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No upsets, but early competition

CS 12 Colin Murray sized No upsets, but early competition

Castleton senior Colin Murray dished out three assists in the Spartans’ 5-4 win last weekend against the University of New England (photo: Dan Hickling).

Anyone hoping for an upset in Division III during the weekend just completed would have been in for a disappointment.

True, Hobart ranked ninth, had to eke out a tie with Nazareth (a program barely into its second year of existence) before upending No. 5 Utica the next night on a last-second goal.

And true, there are a few other finger-drumming moments for teams among USCHO’s top 15.

Otherwise, the weekend played out according to form.

Then again, it may be the last one that will.

The details from around the D-III rinks:

ECAC EAST

Ranked No. 12 heading into Friday, Massachusetts-Boston came within a whisker of suffering the dreaded “lost weekend.” However, captain Travis Daniel came through in the clutch to save the Beacons’ bacon. One night after UMB dropped a 2-1 count to New England College, the Beacons blew a two-goal third-period lead at St. Anselm, but eked out a 4-3 overtime win on Daniel’s game-winner on a power play, 42 seconds into extra time. … No. 11 Babson and Castleton both swept their weekends to remain 2-0 in the conference. Castleton senior Colin Murray racked up three assists in the Spartans’ 5-4 win at UNE.

ECAC NORTHEAST

Conference play began Saturday night with Johnson & Wales, Nichols, Salve Regina and Western New England all scoring opening-night wins. WNEC had the toughest task, having squandered a two-goal lead to Becker in the final 1:41 of regulation. Matt Dore came through with the winner for WNEC in OT with his power-play goal at 3:42.

ECAC WEST

An early-season clash between the West’s two ranked teams, No. 5 Utica and No. 9 Hobart, went down to the wire, literally. Robert Sovik gave the visiting Statesmen a 3-2 victory with just one second remaining in the game. Sovik had also scored late in the second period to set the stage for all that third period nail-biting.

MACSAC

Play in the MACSAC won’t begin until Tuesday. However, the early-season tremors have been produced by Worcester State. With three consecutive wins out of the gate, the Lancers have already notched half their victory total of last year.

MIAC

St. Thomas, ranked No. 13, went at it with No. 15 St. Mary’s in a home-and-home set and waltzed out with a pair of wins, 3-1 and 3-0. Tommies’ junior goalie Drew Fielding stopped all but one of St. Mary’s 47 shots on the weekend and earned his seventh career shutout.

NCHA

They won’t meet until Jan. 31, but when they do finally tangle in De Pere, Wis., Adrian and St. Norbert could both still be toting undefeated records. Both have jumped out to 4-0 starts (in conference and overall), including a pair of wins over the weekend. Adrian took a pair of convincing wins (4-1, 5-1) over the Milwaukee School of Engineering, while St. Norbert won twice (4-1, 3-2) at Finlandia. … Lake Forest junior Bobby Barrett, who had eight goals in his previous two seasons, popped in three tallies (plus two assists) in the Foresters’ 13-2 rout of Northland.

SUNYAC

The eyes of the SUNYAC were trained on Plattsburgh on Friday where the No. 4 Cardinals welcomed in Geneseo for an early-season first-place clash. As matters played out, the Cards won handily 4-1, with senior defenseman Barry Roytman scoring twice. It was the first multi-goal game in his career for Roytman, who scored just once in his entire freshman and junior seasons. Plattsburgh polished off the weekend with a hefty 6-0 win over Brockport. … A shootout took place Friday in Morrisville, when Buffalo St. got goals from seven different sources to outlast the host Mustangs 7-5.

WIAC

Teams in the WIAC won’t start beating up on each other until December, so in the meantime, they’ve had to be content in pounding on nonconference foes. Wisconsin-Stevens Point has won all four of its starts by a combined 33-6 count. The latest to fall before the Pointers was Gustavus Adolphus (8-4) and St. Olaf (8-1). … Not to be outdone, top-ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire began defense of its national title with wins over St. Olaf (5-2) and St. John’s (3-1).

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Tim Sullivan)

Friday, March 15

Norwich vs. Oswego State
The Cadets have won four of five, and showed everyone they can turn it on when needed last week. After losing to Babson in the ECAC East Tournament, Norwich rebounded with authority against those same Beavers, handling Babson, 4-0, to earn the right to get to Lake Placid. The Cadets should be able to feed off that momentum. Norwich 3-2

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Utica
The Pioneers have a much shorter trip, and seem to have shaken a puzzling end to the season, when they tied and lost to Manhattanville in consecutive weekends. Sophomore forward Louie Educate transferred to Utica for moments like these, and the team’s leading scorer now has a chance to steal the stage. Utica 4-1

Saturday, March 16

Norwich vs. Utica
The Pioneers, give or take a few slumps here and there, have played like a team on a mission all season. Four straight wins to open the season. Seven out of eight wins to open the new calendar year. And a precision 4-2 win over Bowdoin in the NCAA tournament to earn the right here. They’ve come too far to let it slip now. Utica 3-2

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Katie Carito)

Four teams will meet at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., for the Division III Frozen Four this weekend. On one side of the bracket there will be two returning Frozen Four participants in Norwich and Oswego. In the other, there are newcomers Utica and Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Friday, March 15

Norwich vs. Oswego State
Both teams are back for their fourth consecutive appearance in the Frozen Four. Last year, Norwich fell to St. Norbert in the semifinals, while Oswego took a loss to the same team in the championship game. Oswego is 24-4-0 overall, while Norwich holds a 24-3-1 record. I saw Oswego play last week, and they are a big, experienced team that had hunger in their eyes. Oswego 2-1

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Utica
The Blugolds and Pioneers are both new to the Frozen Four and eager to earn their way to the championship round. Wisconsin-Eau Claire holds a 22-5-2 overall record, while Utica went 21-5-1 through the season. The Blugolds are the only team that had to battle through the first round and quarterfinals before reaching the semifinal game. They have had a long road, and are determined to make the last stride. Wisconsin-Eau Claire 2-1

Saturday, March 16

Oswego State vs. Wisconsin-Eau Claire
In championship games, anything can happen. If these two teams end up battling it out it in the final game of the season, it will be an interesting match-up. On one end of the ice, there is an Oswego State squad which has plenty of experience in the arena, and on the other an inexperienced team with the Blugolds taking the long road to the tournament. Oswego 3-2

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Dan Hickling)

Friday, March 15

Oswego vs. Norwich
Neither team should experience any big stage jitters, since both are making their fourth consecutive Frozen Four appearance. That said, the hot hands, Andrew Hare in net and Paul Rodrigues with super-clutch goals, should decide this one, perhaps in OT. Oswego 2-1

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Utica
Frozen Four newbies, both, Utica is more capable of an offensive eruption. Once the nerves are out of the way, the Pioneers should strike early and often. Utica 5-3

Saturday, March 16

Oswego vs. Utica
Utica handed the Lakers two of their four losses this year, but not this time. Oswego is too strong, too deep, too focused to be denied. Oswego 5-2

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Brian Lester)

Well, we have reached the final weekend of the Division III hockey season, and four teams are still standing. Norwich and Oswego State will play in one national semifinal on Friday, and Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Utica will meet in the other. So it’s time for me to see how well I can do making picks for the weekend. No more delays. Here we go.

Friday. March 15

Norwich vs. Oswego
Both teams are in the Frozen Four for the fourth straight year, so experience in this setting isn’t going to be an issue for either team. Norwich is coming off a 4-0 win over Babson, and has five seniors on its roster. Travis Janke will be key to the success of the Cadets. He has 15 goals and 23 assists, and has more than 100 points in his career. Shane Gorman could be an X Factor, having scored four goals in the last five games. He has tallied eight goals on the season and has tallied 14 assists. For the Lakers, they will need Paul Rodrigues to step up big time. He has racked up 15 goals and 30 assists, while Luke Moodie has come through with 22 goals. Those two, along with Jon Whitelaw, have combined for 403 points in their careers. This is a match-up where I think the team that is the most efficient on offense gets the job done. Both teams have strong goalies as well — Chris Czarnota for Norwich and Andrew Hare for Oswego State — but the team that makes the most of its opportunities will win. I’m giving the edge to the Cadets. Norwich 5-4

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Utica
The Blugolds are playing well, and punched their ticket to the national semifinals with an impressive 3-1 win over St. Norbert, the defending national champion. Winning a game like that can give a team a world of confidence. Brandon Stephenson will no doubt be a key to success for Eau Claire. The senior goalie has tallied 732 saves and has allowed only 55 goals this season. If he can continue to play at the level he has during this tournament, allowing only three goals, the Blugolds are going to be poised for a trip to the title game. Jordan Singer will be instrumental in success on offense, as he comes in with 20 goals. Utica has been tested time and again, and played one of the toughest schedules in the country this year. That experience can only do the Pioneers good at this point. The Pioneers have been sharp offensively, putting up 121 goals on the year, which is the highest total in program history. Not only does Utica have a dangerous offense, but it is tremendous on defense. The Pioneers have goalie Nick Therrien in their corner, and he has a save percentage of .924. If he can match the effort the Utica offense is expected to give, the Pioneers could be in a position for the win. Utica has been tough when it scores first, and a strong start could be enough to get them on track for a victory, but my money is on the Blugolds, although it would not surprise me if Utica won this game. Wis.-Eau Claire 4-3

Saturday, March 16

Wis.-Eau Claire vs. Norwich
Although it doesn’t matter which two teams reach the final, as all four are worthy of a spot in the championship game, Wis.-Eau Claire has put together an impressive run, and the Blugolds are my pick to win the national championship.

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Carmine Vetrano)

Friday, March 15

Norwich Cadets vs. Oswego State Lakers
In seasons past, this was the NCAA title game, but these two programs battle to see who moves on the to championship. Oswego has a big win over Adrian, while Norwich got revenge over Babson. Toss-up really. Both teams have the experience and roster to do it, but have to go with the home state, though. Oswego State 3-2

Wis.-Eau Claire Bluegolds vs. Utica Pioneers
Both teams come in with strong records, but with even more impressive wins to reach the semis. The Bluegolds and Pioneers both knocked off strong opponents (St. Norbert and Bowdoin); however, one has to go home. Looking forward to seeing an all New York final. Utica 5-4

Saturday, March 16

Utica Pioneers vs. Oswego State Lakers
Can the Pioneers put a run together like that of Neumann from 2009? We shall see, but Oswego is determined and looks to rebound from losing in last year’s title game. Lakers will handle the Pioneers in this one. Oswego State 4-1

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Roman Uschak)

Friday, March 15

Norwich vs. Oswego
The Cadets finally got the Babson bear off their back, while Oswego edged Adrian (Mich.) last week and has two of the top three scorers in the nation in Paul Rodrigues (45 points) and Luke Moody (43 points). Oswego was also the national runner-up last spring to St. Norbert, and would like to take that last step to its first national title in six years. Oswego 4-3

Utica vs. Wisconsin Eau Claire
The Blugolds surprised two-time NCAA champ St. Norbert last week, while the Pioneers overcame a rusty start to oust Bowdoin. Utica is 10-2-1 in its last 13 outings, while Wis.-Eau Claire is 10-2 in its last 12 contests. Both schools are Frozen Four neophytes, so someone will be headed to their first national title appearance when it’s all over. The Pioneers are averaging nearly 4.5 goals per game, while Wis.-Eau Claire is averaging just under four goals per game. That might be just enough of a difference. Utica 3-2

Saturday, March 16

Oswego vs. Utica
It’s difficult to beat a team three times in the same season–but it’s not impossible. Utica has just as good a shot at winning its first-ever national title as Oswego does of claiming its second career NCAA crown. Could be a high-scoring affair, but when all is said and done, only one school will skate away with the NCAA championship trophy. Utica 6-5

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Tim Costello)

Friday, March 15

Norwich vs. Oswego
This one should be one for the ages, with two teams that have been here four straight times. Expect an overtime thriller that goes to the Cadets based on balance and an incredible senior class that has been there before. Norwich 3-2 (OT )

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Utica
It’s a battle between two of the nation’s best goaltenders and likely All-Americans; Stephenson and co. just a bit better to make it to the final. Wis.-Eau Claire 4-3

Saturday, March 16

Norwich vs. Wis.-Eau Claire
Believe in the “been there before” theory, and the history favors the Cadets, who find their seniors bookending their career with a second national,championship. Norwich 3-1

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Kevin Damask)

Friday, March 15

Oswego vs. Norwich
The puck drops on the NCAA D-III Frozen Four with two traditionally strong programs that are no stranger to the spotlight. The Lakers fell to St. Norbert in last year’s national championship game and have been on a mission to return to the final all season. A late goal sends them back to the title game. Oswego 4-3

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Utica
These two unfamiliar foes clash in Friday night’s nightcap. The key battle will between the pipes, as the Blugolds’ Brandon Stephenson faces the Pioneers’ Nick Therrien. The Blugolds, coming from the tough NCHA, will lean on Stephenson to get the job done and advance to the title game. Wis.-Eau Claire 3-1

Saturday, March 16

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Oswego
The Blugolds could cap off their dream season with their first NCAA D-III title, while the Lakers will be hoping to avenge last season’s loss. Wis.-Eau Claire, armed, by Stephenson and a cast of opportunistic forwards, will push Oswego to the limit. However, the Lakers, leaning on big-game experience will survive to claim the championship. Oswego 3-2 (OT)

Men’s D-III wrap: March 11

The first rounds of the NCAA tournament have come and gone. Norwich, Oswego, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Utica are the four teams that remain and will be fighting for a national championship this weekend.

Oswego was runner-up in the tournament last year, with a 4-1 loss to St. Norbert. Norwich also made the Frozen Four, losing to St. Norbert in the semifinal round. The Lakers and Cadets will face off in the 4 p.m. game on Friday.

On the other side of the bracket are two “rookie” teams in Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Utica. Neither team has made an appearance in the Frozen Four. They will compete in the 7:30 p.m. contest at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York.

Now let’s take a look at the journey in the first rounds of the tournament that earned these teams a spot in the Frozen Four.

Norwich
Norwich was the first team to punch its ticket to the Frozen Four with a 4-0 shutout over Babson. The Cadets bypassed the first round and hosted Babson in the quarterfinals. Junior forward Chris Duszynski assisted on two goals en route to the win. Junior Chris Czarnota earned his third shutout of the season, as he turned away 14 Babson shots on net. Norwich will enter the weekend with a 24-3-1 overall record. This is the fourth consecutive Frozen Four appearance for the Cadets.

Oswego State
The Lakers have also made four consecutive appearances in the Frozen Four. They were the runner-up in the championship game last season in a 4-1 loss to St. Norbert. Oswego earned a bye through the first round and traveled to Adrian in the quarterfinal round.  The Lakers got on the scoreboard first with a power-play goal for Chris Muise. Adrian scored two early goals in the second period, with Jon Whitelaw scoring the game-tying goal for Oswego with just 1:10 left of the second period. Sixty minutes wasn’t enough for these teams to get a winner. Paul Rodrigues scored the game-winning goal 13:32 into overtime, sending the Lakers to the Frozen Four.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire
In the opening round of the NCAA tournament the Blugolds, hosted St. John’s and earned a 4-2 win. Wisconsin-Eau Claire then traveled to St. Norbert to take on the reigning national champions. The Blugolds scored early in the first period. St. Norbert answered back midway through the first. Chris Heineman scored the game-winning power-play goal with 56 seconds left in the first. Kurt Weston added the empty-net goal, securing the Frozen Four appearance. This will be the first time the Blugolds have made it this far in the tournament, and its the second NCAA tournament appearance for the program.

Utica
Utica downed Bowdoin in a 4-2 victory in the semifinals to earn its first ever spot in the Frozen Four. After being down 2-0 in the first period the Pioneers, slowly but surely chipped away at Bowdoin for the win. Senior forward Evan Chlanda earned assists on three of the Pioneers goals, including the game-winning goal at the 15:36 mark of the third period. Although they were outshot 29-25, Utica’s goalie Nick Therrien turned away 27 goals, backstopping his team’s ticket to Lake Placid.

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