Well week one is in the books for the two conferences playing an interlocking schedule and there are surprises at both the top and the bottom of the leaguie standings.
Defending ECAC East and National Champion Norwich opened the season at home with back-to-back wins against UNE and Southern Maine. The 8-0 and 4-2 wins see the Cadets off to a solid start in defense of their titles and now look to take on long-time rival Middlebury at the Primelink Tournament over the Thanksgiving break.
Two other teams in the ECAC East also went through the first weekend unbeaten. Castleton leveraged strong defense, timely scoring and the goaltending of Seth McNary to victories over last year’s ECAC East regular season runner-up St. Anselm and New England College. Friday night’s 2-1 win was followed up by a rousing 4-2 win that included the tie-breaking goal being scored with just over a minute remaining in the third period and and empty net goal to seal the deal.
The surprise team at the top of the standings is St. Michael’s who held serve at home with a 5-1 win over Southern Maine and a 5-0 shutout win over UNE. Add Tuesday night’s 6-2 win over NE-10 rival Assumption and the Purple Knights are off to a flying start at 3-0 on the season. Last season the Knights won just seven games and only three in league play so this year’s fast start may be a portent of good things to come.
Over in the NESCAC conference it is really no surprise that Amherst, Bowdoin and Williams are all 2-0 after week one in league play. While Bowdoin and Williams won out at home, Amherst proved that their formula of great goaltending, solid defense and outstanding special teams works pretty much anywhere they play. The Lord Jeffs used 3 power play goals and Cole Anderson’s .955 save percentage to down Trinity 4-0 and Wesleyan 4-2 for the weekend sweep.
Williams was equally impressive in week one with a 5-1 win over Conn College and a 5-0 shutout of Tufts who had shutout Middlebury the night before behind Scott Barchard. Tuesday’s 3-1 win over non-conference foe Westfield State has the Ephs off to a 3-0 start with a road game at Babson followed by a home match-up with Manhattanville this upcoming weekend.
At the other end of the spectrum the big shocker was the Middlebury Panthers dropping two on home ice. Opening night saw Middlebury getting shutout 3-0 and Saturday brought a 5-3 loss to Conn College. With the Primelink coming up on Friday and a date with long time rival Norwich, the Panthers could be staring at an 0-3 start that would surprise everyone considering the returning line-up for the defending NESCAC champions.
All in all eight teams split their weekend games going 1-1 and there were no ties during the opening weekend for the first time in four years.
If this opening weekend is indicative of what is ahead for these two conferences then the season is going to be very exciting and unpredictable.
Enjoy the Ride!