This Week in the ECAC Northeast

Nichols Off to Fast Start

Last season, Lou Izzi and the Nichols College Bisons got off to a 5-0-1 start, which was the best in the school’s history. This year, Izzi has his squad off to a 4-0-1 start, but one big difference is that this year’s team has nine freshmen.

“We have a pretty good team,” Izzi said while he prepared his team for their first conference game (Tuesday, Nov. 20, vs. Salve Regina). We’ve added some good freshmen, and they’ve brought speed, skill and toughness. We’re playing nine out of 18 freshmen, and the rest of the team is playing well, also.”

Some of the notable newcomers include Will Munson and John Haley, who are currently ranked fifth and sixth respectively, in team scoring. They anchor the second line, along with sophomore Eric Cremer. This line has already accounted for 10 goals in the first five games, and is responsible for 75 percent of the team’s power-play goals so far in the early going.

Izzi is very happy with what he’s seen with both Munson and Hailey right now.

“They’re two big players, and they’re putting up some pretty good numbers. They’re fundamentally sound, they move the puck, and they make things happen.”

Another pair of freshmen who have pleased their coach are the Biron twins, Jena-Marc and Patrick. Both can play defense, and Izzi says both “are hard-nosed kids, they’re up and down the ice, and just relentless. Patrick has stepped in and played physical, and Jean-Marc is a warrior.” Both arrived at Nichols via the Cincinnati Cyclones of the CSHL.

Another pair of freshmen who may not be twins, but share the same first name and are both forwards: William Strain and William Sabia. Both are being counted on by Izzi.
Strain arrived on the Dudley campus via the Tulsa Rampage of the WSHL, while Sabia played at the Trinity Pawling School in CT.

Offense certainly won’t be a problem for Nichols this year. The top line of leading scorer Anthony Monte, with fellow junior Ryan Gervais and sophomore Zeke Costello is ranked 1-2-3 respectively, and collectively they have 13 goals, 17 assists, and 30 points.

These statistics include two power-play goals, two short-handed tallies, and three game-winners. Gervais, with seven goals already, could eclipse his total of 17 last year. Monte, who led the team in scoring as freshmen and as a sophomore, is pacing to lead the way again, and is 11 points away from NCAA point number 100.

For all of the offense, though, there are some nights when Izzi wishes his goalies would make the initial save: “We’re prone to giving up the soft goal, and the goalies are making the easier saves as opposed to the tougher saves.”

Izzi realizes that with nine freshmen all playing regularly, those soft goals will happen, but he wants to see his team “develop the killer instinct and put teams away.” He seems determined to stop letting opponents back into games when his squad should clearly be pulling away.

Junior Keith Fink and sophomore Donny Wynia have virtually split the time between the pipes so far, with Wynia putting up a 2.39 GAA, and Fink posting a GAA of 3.68.

Izzi wants to see better efforts from the position. “We need playoff caliber goaltending right now, and with it, we’ll develop into a pretty decent team.”

Around the Boards

Junior forward Kyle Cook of Suffolk leads the ECAC NE in overall scoring through five games. The former Bay City Bomber out of Chino Hills, CA, has six goals and six assists already … A good conference tilt will occur on November 28 when Becker hosts Salve Regina. The puck drops at 8:45 that night at the New England Sports Center in Marlboro…. Franklin Pierce is taking advantage when on the power play. So far, the Ravens have scored on 40.5% of their chances. Coursen Schneider,Casey Goodell, and Sean Woodring are all tied for first in power-play scoring with three goals and four assists each through their first six games … Junior defenseman Glenn Cacaro leads blueliners in scoring with one goal and seven assists through five games … Junior Jeff Green has been stellar between the pipes for UMass-Dartmouth. In 169 minutes, Green has a GAA and save percentage of 1.06 and .948, respectively.

This columnist would like to wish hockey fans everywhere a very healthy and happy Thanksgiving.