A Showdown Looms
Sitting atop the ECAC NE right now is Curry College.
Coach Rob Davies seems happy, but realizes thereâ€™s a lot of work left to do.
â€œWeâ€™re pretty pleased, weâ€™re 6-1-1, but we need to work on all facets of our game, obviously.â€
The Colonels only loss was to Babson College, and in their last three wins, they have outscored opponents 18-4.
Davies is pleased that heâ€™s getting offense from different sources.
â€œI think we have some skill, weâ€™re playing well enough to win because we have skilled players and pretty good depth. Weâ€™re pretty evenly dispersed with the scoring; itâ€™s pretty well spread out.â€
When looking at Curryâ€™s roster, there are 19 forwards or defensemen who have played in at least five games. Of those 19 players, 15 have scored goals. Six different players have scored power-play goals, and four different players have short-handed goals, so itâ€™s no surprise that Davies is pleased with the balance he has.
So far, there are eight Curry players averaging at least one point per game, so Davies should have no fear that his offense is going to dry up at anytime soon. Between the pipes, Davies also has a pair of sophomores who are playing stingy hockey. Zachary Cardella has an overall record of 3-1-0 and a goals against average of 2.26, while Steve Jakiel is unbeaten at 3-0-1 with a 1.71 GAA.
In looking ahead, Davies knows there are challenges to be met.
â€œI think the next three games, against UMass-Dartmouth, Utica, and New England College, well, if our record stays intact after those three games, then Iâ€™ll have a lot more to say about out team. The next nine periods will really say a lot about our team and what we need to do.â€
Obviously the game that people will be most interested in is the when Curry hosts UMass on Saturday, December 1. The Corsairs are a close second to the Colonels, sporting a perfect 3-0-0 mark in conference play; they are 3-1-0 overall.
To see how closely these teams are in terms of stats, UMass has scored 17 goals and only allowed three in their three conference games. Curry has scored 38 goals and allowed six in six conference games. Quick math will tell you that both teams are scoring nearly six goals per conference game, while only surrendering one.
To take the similarities one step further, both teamsâ€™ sole loss came to the same squad, the Babson Beavers, and both teams lost by two goals, with Curry falling 4-2, and UMass dropping a 3-1 decision. Interestingly, both Curry and UMass were trailing by one goal entering the final minute of their respective games as well.
This game will feature seven of the top 10 scorers in the ECAC Northeast. Curryâ€™s trio of Jeffrey Hazelwood, Ross Enmark, and freshman Jason Yuel are ranked 1-2-3.
Hazelwood is averaging two points per game, with five goals and seven assists for 12 points. Enmark and Yuel are both tied for second, as both have 10 points in their first six games.
Off to a blazing start, UMass freshmen forward Joseph Hill is in fourth place with five goals and five assists in his first four games. His average of 2.50 points per game leads the conference. Fellow freshman Jason Stahl is also begun the season impressively, averaging 1.75 points per game, with two goals and five assists in his first four games. Both Hill and Stahl were teammates last year for the Valley Jr. Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
Davies and UMass Coach John Rolli also have something else in common: both of their goalies are unbeaten in conference play. Curryâ€™s Zachary Cardello and UMassâ€™ Jeff Green are both 3-0-0.
One key to this game will be special teams. Curry leads the league in power play efficiency, scoring on 29 percent of their chances, while UMass is amongst the leagueâ€™s more penalized squads, averaging 26 PIM per game. John Rolli will have to remind his troops to stay out of the sin bin and on the ice; otherwise Curry will make them pay.
This will be the only regular season meeting between the two teams that were ranked number one (UMass) and two (Curry) coming into the season. In the last two non-playoff encounters, UMass has won both games, each time by a goal. Face-off will be at 4:35 at the Max D. Ulin Rink in Milton.
Both Western New England College (0-8-1) and Framingham State (0-8) are still seeking their first victory. The two teams will tangle on Tuesday, December 4, at WNEC â€¦ Southern New Hampshire University is off to a good start, 3-1-1 overall, and 2-1-1 in Northeast 10 play. They host Assumption College on Saturday, December 1. Assumption is off to a good start also, with a 5-4-0 overall record and a 2-0 Northeast 10 mark â€¦ SNHU senior forward Brandon Hammermeister is off to a torrid start, averaging 2.2 points per game. The native of Calgary has five goals and six assists in his first five games â€¦ With his 2.25 points per game, UMassâ€™ Joseph Hill is tied for fourth for Division III national stats â€¦ James Pentecost of Curry already has two short-handed goals â€¦ Curryâ€™s team mark of 5.38 goals per game is third best in the nation for Division III.