This Week in Division III: Dec. 6, 2001

Paradise Lost

You’re the number one team in the nation, undefeated, coming off a pair of convincing road wins where you thrashed a pretty good Wisconsin-Eau Claire team by a combined score of 14-2.

Next up are a pair of home games against some top ECAC Northeast teams, Johnson & Wales and Wentworth. You’ll be heavily favored to win both and go to 9-0.

It’s all good, right? Too good, perhaps, for RIT. The Tigers shot themselves in the foot during their trip to Wisconsin, violating a team rule that resulted in all 19 players who made the trip being suspended for one game.

RIT head coach Wayne Wilson, who found out about the infraction after the game last Friday against Johnson & Wales (6-0 RIT win) decided to get the suspensions over as quickly as possible, sitting nine for the game against Wentworth (4-3 RIT loss), and 10 for this Friday’s game against Amherst.

“It’s not a big deal,” said Wilson. “It wasn’t a major rule, but rules are rules and when you break them, you let the team down.

“The players were aware of the consequences.”

Wilson is right about that. Two seasons ago he sat eight players for the first round of the Times-Argus New Year’s Tournament in Norwich. They had been late to practice. The short-handed Tigers still managed to beat Trinity 3-2 in overtime and, with a full complement of players, went on to defeated the host Cadets the next day in the title game.

This time, the depleted Tigers were shocked by Wentworth, which extended its record to a perfect 8-0.

Wilson could have spread the suspensions over more games to reduce risk of being shorthanded, but he wanted to send a message as quickly as possible.

‘We can’t forfeit games. That’s not fair to the other teams. But I wanted to take care of this as quickly as possible.

“I fully expected to win the game (against Wentworth)”, Wilson said. “I fully expect to win the game against Amherst.

“Teams in the minor leagues often go with two or three lines and four defensemen, as do many college teams late in a game when they shorten their bench”, added Wilson.

“We just didn’t get the job done. Wentworth played an outstanding game.”

For the record, the players who sat against Wentworth were: Jerry Galway, Josh Faulkner, Matt Moore, Jason Chafe, Brian Arms, Roberto Orofiamma, Mike Bournazakis, and Chris Sherman.

Suspended for the Amherst game are: Jared Conlon, Ryan Franke, Sam Hill, Mike Tarantino, Ryan Fairbarn, Mike Tucciarone, Errol MacDonald, David Bagley, Rob Vessio and Tyler Euverman.

All will be eligible to play on Saturday afternoon against Williams. The Tigers round out the first half of their season with a trip to Ann Arbor Michigan to play the U.S. National Under 18 Development Team on December 14 and 15.

Not Losing Sight

RIT’s off-ice troubles shouldn’t take anything away from the on-ice heroics of Wentworth. The Leopards played a great game, backstopped by the stellar netminder Bhangoo, a sophomore from Caladon East, Ont. Bhangoo is sporting a 1.60 GAA and a .955 save percentage.

Senior Tim Yakimowsky lead the way in scoring with two goals, both power play tallies on one-timers from the right face-off circle. His second, to get Wentworth back to a one-goal deficit after being down 3-1, was crucial,
according to RIT head coach Wayne Wilson.

“I thought Yakimowsky’s second goal was more deflating than anything else,” he said. “They played better in all facets. We got beat by a better team tonight.”

Wentworth head coach Bill Bowes was diplomatic, telling USCHO, “Clearly playing RIT with only half of their team helped us.”

But give credit where credit is due.

A Big Week

It was a week of firsts for the ECAC Northeast:

  • Wentworth became the first ECAC Northeast team to defeat a number one ranked team. The Leopards tied Middlebury last season when the Panthers were number one, and this season took the next step by upsetting RIT.
  • Wentworth became the first ECAC Northeast team ranked in the poll. The Leopards had gotten votes in the past, including several times this season, but this is the first time that they’ve cracked the top 10.
  • Both the offensive and defensive Division III players of the week were from ECAC Northeast teams, the first time that’s happened. On offense, Fitchburg State co-captain Jeff Brodeur tallied a whopping nine points in three games for the Falcons last week, including a school-record five assists in an 8-1 win over Framingham. Raj Bhangoo, who’s exploits were previously detailed, was defensive player of the week.

    Keep Rolling Along

    Besides Wentworth, there are three other teams still unbeaten. Norwich claimed the top spot in the poll with a pair of convincing wins over Amherst (6-1) and Hamilton (6-2). They’ve since improved their record to 7-0 with a 12-0 thrashing of travel partner St. Michael’s..

    Travel partners and long-time rivals Colby (6-0) and Bowdoin (4-0-1) are also unbeaten, but Bowdoin has a blemish, a 2-2 tie with MCLA. The two teams square off this Saturday.

    Breathing Room

    St. Norbert opened a two point lead in the NCHA standings with a 5-2 win over Wisconsin-River Falls. Five different players scored for the Green Knights, who rebounded from an 0-2 Thanksgiving trip to Elmira with two conference wins. Wisconsin-Superior and Wisconsin-Eau Claire are three points off the pace.

    Wisconsin-Stevens Point had an interesting weekend. The Pointers smoked St. Scholastica 10-0 on Friday, but lost 7-0 to Wisconsin-Superior on Saturday.

    All eight NCHA teams play a pair of non-conference games this weekend.

    Nothing Settled

    St. Thomas and Concordia split last weekend, so St. Thomas maintains its two point lead in the standings. That loss at Concordia knocked the Tommies out of the top ten, but they’ll have a chance to redeem themselves with some big non-conference games coming up against Wisconsin-Superior (ranked seventh), Wisconsin-River Falls (fourth) and Elmira (eighth).

    At the turn (MIAC teams don’t resume conference play until January) Bethel and St. John’s, the two teams that played in the MICA finals last season, are a combined 2-8 in conference, tied for last place.

    Does This Make Sense to You?

    On December 1, New York State enacted a law outlawing cell phone while driving unless one is employing a “hands-free” device like a headset or integrated system. Heck, I got the darned wireless to make efficient use of the time I’m in the car (I’m a hockey parent, so I spend a lot of time behind the wheel). I do my banking, voicemail, order pizza, etc. get scoring updates, etc., while on the road.

    So last week, I went out and got a headset. I’m a law-abidin’ guy.

    Now, when I need to make a call while in the car, or even worse if the phone rings while I’m driving, instead of merely grabbing the phone and pushing a button, I have to get the phone and the headset, plug them together, clip the mike to my lapel, and put the speaker in my ear.

    While all this is going on, I’m being passed by vehicles driven by people eating, switching CDs, putting on makeup, etc.

    I feel much safer now.