The final week of regular season play in the ECAC Northeast has arrived. And much has rightfully been written about the tight race in the MASCAC, as the top spot and three other home ice spots are up for grabs as the season winds down.
Below is a look at each of the eight teams and what could unfold in the coming week. The teams are listed in order of the standings as of Wednesday, Feb. 17. Records and points pertain to conference games only.
The first round of the playoffs start Saturday, Feb. 27, with the top four teams hosting the remaining four teams. The semifinals take place Wednesday, March 3, with the highest remaining seed hosting the lowest remaining seed and the other two teams playing at the higher seed’s home. The championship will be decided on Saturday, March 6, with the highest seed hosting.
1. Curry (10-1-1; 21 points)
Last week: 2-0
Remaining games: Thursday versus Johnson & Wales; Sunday at Wentworth.
Skinny: After dismantling reigning conference champion Nichols, 5-1, in a makeup game Monday, the Colonels can lock up the top spot with a home win over Johnson & Wales Thursday. That would give them 23 points on the season, putting them three up on Wentworth. But the Wildcats have won three of their last four, and only lost to Curry by one goal when the teams last met Jan. 28.
2. Wentworth (10-3; 20 points)
Last week: 1-2
Remaining games: Sunday versus Curry.
Skinny: It was a rough week for the Leopards, who lost to Suffolk Thursday and Becker Friday before rolling over Salve Regina Wednesday night. Not only did the losses drop Wentworth from the latest USCHO.com Division III poll, but it forced them to rely on Johnson & Wales to beat Curry Thursday in order for the Leopards to have a shot at the regular season title. Had Wentworth swept the week, they would have had a minimum one point lead entering Sunday’s season finale with Curry, needing only a win over the Colonels to claim the top seed heading into the playoffs.
3. Suffolk (7-4-2; 16 points)
Last week: 3-0
Remaining game: Sunday versus Western New England.
Skinny: It was a good week for the Rams, who vaulted up to third by extending their winning streak to four. Included in that streak are wins over Curry and Wentworth. But they only have one game left, and need to win that and hope for some help, as they would lose a tiebreaker to Johnson & Wales. They do, however, own the tiebreaker over Becker.
T4. Johnson & Wales (6-5; 12 points)
Last week: 1-0
Remaining games: Thursday at Curry, Saturday versus Nichols, Tuesday versus Becker.
Skinny: Thanks to a weather cancellation, the Wildcats still have three games left, leaving a lot up in the air. Should Johnson & Wales win out, regardless of what Suffolk does, they would win a tiebreaker over the Rams thanks to a 2-0 mark against them this season.
T4. Becker (6-6; 12 points)
Last week: 1-1
Remaining games: Saturday at Salve Regina, Tuesday at Johnson & Wales.
Skinny: A lot is still undecided for the Hawks, and it should remain that way until the regular season finale at Johnson & Wales on Tuesday. Becker beat the Wildcats earlier, so a win Tuesday would give them the tiebreaker.
T4. Nichols (6-6; 12 points)
Last week: 0-2
Remaining games: Thursday at Western New England, Sunday at Johnson & Wales.
Skinny: The Bisons will look to snap a three game skid that has sent them tumbling down to sixth place. They have a key game Sunday against Johnson & Wales, whom they beat earlier in the year.
7. Western New England (2-10; 4 points)
Last week: 1-1
Remaining games: Thursday versus Nichols, Sunday at Suffolk.
Skinny: The Golden Bears won their second conference game of the season, ensuring they’ll finish end the year in seventh. Head coach Greg Heffernan’s rebuilding program is in full swing, and Western New England has played both potential playoff opponents Curry and Wentworth tough in the second half of the season, taking each down to the wire.
8. Salve Regina (0-12-1; 1 point)
Last week: 0-3
Remaining game: Saturday versus Becker.
Skinny: It’s been a rough year for the Seahawks, who have one win overall and are three points behind seventh place Western New England, ensuring a finish in last place. They’ll face either Curry or Wentworth in the first round, and while there have been some upsets in recent weeks, it seems highly unlikely that Salve Regina could pull off the first round miracle.
ECAC Northeast Weekly Honors
Player of the Week : Paul Weisser, Suffolk — Weisser scored twice, including the game-winner, converting on a Rams power play in Thursday’s 4-2 victory over Wentworth. He added a goal in Saturday’s 7-1 win over Nichols
Goalie of the Week : Jeff Rose, Suffolk — Rose stopped 45 of 48 shots he faced in Suffolk’s two wins this week, including a 31 save outing in Saturday’s 7-1 win over Nichols.
Rookie of the Week : Jason Pietrasiak, Johnson & Wales — The forward scored three goals and added an assist in the Wildcats 7-5 win on the road against Western New England on Saturday.
While the ECAC Northeast concludes its regular season this week, there is still a full two weeks worth of games for the MASCAC. There’s still room for a lot of shuffling, as the top four teams are separated by only four points. Fitchburg State remained atop the standings for the third week in a row. The Falcons beat Framingham State, 6-3, Thursday before falling 4-2 to Salem State on Saturday.
Plymouth State leaped up to fourth to second with a four point week, beating Salem State 3-2 Thursday and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, 4-2, on Saturday. Rookie goalie Jack Astedt turned away 35 and 34 shots, respectively, to earn Goalie of the Week honors. After splitting its conference games on the week, Salem State downed non-conference opponent Saint Anselm on Tuesday, 6-3.
Westfield State beat UMass-Dartmouth 5-2 on Thursday, while Worcester State lost to Assumption, 6-2, in non-league action before losing to Framingham State, 6-1, on Saturday. Framingham State forward posted five points in a 1-1 week for the Rams en route to garnering Player of the Week Honors.
Caught a bit of the Russia-Latvia men’s ice hockey game the other night. Boy, does Russia look good. Finally saw a chance to see Northeastern in person this season. The Huskies were 2-1 winners over UMass at the Mullins Center last Friday, which had traditionally been a tough stop for them. They then throttled the Minuteman Saturday night and have a huge home-and-home series with Boston College coming up this weekend. And Northeastern basketball is on ESPN2 Saturday at 1 p.m. when they host Louisiana Tech in a bracket-buster contest, a game I hope to be attending in person.
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