Tourney play swept through the ECAC West this week as Manhattanville won the Jimmy Mac Invitational and RIT took top honors at the Radisson Inn Hockey Classic. Elmira’s highlight of the week was gaining revenge on Oswego.
RIT: The Tigers opened up the week defeating league foe Hobart, 7-3. Lanner Fayad put RIT on the board first with a score just 6:48 into the contest, but Hobart answered, and kept the game close until midway through the second period. What had been a tight territorial battle turned into an open-ice race, and the officials started to lose control of the game. RIT scored two late second-period goals, and opened up the third with two more goals to take a lead it would never relinquish. Nonetheless, RIT struggled most of the night, both against Hobart’s tenaciousness and against the calls.
“This was a game set up for us to play poorly and we did just that,” said coach Wayne Wilson. “Our power play was awful, our penalty kill was horrible, our defense was terrible, and that’s just about the whole game.”
Peter Bournazakis and Josh Faulkner led RIT in scoring with a goal and two assists apiece.
RIT then jumped on a plane and headed out to Colorado Springs, Colo., to play in the Radisson Inn Hockey Classic at Air Force. The Tigers opened up against Connecticut College, and cranked open the scoring floodgates midway through the first period on a tally by defenseman Ryan Fairbarn. The Tigers rattled off three more first-period goals and kept up the blistering pace through the remainder of the game for an 11-3 victory. Peter Bournazakis led the scoring with three goals and one assist.
The championship game against Division I Air Force was extremely even. After a scoreless first period, RIT got on the board 8:07 into the second period when Adam George scored. Air Force got tagged with a major penalty just two minutes later, and the Tigers jumped all over the ensuing five-minute power play. RIT dominated during the power play, taking control as Sam Hill, Ryan Fairbarn and Peter Bournazakis all scored, but Air Force wasn’t about to fold up the tarmac.
Air Force scored on the power play late in the second period, and then came out and dominated the third territorially. Air Force scored again at 14:17 of the third period, and then tallied another after pulling its goalie at 19:35, but RIT hung on by its fingernails to the 4-3 victory.
RIT has now won all four of the tournaments that it has played this year (Blue Devil Invitational, Chase Rochester Cup, Face Off Classic, Radisson Inn Hockey Classic). The Tigers will be looking to keep the streak alive after the holidays as they head up to the North Country for the Plattsburgh Classic, the last stop on their tournament tour this season.
ELMIRA: The Soaring Eagles got a measure of revenge last weekend. Oswego drubbed Elmira 7-3 to open the season, and the Soaring Eagles were looking to right that wrong as the first half of the season wound down.
They did. “This was one of the better games we played all year, top to bottom,” said coach Glenn Thomaris.
Elmira’s Mike Hulbig scored on the power play 2:08 into the second period, but Oswego answered a minute later to knot the score 1-1. Eddie Cassie regained the lead for Elmira at the 12:42 mark and this time the lead held. Netminder Rob Ligas was stellar in net, stopping 33 of 34 Laker shots.
“I thought Rob did a nice job of controlling the rebounds, especially when they crashed the net, which Oswego did a lot of,” said Thomaris. Steve Kaye sealed the 3-1 win with a power-play goal midway through the third period.
Elmira hit the road for a contest against Williams on the very next day. The final score was 6-3 in Elmira’s favor, but the contest was much closer than that. Mike Clarke got Elmira going with a goal 13:34 into the first period. Williams knotted the score early in the second with a shorthanded goal, but Jason Silverthorn scored later on the same power play to regain the lead for Elmira.
Elmira’s penalty kill unit had an outstanding weekend, keeping Oswego 0-for-8 and Williams 0-for-5. “Our PK guys blocked some shots and kept their composure very well,” said Thomaris.
Willams scored 1:08 into the third period to tie the game 2-2. Elmira took the lead for a third time at 4:11 when Eddie Cassie scored four-on-four, but once again Williams tied the game just 14 seconds later.
“Rob stopped a couple of breakaways that saved us,” said Thomaris.
Elmira then benefited from a not-so-smart play by Williams late in the third period, with the game still tied 3-3. At the 18:11 mark, “our guy was going into the corner and (Ryan Sochacki) threw him down like a steer. The ref had to call it,” said Thomaris.
On the ensuing power play, Mike Hulbig took a feed in the slot from Lawne Snyder and scored at 18:43 to give the Soaring Eagles their fourth lead of the night. This time the lead stuck as Williams pulled its goaltender, but Elmira converted two empty-net goals in the closing minute to complete the 6-3 final.
Midway through the season, Elmira has climbed back to a 6-6 record. “We’re kind of in a little pattern here, lose three then win three,” said Thomaris. “The competition that we have played has made us better. If we can get through the holidays with three wins, then that should give us some momentum.”
More good news for Elmira is that Kris Carlson, who has had a cast on his foot since playing Plattsburgh on November 18, will be getting the cast off during the holidays and should rejoin the team shortly thereafter.
Holiday play for Elmira centers around the Codfish Bowl, where the Soaring Eagles will take on St. Anselm in the opening round and either UMass-Boston or New Hampshire College in the final round. Then it is back home for the Soaring Eagles to host Wentworth on January 6.
MANHANTTANVILLE: Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal was looking for a good finish to the first half of the season, and he got just that when the Valiants played in Brockport’s Jimmy Mac Invitational Tournament last weekend. With a preset pairing format, Manhattanville won the tournament by defeating both Skidmore and MCLA by similar 3-1 scores.
The Valiants opened the weekend against Skidmore. Damon Iannillo notched two goals early in the first period to give Manhattanville the lead, and Sean Keane added to the score early in the second period for the Valiants. Skidmore managed to tuck in a goal in the third period, but Manhattanville was able to coast to the 3-1 victory.
Next night, the Valiants took on MCLA, with a very similar outcome. This time Ray Williams chipped in two first-period goals, sandwiched around a tally by John Auxier, to give Manhattanville the 3-0 lead. MCLA scored a goal early in the second period, but that was the only one the Valiant defense would let in as Manhattanville held onto the 3-1 margin for the remainder of the game. Jon Peczka (20 saves against Skidmore) and Rob McShane (34 saves against MCLA) combined for the stellar weekend in net for Manhattanville.
After the holidays, Manhattanville jumps right back into the fire with a tough game against SUNYAC power Potsdam.
HOBART: The Statesmen began the week against league foe RIT, and dropped the contest 7-3. Hobart entered the game with much more emotion than RIT and carried play to the Tigers throughout the first 30 minutes; Hobart’s Jerry Toomey collected a drop pass in the slot and scored at 10:26 of the first period to tie the game 1-1. The Statesmen dictated a tight territorial game until about midway through the second period when play opened up. RIT scored the next four goals before Hobart’s Sean Elliott scored a power-play tally midway through the third period. Jerry Toomey got his second of the night three minutes later to narrow the margin to two goals, but that was as close as Hobart could get.
Hobart headed to the Hamilton Invitational tournament next and faced Geneseo for the third time this season, having earned a split in the previous two contests. Geneseo netted the only first-period goal, and Hobart’s Zach Mundy answered early in the second to tie the score. Geneseo notched the next three to take control of the game before Greg Reynholds temporarily stemmed the tide with a Statesman goal 17:47 into the second period.
Geneseo scored two more to take a commanding 6-2 lead early in the third period, but Hobart didn’t roll over, as has sometimes happened in past years. The Statesmen put on a late game charge and almost pulled it out: Trevor Gowan and Evan Hurley each scored power-play goals to start the charge, and Zach Mundy scored his second goal of the game with 17 seconds remaining to make the score 6-5, but Hobart came up just short as the clock ran out.
The Statesmen faced host Hamilton in the consolation game, and got on the board first at 6:23 with a goal by Justin Macklin. Reynholds scored midway through the second period to build the Hobart lead to 2-0, and this time it was the Statesmen trying to hold onto a lead in the third period as Hamilton charged — but the Continentals scored twice in the third period to tie the game. Neither team could get a goal after that, and the contest ended in a 2-2 draw. Sam Weiner was a standout in net for Hobart, stopping 43 of the 45 Hamilton shots that he faced.
Hobart joins RIT up at the Plattsburgh Classic tournament after the holidays. The Statesman have the unenviable task of taking on the host Cardinals in the first round.
Game Of The Week
With all teams on break due to the impending holiday, there is no Game of the Week pick this time around.
(I’ll wait as the wails of despair quiet down.)
Now that that’s over, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday season. The next ECAC West Newsletter will be published the week of Janaury 8 as the second half of the season gets into full swing.