Is It February Already?
It just seems that way. One of the major grudge matches in Division III hockey, traditionally reserved for the final showdown of the regular season, happens Friday night when Elmira invades RIT’s Ritter Arena for the 65th meeting between the two schools. The Tigers lead the series 31-29-4.
Elmira is coming off a split of conference games last weekend. The Soaring Eagles dropped a 4-2 decision to Manhattanville on Friday before rebounding with a 7-3 win over Neumann on Saturday.
Elmira hasn’t been to RIT this early in the season since 1989 when the Soaring Eagles lost to the Tigers in the finals of the RIT tournament. But even then, they returned for the traditional mid-February brawl.
Soaring Eagles coach Tim Ceglarski says he likes the new arrangement. “I think it’s healthy for everybody,” he said. “When all the key games are late in the season, sometimes you don’t know what kind of team you really have until then.
“You also get to see what other teams have and what they’re doing,” added Ceglarski. “It’s a lot better than scouting to just play everybody once earlier in the season.”
By the end of this weekend, Ceglarski will have seen all but one of his ECAC West opponents. He’s already convinced that it’s going to be the same old dogfight, probably even tougher.
“You can’t look past anyone or take a night off in the ECAC West,” he said. “I know the NCHA is a very strong league, but I’d put our top four or five teams against theirs.”
Speaking of the NCHA, its annual non-conference battle with the MIAC has been a one-sided affair. Going into this weekend, the NCHA is 13-1-2 against its Midwestern rivals. 16 more games between the two leagues are on tap for this weekend.
Things are looking up at Neumann. After finishing last season 1-22-1 and being outscored 173-48. the Knights are off to a 3-4 start with a goal differential of only minus-5.
“They’re bringing in good players,” said Ceglarski. “The players being recruited are coming from leagues playing a higher level of hockey than they had before.”
Former Neumann player and Hockey Humanitarian finalist Bryan Isola was recently drafted by the by the Jacksonville Barracudas of the new World Hockey Association 2. The WHA2 is a developmental league for the WHA, which begins play in 2004, hoping to fill the void in the likely event of an NHL lockout next season.
ECAC Northeast Player of the Week — Cameron Vandeveer, Lebanon Valley. The sophomore winger scored a pair of goals in two Flying Dutchmen wins. Vandeveer got the game winner in a 4-1 win over UMass-Dartmouth.
Goalie of the Week — The honors are shared between Lebanon Valley’s Sonny Holding and UMass-Dartmouth’s Ryan Grant. Grant stopped 65 of 69 shots last weekend, while Holding made 60 saves in wins over Hobart and UMass-Dartmouth.
Rookie of the Week — Josh Green, Stonehill. The freshman netminder, making his first collegiate start, made 24 saves in a 3-2 loss to Wentworth.
ECAC West Player of the Week — Jason Kenyon, Manhattanville. The junior forward scored two goals, including the game winner, in a big 4-2 win over Elmira.
Goalie of the Week — Greg Fargo, Elmira. Fargo made 69 saves in a 4-2 loss to Manhattanville and a 7-3 win against Neumann.
Rookie of the Week — Justin Rohr, Manhattanville. Rohr scored his first career goal in a 2-1 win against Utica.
MCHA Player of the Week –Brock Anundson, UM-Crookston. The Golden Eagles junior forward had a pair of goals and three assists in a weekend split with MSOE. Anundson got the game winner on Friday, and assisted on both goals in a 3-2 loss on Saturday.
Goalie of the Week — Matt Burzon, MSOE. The Raider’s goalie stopped 27 of 29 shots in a 3-2 overtime victory against Minnesota-Crookston.
Rookie of the Week — Nick Anton, Lawrence. Anton repeats as ROTW after a three-point weekend in a split with Northland.
NCHA Player of the Week — Adam Kostichka, Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The junior forward had a combined five points, including a pair of shorthanded goals, in Pointer wins against Lawrence, Bethel and Hamline.
SUNYAC Player of the Week — Matt Donskov, Cortland. The senior forward had two goals and three assists in the Red Dragons’ sweep of Brockport and Geneseo.
Goalie of the Week — Brett Walker, Geneseo. The junior netminder made 47 saves in a 2-2 tie with Oswego.
Rookie of the Week — Scott Lengyel, Cortland. Lengyel tallied his first career goal and chipped in an assist in a 7-4 victory against Geneseo.
If you haven’t already, read Scott Biggar’s piece on the increased number of players transferring these days. There are quite a few more this season due to the demise of hockey programs at Iona, Fairfield and MCLA. While there are many D-I to D-III transfers that will make significant contributions to their new teams, there are also three Division III to Division III moves worth noting:
Nick Cote — The senior transferred from the defunct MCLA program, where he scored a whopping 72 goals, including a league-leading 33 last season. Imagine what he can do with a more talented cast.
Ryan Gill — The senior compiled a 24-4-4 record at St. Norbert, but lost his starting job last season. He’s now at Concordia, and recorded the only MIAC win in the 16 MIAC vs. NCHA games last weekend, a 6-2 decision over Wisconsin-Stout. Gill made 33 saves.
Manu Mau’u — The junior forward scored 97 points in two seasons at Johnson & Wales; he now plays for rival Curry. The teams square off on Valentine’s day.
Feel the love.