This Week in the ECAC West: Dec. 6, 2001

It has been an unsettled week in the ECAC West. Elmira squashed Utica in the only league action, taking sole possession of first place with an unblemished 3-0 league record. At the other extreme, RIT found itself racked with self-imposed player suspensions, losing both a game to Wentworth and its No. 1 ranking in the process.

Suspensions Galore

RIT opened last weekend downing Johnson & Wales 6-0, in which Tyler Euverman earned his seventh career shutout. But it was a lackluster performance by the Tiger skaters. Coach Wayne Wilson was disappointed with the effort put out by his players during the entire game.

When asked how he would change things for the Saturday game, he quiped “I’m probably going to overreact, but I’m going to do it anyway.”

Well, the other shoe dropped later that night. After the J&W game, Wilson found out about some extracurricular activities that had occurred during the trip to Wisconsin-Eau Claire a week ago. All of the sudden the problem for the coaching staff changed from trying to instill some emotion in to a team to trying to instill some personal discipline in to them.

The infraction – Violating team rules.

The punishment – a one game suspension for the entire team.

For Saturday’s contest against Wentworth, Wilson only dressed thirteen skaters. Seated in the stands dressed in suits and ties for violating team rules were seven players, including co-captains Jerry Galway (7-14-21) and Josh Faulker (2-2-4), and Mike Bournazakis (7-15-22) who is leading the nation in points per game with 2.75

The other half of the team will sit out the upcoming game against Amherst on Friday. Most notable amongst this group of offenders serving their time is All-American goaltender Tyler Euverman (.927 save, 1.57 GAA).

Taking Advantage

Wentworth was able to take advantage of the shortened RIT bench when the two teams met last Saturday. RIT built a 3-1 lead by the end of the second period, but ran out of gas in the third period. Wentworth was able to score three goals in the third period to earn the win, and put the first blemish on RIT’s record this season.

“Given a full RIT bench, I don’t think we could have done what we did tonight,” said Wentworth coach Bill Bowes after the win. “But I give credit to coach Wilson for doing what he did. He is a class guy, and runs a class team, and to give up a game like this shows that.”

Elmira Takes Over Lead

The Soaring Eagles only had one game this week, but winning it moved them in to sole possession of first place in the league. Elmira downed newcomer Utica 7-0 on Saturday. With the team mostly healthy again after a bout with the flu, Elmira was able to score early in the contest and roll on from there.

Elmira only outshot Utica 39-32, but the Soaring Eagles took advantage of a weak Pioneer penalty killing unit to score four powerplay goals, including three in the third period alone. That was the difference in the game, and enough to move Elmira in to first place.

Jason Silverthorn (6-7-13) and Adam Godfrey (2-10-12) each had a three point night against Utica, tallying a goal and two assists each.

Where’s the Air?

Manhattanville took its first plane trip this past weekend, out to Colorado for the Radisson Inn Classic hosted by Division 1 Air Force, and met the cadets in the opening round. Even though the Valiants flew out the day before, it wasn’t enough time to adjust to the 7,500 feet altitude, and they struggled physically during the game.

“We really needed to play all four lines out there because of the altitude,” said Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal. “If we had another day or two to acclimate, it probably would have been better.”

Even with the thin air, the game against Air Force was close in to the third period. The Valiants entered the third period trailing 4-3, and found themselves on the powerplay midway through the period with a chance to tie the game. But the Valiant bench watched a big blast from the point ding off the post. And just seconds after the powerplay ended, Air Force carried the puck down the length of the ice and scored to seal the game. Manhattanville lost 6-3, after Air Force chipped in an empty netter in the closing seconds.

The loss meant Manhattanville met Minnesota-Crookston from the MCHA in the consolation game. The extra day of acclimation, and a weaker opponent, saw Manhattanville have its way with Crookston defeating them 7-1.

“We just turned things up in the second period and got things rolling,” said Levinthal.

The Valiants scored four goals in the second period on the way to their victory. Freshman Brad Olson (9-7-16) notched two goals and three assists in this game.

“Brad is a real good player, and has been consistent for us from the start,” said Levinthal.

A Win and A Debacle

Neumann had an up and down weekend, defeating Nichols but losing badly to Curry.

“We knew Nichols was a team that we could be competitive with,” said Neumann coach Nick Russo. “We were looking to get off the snide, if you know what I mean, and we did that.”

Nichols scored early in the first period, and enjoyed the lead until late in the second when Travis Dwyer (1-1-2) scored for Neumann to tie the contest. The third period was filled with penalties, but John Nicoletti (1-3-4) was able to tally an unassisted even strength goal with two minutes left to lift the Knights to a 2-1 lead.

Netminder Matt Saur (.877 save, 6.57 GAA) saved the day as he stopped all seventeen shots that Nichols poured on net in the third period, and 35 of 36 shots for the game.

“Matt gave us a great effort and played a good game,” said Russo. “He kept us in the game at the end when we had some penalty trouble.”

I always have to chuckle in this business when certain things happen during an interview. When I talked to coach Russo this week, I started to lead the conversation from discussing the Nichols game to Neumann’s 9-2 loss to Curry on Saturday. I began to say “Now tell me about your game…” when coach Russo interrupted me with “The Curry Debacle?”

Well, I wouldn’t have phrased it that way, but it does describe the game pretty accurately.

Curry outshot Neumann 50-23 and scored five powerplay goals on nine opportunities in what was just an ugly game from almost any perspective.

“We never seem to play well [in] back to back [games],” said Russo. “Mentally, we don’t have that kind of maturity yet.” The second half of the season is riddled with back to back weekend games for coach Russo and his players, so they will get lots of practice at this.

Patriotic Kudos

Hats off this week to the RIT Corner Crew for exemplifying the patriotic feelings that have been sweeping the country during the recent trying times. In both home games this weekend, the Corner Crew unfurled a gigantic American flag during the National Anthem that covered the entire section of fans standing in the corner from aisle to glass. It was truly an inspiring sight to see.

Game of the Week

Well, it is actually “Travel Partners of the Week” this week. Elmira and RIT head out to take on Amherst and Williams this weekend. Two top teams in the ECAC West against two good NESCAC teams. This series is important to RIT and Elmira for two reasons. First, it will allow each to get some insight about how they might stack up against the other. Two, common opponents is an important criteria when it comes time for ranking teams in the NCAA tournament.