This Week in the ECAC Northeast

Fast Start Fuels Colonels

Off to the hottest start in the ECAC NE are the Curry College Colonels, with a 4-0 mark. All four wins have come against conference opponents.

Coach Rob Davies is pleased with his teams’ fast start.

“Obviously we happy at being 4-0,” coach Davies said, “especially with as many new guys in the line up as we have. But the upperclassmen are determined to see that they have a successful senior year, so they’re working extra hard both on and off the ice with the new guys.”

Davies feels he has an idea of what led to the great start.

“It’s attributed to two things: the work ethic and the commitment of the upperclassmen in particular. The incoming freshmen are all hockey players, they want to play hockey. They seem to have a greater level of commitment that you like to see in your freshmen.”

Curry’s unblemished record has come via goal scoring, coupled with solid goaltending.

The season opener was at Fitchburg State earlier in the month, won by Curry, 3-2. In the next three games, Curry won by a combined total of 21-6, with victories over Salve Regina (7-3), Western New England College (8-1), and a 6-2 win over Framingham State.

One player off to a torrid start for Curry is senior forward Jeff Hazelwood. The assistant captain from California already has five goals and five assists, and his coach knows one reason why that may be.

“I think last year being co-player of the year in our league was a tribute to what kind of player he is, and still think that he can have a better year this year,” Davies said. “He’s obviously off to a fast start and he’s carrying a lot of load for us. A lot of those points aren’t coming off of the power play. Our power play is sort of somewhat anemic right now; he’s getting his points on five-on-five situations.”

Two other veterans are helping to pace the Colonels to this great start. Jim Pentecost has two goals and three assists, and captain Jeremy Hruma already has five helpers.

“It’s what you like to see, your seniors up there contributing like they have, or are right now, said Davies. “It says that they’ve learned things over the course of their four years and they’re putting it together and leading the younger guys in the right direction. It’s nice to see them up top, producing.”

With 14 freshmen who have played so far, some coaches may have been skeptical about what to expect, but Davies feels there have been no surprises:

“Nobody is doing anything that we didn’t expect. We have a lot of guys who felt they had good junior careers, but now they’re college players and their lives are busier. It’s not just hockey, they have to be students. They have busier lives, and there’s a transition period.”

So far, 11 freshmen are on the stat sheets, and three of them — John Williams, Christopher Smith, and Michael Guzzo — are averaging a point-per-game in the early going.

Another reason for the strong start is the goaltending duo of Steven Jakiel and Zach Cardella. Both are 2-0, and Jakiel has a goals against average of 1.50.

“They’re competing,” Davies explained. “We wanted to get a rotation going where there was maybe a little bit more competition between the two than last year when we were rotating every other game. Now we’re giving them two games and evaluating them.”

Curry has a stretch of road games coming up, including non-conference contests at Hobart and Colby next week. Davies knows his approach to these games may not be the same as a conference foe.

“I think when you get outside of your league sometimes you’ve got to look at your opponent a little differently based on the league that they play in,” he said. “Sometimes the style that that league may play. You have to take it one game at a time. The next four games are on the road, and if you’re going to be successful you have to be able to play anywhere.”

Davies thinks he has an idea of what style of play he’ll soon see.

“We’re going up next week to Hobart, and that’s the ECAC West, a good league, a tough league. They’re a little more physical there, and we have to address some issues with that. Take it a game at a time. We’ve played Hobart a number of times over the years, so we’re familiar with them, and they’re familiar with us. You’ve got Colby, a NESCAC school, and they play a typical NESCAC game with a little more speed and bump and run.”

Curry will close out the road trip with games against Stonehill on December 2, and a much anticipated game at UMass-Dartmouth on December 6.

Around the Boards

Curry has five shorthanded goals so far. John Williams has scored four of them … While Hazelwood leads the conference in scoring with five goals and five assists, freshman Skylur Jameson of Wentworth is right behind with four goals and five assists. Jameson has done it in one less game, and currently leads the conference with a three point per game average … Sophomore Tyler Medeiros of Wentworth lead the way with six assists so far.

Games to Watch

UMass-Dartmouth takes on Babson in a pre-Turkey day tilt on November 25 …There’s also plenty of post-Turkey Day action with tournaments next week on Saturday, November 29, including UMass-Dartmouth facing off against Bowdoin and Salve Regina clashing with Colby in the first round of the Colby/Bowdoin tournament beginning …UMass-Boston takes on So. New Hampshire University, while Tufts and Plymouth State square off in the first round of the PAL Cup…Suffolk is at Skidmore in the Skidmore Invitational and Becker takes on Neumann in the Rutland Herald Tournament.