Coaches get a feel for their teams in early action

With the opening of the new season comes a new format in the way coverage is going to be presented at USCHO. If you’ve taken a look at some of the Division I columns and Division III blog postings, you’ll probably have a good idea how this is going to work. If not, here’s a rundown (for your sake as well as mine).

Every Monday, look for a blog post recapping the weekend’s action, any notable accomplishments, players of the week, etc.

The traditional column, which you are reading now, will come later in the week in its traditional time slot, with news and notes from around the league, as well as recapping any midweek games. Finally, the week is going to wrap up with a blog posting Friday with game picks and any notes of interest heading into the weekend.

Look for updates in the blog throughout the week as well, should any breaking news occur. Also, the plan is to try and dust off the old Twitter account and start posting there once the season gets into full swing. There’s also going to be a weekly roundtable discussion on Wednesday, although this will encompass all of Division III, not just this space’s coverage areas.

The Only Certainty….is Uncertainty
Over the past few weeks, I’ve put together the ECAC Northeast and MASCAC previews. I’ve been in touch with each coach either over the phone or via e-mail as they’ve started to put together their teams.

Division III squads aren’t allowed to start practicing until  Oct. 15  (actual dates vary by conference)  which only gives coaches a brief window to evaluate what they have. While most coaches certainly have an outline of what their team will look like, many of the details won’t come out until the games begin.

“I think as we moved forward into the season, we will have a better idea of what our actual identity is, which may be different from the one I envision now,” Western New England coach Greg Heffernan said.

Added Westfield State coach Bob Miele, “Every Division III coach hopes they have a good feeling about their team. Everybody probably thinks they fixed what they thought was wrong with their team, but you never know until you play the games.”

Rankings and Roundup
The ECAC Northeast Coaches’ poll came out last week. Here it is, versus what I had. First place votes are in parentheses, followed by total points.

1. Curry (5)  61
2. Wentworth (3) 59
3. Nichols 48
4. Johnson and Wales 36
5. Suffolk 32
6. Becker 25
7. Western New England 17
8. Salve Regina 12

Here’s what I had:
1. Curry
2. Suffolk
3. Wentworth
4. Nichols
5. Becker
6. Johnson & Wales
7. Western New England
8. Salve Regina

A little different. Maybe I’m a little too high on Suffolk, but I think either way, look for Nichols to be a force after suffering through a myriad of injuries last year. All in all though, I think a lot of preseason polls aren’t worth the ink (or html code) they’re put on. Once the games get started, the standing will shake themselves out.

On that note, while the MASCAC doesn’t begin until Friday, the ECAC Northeast already has a pair of games under its belt. Becker and Wentworth opened the season Monday with a 1-1 tie, while Johnson and Wales fell to nonconference opponent Stonehill, 4-2, Tuesday night.

Both goals in the opener Monday came within a 27-second span in the opening of the third period. Shaun Jameson scored for the Leopards, while Brian Murray scored for the Hawks. Becker’s Jake Rosenthal turned away 34 shots and  Wentworth’s Mike Jarboe stopped 28, as he’ll be looking to fill the shoes of Justin Marriot, Wentworth’s all time winningest goalie.

Johnson and Wales was undone by three first period Stonehill goals. The Wildcats struggled out of the gate last season but rebounded nicely. Probably not the start they wanted this year, but in the grand scheme of things, its only one nonconference game.

Loose Pucks
This upcoming weekend is when most of the real action starts. Check out the blog for picks heading into the weekend.  With that being said, one of my main goals for this year is to try and get to more games. I’ve dropped my arena reporter duties at UConn for this season, so I should be able to do this, but with 15 teams spread over two conferences, it’s going to be impossible for me to be everywhere. So, if you are a student reporter or even just around any of the member schools, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at Nate Owen if you’re interested in picking up some game coverage.