Shootouts Are In
The word “shootout” evokes either excitement or disgust in a hockey fan, sometimes both. Even if you think the idea is terrible for hockey, you can still get caught up in the moment, kind of like watching a train wreck.
The premier Division III tournament, the Primelink Great Northern Shootout, became literally that when Plattsburgh and Potsdam were still tied after 60 minutes of hockey in the first semifinal. A change in format this season allowed for five minutes of overtime, after which the game was declared a tie and a shootout was used to determine which team advanced to the finals.
Potsdam won the shootout 2-1, but Plattsburgh head coach Bob Emery was not disappointed in the process.
“I like the shootout,” he said. “It’s exciting, but the main reason why we went to it was to not have to delay the second game by two hours the way we did last year.”
Plattsburgh and Norwich played almost two 20-minute overtimes in the first semifinal in 2001-2002, causing the second semifinal to get underway around 9 PM.
Expect at least the next three Primelinks to follow the same process. “We had agreed to use it for the next round (of four tournaments),” Emery said. “We’re going to use it in our own tournament as well.”
Plattsburgh’s loss in the shootout didn’t dampen its head coach’s enthusiasm for it. One of advantages of the format is that the worst thing that can happen is a tie in terms of a team’s record. “It worked out for us,” Emery said. “I don’t think we played well at all in the first game. We were awful in the first period. But we ended up with a tie and then won the next day (6-1 over Middlebury). We ended up with three points and I think it prepared us well for the next game.”
That next game was a rematch with Potsdam on Tuesday, this time a SUNYAC league contest at Maxi Hall. The Cardinals scored five times within a nine minute span in the first period and waltzed to a 9-1 win over the Bears.
“The Primelink game was important, but this was more important,” said “You don’t get an automatic bid by winning the Primelink.”
Next up for Plattsburgh is a critical contest with first place Fredonia.
“We’re getting better and better,” said Emery. “We’ve got eight freshman and new goalies, but it’s coming together.”
The Wentworth Leopards are off to a good start at 5-1-2, and have been making noise outside of the ECAC Northeast with a 2-2 tie against RIT, a 5-1 win over Utica and a 10-0 thrashing of Amherst in the semifinals of the Ben McCabe Tournament.
A 5-1 loss to Oswego in the championship game hasn’t dampened the optimism of Wentworth head coach Bill Bowes.
“We’re off to a good start,” said Bowes “Oswego is a very good team and they played very well against us.”
“I think we’ve played well in every game so far except Suffolk (a 1-1 tie),” Bowes said.
Having one of the best goaltenders in Division III can make even a bad outing salvageable. Junior Raj Bhangoo has a .920 save percentage and a 1.79 GAA even after giving up five goals to Oswego.
“They were beautiful shots, good goals,” said Bowes. “Bhangoo played well. The other games he’s been playing amazing well, so I guess he looked human.
“He’s the best goalie that I’ve seen. (RIT coach) Wayne Wilson said the same thing. So did (Amherst coach) Jack Arena.”
Doing well in nonconference games against top opposition is not only important to Wentworth, but to the ECAC Northeast, which is trying to move up to the same level as the other eastern conferences.
“We’re really getting better. We’re still the weakest conference, I’ll give you that, but our top teams are beginning to show they can play with anyone,” said Bowes. “We deserve more credit then we’ve been getting. Hopefully games like those will open a few eyes.”
Last year, the Leopards defeated RIT and tied Middlebury. They have upcoming games against Salem State, Manhattanville and a rematch with Oswego.
“We want to play the best competition out there. We need to win games against some pretty good teams in March to make the (NCAA) tournament, so games against the top competition will help us in the long run.”
In case you missed them, there were five other Thanksgiving tournaments besides the Primelink last week, and every one of them had at least one overtime game. Three used the shootout to settle things, one a 20-minute overtime format, and the other ended in a draw. Ben McCabe Tournament — This one was won by Oswego, which defeated Wentworth in the finals. Trinity and Amherst battled to a 4-4 tie in the consolation.
PAL Tournament — The host St. Anselm Hawks beat Division II rival Southern New Hampshire in a shootout in the semifinals, but lost to New England College in the championship game.
Connecticut College Tournament — Fitchburg State defeated Wesleyan in a shootout in the semifinals and then went on to win the tournament, defeating Johnson & Wales 5-2 in the finals. The Falcons were the only team last weekend to survive overtime in the semis and go on to win the tournament.
Babson Invitational — Brockport State beat Stonehill 4-3 in OT, but lost 9-2 to host Babson in the title game. This tournament used the alternate format of unlimited 20 minute overtimes to decide things, and the Golden Eagles scored 9:55 into overtime.
Face-Off Tournament — This one used the dreaded fixed-schedule format, with both Curry and the US National Under 18 team playing Bowdoin and Colby. The overtime game was a 5-5 tie between Team USA and Colby. Both teams finished 1-0-1 in the tournament, but Team USA was declared the winner based on a goal-differential tiebreaker — Team USA scored 11 goals and allowed six in the two games; Colby scored 12 goals but allowed eight.
Another reason to hate this format: tiebreakers.