You’d expect an upset stomach the weekend after Thanksgiving, but there was plenty of Division III hockey upsets to go around as well. And those were probably enough to give guys like Plattsburgh’s Bob Emery and St. Norbert’s Tim Coghlin some indigestion.
I was incommunicado for the three days after Thanksgiving, off with my family to watch my oldest son’s PeeWee team participate in a tournament in Auburn, N.Y. Nice little town, but cut off from the virtual world — the closest ISP access number was in Syracuse, a long-distance call. And since my hotel was charging $1 a minute for local calls, I didn’t even bother to do any web surfing or check my email.
Imagine my surprise when I logged on to USCHO when I returned on Sunday night just in time to catch the St. John’s-Elmira score, as well as all the other shockers that had occurred.
So pass the Pepto and look at what transpired around the nation:
It was a good weekend for NE teams as Mass.-Dartmouth and Wentworth recorded big non-conference wins.
The Corsairs of UMD beat Utica and the host Babson Beavers en route to the Babson Invitational title. Goaltender Kevin McGowan made 26 saves for the shutout in the championship game.
Wentworth is off to its best start in school history at 6-0, including a 4-1 victory over defending ECAC East champions New England College. The Leopards travel to Utica on Friday and top-ranked RIT on Saturday, in what could be a battle of 7-0 and 8-0 teams.
Elmira has had a frustrating couple of weeks, which has included victories over what were then the number one and number two teams in the nation, Plattsburgh and St. Norberts.
Unfortunately, the big wins were alternated by losses to unranked St. John’s and Oswego in which Elmira gave up a total of 17 goals.
The Oswego loss could loom large down the road depending on how rival RIT does in its two games against the Lakers in January. RIT and Elmira are once again expected to be the favorites for the single NCAA Pool “B” slot, and besides winning percentage and head-to-head play, common opponents is a key element in the selection process. The teams have only four non-conference common opponents this season: Oswego, Geneseo, Amherst and Williams.
Speaking of RIT, the top-ranked Tigers are once again off to an amazing start with the man advantage. RIT is clicking at a 51.4 percent rate (18 of 35) while holding its opposition to a measly 7.7 percent (3 of 29).
Bowdoin head coach Terry Meagher will go for his 300th win this weekend against Skidmore and MCLA. The Polar Bears will be favored in both games. Meagher is 299-144-23 in his 18 seasons at Bowdoin. He needs 27 more wins to become the all-time wins leader a the school. Meagher’s predecessor, Sid Watson, was 326-21-11. Bowdoin will soon be the first Division III school with two 300-win coaches.
The Camels of Connecticut College looks like they have put their lackluster 2000-2001 season behind them. CC is off to a 3-1 start, including taking the Spurrier Tournament with wins over Trinity and Wesleyan. The Camels boast both the top scorer (Pete Hanlon with 11 points) and the top goaltender (Steve Oven with a GAA of 1.50) in the NESCAC.
The Norwich Cadets jumped into the No. 2 position in the USCHO.com poll on the basis of their Primelink Great Northern Shootout title. Norwich defeated Plattsburgh, 3-2, in double overtime, and then defeated state rival Middlebury 5-1 in the championship game. Both wins had to be considered upsets, but the Cadets got the credit they deserved in the poll, vaulting over both teams into the number two position.
If you’re in Beantown next Wednesday, Dec. 5, drop by Mass.-Boston’s Clark Athletic Center. You’ll see something very special, a father and son squaring off against each other in a college hockey game.
Dana Merak, 48, is in the second year of his comeback with the Beacons, while his son Steve, 20, is a sophomore at Babson. Steve took a year off from hockey last season (his Dad took about 27 years off, so it’s no big deal), so this will be their first opportunity to meet. Should be fun.
Plattsburgh is in free-fall, dropping three in a row, all upset losses. The Cardinals stumbled against Elmira on Nov. 17, losing 2-1 despite outshooting Elmira by a wide margin. Just a blip, beaten by a hot goaltender, right?
But last weekend at the Primelink, the defending national and Great Northern shootout championships lost a heartbreaking 3-2 double overtime game to Norwich, and then were beaten for just the third time ever at Potsdam, losing to the rival Bears 3-2.
All one-goal games, so don’t panic yet, Cardinal fans. Look for them to rebound this weekend with home games against current SUNYAC cellar dwellers Brockport and Geneseo.
How much difference can one game make early in the season? Oswego didn’t get a single vote in the most recent USCHO.com poll despite quality wins over Potsdam and Elmira. What hurt was the 8-4 loss to Manhattanville on Nov. 24. Win that game and the Lakers are 5-1 and possibly ranked in the top 10.
St. Norbert had the weekend from hell, coming into the Elmira East-West Faceoff tied for their best start ever at 7-0, and ranked second in the nation, but leaving with two losses and ranked sixth. The Green Knights were upended by the host Soaring Eagles, 5-4 in overtime, and then pummeled by Williams, 6-1.
St. Norbert doesn’t have much time to recover. The Green Knights need to be careful not to overlook visiting Wisconsin-Stout on Friday before hosting Wisconsin-River Falls on Saturday in a game that could determine first place in the NCHA.
Wisconsin-Eau Claire, currently just a point behind St. Norbert and UWRF, will try to regroup after being outscored by visiting RIT 14-2 last weekend. The Blugolds were just 1-13 on the power play in those games, something that they’ll have to improve this weekend at Wisconsin-Superior and St. Scholastica.
Teams from the MIAC enjoyed a good measure of success last weekend in non-conference play, going 5-0.
The highlight was St. John’s’ 2-0 record at the Elmira East-West Faceoff. Wins over Williams and Elmira got the Johnnies, currently tied for last place in the MIAC with a 1-3 conference record, some votes in the USCHO.com poll.
St. John’s takes this coming weekend off, while the rest of the league returns to conference play. The big matchup is a pair of games between first-place St. Thomas and second-place Concordia. The Tommies have opened an early three point lead in the standings and can really open things up with a sweep of the Cobbers.
MCHA teams continue to struggle in non-conference games, going 0-4-1 last weekend in games against the MIAC to bring the conference’s total non-league record to 1-16-2.
But the real action this season looks to be inside the league, which is shaping up to be the most balanced ever. There’s currently a three-way tie for first with Marian, MSOE and Northland all with three league wins. Marian has one game in hand over the Lumberjacks and two games in hand on the Raiders.
Unlike previous seasons where the regular season title has been decided by January, this one could come down to the final games.
More indigestion for the coaches, I guess.