This Week in the ECAC West: Dec. 12, 2002

Manhattanville Arrives on Top

After four years of building a model program, Manhattanville has climbed to the top of the heap in the ECAC West at the holiday break. The Valiants smacked RIT 7-2 on Saturday, and have now defeated every other team in the ECAC West at least once during those four seasons.

“For the first time, we have some upperclassmen, some experience,” said Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal. “That experience is finally beginning to pay off this season.”

It was a big weekend for the Valiants, perhaps the biggest in the short history of the program. The Valiants started out the weekend against Hobart, scoring four straight goals by early in the second period.

Manhattanville was aided by a five-minute boarding penalty on Hobart’s Will Bodine 8:31 into the first period. Standout freshman Tyler Resch tallied two goals on the resulting power play to build a 3-0 lead.

“We had a unique five-minute penalty that we had to kill off,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. “That didn’t help things. This was originally put up on the board as a two-minute penalty, but the guy laid on the ice a little longer and somehow the penalty changed to a five-minute one. That was a little bit of a kick in the ribs.”

Hobart climbed back into the game during the latter half of the second period. A few defensive lapses by Manhattanville opened the door, and the Statesmen skated right through.

“We played two minutes of stupid hockey,” said Levinthal. “That was enough for Hobart to make the game very close.”

Hobart scored three straight goals in an eight-minute span to close to a 4-3 deficit by the end of the second. Manhattanville was feeling the heat.

“When we came storming back, they called a timeout,” said Taylor. “There were times when the play was going both ways. They broke our back a little bit when they got the fifth goal. We brought it back, and then they got the fifth one that we would like to have back, and that took the steam out of us.”

Just 5:34 into the third, Chris Seifert scored his second goal of the game for Manhattanville, reestablishing the two-goal lead at 5-3, and giving the Valiants breathing room. Resch finished off the scoring, and his hat trick, with a goal midway through the period to put the game out of reach.

Saturday’s game versus RIT was all Manhattanville, all night long. The Valiants did everything right, winning the little battles that are so important in big games, and never allowing RIT to get out of the gate.

Ray Williams, who had been stymied this season on the scoreboard, broke out with two goals, including the first of the game and the last. Williams gave Manhattanville the early jump, scoring just 2:25 into the contest.

It has been a long time since RIT has been dominated on special teams, but the Valiants did a fine job of it in this game. Manhattanville tallied three goals on seven power plays, while limiting the potent RIT power play to only one goal on eight opportunities.

RIT tried to get into the game early in the second period. Sam Hill deflected a ping-pong shot from Mike Bournazakis into the net 4:58 into the second stanza. But the goal didn’t give RIT much momentum as the Valiants continued to play strong.

Manhattanville answered less than three minutes later with a goal by Dan Law, and never looked back.

The Valiants have been waiting for a breakout weekend like this for four years. The pair of big wins vaulted Manhattanville up five spots in the USCHO.com poll this week, to No. 7.

Hobart Taking Care of Business

Hobart has been quietly taking care of business so far this season. At the break, the Statesmen have amassed a respectable 7-5 record, and are the only team in the nation to beat SUNYAC leader Fredonia twice.

Hobart matches up well against Fredonia, and has been able to contain the speed of the Blue Devils. The Statesmen first met Fredonia in the opening round of the Buffalo State Tournament, taking that game 3-2. The Blue Devils traveled to Hobart three weeks later, and the Statesmen won that game 2-1.

“I don’t know if we’ve got their number per se,” said Taylor. “When they were coming in here, it was a great opportunity for us to gain some respect that they have already gotten. That is a challenge for us against them to match that reputation, that they are going to come and work hard and play good, honest hockey.”

One meeting still remains between these two teams, this time at Fredonia on January 18. The two losses to Hobart have been a drag on Fredonia’s national ranking, and this should be a great game.

“Let’s hope we can beat them again,” said Taylor. “The third time’s the charm.”

After the tough loss to Manhattanville on Friday, Hobart drove west on route 80 to Hershey, Pa., and took on Lebanon Valley, a nip-and-tuck game that had a little bit of everything. Power play goals, shorthanded goals, some roughing penalties, and momentum swings all abounded. In the end, Hobart came out on top 6-5 to end the first half of the season on an upward note.

“I was very happy with the way we responded,” said Taylor. “The guys did a nice job of bringing it to the table. There were some great goals by their guys and some great goals by our guys. [Matthew] Garman’s goal in the second period was a picturesque deke on a couple of guys and then he tucked it in.”

The Little Things are Special

This is the final ECAC West column for 2002. As the teams head into the holiday break next week, so shall I. Look for weekly installments to return right after New Year’s and continue uninterrupted to the end of the season.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of my faithful (and not so faithful) readers a very happy holiday season. In this season of hustle and bustle, take the time to enjoy and appreciate the little things that bring joy and happiness. Whether it is the smile of a family member, or the warmth of a friend, or helping make someone else’s holiday a little brighter; it is the little pleasures that make life worth living.

Don’t forget to take the time for the little kid in each of us to rollick in the snow.

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