Logjam in ECAC West

Mixing It Up
With five strong teams in the conference, an easy prediction before the season was that the teams would beat each other up in the standings. The early results are reinforcing that feeling.

Elmira holds a slim lead as the only team to rack up two wins. The other four teams are all tied in second place with a single win.

Four of the five teams have a single league contest this weekend, while Neumann has the only doubleheader, travelling to Utica and Manhattanville. This weekend could be critical for the Knights as they try to break the log jam.

Neumann is coming off a tough loss last Saturday at home to Hobart. The Statesmen put a thumping on the Knights 7-2. The Aud and Playland Ice Casino are not the easiest places to play, but Neumann has something to prove this weekend.

“It will be a great challenge for us,” said Neumann coach Dominick Dawes. “Going into Utica, they have a completely new team. That place is going to be rockin’ Friday night. It will be a good test for us to see what we can handle. We got embarrassed in our own rink and now let’s see how the guys respond.”

Helping Neumann along last weekend was freshman Michael Rey, who scored two of the three Knights’ goals on the weekend. Rey tallied the only goal in the game against Elmira and also tallied the first Neumann goal against Hobart. Both were on the power play.

“He is off to a very good start,” said Dawes. “His whole line has done a good job from the get-go. A lot of their goals have come off of second chances going hard to the net. He has stepped in and done pretty well.”

If the trend of beating up each other around the league continues, the nonconference games will become even more critical as teams try to differentiate themselves in the eyes of the NCAA Committee.

In the Community
In celebration of Veteran’s Day, the Elmira men’s and women’s hockey teams hosted a youth hockey clinic last Thursday. The coaching staffs and several players from each team welcomed more than 40 kids to the Thunderdomes for a couple of hours of hockey fun.

Differing Perspective
I have the great privilege of talking with coaches both within the league and around college hockey. Whether the coach is full of joy after a big victory or despair from a defeat, angry that his team played poorly or satisfied that the pieces are finally falling into place, they always have something interesting to say from a very unique perspective. No one knows their team of players better, but no one faces as many conflicting demands from different sources either.

It isn’t unusual for opposing coaches to see a particular game very differently. Win or lose, play well or poorly, argue with the refs or not, all can have a big influence on how a coach views a game.

On Monday I called both Hobart coach Mark Taylor and Neumann coach Dominick Dawes. Amongst many topics covered for this week’s blog, column and an upcoming feature article, we talked about last Saturday’s game between the two schools.

Before calling, I took a look at the box score from the game and noticed all of the penalties that were called. With two roughing calls, a pair of majors, two elbows, charging, and facemasking scattered throughout, at first glance it seemed like a rough and tumble game.

So how did the coaches respond to a question about whether the game was as physical as the box score indicated?

“I don’t think it was a really physical game,” said Dawes. “They came out and beat us all over the ice.”

“We got out to an early lead and I think that changed the focus for Neumann,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. “It was a very physical game. There may have been a few liberties taken.”

Two very different but interesting perspectives of the same game.

ECAC West Weekly Awards:
Player of the Week: Greg Ciciola (Jr.), Hobart
Ciciola scored three goals and added two assists to lead the Statesmen to a 7-2 win over Neumann on Saturday. He also scored a power-play goal in a 2-2 tie with Cortland on Tuesday.

Goaltender of the Week: Nick Broadwater (So.), Hobart
Broadwater made 40 saves in a 7-2 win over Neumann on Saturday and tallied 39 saves in a 2-2 overtime tie with Cortland on Tuesday.

Rookie of the Week: Michael Rey, Neumann
Rey scored two goals as Neumann went 1-1 in conference play. Rey scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over No. 6 Elmira College on Friday. He then scored his fourth goal of the season in the first period against Hobart on Saturday.