Elmira Climbs Back Into National Rankings
Riding a 10-game winning streak, including two victories this week, Elmira got back into the national rankings, jumping to No. 7 in the USCHO.com poll. In other action, RIT beat and tied Oswego, Hobart downed Neumann and then fell to Fredonia, and Manhattanville crushed Brockport.
RIT (ranked No. 1): The Tigers got bad news early in the week when starting netminder Tyler Euverman dislocated his shoulder. While not serious, it did knock Euverman out of net for the weekend series with Oswego.
“These were by far the two hardest games we’ve faced all year,” said coach Wayne Wilson about the pair of games against Oswego. In Friday’s contest, RIT screamed out to a quick 3-0 lead just 2:33 into the contest. Jonathan Day, Derek Hahn, and Peter Bournazakis all tallied.
But a quick goaltender change by Oswego let them steady the ship and the Lakers slowly climbed back into the game. The Lakers scored a shorthanded goal in the first and a power-play goal in the second, then tied it with an even-strength goal at the 14:00 mark of the third to send the game into overtime. RIT outshot Oswego 9-2 in overtime, but neither team could score and the game ended in a 3-3 tie. Tiger backup netminder Rob Boope, while not stellar in net, got some help from his defense and stopped 41 of the 44 shots that he faced.
The same two teams met again on Saturday, this time in Oswego. RIT was much more patient on offense and Boope was significantly stronger in net, and the combination gave RIT the 4-2 victory. Tiger Shawn Wilkins got RIT on the board with a power-play goal midway through the first period. Oswego struck back a few minutes later, but the Tigers took the lead for good with only 10 seconds remaining in the first period on a goal by Mike Tarantino. Erol McDonald made an incredible move at the Oswego blue line on his way to scoring RIT’s third goal 12:57 into the second period. Matt Moore chipped in another tally at 16:19 and RIT was up 4-1 after two periods of hockey. Oswego scored only 30 seconds into the third period, and RIT spent the remainder of the game holding on defensively.
The Tigers were outshot 47-28 in the game, but Rob Boope came up strong in net. Boope only let in five goals on 91 shots for the two-game set, earning a stellar .956 save percentage. “I think as things went on over the weekend, Boope felt more comfortable in net,” said Wilson
Next up for RIT is a midweek trip to Brockport to take on the Golden Eagles, but that game is really just a warmup for the all-important trip to Elmira on Saturday.
ELMIRA (ranked No. 7): The official countdown has been going on since early December, as Elmira nears its 500th victory. Soaring Eagle hockey started in 1975, and through the game on January 20 has amassed an outstanding record of 498-230-18, a .680 winning percentage. Assuming Elmira can get by Cortland on Tuesday, the Soaring Eagles will be looking to notch win No. 500 against RIT on Saturday at home.
I’m sure Elmira fans wouldn’t want it any other way.
With its current 10-game winning streak, Elmira also climbed back into the top 10 in the nation by moving into the No. 7 spot of the USCHO.com poll. Elmira was last ranked in the preseason poll, garnering the No. 7 spot.
“We’ve been a pretty solid club all year long, and our young guys are getting us over the top,” said Elmira coach Glenn Thomaris.
The Soaring Eagles opened the week at Fredonia, and notched two quick goals by Eddie Cassie and Clark McPherson to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
“Fredonia played a little more aggressively than we were anticipating,” said Thomaris. “But we got a couple of goals and made them play catchup.” Fredonia scored midway through the first to pull closer. Elmira’s Ryan Baker tallied just 19 seconds into the second period to re-establish the two goal lead.
Jay Sirios scored for Elmira at the 12:29 mark, and then all hell broke loose on the ice.
“All of our players arms went up in the air to celebrate the goal, and then the Fredonia players just jumped us,” said Thomaris. “They grabbed all of our players and threw us down like the wrestling association.” After the ruckus was finally separated, four players from each team were each given double roughing penalties to fill the sin bin to capacity.
Pierre Rivard scored just a minute and a half later to build the Elmira lead to 5-1. Fredonia notched the next two goals, but answered back with two power-play tallies in the third to seal the 7-3 win.
Elmira engaged in another physical battle on Saturday against Potsdam. A total of 35 penalties were called during the contest, resulting in 24 power plays. Elmira converted one of its ten, while Potsdam was 0-for-14. Dean Jackson scored the only goal of the first period to give Elmira the lead. The Soaring Eagles took a 2-0 lead early in the second period when Jay Zanleoni scored a shorthanded goal at the 1:07 mark. Elmira tallied twice more early in the third period to put the game away, but Potsdam finally ruined the shutout bid 16:53 into the last period. Eddie Cassie finished off the scoring with only nine seconds remaining to give the Soaring Eagles the 5-1 victory.
“Rob Ligas played very solid in net. Most of the shots he faced were long ones, and he controlled the rebounds very well,” said Thomaris. Ligas stopped 46 of the 47 shots he faced in the contest, leading Elmira to its tenth straight victory.
Elmira heads to Cortland on Tuesday for a midweek tilt against the Red Dragons. And then the Soaring Eagles host RIT on Saturday.
MANHANTTANVILLE: The Valiants had a quiet week for a change, and used the extra rest to pound Brockport 8-2 in their only game. Most of the Manhattanville scoring came in groups. Dave Schmalenberg and Ray Williams teamed up to score two first period goals just 2:50 apart midway through. Bill Cummings and Tommy Prate each notched goals just 2:27 apart midway through the second period. And Chris Siefert, Schmalenberg, and Prate combined for three more goals in a 2:31 time span to begin the third period. Dave Schmalenberg finished off his hat-trick 13:45 into the period for Manhattanville’s eighth goal, and earned five points on the night.
The Valiants pick the pace back up this week, opening with a midweek tilt at Williams. Manhattanville then returns home for a Saturday game against league foe Hobart.
HOBART: Hobart opened the week at Neumann, where the Statesmen outshot the Knights 53-16 and skated away with a 5-3 win.
“Their goalie played really well,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. “We had a lot of chances and just didn’t capitalize on them.” Neumann scored early in the first to take the lead, but Hobart’s Zach Mundy answered at 17:34 to knot the game 1-1.
A late first-period goal by the Knights put them back in the lead, but Hobart shut down Neumann’s chances from then on and controlled play the remainder of the game. Early second period goals by Eric Christianson and Matt Pane put Hobart into the lead for good. Tim McCarthy and John Glueck notched goals in the third period as well.
Unfortunately for Hobart, the team also contracted a bad case of the flu in Neumann and most of the team was weakened by the time Saturday’s game against Fredonia came around. Hobart came out with little jump, and Fredonia carried play in the first period, ending with a 1-0 lead. Two quick Fredonia goals early in the second period gave Hobart plenty of reasons to pack in the bags. But the Statesmen didn’t do that, and fought through the illness and Fredonia to get back into the game.
“We showed up like whipped puppies, but ended up playing like junkyard dogs,” said Taylor.
The turning point came midway through the second period when Trevor McGowan scored to get Hobart on to the board. Greg Reynholds scored 8:36 into the third period to cut the deficit to only 3-2, and Hobart was back in the game. But the Statesmen couldn’t tally another goal to tie it, and Fredonia held on to down Hobart 3-2.
“The third period, we took it to them,” said Taylor. “Some guys really stepped to the plate, some character really showed through.”
Besides the loss, Hobart took other bad news out of the game against Fredonia. Chris Connolly (.906 save%, 2.88 GAA), who has started 13 games this season, suffered a season-ending injury late in the first period after getting plowed into the net. Also, Hobart’s second leading scorer, Jerry Toomey (11g, 8a), is out at least four weeks with mono.
The Statesmen open up this week hosting Buffalo State on Tuesday — then it’s off to Manhattanville for a league contest on Saturday.
Game Of The Week
No contest this week is as important as the RIT at Elmira matchup, the opening salvo in each team’s bid for an NCAA playoff spot. Elmira has been surging since early December, while RIT has been holding on since being named to the No. 1 spot in the nation. Combine that with the longstanding rivalry between these two teams, and Elmira’s bid for its 500th school victory, and the Thunderdomes will be rockin’ on Saturday.