Now that all the dust has settled from this past weekend’s four colossal matchups at the Cardinal-Panther Classic, what have we learned?
Well truthfully…not all that much.
While these early season tournaments like the East/West Hockey Classic and the Panther-Cardinal Classic are important games, it’s tough to completely predict who is necessarily better than who considering Middlebury and Amherst are just in their second week of games and the Panthers were still missing their leading scorer from a year ago.
Clearly Elmira helped their NCAA Tournament profile should they need a Pool C bid come March with a tie against Middlebury and a win over Amherst while Plattsburgh is a bit behind the 8-ball early now. However, there is still is plenty of hockey left to be played and Plattsburgh not only have league games left with RIT (2), Elmira (2), but they’ve also got non-conference tilts with Norwich (2) and Middlebury left.
Middlebury also didn’t hurt their profile even though they finished in third place. The Panthers wrapped up the weekend with what goes down in the NCAA record book as a tie against Elmira (shootouts aren’t considered) and a win over Plattsburgh. I’d be willing to bet Midd coach Bill Mandigo would take a 3-0-1 start so far while missing his top scorer (Lauren Greer) from last year as well as graduating a First Team All-American (Alexi Bloom) between the pipes.
What I do find ironic is that the one team that didn’t have goaltending questions coming into the Cardinal-Panther Classic that I outlined in my preview for my column last week, ended up not only winning the tournament, but Elmira’s goalie Lauren Sullivan was named the tournament MVP. Sullivan pitched a 15-save shutout against No. 3 Middlebury and then followed up by stopping 26 of 27 shots to help lift the Soaring Eagles past Amherst and claim their second Cardinal-Panther Classic title in the last three years.
RIT was also in action with four exhibition games during Thanksgiving week against Ontario Canadian university clubs. The Tigers impressively won all four games, including a 3-2 win over undefeated and No. 3-ranked Wilfred Laurier. RIT once again seems to have established itself at a different level early this season. The Tigers return to the States this week to host Chatham for a pair of games and then they’ll hit their next stretch of tough games with a roadtrip out to Trinity on Dec. 10 followed by Amherst the next day. RIT then kicks off the second semester by hosting Adrian twice on Jan. 6 and 7 and then travel up to Plattsburgh on Jan. 13 and 14 for a showdown with the Cardinals.