It’s not your imagination. And I guess it’s not unexpected.
Penalties are way up so far this season in D-III hockey.
The NCAA’s points of emphasis on obstruction penalties have caused the number of calls to increase so far this season, and statistics back it up.
Last season, in 1,734 games, 30,561 PIMs (penalties in minutes) were assessed, for an average of 17.6 per game. Topping the list last year was Johnson & Wales with 27.6; at the bottom, squeaky-clean national champion Middlebury with just 10.5.
So far this year, in 574 games (or team-games, to be persnickety), or with about a third of the season in the books, the average has ballooned to 22.9 PIM/game, an increase of more than 30 percent.
Topping the list so far is Curry, with an average of 50.2. The Colonels were fourth last year, averaging 26.4. Curry’s total wasn’t helped by its game against UMass-Dartmouth on Saturday. The two teams combined for 70 penalties and 204 penalty minutes; Curry’s share in the 8-1 win was 39 infractions for 114 minutes. Curry was better able to capitalize on the power play, going 5 for 14, while the Corsairs were 1 for 25. All of those abbreviated power plays had to hurt the percentage; Chris Lerch will look at how a surplus of calls has caused a reduction in power play percentage in his column on Thursday.
Majors for fisticuffs and four misconducts inflated the penalty minute total in the game, but there was a slew of points of emphasis type whistles made in the contest, too. I’m probably more patient than most fans I’ve talked to are about this, and I’ve been willing to wait for the flow of the game to improve, but I’m starting to wonder if we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water.
The SUNYAC, with a nod to symmetry, has reached the midpoint of its schedule at the semester break. Like they were at this point two seasons ago, the Fredonia Blue Devils are on top with a perfect 7-0 league record. They hope not to repeat the 3-3-1 second half of the season, which saw them drop to second place with a loss on the last night of the season.
One factor in Fredonia’s favor: the Blue Devils have already made — and swept — the trip to Plattsburgh and Potsdam. But they have to visit Geneseo, which they beat at home while goalie Brett Walker was injured, and Oswego in the second half of the season.
Fredonia needs three points to clinch a playoff spot, and four points to clinch fifth place in the league, the position coaches picked them to finish at in the preseason.
Speaking of Walker, the Knights are 5-0 since he returned to the net.
Plattsburgh is in the unfamiliar position of fourth place at the break, six points off the pace. Coach Bob Emery told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican after a 3-2 loss to Geneseo on Friday, “I don’t think we can play any better than we did tonight. … It’s frustrating; I’ve never been through anything like this that I can remember. We’ve had trouble scoring goals in the past, but it was from not working hard enough. That’s not the case this year.”
Emery-coached teams are always among the best prepared, best conditioned, and most emotionally charged. It’s way too soon to count them out.
And a word to Plattsburgh fans, especially those who lambasted Emery during an extended episode of his weekly “Behind the Bench” radio show: Bob Emery is the guy who has brought years of great success to the program. Now is not the time to turn on him or the team.
One other SUNYAC note — congratulations to Glenn Thomaris for his 300th career win, which he got at Brockport on Friday. Most of those victories came at Elmira, where Thomaris had just one losing season in 14 behind the bench.
I can’t mention Thomaris’ milestone without some kudos for an even bigger one: UMass-Dartmouth’s John Rolli got win 400 last Thursday against Fitchburg State.
Several unbeaten strings continued this past weekend.
Fredonia extended its current success to 10 games, having gone 9-1 since an opening non-league loss to Potsdam. Wisconsin-Superior is at nine, with a 6-0-3 record, and Hobart set a school record with seven, with four wins and three ties since its loss at RIT.
St. John’s is perfect so far at 7-0; Manhattanville and Trinity have the only other unblemished records at 6-0.
On the topic of goose eggs, Adam Hanna picked up his second shut out of the season for St. John’s against a depleted Gustavus Adolphus on Saturday. St. Thomas goalie Kevin Hennessey needed just 14 stops to pick up one against Hamline on Friday.
Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Matt Burzon made 20 saves in a 7-0 win against Minnesota-Crookston, Kyle Jones made 22 saves in St. Norbert’s 2-0 win over St. Scholastica, and Tony Seariac made 18 stops in Plattsburgh’s 9-0 drubbing of Brockport.
Two pairs of goalies split shutouts; George Eliopoulos and David Wrisley in RIT’s 7-0 win over Neumann, and Colby’s Chris Ries and Ben Grandjean in a 10-0 win against Castleton State.
There should be some movement in today’s USCHO.com poll. Fredonia’s win over Oswego should propel the Blue Devils a bit. The loss to Wisconsin-Stevens Point by Wisconsin-River Falls, 7-4 with a couple of empty netters, will drop the Falcons. Trinity should make some noise, too.
And there will be a battle to get into the poll. Colby and Bowdoin each have good cases, but it will be tough to knock out 7-2 Bethel.