Is there a better way to ring in 2007? In the NESCAC, No. 2 Middlebury ventures to Maine to take on Colby and No. 10 ranked Bowdoin in pivotal conference matchups for the Panthers. In nonconference action, No. 8 Utica, who recently won the St. Michael’s Tournament with consecutive 5-1 wins over Colby and Neumann, plays host to New England College before traveling to Williams to take on the Ephs. Out west, No. 9 Wisconsin-River Falls welcomes St. Thomas for a midweek tilt which could play a big role into the NCAA selection process. But the most important matchup this weekend takes place in northern New York when No. 6 ranked Manhattanville pays a visit to No. 1 Plattsburgh for a two-game set.
New Year, Different Result?
If you were to guess the all-time record between Plattsburgh and Manhattanville, what would you pick? Well, if you guessed an even split, then you couldn’t be further from the truth. The Cardinals hold a 4-0-3 record all-time over the Valiants with a 1-0-1 record at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena. This weekend Manhattanville makes the trip north in search of its first win ever over Plattsburgh.
When two teams who annually make the trip to NCAAs meet, each team would usually have a good chance to win, so it is somewhat surprising to see that Manhattanville is winless in seven attempts against Plattsburgh. If the Valiants are going to beat Plattsburgh, the time may be now. Plattsburgh has not played a game in nearly a month and could take time to shake off the rust leftover from 2006. Granted, the Valiants last game was on the same date, but if the Valiants want to win, they are going to need to jump out to the early lead and capitalize on the mistakes that Plattsburgh may make in the early going. The Cardinals have not lost at home in 32 games and it will take a Valiant effort from Manhattanville to snap that streak.
Through the first semester, only one team in all of Division III came out perfect. No, it was not Plattsburgh, or Middlebury, or even Gustavus Adolphus. If you are not already aware of what team that is, it may surprise you. The team is the RIT Tigers who stand at 10-0-0 entering the second semester. The Tigers were incredible in the first half outscoring opponents 55-5 and allowing just a half a goal per game. They have posted shutouts in six of their ten contests and have won by four or more goals in all but one game, a 3-1 win at Southern Maine. In their 6-1 victory over Castleton State they even managed to have just as many goals as the Spartans had shots on goal.
They are led by sophomore Danielle Nagymarosi (15-11-26), junior Isabelle Richard (8-16-24), and sophomore Maegan Geypens (7-13-20) who rank second, fourth, and seventh in the nation in points respectively. In goal, senior Nicki Werner and freshman Karen Quigley have split time. Each netminder possesses nearly flawless statistics, so flawless that if your name is Melissa Belmonte (UMass-Boston), Brittany George (Southern Maine), Nicole Ruddy (Cortland), Heather Crowley (Cortland), or Katelyn Greene (Castleton State), you should have kept the puck because you are in a very select group of players who have scored on the Tigers this season.
The Tigers ranked second in the nation in scoring, average 5.50 goals per game. Only Utica has averaged more. They rank first in the nation in goals against average, allowing a miniscule 0.50 goals per game. Their power play ranks 13th in the nation at 18.8 percent. The penalty kill is tops in the country at 95.6 percent, they have killed off 65 of the 68 penalties they have taken. Certainly all of this is good enough for a spot in the USCHO poll.
Well, not according to the voters, at least not many of them. The Tigers only received seven points in this week’s poll. The tenth-ranked team, Bowdoin, had 24 points. So how is it that a team, who has been so perfect, so dominant, so incredible in the first half is shut out of a poll that claims to rank the best teams? It’s simple really. The combined record of RIT’s opponents so far this season is 19-66-1. Of all of their opponents, the one who currently has the best record is Buffalo State who is 3-3-0. In the voters’ eyes, the Tigers have been beating teams they should beat, and they have been doing it soundly.
It will take the second half of the season to really see just how good the Tigers are. They wont waste any time however as they open the second half facing Division II opponents St. Anselm who, ironically is also 10-0-0. They will follow that up with three straight games against ranked teams in Elmira, Middlebury, and Utica.
As of now, the Tigers are a team with great statistics. Whether they themselves are a great team remains to be seen. Clearly they are good, and in my opinion should be ranked for the sole fact that they have yet to lose a game this far into the season. All of that however will work out on its’ own. The Tigers will finally get a chance to prove themselves on the ice in the upcoming weeks.