Milwaukee School of Engineering.

This weekend finds the conference leaders playing a pair of games at St. Norbert that may go a long way in determining who stays at the top of the standings.

NESCAC

With a late goal in the third period by Ben Chwick, Colby removed Williams from the list of unbeatens in NESCAC play in a game that had all of the intensity of a playoff game.

Goaltender Sam Parker outdueled Sean Dougherty for Williams to pick up the win. Williams bounced back with an equally hard-fought win over Bowdoin by a 2-1 score on Saturday, while Colby fell to Middlebury by a 5-2 score.

Trinity has very quietly moved into a tie in the league standings with their weekend sweep of two conference road games over Connecticut College and Tufts. Sophomore John Hawkrigg continued his torrid scoring over the weekend and Trinity now has four players with 10 or more goals and 25 points overall or higher with three weeks remaining in conference play to add on.

SUNYAC

Plattsburgh took a 4-0 lead through two periods and cruised to a 4-2 win over Potsdam to maintain their lead in conference play.

On Saturday night, Buffalo State surprised Oswego with a 4-0 win at home, scoring all four goals in the second period. Buffalo State goaltender Kevin Carr earned first-star honors, posting 33 saves, including 26 in the final two periods to earn the shutout and win.

WIAC

Wisconsin-Eau Claire finally surrendered a goal to the opposition this past weekend.

Having gone unbeaten since Dec. 7, the Blugolds posted five straight shutouts entering their weekend series with Wisconsin River Falls. Friday’s 8-3 win saw five goals in the third period to break out the game, while the visitors fought back on Saturday for a 3-1 win that gave the Blugolds their first loss in calendar 2014. Goalie Scott Lewan stopped 30 of 31 shots to earn the hard-fought victory.

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