This Week in the ECAC Northeast

Corsairs rolling along

Sitting atop the ECAC NE in sole possession of first place is UMass Dartmouth, with a 6-0-0 record, and a 8-4-1 overall mark. Head coach John Rolli is pleased with his team’s effort so far, but after playing five of the last six on the road, he can’t wait to play a home game.

“We’re just trying to get through this away game streak we’re on, and play at home,” he joked.

After one more road game, this Saturday against Western New England College, the Corsairs will play five straight at home, highlighted by the Suffolk game on January 30. The Suffolk game falls in the middle of contests against UMass Boston, Southern New Hampshire University, Fitchburg State, and Salve Regina.

Rolli is particularly pleased with his team’s defense.

“We’ve played well in league games, and we’ve only allowed six goals in six games,” he noted. “Our non-league record isn’t that great, and we’ve certainly played some very good teams and proved we can play with them.”

Of the Corsairs four non-league losses, none were by more than a two goal deficit.

UMD goalie Jeff Green is having his usual stellar season. The junior out of Medway, MA, is currently 8-4-1, with a 2.12 GAA, which leads the ECAC NE. Green’s winning percentage of .654% is second in the conference, behind SNHU’s Matt Courchesne, who has played in five games. Green’s .916 save percentage is also third in the conference.

Offensively, UMD is led by their first line, with senior center Jeff Grant flanked by freshmen wingers Joseph Hill and Jason Stahl, both of whom skated for the Valley Jr. Warriors of the EJHL last year. Hill currently leads the team in scoring with (6-10-16), with Grant and Stahl close behind.

Rolli is happy with the production out of his second line, led by junior Nick Paquin, and he was pleased to see his fourth line score six out of the 12 goals in last week’s wins over Worcester State and Assumption. After losing five out of his six top forwards to graduation last year, which included the entire second line, Rolli was worried about his offense coming into the season, but his fears have been allayed somewhat by his team’s ability to score.

As far as the defense, “they’ve played well all season long. We’re led by Tyler Crocker and [goalie] Jeff Green,” Rolli said. Crocker, a senior out of Wakefield, MA, leads the team with three power-play goals. Freshman Mickey Dudley leads all blue-liners with eight points.

In summing the season up, Rolli, who is in his 24th year behind the bench, said, “Now we have 10 games left, eight in the league, and two non-conference. We’re fortunate to be on top of the league now at 6-0-0.”

He also realizes just how strong the competition is now.

“Our league is just getting better and better. You’ve got Nichols beating Colby, Suffolk’s making noise in and out of the league, and Western New England College beats Potsdam the day after Potsdam beats Manhattanville.”

Curry College is also in close pursuit of that top stop, with 11 points and a 5-1-1 record.

Rolli is experienced enough to know the real work is still ahead.

“We have to start gearing up for next month, and then the playoffs.”