Thanksgiving weekend meant tournament time again in Division III men’s hockey.
Arguably the best was the Primelink Great Northern Shootout, which includes Middlebury, Norwich, Plattsburgh, and Potsdam, and rotates among the four schools each year.
Norwich needed two overtime games and a shootout to take the crown, held this year at Middlebury’s Chip Kenyon ’85 Arena. Potsdam took the Cadets to OT in Friday’s semifinal, but Garett Winder’s game winner just 31 seconds into the extra stanza gave Norwich the win.
Meanwhile, Middlebury trounced Plattsburgh, 5-1, in the other semi. Sophomore John Sales got his first career hat trick in the contest. The Cardinals could only muster 13 shots on goalie Yen-I Chen.
“Middlebury did a hell of a job blocking shots. Pucks were just not getting through,” said Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery to USCHO arena reporter Jason Lockhart.
The Panthers and Cadets renewed their rivalry on Saturday for the tournament championship, their first meeting since Middlebury’s double overtime win in last year’s NCAA semifinal — one of the best hockey games I’ve seen at any level, by the way. The game ended, for official purposes, as a 1-1 tie, but Norwich took its fourth title in the tournament’s seven year history in a shootout.
Why a shootout? The NCAA allows two methods for declaring a winner in a tournament: one is the format we see in the playoffs — playing 20-minute overtime periods until there is a winner. The other, which was used in the Primelink, is to have a shootout to select the winner if the game ends in a tie after a five-minute OT.
I know some fans would like to see a “real” end to a game. But I think the shootout makes sense; I’d hate to see someone injured late in a multi-overtime game whose result is only a piece of hardware. Yeah, the trophy is nice, but it doesn’t compare to the “real” trophy handed out at the end of the season.
Norwich coach Mike McShane didn’t find the outcome anticlimactic. He told Jason Lockhart, “I thought it was pretty damn good.”
In the Primelink consolation, Potsdam downed Plattsburgh, 3-2. The Cardinals uncharacteristically gave up a short-handed goal to Potsdam’s Adam Gebrara. Potsdam goalie Rob Barnhardt was peppered with 41 shots in the win.
It’s not the first Primelink that Plattsburgh has come away winless — they lost in double OT to Norwich and then in the consi to Potsdam in 2001 — but it’s the first time in a long time that the Cardinals have had four losses so early in the season.
And today’s USCHO.com poll almost certainly will have another first: not since USCHO started its D-III men’s poll has Plattsburgh not been ranked, even when the poll was only a top ten.
In other tournaments, Gustavus Adolphus ventured east to the Babson Tournament, and came away with the crown, downing Skidmore 8-1, and the host Beavers, 6-4. Brockport beat Skidmore 4-3 in overtime in the consolation, upping the Golden Eagles to 4-7-1, just one win shy of last year’s total.
St. Anselm was the winner in the PAL Cup tournament, and Wisconsin-Stout moved to 7-3-1 with wins over MSOE and Lawrence in its tournament. Terry Watkins’ Blue Devils may not make the top 15 in this week’s poll, but I’m guessing they’ll come close.
Trinity took Conn. College’s Charles Luce Tournament. The Bantams had been bounced from the USCHO poll before they started action, but should be back in at 4-0.
St. Norbert split on the weekend at its Thanksgiving tournament, tying Marian 3-3, and downing Lake Forest, 6-3. A preseason top 15 team, the Foresters are a disappointment so far this season; after a strong 18-6-4 season last year, they are at 4-4-1, with 3 losses against the MIAC.
While it wasn’t a tournament, Oswego and RIT took on New England College and Williams in a trip east. Oswego handed both teams a pasting, while RIT had less dominating wins. Word is that a few Tigers had food poisoning on the trip, keeping some of them out of the lineup. ECAC West correspondent Scott Biggar promises more details in his column on Thursday.
And in another episode in what’s been a tale of security and game administration issues at D-III games this season, a photographer at the NEC-RIT game reportedly was yelling at the referees to get out of his way, and was using flash in such a way as to distract players. Then, after being tossed from the arena in the third period, this guy had the chutzpah, the cojones, to summon the police to the arena after the game.
Tennis balls, bagels, bad clock operation, spitting, signs on benches, cups thrown on the ice — it’s starting to sound like “Slapshot III: Back to College” this season.
Well, at least nobody’s running up off the ice into the stands throwing haymakers.
A couple of quick notes:
• Mass-Dartmouth’s John Rolli needs just one win this weekend against Tufts or Fitchburg State to reach 400 wins. He’d be the second D-III coach to do it this season.
• As part of their punishment for a “hazing incident” before the season, some Skidmore hockey players have written a paper on the subject. We’ll have that here at USCHO later this week, with an intro by our New England D-III writer Tim Costello.