ECAC East/NESCAC Weekend Wrap-up – January 10, 2011

Ephs Drop Two
So much for the undefeated status…
Williams came into the weekend having gone 7-0-1 in the first half, but opened the second half on the road against what many consider the toughest of the road trips in facing Amherst and Hamilton in games less than 24 hours apart. Both opponents had already played games in the New Year, while the Ephs were just getting started in 2011.
A 4-2 loss (late empty-net goal the final tally) to Amherst was followed up with a 6-3 loss at Hamilton (also included and empty-net goal) and just that quickly, Williams fell from the ranks of the unbeaten in the 2010-11 campaign. In fact, Williams surrendered more total goals in the two weekend games than they did in their first eight games combined. This was surely not the start that coach Bill Kangas wanted, and now the team must get ready for three games in five nights, hosting Wesleyan and Trinity on the weekend before traveling to Plattsburgh for a midweek match-up. Look for the defense to tighten up in front of goalie Ryan Purdy the next time out.
Cadets Battle Back
After two sub-standard performances against Manhattanville and Plattsburgh, both losses, Norwich played two strong games against Colby and Bowdoin to sweep the weekend’s available four points. The Cadets were dominant in both games, outshooting the Polar Bears on Friday night by a 42-17 margin in a 5-3 win and following that up by outshooting Colby by a 41-18 margin in a 7-2 rout.
“I told the team all week that they would be coming in wounded and very dangerous,” said Bowdoin coach Terry Meagher. “We need to match their intensity from the opening drop of the puck and make it our kind of game. It’s always a tough place to play and they don’t lose much, especially at home.”
The Cadets limited the Polar Bears 38 percent power play to just one failed attempt on the night, which certainly had an impact on the final outcome of the game. On Saturday night, Norwich blew open a close game in the third period with four unanswered goals. Last year’s outstanding freshman Kyle Thomas had three points on the night, including two goals, to lead the Cadets’ offense.
The successful weekend keeps the Cadets three points up over Castleton and Massachusetts-Boston, who continue to pressure Norwich at the top of the ECAC East standings.
Panthers on the Prowl
After opening the season at 1-4, Middlebury needed to find its offensive game and apparently the break has helped to rejuvenate the scorers on the roster. Starting with a 7-1 win to close out the first half, Middlebury is 3-0-2 in its last five games and has gotten back to .500 at 4-4-2.
Martin Drolet (5-5-10) is averaging more than a point a game, having missed two games earlier, and sophomore Mathieu Dubuc (4-5-9) also is back on track, having missed three games in the young season. Having both players back healthy will do a lot to cure the offensive challenges the Panthers experienced earlier in the season.
The next four are at home for Middlebury before a really difficult road stretch that includes Colby, Bowdoin, Plattsburgh, St. Michael’s and Norwich on the road. Time to build the win streak and confidence at Kenyon Arena and put some pressure on the teams above them in the conference standings.
Pilgrims Find Promised Land
After an 0-5-1 stretch, NEC won two games in a row this past weekend for the first time this season. A 3-2 overtime win at UNE was followed up by a 3-1 at Southern Maine and a nice little stretch at home could find the Pilgrims above .500 by the end of the weekend.
Junior forward Niko Uola (14-1-15) and defenseman Aki Uola (4-5-9) lead NEC in scoring, and Niko was a big part of the successful weekend, totaling four goals in the two wins, including a hat trick against USM on Saturday. Hailing from Turku, Finland, Niko currently leads the nation in goals per game at 1.27 in 11 contests. He already has five power-play goals this season and has gone unchecked by opponents in scoring 39 percent of the team’s total goals this season.
NEC sandwiches two league games on the weekend between nonconference home games against Fitchburg State and Morrisville tomorrow and next Tuesday. The drive to .500 overall and in the league has begun in earnest for the Pilgrims, who are going to need more balanced scoring to keep their winning streak going.
Babson Not Out of the Woods
Last season, forward Terry Woods led the Beavers in scoring with 30 points on 14 goals and 16 assists. Through 11 games this season, the senior has struggled, with no goals and just four assists for coach Jamie Rice’s team. Combine that with the return of Jason Schneider from an injury that ended his season early last year and his output of just two goals and an assist in 11 games, and it is clear the Beavers could use more offense from two proven players in the ECAC East.
The power play has been efficient at 26 percent, but with an average of just about three goals per game, Babson could benefit greatly from the talents of two players that collectively have over 150 points in their careers. Look for the second half to be better from Woods and Schneider, which will help Babson find a way to win more than two in a row for only the second time this season.
The rollercoaster ride hasn’t stopped based on the scores from Friday and Saturday, night so enjoy the big turns and twists and drops that have your stomach all in knots; if you think its tough on the fans, just imagine how the coaches are dealing with it.