This Week in the ECAC West: Jan. 28, 2010

Right Mindset

With a pair of road victories last weekend, Manhattanville extended its current winning streak to nine games. But even more amazing is the Valiants are riding a 20 game unbeaten streak on the road. With a record of 19-0-1 in its last 20 games away from the Playland Ice Casino, Manhattanville is defying the old maxim that it is more difficult to play away from the home barn.

“We have been a good road team,” said Manhattanville head coach Keith Levinthal. “We are a more disciplined team, and a smarter team, on the road. Sometimes at home we try to be a team that we are not. For whatever reason, we are a more focused team when we travel.”

Manhattanville’s latest road conquests came this past weekend at Utica and Morrisville.

On Friday, the Valiants beat Utica 6-3 in front of 3,656 hostile fans at The Aud.
Manhattanville saw a 3-1 lead evaporate early in the third period as Utica tied it up thanks to Tim Coffman and Vincent Nucci. But the Valiants ripped off three even-strength goals in the final six minutes of the game to seal the victory.

“We played really well and had the majority of scoring chances in the game,” said Levinthal. “We had a couple minute lapse, partly as a credit to Utica, but we recovered quickly. I really felt good about our effort. From a conditioning standpoint, we were starting to take the game over. Our guys were feeling really good and strong.”

Sunday, the Valiants shutout Morrisville 3-0, ensuring the ECAC West a winning record over the SUNYAC once again in their long standing inter-conference rivalry. Sophomore Evan Michalchuk tallied a pair of goals less a minute apart late in the second period to finish off the scoring for Manhattanville.

“Morrisville worked really hard and played really smart,” said Levinthal. “They controlled the play in the first period and part of the second period. We really struggled with their forecheck. As the game wore on, we slowly began to take control.”

Morrisville outshot the Valiants 15-5 in the first period, but goaltender Pierre-Olivier Lemieux withstood the onslaught and gave the Manhattanville offense time to get going.

Some Distance

Hobart swept a pair of games at Neumann last weekend, creating some distance between the upper and lower halves of the league standings. The Statesmen, currently in third place, now have a five point gap between themselves and fourth place Neumann.

Both games were one goal games, with Hobart winning 1-0 Friday night and 3-2 on Saturday. Hobart was able to get the first marker each game, with four different goal scorers tallying during the weekend.

“We got the goal to start both games and that helped us out quite a bit,” said Hobart head coach Mark Taylor. “When we were able to make the second game 3-1, it gave us some breathing room. The first game, we owned most of the play. The second game, they did.”

Nick Broadwater continues to shine in net for Hobart. The freshman leads the league with a 92.6% save percentage and is second in goals against with 2.35. He stopped 64 of 66 shots faced last weekend to earn top honors in the league this week.

“Nick played pretty special all weekend,” said Taylor. “You would think that the shutout night was the better of the two, but the second night he was the real difference.”

A noticeable contrast between the two games was the infractions that were called. Friday night only saw five minors whistled, all of the rather benign flavor of tripping or holding. Saturday, on the other hand, had 18 penalties including four roughing and a 10 minute misconduct. Were the two games that different in the level of intensity?

“Different referees was the difference,” said Taylor. “What a nice game the first night was. It was a good game of hockey, back and forth. The penalties that should have been called were called.”

Prostate Cancer Fundraiser

Elmira will be raising funds to increase the awareness of prostate cancer during its game Friday night against Utica.

With the help of the women’s varsity team, the Soaring Eagles will be collecting donations both before the game and during intermissions. They are also raffling off a pair of autographed goalie sticks and the booster club is donating its share of the proceeds from the evening’s 50/50 raffle. All money collected will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

If you find yourself anywhere near the Southern Tier Friday evening, stop by the Thunderdomes to help the cause and enjoy a great hockey game.

Game of the Week

Manhattanville continues its road work this weekend when the Valiants travel to Hobart. It is a big game for both teams, as almost all are at this time of the season. Manhattanville leads Hobart by only a single point for second place in the standings.

“They all are big at this point,” said Taylor. “Every time you play someone in your league, you always think about series. We want to win the series. They have been playing pretty good during this stretch.”

Saturday will be the rubber match in the series. So far, the visiting team has won each of the first two games by identical 4-2 scores. Manhattanville opened its series at Hobart on Oct. 31, ripping out to a 3-0 lead and then withstanding a Hobart comeback to take the 4-2 victory.

Hobart returned the favor at Playland Ice Casino on Dec. 5, also building a 3-0 lead, only to have to hold on for a 4-2 win.

“It is really important in the standings,” said Levinthal. “They beat us last time, so we owe them a good game. Playing in Geneva is always tough. They are really good at home and it will be a heck of a challenge. We are in the right mindset to go in there and give them everything they can take. I like where we are at as a team right now.”

If I was a betting man, I think putting money down on a 4-2 score Saturday night might be a worthwhile proposition.

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