Hobart a Defensive Power?
Traditionally, when you think of Hobart hockey, you don’t think of it in terms of being a defensive powerhouse. Maybe you think of its rink open to the fresh outdoors. Or maybe of a team that has shown some sparks at times, but never really materialized. But a defensive power? Not a chance.
Well, if statistics are any indication of the quality of a team, you might just have to start to think of Hobart in a different light.
Look at these statistics, through 17 games this season:
- Hobart has limited its opponents to two goals or less in 11 games this season, earning a record of 10-0-1 in those contests.
- The Statesmen defense is only allowing 2.61 goals per game on average.
- Hobart’s defense is currently ranked 15th in the nation in goals against average.
“I think team defense is very important to us,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. “Keeping the opportunities our opponents get down is huge. I think we are starting to come together as a team and are finally all on the same page.”
Last season, Hobart was ranked 50th in team defense, allowing an average of 4.38 goals per game.
The difference between last year and this year is huge, and it is showing up in Hobart’s record. The Statesmen are 10-6-1 so far this year, and are currently ranked No. 17 in the East Pairwise Rankings.
Well, maybe not complete domination, but it is time to toot the horn of the ECAC West a little bit. The ECAC West tallied a 9-0 record over the past week against SUNYAC opponents. Prior to this week, the league had a losing overall record for the season against the SUNYs, but the recent success has turned that deficit into an overall record of 23-15-3 in favor of the “Good Guys.”
Hobart led the way recently, defeating three SUNYAC teams including league leader Fredonia. Hobart has now defeated Fredonia three times, more than half of all of the losses suffered by the Blue Devils so far this season. I am sure that Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith is happy that he doesn’t have to face Hobart any more this season.
RIT defeated Plattsburgh on Saturday, 5-2, in an emotional contest. The Tigers were able to exact a small amount of revenge against the Cardinals, who sent them down to defeat in the playoffs each of the last two seasons.
Utica, Manhattanville and Elmira each played their parts towards the successful non-conference weekend as well.
With the turnaround in the record versus the SUNYAC, the ECAC West now is either tied with or has a winning record against each of the seven other Division III leagues. With four teams listed in the Pairwaise Rankings, maybe the efforts expended by coaches, players and administrators to rebuild the ECAC West to the glories attained in the past are starting to pay off.
One Step Closer
Bryan Isola from Neumann College has moved on to the next phase of the 2003 Hockey Humanitarian Award selection process. The five finalists for the award were named on January 16th, and Bryan was among that group.
The winner will be named at a ceremony held Friday, April 11th, in Buffalo, N.Y. The annual Humanitarian Award is presented as part of the festivities held around the Division I Frozen Four.
All fans of the ECAC West will be cheering in Bryan’s corner.
Around the Rinks
From the home of the Manhattanville Valiants in Rye, N.Y. that we visited last week, we head down the New Jersey Turnpike and across the Delaware River this week to Iceworks, home of the Neumann Knights, located in Aston, Pa.
Many readers have sent me email over the last two weeks to let me know what they think about some of the rinks in the ECAC West. So what do you think? Send me an email, and let me know your thoughts about the rinks in the ECAC West.
Iceworks Skating Complex – home of the Neumann Knights
Home Locker Room: C
Visiting Locker Room: C
Spectator Seating: C
Game Atmosphere: C
Press Facilities: D
Game Facilities: A
Rink Aesthetics: B
Overall Grade: 80% (B-)
The Iceworks Skating Complex, located just a mile from the campus of Neumann in Aston, Pa., is a state-of-the-art multi-rink community facility. Gone are the days of dark, dingy single-rink community facilities where a vending machine is the only amenity available.
Iceworks began as a twin-rink facility serving mainly the youth and junior teams from the communities southwest of Philadelphia. However, when Neumann decided to make the move up to the ECAC West, they contracted with the Iceworks owners to add two new rinks for use by the school.
The construction work was completed early in 2002. Neumann’s men’s team moved into one rink, while its women’s team took up residence in the other one.
The facility is truly a modern one. Large, bleacher type stands line one side of the ice, with ample team benches on the opposite side. The aisles and gathering places are spacious, and there isn’t a bad sight line in the building.
Iceworks also features the best concession stands in the league. There isn’t just one, but two concession areas in the rink facility, both with extensive selections of very good food. One snack bar is situated in between the two Neumann rinks, overlooking both through large windows in a heated area.
The home locker room follows the trend of most modern ones, with wooden lockers for each player and a large school logo displayed prominently in the center of the lush carpet. The only knock on the locker room for the home team is that is a little on the small side compared to some others around the league.
Similar to Manhattanville, the offices for the Neumann coaching staff were the last items on the construction list and are still incomplete.
Spectator seating will hold about 1,000 fans, although the aluminum bleachers can make sitting during a game chilly. All spectators, whether viewing from the bleachers or from the snack bar, enjoy good sight lines.
Neumann has been building a base of fans since last year. While the game atmosphere isn’t quite up to par yet, with a few wins under their belt, the Knights could start to load the stands with noisy fans to get that true college hockey game atmosphere.
Press facilities are non-existent. However, coach Nick Russo and the rink staff bend over backwards in making the necessary arrangements to accommodate any visiting radio crews or other media representatives.
Iceworks is another example of a relatively new facility that the team will grow in to. The rink is a good facility now, and has the potential to become even better as the team improves and the fan base grows.
Game of the Week
Finally, it is back to league play for the ECAC West. The last league contest played was seven weeks ago, on Dec. 7, when Manhattanville defeated RIT. This weekend, Manhattanville travels to the Thunderdomes to take on Elmira to start the second half of league play.
This is a huge game for both teams, and has developed in to a heated rivalry very quickly. Last year, neither team held serve, with each team winning at the other’s rink.
The Valiants are coming off their big win against RIT in their last league contest. They can firmly plant themselves atop the standings with a victory over Elmira.
The Soaring Eagles, on the other hand, have only played two league contests so far. They will be looking to use a victory over Manhattanville to establish a presence on the leader board.
This game should be a great contest.