If you’re old like me, you’re thinking of Gomer Pyle right now….
Let’s look at some of the many surprises in D-III to date:
ECAC East: What is traditionally Norwich’s title to lose, upstarts Castleton State and Southern Maine are at the top. New England College, bolstered by the return of Mike Carmody, is in the mix.
ECAC West: Neumann no longer can be considered a surprise. It’s a good thing the ECAC West is letting five teams into the playoffs this season, because the league has four and possibly five teams in the top 20.
ECAC Northeast: No surprises here. This was expected to be a dogfight between Curry and Mass-Dartmouth and so far it has been. Western New England has almost doubled its win total from last season, but is still struggling in conference.
MIAC: Gustavus Adolphus has opened huge lead over the rest of the conference, where no other team is more than a game above .500 in league play. Perennial powers St. Thomas and St. John’s have struggled so far, and second through seventh place is seperated by a mere two points.
MCHA: Finlandia is another relatively new program that’s make great strides. The Lions have never finished above .500 but are 11-6 this season, 9-3 in conference. They split their first meeting with first-place MSOE and will face the Raiders again in their final games of the regular season.
NCHA: Wisconsin-Stout leads the league at this point, and faces a big challenge this weekend when it travels to St. Norbert, which is in unfamiliar territory in third place, four points behind the Blue Devils. Watch out for St. Scholastica – the Saints knocked off St. Norbert last weekend, with their third string goalie in net to boot.
NESCAC – Any time Middlebury has six losses by the middle of January has to be considered a surprise. The Panthers haven’t lost six games in a season since 1993-1994. But Middlebury is only three points out of first, trailing surprises Amherst and Wesleyan, which hold down first and second place at the moment.
SUNYAC: Plattsburgh is a surprising 2-3-2 with half the league schedule completed. The Cardinals are one of four teams, including upstart Brockport, that are separated by a single point in the third-six positions.
More surprises to come, I’m sure.