Johnson & Wales closed out first semester action in the ECAC Northeast and MASCAC with a 10-2 thrashing of Southern New Hampshire Thursday night. With that in mind, here’s some quick hits on each team and a brief outlook for the remainder of the year.
Teams are arranged by current conference standings.
1. Wentworth (5-3-2, 3-1-1)
SKINNY: With only seven seniors on the roster, it took a bit for the Leopards to gel. An injury to sophomore goaltender Mike Jarboe could have spelled disaster, but freshman Chris Azzano stepped in and Wentworth hasn’t lost a game in the last month.
OUTLOOK: With strong goaltending and a horde of talented skaters, expect Wentworth to compete for another regular season title or home ice at the very least.
2. Becker (4-4-1, 2-0-2)
SKINNY: The Hawks have been a tough team to get a feel for in the early going. They’ve played some of the conferences top teams well (win against Nichols, and ties against Curry and Wentworth). But they haven’t had much success out of conference, and their two game winning streak to close the first semester marks the longest of the season.
OUTLOOK: Balanced scoring (six players with at least six points) and a strong effort from goalie Jake Rosenthal should keep the Hawks in the home ice mix.
3. Johnson & Wales (3-0, 4-4-1)
SKINNY: A weekend sweep by Fredonia set them back before a 10-2 thrashing of Southern New Hampshire Thursday, but the Wildcats are the only ECAC Northeast team to grab two points in every conference came, checking in with a 3-0 mark in ECAC play. Junior Jermiah Ketts (9-10) leads a potent offense that features four players who have already reached the ten point mark. Newsflash: The Wildcats can skate and score with the best of them.
OVERLOOK: The offense is there, but if Johnson & Wales is going to grab home ice, they’ll need either Matt Cooper or Jake Menzel to get hot in net. But as last year showed, this is a dangerous team once the playoffs roll around.
4.Curry (2-1-1, 4-2-1)
SKINNY: It’s a bit odd to see Curry in fourth place. Like Wentworth, the Colonels got off to a bit of a rough start, but have won four in a row. They couldn’t hold the lead in games and it cost them in the opening month. But they’ve rebounded since then, and given their out-of-conference schedule, their record is impressive. Freshman Travis Owens is 4-0 with a sparkling 1. 97 GAA since taking over the starting goalie job.
OUTLOOK: This is a team that has rebounded from a rough start and is in a very good position. Look for them to be in the mix for the regular season title and conference championship
5. Nichols (1-3, 5-4-1)
SKINNY: Finally healthy entering the year, the Bisons looked primed for big things. While their conference record is 1-3, its fair to note that all three losses have come to the three top teams in the league (Wentworth, Becker, Curry). But those are the teams Nichols will need to beat if it wants to get home ice. This is a good skating team that ranks second in the nation in scoring, has a deadly power play, and is tied with Fitchburg State for most shorthanded goals in the nation.
OUTLOOK: Despite the early struggles in conference, the Bisons should be in a mix for home ice. It’s going to be an uphill battle, but Nichols has the talent to do it.
6. Salve Regina (1-3, 1-7-1)
SKINNY: They can score ’em and they can give ’em up. The Seahawks have been in some shootouts in the season’s opening portion, but have been competitive in some games in head coach Andy Boschetto’s first season.
OUTLOOK: They’ll need to shore up the defense and goaltending, as well as cut back on the penalty minutes if they want to sneak into the playoffs.
7. Suffolk (1-3, 4-7)
SKINNY: Bit a of a disappointing start for a team that was expected to be in position to compete for home ice and enters the break on a four game skid.
OUTLOOK: They’ll need a rebound from the conference’s top goalie of a year ago, Jeff Rose, in order to make some noise, but look for the Rams to be in the playoff race.
8. Western New England (1-3, 3-6-1)
SKINNY: A hot 3-0 start culminating with a thrilling overtime win against Curry had things look up for WNEC in mid-November. They’ve hit the skids since then, but have played some tough teams and also had the misfortune of catching Wentworth right when the Leopards were starting to heat up. Depsite the skid, they’ve already matched their win total of last year by the end of November.
OUTLOOK: The Golden Bears can score, but have also given up some goals over the past few weeks. This is a different team then in years past, so expect them to sneak into the final playoff spot over Salve Regina.
1. UMass Dartmouth (7-2-1, 4-1-1)
SKINNY: A return to form for the Corsairs after a subpar 2009-10 season. Typically one of the dominate teams in the region, UMD has brought a gritty lunch pail style of play to go along with a career year by senior goalie Collin Tracy, who ranks among the national leaders in several categories despite barely seeing the ice for his first three seasons. The Corsairs success comes despite suffering injuries to several key players over the last month.
OUTLOOK: A very solid team that can win the close ones and also has some firepower. The play of Tracy will be key. Look for UMD to be there at the end, with home ice a minimum and the league crown a very real possibility.
2. Worcester State (5-2-3, 4-1-1)
SKINNY: Without a doubt the surprise team in either conference during the first semester. Picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll, the Lancers have ridden a large freshman class led by goalie Bryan Kalcynski (4-1-1, 2.63). Junior forward Nick Asterito ranks among the national leaders with an average of 1.6 points per game.
OUTLOOK: A thrilling 5-4 win over Salem State to close the first semester sets the stage for what should be a good second half. At this point, there’s no reason to doubt the Lancers, so look for them to compete for a playoff spot and home ice.
3.Plymouth State (5-1-2, 3-1-1)
SKINNY: A very solid first semester under first year head coach Craig Russell. The Panthers have gotten a great effort from sophomore Jack Astedt (1.65 GAA, .940 save percentage), who has started every game this year. Sophomore Alex Cottle leads the team in scoring and is on pace to shatter his 21 point freshman campaign.
OUTLOOK: Another team that should be in the muddled picture for home ice in the MASCAC. Despite being in third, it’s hard to argue the Panthers have done much wrong this year.
4. Salem State (6-3, 4-2)
SKINNY: The Vikings’ once solid grasp on first place was upset with losses to UMass Dartmouth and Worcester State. The offense has been there, but Salem State gave up five goals in three straight games (two losses) to close the first semester.
OUTLOOK: They’ll open 2011 conference play with a rematch against the Corsairs. Salem State was the favorite entering the year to capture the MASCAC title. It’s a tossup right now, with the decision likely coming down to the final weekend.
5. Fitchburg State (5-3, 3-3)
SKINNY: A 4-1 win over UMass Dartmouth helped the Falcons even their conference record at 3-3 to close out the first semester. All of their losses have come to teams above them in the standings. The Falcons are tied for the national lead in shorthanded goals with four and have gotten solid goaltending from senior Robert Vorse and Bobby Leiser, and rank ninth in the nation allowing just 2.12 goals a game.
OUTLOOK: Don’t count the defending MASCAC regular season champions out yet. If the goaltending can keep up, they’ll be right in the thick of things for home ice.
6. Westfield State (2-8-1, 1-5)
SKINNY: A shaky start for the Owls, who rank second in the nation in penalty minutes. 44 goals allowed in eight games isn’t going to get it done, so these are two areas Westfield State will need to iron out over the break.
OUTLOOK: It’s going to be a long road to try to climb back up in the standings. It’s likely they’ll be out Framingham State for the final playoff berth, but with this deep of a hole home ice seems unlikely.
7. Framingham State (0-9, 0-6)
SKINNY: The Rams rank last in the league in scoring and goals allowed, which is never a format for success. Freshman forwards Eric Ward and Daniel Miressi have been a few of the bright spots for Framingham State. Each produced at a point a game pace so far.
OUTLOOK: Framingham State is an underclassman heavy team so things can only go up in the second half. They are only two points out of a playoff berth. Grabbing that last spot would be a huge lift for the Rams, given the way things unfolded in the first half.