The Wild Aud
Another weekend of league play, another wild game at the Utica Aud. Two weeks ago, it was a seventeen goal affair against Elmira. This past weekend, it was a slightly more tame six total goals with Hobart. However, while the goal count was down, the finish was another “fall off the edge of your seat” thriller.
The game was a duel between two freshmen goaltenders showing off their skills. Adam Dekker for Utica, and Dimitri Papaevagelou from Hobart, were the stars of the game making a combined 58 saves in regulation and overtime.
Add Neumann’s new goaltender, Mike Collichio, to the mix, and the young goaltenders are starting to rule the league.
But back to the Hobart/Utica game. The game was a seesaw 2-2 affair, with a relatively few eight penalties, through two periods before the craziness started. Utica sophomore Steve Nutty was tagged with a major hitting from behind penalty with 5:18 remaining in the third period. He was also given the gate with a game misconduct.
Hobart took advantage of the gift when Craig Levey scored at 15:55, giving the Statesmen a 3-2 lead. With almost four minutes of power play still remaing, it appeared the Hobart had the game in hand.
However, after staying in the background for most of the game, the referee stormed to the forefront and called two consecutive penalties on Hobart to even things out. Utica coach Gary Heenan immediately called a timeout to make a plan for the new found opportunity.
Just eleven seconds after the ensuing faceoff, Jon Ames wristed home the puck from the wing and the game was knotted at 3-3. Hobart controlled most of the overtime period, putting five shots on net, but couldn’t score and the game ended in a tie.
With exciting games like this, it is no wonder that the Pioneers are starting to build a strong fan base.
In other league contests, Elmira finally got off the bench and leapt over the boards with wins over two pesky teams. The Soaring Eagles poured 104 shots on goal over the course of the two games.
Elmira saw Neumann on Friday take a 1-0 lead early in the second period when Frank Pew scored. But then the Soaring Eagles rattled off three straight goals. The Knights tallied a goal to make it close, before Jarrett Konkle put the game away with an empty net goal as the seconds wound down.
Saturday wasn’t any easier for the Soaring Eagles against Lebanon Valley. Elmira built several leads over the first two periods, only to see the Flying Dutchmen charge back to make the score 4-3 Elmira. But Mark Mazzetti rebuilt the two goal Elmira lead at the 8:13 mark of the third period, and an empty net goal made it a 6-3 Soaring Eagles victory.
During the Manhattanville/RIT game, the clock operator and fans were more of a story than the game, which saw a 5-4 victory for the Valiants, by the way. Several delays were experienced during the game as the off ice officials stumbled with their duties. Somehow, it took three hours to play this game with delay after delay caused every time a penalty had to be put up on the scoreboard.
It didn’t help that the fans were also misbehaving, throwing items on the ice and at the RIT players’ bench, causing several delays and even a penalty on the home team. Reports received from people at the game indicated that the security that was present seemed uninterested in interfering with the miscreants.
On the ice, it was a great game. Manhattanville stormed to a 5-2 lead on two power play goals and a shorthander only to watch RIT come back with two late goals of its own to close the gap. But the Valiants were able to hang on for the important win, and take sole possession of first place heading in to the holidays.
In keeping with the spirit of the season, each of the teams has something to be thankful for at this time of year.
The Soaring Eagles should be thankful that there are building teams like Neumann and LVC in the league to allow them to build some confidence. Elmira has had a nightmare of a start to the season at 0-2-2 in its first four games. Its 104 shots in two games this past weekend, and getting two league victories, is just what the doctor ordered, and should allow the Soaring Eagles to regroup before the entire season is lost.
The Hobart men’s hockey team is kind of an enigma. Coach Mark Taylor is a blue collar guy, instilling a workmanlike mindset into his players that has been directly responsible for their success. However, of all of the schools in the ECAC West, Hobart is about as far away from a blue collar school as you can get. Hobart College counts numerous politicians, diplomats, and yes, even statesmen amongst its alumni.
The Hobart Statesmen can be thankful for coach Mark Taylor, and his ability to instill a blue collar work ethic in to a decidedly white collar school.
The ECAC West is actually thankful for Lebanon Valley this season. With the addition of the Flying Dutchmen to the league, the ECAC West can finally join the other leagues with a Pool A autobid next year. Lebanon Valley also adds depth to the league as another quality team. While it is struggling making the transition so far this year, Lebanon Valley is a proven consistent winner at the division III level.
The Valiants should be thankful for finding Playland Ice Casino to be their home rink. Coach Keith Levinthal has devised several schemes that allow his team to successfully take advantage of the unique qualities of that rink. In the last two and a half seasons, Manhattanville is 9-1-1 record in league games at Playland. That is something to be very thankful for.
The Knights may be looking for their first win of the season, but they are still thankful for new coach Dennis Williams. With only limited recruiting, he has been able to implement a new system, and a new sense of confidence, in to the team.
Neumann has the fourth best defense in the league, and has had six of its seven games decided by two goals or less. That is a dramatic improvement over years past, and should lead to a joyous holiday season for the Knights.
Fans and friends of the RIT program are thankful that there is finally enough support from the institute’s administration to seriously look at a move to Division I. Whether you are for or against the proposition, it is great that the issue will finally be evaluated on its merits after the pros and cons have been looked at from all angles. Contrast this to the past, when personalities, biases, and hidden personal agendas mired the topic in back door politicking.
The Pioneers are thankful for both offense and defense. In some games, Utica has displayed an incredible ability to put the puck in the back of the net. In others, The Pioneers have shown they can play steady, team defense. If they can learn to play both in the same game, Utica would have something to be truly thankful about.
I would like to wish everyone a very turkey-filled Thanksgiving. I will be spending the holidays with my family, and therefore won’t be writing a league column next week. Enjoy the holidays, and tune back in Dec. 2 when this column resumes.